Back to Reality...
I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day weekend <3! Incredible food, a magnificent concert... and those couldn't hold a candle to the exquisite company wink Thank you so much, love. But then I drove through a snowstorm to a slushy mess and neurotic dog – so comfort food was once again on the menu. I hate repeating myself, but the ingredients were on hand and I really just felt like basking in the glow that remained... SO – as I said – back to reality. That night 6 or 7 large white onions (softball size), sliced, went into my crockpot with a stick of butter and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Set the temp to “lo”, and let that do it's thing until morning. The top photo is about 5 hours in - yes, I woke up enough to give them a stir...
And the bottom is the beauty found about 12 hours in! As the recipe for French Onion soup (didn't I tell you? Yeah, that's what we're making!) only needed about half that, I scooped out two bags of about a cup each and popped those in the freezer – caramelized onions at your fingertips?!?! Just THINK of the possibilities!!!! So now you just add some stock (I've used both beef and chicken – it's really up to you), worcestershire, thyme, a bay leaf or two... and some sherry or dry white wine. Let it go another 6 hours or so... And now you start your French Bread. Honest, it's easy. A ton of starts and stops (I'll grant you that) but with only flour, yeast, and salt, TIME is a necessary element to develop that great flavor. It's worth it!!!
I'd made this kale and apple salad for Christmas Day, and it wasn't that popular at the time. Playing with the left overs I realized I hadn't added nearly enough salt and pepper (or any?)?!? Sweet and sour poppy seed dressing over kale and tart apple... Guess I was a little hectic that morning... A little adjustment and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I used the food processor to puree the onion and whisk the dressing – and this time I TASTED!!!
Soup's done, bread's done, salad's ready... The first time I made this soup I used Gruyere and Emmental cheeses – small blocks of each – and while delightful, the cheese alone cost almost $4 per serving?!? This time I used pre-grated Swiss and Moz – just as stringy, almost as flavorful... Your choice of course.
Dinner is served!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 15 February 2017 - 16:20:26
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A Wednesday Night Dinner – elegance in a flash
In re-arranging the freezer I pulled some chicken thighs out to thaw. Didn't have a clue what I was going to do with them, but I'd figure something out wink I had a ton of various noodles on hand so searching 'chicken and pasta' led me to several recipes – the ones that I liked the best included white wine, but it appeared all I had was red. Next search - Chicken with red wine? Yep, that worked!
How about a beautiful dinner – in about 40 minutes? Yes, that's all it took! Starting with this recipe from Taste of Home, you pan sear the thighs and then finish on the stove. The photo and comments suggested mashed potatoes (not on hand), pasta didn't seem right, so I sauteed some onion and toasted some brown rice together, adding chicken stock to simmer away for simple yet slightly enhanced brown rice. Once the chicken is cooked through – use a meat thermometer to check this! - it rests on the side while you make the wine sauce in the same pan. I chose to double this as there is absolutely nothing wrong with leftover rice and gravy (or in this case, sauce). cheesey I admit right here and now that I started off with the wrong pan – for some reason I thought that a ridged grilling pan was the best choice. It started off great, hotter than I would normally allow my saute pans, but the ridges didn't allow uniform browning. Even MORE important, it did not allow enough fond to develop!!! [Fond: those brown bits that accumulate on the bottom of a pan that add SO much flavor to the balance of the dish, especially when you are deglazing with wine]. Red wine and white cream, yes I was expecting pink – but a deeper, browner shade would have been more to my liking, lol!
The flavor was outstanding though! Who knew that just reducing some red wine and adding cream and rosemary (chop finely, please) would produce such a rich and different flavor – well, WE do, now! (IMO this would be great on a steak as well). I rounded out the plate by sauteing some sliced mushrooms, and then tossing in peas just until they heated through... Salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg seasoned them beautifully.
Not bad, huh? The chicken was incredibly juicy, tender with a richness of flavor, and my sides were not only good on their own, the simplicity of the entire meal somehow added to the decadence. You really can't go wrong with this one. Oh, and for dessert? Some good vanilla ice cream sprinkled with sea salt. Perfect.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 03 September 2016 - 16:35:02
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Another Easy Date Night Dinner!
I've been in a rut lately – work hours have been changing almost daily – and when you don't even know WHEN you can cook, well, it's easy to rely on some lazy standards. [As a side note, I've discovered that sharp cheddar, banana peppers, and bacon make an excellent combo for quesadillas!] When some time finally presented itself a touch of easy elegance was in order! How does Lemon Butter Chicken sound? In addition to the obvious ingredients it also has cream, parmesan, spinach... Hungry yet?
You use thighs, which practically guarantees that the meat will be flavorful as well as moist. Simply season and sear. It seemed like an awful lot of smoked paprika (2 Tbsp), but in the end that flavor wasn't noticeable (unless you were tasting for it?)... Then you saute some garlic, add your liquids and cheese – honestly, there's very little effort involved!
So now you get to the spinach – this is my one quandary regarding this recipe. IMHO there's too much of it to “pretty up” the sauce, and not enough to serve it as the vegetable? 20sauce Use your own judgment. What I ended up doing was chopping a few more handfuls of spinach and quickly wilting it in the remaining sauce (you might notice the slightly different shades of green? That's why wink )
I served ”smashed potatoes” thinking that the simple flavors and crisp texture would be a great complement – it was. I boiled the potatoes the night before and yes, gently “smashed” them! I used my had and a towel so I didn't have as much texture as Ree, but her technique is as simple as it gets.
They got pulled out of the fridge as I started the chicken and went into the oven at the same time, leaving the potatoes in a touch longer while I plated the rest.
Yet I think my plate could have used a bit more color – basic stewed tomatoes, yellow squash, a pretty salad (simply cucumber and tomato with a light lemon vinaigrette would be excellent)... or white rice with a bit of pimento tossed in instead of the potato? Keep the flavors simple and let the lemon butter sauce be the star – it deserves it! Some good bread to mop your plate with wouldn't hurt!
Simple measurements and prep, do ahead stuff, no-fail timing... Trust me, you can do this!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 21 April 2016 - 23:26:13
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I hadn't even THOUGHT about New Year's Eve
In case you've missed it, I work in retail - and I profusely apologize for ignoring you lately. I've made some good, even a couple GREAT things – but once I've sat down recently, I've had a tendency to fall asleep wink No worries – I'll have a chance to catch you up soon! Even grocery shopping has been a struggle, so my cupboard is kind of bare – at least for me. I took the chuck roast out of the freezer without ANY plans on what I'd do with it. Several recipes I'd bookmarked would have worked, but in each case I was missing what I considered an important ingredient – but THEN!!!! How could I have forgotten this one! Coffee and Spice rubbed roast had sounded amazing when I first came across it, and what a treat for New Year's cheesey Not at all complicated – you salt and pepper the roast, tied if it's that type (mine didn't need it), wrap and chill.
I used my coffee grinder to blend all the incredible flavors – actual coffee grounds (I used a breakfast blend), smoked paprika, brown sugar, onion powder...
So the next day, or even a few hours later you unwrap the meat, pat it dry, and sear...
I used some of the warmed oil to turn the spice blend into a paste – and then schmeared!
Some rosemary potatoes went into the oven while this happened, and then while the oven cooled back down to the “low and slow” 225F, the flavors seeped into the meat, resting at room temp.
My chuck roast was about 2” thick, and an hour was perfect for a medium rare finish. A minute or two under the broiler ensured a delightful crust.
A simple green salad, coffee ice cream for dessert... Happy New Year!!! This is a wonderful treat – for ANY time.

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 03 January 2016 - 00:52:10
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The Heat is ON!
I had an overdose of TV for the first couple of months of this year, so I haven't watched much lately. Oddly, I turn it on (with a timer) when I'm leaving so the dog doesn't feel quite so alone. As I was dashing out the door I heard the ingredients for this marinade, and KNEW I had to try it. From Chrissy Teigen and The Chew, this Sweet & Spicy Chicken is incredibly simple – not to mention, really, REALLY good! Don't let the amount of chipotle scare you (unless you're serving kids) – it's balanced well with the sweetness of the bbq sauce, lime, and oh yeah, brown sugar... There's still a bite of heat, but that's why I wanted this! This makes quite a bit of marinade – easily enough for two or three meals. I saved some in a jar in the fridge, and froze the rest – I'm sure I'll have other uses for this tasty substance wink. I think it would be AWESOME on a pork tenderloin! I used boneless, skinless thighs, as that's what I had. Instead of laying them out flat, I kept them in the “natural” state.
On a whim, I decided to go for the whole enchilada (sorry, couldn't resist wink) and made the menu suggested. Jasmine rice (with a dash of lemon garlic salt), a can of well rinsed black beans lightly sauteed with onion and garlic and a splash of balsamic... and Mango Salsa! I'd serve this as a salad, but double or triple it - only takes about five minutes per batch, tops, but let it set while you finish the rest of the meal – delicious! I'm having that alone for my lunch tomorrow!!!
How's that for a well-rounded, healthy and exceedingly tasty meal – if you've marinated ahead of time, you can put it together in about 30 minutes. NO KIDDING – 30 MINUTES!!! Enjoy!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 11 April 2014 - 23:13:02
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Have you ever missed that ONE line in a recipe...
I've been wanting to make this for months – but it's the kind of recipe that needs 3-5 hours, and I just haven't had a day when I was HOME that long, other than to sleep. Working retail, remember? wink Well, today was the day – honestly, I don't even KNOW when I'll have my next day off (even Christmas is still being debated!?!?!!?)... So I'm making Italian Pot Roast, by Mr. Meatball. I'm at the simmering point, and it smells heavenly! But back to the subject – I've read the recipe through a couple times, and with the way my house smells, my stomach is already gurgling in anticipation... Yet somehow I missed this: “I allowed it to cool in the pot, then put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and served it for dinner the next evening. I strongly urge that you do this, as the flavor improves enough, I think, to make a difference. “ WAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!!! (I'm way overdue for a good cry... ) In your own kitchen, with very few exceptions, I offer you this: Instructions are OK to break.
Yeah, I didn't wait! I'll have plenty leftover, so I suppose I can look forward to it getting better and better – right? Served on creamy polenta (with a little parm stirred in)... MMM Mmmm GOOD! Better picture when I'm not so HUNGRY, lol! More confessions from an exhausted mind (and body and...) - while I used a smaller roast (about 1 ½ pounds) I neglected to cut the remaining ingredients in half! I don't believe it has affected the results one bit, and anticipate having a hearty beef flavored soup or sauce remaining after the meat is gone. Not a bad accident at all wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 15 December 2013 - 21:03:10
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My last trip to the grocers I saw something that is rare (at least here, this time of year) – a butterflied leg of lamb! In a moment of self-indulgence along with a few fleeting memories, I had to purchase same.

Grandmother made roasted leg of lamb often – served with mint jelly, and cooked SO 'well done' that you could hardly taste anything other than that jelly. But it's a memory – so let's accept that – and make it better.

I started with a marinade – balsamic vinegar, rosemary, lots of garlic, cumin, coriander, s&p... honestly, I got this off the package of lamb, and just adjusted the measurements to my pleasing. Got called into work early, and of course stayed late – so I marinated about 10 hours, not the 2-4 that was recommended...

Grilled on med-lo for about 40 minutes, only flipping once...

Delightfully delicious dinner, with the fanned potatoes and roasted broccoli being done in the toaster oven? More about those later...

Wish you were here to enjoy!!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 04 September 2013 - 00:34:14
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I'm feeling a tad contrary...
I had an opportunity to pack a delightful catered picnic for a friend, but I simply didn't want to do the 'same ole, same ole'... So I've kept the traditional entities: chicken, potato salad, coleslaw... But I've mixed it up a bit?
It seems to me that EVERY family has their favorite version of a mustard based potato salad – so I made one with so little, it's actually white. Used a favorite recipe from America's Test Kitchen for American Potato Salad as a guide, except that I use plain non-fat Greek yogurt as a sub for half of the mayo. I've used this recipe for years, and it produces a red potato salad much like you buy at a deli – but just a touch better wink? Add crispy bacon if you'd like...
A touch more 'vinegary' than the family classic, and definitely less sweet – the 'trick', which I've used on pasta as well, is to add the vinegar and some seasonings to your freshly boiled potatoes so the flavors are well absorbed. I did these steps the night before, and then 'dressed' with the creamy sauce the day of the serving. Oh, and I omit the eggs... Now – since I hadn't used much mustard or any sweetness in the potato salad, why not in the slaw? So this sweet and sour recipe from Southern Food fit my bill. Honestly, once all your veggies are prepped, this goes together in just a few minutes, and then you chill for a couple hours before serving... A tad too much oil, if you ask me... so I drained some off before packaging.
The chicken was simple – butterflied then grilled with a constant and generous basting of Salamida's State Fair Chicken Sauce . Cut down the middle for two generous servings. Done. And you know me – a little time left over, so what else can I do? Some garlic and cheddar biscuits - heck they only take a few minutes... I'll include a jar of those Horseradish Pickles for good measure. OH MY! I almost forgot!!! Dessert is that MOST enjoyable Lemon Ice Box Pie... Not a bad picnic, eh? Couldn't resist the 'portioned' plate that is so infamous at chicken barbeques... It WILL be enjoyed, I assure you!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 25 August 2013 - 17:19:42
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An Impressive (and easy) Date Night meal
My grocery had pork tenderloin on sale this week, and since I’d done a lot of beef recently, I couldn’t resist. This is embarrassing, but the truth – I have never cooked a pork tenderloin. Mom & Papa make it on a regular basis for family dinners, so I never felt the need. In the mood for something a little bit spicy, I searched a lot of sites and nothing clicked until…I found a great recipe from - Jalapeno and Mustard Glazed Pork Loin. Extremely easy, and incredibly moist, tender, and flavorful. This may become MY standard recipe for pork loin!
The ONLY effort is to chop a bunch of scallions, some cilantro (which I now buy in a tube!) and a single jalapeno (and you can use jarred, pickled jalapeno – I did); you mix your mustard (I used my own sweet & spicy Mustard dip) and other ingredients in a resealable bag, toss in your meat, mush around, and then refrigerate for at least two hours. But then it said to remove the surface marinade and after basting, discard. NO WAY! I had tasted it before I added the meat, and it was too good to waste! I squeezed it from the plastic bag into a small saucepan, and cooked until it simmered and thickened (remember – it had raw meat in it, so this is an important step!). When I sliced the meat, I drizzled a small amount of the now cooked marinade across the slices - “gilding the lily” perhaps, but a truly delicious step. The “Herbed Noodle” recipe Nikibone paired with this was a great choice. At first I questioned using only a single tablespoon of butter, but I’ve got to say, it worked well. Add a tossed salad (ok, steamed broccoli in this pic, which works) with a “cool”/not too spicy, creamy dressing, and you’ve got a beautiful, healthy, relatively inexpensive and DELICIOUS meal. And like the title says – IMPRESSIVE! [updated from 2009]

Posted by Linda :
Friday 15 February 2013 - 23:38:03
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My Southern Roots are calling me…
My father’s family hails from No’th Ca’olina. While I’ve visited several times, the trip that stands out in my mind was when I was around 10 – went with Grandmother to visit some relatives. I spent an afternoon out in the tobacco field with two lovely ladies named Hannah and Barbara – yeah, I still remember the names! I was a kid, and most of my favorite cartoons came from Hanna/Barbera productions? I don’t remember the main course, but we had home-made Peach Melba ice cream for dessert – YUMMM!! I picked up a new phrase from a distant relative (2nd cousin, twice removed – or something like that wink ) – “Gawdy Chickens”! And Lawdy, I made one gawdy meal tonight!
I'd planned on Paula Deen's Smothered Chicken and biscuits, but the chicken just would not thaw in a timely manner. So the next best thing? Smothered Pork Chops and collard greens! Just for fun, I added semolina grits (made with sharp cheddar and a hint of fennel) to go with all that gravy...
Ok, I know – not exactly the healthiest menu. But once in a while, you just gotta indulge in what makes you smile! And for me, well, that’s just good ole comfort food. The spiciness of the pork, with the subtle flavors of the grits, alongside the smoky collard greens?!? A wonderful balance. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “happy is as happy does”. My wish for you – enjoy. NOTE: If I were making the collard greens for a group or special occasion, rather than a weekday meal, I would use THIS recipe – much more authentic and infinitely better results... but my choice for tonight was very pleasing as well.

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 13 September 2012 - 01:29:36
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