Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Everyone

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon-Steamed Spinach

Lemon-Steamed Spinach
This week in French Fridays With Dorie we made spinach.  This was a super easy side dish to make.  Easy and full of flavor.   It had a wonderful lemon flavor that complimented the spinach nicely.   Now to how easy this dish is to make.  To begin you toss baby spinach in some olive oil, grated lemon zest, salt, and freshly ground pepper.  The spinach is then steamed until tender.   I steamed my spinach in a pasta pot that has a steaming basket.  I steamed my spinach for about 5 minutes.  Dorie suggests you start watching at 3 minutes.  Once the spinach is done, you are ready to serve it.    You can smell the lemon as you are removing the spinach from the steamer.    I loved this dish.  I am going to make this dish again for Easter.
You can find this recipe on page 331 in "Around My French Table."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Romaine With Toasted Pecans and Pickled Strawberries

Romaine With Toasted Pecans and Pickled Strawberries
What a week and a half it has been.  It all started when my dishwasher decided to stop working.   The dishwasher needed a new motor which had to be ordered off.  So I was doing dishes by hand for a while.  Finally, I got the dishwasher fixed.   Next, the dryer decided to quit.  So it was off shopping for a new dryer.  Got it installed and I have finally caught up on my laundry.  Laundry for a family of six mounts up fast.

Now that all of the household items are fixed, I am back to blogging.  Today's recipe is a lovely salad that is light and delicious.  Fresh strawberries are macerated in a vinegar, honey, salt, water mixture.  They are then drained and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.  I love what fresh pepper does to the taste of strawberries.   Roman lettuce hearts are then  sprinkled with the  strawberries, feta cheese,  and pecans.  A delicious Dijon vinaigrette is then  drizzled over the salad.    I made only a couple of changes to the recipe.  Instead of using white wine vinegar for the vinaigrette, I used red wine  vinegar.  I used crumbled feta cheese instead of blue cheese.
This is a  delicious and beautiful salad that is perfect for your Easter Dinner.  

Romaine With Toasted Pecans and Pickled Strawberries
From Southern Living Magazine

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey
1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, quartered
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons light olive oil
3 romaine lettuce hearts
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 (4-oz.) blue cheese wedge, crumbled* (optional)

1. Combine first 2 ingredients and 1 1/2 cups water in a large bowl; whisk in honey until salt is dissolved and honey is blended.  Add strawberries; cover and let stand 1 hour.

Macerating Strawberries
2. Pour strawberry mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a medium bowl; reserve 2 tablespoons liquid.  Transfer strawberries to a bowl.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
3. Whisk together 1 tablespoon vinegar, Dijon mustard, and reserved 2 tablespoons strawberry liquid in a bowl.  Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.
4. Cut lettuce hearts in half crosswise, keeping top 6 inches of each and reserving ends for another use. Place lettuce tops on a serving platter.  Top with strawberries, pecans, and, if desired, cheese; drizzle with vinegar mixture.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Delicious Dijon Vinaigrette

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicken and Rice Soup

Chicken and Rice Soup
My family is a lover of chicken soups.  Mostly, I prepare a Chicken Noodle Soup.  However,  I ran across this recipe for Chicken and Rice Soup, in  Cook's Country magazine.  This soup looked delicious in the picture.  Lots of chicken, peas, carrots, and broth. Yum:)  This soup has a very nice short cut.  You use a rotisserie chicken.  After you have removed the chicken from the bones, you boil the bones and skin in a liquid of chicken broth, water, fresh thyme, bay leaves, onions, dark green part of leeks, and celery.  

Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.   I discarded the chicken bones and then strained the liquid.  The result was a nice rich broth.  It looked and smelled rich.  Before you add the strained broth to the other ingredients, you need to cook some carrots, leeks and rice in some olive oil.  I used Arborio rice.  In Cook's Country, they stated that short-grain rice holds its shape better. By cooking the rice a few minutes before adding it to the chicken stock causes the starches on the outside of the rice to firm up.  This way, the grains won't blow out.  To the broth, you add the carrots, leeks, and rice.  Cook until the rice is tender.  Then you add your chicken, and peas and cook until they are heated through.  Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.
This soup is soo delicious:)  Everyone in the family enjoyed it.  The broth had a  full bodied flavor that made this soup extra delicious.   It was a hearty dish with lots of chicken and veggies.  And  speaking of chicken, the chicken was moist, tender, and flavorful. Arborio rice was perfect to use.   I will be making this soup again.  It is on my list of quick and delicious soups.

Chicken and Rice Soup
From Cook's Country Magazine


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, sliced thin cross-wise, and washed thoroughly; dark green part chopped coarse and washed thoroughly
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 (2 1/2-pound) rotisserie chicken, skin and bones reserved for stock, meat shredded into bite-size pieces (3 cups)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled, quartered length-wise, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup short-grain white rice
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion, dark green leek part, and celery and cook until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken skin and bones, broth, water, thyme, and bay leaves and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, loosely covered, for 30 minutes.
2. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids and set stock aside. (You should have about 8 cups of stock.  If you have less, add water to equal 8 cups.)
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3. Wipe out now-empty Dutch oven with paper towels and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add white and light green leek parts and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until edges of rice become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add stock and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 12 to 14 minutes.  Stir in chicken and peas and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Stir parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Serves 6

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marcona Almonds With Smoked Paprika

Marcona Almonds With Smoked Paprika
Need a quick nibble for family or friends?  I was in such a position a couple of days ago.  Instead of just putting out plain nuts, popcorn, pretzels,  etc 0I like to add an extra zing to my snacks.  Today's recipe has the extra zing of smoked paprika.  It is amazing what a wonderful flavor  some smoked paprika can add.  In a mixing bowl I tossed some Marcona almonds (I found mine at Costco) with olive oil and smoked paprika.  Baked them in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.  Removed them from the oven and transferred to a bowl where I sprinkled them with salt and tossed.  That was it.  I had a quick snack to munch on during the Basketball game which New Mexico won!

Marcona Almonds With Smoked Paprika
From Bon Appetit


2 cups Marcona almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toss almonds, oil, and paprika on a rimmed baking sheet to coat; spread out in a single layer and toast, tossing occasionally, until dark golden brown, 8-10 minutes.

2. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat.  Let cool.

Makes  6-8 servings

Do Ahead:  Nuts can be toasted 1 week ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup
It was soup this week for our assignment in French Fridays With Dorie. We made an Orange-Scented Lentil Soup.  This soup did have orange peel in it and the taste was quite refreshing.  It  did not have an overpowering flavor.   It was quite good.  You make this soup  like you would start any lentil soup.  Cook some onions, carrots, and celery in some olive oil.  Add chicken broth, spices, lentils, and orange peel ( a change from my regular lentil soup).  Cook for about 90 minutes or until the lentils are soft.  Season with salt and pepper while the lentils are cooking.  This soup smelled divine as it was cooking. After the soup was done, I let it cool and pureed it in my blender.  I returned the soup to the pot and reheated it.  I served my soup with some chopped Black Forest Ham.  As I said earlier, this soup was quite good.
You can find this recipe on pages 90-91 in "Around My French Table."


Simmering Ingredients

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brown Irish Soda Bread

Brown Irish Soda Bread
Almost every St. Patrick's Day, I make Irish Soda Bread.  I was pleasantly surprised when I made this recipe for "Brown Irish Soda Bread."  Being that it had wheat flour and wheat germ, I thought it would be dry.  I was wrong.  This bread had a wonderful moist hearty flavor.  I loved the  extra nuttiness the wheat germ gave to the bread.  It can be enjoyed warm from the oven or toasted.  Most of us ate the bread warm with butter.  My son, Tim, who is famous for his Nutella sandwiches spread Nutella on a piece toasted.  Which ever way you eat it this is a wonderful loaf of bread.
This bread is super easy and quick to make.  In a large mixing bowl, you whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In a 2-cup measuring cup you add the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry, and stir just until the dough comes together.  The dough is then kneaded and patted into a 7-inch round.  Transfer to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the bread from the oven and brush the top with some melted butter.  Let the bread cool on a wire rack and serve.

Makes 1 loaf

Brown Irish Soda Bread
From Cook's Country Magazine


2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl.  Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

Dry Ingredients

2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns.  Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet.  Using sharp serrated knife, make 1/4-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf.  Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean and loaf registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

3. Remove bread from oven. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.  Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.  Serve.

Wet Ingredients Pour Over Dry

Patted Into 7-Inch Disc

Cross Cut Into Top of Bread


Monday, March 11, 2013

Guinness Beef Stew

Guinness Beef Stew
With St. Patrick's Day  just around the corner,  I decided to make this recipe for "Guinness Beef Stew"  I found in Cook's Country Magazine.  What could be more Irish than making a stew that has Irish beer in it.  This stew was easy to put together.  To begin, you cook finely chopped onions sprinkled with salt in some vegetable oil.  To the onions you add tomato paste and garlic.  Then you stir in some flour, broth, Guinness, sugar, and thyme.  Be sure to use Guinness Draught otherwise your stew maybe too bitter.    Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened.  Then add your beef and put the stew in a 325 degree F oven and cook for 90 minutes.  After the 90 minutes is up, stir in potatoes and carrots.  Return the stew to the oven and cook for another hour.  Before serving add remaining Guinness and parsley.  If you need to season with salt and pepper.
The taste of this stew is robust.  It has a richness in taste that is lacking in other stews I have made.  I loved the process of cooking the stew in the oven.  It made everything easy and the veggies did not have a mushiness to them.  They were fork  tender as veggies should be in my book.

Guinness Beef Stew
From Cook's Country Magazine


1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2- inch pieces
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups Guinness Draught
1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned,8 to 10 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook until rust-colored and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in broth, 3/4 cup Guinness, sugar, and thyme, scraping up any browned bits.  Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in beef and return to simmer.  Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, for 90 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

Ready for Oven
90 Minutes in Oven
3. Stir in potatoes and carrots and continue cooking until beef and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour, stirring halfway through cooking.  Stir in remaining 1/2 cup Guinness and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheesy Creme Brulee

Cheesy Creme Brulee
I love Creme Brulee.  This version of Dorie's has cheese in it. There is cheese in the custard and a nice crispy cheese topping.  Need I say  - it was delicious.  I still have a special place in my heart for the sugary Creme Brulee, but this version has  moved in right beside it.  As Dorie stated in the recipe, this recipe is in the reach of any home cook.  She was right.  To begin, you cut some Parmesan and cheddar cheese into teeny tiny cubes.  I was afraid I would not cut mine small enough so I grated the cheese.  The cheese is placed in the bottoms of  buttered shallow ramekins.  Next you make the custard.  Heat milk and creme until it comes to a boil.  While the milk mixture is coming to a boil you whisk together egg yolks, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper.  Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, you very slowly pour the milk into the eggs.  You whisk like crazy.  Be sure to add a very small amount of milk to the eggs and then increase the amount after you have incorporated about a quarter of the milk.  The bubbles from all the whisking you have done, need to be removed.  You can either rap the bowl on the counter or remove them with a spoon.  I removed mine with a spoon.  Pour the mixture into the ramekins and slide them into the oven.  You bake them in a 200 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.  Remove them from the oven when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the custard cool to room temperature.
Before serving, you sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of the custard and brown the cheese with a mini propane touch or put them under the broiler.  This is the method I used - I am torch less.
The result is  a delicious starter to any meal or a perfect  light lunch.
This recipe can be found on pages 148-149 in "Around My French Table."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coconut-Lime Bread

Coconut-Lime Bread
It was an overcast day here  as I was reading my latest issue of "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine. I saw this recipe for Coconut-Lime Bread.  Immediately my mind thought of warm and sunny places like Hawaii, Florida, Tahiti just to name a few.  I decided to get started on this recipe. I had all of the ingredients except lime marmalade.  I made a quick trip to go out to get some, but I could not find any.  Being that I wanted to make the recipe as written, I went to my trusty  Amazon and ordered some.  My baking project would have to wait until I got my Lime marmalade.   Two days later, I got back to my baking project.  The first item of business was toasting some coconut.  This is very simple to do. Just get out a nonstick skillet and toast the coconut over medium to medium-high heat.  Stir it often and watch as it starts to brown.

Getting Ready to Toast
Toasted Coconut

The smell of toasting coconut is delicious.  I had family members coming into the kitchen wondering what smelled so good.  After you have toasted your coconut set it aside.  In a large bowl you whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl, you add the egg, melted butter, and coconut milk  together.  Combine the wet and dry mixtures together.  Stir in the toasted coconut.  Spoon in one third of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spoon half of the marmalade over the batter.  Repeat the layers.  You take a table knife and swirl the marmalade through the bread.  Bake for about 60 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  You can't eat the bread right away.  You wrap the bread in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. I thought, will I ever get to taste this bread? Yes, I just had to be patient.  The next day, you are ready to enjoy your bread.  Yeah! Before serving, spread some melted marmalade over the top of the bread and sprinkle some toasted coconut on top.
After all this waiting, I was more than ready to to taste the bread.  It was wonderful.  It was moist, had a nice coconut flavor from the milk and toasted coconut.  Best of all, it had  a tangy flavor from the marmalade.  This bread was well worth the wait.

Coconut-Lime Bread
From Better Homes and Gardens

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup coconut milk or milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
3/4 cup lime marmalade, melted*
1 tablespoon lime marmalade, melted
1/4 cup chip or flake coconut, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside.
2. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl beat egg with a fork; stir in coconut milk and melted butter.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Fold in 1 cup of toasted flaked coconut.

Bread Batter
3. Spoon one-third of the batter into prepared pan.  Spoon half of the 3/4 cup marmalade over batter.  Repeat with remaining batter and marmalade, ending with batter.  Using a thin metal spatula or table knife, swirl the marmalade through the bread.
Batter in Bread Pan
Marmalade Over Bread Batter
Swirling Marmalade Through the Bread
4. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Wrap with plastic wrap; store at room temperature overnight before slicing.
Baked Bread
5. Before slicing, brush top of loaf with 1 tablespoon melted marmalade.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup toasted coconut.
Makes 14 servings

*Melting marmalade:Spoon marmalade into a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup.  Heat 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on 100 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until marmalade is a spoonable consistency.  If softening only 1 to 2 tablespoons on marmalade, heat just 20 to 30 seconds.

Ready to Slice

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie
Tamale pie is an easy, quick, tasty, and economical dish to prepare.  In my house, it is known as the Southwestern version of Shepard's Pie. It is one of my favorite "turn to" recipes. I make it when I need something quick and easy for family meals, potlucks, and friends/family get togethers.    To begin, you brown some ground beef, drain it, and then season it with salt, chili powder, cumin and onion powder.   Add some  tomatoes, green chilies, corn, olives and Mexican Cheese.  Mix together well and let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes.  Spoon the mixture into a prepare baking dish.  Prepare the cornbread mix according to package directions and spread it over the meat mixture.  Place in a 375 degree (F) oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is browned.  The aroma when it comes out of the oven has a hint of spiciness mixed with the smell of fresh baked cornbread.  I let my casserole rest for 10 minutes before I serve it.   The casserole is slightly spicy and ever sooo good.
This recipes makes 6-8 servings.

Tamale Pie

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2-teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder (more or less to taste)
1-teaspoon cumin (more or less to taste)
1-teaspoon onion powder
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can green chilies, diced
1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives
1 cup grated Mexican Cheese (about 4 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
1-pound of prepared cornbread mix (such as Jiffy or Bob's Red Mill)

1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
2 Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the ground beef, and brown.  Drain the beef and wipe excess oil from the skillet.  Return ground beef to the skillet and add salt, chili powder, cumin, and onion powder.  Stir until combined well.

3 Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, chilies, corn, olives, and cheese. Cook for and additional 3 minutes.  Add more chili powder and cumin if desired. Spray the insides of a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon filling into the casserole dish.

Ground Beef Mixture
Beef Mixture in Bottom of Prepare Baking Dish
4 In a large bowl, prepare the cornbread batter according to the directions on the package. Pour the cornbread batter over the top of the filling in the baking dish.

5 Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is browned. Let the pie sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chicken Breast Diable

Chicken Breast Diable
Our assignment this week in French Fridays With  Dorie was Chicken Breasts with a flavorful cream sauce.   This was another very easy recipe to make.  Three cheers for easy recipes!  To begin, the chicken breast are light pounded and then cooked in a skillet with melted butter and Olive oil. Cook the chicken until it is browned. Once the chicken has cooked you place it in a rimmed baking dish.  Tent with foil and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.  Now you are ready to make your cream sauce. In the skillet you cooked the chicken, you add a finely chopped shallot and a mined garlic clove. Your pour in some white wine to deglaze the pan - you want to scrape off all those flavorful bits off the bottom of the pan.  Next pour in some heavy cream.  Add some Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.  Remove chicken breasts from the oven and add any pan juices to the sauce.  Stir and serve the chicken with the sauce.
The result is a delicious chicken dish perfect for family or company.
This recipe can be found on page 217 in "Around My French Table" or here.