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Glazed Meatloaf

JeffreyW linked to this recipe originally. When I went to make it, I adapted it to what I had on hand.

Glazed Meatloaf

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 stalk celery, rough chopped
  • 1 small carrot, rough chopped
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (pork or ground beef can be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper

Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a skillet, melt butter and saute celery, carrots, onion and garlic until soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In a blender, add crushed tomatoes, soy sauce and chopped vegetables. Blend until smooth.

In a bowl, combine oats, beef, sausage, vegetable mixture, spices and eggs, and mix until well combined. You’re probably going to have to use your hands to get it done properly. I don’t have an issue with that, but if you do, kitchen latex-free disposable gloves are a lifesaver (I use them for chopping chiles and such).

You want this to be somewhat firm, but it’s not going to stand up on its own (that would lead to dry meatloaf)

Cover a baking sheet with foil and then top with a sheet of parchment paper. In a loaf pan, form the loaf, tap it on the counter to remove any air pockets. Refrigerate until oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Next put the parchment paper over the top, then place the baking sheet over the top and invert everything. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and gently remove the loaf pan.  It helps to use a thin spatula. Put the meatloaf back in the oven and bake uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. About 40 minutes.

While it’s baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until it has thickened.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven, turn heat up to 450 degrees F, baste the meatloaf with the glaze, return to the oven and bake for 3 minutes, glaze again, bake for an additional 3 minutes. Then a third time and remove from the oven when the glaze is bubbly and brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes so that you can cut it evenly.

The vegetable mixture really gives this meatloaf a silky texture and it is full of flavor.

I think serving it with mashed potatoes should be mandatory. YMMV.



 

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Roasted Chicken and Pear Crisp

This is such an easy dinner. Season bone-in chicken thighs with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I gently pull up the skin and sprinkle spices underneath and replace the skin. I brush a bit of olive oil over them and then place them on top of halved potatoes and zucchini, also brushed with a bit of olive oil. Roast at 375 degrees.

Pear Crisp is delicious. It is my basic Apple Crisp recipe (here), added some walnuts and yum!



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Files

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Is this thing on? I know it’s been forever – the house, work and puppies have taken most of my time. Cooking lately is mostly just for sustanance, nothing terribly creative. But Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to get cookin’.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I’m going to have a house full this year and I’m excited to host. Although I wasn’t expecting to have a puppy thrown in the mix, but that just makes it more interesting. I have compiled some of my most requested holiday recipes for tonight’s exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing, (pictured above) part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, click here – my family loves these, though the first time I made them they mocked me until they were served because the cooking method is so unusual. I cook them early and keep them warm in a slow-cooker while everything else cooks and stove top space is at a premium.

Two Brussels Sprout dishes: Pan Roasted with Pancetta and Onions (recipe here) and JeffreyW’s Brussels Sprout and Potato Au Gratin (click here)

Yum. What do you mean I have to take a bunch of pictures before I can even try it?

There will be a variety of pies this year, but instead of the traditional Pumpkin Pie, I’m making Pumpkin Cream Pie (above), the recipe is here, plus there are additional pumpkin dessert ideas at the link.

For the main course, we’ve made turkeys a bunch of ways here, including a Spatchcock Turkey, recipe here. For something more traditional, here are some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, good stuff here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara



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Friday Recipe Exchange: Chicken, Chicken and More Chicken

Golden Chicken Curry4As promised, I jumped back into blogging this week. And there was actual cooking and baking in my kitchen. I have been wanting to try a cold fermentation bread dough for a while and this was the week. I want to make it a couple more times before I share, but so far it is about the best bread I’ve ever made. For once high altitude did not diminish my enthusiasm or my bread.

But for the rest of the week, it was all about chicken.

First up, Golden Curried Chicken Pilaf and Dill Dip (pictured at top) – a complete dinner menu and recipes can be found here.

JeffreyW made Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce, click here, which I think sounds delicious. I love tomatillos. If you have room in your garden this year, they are very easy to grow. A great addition to salsas and sauces.

In anticipation of grilling weather, there is Tangy Yogurt Chicken, recipe here. The marinade makes for tender chicken and a terrific coating with some zing.

Spring is finally here, so why not a nice Chicken Primavera, with a bonus Carrot Cake, full dinner menu and recipes here.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Cooking anything fun this first full weekend of baseball? Hit the comments and share.Sesame chicken fingers

Tonight’s featured recipe is from my kids’ menu. Great flavor and a breeze to put together. I tossed in some grated Parmesan for additional flavor when I made it this week.

Sesame Chicken Tenders

  • 1/2 cup stone-ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp limejuice

=======

  • salt & pepper
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 to 2 tbsp water
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs chicken tenders

baking sheet, greased or lined with parchment or foil

2 bowls and 1 plate

Mix mustard, honey & limejuice in bowl, set aside for dipping sauce*.

On plate mix salt, pepper, breadcrumbs & sesame seeds. In second bowl, add egg and water. Dip chicken in egg wash then dredge in breadcrumbs, coating completely. Place on baking sheet, sprinkle with more sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, turn, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until crispy on all sides. Serve with mustard dipping sauce, waffle fries and a fresh vegetable tray for a quick and easy dinner.

*Note: I made a second dipping sauce using Buttermilk Dressing and my favorite Red Hot Sauce. I liked it and will use it again.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be mixing it up with some recipes I’ve had bookmarked to try for a while. Have a great weekend! – TaMara

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Black “Forbidden” Rice

Pineapple riceI love rice. It’s a staple in my diet. I especially like brown rice and was very excited when brown jasmine and brown basmati were available at my local store. I make a big batch and refrigerate it for the week. It’s easy to warm it for a simple side. It also makes a quick lunch – heat it up, add some nuts, ponzu sauce, or butter, maybe leftover veggies and yum.

While rice is usually considered a side dish, I love it as a main course. That’s what most of tonight’s recipes are, including the featured recipe, which was inspired by a bag of black rice given to me by a friend. She wasn’t sure what to do with it and thought for sure I would. I didn’t, but had some fun experimenting.

To start off, pictured above is my Pineapple Rice Bowl, the complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

Then there is Wash Day Beans and Rice, recipe here.

JeffreyW gives a great review on his Rice Cooker, click here and then uses it to make Fried Rice, recipe here.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? We have great weather right now, but snow is coming. Don’t forget to share your recipes, rice or otherwise, I’m always looking for something new.

Black rice 2a

Tonight’s featured recipe was inspired by a bag of black rice, also know as Emperor or Forbidden Rice, in my pantry. It’s a heritage grain and it has a complex flavor – it’s deep, nutty, savory, earthy. I had never even heard of it, much less tasted it. I cooked up a cup of it and it was love at first bite. But what to pair it with – it easily overwhelmed chicken and pork, and the flavors did not balance with beef. I did use it with some crumbled Spicy Italian sausage and that worked, the balance was right. What I thought it really needed was a citrus or vinegar pairing, some veggies, I wasn’t sure about nuts. Time to experiment.

Limes were on sale this week, so I settled on a citrus vinaigrette and fresh veggies paired with the rice (pictured above) for last night’s dinner and I think it worked out very well.  Walnuts worked well, cashews were overwhelmed by the rice. I served it warm, but it was good cold today.

Black “Forbidden”Rice with Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • snow peas (or veggie of your choice)
  • tomatoes (grape tomatoes work well)
  • toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh limejuice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • dash of orange juice
  • pinch of lime zest
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • honey to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

saucepan, serving bowl

In the saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer on low until all water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cut snow peas into about four pieces each, half the grape tomatoes, and lightly chop the walnuts. (You’ll notice I had to settle for ripe on the vine tomatoes yesterday – no grapes to be found).

For the vinaigrette, whisk juices, vinegar, ginger and honey together. Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Give it a quick taste and add more ginger and honey as desired.

Toss rice and veggie mixture with vinaigrette and serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

That’s it for this week. Next week pull out your favorite Super Bowl snack recipes and we’ll focus on those for the recipe exchange. Have a good weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little of This and a Little of That

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JeffreyW’s delicious blueberry bars

For tonight’s recipe exchange, I put together the recipes based on what’s been cooking in our kitchens this week.

Missing my fresh fruits, I make do with flash-frozen berries:

Love the full-on strawberry flavor in my Strawberry Bread (recipe here)

Blueberries, I could make stuff with blueberries everyday. Including JeffreyW’s Blueberry Bars (recipe and photos here) and his Lemon-Blueberry Bread (click here for photos and recipe)

My afternoon pick-me-up of late probably isn’t for everyone, but really works for me. Hit of energy and curbs my sweet cravings. I blend a pound of frozen strawberries, a pound of frozen blueberries and about a cup of frozen raspberries in my Vita-Mix, which creates a very smooth mixture (if you ignore the raspberry seeds) which unlike juicing, retains all the fiber. I add it and an equal amount of water to a big pitcher, mix well. I have a glass of this in the afternoon and a pitcher lasts a good two weeks in the refrigerator.  YMMV.

My pressure cooker has been getting a real work out lately.  A couple of meals to continue on the one-pot theme from last week:

In this Pressure Cooker Pot Roast (click here), I pushed the limits and began with a frozen roast, just to see what would happen. It turned out great and the booze made up for some of the flavors lost by not being able to brown the beef first.

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Seriously, don’t all JeffreyW’s meals look delicious? Above is his yummy pot roast and below is his Pork Mole

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Playing with his new Electric Pressure Cooker, JeffreyW tackles Pork Mole (click here) with much success.

I would have a Bixby update, but he’s been so crazy today, I haven’t had time to download the photos and video from our play date this week. Crazy-assed dog.

For tonight’s featured recipe, thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, these are a fun, elegant treat. I’m actually making them for a birthday get-together.

Pretty and tasty, they were inspired by a novel I was reading. If you want to read the full Food in Fiction post, click here.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Moist Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup chopped raspberries

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dry cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour muffin tins. Cream together oil, butter and sugar. Mix in remaining moist ingredients, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture and beat for 2 minutes at high-speed. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they bounce back when pressed lightly.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 6 oz heavy cream

Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a saucepan with about an 1 inch of water)

Place chocolate and cream in top of boiler, bring water in bottom half to a boil, reduce heat to med-high and let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir until cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Let cool and dollop over cooled cupcakes

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

saucepan

Puree raspberries until smooth, add raspberries and sugar to saucepan and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until thickened, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool and spoon over frosted cupcakes.

Note:  For a layer cake, take 1/2 of the ganache, let it cool, mix with 1 cup crushed raspberries and spread between layers.  Keep the other 1/2 of the ganache warm and pour over cake to make a beautiful and smooth coating.  Serve with warm raspberry sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a fun and safe weekend and say a little prayer for tornado damaged area of Florida, as they are expecting more rain and stormy weather. If you didn’t see it, here is my brother’s house, or what’s left of it. – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Bourbon Beef Stew

Bourbon Beef Stew

Just got back from an awesome play date for Bixby and lunch with friends for me. It sounds like we are in for a big snow storm next week and I am not ready. But the weekend is supposed to be nice, so we’ll get out and enjoy it while we can.

Speaking of snow, we had our first real snow this week, along with thunder, wind and rain. Although the inch of snow is long gone, the temperatures stayed cold enough for several days to make soups and stews the recipes of choice this week.

I began the week out by making Cream of Chicken Soup, recipe here.

Next up, the weekly dinner menu was Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese, full menu, recipes and shopping list are all here.

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JeffreyW went with the ultimate comfort food (above), Baked Macaroni and Cheese, click here.

And if you want to spice things up, my friend Alton (not that one) makes Carne en su Jugo, recipe here –  there is also a full dinner menu and recipes at that link.

For the pet lovers, there is a Bixby update this week – he discovered piles of fall leaves.

How is your Friday the 13th going? What’s on your menu this weekend? We have a new movie theater opening, so that and a pottery show are on the agenda here. Are there good things cooking in your kitchen? Share your favorite soups and stews, I can always use something new for my recipe box. Especially with more cold on the way.

For tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at the top of the post), I played around with my basic stew recipe to make it bit more fun when friends came over for dinner this week. I didn’t have any wine handy, but always keep a bottle of good whisky in the pantry, so that became the little something extra for this one.

Bourbon Beef Stew

  • 1 lb chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (more as desired)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga or parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

skillet, dutch oven or slow cooker

Trim fat from chuck roast and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add beef and quickly brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add beef and garlic to dutch over or slow cooker. Deglaze skillet and add liquid to the beef mixture.

Add bourbon, vegetables, bay leaf and then add enough water to cover everything.

For stove top, bring to a low boil and stir occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low cover and cook for 1 hour (longer will give you more flavor – reduce heat to low after 1 hour).  Stir occasionally.

For slow cooker – cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Then add the thickening sauce (below) and cook on high, uncovered, until thickened.

To thicken, heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1/4 quarter cup flour in skillet, stirring constantly until the flour is golden. Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup broth from the stew until smooth. Whisk mixture into the stew, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until stew is thickened. Reduced heat and let simmer 10 minutes and serve.

That’s it for this week. Have a terrific weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s in the Pantry?

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The sun is peaking through the clouds after two days of excellent rain. A little thunder, a steady drizzle and snow in the mountains, perfect Colorado fall.

Tonight’s recipe exchange was prompted by a friend of mine who recently lost her husband. I was working at her house and she asked me to come into the kitchen and began going through her pantry, freezer and refrigerator and filling a bag for me with things she didn’t think she’d be able to use. She doesn’t really like to cook much and cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s when I had an idea. I asked her if I could come over every once in a while and cook for her and use up a lot of these amazing ingredients. Her husband was a bit of gourmet, so the whole kitchen is filled with mouth-watering things.

What sold her on the idea was my desire to just pop in, look around the kitchen and come up with something on the spot based on what ingredients sparked my imagination. She thought that sounded like fun and I agree. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is using the black rice. I’ve never cooked with it before.

So for tonight, I went looking through my recipe files to find the ones that started out as a “whatever is in the pantry” meals. They are rarely the same thing twice, but I put the basics in a recipe.

Here are a few:

Pineapple and Bacon Fried Rice is one of the reasons I keep Ponzu Sauce on hand. Click here for that recipe and click here to see all of JeffreyW’s photos and recipes for a variety of fried rice dishes (including the one pictured above).

Pasta is always a great base for a quick dinner.  Here is my Pasta Rustica, (basic recipe here), that can include any number of items from your vegetable drawer or freezer.

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Of course JeffreyW has a great photo of Beef and Broccoli. Yum.

Spicy Beef and Broccoli (click here) is one of my favorite dinners to make with sirloin. And it’s great if you forgot to take the meat out to thaw until late. There is also a full menu, recipes and shopping list at that link.

I thought I hated vegetables, until I had Stir Fried Vegetables in a Bread Bowl, (recipe here) at a local restaurant. Quick and easy, serve over rice or noodles if your basket weaving skills are minimal (that would be me).

Finally, the weekly dinner menu starts with a basic recipe that you can jazz up with whatever you have on hand, Beef Vegetable Soup and Apple Pumpkin Butter. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What are your go-to “raid the pantry” meals? Are there ingredients you always keep on hand for quick dinners? What’s on the menu for the weekend? I’m not sure there will be a recipe exchange next week, I’m hosting a dinner. Stay tuned…

For tonight’s featured recipe, I kept it as simple as it gets. If you can’t find pineapple salsa, JeffreyW has a recipe for it.

Frijoles Ananás

  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz pineapple salsa
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder (start with 1 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4  tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To serve:

  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 6 to 8 taco size tortillas, warmed

saucepan

Add beans, salsa and spices to a saucepan, bring to a low boil for 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, add cilantro and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with cheese and tortillas.

If you want to make it a one-pot meal, add corn or cubed zucchini to the mix for a complete dinner. Serves 4 generously.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Garden Bounty

N1106NIWO126.JPG Eddie Running Wolf of Boulder is carving figures with a Northern Arapaho theme out of the remaining stumps and trees along Niwot Road. The town of Niwot has commissioned him to do the work. For a video of the project, go to www.dailycamera.com. Cliff Grassmick / November 5, 2009

Carving by Eddie Running Wolf of Boulder, Photo from Times-Call

I am completely slammed again this week. Though I am hoping to escape early today and head out to Chainsaws and Chuckwagons to see some of the artists. We take our old tree stump carving very seriously here. Since I didn’t have time to cook this week, I decided to raid JeffreyW’s recipes and photos.

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Let’s start with his Stuffed Anaheim Peppers, pictured above and recipe here

Then there is his Homemade Sauerkraut, for instructions click here.

I bought ribs on sale and am going to make my slow-cooker Polynesian Ribs this weekend, the complete dinner menu and recipes are here. Even if I can’t find time to cook, these are easy and quick.

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JeffreyW took some of his garden harvest and made a fresh batch of Hot Giardiniera last weekclick here.

Have any recipes to share using fresh from the garden bounty? What’s your recipe for fun this holiday weekend? Cooking up anything special?

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I picked two featured recipes tonight, both taking advantage of fresh garden veggies and herbs, like JeffreyW’s lush basil, above. They are simple and quick to make, so you can get back outside to take advantage of the last unofficial weekend of summer.

Pasta w/Fresh Basil

  • 10 oz bow-tie pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil (1 loose cup)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan

saucepan

Cook pasta in saucepan according to package directions.  Drain well.  In saucepan, heat oil, basil, tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute, add pasta and toss with cheese.  Serve immediately.

Collard Greens w/ Bacon

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or spinach)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet, saucepan, steamer

Wash collard greens. In skillet, cook bacon till crisp, remove, cool and crumble. In bacon drippings, sauté onions, remove. In saucepan, place steamer and enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer, add greens and steam until tender. Mix honey & vinegar, and a little of the bacon drippings if you like. Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Aren’t JeffreyW’s photos fun? I’m so lucky he came on board years ago. That’s it for this week. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.  – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little Irish In It

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March is winging by and bringing spring with it. We had a relatively mild winter, so I won’t complain, but still glad to see warm days, birds returning and crocus popping up. I’m hoping house hunting will also pick up. You know it’s slim pickings when your real estate agent calls to apologize there’s not more to offer.

Despite still having to cook in the postage stamp kitchen, I decided to try something new. I did some research on Irish Soda Bread. I never tried any before, because it always looks dry and then there are those pesky raisins. Raisins only belong in bread if there is a large helping of cinnamon/sugar swirl joining them. At least in my kitchen. But when I went looking for recipes, turns out that the raisin/caraway seed concoction is a strictly American invention.

I did find one that seemed to be more authentic and that’s what I went to bake. Before we get to the recipe, let me say this, I’m not sure this is one I would make again. I think I would rather just bake a nice batch of biscuits.  But if you need something to get you through a long, cold winter night, I guess I can see the appeal. Cheap enough to make, heavy enough to fend off starvation. Or as a friend quipped, “Heavy enough to be a weapon if you throw it.”

So why include it tonight? Because you should be unafraid in the kitchen. If a recipe fails or isn’t to your liking, all you’ve done is waste a few ingredients. But if you never try anything new, how will you ever discover that new family favorite? And besides, someone might like this one, even though I didn’t.

I think failure is just part of cooking. I’ve burnt the main course with guests waiting, forgot to add leavening to one cake, added too much leavening to another and my first attempt at corned beef turned out more like beef jerky. One time a friend and I almost set her house on fire trying to grill chicken. How about you, what’s your biggest kitchen disaster? Besides potentially drying out the corned beef, what’s on the menu for the weekend?

For tonight, how about I start out with some recipes that did work:

A bunch of different ways to make Corned Beef and Cabbage can be found here.

JeffreyW makes Guinness Irish Stew (pictured above), photos and recipe here.

Really good Biscuits to go with that stew can be found here.

For the pet lovers, I have three fun things for you: JeffreyW introduces us to the newest nursing home resident (scroll down), Zander poses pretty for me and finally a Bixby update where we tackle the troublesome teens (his look in the top photo is really all you need to know).

Tradional Irish Soda Bread

The featured recipe tonight is a more traditional Irish Soda Bread. This is a rustic loaf and can be baked in a loaf pan or as a rounded loaf in a cast iron skillet. The key is not to handle the dough a lot, once it forms into a ball, place it in the pan, cut a 1-inch deep X in the top (I did several) and bake. The more it’s handled, the tougher it becomes.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tbsp old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp buttermilk powder*
  • 2 tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups water (add 1/2 cup at a time, using only what is needed)

loaf pan (I used mini pans), well buttered

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Add butter and crumble together by hand until all the butter is incorporated. Add water in a bit at a time until it forms a soft dough that holds together. Mine took the full 2 cups. You can smooth it and then add to the loaf pan. I left mine a bit more rustic because I was afraid of over-handling it.

Cut 1-inch deep Xs in the top. This makes sure the dense dough cooks through.  Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

This is a very moist, if heavy, loaf because of the buttermilk. You can do an all “white” loaf if desired, just substitute all-purpose flour for the whole wheat. I’d leave in the oats and wheat germ for added flavor.

*why buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk? – because you can keep it on hand and it doesn’t go bad (keep in the refrigerator). You can also make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.

That’s it for this week. Probably try for something very spring-like next week. Until then – TaMara

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