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Sara

Sara and me

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Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope: Marta’s Legacy Series Book 1 (A Gripping Historical Christian Fiction Family Saga from the 1900s to the 1950s) (Marta’s Legacy) by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

One of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Soups, on July 9th, 2020.

chilled_curried_cauliflower_apple_soup

Needing a nice, gentle curried cauliflower soup to serve chilled? This is your ticket.

In my soup recipe repertoire, I must have 30 or more cauliflower soups. And there are plenty of them already posted and archived in the index. They’re all very different; this one is no exception. When I ate, then prepared the cauliflower soup I posted a few months ago, Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, Capers and Balsamic Drizzle, there’s no question it sailed to the very top of my list of favorite cauliflower soups. Even though I’ve only made it once. It was just sensational. But I’d get tired of making that one over and over. I eat a lot of cruciferous vegetable soups, or soups that don’t have a lot of carbs. Hence broccoli and cauliflower rank high on my soup cooking lists. Recently I made a combo soup of both of those veggies. It was awful. After two servings of it, it got poured down the drain.

So as I perused all of the other recipes to try, this one kept coming back for my review. I had a relatively small head of cauliflower. I had a Gala apple and onion. Everything else was do-able. I made it, thinking I’d serve it hot (which is how the original recipe was served at Campton Place). I made it a couple of days ago and had it chilling in the frig. When I took out the container I needed to taste it for salt. Oh my, it tasted just wonderful chilled. So, although you may serve this hot or cold, cold is my preference. At least now since it’s summer and very hot outside.

The soup is like many others – butter, onion, curry powder (medium heat) and fresh ginger. Sautéed. Then apple, saffron, the cauliflower and low sodium chicken broth. That simmered for about half an hour or less, then I added the milk, whizzed it using my stick blender, then cooled it. I recommend you make it a day ahead.

chilled_curried_cauliflower_apple_soup_closeupIn the original recipe, the garnish was minced apple, saffron and curry powder with a dash of salt. I decided to enhance it with some more vegetables. I love celery, so it got minced up so very fine, some red bell pepper because it would look pretty, a couple of green onions, some cilantro, salt, and some lemon juice. I’d actually gotten out an avocado as well, but at the last minute decided there was enough already. I chose not to add more curry powder. There’s enough in the soup, although it’s not overpowering at all. I saved a few whole cilantro leaves to place on top.

A serving of 1 1/2 cups of this is a whopping 167 calories, including the garnishes. With the apple in it, it does have 24 grams of carbs.

What’s GOOD: almost any cauliflower soup is a bit bland, so adding other flavors is imperative in my book. The curry powder (not much) adds just a lovely hint of curry flavor. The apple added into the mix also mellows out the cauliflower. Really liked that part. I couldn’t distinguish the saffron – I suppose if it was taken out the soup would have a different flavor profile, but truly saffron didn’t come to mind as I tasted it. But the star of the soup was the garnish. It’s a way to get more veggies, but it’s tempered by the addition of some apples too. You can serve it hot or cold. The garnish will keep for a day or two with the addition of lemon juice.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – making it a day ahead is helpful – the flavors will meld better. Maybe preparing the garnish, but it still only took about 5 minutes to do that part.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chilled Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from Bon Appetit, from Campton Place
Serving Size: 5

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion — chopped (~1 cup)
2 teaspoons curry powder — medium heat
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads — soaked in 1/4 cup hot water for 10 minutes
1 cup Gala apple — peeled, cored and chopped (2 small apples or 1 large)
1 medium head cauliflower — greens and stem removed, and broken into small florets
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth — (1 quart)
1 1/4 cups whole milk — or half and half
1 pinch cayenne pepper — optional
salt to taste
olive oil (for garnish)
GARNISH:
1 cup apple — very finely minced, leaving skin intact for color
1 cup celery — very finely minced
3 whole green onions — very finely minced
1/2 red bell pepper — very finely minced
3/4 cup fresh cilantro — most finely minced in garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
a few cilantro leaves to place on top when serving

1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onions, curry powder and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped apple and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until soft.
2. Add the cauliflower, saffron and the water it soaked in, then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Stir in the the milk or half and half and continue to simmer over low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Do not bring it to a boil or the milk may separate.
4. Use a stick blender to puree the soup in the pot. Otherwise, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. If serving chilled, cool and refrigerate overnight if time permits. If serving hot, return pureed soup to pot and heat over low flame. Add cayenne pepper (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Cool and chill at this point, or you may serve it hot.
5. GARNISH: In a medium bowl combine the minced apple, celery, green onions, bell pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and the minced cilantro. Season with salt.
6. Soup may be served chilled, or piping hot. Add a generous couple of spoonfuls of apple garnish and drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Place a few cilantro leaves on top.
Per Serving: 167 Calories; 6g Fat (29.7% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 112mg Sodium; 16g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 113mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 565mg Potassium; 151mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Veggies/sides, on July 3rd, 2020.

asparagus_appetizer_secret_sauce

Most likely you’re going to laugh. Secret sauce? Eh-what?

Making this appetizer is so very simple – other than having to cook the asparagus to just that right al-dente bite. You don’t want limp asparagus. You want them barely cooked through, but not so they’d totally fall over in a stand-up container. Part of the fun of this is using some kind of fun vertical container. If I had a glass cylinder that wasn’t too tall, I’d use that, just so you can see the asparagus full length.

It’s been decades since I first read or heard about this method of offering asparagus as an appetizer. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember where I got it. It could have been at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. It might have been from some old-old cookbook. It might have been at a cooking class. I didn’t even have a recipe written up for this – like a real, honest to goodness recipe to follow. I had to write one for this post. Asparagus, some salt, water, and then the secret ingredient. And a tad of sesame seeds as a garnish.

First, you just have to steam or simmer the trimmed asparagus in salted water until they’re just barely tender. Sorry, I’m repeating myself here. It’s important you not overcook them, so they stand up. Drain them and let them dry. If you’re in a hurry, put them out on paper towels or a tea towel and gently dry them off. I prefer these cool or cold, but that’s up to you.

Then, ta-da, you merely roll them in some seasoned rice wine vinegar and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. That’s it. You DO NOT make this ahead (the acid in the rice wine vinegar will make the asparagus turn an insipid canned-asparagus-color). Not good. So JUST before you’re ready to serve them, you put them in a flat dish or flat bowl, sprinkle a bit of the seasoned rice wine vinegar over them, roll them around with your fingers. If I’m feeling adventurous, I also sprinkle toasted secret_sauce_rice_wine_vinegarsesame seeds around the top of the asparagus, picking up a bunch in my hand. Then stand them up in your chosen vertical vessel. Coffee mugs are just about the right height. I took this to my a family dinner a week or so ago. They were gone in a flash. Even my grandson Vaughan, who professes to not like asparagus very much, had a bunch.

I forgot to take the sesame seeds when I served them last time, so you can’t see them sticking to the tops. I’m making them again today, so am going to put out the sesame seeds – so I don’t forget!

What’s GOOD: so easy and extremely low calorie. Nice for a picnic although do take a wet paper towel to wipe off your fingers after you’ve used the vinegar. The vinegar has some sugar in it (that makes it “seasoned”) so it’ll make your fingers sticky. I guarantee you, they’ll be a hit. One of the fun things is serving this in a vertical container.

What’s NOT: only that you have to do the seasoning (finger-rolling in the vinegar) at the last minute, but truly it’ll take you less than one minute to do it.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Asparagus Appetizer with Secret Sauce

Recipe By: Can’t remember; I’ve been making these for 40+ years
Serving Size: 6

1 pound asparagus — not too thin, not too thick
salted water to cook the asparagus
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds — toasted, garnish

NOTE: This is meant as an appetizer, but it can also be served as a side dish.
1. Trim asparagus of woody stems. You do not want them to be all the same length.
2. Using a wide saucepan, bring a cup or so of water to a simmer (just enough to cover the asparagus), add some salt to taste, then add the asparagus. Bring the water back to a simmer again, watching it carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the asparagus is just barely al-dente, stirring and rolling the asparagus around so all the stalks are under the water line. Do not overcook them. They need to be firm enough they’ll stand up in a mug or tall container.
3. Remove asparagus and cool, then blot dry with paper towels or tea towel. Chill if you have the time.
4. Into a shallow dish place the asparagus and sprinkle the rice wine vinegar over the top, drizzling back and forth. Using your fingers, roll the asparagus so all of them have been in contact with the vinegar. DO NOT make this ahead as the asparagus will turn yellow. Holding the asparagus in one hand, gently sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the asparagus, as you turn the asparagus around. Stand the asparagus into a vertical container (coffee mug or similar shape) and serve immediately. If you’re not sure you’ll eat all the asparagus it’s wise to season some of it, serve, then if you need more you can always add more to the vinegar and serve more of them.
Per Serving: 21 Calories; trace Fat (7.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 21mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 154mg Potassium; 41mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on June 27th, 2020.

smoked_brisket_chili

It’s not every day you have some left over smoked beef brisket. If you do, however, THIS is a recipe for you!

Several weeks ago I ventured “out” and drove to the Pasadena area where my son and his family live. I stayed outside in their back yard and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with them, and had a sumptuous dinner. Powell has a big honkin’ barbecue/smoker and he’d purchased THE largest brisket I’ve ever seen in my life. He goes to a meat market near where they live, called Harmony Farms. They know him by first name now. Anyway, what to do with left over beef brisket that’s been smoked? Karen had made this chili once before (a year ago maybe) and I’d exclaimed over the wonderful flavors of the chili. So when I went home that evening she gave me a nice container of smoked brisket to use however I wanted, but what I wanted was this chili.

The recipe called for 3 cups of leftover brisket. This brisket was not slathered with anything wet – it had a dry rub on it and had been smoked for 12 hours or so, and it had deep, smoky flavor. Powell uses something called Cue-Glue from Savory Spice. It’s something that helps dry rub stick to the meat. The label calls it “the pro’s secret weapon.”

When I made the chili, I adapted the recipe, just slightly. I had more brisket, and didn’t have the smaller half-cans of kidney beans or black beans, so I used one can total and some frozen corn. I just eye-balled it. Since the brisket had some fairly warm (spicy) rub on it, I tamed down the seasonings a little bit. Play with it if you make this. The recipe came from a website called vindulge. There are oodles of grilled and smoked meat recipes on that website.

What “makes” this recipe is, obviously, the brisket itself and it’s deep, smoky flavors. You start off with 1-inch chunks of the already smoked brisket, and as it cooks (simmers) the beef does break down into smaller pieces. And becomes super tender. There’s a little bit of coffee (I made a shot of espresso) in this, some chipotle in adobo sauce (be careful, that stuff is hot) and smoked paprika and beer.

When I made this a few weeks ago, it was still cool spring weather here, so I ate some of it and froze some of it – maybe for the fall once summer winds down.

Tuck this recipe into your hat for the fall, unless you’re wanting to make a smoked brisket in the summer. Just don’t use a wet-slathered red sauced type brisket. It would lean this chili over into a barbecue sauce soup, which isn’t what you want here. A tip of my hat to my daughter in law, Karen, for finding this recipe, and for sharing the smoked brisket with me so I could make it myself.

What’s GOOD: oh my, so delicious. I just love this recipe. But then, I do love chili. Not usually ones with tons of beans in it, however. I was prudent with how many beans I added. The combo of flavors is over the top wonderful. I don’t cook smoked meat, so if I make this again, it’ll need to be from another part of my son’s smoked meats. He loves to smoke meat, though, so that’s probably not a problem! Make the day ahead if you have time – all soups get better with an overnight chill.

What’s NOT: maybe acquiring the smoked brisket? Otherwise, nothing at all. Plan ahead a few hours.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook recipe (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Smoked Beef Brisket Chili

Recipe By: Adapted from Vindulge website
Serving Size: 8

3 slices thick-sliced bacon — diced
1 large onion — about 2 cups, chopped
1 whole red bell pepper — chopped
3 cloves garlic — finely diced
4 cups smoked beef brisket — cooked, cut up into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
12 ounces beer — or beef broth
1/4 cup coffee or espresso
15 ounces diced tomatoes — including juice
15 ounces tomato sauce — or tomato paste plus water
15 ounces canned black beans — drained and rinsed
15 ounces canned kidney beans — drained and rinsed
7 ounces canned corn — drained and rinsed
4 ounces canned diced green chiles

Note: The original recipe used half the amount of beans and corn. I didn’t have a use for leftover canned beans or corn, so I added the whole cans into the mixture. The original recipe also used more chili powder. Use your own judgment about how much to add. Be careful adding the chipotle peppers in adobo – they can be very hot. You can always add more, but you can’t take them out once they’re in.
1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels using a slotted spoon and reserve for later. If there is excess bacon grease remove it, otherwise cook the onions in it.
2. Add onions and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add bell pepper and garlic; cook 1 additional minute to soften.
3. Add the leftover cubed brisket and all dry seasonings. Let cook 1 minute stirring often.
4. Add beer (or broth) and allow it to deglaze the pan and cook off the alcohol (about 1-2 minutes). Then add coffee, tomatoes, beans, corn, green chiles, and the reserved bacon.
5. Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to two hours to develop the flavors.If the stew starts to get too thick, you can add water 1/2 cup at a time to thin it out.
6. Serve with a drizzle of sour cream and chopped cilantro. Optional: minced red onion, green onion, tortilla chips (crushed) or Fritos.
Per Serving: 512 Calories; 26g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 124mg Cholesterol; 1817mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 79mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 774mg Potassium; 189mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on June 21st, 2020.

sandy_cc_nutbutter_cookies

Yes, chocolate chip, but with a decidedly different texture and flavor profile.

Necessity is the mother of invention. During the time when I was eschewing nearly all carbs, I had collected a lot of recipes, including this one for a GF cookie (although this one I made here is not quite GF). I was all out of my last batch of choc chip cookies, so needed to find something new to try. I wanted to make something that had next to no sugar, and very little if any flour. This recipe came into being. I had almond butter on hand. In little 1 ounce packages. Hmm. But not enough to make 6 tablespoons. But I did have peanut butter, so I combined the two. Neither flavor really prevailed in the finished cookie, which was fine with me. The recipe called for coconut butter (oil), but I used unsalted butter. It also called for coconut sugar. I had some, but decided to use some monkfruit sweetener in addition, so I did half and half. I had the pure blanched almond flour on hand, but I also had some of Trader Joe’s almond meal (which contains some of the almond skin – hence these cookies have a little more dark/speckled look to them. The recipe also called for coconut flour, so that’s when I substituted regular wheat flour, all purpose. It was only 1/3 cup, so hardly any carbs for the whole recipe.

I’ve renamed the recipe because these cookies have a different texture – not exactly like pecan sandies – but they’re similar in texture. So even though they’re chocolate chip, with a hint of peanut butter, they do have a different texture than any chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever made.

sandy_cc_nutbutter_cookies_closeupMixing it up was no trouble – into my stand mixer went the ingredients in a specific order. Refrigerated butter needs nothing more than 10 seconds in my microwave to be softened. No more, no less.

Knowing that I’d veered away from the original recipe with a lot of different ingredients, I wasn’t sure how they would turn out during the baking process, so I baked just two at first, thinking that I could add more flour or something else if it needed it. Once out of the oven they were incredibly soft and tender. They looked done, but when I touched the top of the cookie, it was almost a wet pouf, but once I let them cool  on the sheet first, they were easy to remove from the cookie sheet. And they were fine. Just fine. Better than fine!Next time I’ll add some chopped walnuts, just because I like choc chip cookies with nuts. So you could easily add 1/3 cup of them to this recipe, or not; your choice. You’ll get a yield of a couple more cookies.

What’s GOOD: definitely chocolate chip. Definitely different texture (but good). Like them a lot. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t have almond flour, or almond butter. Easy to make. Can be refrigerated before baking.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

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Sandy Chocolate Chip Nut Butter Cookies – nearly GF

Recipe By: Adapted from a paleo blog cookie recipe
Serving Size: 34

6 tablespoons unsalted butter — softened
3/8 cup coconut sugar — or regular sugar, or use more monkfruit
3/8 cup monkfruit sweetener
3 tablespoons almond butter
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup almond meal — or almond flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour — or substitute coconut flour if you want a GF cookie
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts — optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl (stand or hand mixer) combine the softened butter, sugars, almond butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix until smooth, about a minute.
3. Beat in egg until combined, then add almond meal and flour and continue beating just until it’s mixed. Add chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) and beat until incorporated.
4. Use parchment paper on cookie sheets to prevent sticking. Using a cookie scoop, place rounded balls of dough on cookie sheets, about 1 1/2″ apart.
5. Bake for 11-13 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 12 minutes. Recommend: Bake two cookies first, to see how long they need to bake. They’ll still be very soft when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets, then taste to make sure they’re “done.” Bake remaining cookies. Freeze for long term storage, or eat them within 3 days if left at room temp.
Per Serving: 86 Calories; 7g Fat (63.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium; 2g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 23mg Calcium; trace Iron; 63mg Potassium; 42mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, on June 16th, 2020.

roast_chix_schmaltzy_brussels_onions_plated

Absolute divine chicken and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I was reading Smitten Kitchen (blog) and Deb had written up a recipe for smaltzy chicken with a bed of cabbage underneath it. I know enough Yiddish to know that schmaltz is chicken fat. I laughed at Deb’s naming of the recipe – schmaltzy – to connote the fat that drips down from the chicken into and onto the bed of cabbage underneath. When I made the dish, it was absolutely fabulous. I mean drop-dead fabulous. And I took pictures of it. But when I tried to work with the photos, it was just so “brown.” You know me and dull, brownish pictures. Hate them. I used all of that chicken, and ate all of the delicious cabbage that had been permeated with the chicken juices, and fat, of course. So, with another chicken in my frig, but no cabbage, I decided to try it with different veggies.

To make this recipe work, I think you DO need to use firm brassica vegetables (Brussels, cabbage, turnips and/or cauliflower). I had Brussels, but nothing else, so I added onions on top. Onions aren’t of the brassica family, but they do take a long time to cook through. So, I thought, why not? Oh my goodness. A marriage made in heaven.

chix_brussels_in_panThis dish is a cinch to put together. I mean it. The Brussels sprouts are halved if they’re big, otherwise left whole, and they’re placed cut side down into an oiled iron skillet. One that’s big enough to hold all the vegetables and the whole chicken sitting on top of them. Then the halved and sliced onions are put on top of that. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and dried thyme (my favorite go-to herb). The whole chicken is dried off, then oiled with EVOO, salted, peppered and more dried thyme, then set atop the veggies. Into a VERY hot oven (450°) it goes for about 50 minutes. My oven runs a tad hot, so I used 445°F. At the halfway point I turned the pan around 180°F in the oven.

roast_chix_iron_skilletWhen I made chicken before, I removed it when the thigh had reached 165°F, the usual temp cooks say it needs to reach. But I wasn’t totally happy with the chicken – to me it wasn’t quite done. It was done, but it wasn’t done enough. The leg wasn’t loose – the sure sign that a chicken is cooked through. So this time when I opened the oven at 50 minutes, the chicken was very golden brown. So I turned the oven down to 420°F and let it roast for another 10 minutes, at which point the thigh had reached 180°F. If you have a smaller chicken or a larger one, you might need to adapt the total baking time. I removed the pan with all the wonderful chicken and onion flavors floating around my nose, tented it with foil for about 10 minutes, and was ready to serve. chix_brussel_onions_in_pan

The vegetables stayed plenty warm in the hot-hot frying pan while I carved  up the chicken. My portion control went right out the window. I hate a leg (thigh and drumstick) and a big scoop of vegetables. And as I peeled off all the chicken from the carcass later, I nibbled on more juicy, dripping chicken. Oh my.

What’s GOOD: there is nothing that wasn’t sensational about this chicken. If I don’t have brassicas to add to the pan, well, I’ll just use more onions. But the combo of Brussels and onions was doubly wonderful. If you’re not a Brussels sprouts fan, use cabbage and onions.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – you do need some kind of veg that needs long, hot cooking. Hence I didn’t think broccoli would work here. Cauliflower would, however, so I’ll try that next time, providing I have some.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Roasted Chicken with Schmaltzy Brussels and Onions

Recipe By: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog, 2020
Serving Size: 5

2 teaspoons EVOO
1 pound Brussels sprouts — stems trimmed, halved if large, whole if small
2 large yellow onions — halved and sliced
salt and pepper to taste, sprinkled on top
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the vegetables
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon EVOO
salt and pepper, sprinkled on the chicken
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — sprinkled on the chicken
2 teaspoons fresh parsley — chopped, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 445-450°F. My oven runs hot, so I reduce the temp by 5°F.
2. Smear the EVOO in the bottom of a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the vegetables and the chicken to sit on top.
3. As you cut the Brussels sprouts, lay them cut side down in the skillet and add the additional ones on top. Sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the halved and sliced onions on top, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, then sprinkle dried thyme over all.
5. Pat dry the chicken, then rub it all over with EVOO, salt, pepper, then set it on top of the vegetables. Sprinkled dried thyme on top of the chicken.
6. Roast in oven for about 50 minutes. If you’re brave, remove the pan from oven halfway through and if you find drippings in the bottom, use a deep spoon to drizzle it over the top of the chicken. If not brave, rotate the chicken 90°F. Check the internal temp of the bird. Usually chefs say cook until the thigh is 165°F, but I prefer a whole chicken roasted further, as often the leg is not loose and not ready to eat. Turn down heat to 425°F if the top of the bird is overly browned. Continue baking for about 10 more minutes, until the internal temp of the thigh is at 180°F and the leg joint moves easily.
7. Remove pan from oven, tent loosely with foil for 10 minutes.
8. Remove chicken from the pan to a carving board and carve thick slices of breast and remove legs, cutting them in half. Serve with generous servings of the Brussels sprouts and onions on the side. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
Per Serving (assumes you’ll be eating all the skin, hence numbers are high): 774 Calories; 52g Fat (61.0% calories from fat); 62g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 286mg Cholesterol; 247mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 88mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1023mg Potassium; 550mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on June 11th, 2020.

meatballs_french_onion_soup_style

More and more, I see bloggers who show food-sloppy pictures. So here’s mine!

As I write this, looking at that picture, I’m laughing. What a messy casserole! I could have tried to clean it up before taking the picture, but oh well. It is what it is. I’m also laughing at myself – – – when I make something that is wildly delicious, the next day my fingers are just itching to get to my keyboard to start writing up a post. This is one of those kind of posts. After checking my email and doing my online jigsaw puzzle to wake up my brain, I was right into it, correcting the recipe with the changes I made, preparing the photos and beginning to write the story.

My neighbor, who is still doing a lot of my grocery shopping for me, bought sweet onions (instead of regular yellow ones). Afterwards, I gave her a little lesson in onions (she’s not much of a cook – she COOKS, but not because she likes to – because she has to feed her family of 4). She had never heard of sweet onions – so I gave her a quick lesson about them. I should give her a link to the blog post I did some years ago after my friends Tom and Joan gifted me with a passel of Texas Noonday sweet onions. And, last week she went to Costco (for herself, but also for me) and I had her buy a 3-pack of the ground beef. I froze two, and left one the frig. So, here I was with ground beef and sweet onions (you know, of course, that sweet onions don’t last as long in your pantry as regular onions – they have more moisture/water in them, so they tend to spoil much sooner). I searched my recipe database, and up popped this recipe that I hadn’t tried yet.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_onions_sauteeingAnd what a winner of a recipe it is. I’ll be making this again. I think next time I’ll try it with ground turkey, just to make it a bit healthier. First you have to slice 2 big sweet onions (cut in half first, then sliced) and they sweat away with some EVOO until they’ve caramelized. That takes awhile – especially with the sweet onions. When they get to the end of caramelizing you add in a little solution of beef broth and red wine and sweat that off too.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_sauteeingThen you make the meatballs. First you mix some of the usual kinds of ingredients. A cube of mozzarella cheese is put into the center of each meatball. Not a very big piece as lots of the cheese oozes out during cooking. Then you brown the meatballs.

Meanwhile, the onions are put into bottom of a casserole dish (or you can make this in a frying pan that’s suitable for going into the oven, that’ll save one more dish from dishwashing). The meatballs go in on top. Then you make a cornstarch-thickened mixture with broth and more red wine and that cooks in the residual fat left in the frying pan. Once thickened, that’s poured over the top of the meatballs.

meatballs_fr_onion_style_baking_cheeseInto the oven they go for about 15-20 minutes, then you take them out and add the cheese on top and back into the oven they go for another 15-20 minutes, and they’re done.

There’s a picture of the casserole (the second one I made that I gave to my neighbor) ready for the second baking with the cheese on top.

Once the casserole is done, I suggest you take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 4-5 minutes. It’s really hot, and that cheese will, for sure, burn the roof of your mouth. meatballs_fr_onion_style_plated

I probably should have had just three meatballs. I splurged and had four. And oh, were they ever good. There really isn’t “soup” as you might think – there are delicious red-winey-onions on the bottom, then the meatballs, crispy with the golden brown cheese. This could be served on a bed of rice, cauliflower rice (buttered), some mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower too, or some noodles? Or a bed of buttered garlic spinach.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was delicious. The onions have great flavor, especially with the little bit of red wine added, then the sauce too, which has broth and red wine in it. The beef was tasty, especially if you had a bit of cheese and onion with every bite. I almost licked the bowl.

What’s NOT: well, this does take a bit of time to make. If you have some extra hands in the kitchen to do the meatballs, that would be a great help. It probably took about an hour and 20 minutes or so to do it all, altogether, including the 30 minute baking time. The onions take a long time – you could easily do those ahead, as that would save a lot of time.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Meatballs French Onion Soup au Gratin Style

Recipe By: Tweaked slightly from Cupcakes and Kale Chips blog
Serving Size: 8

ONIONS:
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 large sweet onions — halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
MEATBALLS:
1 3/4 pounds ground beef — or could use ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs — or panko, or gluten free, if needed, or oatmeal
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
8 ounces mozzarella cheese — about 2 ounces of it cut into half-inch cubes, the remainder shredded for the topping
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish — optional
SAUCE:
1 3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste (may not be needed)

1. ONIONS: the onions: Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add onions, salt & pepper, cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently or until caramelized. If using sweet onions it will take 30-40 minutes. Add thyme, sauté for minute or two, then add the wine and beef broth. Reduce until very little liquid remains. Pour into a casserole dish large enough to hold all of the meatballs. Set aside.
2. MEATBALLS: Combine all ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl, and gently combine with your hands. Divide the meat mixture into 16-18 equal pieces. Take one piece of the meat mixture and flatten slightly into a patty. Place one cube of cheese in the center of the patty and wrap the meatball around the cheese, sealing as best you can. Roll the meatball beween your two palms to make it more round. Repeat with the remaining meat and cheese cubes.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Place meatballs in casserole on top of the onions.
5. SAUCE: Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour into the skillet you used for the meatballs (that has some residual fat in it). Heat mixture, stirring frequently, until thickened. Taste for seasonings – it may not need any additional. Pour over the meatballs. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the meatballs and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. The cheese may be golden brown in places (perfect). If not, turn on broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, or sauteed spinach with butter.

Posted in Desserts, on June 6th, 2020.

straw_sauce_ricotta_cream

That’s a glass espresso cup. Tiny. And an espresso spoon. To make a tiny dessert.

As businesses have opened up here in California (mostly) I’m still sheltering in place. Wishing all of this was over with, so we can go about our lives again. Alas, for people my age, at least here in California, it’s not happening yet. I’m still at home, preparing all of my own food (I haven’t done any take-out so far). There’s no shortage of recipes to try, but sometimes there aren’t the right ingredients to make things happen. My next door neighbor is still buying lots of food for me, although I’m now buying from some local grocery stores that deliver.

The other day a little memory rose up to the surface, as they are wont to do sometimes, and I remembered waaaay back in the day when I was still working. Kathleen, who worked for us, was going to Weight Watchers at the time, and came into the office and said oh, taste this . . . it was something creamy, thick, white. Eileen tasted it and said eww….. I tasted it and said wow, that’s delicious. What is it? She said pastry cream. What? Really, on Weight Watchers? She said yes. I wanted the recipe. She laughed a little, I think, and said you won’t believe what it is? Ricotta cheese, a smidgen of yogurt with some sweetener in it (probably Sweet ‘n Low, which was about all that was available back then). And maybe there was a tiny splash of vanilla in it. Not sure that I remember if Kathleen used it, but I do add vanilla when I make it.

My business partner and I sold the ad agency back in 1995, but I’ve stayed in touch with some of the employees, Kathleen included. I emailed her the other day and asked her if she remembered that day. Of course she did! And she recalled that the following week after that epiphany in the office, she went to her Weight Watchers meeting, and raved about the “pastry cream” she’d been snacking on a few times a day, the leader said WHAT? You’re only supposed to have a bite or two, like on a strawberry, or spread on an apple slice. OH. We all laughed about that.

ricotta_cheese_TJsBut I’ve not forgotten that little sinful pleasure, and had my neighbor buy me a tub of ricotta from Trader Joe’s. I buy full fat because I’m not pleased with what I’ve read about how dairy products are stripped of the fat – maybe not a healthy food to eat. So anyway, I opened the tub, sprinkled on some monkfruit sweetener, added a small dollop of yogurt, and a couple of drops of vanilla, and stirred it up well. I prefer to do this several hours ahead, but hey, if you’re in a hurry, go right ahead. The sweetener or sugar just doesn’t dissolve immediately in ricotta cheese. Over the years, I’m sure I’ve made this “ricotta cream” at least 20 times. (Thank you, Kathleen!) The original recipe suggests you whiz this up in the food processor until the ricotta is silky smooth. I don’t bother – the stirred version is fine with me.

Meanwhile, my neighbor phoned me one day and said the local grocery store had big boxes of fresh strawberries for $1.99. Did I want one? Wow, that’s a lot of strawberries for me to eat, but I said “sure.” I ate a few, then thought about making a fresh strawberry sauce, using artificial sweetener. I’m really trying to limit the sugar I eat. This may be the last “dessert” you’ll see here for awhile as I’m telling myself I can’t be baking with abandon as I stay here at home. I want to bake. No. Need to stop!

straw_sauceSo I made a fresh strawberry sauce with fresh, sliced strawberries, some monkfruit sweetener, and a little bit of fresh lemon juice. It took little or no time to make. I read a bunch of different recipes, and one intrigued me stating that sliced berries will result in a vibrant, clear sauce. If you mash them, it muddies the waters, so to speak. I liked the result, and it’s low in calorie to boot. I also added a tiny, tiny splash of dark balsamic vinegar to the mixture once it cooled. It gives a different flavor profile – you can’t quite figure out what’s in it. Those little storage containers above are now in the freezer. The pound of berries made a lot of sauce, which won’t keep all that long because it’s not sweetened with sugar. It tastes like a thin jam, but without real sugar it will begin to spoil after 4-5 days.

straw_sauce_ice_creamUSING: Well, when I’m desperate for a snack, my spoon goes into that tub of ricotta cheese. I eat maybe 2 bites straight, just like Kathleen taught me back in the 90s [cheeky grin]. If I’m wanting something more fancy, I do have some vanilla ice cream on hand that I’m trying very hard not to eat but rarely, and the other night I scooped some into a little bitty glass dish and spooned some berries on top, with a few walnuts. A tasty dessert. Or I spoon some of the ricotta cream into a little espresso cup and add the berries on top (pictured at top).

What’s GOOD: a great little snack (moderation, remember?) and makes a nice little bitty dessert if you’re hankering for something not too sinful. Strawberries are at peak season here in California at the moment. A perfect time to make this. And freeze some of it for a winter’s day.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t like the texture/consistency of ricotta cheese. It is an odd, kind of grainy texture, perhaps an acquired taste for some, but I’m fine with it. Obviously Eileen wasn’t! Chuckle.

RICOTTA CREAM: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

STRAWBERRY SAUCE: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Fresh Ricotta Cream

Recipe By: From my friend Kathleen H, from a Weight Watcher’s class, c. 1990
Serving Size: 8

1 pound ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar — or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Blend ingredients in food processor with metal blade until satiny smooth. Refrigerate in tightly covered container. Will keep for at least a week.
2. If you’re lazy, you can just stir into the ricotta the yogurt, sugar and vanilla and mix well. The sugar takes awhile to dissolve, so it’s best if made a few hours ahead.
SERVING: Serve as a kind of small-portion pudding, top with some sliced fruit, a fruit sauce, or even chocolate syrup. Put between two cookies, or use between thin layers of cake.
Per Serving: 108 Calories; 6g Fat (49.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 29mg Cholesterol; 65mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 124mg Calcium; trace Iron; 134mg Potassium; 93mg Phosphorus.

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* Exported from MasterCook *

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Recipe By: My own recipe.
Serving Size: 12

1 pound fresh strawberries — cleaned, dried with paper towels, stemmed, then sliced thickly
2 tablespoons sugar — or monkfruit sweetener, or other artificial sweetener
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar — or more to taste

1. Place sliced strawberries into a saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice. The amount of sugar needed will depend on how ripe the berries are – riper the berries = less sugar.
2. Bring mixture to a simmer and stir occasionally as it cooks and the strawberries soften, about 4-8 minutes. Do not overcook or the berries will soften to a mush. That’s not the texture you want – just cooked through, barely. Taste for more sugar or lemon juice, as needed.
3. Set aside to cool.
4. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well. You do not want the balsamic vinegar flavor to predominate – it’s there just to add a nuance. Allow to cool completely and chill. Freezes well.
Per Serving: 21 Calories; trace Fat (4.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 6mg Calcium; trace Iron; 61mg Potassium; 9mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, on June 1st, 2020.

beer_braised_veal_bratwurst_onions

Ever get a hankering for bratwurst?

As I write this, we’re still in the sheltering-in-place routine. Am I tired of it? Heck, yes. But I’m not willing to risk going out yet. My doctor has told me that older folks (like me) should stay home until there is a vaccine. Oh my. Is that ever a depressing thought. That’s more than 6 months away. I can’t wrap my head around that possibility. So I’m staying at home and trying not to think more than 1-2 days ahead.

It was a few weeks ago that I was watching Joanne Weir’s Plate and Places (PBS). In that episode she visited Germany, chugged some lager with the locals, and then came home to make veal brats and her version of a cabbage dish to go with it. Since they kind-a go together I’m giving you both recipes in the one post.

My problem was getting the brats. Since I’m not going out, I had to rely on my neighbor to go for me, and there are only a couple of stores locally that carry good veal brats (other than the bulk-made grocery store variety that I don’t think are very authentic). My neighbor, Josee, was kind enough to say she’d go to one particular independent market for me. I had her get the brats and a bunch of Italian sausage (the latter vacuum sealed in one-sausage-per-pkg that’s in the freezer). Fortunately I had cabbage and Brussels sprouts too, so I was happy to be able to prepare this dish.

What I didn’t have was the German amber beer, but I did have ordinary beer (I don’t drink beer, but my son-in-law brought some here last fall when they visited). There was one bottle left, and it was just enough.

The gist of this recipe is that once you brown the sausages in a spice toasted pan, they are braised in beer until cooked through. Then onions are added (see them perched on top of the sausage in the photo) and then served with the mustard sauce (which I forgot to photograph).

cabbage_brussels_pan_braisingThe cabbage dish was so intriguing to me because it combined regular cabbage and Brussels sprouts. But then, I love Brussels sprouts just about any old which way. But to combine them with cabbage, then flavor them with celery seeds, caraway, juniper berries and some Riesling wine? Oh yes! And butter. And the wine I didn’t use in the cabbage I had as an aperitif for several evenings in a row. I went into the wine cellar – which I knew would contain next to nothing in the Riesling department (because my DH didn’t like sweet wine), but I did find about 3 bottles. Yippee, I could make this dish!

There’s a photo at left of it cooking in the pan. As it cooked down, it became less vibrant looking, sorry to say, but it was delicious nevertheless.

What’s GOOD: everything was good. Loved having some veal brats, and I ate this for 3 days in a row. Loved the cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Actually, I liked them better on day two than the night I served them. I suppose the flavors married a bit. Which made the leftovers so much more delicious. Do make the mustard sauce too. A bit of work, but you can do it while the other stuff is cooking away.

What’s NOT: nothing really – pretty easy dishes to make if you have all the ingredients.

BEER BRAISED SAUSAGES: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

CABBAGE and BRUSSELS SPROUTS: printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Beer Braised Sausages with Mustard Sauce

Recipe By: Joanne Weir, her TV program “Plates and Places”
Serving Size: 4

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds bratwurst — uncooked veal type, or other sausages– hot or sweet Italian
2 large yellow onions — thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Kosher salt to taste
2 cups beer — amber (German)
HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE:
1/2 cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons beer
1 Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice — or more

NOTE: If possible use German beer.
1. Place the mustard seeds, caraway seeds and dill seeds in a mortar and crush them gently with a pestle.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausages, turning occasionally, until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Using a pin, prick the sausages several times.
3. Over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and add the spices, onions, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and translucent and begin to take on some golden brown color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place the bratwurst on top of the onions and pour the beer over the bratwurst. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until the bratwurst are completely cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.
4. In the meantime, place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
5. With tongs, remove the bratwurst from the pan and place on a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to high and cook until the onions are almost dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the onions on top of the bratwurst and serve with the Stoneground Honey Mustard Sauce.

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* Exported from MasterCook *

Braised Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Recipe By: Joanne Weir, Plates and Places TV show
Serving Size: 4

1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds — crushed
6 juniper berries — crushed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts — halved
1 1/2 cups Riesling wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 head cabbage — red or green, 1-inch dice

1. Place the celery seeds and the caraway seeds in a mortar and with a pestle, gently grind the seeds.
2. Warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are golden on the cut side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Riesling and continue to cook until the Brussels sprouts are almost cooked and the Riesling has evaporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside in a large bowl.
3. Melt the butter in the frying pan over medium high heat. Add the cabbage, celery, caraway, and junipers berries and cook just until the cabbage begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup Riesling and cook until the Riesling has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
4. Over medium high heat, add the Brussels sprouts to the cabbage and toss gently together. Cook until hot, 2 minutes.
Per Serving: (not accurate as it assumes you’re drinking the wine, not simmering it off in the pan) 265 Calories; 10g Fat (47.0% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 33mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 61mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 447mg Potassium; 77mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on May 27th, 2020.

crunchy_asian_cabbage_salad_chicken

A great way to get a Chinese chicken salad but without the carbs.

Before Mother’s Day, my daughter Sara drove to my house, and we visited. Albeit, shelter-in-place style. We sat outside (without masks, but 6 feet apart). I made lattes for each of us and we just visited. SO nice. SO fun. So needed. I was just sorry I couldn’t hug her!

I made a salad for us to enjoy outside for lunch (it was a lovely day). I started with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. But I veered off a little bit from her recipe – I wanted chicken, and I added a few other ingredients, and used some different proportions of things also. Technically, it’s not a “pure” Chinese chicken salad. It’s got asparagus in it and arugula. But during this shelter-in-place, we use what we have, right?

crunchy_asian_salad_chicken_dressingThe dressing starts with mayo – but then you add in a little sugar or sweetener, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, freshly grated ginger, mashed-up garlic and a bit of Sriracha. Oh, that dressing is wonderful. I’m sorry I didn’t make more! I recommend you make DOUBLE of it, use what you need for this salad, and keep the rest for another day.

Taste the salad as you add the dressing – it might need a bit more. Then serve on plates and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds (I should have toasted them – forgot). And don’t forget the cilantro garnish too – to me that’s an essential ingredient in any semblance of a Chinese chicken salad. It’s in the salad itself, but you can add more as a garnish also.

What’s GOOD: loved everything about it – the crunchiness of the cabbage, all the different textures. And loved-loved the dressing. As I mentioned – make double so you can use it on another salad a day or two later. No crunchy won ton strips on this, unfortunately, but I didn’t miss them. There’s very little sesame oil in this, but it adds a lovely flavor.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Crunchy Cabbage Asian Slaw with Chicken

Recipe By: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 4

4 cups Napa cabbage — thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas — ends trimmed, sliced
1/2 cup radishes — sliced into half-moon shapes
1/3 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped
2 cups cooked chicken — cubed
1 cup fresh asparagus — steamed and cooled
3 cups arugula — chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds — toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro — for garnish
ASIAN MAYO DRESSING:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Monkfruit sweetener — or sugar or honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce — low sodium if possible
1 teaspoon garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Thinly slice Napa cabbage, then coarsely chop. Add to a large bowl.
2. Add sugar snap peas, radishes, green onion, cilantro, asparagus, chicken and arugula.
3. DRESSING: In a bowl or glass measuring cup stir together the white wine vinegar, sweetener, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger puree, and Sriracha sauce. Whisk in the mayo until ingredients are well combined.
4. Toss salad ingredients, add enough dressing to coat ingredients, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes (just until the nuts are fragrant). Add almonds as a garnish to the salad. Add more cilantro on top if desired.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 30g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, on May 22nd, 2020.

rhubarb_cobbler_ice_cream

Every time I make something with rhubarb, my mind wings back in time to my mother’s varied ways of preparing it.

No question about it, I love rhubarb. I love the sweet-sour taste of it – even with plenty of sugar in it – it still has that little bit of sour that reaches those particular taste buds on your tongue. This was a new recipe I tried, and I liked it a LOT. My mother most often just made a rhubarb sauce – probably nothing more than rhubarb, sugar and water. That would be dessert. Mom would put out the bowl of sauce, 3 little serving bowls and we’d help ourselves. As I think I’ve mentioned before, my mother had a patch of rhubarb in the back  yard, clearly tucked away under a tree with lots of shade. I’ve heard tell that some people serve stalks of rhubarb with a bowl of sugar and you just dip the end into the sugar and eat it raw. I’ve never tried it.

rhubarb_cobbler_unbakedThe chunked up rhubarb was mixed with sugar (I used half real sugar and half monkfruit sweetener), salt, lemon juice and some almond extract (loved that part). It went into a buttered baking dish. Then you mix up the topping – flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, some shortening (yes, really), some butter, milk and an egg. It came together very easily. I did use a pastry blender, although at the end I just used my hands and mashed the little pieces of butter between my fingers. Then you pinch off little pieces of that dough and put them on top of the rhubarb. What happens is that it makes  “cobbled” top. It gives the topping, when baked, a craggy type top with little nooks and crannies.rhubarb_cobbler_baked

Into the oven it went for about 30 minutes and it was perfectly golden brown on top. I let it cool – but I think the best way to eat this would be still warm, with the ice cream.

Truth be told, the next morning I had this for my breakfast with some milk poured over it. Absolutely divine.

What’s GOOD: altogether wonderful. The rhubarb. Yum. Topping. Yum. After having 2-3 portions, I gave the rest of it to my daughter Sara, who came to visit the day before Mother’s Day – we visited outside. I made lunch.

What’s NOT: nothing. nothing.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (clink link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Rhubarb Cobbler

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe at Tasty Kitchen (Ree Drummonds recipe sharing part of her website, Pioneer Woman)
Serving Size: 12

RHUBARB:
6 cups rhubarb — chopped
1 2/3 cups sugar — you can use half or all artificial sweetener – I use monkfruit
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
TOPPING:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 whole egg

NOTE: Use a ceramic or glass dish. The rhubarb cooks down a lot so choose a dish that is larger than a 9×9 if you have one.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and almond extract. Stir it well to distribute the sugar mixture and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir together. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, add shortening and butter, until all the fat is in small little pebbles.
4. Beat egg and milk together. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. If mixture is too dry, add a teaspoon or two of milk. The dough should hold together but not be sticky.
5. Pour rhubarb into a large, buttered baking dish. Tear off pinches of dough and drop it onto the surface of the fruit, creating a “cobbled” texture. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top.
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, half and half or fresh whipped cream. You can also serve this for breakfast with milk poured over it.
Per Serving: 311 Calories; 11g Fat (30.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium.

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