Saturday, February 22, 2014

Craft Day

It's not every Friday I wake up to a clean house, laundry all done and so much free time on my hands.  So with some coffee in my cup, a Jerry Lewis movie on Netflix and me still in my jammies, I decided to finish up some crafts.

Oh what fun I had.  First off,  I finished my burlap wreath inspired by someone on Pinterest.

I then noticed how sickly Mr. Gnome looked.  I've had him for at least 3 years guarding our front lawn.  I first thought about throwing him away but then it dawned on me that I could probably give him a makeover

and I did!!  It was so much fun!

So, if you have a sickly looking Mr. Gnome, I'll be glad to give him a make over if you don't feel like it ;)

Have a great weekend and remember to savor every moment!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Simple Roasted Chicken and Chicken Spring Rolls

adapted and tweaked from Bon Appetit March 2014

This recipe is so simple and oh sooooo good!

1 3-5 lb. roaster chicken
Butcher's twine
1 1/2 - 2 tbsps. kosher salt
1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 garlic bulb
Fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and sage)

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Here's my kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  I combined them both in a ramekin.

Don't be afraid to rub the salt and pepper mixture all over the roaster chicken.  Put some inside the cavity too.

Place the garlic and fresh herbs into cavity.  Tie legs with butcher's twine.  Place on wire rack and cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 1hr. 20 minutes or until golden brown and meat thermometer inserted in thickest area reads 165F degrees.

Isn't she a beaut??  Just wait until you sink your teeth into this baby but hold on, not quite yet.  Cover with some foil and let the roaster sit for about 10 minutes.
This was my plate, I love drumsticks.  I don't eat the skin most of the time but I couldn't help it with this baby.  Mercy!  She was juicy and deeeeelicious!!

Suffice to say, we had plenty of chicken left over, so this is what I did the following day.

I made some Chicken Spring Rolls

Here are the ingredients:
7-8 rice paper sheets (follow pkg. directions on how to use)
7  pieces of your favorite type of lettuce
1 cup cooked rice or soba noodles
1 cup cooked leftover chicken (warmed up in 3 tbsps. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. fresh ginger minced, 2 tsps. sesame oil - do not cook)
1/4 cup carrots, julienne
3 green onions, julienne
Peanut dipping sauce

Place on top of wet rice sheet starting with the lettuce, noodles, meat, carrots and green onions.  Fold over and roll.  Don't laugh at mine.  I need to work on my technique ;)

Dip into Peanut sauce and enjoy!!  Boy did I ever enjoy these.  I could live on the for the rest of my life!  No kidding!  They were so good,  I think I'll have more tomorrow :)

Have a GREAT weekend and don't forget to savor every moment.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day for Adults

Gone are the snow days when the kids were young and woke up late in their pajamas to the wonderful aroma of pancakes coming from the kitchen.  Excited that there was no school but better yet, a luscious pancake breakfast used to fuel all the activities that a snow day brings.  I enjoyed making them pancakes, it kinda felt like a holiday for me.  My son loved a stack with lots of syrup.  My daughter loved hers in a Mickey Mouse shape with chocolate chips. 

Today is a snow day in our town as a matter of fact, every school in the state of Virginia is closed.  So to kinda keep up with tradition and even though our kids all grown up and it's just hubby and I, I decided to cook hubby a "big" breakfast.  An omelet with everything I could put in it, including corn tortillas.  Go figure, growing up in a Mexican-American home, we found a dozen ways to use corn tortillas in our recipes as they were a main staple in our pantry.

Here's the recipe and instructions to this omelet but please note, omelets are diverse.  You can put anything you want (that's edible) in an omelet.  This is what I put in ours for today:

Olive oil
3 corn tortillas, sliced into bits & pieces, whichever way you like
1 tbsp. pure butter
4 eggs, whisked until it very bubbly (by hand about 5 minutes or 3 minutes with mixer - the more you whisk, the fluffier the omelet)
1 cup cooked breakfast sausage, chopped
1 cup Monterrey Jack/Colby cheese, freshly grated
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup fresh chives, diced

Heat oil in a hot 10" skillet
Cook tortilla pieces until browned and slightly crispy, remove from pan a set aside.
Turn heat down to low and melt butter, spread around pan.
Add egg and cook until edges are soft yet cooked and the egg mixture is semi cooked all the way.
Sprinkle on salt & pepper.
Sprinkle tortilla pieces, cooked sausage and 1/2 the chives evenly over egg mixture.
Add the cheese and distribute evenly.  Cover and cook for about 5-7 more minutes or until the egg mixture is cooked all the way.
With a rubber spatula (because of it's flexibility), gently push it under half of the omelet, being careful not to tear it (if you do, it's okay - practice makes perfect) and fold over until it takes the shape of a half moon.  Cook for another 30 seconds until the cheese melts.  Sprinkle with the rest of the chives.

Remember:  You can put almost anything from sliced tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, salsa, yesterday's leftovers into an omelet.  Be creative, the possibilities are endless!

I cut a small piece of the omelet for me and gave the rest to hubby, served with toast.

Wherever you are, makes lots of memories on these snow days, even if it's just you and your hubby.  Enjoy your weekend, and remember to savor every moment!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lemony Chicken Stir-Fry

adapted from Food & Wine Magazine FEB 2014

This is so simple to make, please try it:

2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 tbsp. soy sauce, plus more for seasoning
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Steamed rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 3 minutes.  Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes longer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt, pepper and soy sauce.  Transfer the chicken to  a platter, top with the sliced scallion and serve with rice.

I served ours with fresh greens beans cooked in butter, chopped garlic, sliced almonds, salt & pepper.

This was SO delicious!!  I think what made it more fun to eat is that my son helped cook it.  He has picked up the love for cooking since he's left home and it was so neat to see him in action.  I appreciated his expertise :)

Enjoy your week and savor every moment.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bean Soup for a Chilly Day

adapted from JAN 2014 BonAppetit

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving
3 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 cup spelt (I only had spelt flour to use)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 head escarole, leaves torn into bite size pieces
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
Shaved Parmesan (for serving)

Prepped items and home cooked Northern beans

Pulse onion in a food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Repeat with fennel, carrot, and celery, placing vegetables in bowl with onion.

On medium setting, heat 2 tbsps. oil in a large pot.  Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 3-6 minutes.

This is "Spelt flour" just in case you wondered :)

Turn heat down to medium-low.  Add spelt flour and cook, stirring often until spelt is browned, about 3 minutes.

 Add the onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot;  season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally with a flat whisk.  Stir until vegetables are softened, 6-8 minutes.  Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook until paste is slightly darkened, about 1 minute.

Add broth to pot.  With the flat whisk, scrape bottom of pot and stir until soup is a consistent mixture.  Bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 60-70 minutes.

Stir in the beans and . . .

. . .  the escarole.  Cook until the escarole is wilted and beans are warmed through, about 4 minutes.

Serve soup drizzled with oil and topped with Parmesan cheese shavings.

I knew this soup wouldn't be enough for my hubby, so I added a grilled cheese sandwich.  He was too full to have seconds. 

Enjoy your weekend, stay safe, be thankful and remember to savor every moment.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mackerel with Crushed Potatoes & Oregano

adapted from JAN 2014 BonAppetit

2 lb. small waxy potatoes (such as baby Yukon Gold)
Kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek Yogurt
1 tsp. (or more) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 6 oz. skin-on mackerel fillets*
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
*Also try it with: Black bass, branzino, snapper, or trout fillets

Place potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover, and season with kosher salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 10-12 minutes.  Drain; let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler.  Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and vinegar in a small vinegar in a small bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper.  Set yogurt sauce aside.

Place potatoes on a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet and, using the bottom of a small bowl or measuring cup, press potatoes to flatten slightly.  Add garlic, drizzle with 4 Tbsp. oil, and toss to coat; season with kosher salt and pepper.  Broil potatoes until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

Rub skin side of mackerel with remaning 1 Tbsp. oil; season with kosher salt and pepper.  Place, skin side up, on top of potatoes and broil until fish is opaque throughout and skin is crisp.   10-12 miutes.  Remove from oven and top with oregano and lemon zest.

Spoon yogurt sauce onto each plate and top with potatoes and fish; sprinkle with sea salt.

Upon a return from my month long trip to the state of Michigan (visiting my sister and her family), I had a stack of magazines waiting for me, including two Bon Appétit magazines.

I saved several recipes that looked delectable and off to the grocery store I went today to get all my ingredients.

It only took about an hour to prep and cook this recipe.  I had to use Cod fillets because none of the stores I went to had Mackerel.  

This was my first time cooking with Baby Yukon Gold potatoes.

My favorite part of combining the cooled potatoes with the oil and garlic.  It smelled so wonderful I could have eaten them then!

I never would have thought about cooking potatoes and fish together, they just don't seem together.  Don't you agree?  Anyway, I couldn't resist, the more I read this recipe the more I wanted to make it.

The yogurt sauce was savory, combined with the garlicky potatoes, gave it a perfect taste.  Topped with lemon zest and oregano, I couldn't have asked for a better flavor.  The Cod was very good but I really want to try it with Mackerel next time.  A very satisfying dinner, and healthy too!

I'm glad to be back in my kitchen once again but I do have to admit that I was a little lost trying to remember where everything was.  

Have a great week and remember to savor every moment!

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