Full enough.

I grilled pork tenderloin for dinner tonight. Over charcoal. Marinated in Allegro. Indirect. 21 mins, ~7 mins per side. Measure with meat thermometer to 145 degrees F. AMAZING.

As I waited for the meat to grill, I snapped this photo of the not-quite-full moon over our winter foliage.

Christmas sunset.

I grilled a delicious cedar plank salmon for Christmas dinner, recipe below. Julie joined us and stirred up a tasty risotto dinner. Nom nom. Sunset was fleeting, but lovely.

Grilled cedar-plank salmon:

  • soak a cedar plank in water for several hours ahead of grilling
  • slather a boneless salmon fillet with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of garlic powder
  • place fillet, skin side down on the pre-soaked cedar plank
  • place cedar plank & salmon over direct coals for 20-30 minutes

Enjoy!

3-way, baby!

I was introduced to Cincinnati Chili late in life, at a Skyline Chili restaurant while visiting southeastern Indiana and Ohio. Better late than ever, though! I was hooked.

I’ve been trying to make the quarantine-induced endless stream of home-cooked meals interesting, so I dusted off a recipe from our Joy of Cooking and made it for dinner yesterday. It was delicious! I might make it every week. 🙂

If you’ve never been treated to the savory goodness of the blended spices in its sauce, you are missing out. Check your spice cabinet inventory and get cooking!

Here’s how to make you some!

Cincinnati Chili (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

Makes 3 servings

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a large pot

Add:
1 lb ground beef sirloin

Stir until separated, and reduce heat to a simmer.

Add:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce

Stir in:

5 whole black peppercorns, ground
4 whole allspice berries, ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated

Bring again to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 2 1⁄2 hours. Refrigerate overnight and reheat, or eat it right away! Don’t forget to discard that bay leaf.

For a 2-Way, serve over cooked thin spaghetti (2 oz of dry pasta per serving).
For a 3-Way, which is my favorite, add a pile of finely shredded cheddar cheese.
For a 4-Way, add chopped onions on top of the cheese.
For a 5-Way, add cooked red kidney beans.

Sláinte!

I made Monte a chocolate Guinness cake for his birthday (recipe here).  I put a little chocolate powder in the icing (link for that is also in the recipe for the cake) so it would be tan colored instead of white.  You know, so I could put a little beer foam on top along with the signature shamrock  🙂

Happy Birthday!

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Dinner and a movie.

Yesterday we helped Julie move into her new apartment.  Then she joined us for dinner.  I shouldn’t have, but I made a very decadent pasta dish, and we pigged out while watching The Princess Bride (for probably the tenth time).  If you are craving a high-calorie, savory, down-home, soul-food kind of pasta dish.  This is the one for you.

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Sausage & Basil Baked Pasta

  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz dry penne or ziti pasta (makes about 3 cups cooked)
  • 1 lb fresh mild italian ground sausage
  • 24 oz jar of tomato & basil sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz carton of ricotta cheese
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped

Boil pasta per package directions, drain and set aside.

In medium saucepan, cook & crumble italian sausage.  Drain off fat.  Return skillet to heat and add onion & garlic to sausage.  Saute until onion is soft.  Add tomato sauce, heat through and set aside.

In large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, and half of the mozzarella.  Fold in the cooked pasta to combine well with cheese mixture.

Into a 13×19 pan, add half of the pasta & cheese mixture, spread evenly.  Add half the sausage & tomato sauce mixture.  Layer again with remaining cheese and sauce.

Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, until bubbly.

Remove cover, add remaining mozzarella cheese and place back in oven for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.    Makes enough to feed an army.

 

 

The birds and the bees.

The hummingbird feeders are getting quite a lot of traffic these days.  Between the bees, the hummers and the finches, they’ll empty one of these in a day.   I had just refilled this feeder and by the time I got back into the house, these two had already stopped for a drink.

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Hummingbird Nectar
1 part sugar : 4 parts H2O
Bring to a boil for several minutes.
Let cool completely.   You can refrigerate any extra for a week or so.
Probably shouldn’t leave in the feeder for more than a day or two.

Cookies, baked & decorated.

I had a marathon baking session yesterday.   🙂

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I used a recipe from Southern Living‘s “Christmas at Home” 2009 special issue that I’ve had for years.

Sparkling Sugar Cookies  (made 4-5 dozen medium sized cookies when I made them)

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Coarse sparkling sugar sprinkles of your choice

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Divide dough in half. Cover; chill 1 hour.

Roll each portion of dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with desired cookie cutters.  Place on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes ( 14 worked perfect in my oven)  or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Add glaze (recipe below) and sprinkles (while glaze is still wet).  Leave flat until completely dry (this took quite a while for me).

Enjoy!

Simple Glaze  (makes about 1 cup)

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons hot water
Liquid food coloring (optional)

Stir together powdered sugar and hot water until smooth. If desired, divide mixture, and tint with food coloring.  Spread on cookies with spatula or dip, whatever works best for you.

 

 

Garbage-pail pasta before & after.

Garbage-pail pasta is a quick dinner dish that I throw together using whatever is in the fridge.   Last night’s version featured:

  • leftover chicken breast meat from the day before – diced (8-10 ounces)
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp each of kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • 2 cups of mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces of dry bowtie pasta, cooked before it is added to sauce
  • 1 cup of half & half
  • 2 cups of baby spinach – coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese

Pre-cook pasta in salted water.   Save the pasta water to use it to thin the cream sauce later, if needed.

I use a 4-5 quart saute pan/pot to make the sauce, so that it is big enough to hold both the sauce and the cooked pasta when it is added later.

Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat, until soft.   Add in the pre-cooked chicken, salt & pepper, and stir for another few minutes til chicken is warm.  Add flour and stir, to coat meat and veggies (this will help thicken the cream sauce later).

Add half & half and stir until sauce begins to thicken.   Add small amounts of pasta water if sauce gets too thick.  Stir in parmesan and spinach, for a minute or two.  Then turn off heat under sauce.  Add drained, cooked pasta to the sauce and stir.

Before:

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And after:

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Not bad.  This dish would easily serve 4.  Next time, I’d add more mushrooms.

Lemony goodness.

During our visit to Seattle, my niece made ice cream sandwiches for dessert.   They were delicious, so I had to try making them when we returned home.

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If you like lemon, and you like ice cream, you must try these.

Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches (makes 4)

4 or 5 scoops of vanilla ice cream – we used Bluebell Homemade Vanilla, of course
1 Tbsp Dickinson’s lemon curd – or more, to taste
8 belgian butter cookies

Put all ice cream scoops together in a single bowl.  Add lemon curd and stir well.  I used a stiff spatula to blend.  Do this relatively quickly, before ice cream gets too soft.  Place 4 cookies on flat baking sheet.  Spread a scoop of the blended ice cream onto each cookie.   Lightly place another cookie on top of each.  Place in freezer for several hours.

 

 

 

And another.

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Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

  • Mix 4 parts water with 1 part granulated sugar in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches a light boil for a minute or two.  Let cool before filling feeders.

 

How’s it hanging?

I’ve crossed off another project from my growing wanna-do list in my head this weekend.  As you may have come to know through this blog, we like to make homemade pasta.  A lot.  Spaghetti, fettucine, ravioli, waddevah.  It’s the food of the gods.  Over the holidays, I ran across a fresh pasta hanger on Amazon and it looked so simple and easy to make, that I refused to put it in my cart.  We have a gynormous wood shop out back.  So I did a little recon and found what I needed already in the shop and… voila!   Ye olde pasta hanger.  I made it without glue, so I can take it apart to store easily in the cabinet.

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Tonight I tried it out.  So, here’s how it went down:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour

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  • 3 eggs

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  • stir / mix with a fork, blending the egg & flour crater from the inside out.  You may not need all the flour.   When the dough stands on its own, knead by hand for 10 minutes.  Till it looks a like more or less like this:

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  • Wrap dough ball in saran wrap and let sit at room temp for 30 mins or so.
  • Afterwards,  I cut the dough ball into 3 equal-ish sided pieces, ready to put through the pasta roller.

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I used our Kitchen-Aid roller, starting on setting 1 – ending on setting 5.  Rolling and dusting the dough with flour several times on each setting.  After rolling each of the three balls into a sheet at setting number 5, I cut each in half.  I found that each of my six pasta sheets ended up making about 2 ounces of pasta – a serving.  So 3 eggs + 2 1/4 cups of pasta yields approximately 6 servings.

Next, I put the fettucine pasta cutter on the Kitchen-aid

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I hung each section on my new, handy-dandy pasta hanger.  (Awesome!)

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Then I threw the pasta into a pot of boiling water.  I sauteed the other bits in a skillet with some olive oil and I let the flavor develop.

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Yummm!

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Currying f(l)avor.

We roasted a whole chicken the other day and I took both cooked breast pieces and transformed them into a magnificent, mouthwatering curried chicken salad.

Simply delicious.

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Here’s more or less what went in.  It made 2-3 cups of chicken salad.

Curried chicken salad

  • 2 cooked/skinned/boneless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 c mayonaise (I like Duke’s light olive oil mayo, tastes just like regular)
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 5-7 tsp curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions sliced finely
  • 1 apple (I used a sweet, crunchy gala), peeled and diced
  • 1/8 c sliced almonds
  • juice of half a lime

Mix well so everything is coated with yellowy goodness.  Then put it in the fridge – for several hours before serving, to make the flavor pop.  Be patient, it’ll be worth the wait.

By the way, the baguette came from Baguette House over on North Lamar.  They make the best baguettes I’ve ever tasted.  Hands down.  Go get you some.

Bringing back the bread machine. 

We received an awesome Breadman Ultimate breadmaker for a wedding gift way back when.  And I used it for several years but stopped for some reason.   I was probably traveling a lot at the time.

A couple weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry, and rediscovered it.  I have since stocked up on wheat flour, gluten and other ingredients and am back in the bread making groove.  The 1.5 lb loaves are perfect for the two of us for several days.

The light whole wheat bread loaf is delicious.

This one’s hot out of the machine:

And this is a link to 100+ page PDF for the bread machine with many recipes.

Beef burgundy. 

Today winter seems to have relaxed its grip.  Temps were in the 50s for most of the day.  Monte and I headed outside and trimmed, pruned, tilled and sowed.   A great day. 

I’ve dug out my crock pot recently and have been making recipes from way back when.   Tonight I made Beef Burgandy.  And Monte made homemade noodles to go with.  Oh my.  Delicious!





Beef burgundy ala crockpot:

– 2-lb beef round steak, cut in 3/4″ cubes

– 1/4 c flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 3 Tbsp butter

– 2 c red wine, Bordeaux or burgandy

– 1 c beef broth

– 1 c chopped onion

– 6 oz white mushrooms, rinsed dried & quartered

– 2 bay leaves

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Coat beef with flour and salt mixture.   Melt butter in skillet.  Add beef and brown on all sides.  Transfer browned meat to crock pot.  Deglaze hot skillet with a little bit of wine and put those tasty bits in the crockpot, too.  Combine all other ingredients in crock pot and stir. 

Cover.  Cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce to low for another 2 -3 hours, until meat is tender. 

Before serving, remove 1 c of liquid, heat over medium on stove; bring to a low boil.  Wisk in 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in  2 Tbsp cold water,  until  thickened.  Pour back into crockpot and stir. 

Remove bay leaves.  Serve over noodles.