If you're not a morning person like I am, you find people like me a TOTAL mystery. I love to arise and begin cooking on Thanksgiving morning, holiday music blaring, my arms elbow deep in the backside of a turkey as I slather it with butter, and stuff it with herbs, onions and lemons. And you just STARE at me like I'm a unicorn in church.
Okay, I want you to be happy like me! And maybe a little breakfast will help. I know, you don't eat breakfast, but it's a holiday for heaven's sake! Work with me.
And so I have come up with these personal, make in a jiffy, single serving holiday omelets. You can have the ingredients ready and poured into each cup. Then as you're handing Grumpy his coffee, steer him towards the stove to sprinkle in the ingredients of choice into the omelet cup, then pop them in the oven. Everybody has the flavors they want and soon we're all singing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause!" in unison.
Download here! EASY PERSONAL HOLIDAY OMELETS.
Crana-licious! Thanksgiving just got prettier with this easy and quick cranberry sauce with a twist.
Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday. But that hour right before you serve dinner, when you're furiously mashing taters, thickening gravy, and DOING the other 100 things you do RIGHT BEFORE YOU EAT takes a bit of the fun out of it. Especially if you've been on your feet since 5 a.m. -- Can you say crabby???
This year I have planned my menu carefully, and will be cooking much of it in advance. The potatoes will be done the day before, and then reheated with sour cream and milk in the crock pot. The corn casserole and stuffing will be also be pre-made. And of course the cranberry sauce. I made that last night.
Peeps, this stuff is GOOD. It made the whole house smell like Christmas, I'm telling ya! Give it a try. You ONLY NEED 10 MINUTES, AND THEN YOU'RE A HERO. -- FESTIVE GOLDEN RAISIN AND PORT CRANBERRY SAUCE.
I love sunsets. Just not at 6 p.m. I'm a perpetual summer girl, wearing flip flops into November, and therefore refusing to even take my winter coat out of its plastic covering until at least January. But there are few thing I do in the kitchen that can keep the evenings bright and exciting.
First is my twist on the chicken pot pie. Try making the shells, using packaged pie crust mix, in muffin tins. Then simply ladle in your filling. It's elegant and easy. And you'll find that you can even put a twist on the filling by adding artichoke hearts and herbs de Provence seasoning. Over the top yummy.
Next, the popular and suburban salmon patty is elevated to greatness when it's, well, elevated! Try adding some new flavorings like ginger, curry and coriander. And then place it on a bed of sweet Thai chili sauce mixed with mustard. Bite size amazing.
Check out these dinner options next time you find yourself in the 'dark' about dinner.
Want these recipes? Click on the names! CHICKEN POT PIE MINI CUPS WITH CREAMY ARTICHOKE SAUCE or CHINESE INSPIRED SALMON TOWERS WITH SWEET CHILI THAI MUSTARD.
"Let's make a list of all the life events we've experienced while being friends," one of my girl friends exclaimed during our recent Girl's Trip Reunion just outside of Chicago. And it made me think how so much of our life is marked by the moments women spend together. 27 years ago we met, and since then we've done our best to have our Girl's Weekends, even as we scattered to the four corners of the country. Although the trips have been less frequent, we still rendezvous and celebrate friendship as only women can. Now that daughters are being added to the mix, we find a deep sense of satisfaction in having nurtured each other through thick and thin.
That's why I was happy to create a farewell dinner for all of us, with the help from my friend's daughter, and excellent cook on her own.
So, while my daughter and one of our friends spent the day viewing Lakeshore Drive from the top of the Hancock building, Kaitlyn and I were busy chopping apples, slicing pears, and generally furrowing through every ingredient in the pantry as we created our meal. And did we ever have fun! Discovering a jar of Cherry Salsa, we found the sauce to be spicy and perfectly fruity. By pairing it with canned pears, maple syrup, and some sliced onions, the chicken was on its way to being famous. Then we reduced leftover fruit and sugar down into a luxurious and colorful compote to layer over blueberry scones before topping it all with whipped cream. To round out the meal, we simply took a bag of quality frozen vegetable medley, cooked and drained it, and then added an easy apple cider vinaigrette for a warm vegetable salad.
We knew we had done our jobs when, at the end of the meal they all exclaimed, "We need the recipes!"
I remember the small town carnivals that came to town when I was a child. When all the rides were assembled, the dry, dusty alfalfa field, barren that morning was, by nightfall, transformed into an other-wordly place. Glowing orbs, painted carriages that swung through the air, and the food trailers that lit up like UFO's were mesmerizing. Sure the ground was muddy, and the food was trashy but it was fantastic. And the fare included that mascot of all county fairs, the caramel apple on a stick. Although some of those apples were covered in that bright red candy, others were spared the paper skewer and presented as simply sliced up so you could dip them in cheese or marshmallow.
This is the food you eat before being inverted in a cage suspended above the crowds and twirled around at lightning speeds? YES IT IS. It was a race to a sugar coma, and we loved it.
Would you believe it if I told you there are more than 7,000 varieties of apples in the world? It's a staggering number, but a testament to the iconic fruit that America LOVES. Anything that you can consume from your palm, eat sloppily without apologizing, and when you're done feel ABSOLUTELY NO guilt for scarfing it, is a good thing. Really good. Plus, unless you're fond of seeing your Doctor a lot, (Not withstanding those of you married to a physician, we're sure you like seeing your doctor all the time,) the ol' apple promises to keep 'em away if you eat one once a day.
Now remember, I don't know how to do anything plain. I like to take something familiar and amp it up a bit. Which is why I decided to combine my love of billowy, sweet scones with apples, cheese and caramel. When I took a bite of my little squares, I expected to get a distinct snap of the apple acidity, and the familiar sharpness of the cheddar cheese. But a new creature was born and it was addictive. And then, when covered in home made caramel, well, I felt a little other-worldly myself and there wasn't a Tilt-A-Whirl in sight.
The good news is scones are super easy to make. So unless you LIKE to see your doctor and shell out a co-pay, you need to start your day with a GRANNY SMITH APPLE AND CHEDDAR CHEESE SCONE WITH HOMEMADE CARAMEL.
(As a note, the caramel sauce I made was easy and it is a nod to The Pioneer Woman's recipe. Take 1 C packed light brown sugar and put it in a saucepan with half a stick of butter or 1/4 C. Let it slowly melt. Then add 1/2 C heavy cream and a dash of salt. Cook, whisking constantly, (it will reach a boil pretty quickly) on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Take off the stove, add 1 t good vanilla extract, whisk again and let cool. The PW said to cook for 5-7 minutes but when I did that last time, I about had caramel I could wrap in plastic. Too hard. Try only 3-4 minutes for the best sauce!)
How can a dessert be an appropriate segue for this story? I see dessert as a celebration. A reward -- a sweet, beautiful, luxurious one -- for being blessed and full of enough bounty to nourish our bodies. And as I try and celebrate today and the progress I've made no matter how far away my goals seem to be, something sweet rises up as the best way to share this idea with you.
If you can make cookie dough, YOU CAN DO THIS. THEY'RE EASY -- Tiny, sweet, surprising, and oh, so elegant. Try my COOKIE BUTTER MARASCHINO CHERRY FILLED TRUFFLES! And celebrate short journeys, one step, and one perfect BITE!
There's very few things I dislike about Charlotte. The people, the weather, the energy; all are incomparable. However, I'm sad to say, being from the western US, I have been unable to locate a superbly authentic Southwest Mexican restaurant. I'm taking about the kind that make you certain you're sitting in Scottsdale, AZ, or Old Town San Diego. It's that certain taste of the corn in the tortillas, the way the lard underscores the tanginess of a good chile or cheeses that carry you away on a yellow, Mariachi studded cloud. Hmmm. That's a bit overly romantic...maybe its just the cactus growing outside the restaurant window that has me grinning underneath my sombrero? So...as a side bar, I welcome your suggestions to direct me to a place where I can find the southwest here in Charlotte. In the meantime, I enjoy making my own.
Now I don't just cook. I think of the entire meal, the plate even, as a story. I see it as a stage where the players move about in costume, dazzling us with movement, color and choreography. So when planning a Mexican burrito bar last weekend -- a "serve it yourself" carnival of Spanish cuisine --I went WILD!
The first item on my list was of course to make the BEST pork carnitas. CHIPOTLE MUSTARD SLOW COOKED PORK CARNITAS to be exact. Nothing like a slow cooker and the right spices to create the bed on which all other delectable flavors will be built upon. After that, the perfect SPANISH RICE, which must roll around in your mouth and not mush into the other flavors is key. The rice kernels must still be visible, separate, and therefore imperative to the finished dish. You have to have salsa. And since the mangoes were ripe I sliced them and tossed them with the requisite ingredients, substituting red chili flakes instead of the jalapeno for color and an interesting bite. The topping I chose was like the twirling petticoats of the Flamenco dancer as I plopped a helping of my QUICK PICKLED CORIANDER RED CABBAGE SLAW. Oh, it was so good! (Sidenote, this pickled slaw will go great with other meals such as fish, on a sandwich, tossed with other green cabbage, pineapple and cilantro...the choices are endless!)
The meal was acidic, spicy, sweet, meaty yet fresh, southwest in the southeast! Maybe I don't need to look any further than my own kitchen for any further tortilla wanderlust?