Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Menu for the First Week of February.....

February!!!  What happened to January?

When I wrote these words it brought to mind an incident with my Pops.  It was New Years Eve 1994 and Frank and I had decided to stay home and celebrate quietly just the two of us.  Anthony and Nicole were spending NYE with their mom and we were partied out from the holidays.

I got a phone call from my Mom and she was crying.  I asked what was wrong and she said "Your father can't remember anything".  Thinking that he had forgotten something important to Mom I asked her what he had forgotten and she replied "Everything, he has forgotten everything!!"  I told Frank that we needed to go out to the house, we lived about 45 minutes away during this time.  When we arrived Mom met us in the garage and said "Don't tell him that I called you".  This reinforced, in my mind, that they had had an argument over something Pops had forgotten.

I walked in and asked where he was and Mom said he was in bed.  I walked into Pop's bedroom and my heart broke at the look of confusion and fear on his face.  I asked what was wrong and he replied "I don't know, I lost my dog".  I asked for clarification and he asked what day it was.  I replied "New Years Eve".  He said "What the hell happened to Christmas?"  He then asked what year it was and was shocked at the answer.  He had lost 2 years of his memories.  I told Pops I thought he had a stroke and we needed to go to the hospital.  Once at the hospital, Pops was diagnosed with TIA and kept for a couple of days during which all his memories returned and he was once again fine.

Mom and Pops.

Everytime I feel like time flies I think of this story and my Pops.

All right...on to business for February.

Today we are having dinner at Amy's house.  I am taking dessert that I will share with you on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we will go to Mass and then the pig transporter is coming to take my pigs to the processor.  I have invited Tamie and her kids over for dinner.  We still haven't given them their Christmas gifts!!

The rest of the week is just a typical week on the farm.  Nothing unusual scheduled, just getting ready for our trip.....woooohoooooo!!

So please stop by each day as I share recipes and photos with you.  As an added bonus this week we are also celebrating #TripleSBites.  I will be talking to you more about this tomorrow but suffice it to say there are going to be tons of recipes shared with you this week and that is not even taking into account Menu Plan Monday!

Dinner at Amy's

Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce
Focaccia-Italian, The essence of Mediterranean Cuisine

Meatless Monday
Spinach Pizza Pie- Betty Crocker's Casseroles and One Dish Meals

Beef  Stroganoff (using leftover filet mignon)
Popovers-Someone's in the Kitchen with Hudson's

Sausage and Bean Casserole-Cook's Companion

Out for dinner before choir

Baked Salmon (back on again!) -Magic Chef Cooking
Rice and Peas

Friday, January 30, 2015

Two more wonderful sponsor gifts for #TripleSBites

Only 2 more days before we start sharing all of our Spicy, Saucy, Sexy Bites for Valentine's Day and Beyond.  You are, for sure, going to want to stop by my and the other bloggers sites for great romantic and delicious recipes.


Last week I got a couple more sponsor gifts in the mail.  I am excited to try them and sahre the results with you during next weeks event.   I am not familiar with either of these products but they sound terrific and I have tons of ideas swirling around in my head on how I am going to incorporate them into my recipes.

The first item I am sharing with you comes from Acala Farms.  I received these two wonderful cottonseed oils, one is flavored with cilantro and one is flavored with chili and cumin.  The package included some information on Acala Farms and their product.  I have never used cottonseed oil. Heck, I didn't even know there was cottonseed oil for cooking.  They, reportedly, have a high smoke point and contain a high level of antioxidents.  Acala Farms oils are Gluten free, Vegan, Kosher and Certified Pesticide free.

The second package I got came from Spicely and contained Organic Chocolates, one box was flavored with Green Earl Grey Tea and the second was flavored with Honeybush Caramel.  I, of course, opened them right away and tried a piece of each.  All I can say is mmmmm, mmmmm, deliciousness!!!~  Spicely offers spices, teas and chocolates all organically grown.  What more could you possibly want.

Thank you Acala Farms and Spicely for these wonderful gifts you supplied to our participants....

Oh, I almost forgot the best part....Both of these sponsors are also giving away some great items to our lucky readers.  I will be sharing more about that with you tomorrow.  See  you then.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life is constantly changing and sometimes it just stops.

When I got up this morning, I straightened the house, made a batch of brownies and assembled my quiche.  Then I got a phone call that one of our members couldn't make it now and one had already told us she wouldn't be here so that left only 2 of us so we are rescheduling our meeting.

I wish that I had gotten the phone call early enough to change schedules and go to Zumba but it was not meant to be.  Oh well, such is life.  The good thing is that the quiche is all ready and set to go in the oven so we won't be going out to dinner tonight.

When I spoke with the one member who was going to make it to the meeting she told me that she had gotten a phone call from a local realtor who just sold a party store.  The previous owner had left all his stock on the shelves and we were welcome to come and get it for the food pantry so we met there this afternoon and picked up quite a large load.

When I returned from the food pantry, I went out to take care of the farm animals and found that one of my very first laying hens, Martha, had died.  Martha is the hen I am holding in my profile photo here on the blog.  She was the friendliest of all my hens and loved to be held and scratched.  Stella is not the only hen remaining from the original 6.

This is Martha, the black and white hen, and Puff.
They were part of the original 6 hens I ordered when I decided to raise layers.
Puff passed away a couple of months ago.
I imagine Stella, the last of the originals, will be leaving us soon too.

Since my meeting was canceled I am not making the fancy fruit salad that was originally scheduled for today.  I am just making a plain old fruit salad to go along with quiche before choir tonight.

See you all tomorrow.  Stay warm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coq au Vin with Vegetables

Our dinner tonight comes from Williams Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook.  I, once again, have had this cookbook for a long time.  I love it.  Not only does it have some terrific recipes that are easy to prepare but they are broken down into seasons.  Cookbooks broken down into season or ingredient make it much easier when you are trying to cook locally and seasonally as I do.

I only adapted this recipe a bit.  I halved it as the original recipe fed 6 and there were only 3 of us. I used Gourmet Garden Herbs in place of the fresh herbs.  Also the original recipe called for 3 T. of flour and had you use 1 T. with butter at the end but never mentioned the other 2.  Which just goes to show that even WS can mess up LOL.  This recipe was in the Autumn section but the vegetables used are readily available this time of year in my area as well.

I know that this recipe appears to have a lot of steps but most of them are just moving food from one location to the next.  It is not complicated at all.

Coq au Vin with Vegetables
slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma, Complete Seasonal Cookbook

1 T. unsalted butter
3 strips bacon, diced
6 pieces chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 c. dry red wine
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 T. tomato paste
1 T. Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
1/2 T. Gourmet Garden Parsley
1 Parsnip, peeled and cut into 1" lengths
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1" lengths
1 turnip, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
1 T. butter, softened
1 T. flour

Cook bacon in butter over med heat in a dutch oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside on a plate.  

Season chicken on both sides liberally with salt and pepper.  Brown until golden in the butter and bacon drippings over med high heat, about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken to plate with bacon.  

Add the wine, broth and seasonings to the dutch oven and bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits from bottom of pan.  Return the chicken and bacon.  Reduce heat to med low, cover and simmer for a half an hour or until chicken juices run clear when poked with a fork.  Remove chicken to a plate.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and wipe out dutch oven with a paper towel.  Return the liquid to the dutch oven and bring to a boil over med high heat.  Add vegetables, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until vegetables are tender.  Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon to the plate.  Bring liquid to a boil over high heat.  Boil for a few moments while you mix the flour into the softened butter with fork.  Whisk the butter/flour mixture into the boiling liquid.  Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Return chicken and vegetables to thickened sauce and warm through.  Turn all into a large serving bowl.  Print Recipe

The Color of Heaven

We had quite the fiasco again yesterday with the pigs.  Suffice it to say they are still here with us and we have hired a transport guy to come and get them and take them to the processor on Sunday.  That is all I have to say about that except that last night Frank said we are never raising pigs again.  Of course, this morning he changed it to "if we raise pigs again we have to.......".  So I am not sure if we are getting pigs this summer or not.  Stay tuned folks......

I will also tell you that I was traumatized by the experience LOL.  Each time I would fall asleep last night I would dream about pigs and wake up all out of breath and anxious!!  Finally, around 3:30 am I gave up trying to sleep and finished the book I was reading.

This was an interesting book that would be great fodder for a book club as I can see some wonderful discussion coming about from it.  I didn't realize that it was part of a series of books and I am not dying to read any of the others in the series but I did enjoy the storyline and the characters.  I do believe in life after death and I know that there is a Heaven but I don't know if Heaven will be as it is portrayed in this novel.  Then again, perhaps that is the point, we don't know.

I am now starting Behind the Beautiful Forevers which was sent to me in the Books & Bloggers Swap .  Tracy loved this book and thought perhaps I would too so I am anxious to start it.

Cover image

Books & Bloggers Swap Reveal

Way back at the beginning of the month I told you of a new swap that I joined called Books & Bloggers and hosted the Lovely Ladies of CGSwaps.

I was partnered with Tracy of Pleasurable Pursuits.  Tracy is currently living in China working as a teacher for English as a Second Language.  For those of you who follow me, you know that we have a daughter who came to us from China so I immediately felt a connection with Tracy.  As I read through her blog I discovered we had a bunch of things in common.  We both love to travel, food (both cooking it and eating it), and  books (with a special love for historical fiction and cookbooks).
She also likes to read cookbooks as if they were novels.  I did not, however, send her any cookbooks this time around.  

The rules for this swap were to send 3 books to your partner.  One that you have read and loved, one that you are interested in but have not read and one that your partner has on their wish list.  All 3 books that I chose were on Tracy's wish list.  I figured that since she was in China it was more important that she get what she is interested in as it is not as if she can run up to the corner and pick up a book for herself.

I sent Tracy the following:
  1. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, for the book that I loved.  You can find my review here.
  2. Seriously, I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres as the book I'm interested in but haven't read.  I LOVE Ellen DeGeneres.
  3. My Father's Paradise.  A novel of which I have no prior knowledge nor am I familiar with the author but Tracy had it on her list and after looking at the blurb on it I thought it would be a great read.
I was so excited when my package arrived from Tracy.  These are the reads she chose for me:

Cover image        Cover image      Cover image

  1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, as the book that she loved and hopes I do as well.
  2. The Plum Tree, a book that she is interested in but has not yet read
  3. Henrietta's War, which is a book from my wish list.
Thank you so much Tracy!!  I am very excited about the selections you made for me and I can't wait to start reading.  Luckily I am going on vacation in a couple of weeks so I will have lot's of reading time available to me.

And thanks again to the Goddesses at CGSwaps for hosting this fun event.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Scallopine Di Pollo Con Erbe

    For those of you, like me, who have not one Italian gene in their pool this simply means Chicken Scallops with Herbs.  What it means in cooking language is mmmmmm, mmmmm, Good!!!

    I took today's recipe from a cookbook that I have had on my shelves for as long as I can remember. Admittedly. that isn't very long anymore but let's just say it has been on my shelf for at least 20 years.

    This cookbook is filled with tons of great recipes.  No history, no background, no little personal snippets...just recipes and all of them that I have tried have been delicious.  Today's recipe was no exception.  Not only was this chicken dish delightfully tasty and bright but it was easy peasy to make and quick as well.  I had dinner on the table in 20 minutes.  Perfect for a weekday meal.

    I adapted the recipe in the following ways:  I used Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs, Parsley, Garlic Paste and Chile Pepper Paste in place of the Fresh Herbs called for in the recipe. I reduced the amount of butter called for by half.   I also used half of a lemon rind and juice in place of the lime.  The recipe called for skinless chicken breasts with the bones and I used boneless, skinless breasts.

    Chicken Scalloppine with Herbs
    adapted from Italian Feast by Antonio Carluccio

    4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
    2 T. flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
    3 T. butter
    1 T. olive oil
    1 T. Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
    1/2 T. Gourmet Garden Parsley
    1/2 T. Gourmet Garden Dill
    1 t. Gourmet Garden Garlic Paste
    1/8 t. Gourmet Garden Chili Paste
    Grated rind and Juice of 1/2 lemon
    4 T. chicken broth
    4 T. white wine

    Dredge chicken breasts in seasoned flour.  Melt butter in olive oil over med high heat in a large skillet.  Brown chicken until golden on both sides.  Remove to plate and keep warm. 

    In same skillet add remaining ingredients and cook stirring to combine and scrape up an chicken bits stuck to the pan.  Return chicken to pan, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 10 minutes turning occasionally.

    Remove chicken to serving platter and drizzle with juices from the pan.  Print Recipe

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    Meatless Monday in more ways than one.....

    Today is Meatless Monday.  Our pigs thought so too.  Today was the day they were scheduled to go to slaughter.  They had other ideas.  It was just me, Frank and Frank's brother, Dan, trying to corral these pigs and convince them they wanted to go into the trailer and go on a field trip.  They did not believe us.  I wish there would have been a 4th person just to man a camera so that all of you could have a good belly laugh at our expense.  It was a sad, sad affair.  I was knocked onto my butt 4 times. I rode on the back of a pig twice and once I thought for sure the poor, scared thing was going to bite me.  Moral of the story:  No pigs going to market on this Monday that they obviously think should be meatless!  We have a whole crew coming tomorrow afternoon to try to help us get them into the trailer.  Wish us luck!!

    The good news is that all of that fighting with pigs counted as active minutes on my fitbit and then I had yoga tonight as well.

    While I was yogaing (I think that's a word, or at least it should be) Frank prepared our Meatless Monday dinner.  Tonight's dinner comes from Gourmet Meals in Minutes from the Culinary Institute of America.

    This is one of those cookbooks that, each time you open it, you see something you missed before. This week I was looking specifically for a Meatless Monday meal so I was seeing recipes that I had overlooked in the past.  The recipe I finally decided on was Orechiette with Cannellini Beans and Spinach.  Except I had no Orechiette so I substituted Shells and we halved the recipe because it was for 8 servings and there were only 3 of us having dinner.  Frank said, other than that, he made the recipe as written except that he did not feel that there was enough broth when he halved it so he added another 1/2 cup to make it 1 cup total broth for half the recipe.

    It was so nice to come upstairs from Yoga and find this lovely bowl of Pasta ready.
    It was delicious with a touch of a bite from the crushed red pepper.
    I think when I make this again I will double not only the broth as Frank did but the spinach as well.
    But, then, we are spinach lovers in this house so there can never be too much.

    Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Spinach
    adapted from Gourmet Meals in Minutes

    1/2 T. olive oil
    1/2 of a large sweet onion, sliced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 (15 oz) can organic cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    1 c. vegetable broth
    1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes
    salt to taste
    1/2 lb. pasta shells or orechiette
    1 (10 oz) bag baby spinach
    1/4 c. parmesan cheese

    Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med high heat.  Add the onion and saute until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook a couple of minutes more. Add the beans, broth, red pepper and salt.  Simmer over medium heat until sauce slightly thickens, 10-15 minutes.

    Cook the pasta per package directions. Drain pasta and add to skillet along with the baby spinach. Toss together and pour into large pasta bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.  Print Recipe

    Sesame Chicken with Ginger Rice for Secret Recipe Club.

    Guess what today is??  You got it!!  It is Secret Recipe Club Day.

    Today is the day we reveal whose blog we were assigned and what recipe from their blog we decided to create in our own kitchen.  It is a lot of fun and you should join us!!  Learn how right here.

    This month, I was fortunate enough to be assigned Susan of Food, Baby, Life.  Susan lives down under with her husband and 3 boys, all under the age of 5.  God bless her.  You would think that she would have her hands full, and I'm sure she does but that doesn't stop her from posting some truly amazing recipes.  Susan also recently started try to "cut the crap" out of her diet.  This is perfect, especially since I got assigned to her in January when our resolutions of healthy eating are front and center.

    Susan has loads of recipes and many of them are desserts.  She has a category just for allergy free baking that would be very handy for those who suffer from allergies.  She has done all the legwork for you and has provided some great recipes for you to try.  Susan also has tons of regular baked goods on her blog, birthday cakes, muffins, brownies...the list goes on and on.

    But, as I stated earlier, it is January and I am going to try to cut back on the baked goods for a while so I went to her "mains" section.  I was not disappointed. The creamy prawn curry caught my eye right away but hubby is not a fan of seafood or curry so while I would love this, I will have to wait for a night when Ting and I are having dinner or lunch, just the two of us.  I also dallied around with the idea of the spiced meatball wrap, just reading that recipe got my mouth to watering.  But I finally settled on the Sesame Chicken with Ginger Rice and you should too.  You won't be sorry.

    I made very few adaptations to this recipe and those that I did were mostly ingredient substitutions for what I had on hand.

    The marinade called for sesame seeds and had you toast them.
    I didn't have any plain sesame seeds so I used these black roasted sesame seeds.

    The recipe had you skewer the chicken and grill it.
    It was 5* F. when I made this dish.
    I stir fried it in my wok.

    The rice was made as written except that I omitted the pickled ginger as I didn't have any available. The rice was fragrant and delicious.  We normally have rice left over after dinner but not this night!!

    Cook the sesame oil and ginger until fragrant.

    Add the rice, stir to coat and and cook until rice starts to turn translucent.

    Add the ginger beer, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

    I stir fried some vegetables to add some nutrition and color to the meal.  I used just what I had in the refrigerator, some onion, carrots, yellow peppers and spinach.  It was a lovely medley.

    When it came time to serve, I made a bed of rice down the center of the platter.

    I surrounded the rice with the stir fry vegetables.

    And then topped the rice with the Sesame Chicken.
    It was as delicious as it was beautiful.

    Sesame Chicken with Ginger Rice
    very slightly adapted from Food, Baby, Life.

    For chicken
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into large strips
    1 T. black roasted sesame seeds
    1 T. rice wine
    2 T. honey
    2 T. soy sauce
    2 T. oyster sauce
    1 T. sesame oil

    for rice
    1 T. fresh ginger, minced (I used Gourmet Garden)
    1 T. sesame oil
    1 c. short grain rice 
    1 bottle ginger beer

    Place sesame seeds, wine, honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil into a large bowl.  Whisk until honey is incorporated.  Add chicken strips, covering with marinade.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.

    Place the ginger and sesame oil into a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat allowing to cook for another few minutes.  The rice will start to turn translucent.  Stir in the ginger beer and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let set while you stir fry the chicken.

    Heat a wok over med high heat.  Remove chicken from marinade and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  

    Place the Ginger Rice on a serving dish and top with the Sesame Chicken.  Print Recipe