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Like sweet potatoes? Try THIS!
I recently had a delightful meal out – authentic lobster rolls, sweet potato fries, finished by a sundae with real fudge sauce and caramel (that one was 'forced' upon me, lol, but I somehow finished it all). So engaged in my companion ( wink ) and diving in, I neglected to take any pics... Found THIS one, and it would be about two-thirds of my plate – TWO lobster rolls, imagine the fried potatoes of the sweet variety (not difficult with this pic), and a spear of dill pickle, just to top it off.
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I post this because the dipping sauce for the fries was different, and exceptional. Sweet potatoes, in virtually any form (NOT that traditional super sweet version with marshmallows – YUCK) are a favorite, and I've made or ordered them frequently. Often they are cooked with a spicy coating, and in this region, traditionally served with ketchup. NOT SO THERE! My first thoughts were honey and butter and, and... I couldn't quite place it, so I asked. Turns out that it was MAPLE and – wait for it... mayonnaise?!? That was it. Darn good combination, and excellent on the simply done fries. I've used Maple and sour cream for grilled, bacon wrapped sweet potatoes, which was enjoyed by many. NOTE TO SELF (and YOU, of course): this combination is DEFINITELY worth experimenting with! And just in case you're interested, click here for a recipe of the quality of the lobster rolls I was served.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 27 July 2013 - 22:30:57
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Remember that Sausage Bread?
If you don't, here's the link. To summarize, I loved the flavors, including the bread, but the dough took a little too long for my taste. SO...
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using whole wheat pizza dough, I made a much quicker version. I've got to say, I've never made or been served a pizza topped with provolone - by my oh my, it is VERY good! The moz and parm gave it enough balance to have the texture we think of as 'pizza cheese', and the overall effect is wonderful. What's not to love? Spicy sausage, spinach, three cheeses... I brushed the crust with a garlic/oregano oil (over low heat simmer fresh garlic in olive oil, then cool. strain the garlic, and add dried oregano and let it sit - easy flavored oil!), and brava! A new favorite has been born. One tip - watch your cooking time carefully - all you want to do is cook the dough and melt the cheese - this DOES cook a little faster than many other versions... I still think it would be awesome in mini calzones or pockets - I will definitely keep a stock of the filling/topping in my freezer for future use wink

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 03 July 2013 - 22:44:10
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I know, I KNOW!!!
My life has been kind of crazy lately – started a new job almost 4 months ago, and now I'M training the newbies?!? Went from part-time to overtime REAL fast! Bear with me, guys? So I've had a bad head-cold and not many fresh ingredients in the house, so I opted for an orange and cream cheese kind of cross between bread and pound cake. I have a LOT of oranges from my caring neighbor since my throat started to die on me last week... So here's the thing – told you I hadn't gone shopping... Had cream, not milk. Pecans, not walnuts... Butter, not shortening... Why the heck am I apologizing?!? This sounds better than the original... cheesey
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Ok, it baked a little darker than the original, but I see no problem with that – not a touch of 'singe' or other such evil stuff. And... OH MY! It is good!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 04 June 2013 - 00:55:22
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Good Stuff(ing)
So, since my success this past winter with brie, I've usually kept some in the house. Another staple is apples – in a pinch, an apple with some peanut butter makes a somewhat healthy snack that can satisfy a sweet tooth... So when I saw a chicken dish that put the two of them together (apples and brie, that is), I was enticed! Super easy and quick to assemble as well. Saute some chopped onions while you chop some apples (I left the skin on). Add the apples, some seasoning, and apple cider. Don't despair if that ingredient isn't 'in season' – apple cider is simply apple juice that hasn't been filtered. They're not looking for the fermented, or 'hard' cider here wink After the apples have softened, cool, and add your chopped brie. Pretty as a picture, no?
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Here's the fun part – you 'stuff' your chicken breasts by gently lifting the skin and sliding all that goodness inside. The flavors are readily absorbed by the meat as it is held in place by the skin, which gets slightly crispy. Adding some additional cider to the drippings, and you have a beautiful glaze as well.
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I thought collard greens were a perfect side for this meal – no need for much else other than a knife and fork! Slightly sweet, tart, nutty, deliciously moist... yeah, good stuff.

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 23 May 2013 - 00:22:05
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Size DOES matter!
I had a dentist appointment – not only on a Sunday, but on Mother's Day Sunday! What ELSE could I make that day but hard candy wink I had seen this recipe for Chocolate Covered Maple Sponge Toffee, and it was time to give it a try. Measurements go back and forth between metric and “U.S.” measurements, which I followed with no problem for grams and temperature (14 gr=1Tblsp when talking butter, 150C=300F)... However I failed when I got cocky regarding the size of the pan - I mean, EVERYONE knows how to convert centimeters to inches, right? Read on. Incredibly simple, basically you're just watching sugars bubble – but it took me a bit longer than the 7-8 minutes mentioned to reach the temp previously mentioned. While waiting, I was reminded of one Christmas when I had made massive amounts of peanut brittle as gifts – and then it hit me! I had pecans in the freezer cheesey Maple and pecan? Sounds like a match to me. So I chopped up about 2/3 cup of pecans and stirred them in after the baking soda. I did NOT get a picture at this point, because I had no desire for the molten foam to escape its saucepan. Make sure you use a large one – I cut it close with a 2qt and didn't add the soda until the original bubble had subsided... But here's where I goofed – 20cm x 30cm does NOT equal 7”x9” - CLOSE, but please, err on the larger sized pan! Probably a 10"x13" would have been MUCH better. I had hoped once I poured it that the bubbles would subside, but nope - I ended up with 2cm THICK brittle?!?! NOT exactly the thin wafer I had sought. I thought about skipping the chocolate, but what fun would that be? So I got a work out with my Chinese cleaver, vented some frustrations, and chopped it up into somewhat bite-sized pieces wink
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Still quite enjoyable, and the pecans are a delightful addition - though for a true “brittle”, I would add a bit more next time. I share my mistakes, and I'm darn proud of them – heck, how else do we learn?

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 14 May 2013 - 22:29:50
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In need of comfort...
“Rough” doesn't even begin to describe the last couple weeks – sorry if I've been slacking a touch, but there simply hasn't been much energy left. Cooking – or even eating – have been low on the list of priorities. So with my first full day off in a week and a half, something easy and more importantly, comforting was in order. And meatloaf was the winner. I'd tagged this Meatloaf with sweet onion glaze a while back, and guess what!? I had all the ingredients on hand! Ok, the ground beef needed to thaw... Really simple to put together – lots of interesting flavors as well. My meat was still a little 'solid' in the center, so instead of adding the sauteed onion and garlic to the meat, I added the meat to the still warm pan. Really easy to blend all the seasonings by mashing with the back of the spatula... A rough loaf formed, leaving some space around it, the onion glaze cooked in the same pan I'd sauteed in...
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Definitely a 'do again' kind of recipe – and just what my sanity needed!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 28 April 2013 - 15:25:18
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Here's a new Side to try...
So I still had some fried chicken left, and short of making some potatoes or biscuits, I decided I wanted a side that was just a little bit lighter. A plain ol' green salad seemed a touch boring... Hey, this sounds perfect – an orzo and spinach prima vera? And lucky me – I have all the ingredients on hand! Well, sort of. My bell peppers are orange, my lemon rind is dried, and the spinach I have is chopped and frozen, but I bet they will do the job... Fresh spinach would wilt pretty quickly in the heat, right, so I don't think there's much difference.
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Pretty as a picture, no? The slicing and dicing can be done while you're cooking your orzo, and this goes together in minutes. A beautiful side, or a light meal or snack... I can see several pairings for a new favorite, as well as different seasonings to explore wink

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 09 February 2013 - 16:31:40
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A white sky with dark stars...
You may have noticed that I try to mix it up on this page – some ooey gooey sweet stuff, some spicy and savory – and even some stuff that's good for you! That's the way I like to eat – too much of any one thing never works for long – either your body or brain will rebel sooner or later frown . So while I have and will prepare some outrageous stuff, for today I will be virtually vegan. Using some root vegetables that I don't see or purchase very often, may I present Reverse Universe soup. Beautiful, no?
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While the author proclaims that any white vegetable can be used, I tried to stick with her original suggestions – I found celeriac (aka celery root - and no, that's not the clumped end of a bunch of celery) but not parsley root, so I used parsnips. Thought I had enough veggie stock, but ended up using some chicken stock as well... And I COULDN'T pass up on adding some cheese flavor (hence my term 'virtually' vegan wink ). Since I had plenty of white beans on hand, I threw a few of those in for some added protein. It didn't say how long to simmer – since I was watching a basketball game, I let it go about an hour – perfection! Once it got going, my immersion blender was able to create the creamy (yet cream-less) puree you see above – be patient if you go this route, or use a blender as prescribed by the author. Toss in some cooked legumes (I used mung beans as I had a ton – don't ask) for protein and decor... The flavors are subtle, earthy, and familiar – which is always a pleasure. Voila - some great eating that saves me some calories for the big weekend coming up – not a bad combo at all.

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 29 January 2013 - 21:13:15
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Sometimes you feel like a SAVORY nut...
Since my first explorations into roasting flavored nuts was so enjoyable, I continued searching. These Rosemary Almonds are done on the stovetop, and are ready in minutes! On second thought, you really shouldn't make these – takes no time, no effort, your house smells heavenly, it's a healthy snack... Forget I mentioned it wink
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[note: this picture was taken before they had fully cooked and cooled, hence their glossy appearance]
There really IS a method in my madness – ignoring the fact that nuts are high in fiber, protein, calcium, and good cholesterol (as well as tasty), the added seasonings all have some benefit: ginger/digestion aid, cinnamon/insulin moderator; honey/hay fever aid; cayenne/anti-inflammatory; rosemary/memory & mood elevator... While I could list a few more health benefits, the next few are pretty much just for fun. We've all had Smoke House Almonds at one point or another – this version reminded me of a chili blend, so I added an extra dash of cumin and a splash of liquid smoke...
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They didn't say how long to roast, so I'm glad I didn't start it until I'd done a few other batches – I went with the previously effective 325F for about 18 minutes. I've made more than enough nibbles for today – but hey, guys, I'll give you fair warning: as delightful as these are, the BEST are yet to come!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 13 January 2013 - 21:52:44
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Comfort in a bowl
First snowfall of the season – check. In time for a white Christmas – check. Grey skies for days to come – BAH HUMBUG! So much rich food over the last few days, with the obligatory leftovers... time to lighten it up a little. Michael Symon had the ticket.
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This hearty Mushroom Stew with Dumplings is super easy to make, and extremely quick once you've made the mushroom stock. You can even cheat on that, as I did, when there were no dried mushrooms to be found?! And I checked two different stores... I used one quart vegetable stock, and one quart beef stock, and just to ensure umami, I added a generous dash of soy sauce. I'm sure the authentic shroom stock would be better, but this was a mighty fine substitute. The slight sweetness of the root vegetables and the squash really bring a nice balance to the savory ingredients. The dumplings take only seconds to make, and are light as air, melt in your mouth good. If you wanted to be REALLY conscientious you could omit them, or make a smaller batch... Despite what I told Santa, I'm not that good - and a little bit of carb and fat in an otherwise vegan recipe is not a bad thing.

Posted by Linda :
Friday 28 December 2012 - 21:34:27
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