Stuffed Pumpkins, Stuffed Turkeys and Stuffed People

November 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments
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I hope by now that this post finds everyone stuffed and enjoying turkey sandwiches.

On Thanksgiving day, we were invited over to our friends Greg and Cauleen’s house along with our friend Mike. Traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and gravy were on the table, but I wanted to share a couple of unique side dishes that found their way onto her beautiful table.

First of all, Cauleen is from Pennsylvania where they call the traditional dish of bread crumbs, celery and spices “filling“. I call it “dressing” and Mike calls it “stuffing“. What do you call it?

A few weeks ago, I won the beautiful, and I mean beautiful cookbook from Barbara over at Movable Feasts. Thank you so much Barbara, you don’t know how many hours I’ve spent reading, studying and planning out of this book.  It’s “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan.  If you don’t have it you may want to put it on your Amazon wish list so Santa has time to get it under the tree.  Beautiful 500 page cookbook with lots of gorgeous photos and wonderful recipes.

From the book I made this festive side dish. It’s a sugar pumpkin, strings and seeds removed, stuffed with a mixture of bread crumbs, onions, thyme, Gruyère cheese, fried bacon pieces and cream and then baked for two hours. It turns a beautiful rust color and inside you have a steamy, cheesy and delicious side dish. When you scoop out some of the mixture, make sure your spoon gets an ample portion of the cooked pumpkin meat. Mmmm.  

I cleaned and toasted the pumpkin seeds in a mixture of four tablespoons of butter, a little salt and one tablespoon of Aleppo pepper. I really liked the flavor that was returned by using the savory and spicy Spanish hot pepper flakes.

Cauleen served a Lancaster, PA  Amish specialty. Made of coarsely ground corn with milk and sugar and then baked, it made a wonderful casserole treat for the Thanksgiving table. Gotta get me some of this!

Mike brought some cranberry and apple chutney to serve on crackers and these Ina Garten Chipotle toasted nuts.  The chutney was exquisite with the little swirls of orange zest on top and the toasted nuts were the best I’ve ever had…EVAH!  This recipe is from her new cookbook, How Easy Is That.

Cauleen’s “filling” was oh so good. As I mentioned, it’s cooked in the bird with simple flavors of spices, celery with chunks of Land-o-Lakes Butter mixed in. After the turkey was done, she removed the filling and mixed some of it in with a pan of reserved filling. Then she baked it, ending up with a wonderful flavor, not to mention a little crunch here and there from that butter.

Missing photos include pumpkin pie, my Mom’s recipe that I’ve made for years, Cauleen’s delicious cheese ball appetizer…got to have the recipe, the 4 empty wine bottles, and of course Greg’s perfectly roasted and carved turkey…and the people. 

We have our family Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow, so I’m nowhere done with all this turkey business.  I’m not making anything new or exciting for tomorrow’s dinner, just pure traditional fare.

So, I’m probably the last one to weigh in on the feast, sorry to hold everyone up.  I’m thankful for a lot of things and one of those things is this unbelievable view I have of Mt. Evans and the Front Range when I walk my dogs.  Happy Thanksgiving from Highlands Ranch, now let’s bring on all of those Christmas Cookie recipes.

Sunday Pot Roast

November 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Beef | 40 Comments
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Have you ever stored gasoline in your dishwasher?  Ever used your hand held blowdryer while you were sleeping?  Have you ever read product warnings when you buy a new appliance?  We always do as it can be pretty entertaining and a guarantee for a good laugh.  Fact; a few years ago when we got our new dishwasher, one of the warnings was not to store gasoline inside the dishwasher.  What’s this  got to do with Sunday Pot Roast?  Well yesterday while the roast was cooking I read my new hairdryer product warnings.   They warn me not to use my hair dryer while I’m sleeping…insert big wide-eyed confused “what the?” blink here. 

When I was growing up, every single Sunday morning, my mom would not put a pot roast in the dishwasher, but she would pop one in the oven. We’d head off to Sunday School and Church and when we got home we’d be greeted with the wonderful aromas of savory roasting meat mingled with sweet roasting vegetables. By noon, we’d be at the dining room table and enjoying our traditional Sunday Pot Roast. And all of it slathered in beef gravy.

Here’s my mom’s version of this slow roasted meal. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. The cut of beef was usually what was on sale that week. And most of the time it was the seven bone variety. She’d place the meat into the same inexpensive metal speckled oval roaster that she’d had forever and sprinkle on a good layer of flour, salt and pepper. I’m not sure the purpose of the flour, maybe to seal in the juices as a hot sear would do?

Place the roast into the oven and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove roast and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Layer in big chunks of potato, celery, onion and carrots. Ever so gently salt and pepper as you layer.  Pour one cup of water over the vegetables, cover the roast and cook three torturous hours. I say torturous because the aromas will soon fill the air and those hunger pangs will go wild.

Move the roast to a serving platter and spoon vegetables around.  Tent with foil and let rest while you make the gravy. 

Beef gravy is so easy. In a container that you can seal and shake the heck out of, add 1/2 cup water and two tablespoons of flour. Move the Dutch oven with the drippings to the stove top. Bring it to a simmer. Add about two cups of water or beef  broth. Add the flour and water mixture and simmer until thickened. You may need to shake up another batch of flour and water if gravy doesn’t thicken to your liking. There is usually a few chunks of potatoes and carrots stuck to the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven, make sure and smash those into the gravy. If none are stuck I’ll go get a couple of pieces from the platter and coarsely smash into the gravy.

After moving to Denver, every trip home, we’d call mom to let her know we were about an hour away from arrival. I’d always ask, what’s for supper? Even though it wasn’t Sunday, the answer was always “Roast Beef”. She knew it was our favorite and it was a perfect end to a long road trip.

What was on your Sunday dinner table?

Pot Roast…It’s What’s For Sunday Dinner.

Flashback To Old College Taco Salad Recipe

November 20, 2010 at 9:41 am | Posted in Mexican/Southwest, Salads | 40 Comments
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The last time I made this I was wearing bell bottom jeans which had been split at the hem to insert a flowered cloth panel to make them even more bell bottomed, a tie-dyed t-shirt that I dyed myself and Cat Stevens was playing in the background “Ooo baby baby it’s a wild world”.

A couple of weeks ago a message came through from Food Buzz offering coupons for Fresh Express salad mixes. Since I eat salads practically every day for lunch and buy Fresh Express salad mixes and salad kits often, I jumped on my first   “freebie” offering.  To receive the coupons you had to reply with what you were going to make out of Fresh Express packaged salad mixes and agree to blog about it. 

At this point, I experienced my first ever official flashback and this old Taco Salad recipe popped into my head.  

Between this recipe and boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (which I swear has drugs in it to make it so good, hence the official flashback) this is what I lived on while receiving my higher education.

I’m assuming this recipe was on a Kraft Catalina dressing bottle, but however we found it, it was a staple.  I honestly haven’t made this in ages. I don’t have a recipe, it doesn’t appear in my official lifetime recipe data base, but I made it often enough in College that I thought I could whip it right up. 

Let’s take a look:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 bottle (or so) of Catalina or French-style dressing
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1 can chili beans, drained
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Frito chips

Brown hamburger and onion in fry pan.  Add taco seasoning, dressing and water and simmer until thick (about 15 – 20 minutes). Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Drain beans and stir into the meat mixture after it’s thickened. Take a hand full of Fritos and lightly crush over the meat and bean mixture. Top with grated cheddar cheese.  Spoon up a serving in your Corelle bowls or plates, pour a glass of Annie Green Springs cherry wine and you’ve got dinner.  I can’t remember if any lettuce was originally involved and if it was, it was most certainly iceburg. Did we put chunks of iceburg lettuce and mix it into the hot beef/bean mixture???

As you can see, I couldn’t bear to buy Fritos, so built my salad on an organic tostada shell, spread with  beef/bean mixture, topped with handful of Salad Express Spring Lettuce Mix, chopped tomato and shredded cheese, and some chopped avocado. Served on my Fiestaware plates with a glass of Australian Shiraz it really tasted delicious.

So what were you eating, drinking and listening to in college?

Old College Taco Salad Recipe…It’s What’s For Dinner.

Yellow Curry Chicken

November 17, 2010 at 7:58 am | Posted in Chicken, Quick and Easy | 33 Comments
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Curry, an explosion of flavors and an easy weeknight fix. 

In my pantry, you’ll always find a supply of coconut milk and cans of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts just standing by to be basic ingredients for a curry dish. Just add some meat, whatever vegetables you’ve got on hand (well maybe not a turnip) some cilantro and you’ve got a quick and scrumptious meal in no time. If you happen to have a lime as well, even better. I don’t know how many times I’ve said “I don’t know how I ever lived without coconut milk, cilantro, lime and curry.”  And then I see many of you commenting that you flat out “don’t like curry”!  Are you a curry lover or hater?  I’m a lover so let’s take a look at my latest dish.

As you can see during my last trip to HMart, I went a little wild grabbing curries. I’m really anxious to compare the different flavor styles. The Yellow is Southern Thai and recommended to use with chicken, the Massaman is Southern Thai as well and is recommended with beef. Panang is a Laotian curry and milder in flavor.  The Red Curry is a stronger and hotter mixture that I think sounds great for a pork dish.  

So far, the two that I’ve opened, the Yellow and the Panang are packaged inside the cardboard round packaging in a plastic pouch and are thick moist offerings of exotic curry paste. Much different from the curry powder I’ve bought from Safeway that is a yellow powder combination but similar to the Thai Kitchen brands I’ve bought in small jars at Whole Foods.

Yellow Chicken Curry:

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed and sautéed until almost done
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 basil leaves, cut in thin strips
  • 2 T yellow curry
  • 1/2 C. pineapple chunks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1/2 C. frozen peas
  • 1 lime
  • chopped cashews and cilantro for garnish
  • 3 C. steamed jasmine rice

I thought this was busy enough, so didn’t add either bamboo shoots or water chestnuts.

Start cooking the Jasmine rice according to package instructions. 

In a big skillet heat about 1/8 c. oil and add cubed chicken. Add the onion and carrot and cook until chicken is almost done.  In a sauce pan, add the coconut milk and the curry and bring to a simmer. Transfer the chicken, onion and carrots to the curry and milk. Simmer on low for about 5 – 10 minutes,  making sure that the flavors are blending.

Add the water, peas, basil ribbons (or dried basil) and  pineapple and cook until heated through.  At the end add a squeeze of lime juice and zest from 1/2 of the lime.

Spoon rice into a couple of bowls and spoon chicken curry mixture over rice. Garnish with cilantro and chopped cashews and enjoy.

In my photo of the dish, I didn’t spoon a lot of the curry mixture over the rice. I guess I thought I needed to show the rice in case you didn’t believe it was under there…or something!  The final dish offers twice that much curry over the rice.  Serves 2 (with leftovers for lunch the next day)

The flavors of yellow curry are exquisite. Every bite is a savory treat. And with the sweet pineapple this dish is truly a treat. Chopped sweet potato is also a very good substitution for the sweet pineapple.   

And it was on the dinner table in around 30 minutes.

Yellow Curry Chicken…It’s What’s For Dinner.

A New Mexico Inspired Sandwich

November 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Chicken, Mexican/Southwest, Sandwiches | 42 Comments
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Ever been to Santa Fe? Even though it’s just a hop skip and jump away from Denver, it’s been years since we’ve been. It’s a wonderful town bustling with lots of art and unique New Mexican cuisine. 

But wait a minute, just what makes New Mexico style food different from Tex-Mex or Mexican?

This popular form of southwest cuisine  is very different. Its most defining characteristic is the dominance of the New Mexican chile, the state’s largest agricultural crop.

In New Mexico, the green chile is an ingredient in everything from enchiladas and burritos to cheeseburgers, french fries, bagels, and even pizza. The most famous of these New Mexico grown chiles is the Hatch chile from Hatch, New Mexico.

I read that before the arrival of Europeans, New Mexico’s current borders overlapped the areas of the Navajo, Mescalero, and Chiricahua tribes. The Spaniards brought their cuisine which mingled with the indigenous dishes and flavors. At the end of the Mexican-American War, New Mexico became part of the United States, and was strongly influenced by incoming U.S. tastes. This history combined with the local terrain and climate has resulted in its significant differences and is what makes New Mexican cuisine unique.

New Mexico has bragging rights for bringing us the blue corn tortilla, the stacked enchilada, green chile and sopapillas.  

For a gift last Christmas, I received this wonderful cookbook full of unique recipes from Cafe Pasqual’s, a popular restaurant in Santa Fe. Cafe Pasqual’s has been in business over 30 years, is located in downtown Santa and specializes in Old Mexico, New Mexico and Asian cuisine.

This is a great little cookbook, full of wonderful recipes, beautiful tinted photographs and Mexican art throughout.

Let’s take a look at a sandwich inspired from this cookbook.

This recipe focuses on the Chimayo chile pepper named for the town where it’s grown…Chimayo, New Mexico.  It’s slightly hotter than a cayenne pepper. 

First off, I baked a loaf of corn bread to use as the base. This isn’t your normal fall apart corn bread, but more the consistency of a dense style bread, calling for more flour than corn meal. Add some fresh corn, yeast, cream and the unique flavor of the Chimayo chile pepper and you’ve got a flavorful bread on which to build the sandwich.

Taking a slice of bread, I smeared it with some Hatch chile mayonnaise. Simply some mayonnaise blended with cilantro and chopped Hatch Chiles and of course a sprinkle of the Chimayo Chile Powder.  Every year I buy a few bags of freshly roasted Hatch chiles and they’re tucked away in the freezer to use in dishes all winter long.

The sandwich is then topped with shredded cooked chicken breast which has been marinating in olive oil and garlic for 24 hours.

Over the chicken breast spoon on some carmelized onions and jalapenos. For this I sliced one large sweet yellow onion, sautéed it in olive oil for about 20 minutes. I then added in three sliced jalapenos sprinkled all with about two tablespoons sugar and cooked for an additional seven minutes.

Topped with some shredded Manchego cheese and popped under the broiler for a few minutes and you’ve got a wonderful ooey-gooey tasty New Mexico inspired sandwich. The star of this sandwich was the flavor of the corn bread. The bread is sweet and with the earthy heat and flavor from the Chimayo chile you’ll be finding yourself wanting to dig through your jewelry box to find that turquoise bracelet to wear.

And you cannot ignore those carmelized onions and jalapenos. What  a wonderful flavor combination, especially with the melted Manchego cheese melting in between the rings of flavor.

Served with some sliced mangos sprinkled with Znax2Go. Znax2Go is a seasoning that you sprinkle over fruits or vegetables, a delicious combination of hot chile powder and sugar. I think it’s great on mangos.

New Mexico Sandwich…It’s What’s For Dinner.

Chicken Noodle Soup

November 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Soup | 35 Comments
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Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of chicken and noodle soup on a cold evening?  Simple, delicious and rumored to heal the ailing,  this soup is comfort food at its best. 

It’s not rocket science to throw a pot  together. No matter what you put in it, it’s going to be good, but I wanted to share with you my version that has evolved over the years. Seasoned just to our liking and with the addition of some sweet potato and fennel seed, it makes this one of our favorites. 

It’s a must to use those fat and plump homemade noodles. You can also buy homestyle noodles from the freezer section that are close to homemade. Even though I love them for other dishes, I try not to use dried egg noodles from the packaged pasta aisle at the market. 

Seems every one in our office has a cold, so I made a big crock pot of my Chicken Noodle Soup on Friday and delivered to my sniffling aching co-workers.  They commented that it sure is “handy” having me around.  🙂

Chicken Noodle Soup:

5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 chopped carrots and 2 stalks celery chopped or 3 T. dried vegetable mix
3 green onions
1 dried bay leaf
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Tbs minced flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, combine stock, sage, thyme, fennel, peppercorns, garlic, celery, carrots, onions, bay leaf, (or dried vegetable mix) Bring to a boil; reduce to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Meantime, cut chicken and sweet potato into bite size pieces and saute in olive oil until chicken cooked.

3. Add noodles to broth and cook until tender.

4. Add chicken and sweet potatoes and simmer for a few minutes for flavors to blend.

Chicken Noodle Soup…It’s what’s for Fighting the Cold.

I’m sending this to paradise for Deb’s Souper Sunday Feature

Coyote Corn and Buffalo Bill Steaks

November 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Beef, Vegetables | 35 Comments
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This Coyote Corn is so good that once you serve it to the pack, they’ll be howling for more.

First of all, I’d like to take a poll on how you pronounce the word coyote. There always seems to be a bit of controversy. Do you say coyot (2 syllables) or coyotEE? (three syllables) I’m convinced it should be the latter. I think they sound more rascally with that long E at the end.  I don’t know about where you live, but here in Colorado we live amongst packs of coyotes.  They reside comfortably in our neighborhoods and roam our yards nightly hunting for rabbits, cats or small dogs.  They can easily jump our 6 foot privacy fences and if they see you looking at them they glare back with a menacing grin.  They always seem to look guilty.

For this recipe I used Colorado sweet corn that I had tucked away in the freezer, a  combination of Silver Queen and Super Sweet varieties purchased from the farmer’s market. It was an impressive year for our sweet corn and it shined in this flavorful dish. 

The combination of flavors wrap around each other with creamy help from the melted butter and starch from the corn. Bold and earthy sun-dried tomatoes surprise themselves by complimenting the sweetness of the corn and pickles, the jalapenos bring the excitement and the sliced green onions are a natural lively and crunchy addition. The cilantro topping is the icing on the cake for us.

Coyote Corn served as a fabulous Fall side dish for a bison steak dinner. We’ve had beautiful weather in Denver, warm and perfect for hanging out on the deck drinking fiery Mexican Micheladas with steaks searing on a hot grill.  This Buffalo Bill Steak combines Bison New York Strip Steaks resting on a bed of sautéed red and orange bell peppers and onions and seasoned with salt and pepper and zesty grained mustard. Mouthwateringly delicious. Let’s take a look at the recipes:

CoyotE Corn

  • 2 T. Butter
  • 3 C. fresh corn kernels
  • 4 whole sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water at least 15 minutes, drained and chopped
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 C. chopped green onions, including tops
  • 1 – 2 T. chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 T. chopped bread and butter pickles (a spicy brand is better)
  • A garnish of cilantro is a must

In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium high heat until foam subsides. Add corn and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently for about four minutes. Add jalapeno peppers and pickles. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and toss in basil and green onions.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves four.

Buffalo Bill Steaks

  • 1 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 T. coarse grain mustard
  • 1/2 C. water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Bison New York Strip Steaks, 1 inch thick

Preheat grill to medium. In large skillet, heat two teaspoons of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about five minutes. Add bell peppers and cook until onion is golden, about ten minutes. If mixture becomes too dry, add a little water.  In a small bowl whisk mustard with water and add to onion and pepper mixture and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat and cover. Brush steaks lightly with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about three minutes per side for medium-rare. To serve spoon the onion and pepper mixture onto a platter and top with steaks. At the dinner table spoon mixture over steaks and enjoy.

Keep in mind, bison contains less fat than regular beef, requires less cooking time, and will be dry if over-cooked.

Both recipes adapted from Colorado Collage, however, I altered the corn recipe quite abit, does that make it mine?

Coyote Corn and Buffalo Bill Steaks…It’s What’s For Dinner.

Cookbook Contest Winner

November 2, 2010 at 2:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments
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I’m a Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest winner!

Foodista and Andrews McMeel Publishing are thrilled to announce the winners of The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest!  From December 1, 2009 through February 28, 2010, food bloggers worldwide were invited to submit their favorite blog posts, recipes, and photos to compete for a spot in a published cookbook. The over 1,500 submissions were first voted on by the Foodista community, then the selection process shifted into a more traditional editorial effort (informed by community votes), to choose and edit the final 100 entries.

Andrews McMeel published the winning blog posts and recipes in a beautiful, full-color, internationally distributed cookbook, released October 19, 2010. Born out of the “Blog to Book” panel at the first International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in 2009, the cookbook celebrates the best food bloggers worldwide.

I’m very, very, very happy to be one of the winners with my “Scallop Sandwich” appetizer recipe that was part of my New Year’s Eve dinner extravaganza last year.  

Thank you  Foodista

I still pinch myself about every other day to make sure I’m not dreaming this! I’ve actually known for over a month, I just hated to say anything until I saw the book for sure,  just in case they accidentally notified me…you know like the Australian beauty contest snafu. And on that note, you should have seen me when I found out, I acted about as stupid as some of those beauty contest winners act when they win…thank gawd I wasn’t on TV. 

Anyway, I now have a copy in my hands, it’s official, I’m on page 22. Give the ole girl a virtual pat on the back. I’m pretty darn thrilled and extremely proud…plus my mom is gonna have a fit when she sees it.  🙂

You can buy the book here.

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