Thursday, October 30, 2014

144.2…Cranberry Chutney

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I'm a big fan of any kind of "do aheads". If I'm having company over or a party, I like to get as much of the cooking done ahead as possible. This comes in most handy at Thanksgiving. I usually have about 30 people to feed each year and I CANNOT imagine trying to make everything the day of. Last night  I made my famous Gulliver's Creamed Corn which is now in the freezer waiting to be baked on Thanksgiving Day.

A few days ago, I made Cranberry Chutney for Thanksgiving. It is also in the freezer. Two dishes for Thanksgiving already done! I'm not a big fan of cranberry sauce but this one is pretty darn good. I still serve the nasty canned stuff too because there are people in my family that prefer the cranberry sauce without "pieces of stuff" in it. To each their own.

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Cranberry Chutney (Makes about 4 1/2 cups)

Recipe from Diane Phillips

Ingredients:

One 16-ounce can peach halves packed in syrup, drained and syrup reserved

One 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 medium-size onion, chopped

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Directions:

1. Coarsely chop the peaches and set aside.

2. Combine the cranberries, reserved peach syrup, sugar and onion in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the cranberries begin to pop, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pecans, cinnamon, ginger, and peaches and cook 10 minutes longer.

3. Remove from the heat and let cool. (Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to a month or freeze for up to 3 months.) Serve the chutney cold, warm, or at room temperature. 

Printable Recipe

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I reheated a bunch of leftovers for my dinner last night: grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. 

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When I sat down to eat, I thought: this is a boring looking dinner. Fortunately, it tasted better than it appeared.

Breakfast this morning was scrambled egg beaters with pepperoni, salsa, asparagus and cheddar cheese. 

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I took the kids to school, went the the gym then came home for lunch. Bagel with chive cream cheese, turkey and cucumber. I had some veggies and ranch as well.

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After lunch, I went to an appointment then to pick up the kids from school then dropped them at their various activities. 

Next on the agenda: dinner with the husband. :)

Are you a fan of cranberry sauce? Canned or homemade?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

144.4…Spicy Rice

To go with my tacos with Homemade Taco Seasoning last Friday night, I made my favorite Spicy Rice. It's easy to make and you can adjust the amount of spice to your taste.

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Spicy Rice (Serves 4)

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter

1 cup white rice

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

3-4 garlic cloves

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 tsp. hot sauce (more or less to taste)

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter, and when melted add rice and toast for a couple of minutes. 

2. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic and cook for a few minutes to begin to soften the veggies.

3. Add stock and raise heat to bring up to a bubble. Stir in the tomato paste and hot sauce.

4. Reduce heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook 18 minutes, until rice is tender.

5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Printable Recipe

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Last night, the kids and I carved our pumpkins for Halloween. 

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I strongly dislike this job. I think the insides of pumpkins smell and I really detest the slimy insides. Fortunately, the kids are old enough to do a lot of it themselves and they really enjoyed it. Good…it's their job from now on. 

Dinner was some grilled chicken with risotto leftovers from Firenze and some leftover asparagus. 

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Breakfast this morning was an English muffin with peanut butter and half a grapefruit. 

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After taking the kiddos to school, I went to the gym. I ran home to change and then hit the mall to get some errands done. I stopped for lunch at Corner Bakery. 

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Chopped salad and chili. They remembered to bring my onions. Score!

Do you enjoy pumpkin carving? 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

144.2…Smothered Chicken Breasts

My entire house smelled amazing last night. When my husband got home from work, he immediately asked what smelled so good?? It was the Smothered Chicken Breasts dish cooking away on the stove. And it tasted as good as it smelled.

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Smothered Chicken Breasts (Serves 4)

Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma 

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4" thickness

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil 

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and light green portions separated

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. hot sauce

Directions:

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet set on medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, celery, the white portion of the green onions, and the garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the thyme and flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.

3. Stir the cream into the gravy in the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Return the chicken breasts and any remaining juices into the gravy and cook until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the green portion of the green onions and the 1 tsp. hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Printable Recipe

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That sauce begs for mashed potatoes. Rice would be good too but I went with the mashed potatoes and asparagus. I was pretty heavy handed with the sauce. You should too…make it and you'll see.

Breakfast this morning was the rest of my Champagne Bakery smoked salmon quiche and half a grapefruit. 

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After I took the kids to school, I went to spin class. I came home to change then met my husband at Marketplace Grill for lunch. Grilled Chicken Greek Salad:

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I just finished a meeting and am now waiting for school pick up. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Are you a sauce person like me?  I love sauces and condiments!! 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

144.2…Homemade Taco Seasoning

We decided to have tacos on Friday night for dinner. I discovered that I didn't have any taco seasoning on hand. No problem! I just made my own. It's a good way to use up those spices in your pantry. :)

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. Mix all your ingredients together.

2. For tacos, brown ground beef or turkey in a pan. Once the meat is almost cooked through, add your taco seasoning along with 3/4 cup of water. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens. 

Printable Recipe

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To go along with my tacos, I made spicy rice (recipe to come):

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Breakfast Saturday morning was a toasted English muffin with peanut butter.

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We dropped my son off at basketball practice then went to Champagne Bakery for breakfast number two. I  wasn't super hungry so I ate half of my smoked salmon quiche and brought the rest home. The fries went to my daughter. 

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We then went to his basketball game where they won! 

Later on my husband picked up Luna Grill for lunch. I had a Greek salad with a chicken kabob. My usual.

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That night, my son had some friends spend the night. We ordered pizza from Leucadia Pizza. I wasn't super hungry so I only had one slice with ranch dressing. Have you ever had pizza with ranch dressing? It's incredible. 

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For breakfast on Sunday morning, we made the kids pancakes. I munched on Bernice's Pumpkin Bread while cooking so that ended up being my breakfast. 

The kids got picked up, then we drove to Bates Nut Farm for their pumpkin patch and corn maze. We had never been there before and I was immediately excited about all their food choices!  I immediately tried some roasted corn with cream, parmesan and lime. So good!

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I also shared a loaded baked potato (with cheese, onions, salsa and sour cream) with my husband. I wish I could have captured a photo of it before we started attacking it. It might possibly be the best baked loaded baked potato I've ever had. The kids had a great time and we picked out our Halloween pumpkins. 

When we got home, we changed into Halloween costumes and went with some friends to our club for their Halloween Fall Festival. We enjoyed a delicious buffet for dinner.

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I had a cupcake for dessert. The event had a pretty legit haunted house that scared the cr*p out of me. It was a great event. 

Monday already huh? I need a rest from my crazy weekend! Breakfast this morning was pineapple Chobani yogurt, Almond Coconut Granola, strawberries and blueberries. 

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After I took the kids to school, I went to Cardio Muscle class and then picked up some groceries. The kids had a half day at school, so I took them to lunch at Pei Wei. I had a cup of wonton soup:

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I decided to give their sushi a try. I had a spicy tuna roll:

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As well as a wasabi crunch roll:

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Not bad. I'm not a big Pei Wei fan (tired of it) so the sushi was a nice change of pace. 

Do you make your own seasonings at home or do you buy the packets in the grocery store?

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Friday, October 24, 2014

143.8…Feta-Crusted Salmon

Dare I say I found a salmon recipe I like just as well as my Amazing Salmon!?! I think I may have! I had feta in the fridge and wanted salmon for dinner Wednesday night so Feta-Crusted Salmon was born.

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Feta-Crusted Salmon (Serves 8)

Recipe slightly adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients:

1 (2 pound) salmon fillet, bones removed

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. cream cheese

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground paprika

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/3 cup panko or regular dry bread crumbs

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil. Place salmon on foil and set aside.

2. Mix together feta cheese, mayonnaise, cream cheese, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder in a bowl until smooth. Spread mixture over salmon, then sprinkle panko or bread crumbs over top, covering completely. 

3. Bake in preheated oven until easily flaked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.

*Note: I had a single salmon fillet so I made just enough topping for it and baked it for 25 minutes.

Printable Recipe

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I reheated some of the Brussels Sprouts I made the other night and it was a delicious, filling, healthy dinner. 

Wednesday night my daughter and I did some baking. We made blueberry muffins (Betty Crocker) and my favorite pumpkin bread, Bernice's Pumpkin Bread

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Breakfast Thursday morning was strawberry Chobani yogurt, Almond Coconut Granola, strawberries and blueberries. 

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I dropped the kids off at school then went to Starbucks for a latte and to get some work done before heading off to an event for the wives of a group my husband belongs to. 

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We were treated with a cooking demonstration from The Harvard Cooking Girl herself, Bibi Kasrai.

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Bibi is famous for her use of spices in her dishes. They aren't necessarily spicy but full of spice…there's a difference. I loved watching Bibi work her magic:

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I am waiting on receiving the recipes for the food she prepared so unfortunately I'm unfamiliar with the names of the dishes she prepared. But let me tell you, I will be making all of them once I have them in hand!

Bibi prepared a delicious roasted red pepper dip to start with homemade pita chips.

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For lunch she made a fabulous dish of onions, garlic, spices, eggplant, chicken, tomatoes and red peppers. Everything was layered in the pot and cooked for awhile.

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All done:

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Bibi made traditional basmati rice to go along with the chicken dish.

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Absolutely fabulous!!!

Dessert was insanely simple yet amazing. Bibi muddled mint with brown sugar until it became liquid, then added lime juice. This delectable concoction went on top of sliced strawberries.

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Could it be any simpler and prettier?? 

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I loved every minute of the demonstration and can't wait to get my hands on those recipes!

My mom came into town so we took her out to dinner at Firenze. My husband and I split the Chopped Caesar:

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I ordered a dish I had never tried there before: Risotto Portofino (jumbo shrimp grilled, served with artichoke hearts, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, sautéed with garlic, white wine and basil over risotto).

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Delicious! Firenze never disappoints. 

Breakfast this morning was egg beaters with salsa and cheddar cheese. 

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It was Grandparent's Day at the school so my mom came to the school with us for the day. I volunteered for the event so when it was over, I took my mom to lunch at Luna Grill. I had the Greek salad with a chicken kabob.

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After lunch my my headed home and I picked my daughter up from school (my son is at a sleep over). I'm looking forward to a relaxing night at home…we have a busy weekend coming up!

Are you a creature of habit at restaurants? Do you always order the same thing? 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

144.0….The Wasabi Roll

Last nights was one of those nights. If one thing went wrong, everything went wrong. Homework issues, light fixtures breaking, and the list goes on. I was all set to make a new recipe but by the time I got around to it, I barely felt like eating, let alone cooking. Good thing there was leftover pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce in the fridge. 

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When I woke up, I declared this to be a better day. Sometimes just announcing things like that, makes it happen! 

Breakfast was scrambled egg beaters with salsa and cheddar cheese. Nothing fancy. Just eggs and cheese. Oh and hot sauce. I drowned it in Cholula. 

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I took the kids to school, went to a meeting, followed by the gym and lunch with a friend at Love Boat Sushi. This is my favorite sushi restaurant! My meal started with some miso soup, tuna and yellowtail sushi.

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My favorite sushi roll in the whole entire world arrived next: The Wasabi Roll:

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The roll has tuna, salmon, yellowtail, smelt egg, mayo, green onion, sesame oil and lots of fresh wasabi. Basically the greatest creation ever. 

If you could create the ideal sushi roll, what would be in it?

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