Monday, December 5, 2016

The Tree is Up

 My tree is finally up and almost finished being decorated.

 It's funny how you slow down as you get older.  There were years where I put up a tree in every room in my house including the kitchen and bedrooms.  That was a dozen trees and we cut them all down too.

 Now I put up one and this year it was almost 2 weeks later than usual.

 The startling thing is that my kids put their trees up before I did!  This is the first time that ever happened.

 Of course, I'm still cleaning up from Thanksgiving and cooking for the after school kids takes up lots of time.  It seems like when I'm not cooking, I am grocery shopping.

But at least this one is up and the mantle is done.  Maybe when I get some grandkids, I'll get my Xmas mojo back.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Salmon Potato and Fennel Chowder

I made this for my family the other day and they really enjoyed it. This is a very hearty soup and is a meal in itself.
Saute' several stalks of diced celery and 1 bulb of thinly sliced fennel in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.


 Add salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. of smoked paprika.

 Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes.

 Add 4 cups of seafood stock.  I added 2 seafood bouillon cubes too.

Cube 10 yellow potatoes and add them to the pot and bring it to a boil then turn it down to simmer for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
 Add 2 pounds of cubed salmon and several fronds of diced dill.  Cook for about 10 minutes until salmon is cooked through.

Stir in 1 cup of cream just before serving.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December

I am so behind this holiday season. I'm not sure if it's because of getting trumpfucked or the warm weather but I'm not feeling very christmasy this year. I finally got my tree but as you can see, it is still keeping Santa company outside.  Hopefully today I will get it up.

 I've lived here for almost 30 years and I have never seen the leaves stay on the trees this long into Fall.

 It looks more like October here.

 Usually, these leaves would be long gone.

 There's still quite a bit of color in my gardens.

The Weeping Beech is still holding on to her leaves.
 December 3......amazing.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pork Bolognese Pasta

I couldn't figure out what to make for the after school kids today so I rooted through my freezer for inspiration.  I found some chorizo, some Italian sausage and some ground pork.  This is the recipe I came up with and much to my surprise, it might be better than my classic bolognese.
 I started by sauteing diced onion in olive oil along with about 4 anchovies.

 I added diced celery, carrots, peppers and garlic.  Then I added all of the meat and cooked it until it was browned.

 Then I came up with an idea for something I never did before.  I cooked the tomato paste in a cast iron pan until it became a dark red and had a very rich flavor.

I added oregano, rosemary and thyme to it along with salt and pepper.  Then I whisked in red wine and cooked it until it thickened.  The flavor was sensational.  My husband is sampling some as I type and he described it as bowl licking good.  He asked if he could have more and I told him no, it's for the kids.
 I warmed up frozen sauce from last summer. I added some beef bouillon for extra flavor.

 Here is the paste with the wine and herbs added.

 Here it is when I added it to the vegetables and meat.  What a wonderful color.  I am doing this with my pasta sauces from now on.

 Mixed it in ...
 Then added the warmed tomato sauce and braised it in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.

 I made a gremolata of diced parsley, lemon rind and parmesan cheese.

 After 2 hours, the sauce is nice and rich. Oh, for the last 30 minutes of cooking, I threw a cinnamon stick in the pot.  Remove it when you take the sauce out of the oven.

 Stir in the gremolata.

 I served it over buttered bowtie pasta.


I can't wait to hear how the kids like it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Taco Mac and Cheese for the After School kids

I made this earlier today for the kids afternoon meal.                                                                                                                   
 I browned 5 pounds of ground beef and added taco seasonings, black beans and a can of rotel.  This is spread in the base of the slow cooker.

 Then I boiled 5 pounds of pasta.

 This is a good way to use up excess cheese.  I combined some Velveeta, Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar with milk and seasonings.

 When the pasta was al dente, I drained it and tossed it with some diced peppers.

 The melted cheese is combined with the pasta.

 Doesn't this look like something that a bunch of really hungry kids will dig into?  The pasta is spread over the ground meat.

 I topped it with mild jalapenos.  I just know the kids will enjoy this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Baked Goat Cheese in a Rich Tomato Sauce

I made this for my daughter and her chef boyfriend last night.  This is a great appetizer or a nice light dinner served with a salad.
 In a heavy skillet I sauteed lots of garlic, shallot, anchovies and onion in a bit of olive oil.  I forgot to take pics but then I de-glazed the pan with 1/4 cup of red wine and I added 3 cups of my tomato sauce from this past summer's garden and a few tablespoons of tomato paste.  This cooks over medium heat until it thickens and then I added salt and pepper and a bit of oregano.  A lot of this is done to taste.

 Pour the sauce into a heat proof platter and place chunks of goat cheese on top.  Sprinkle with some fresh basil.

Bake this at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  I made them french bread to spread it on and garlic bread fingers.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Potato and Kielbasa Soup with Cheese

It's officially count down to Xmas time so I got my vintage Santa measuring spoon holder out.  He has a spoon in each hand.

And two sticking out of his back.


Today the after school kids are getting a very hearty, healthy soup.  Here is the basic recipe, I made this X 5.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1½ - 2 pounds smoked sausage sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet peppers
  • 2 diced carrots 
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Dice the carrots, onions and celery.  Saute' them along with the diced peppers for a couple ofminutes.  Add the stock and the cubed potatoes.  I also added broccoli and kale.  Add the broth and bring to a low boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add the sliced sausage and cook until heated through. Add the cream and the seasoning.  Taste it and adjust if necessary.
  2. Stir in shredded cheese until melted. Serve immediately.
I made honey butter cornbread to go with it.

It's cold and damp here today so the kids will love this.  BTW....I think a lot of you think these kids are very young, they aren't.  The after school kids are all between 15 and 17. Which helps to explain why they are capable of eating 18 quarts of this soup at one sitting