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Georgia Fried Thanksgiving

5 Dec

Me, my husband and our dog Maggie got out of Jersey for Thanksgiving this year.  We went to our favorite place, St. Simons Island Georgia.  We drove and yes, it is a long drive but well worth it and the only way to bring Maggie with us. For those of you who are not familiar with St. Simons, it is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, it is absolutely beautiful.  We have friends there, my nephew Bear, his dad and the wonderful beach! To start off our Turkey Day we went for a walk on the beach; gorgeous, sunny, sixty-five degrees and a bit breezy. At home in New Jersey we start our day with friends playing touch football while enjoying the families age-old tradition of whiskey sours, a bit challenging but definitely fun. We decided to join the two traditions and had whiskey sours when we got back from the beach-perfect!

Xmas beach

Found this beautiful "Christmas Tree" on the beach...so cool!

While drinking my cocktail I started cooking very traditional Thanksgiving fare: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing. I have never made stuffing before and just wanted to try something simple and basic so I tried this recipe from Carlota Chimielewski from www.allrecipes.com, it was perfectly delicious.

Bread & Celery Stuffing

1 1lb load sliced white bread

3/4 cup butter

1 onion-chopped

4 stalks celery-chopped

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chicken both

-Let the bread slices dry for about 1 to 2 hours, then cut into cubes

-Melt butter in a dutch oven, add onion and celery. Cook until tender then add seasoning, salt, pepper and bread crumbs; coating them evenly. Add chicken broth and  mix well. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  I realize how simple this is but it really is good and I love that it is so easy to make.

As for the green bean casserole I know that many people poo-poo the idea but I love it! I eat it twice a year and I’m going to enjoy it-we all know the recipe so I won’t bore you with it and for the few that don’t…look on a container of French’s French Fried Onions. The mashed potatoes are a staple but I did get a fancy trick from a friend of mine, Evelyn, she puts hard-boiled eggs in hers. And now I do too, it is so good!

Now, off to my nephews and his dads house for the meal and to see first hand how to deep fry a turkey.  I have heard this myth of frying a turkey but it scares me, especially when you see commercials warning you and news stories about how dangerous it is. They have been doing this for many years and when we get there the oil is coming to a boil and the turkey is ready to be lowered in. While the turkey is cooking we enjoy a small feast of fresh Georgia shrimp some of which have been boiled and the other cooked in a bit of butter and garlic-great way to start the meal. After about 45 minutes the turkey is ready, all 21 pounds of him. As they pull it out I can see the beautiful golden color of what I am sure will be an incredible crispy skin covering delicious tender meat.

Turkey
The Golden Phoenix Rising out of the oil

 I have to say that this turkey was one of the best I have ever eaten-moist and tender just the way it should be. I don’t think I will ever attempt this myself but I know that if I ever want fried turkey on Thanksgiving I will be going to Bear’s house!

Dillicious Dilly Beans!

6 Sep

Hello all!  This post was meant to be up last week but with Irene causing all sorts of problems here on the East coast I am finally getting around to it today!

So, my last post was about pickles and this post is about a pickling experiment that actually turned out well. When I was out in California 3 years ago for my nephews wedding we went on a winery tour and not only was there great wine but lots of yummy treats.  One of those treats was spicy pickled green beans-they were delicious! My nephew keeps threatening to send us some or bring them when he visits but has yet to do so. When I was making the pickles I decided why not try it with green beans and just add some red-hot pepper flakes?! And they are great! Now, I know that some of you are wondering why didn’t I just go buy them? Well, I couldn’t find them anywhere in New Jersey until, of course I decided to make them myself.

Dillicious Spicy Dilly Beans

Basically, use the same recipe as the pickles but use pint Mason jars and green beans. I used about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and they were only slightly hot, I would use more next time.  I also didn’t cook the green beans and got different opinions on whether I should or not, about 50/50. My next batch I’m going to blanch them for about 2 or 3 minutes, it just depends on how crunchy you want them. They are a great addition to an appetizer spread, game time munchie or added to a martini or bloody mary!

Pickle Time!!!

19 Aug

One of my favorite foods in life is the pickle! Yummy dill pickles!  Back in college my friend Mary-Jo had us up to her parents cabin in Pennsylvania for the weekend every summer and every year she would bring her fathers home-made pickles.  They were so delicious they wouldn’t even make it through the first hour. We begged her for the recipe but no luck…until about 10 years ago we had a sort of reunion and went up for a last hoorah because they had sold the place and at long last she shared the recipe with us.  So I have had the recipe sitting in my recipe box all this time and have never tried it out;until now and I am sharing it with you because it is so easy and so good!

Pre-Pickled Pickles

MJ’s Pickles

Kirby Cucumbers (I used 3 per quart jar, they were a bit on the bigger side)

Fresh Dill

Fresh Garlic (think 2 cloves per jar)

4 Tablespoons Salt

6 Cups Water

2 Cups White Vinegar

Quart Size Mason Jars (3-4)

In a large pot bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil.  While waiting for the liquid to boil, wash the cucumbers and put in jars.  Add about a handful of fresh dill and 1 or 2 large cloves of peeled garlic to each jar.  Use your judgement when it comes to the garlic-I did some jars with more and some less so I could see what I liked better.  When the liquid comes to a boil pour into the jars until covering the cucumbers, put the covers on each jar loosely and put aside for 10 days. Yes, mine sat on my counter for 10 days and we could smell the faint fragrance of the vinegar mixed with garlic and dill, then on the 11th day tighten the seals and refrigerate.  Then EAT! I got rave reviews from my co-workers,  my husband and even my dog!  As for the garlic, the general consensus was, the jars with more garlic were tastier. I hope you won’t wait as long as I did to make these, they are too good!

Voila...Pickle Time!

Another Great Summer Salad!

1 Jun

Here’s great salad recipe that is not just yummy but healthy and gluten free!  It ‘s another one of those that I am asked to make again and again….it goes really well with just about anything- burgers, steak, chicken or even grilled shrimp. My husband actually likes to put it in a tortilla and eat it like a burrito, I prefer it naked- it’s too pretty to cover up.

Colorful Black Bean Salad!

It is an Emeril Lagasse recipe that he calls a Black Bean Relish, I prefer-

BLACK BEAN SALAD

4 Cups Cooked Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 Cups Cooked Corn Kernels, cut from the cob

1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

2 Large Cloves Garlic, minced

2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and finley minced (I use only 1)

1/2 Bunch Scallions, finely sliced

1/4 Cup Cilantro Leaves, chopped

2 Limes, juiced

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir to mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to let side for at least 1/2 hour before serving. ENJOY!

Summer Salads…Just in Time!

25 May
 Hello everyone! Well, Memorial Day weekend is upon us.  This is the start of the summer salad season; when family and friends ask me “oh, can you please bring that yummy coleslaw that you make?” or “love that blue cheese potato salad, think you bring that?”  and then of course there is the pasta salad, my personal favorite (and my mother-in-laws) that I am asked to repeat over the course of the entire summer season. The first few times I make them it is fun and exciting but after that the excitement dwindles, then one Saturday at the end of August when I have made these and other salads umpteen times, my husband comes in the kitchen, asks for a taste and tells me how good it is….and then I am happy to be making them again! I am going to share these recipes with you now. They are classics with a bit of creativity.
Summer Salad Ingredients…
 

Before I start with the recipes I just want to share a bit of wisdom, perhaps many of you know this already but only learned this recently.  When making these types of salads with a mayonnaise base, mix the wet ingredients together first with the salt and pepper, herbs, etc to make the dressing, then add to the potatoes,  cabbage, pasta or whatever else.  It sounds so simple and makes a big difference…I wish I had figured this out sooner!

First, I am sharing my coleslaw recipe that is a big winner-it has herbs that give a nice fresh taste but still has that classic “slaw” taste.

HERBED SLAW

3/4 Cup Mayonnaise

3/4 Cup Sour Cream

1/4 Cup White Vinegar

1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley-finely chopped

2 Tbls Fresh Dill, finely chopped

1/4 Cup Chives, finely chopped

1 Tbls Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

1 Green Cabbage-outer leaves removed, finely chopped

Mix all ingedients except cabbage in a large bowl, stir well to combine. Add cabbage and toss until evenly dressed….let sit about 30 minutes and ENJOY!

BLUE CHEESE POTATO SALAD

1 Cup Chopped Green Onion-green parts only

3/4  Cup Sour Cream

3/4 Cup Mayonnaise

1/4 Cup White Vinegar

4 Tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Tsp Sugar

Salt & Pepper

3 lbs Potatoes-I like good old Idaho potatoes but  you can certainly use red skin

1 Cup Frozen Peas-cooked for 4 minutes

3/4 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese

Cook potatoes until done. Mix all ingredients except potatoes in a large bowl until combined.  Add the potatoes until well dressed, let sit for at least 30 minutes… ENJOY!

TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD

1 1lb Box Rotini Pasta (or whatever your favorite shape is)

1 14 oz Bag Frozen Tortellini

1 9oz Bottle Kens Italian Dressing and Marinade (it is the best!)

1 Cup Chopped Baby Spinach

1 Can Quartered Artichoke Hearts

1/4 Cup Chopped Red or Vidalia Onion

Cook pasta according package directions and the tortellini. I usually cook the pasta and add the tortellini in with it when there is 4 minutes to go. You can do this if you use the tortellini that cooks for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and let cool.   Put the pasta and tortellini in a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, combine well and ENJOY!

I hope you, your family and friends love these recipes as much as mine.  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend and remember why we are celebrating-to honor those soldiers who have died for our great country.  

 
 
 
 
 
 

Potato Leek Cheesy Goodness!

24 Apr
 
My Family-Easter 1970

Happy Easter Everyone! My favorite holiday.  Some people are surprised to hear that, but it’s true. The pretty pastel colors, baskets filled with goodies, bunnies and the fact that spring is here and the trees and flowers are blooming-that is why I love it. And the fact that a big meal with great food is involved also makes it a favorite.  In my house growing up we usually had 2 big meals for Easter-breakfast and dinner.

Now with everyone having their own families things are different, my husband and I go to his mother’s house where we have their traditional meal of breakfast and dinner together. Yep, that’s right breakfast and dinner in one meal, it was his fathers doing and they have kept the tradition going now for years.  It consists of everything from a turkey and ham to fried eggs, stuffing and hash browns.  You never leave hungry.

This year I wanted to do an “Easter” dinner for my husband and I last night, but wanted to do a little something different and while going through my recipe notebook I stumbled upon a recipe for Potato-Leek Gratin that I had ripped out of a William-Sonoma catalog. So off I go to the super market to get the ingredients.  This dish required quite a bit of cooking time so while the ham was baking I started to make the gratin and when I went to grate the cheese I realized I bought Gouda instead of Gruyère-UGH!  So, with leeks all set and the potatoes sliced, off I go to the market again! I had thrown my receipt away but the woman was kind and took pity on me as I told her I was in the middle of cooking and she let me exchange but they were out of Gruyère, how does that happen!? Not really sure what to do I grabbed a block of swiss somehow remembering that Gruyère is in the swiss cheese family and a block of monterey jack for its creaminess-it will have to do. Well, let me tell you that it was amazing! One look at my husbands face as he ate the steaming hot mass of what we call cheesy goodness was all I needed. Try it for yourself and you too will be amazed. Just one thing about the recipe that I didn’t do was add the nutmeg, just didn’t seem like it fit.

                                                                                                                           

                                               Cheesy Potato Goodness

 

Potato-Leek Gratin

5 Tbs unsalted butter                                                                       

4 lb leeks, white and light green portions, rinsed well, cut into 1/4″rings

1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt

1 tsp minced fresh thyme

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 tsp pepper

1 cup heavy cream

6 oz grated Gruyère cheese-grated

3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese-grated

3 lb russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4″ slices

3 Tbs minced fresh chives

In a 12″ nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs butter.  Add leeks and salt, stirring to coat leeks with butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add thyme, nutmeg, pepper and cream. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to bowl; let cool. Wipe out pan; grease with 1 Tbs butter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl combine cheeses.  Layer one-third of potatoes in fry pan (I used a casserole dish-much prettier). Spread one-third of leek mixture on potatoes.  Sprinkle with one-third of cheeses then 1 Tbs chives.  Repeat layering 2 more times, reserving 1 Tbs chives.  Cover pan; transfer to oven.  Bake 45 minutes. Remove lid;bake until potatoes are tender and crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes more. Sprinkle remaining chives on top, let stand 15 minutes before serving…or try to anyway. Serves 8 to 10.

Happy Eating!

Happy St.Paddies Day to all my fellow foodies!

6 Mar

For my first “blog” I am going to write about St. Patrick’s Day food-Corned beef and cabbage-YUM! Here is just one of the theories of why we eat corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, the feast day of St. Patrick has been observed in Ireland on March 17 for hundreds of years. The date falls during the fasting season of Lent, but on St. Patrick’s Day the prohibitions against eating meat were lifted, and the Irish would celebrate their patron saint with dancing, drinking, and feasting on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

I love corned beef and cabbage and always have.  My Mom would make it for dinner and not just on St. Patrick’s Day, she would make as part of her regular repertoire of meals. She would make it all separately though, I make all together in one pot, I think it tastes much better that way.   I serve it with dill pickles, rolls, rye bread, Irish soda bread and mustard. 

I didn’t start to cook meals like this until I got married, I married a man who loves his meat and potatoes and wanted to make him happy so I thought I would give it a try.  I had never made it and decided to do it all in one pot and Wow, was it good! So, now every year for St. Patrick’s Day we have my entire family over and maybe a few friends and I cook up to 5 corned beefs, with lots of carrots, potatoes and cabbage.  I think the most important thing is to get a corned beef that you like that comes with a seasoning packet and to cook it for a long time.  I generally cook mine on top of the stove in a large pot, bringing the water to boil then turning it to a low simmer for at least 3 hours. I add the vegetables then and cook for another 30 minutes.  When it’s done I let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing to let it set a bit. 

OK, so this isn’t really a recipe but more of a method for corned beef and cabbage….

1 Corned beef w/spice packet-I haved tried them all and every year I get about 3 different brands and every year I’m going to remember what one goes in what pot to see which is the best and I NEVER remember, so good luck.(But they are all pretty good)

1 bag of carrots

1 head of cabbage

6 good size potatoes, if using red skin maybe a few more if they are small

Fill a large pot with water to cover the corned beef, open the spice packet and add to water.  Bring to a boil then turn flame down to a low simmer for about 3 hours. Cut up the carrots into 2 inch pieces, potatoes into quarters and the cabbage into quarters. At this time add the potatoes first, then carrots and cabbage, cook for another 30 minutes but check with a fork periodically just make sure they don’t turn to mush.   Let the corned beef sit for about 10 or 15 minutes before slicing and ENJOY!

*Keep in mind the size of the pot, the meat will shrink somewhat but you need a lot of room for all the veggies.

Keeping all this meat and vegetables was a problem the first few years. As I have said earlier I like the table to look pretty but pretty serving dishes don’t really keep all that food hot and one year I only put about half on the table and kept the rest on the stove to keep warm and had so much leftover because people thought there wasn’t anymore! So, I finally succumbed to the aluminum trays and sterno that I put on the side board for everyone to serve themselves, that way all the food is there and it is hot.

The other part of our yearly celebration is who can dress up in the best St. Patrick’s Day outfit, the crazier the better! And my brother John and his family came one year completely decked out with big hats, green beards and shamrock jewelry-that was the year I didn’t have enough prizes.

So, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage and keep the green beer flowing!

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