Tag Archives: herbs

Garlic & Herb Compound Butter

By now you should know if you are cooking or just eating for Thanksgiving. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for at least the last 13 years straight. We have been as few as 7 to as many as 23. Over the years I have only changed a few things to try to make it easier on me and in return on everyone that comes for dinner.
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I used to make one large bird, now I search for anything 10 lb and under. I feel with even cooking two smaller birds at the same time not only does it take less time in the oven, I find they are much juicier. I use the same roasting pan and they fit perfectly side by side. I can also give away a carcass for someone else to enjoy turkey soup at their house.

I also enlist whoever is around Wednesday night to help peel and dice all the vegetables place them in their pots with water and store them in the cold storage area off the garage till we need them on the stove. This year I ordered fresh rolls, I usually make them but I was my local store and there was a sign up sheet for fresh made rolls from a local bakery and I stood in line long enough; plus it was super easy to just sign my name.  KP would this be considered an impulse buy?  She loves shopping with me and always chuckles at my impulse register buys. They put things by the registers for a reason hmmm!
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This weekend is for finishing up my table center piece, I make new place cards every year so I need to finish those up.

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Before

 

 

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After

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I will toast my ciabatta bread for my sausage stuffing well actually dressing; I don’t stuff my birds. I put apples and onions in mine. And I’ve also made a garlic herb compound butter to cover my turkey’s before putting them in the oven YUM!
img_4732I do have to confess, I was just going to make herb butter, but I double checked with my daughter; should I add garlic? She was like YES we are garlic – she is right we are a little on the obsessed side of garlic so if you are not you don’t HAVE to add it.

Garlic Herb Butter

4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 small bunches of fresh Sage
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Chop them all up fine
3 cloves minced garlic
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You can use just a bowl and elbow grease or bring out your food processor. Cut the butter in pieces add to the bowl of the processor, add the fresh chopped herbs and a little salt and the minced garlic. Pulse till blended.

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It smells amazing – I can’t wait to use it

Now comes a kind of tricky part, placing the butter in the saran wrap so you can roll it into a log. By moving the wrap back and forth it will eventually with a little coercing become a log I promise.  It takes a couple of hours to get to its full flavor and set up. Store it in your fridge till you are ready to prep your bird. Gently loosen the skin of the breast meat on your bird and spread the butter under the skin and all over the skin. 

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for supporting me week after week!

Holiday Rubs

Well so far November has come in like a lamb, that’s not even a thing but we have had some crazy weather here in NH. Last week I wore capris and sandals to work; yeah it was that warm! My co-workers thought I was a little crazy but by Friday I saw several others joining in; I’m such a trend starter hahaha. There was even a semi local restaurant/bar that served dinner out on their patio. So with that being said, it is pretty hard to get into the holiday spirit but there is no time like the present; pun intended; to get some things going or at least start jotting down a plan of attack.

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Rib Eye with kosher salt, black pepper seared in cast iron topped with 1Tbs butter and fresh chives

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Roasted Chicken with fresh chopped rosemary kosher salt and black pepper stuffed with onions salt and pepper and a sprig of fresh rosemary and lemon slices under the skin

Once you have your list and I am talking about making several types of lists, or at least I do. I try to get a head start on picking up additional baking supplies; flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie mix along with the evaporated milk etc. I bought most of those last month. Also a good time to stock up on paper products as well as I also try to make sure I have a variety of dry pastas, different kinds of beans, and a few cans of Marzano tomatoes on hand, you never know when you might have an impromptu gathering of friends and/or family and you need to feed them all. At least that happens quite often in my home.

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This is also a great time to test out new recipes ahead of time; in most cases you know you are going to be making a turkey or a roast beef. A nice way to change it up a bit would be to use different spices or a mixture of spices and herbs. A less expensive way to try it out ahead of time is to try it on a steak or a roasted chicken now. My costly mistake was using truffle butter all over a fresh turkey for 18 and I hated it!

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This weekend I had a roaster-chicken in the fridge that I needed to cook so Friday night my husband and were staying in so why not. I generally always throw an apple in the cavity of my birds along with some onions and other herbs and seasonings. I did not have any apples on hand so thinking of what I did have, we used lemons that I sliced up and layered under the skin and we still have some pretty hearty herbs in the garden; we’ve had a couple of hard frosts, just not this month so he went and cut some fresh rosemary, I added a sprig in the cavity along with my onion and Kosher salt and pepper and chopped up another sprig and covered the bird. It was simply delicious!!!

Mediterranean
Mix together lemon zest of 1 lemon along with 1 Tbs of each fresh parsley, fresh chives, fresh oregano paprika, and onion powder. 1 ½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and enough olive oil to make a paste. Rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Garlic Lovers (me too me too!)
In a small bowl combine 1 Tbs paprika, 1 Tbs fresh minced garlic and onion powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 ½ tsp salt and pepper, 1 tsp dry mustard – rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Au Poivre (French for peppery)
Grind together  1 ½ Tbs of each white, black, and pink peppercorns with 1 Tbs paprika, 1 tsp of each salt dry mustard and crushed rosemary rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Or a keep it simple and generously cover your meat with Kosher salt and Fresh cracked black pepper as I did with our amazing Rib Eye steaks last night!

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Easy Pasta Salad – Montreal Farmers Market

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I met up with friends of ours in Montreal for a nice long weekend. It had been many years since we have been to Canada and now that we went; I’m not sure why it has been so long, what a great city. Always something going on; so I was told; they have the most festivals. Well I couldn’t remember what my buddy SF said exactly but I just google Montreal Festivals and it said “Montreal is a city of festivals” and since the internet can’t lie it must be true.

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Cosmopolitan at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel with dirty ice – YUM!!!

Since our friends have been there many times; they live closer than we do. They booked where we stayed; SF wanted to stay somewhere that we could cook in one night if we wanted to. At first I thought why we would cook in, we are in city with numerous places to eat and explore and on a mini vacation. Well it all became VERY clear to me after visiting Atwater Farmers Market.

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I have been fortunate enough to have been to some pretty amazing places over the years, I mean I absolutely love the Caribbean and Paris was incredibly amazing but I can count on one hand how many times I have had a true “Moment” just to be in awe of something around you. The Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. And I honestly never in a million years would have thought a Farmers Market could make me want to move and totally change the way I live my life. I totally understand how and why Europeans pick up dinner on the way home versus having a fridge and freezer fully stocked just to make dinner for the week.

Gorgeous berries

Gorgeous berries

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Vegetables displayed perfectly

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Amazing smelling artisan breads – the man behind me in line asked if I was from out of town LOL I guess not a lot of people take pictures of their bread

I also NOW understood why SF wanted a place where we could make dinner in if we wanted to. I totally wanted to cook in but sadly we didn’t, we just couldn’t pull it together in time to get back to the market before it closed; it would have been very forced and not as enjoyable for us to make it happen. I did google what I could bring back over the border though which as long as it is for personal consumption you can bring almost anything. We picked up some homemade pork sausages and kielbasa as well as some fresh pasta’s and a loaf of bread. For dinner I made up the gnocchi we bought along with some Cilantro Lime Sausages.

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The Herbs were incredible

The Herbs looked incredible

French Macaroons - they were not the famous Laduree's but damn tasty

French Macaroons – they were not the famous Laduree’s but damn tasty

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gnocchi w/butter garlic and thyme

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Dinner made at home with Atwater Farmers Market products

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Simple Delicious Pasta Salad

1 box of pasta such as campanelle, cavatappi or similar; cooked as directed – I use Tri-Colored Rotini

1 Can of small Black Olives drained

Container of cherry tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half

Container of Feta Cheese

1 Carrot – grated

2 Red roasted peppers sliced olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper – Roast for 20-25 minutes at 350’ – or use your favorite jarred variety

I like adding sliced salami or pepperoni – but this can be omitted

Ken’s Zesty Italian dressing

Toss pasta with some Ken’s extra zesty, while this marinates the pasta, gather all the other ingredients, add all together and toss, if needed add a bit more dressing.

Stuffed Zucchini

I had a wonderful visit from a lifelong friend this weekend.  We met when we were around 11 maybe and even though we do not see or talk with each other often; you know life and miles get in the way; it is like we see each other all the time.  We pick right up where we left off from our last visit.  We spent time going through my garden; she and her boyfriend are new to vegetable gardening. We talked plants and what was working and what wasn’t. They had the dreaded vine borers that I had been plagued with the last few years, this year we did not have that problem thankfully. We have had an abundance of zucchini which inspired tonight’s dinner. I just finished making stuffed zucchini; which I have had and never made before.

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While baking is a science and you really need to pay attention to the ingredients and the amounts needed.  Cooking is the complete opposite.  I tend to use the ingredients I like and have on hand.  Stuffing being pretty basic formula; herbs, bread crumbs, a little heat and lots of flavor plus I am a HUGE sausage fan so that is a must.  While I was chopping and sauteing I sent my husband to the garden for some herbs.  I asked for parsley and whatever else he would like.  He came back with thyme, basil and parsley.

Even though I did spend a little time looking online for some ideas in the end I used what I had on hand and made a stuffing that tasted really good.  I can only imagine once the sauce and mozzarella meld with the squash and stuffing it will taste pretty amazing.  I will let you know in about an hour. They were delicious – my husband and I both agree to make them again.

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Jalapeno – I removed the seeds with a spoon – we like a little heat.

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I used 2 whole zucchini’s. I saved the last one for tomorrow nights dinner

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Here is how I made mine – shallot, onion, zucchini, garlic and the herbs were from my garden – I think that is SO cool!

2 Shallot minced – soften in the sausage pan after the sausage is cooked

2 small onions minced – soften along with the shallot

3 Cloves of garlic pressed

3 zucchini halved and seeded – chop and add to stuffing

1 jalapeno – seeded and minced

1 yellow pepper minced

Package of sweet Italian sausage casing removed and crumbled – browned in a pan

½ cup Breadcrumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Mozzarella

Thyme, basil and parsley – all from my garden

Wash and remove the stem and bottom of the zucchini, in a bowl add all the other ingredients and herbs; stir and let meld for a bit.  Preheat the oven at 350’ get out a baking dish.  Fill the zucchini with the yummy stuffing and cover with the sauce and mozzarella.  Cover with tin foil for 40 minutes then uncover and cook another 20 or so till bubbly and browned we do like our squash al dente versus mush so please cook to your likeness – if you need to place under the broiler for a few minutes please do.  I think food tastes better when it looks amazing – the company helps with this too.

Eating from my Garden

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While I am not a great gardener; as you can tell by the photo I just took, one garden looks great the other not so much! I do try to do my best.  Before I buy what I want to plant, I make a listing of everything we tend to eat and the herbs we use a lot.  I used to start the seeds in the house but I have been buying my plants for probably the last 10 years. I find it easier, kind of the instant gratification that I tend to need. Nothing like spending the day laying out all the plants, planting them and voila a garden!!!  I always plant the staples to make homemade salsa, green peppers, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic of course, and cilantro. As well as things I can go out harvest and make a yummy salad or grab some herbs for seasoning our dinners; chives, thyme, basil, parsley, sage and rosemary are my favorite go to herbs.

I find it so gratifying going out into the garden and grabbing some zucchini and summer squash slice them up and cook them on the grill.  Sometimes in a foil packet sometimes just in rounds on the grill always with olive oil, onions and or garlic and Kosher salt and fresh black pepper.  I am very grateful my family likes that I cook them to al dente, not a fan of the over cooked mush that I see on occasion.

My husband and I have had a garden in some fashion for 25+ years (my favorites are raised beds hand downs) I am almost embarrassed to say that out loud, you would think that after that many years I wouldn’t lose a plant or an entire crop as I have on occasion. Not positive it is always entirely my fault; I water, weed, fertilize and do what I can to nurture them, if something is looking amiss I research what it needs and try to rectify the problem.  I am not always successful. Some years we have an abundance of tomatoes; next year it will be cucumbers, one year carrots.  I don’t change how I plant them; we do change where in the garden we plant them. So I am at a loss. I am going to go with the wonderfully ever changing New England weather we have.

I will confess; much to my husbands dismay; I have banned corn from our raised beds, while I love corn on the cob it takes up a lot of real estate and the harvest from our gardens over the years isn’t really worth it. If my husband had his way, he would have an acre of corn.  I didn’t actually say no to this, I just told him he needed to find his own acre somewhere else.  This year he now has found another plant that we have had a tremendous amount of luck with over the years so now he is focused on growing potatoes; my carpenter husband is now proclaiming he wants to be a potato farmer.  Sometimes you need to just nod and smile. I think he thinks he can make vodka; he doesn’t even like vodka; I am the one that drinks it. I have never heard of New Hampshire based vodka but I guess you never know unless you try.

New this season Potato garden!

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We all LOVE potatoes; fresh from the garden potatoes are definitely worth a spot in your garden at least once. I think my favorite way is roasting them in the oven or even on the grill.  Olive oil, Kosher Salt, Freshly ground black pepper and Rosemary – YUM!  My husband made a new larger raised bed for his potatoes, his plants are looking better than some of mine. You just never know!!!

There is a door into the shed that is off of my potting bench – It was a very ugly green that I have no idea why we even owned the color of paint. It was driving me nuts for a couple of years now, I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to paint it.  I figured it was not going to be seen by anyone but me and whoever helps me in the garden, so I decided to go a little crazy for me.  I did use a famous motto about gardening but changed it to Potatoes for my husband.  He loves it!!!!

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I love taking a medley of veggies from the garden; carrots, potatoes, beets and butternut squash, chop them up add olive oil and Kosher salt fresh cracked black pepper and put them out on the grill on one of my old cookie sheets.  Turn them a couple of times and they taste just amazing.  They are wonderful side to any meat you want to pair them with. Sweet smoky flavor that melt in your mouth.

When I do have too many vegetables to eat and give away before rotting, I do pickle my cucumbers. I also will make tomato sauce or I chop and seed them and freeze so I can add to just about anything soups, stews or sauces. I make garden salsa all the time and I have canned batches of that over the years; I used to send my daughter to college with a jar or two.  I am not entirely sure what to do with the bazillion jalapeno peppers we get, I do use them but while we like some heat in dishes, we are not super heat lovers.  I do end up bringing quite a few of them to work to share. This year I will need to look up what to do with them!

If we could grow avocado’s I would be in garden heaven – we LOVE guacamole and the only thing I need to buy from the store is the avocado, I guess that isn’t too bad!

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Fresh Garden Salsa 

6 tomatoes (Roma)

1 Green Bell Pepper

1 Onion

2 Jalapeno Peppers

5-6 Cloves of Garlic

1 Lime, Squeezed

Fresh Cilantro chopped

Kosher Salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Balsamic vinegar

1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

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Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

1 Ripe Mango peeled, seeded and diced

1 Ripe Avocado peeled, pitted and diced

4 Medium tomatoes diced

1 Jalapeno seeded and minced

½ Cup fresh cilantro

3-5 Cloves of Garlic

Kosher Salt

2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice

¼ Cup chopped Red Onion

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

In a medium bowl combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic.

In a small bowl add the onion and lime juice, let it site for 5 minutes, whisk in olive oil, season with salt.

Fold the dressing into the salsa and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

My roasted potato, carrots and rosemary are almost ready for dinner….

Mangia Mangia!!