We like meat. We like to loaf.

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Daryl and I enjoy a good piece of meat; and lately, with this cold weather, we like to loaf. Make that hibernate.
As much as I’d love to have someone serve us dinner (shirtless and built) with champagne in each hand… that’s just not happening. I had photos to shoot outside this morning and errands to run so I needed dinner to be simple, comforting, and good. Oh… and healthy-ish.
Daryl apparently loves meatloaf. His Mom made it for him all the time. I was never a fan of it. Mostly when I was younger, but I decided to give it a go.
Very glad I did.
I found several meatloaf recipes online. I wanted a slightly healthier version using turkey instead of beef, so I improvised. The photos below are the result. I will post the ad hoc recipe at the end if you want to try it. I highly recommend the glaze as well. We love glazed meat. Did I say that already?
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Meatloaf:
Mix with clean hands in a big ass bowl.
1 lb. ground turkey
1 pack of dry onion soup mix
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs (I had some Ritz crackers in the cabinet, so I used them!)
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of spinach (the healthy part. Done out of guilt)
A healthy squirt of Dijon mustard
A splash or two of soy sauce.
Salt, pepper, fresh thyme.
Mold in a sprayed pan, sprinkle with a handful of freshly chopped onion, and bake at 400 for about 40 minutes. 160 internal temp.

Glaze:
Don’t glaze your meat until the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.
Mix 1/2 cup catsup with several teaspoons of light brown sugar, a squeeze of organic honey, a pinch of dry mustard, and the juice of half a lemon.

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bread, eggs, milk… go!

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French toast on our day off together was the perfect way to begin the week. Well… almost.
Day old Challa bread sliced into 3/4 inch slices. Cover them in a baking dish or bowl for about 10 minutes each side in cup and a half of heavy cream, 5 eggs, 2 shakes of cinnamon, one shake nutmeg, 2 caps of vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
Throw a tablespoon of butter in a griddle or in a pan and grill at med high for about 5 minutes each side.
I ad hoc’d a tasty banana sauce by tossing a few tablespoons of butter in a pan. Let it melt slowly, then add a tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, and several splashes of amaretto if you have it (I always have it). I sliced 2 ripe bananas then turned it up to medium heat and let it thicken a bit.
Plate it with oven baked bacon, a little orange zest, and some sifted confectioner sugar, then let the mouth explosion begin!
Off to the gym!

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wings-to-stay

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Who doesn’t love wings and roasted veggies? Baked at 400 for close to 45 minutes with a flip in the middle (sounds like good sex). Seasoned with salt, black pepper (for Martin Luther King Day), and red pepper flakes. Roasted Brussels sprouts with green beans and shallots… All roasted for about 35 minutes with the wings. Had to be an easy dinner. We’re heading to a “Paint with a Twist” gathering later tonight!

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shrimp, sausage and sipping…

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I love shrimp. I ALWAYS have a bag of frozen shrimp on hand to whip up dinner in a snap. Last Monday, Daryl had a switch in his part time work schedule so we could actually hang out together which is unheard of for a Monday afternoon!

Bliss.

We decided (read: I decided) that I want to decorate the small patio of our condo with a few lights and a wreath this year. We ended up at a local craft store and hardware store to get SOME of the things needed.

At one of the shopping centers there was a local watering hole, and it WAS about Happy Hour time (okay, so maybe we were a tad early), but we decided to imbibe on some local beers on tap. As it turned out we ran into a few old friends and Happy Hour turned into Happy HourS. When we finally got home at about 7:00 pm, I had to be quick about dinner.

I did a quick inventory of the fridge and the pantry, and this is what I came up with.

INGREDIENTS:
20 shrimp (thawed in warm water, if frozen)
3 links of turkey sausage cut into bite size pieces (Daryl likes the skin removed)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 can red beans
a few snips of scallions
a few snips of fresh parsley
paprika
2 tbsp butter (okay, I had a few beers earlier, so I made it 3 tbsp)
1 cup dry white wine
a clove or two of garlic
salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper
whole wheat penne pasta
Parmesan cheese

THE PROCESS:
Boil water for the pasta.
I sauteed the sausage first in a separate pan to get it started. I finished it in the same pan as the shrimp to add some flavor.
Drop butter in a pan at medium heat. Add minced garlic and allow to fuse with and flavor butter (about 3 or 4 minutes). Add white wine and let it reduce about half. Add shrimp, sprinkle with a pinch or two of paprika and loads of black pepper. Toss in sun-dried tomatoes and drained beans and cook until shrimp is opaque. Add scallions and parsley before removing from heat.
Place on top of penne and garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

I also did an inventory of the liquor cabinet (read: top of fridge), and Daryl had gotten us some Vanilla vodka to try earlier in the week.

BINGO. Black Vanilia Martini!

Black Vanilia: 2 parts Vanilla vodka, 2 parts apple juice, 1 squirt lemon juice, a few drops of simple syrup and a stream of organic blackberries on a skewer.

 

toasted nuts and stuffed thighs

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Sounds like a porno, doesn’t it? It was actually a new recipe that I decided to try on my day off. Daryl claims he doesn’t like thigh meat (apparently it’s too dark – go figure) and I¬†always enjoy the challenge of making something that he doesn’t think he’d enjoy.

I found parts of several recipes online that I took pieces of and decided to create something strictly ad hoc. Daryl called me during the day to tell me he invited his Mom over too, so the pressure was on (although in all honesty, she’ll eat just about anything — love her!).

MENU:
Boneless chicken thighs stuffed with garlic, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and goat cheese.
Black and white spiced beans.
Red and yellow sweet peppers.
Dessert (below): Baked pears splashed with vodka, cinnamon chips, pistachios and honey, and garnished with sliced bananas and chocolate sauce drizzle.

Dessert: Bake the pears (Bosc) @ 375 for about 30 minutes. I scooped out the centers, filled with pistachios, a little pear flavored vodka, and some cinnamon chips drizzled with honey. YUM.

INGREDIENTS for CHICKEN:
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tbls olive oil
1/4 cup of organic chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
7 ounces of fresh organic spinach
2 ounces of goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts*
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbls dried cumin
1 tbls dried paprika
1 tbls of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

* Pine nuts can be found in any baking section of the market. Place on a cookie sheet at 375 for about 10 minutes keeping a check on them. Toasting them releases the oils and brings out the flavor of the nuts.

THE EXPERIENCE OF CREATING:
The stuffing…

I sauteed the spinach first, in a pan with olive oil and garlic. It always amazes me how much the spinach cooks down.¬†Don’t over cook it (maybe 5 minutes?), because it will be cook a little more when it’s in the oven. I added the goat cheese at the end of the saute to get it to melt a little and tossed in the pine nuts.

The thighs…
Rinse the thighs then pat dry and season on both sides with the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stuff with about a tablespoon of the spinach/cheese mixture. Roll the thighs and secure with a couple of toothpicks. Season the outside of the thighs with cumin, paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper.

The heat…
Heat oven to 350. I used a cast iron skillet on med high heat to sear the thighs on all sides, added some chicken stock and a little dry white wine, then threw the skillet in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the meat rest (still a porno?) for about 5 minutes after baking and serve with the peppers and beans.

I also made a quick sauce of butter, white wine, scallions and fresh thyme to pour over the chicken thighs. Delish!

Garnish the dinner with a little IRONY (or alot of IRONY).

I LOVE irony.

Amazing dinner with folks I love!

cranberry-pear-ginger sauce

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I work in a retail establishment. Twice a year we have a huge “Friends and Family Sale” where we do a potluck dinner for all of the associates to enjoy. For past sales, I’ve done macaroni and 4-cheese, crock pot chili, and other assorted homemade dishes throughout my 7 years working with this company.

This years “theme” was Thanksgiving and we had delicious turkey, sweet-potatoes, salads and sides. I decided to concoct a cranberry side dish, but I opted to combine a couple of different recipes that I had, to come up with my own different version of a traditional Thanksgiving side dish/relish.

It was most definitely a hit and I will be sure to do this one again. It was easy, quick, inexpensive, and makes a truly festive presentation to any holiday meal.

INGREDIENTS REQUIRED
1 bag (12 oz) washed cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup FRESH orange juice
1 large Bosc pear, peeled, cored and diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp fresh ground ginger

THE EXPERIENCE OF CREATION
Heat all ingredients in a large saucepan to boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 5 to 7 minutes or until cranberries begin to “pop” and pears and apples are tender while stirring occasionally.
Mixture will thicken as it cools. Once completely cool, refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Garnish with thin pear slices.

i like butter. i like nuts.

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I never tried eating or cooking butternut squash before. Call me sheltered. Maybe I was brought up under a big rock or perhaps I just didn’t think that butternut squash would taste as good as I made it taste tonight!

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of cubed butternut squash (I cheated and bought it pre-cut)
half a large sweet onion
half a red pepper
half a yellow pepper
2 cups kale, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or pressed

THE EXPERIENCE OF CREATING:
I baked the butternut squash for about 20 minutes at 375 by placing it on a lined cookie sheet and drizzling olive oil on the cubes. While that was baking, I poured a tbls of olive oil in a saute pan with the garlic and put on medium to fuse the garlic into the oil. I diced the onion and peppers and peppered them liberally before tossing them into the pan for about 10 minutes. Once the butternut squash was almost baked, I pulled it out of the oven and tossed it into the saute pan. I added the kale and sautéed all the vegetables for an additional 5 minutes.

Spectacularly beautiful and absolutely delicious! It made a great side with a fish and rice dish.

a pear of queens

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I love pears. I love pairs. I love pear flavored vodka. I love making something that’s easy, yet looks like a dish that you ordered at a fancy restaurant.

I got this idea from Rufus’ blog. I adapted it according to my instincts, my partner Daryl’s tastes, and also according to how many glasses of Cabernet I drank during the preparation process. I seriously have a hard time with recipes that list more than 8 ingredients. This one was easy, adaptable and just plain fun.

I used 2 pears. One Bosc and one red Asian. I sliced each in half, then scooped a hole in each half, enough to house a pile of “goodies.” I placed all 4 halves into a cupcake tin (so they wouldn’t fall over during baking) and splashed all of them with some pear flavored vodka.

I drizzled all of them with honey and then had my way with whatever fillings I wanted to use. I mixed it up. In one pear, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, almond slivers, and some brown sugar. In another I used dried cranberries, a few glazed pecans, and the crumbs of a vanilla wafer. Still another held a few raisins, lemon zest, and some crumbled feta cheese. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. What a great way to include a partner in the process, or even a child!

Bake the pears at 375 for about 40 to 45 minutes. Drizzle some more honey on the plate, garnish with a couple of vanilla wafers and dust with cinnamon.

kale to the chief.

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I’ve been hearing¬†a lot¬†about kale lately. Recently, several of my family members¬†and friends have been touting the many benefits¬†of kale. I never really perused the “leafy” aisle much at the grocery store because quite frankly,¬†they all look alike to me.

I was so wrong.

I looked it up and discovered that I definitely need to incorporate more of this leafy vegetable into our diet. In addition to its obvious addition of fiber, it is also great for digestion and adds many essential antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties in addition to providing omega 3 fatty acids to the body. 

This recipe is a conglomeration of several that I found online. It turned out scrumptious with a kick¬†and can be whipped up in a half hour’s time allowing you more time to love and enjoy¬†the people in your life!

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of large shrimp with tails on (frozen works just fine)
2 tbsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it kicked up like we do!)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 or 4 cloves of garlic pressed
half a red onion diced
1 sweet red pepper diced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes julienned
2 cup of kale finely chopped.
salt and pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan for garnish

THE EXPERIENCE OF CREATING SPICY SHRIMP AND KALE:
Saute the garlic in the olive oil on low to medium heat in a deep saucepan without burning. Toss in red onion and sweet peppers until soft for approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Toss in sun-dried tomatoes for a minute or so while stirring. Place shrimp and kale into pan and saute for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until shrimp is opaque.

Serve on a tight bed of organic quinoa and garnish with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese.

Serve a PearTini¬†with freshly shaved ginger and a pear garnish and you’re gold!