Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin Yeast Bread for Day 3 of #PumpkinWeek

Can you believe that we are already halfway through Pumpkin Week?  I, for one, am LOVING all the great pumpkin recipes being shared.  I want to thank our friend and leader, Terri, of Love and Confections for all of her hard work on this wonderful project.

Today I am sharing a Pumpkin Bread recipe.  Normally when someone says pumpkin bread I think of that delicious, cinnamony, moist quick bread.  Sometimes with nuts.  Sometimes with streusel topping.  But always sweet and yummy.  I love those breads but seeing as I just shared these wonderful Pumpkin Spice Muffins with you on Monday, I didn't want to make another sweet pumpkin recipe today.

Instead, I decided to make a savory, tender yeast bread using pumpkin.  I think you are going to love it.  I know we sure did.  It is perfect alongside the Pumpkin Chili that I shared yesterday.  It is also wonderful sliced and used for sandwiches or toasted and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar if you just can't get rid of hankering for some sweets.

I based this recipe on one found at the King Arthur sight but it really doesn't even resemble the original recipe any longer.  I wanted to make this bread a little healthier than the original so I used half whole wheat flour and coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil.  What I did not change were the spices used or the amount of yeast used.  That is not a typo.  This bread contains 2 Tablespoons of yeast.

Pumpkin Yeast Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 T. active dry yeast
1/2 c. milk warmed to 105-110*
2 eggs
1 (15 oz) can organic pumpkin puree
2 T. coconut oil
3 c. Whole Wheat Flour
3 c. Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cardamom

Place all ingredients in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Turn to low speed and mix until combined and a ball has formed. Turn to med speed and continue to knead until soft but not tacky.  Remove from bowl and form into a smooth, round ball.  Spray bowl with cooking spray and return dough ball to bowl, turning to cover all sides with the spray.  Cover with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hr.  Dough should double in size.

Punch dough down and divide into equal halves.  My halves were 2 lbs. each.  Form into loaves and place into two lightly sprayed 9x5" loaf pans.  Cover with the warm, damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Print Recipe

Let's take a look at what everyone else is sharing today.

This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy a product using this link, your price remains the same but I receive a small stipend to help offset the costs of this blog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Heart Healthy Pumpkin Chili for #PumpkinWeek

Welcome to day 2 of this wonderful event that we call Pumpkin Week.  You might remember that I participated in Pumpkin Week last year when Terri, of Love and Confections, hosted it during the month of October.

I had so much fun last year sharing and reading all of the pumpkin recipes that I jumped right on board when Terri invited me again this year.  Last year I shared how to make your own pumpkin puree.  It is very easy and if you have an over abundance of pumpkins in your garden it freezes very well.  

This year I am trying to offer more savory dishes.  Not yesterday, of course, because yesterday was Muffin Monday so I wanted to share some Pumpkin Spice Muffins with you.  Today, though, I am going savory with this wonderful Pumpkin Chili.  

Last week, my husband, underwent a heart cath that resulted in two stents having to be inserted into the main artery that leads to the back of his heart.  This was a huge wake up call to both of us so we are trying to move more, eat healthier and imbibe less.  This chili is perfect if you are trying to lighten up and include more vegetables into your diet but best of all it tastes great!

I used ground turkey and sauteed it up with the veggies in heart healthy olive oil.  I added 3 different types of beans, a quart of tomatoes and a full can of pumpkin.  Take that heart disease!!!

Pumpkin Chili

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. ground cumin
2-3 t. chili powder
1 qt. tomatoes, diced or crushed
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2 t. sugar, if needed
hot sauce to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over med high heat.  Add the turkey, onions, peppers and garlic and seasonings.  Cook and stir until vegetables are tender and turkey is cooked through.  Add the tomatoes, pumpkin and beans.  Lower the heat to medium and cook until heated through and flavors meld.  Taste and add sugar if tomatoes were acidic.  Season to taste with hot sauce and serve.  Print Recipe

Please visit the other bloggers who are participating in the Pumpkin Week Challenge

Welcome to #PumpkinWeek day 2! Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, 19 Bloggers will be sharing 65 pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy a product using this link, your price remains the same but I receive a small stipend to help offset the costs of this blog.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Muffins from SRC for #MuffinMonday in celebration of #PumpkinWeek

Welcome to Pumpkin Week everyone!!

All week long we are going to be sharing a ton of pumpkin recipes with you.   If you are anything like me this has you very excited.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, Amy, I craved pumpkin pie and my Mom was kind enough to bake one right after the other to keep me happy. I want to send a special shout out to my friend,  Terri of Love and Confections, for starting this fun group and working so hard to see that it runs smoothly.  I will be linking up to all the other recipes at the bottom of this post.  Stop by and drool for a while.

Not only is this the onset of  Pumpkin Week but it is also Muffin Monday, led by the wonderful Stacy of Food, Lust, People, Love .  Stacy has a group of us get together on the last Monday of each month and share our Muffin recipes.  Make sure you stop by each blog and see what wonderful muffins they brought to the table today.

To top it all off today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day.  SRC was the first cooking group I joined so it is very near and dear to my heart.  It is a lovely group divided into 4 sub groups. Each month we are assigned one of the bloggers from our group and we sneak around in their blogs looking for a recipe that we can recreate.  We then all post our recipes together on the same day.  It is fun learning about others and finding out who had you and what recipe inspired them.   I have provided the link if you would like to join us.

This month, I was assigned to Burnt Apple and let me tell you I had a blast sneaking around this blog. The laughs started right at the get go when Traci tells the story of how, when they were first married, her husband threw one of her muffins and it went right through the wall.  She relates that this kind of brick muffin was the norm in her house and that they ate out more often than not.  But then life happened. A lovely family of three children evolved and, as is often the case, Mom learned to cook and feed her babies.  Now Burnt Apple is chock full of healthy, nutritious and delicious recipes.

I, of course, zeroed right in on recipes using pumpkin, finding a Lightened Up Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread that sounds amazing.  How about a Pumpkin Pie French Toast recipe??  YUM!!  But then I spotted the Pumpkin Spice Muffins and did a little happy dance.  All three clubs in one fall swoop. Life is so very very good.  And so are these muffins.  I promise you won't throw these against a wall because you will be too busy gobbling them down.  They are moist and delicious.  I made these on a day that Little Miss was over and I could feel good sharing them with her knowing that she was getting whole grains and fruits into her diet. 

These muffins are made with Whole Wheat Flour, Pumpkin and Applesauce.
Then you add a pinch of Brown Sugar and a sprinkle of Cinnamon before baking.

And they come out with this beautiful streusel type topping.

The original recipe called for Whole Wheat White Flour, but I used regular Whole Wheat.  It also called for only 1 cup of the pureed pumpkin but I used the whole can which changed the recipe to make 18 muffins instead of 12.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
very slightly adapted from Burnt Apple

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 (15 oz) can of solid pack pumpkin
1/2 c. applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. sugar
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  In large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the pumpkin, applesauce, eggs and white sugar.  Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just until fully incorporated.  Line muffin tins with paper cups or treat with baking spray.  Fill each cup 2/3 full with batter.  Top each with a large pinch of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20-25 minutes.  Print Recipe

Now lets take a look at the other Secret Recipe Club Reveals

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins to brighten their Mondays. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

Here are the Muffin offerings for today

Here are all the amazing Pumpkin recipes for today

#PumpkinWeek is here again and we can't be more excited. Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, 19 Bloggers will be sharing 65 pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the week. Be sure to come back every day to see all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes too. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

Browned Butter Salty Pumpkin Sugar Cookies from The Spiffy Cookie.
Caramel Pumpkin Cake from Feeding Big and more.
Easy Pumpkin Donuts with Vanilla Cream Sauce from {i love} my disorganized life.
Gooey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks.
Healthy Cinnamon-Apple Pumpkin Muffins from Simply Healthy Family
Homemade Pumpkin and Sage Pasta from Kudos Kitchen by Renee.
Pumpkin Cannoli from The Redhead Baker.
Pumpkin Chai Baked Donut from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars from That Skinny Chick Can Bake.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Flourless Chocolate Cake Roll from Cupcakes & Kale Chips.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Whoopie Pies from Dizzy Busy and Hungry.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Gluten Free Crumbley.
Pumpkin Monkey Bread from Making Miracles.
Pumpkin Muffins from My Catholic Kitchen.
Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Crumby Cupcake.
Pumpkin Snack Cake from Recipes Food and Cooking.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm.
Semi-Homemade Pumpkin Butter from Love and Confections.
Spiced Pumpkin-Bourbon Fizz from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How was your Saturday?

We had a busy Saturday.  Yesterday Ting brought our Little Miss to have dinner with us.  After dinner, Ting went to work and we kept our Angel face.  I was putting her to sleep when suddenly she started vomiting.  We got her into the shower and we were cleaning her up when Tingting got home. Our poor little Angel continued vomiting twice more.  Tingting decided they would spend the night here because she was afraid that the baby might start vomiting as she was driving and unable to care for her.

This morning we awoke to our Little Angel Face laughing.  It was a wonderful sound.  I went up and got her and she visited with me and Grampy while Mom slept a little longer.  Just like the old days!! Ting went to work and we got to keep our Little Miss here with us.  It was a good day.  Melody was my little sous chef as I prepared dinner for Frank's family.

Frank's Mom, sister and brother in law arrived and we had a lovely dinner but also a little disturbing. It seems Mom has fallen 4 times in the last couple of weeks, two of them taking place last night and again today.  This has resulted in Mom being scared to walk.  Roz has gotten her a walker but Mom is not yet confident with it.  Mom is 91 years old so it is not surprising that she is getting weaker but she has always been so vibrant that we weren't ready for this.  Nor was she...and it is sad to see her scared and frustrated.

I think they enjoyed dinner though.  I served a new dish that I found on Food. com, Savory Swiss Chard with Pork Chops and Potatoes.  I adapted this recipe slightly.  I doubled the recipe as the original was for 4 servings. I included the stems of the Swiss Chard. I substituted Gruyere cheese for the Fontina.   I seared and browned the pork chops before baking and I deleted the potatoes and served Mashed Potatoes instead.  This dish was delicious.  Frank's family had never eaten Swiss Chard before and his sister had 3 servings.  She really loved it.

Braised Swiss Chard with Pork Chops
adapted from

8 Pork Chops
3 lbs. Swiss Chard, stems cut to 1/2" pieces, leaves coarsely chopped
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 c. Gruyere Cheese, shredded
Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring pork chops to room temperature and pat with a paper towel to dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 T. of olive oil over med high heat in a large skillet.  Sear the pork chops, in batches, until golden brown.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Pour the chicken broth into the hot pan and stir to release any brown bits stuck to the bottom.

Spray a large roasting pan or casserole with cooking spray.  Place chard and onion in casserole and drizzle with 2 T. olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with the cheeses. Place the pork chops on top of the chard and pour chicken broth over all.  Cover and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 20-30 minutes.  Until pork reaches an internal temp of  165*.  Print Recipe

Friday, September 25, 2015

Shrimply Delicious

We were scheduled to have Coconut Shrimp for dinner tonight.  Coconut Shrimp tastes great.  Unfortunately it is breaded and fried which is not so great for Frank anymore.  Goodbye Coconut Shrimp....we will miss you.

But it is still Fish Friday and I still have some shrimp to use up.  I also have a refrigerator full of eggplant.  Shrimp + Eggplant = A Thai Style Stir Fry.  Heart healthy, easy peasy and delicious. The perfect recipe.  Have all your ingredients prepped and ready because once you start cooking the entire process will take only 15 minutes.

Stir Fry is a great way to use up an abundance of veggies.

Start by stir frying the shrimp in coconut oil.
When pink, remove to bowl and set aside.

Then stir fry the eggplant, adding more coconut oil if needed.
When carmelized and tender, place in bowl with shrimp.

Stir fry the peppers, carrots, leeks, celery and garlic.

When peppers and veggies are crisp tender, add the squash and stir fry briefly.

Add the fish sauce mixture along with the reserved shrimp and eggplant.
Cook and stir until warmed through.

Add the rice noodles and toss to combine.

A healthy, delicious, nutritious dinner is served.

Shrimp and Eggplant Stir Fry

2 T. Fresh Lime Juice
2 T. Fish Sauce
2 t. sugar
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 small eggplant, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into thin slices
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 small or 1 lg leek, whites and light green sections, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 carrot, scraped and thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 pattypan or summer squash, seeded and diced
8 oz. rice noodles, cooked per package directions
Coconut or Peanut Oil

Combine lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl.  Set aside. Heat 1 T. of oil in the bottom of a wok over med high heat.  Add Shrimp.  Cook and stir just until shrimp turn pink.  Remove shrimp from pan to a bowl or plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the wok if needed.  Add eggplant and let sit for a minute to carmelize before stir frying.  When tender but not mushy remove to bowl with shrimp.  Add a bit more oil to the wok and add the peppers, leeks, garlic, carrot and celery.  Stir fry until crisp tender then add the squash and stir fry for a moment or two.  Add the fish sauce mixture along with the reserved shrimp and eggplant.  Stir and cook for a minute until heated through and evenly coated.  Add the rice noodles and toss all ingredients together.  Serve with lime slices if desired.  Print Recipe

The Weekly Menu for the Last Week of September

It is so hard to believe that this is the last week of September.  My Pops has been gone for 5 yrs now and Mom is still hanging on.  She has no memories any longer.  When they talk about living in the moment they should look at persons suffering from alzheimer/dementia disease.  That is all they have, just the moment, and when the moment is gone it is gone for eternity.  For the most part, Mom still shows some recognition when she sees me.  Sometimes I am her sister, sometimes I work there, sometimes I am just someone she knows.  But she knows she knows me so that is something.  The good thing about just living in the moment is that most of her moments are good.  And if they aren't she doesn't remember that either.  Mom has been in the memory care center now for well over a year, yet she does not realize she lives there nor does she have any idea where she does live.  We make sure that someone stops by at least 5 or 6 times a week.  At random times, sometimes several times during the same day and we always find Mom happy.  She is normally engaged in activities but if not the aides always are aware of where she is and why she is not involved.  I watch the aides who work with these patients every day and I have yet to catch one of them walk by a resident without touching them or speaking to them.  They treat all of the residents with love and care and I thank God each day that I found such a wonderful home for our Mom.

Image result for alzheimer's

Frank is healing up nicely and we are able to have our Little Miss Melody come and visit us today. We asked Tingting to wait until today to bring her over because Frank was limited to picking up anything over 5 lbs until today.  We knew that Little Miss would not understand why her Grampy couldn't pick her up so it was best to wait.  We sure missed her though...I think this is the longest we have gone without getting our Mel fix.

Frank's Mom, sister and brother in law are joining us for dinner tomorrow.  Jackie and I are headed back to our Zumba classes this week.  Wish us luck!  Frank is returning to work on Monday and life is back to normal.

I am sharing my Weekly Menu here but any recipes/photos, other than this weekend's, will be following later than usual because I will be sharing recipes that I and other bloggers have created to celebrate Pumpkin Week.  This is a great event that you are not going to want to miss. Especially if you are like me and crazy about Fall flavors and all things pumpkin.

Saturday-Company for Dinner
Roasted Squash Soup
Tomato Salad
Savory Swiss Chard with Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Corn Saute
Carmelized Pear Upside Down Cake

Chicken Cutlets with White Beans and Kale
Roasted Root Vegetables

Meatless Monday
Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Braised Chicken Leg Quarters
Vegetable Rice Pilaf

Dinner out after Food Pantry

Chicken and Eggplant Casserole

Fish Friday
Grilled Salmon with Charred Corn Relish
Grilled Potato Planks

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ham Vegetable Barley Soup

Nicole and Pierre are coming over for lunch today.  More to see their Dad and how he is doing than for lunch but as long as they are here I may as well feed them.

We are just finishing all the leftovers from Little Miss Melody's Birthday Party.  The only thing left was the ham so we are finishing that up for lunch today.  I made a heart healthy soup and will serve it with this sandwich that I created for Food n Flix called the Fanny Brice.  The rest of the ham and the second ham bone are then going into the freezer for another time.

I knew I wanted to make a soup with the ham bone I had but I didn't have any split peas on hand and we had just had chili so I didn't really want more beans.  I looked in the cupboard and found some pearl barley.  Along with the ham in the refrigerator were a lot of veggies that needed using before I go back to the CSA this afternoon and load up again.  I had some lima beans, celery and zucchini.  I was out of carrots and onions but I did have some shallots.  I am very pleased with how the soup turned out.  I know the family will love it and it will make the perfect lunch for us today.

Ham Vegetable Barley Soup

1 meaty ham bone
8 c. chicken broth, homemade or canned
2 large red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with their juices
2 shallots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c. shelled lima beans
1 c. pearl barley
1 T. oregano paste
1 med zucchini, seeded and chopped
Pepper to taste

Place the ham bone and broth into a large soup pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to med and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes.  Add the vegetables, except zucchini, barley and oregano.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour, until vegetables and barley are tender.  Remove ham bone from soup.  Cut meat off bones and coarsely chop.  Return meat to pot with the zucchini and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until zucchini is tender.  Taste and season with pepper.  Soup should be salty enough from the ham.  Print Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy a product using this link, your price remains the same but I receive a small stipend to help offset the costs of this blog.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life's Little Frustrations.......

This is what we awoke to this morning.  I thought that our pups were all over this nonsense but I guess not.

We have asked Tingting to not bring our Little Miss until Friday.  There is no way she would understand that her Grampy can't pick her up.  The first thing she does when she see's Grampy is raise her arms to him and I know Frank well enough to know that he WOULD pick her up.

Then when we were walking around the yard this morning I heard my chickens and turkeys in distress.  I ran over and found a hawk trying to get them.  They are all locked up safe and sound now but I will have to restrict their free range time because that hawk has his eye on them now.  I am going to have to figure something out.

I am going to use up some of our leftover ham for dinner tonight with a Ham and Kohlrabi Bake and then the bone is going into the soup pot.

So there it is.....Just another Day in the Life on the Farm

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Creamed Corn and Zucchini with Jalapeno

Here in Michigan we are still in the midst of Corn Season.  Michigan corn, in my humble opinion, is the best corn in the world when it is in season and we eat in continuously from the end of July until it is no longer available.

We also take this opportunity to preserve it so we can enjoy it during the looooong wait for the next corn season.  We make corn chowder, we saute it with summer squash,  or with jalapenos, we use it in salads, and we grill it.

Today I would like to share with you another recipe using fresh corn on the cob. This makes enough for a crowd.  Feel free to halve the recipe.

Creamed Corn and Zucchini with Jalapeno

Kernels from 6 ears of corn
2 jalapenos, minced
1/4 c. butter
2 small zucchini, diced
2 t. garlic paste (I use Gourmet Garden)
1 c. half and half
2 oz. cream cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add corn, zucchini, jalapenos and garlic.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes or so, until tender.  Add the half and half and cook for a few minutes until the cream starts to thicken. Stir in the cream cheese until melted and fully incorporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Print Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy a product using this link, your price remains the same but I receive a small stipend to help offset the costs of this blog.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Amy's Cream Cheese Frosting

We celebrated Little Miss Melody's First Birthday this past weekend.  It was wonderful and I talked a little bit about it in my post yesterday where I shared the Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms that I served as an appetizer for her party.

We had quite the feast for her birthday, most of which I have shared with you previously but a couple of new things that I want to post about in the next couple of days, hoping that you enjoy them as much as we did this weekend.

Today, I would like to share my daughter, Amy's, recipe for cream cheese frosting.  I am not a frosting lover but I do enjoy this frosting that I find to be much lighter than most.  It meets all my requirements for the perfect recipe.  It is easy peasy and delicious!  I hope that you enjoy it.

Amy's Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) pkg Cool Whip 

In large bowl of stand mixer affixed with paddle attachment, place butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Beat at low speed until blended and then at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add cool whip and beat until well combined.  Frosting is now ready to be used as is or tinted to color of choice.  Print Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.  Should you buy a product using this link, your price remains the same but I receive a small stipend to help offset the costs of this blog.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms for Crazy Ingredient Challenge and Mel's First Birthday Party

This months Crazy Ingredient Challenge was perfect.  First, it contained 2 ingredients that I loved...Mushrooms and Goat Cheese.  Second, we were hosting a first birthday party for our Little Miss Melody and these ingredients came together beautifully to create a stunning appetizer while everyone was enjoying cocktails before dinner was served.

We served several appetizers while people were arriving and awaiting dinner. We had a cheese and cracker tray, my homemade canned salsa with chips and these wonderful mushroom caps stuffed with goat cheese and bread crumbs.

They were a great hit before dinner as our guests had an opportunity to visit with each other and ooooh and aaaaah over how wonderful and talented our Little Miss Melody is.  She had a wonderful time showing off for everyone.

She needed help blowing out her candle but she needed no help in eating her delicious cake.  She figured that out with no problem at all.

Little Miss did need some help from Mommy and Daddy opening all  the gifts though,  There were LOTS of them and she was very overwhelmed by it all.

It was a wonderful party and a wonderful venue for serving up my Crazy Ingredient Challenge Recipe.  It was a big hit and I think it will be perfect for your next celebration.  

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Caps

1 (12 oz) pkg white button mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed'
3 slices white bread
1 T. garlic paste ( I used Gourmet Garden)
salt and pepper to taste
1 (4 oz) log of herb goat cheese

Place mushroom caps on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Place bread, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form.  Remove 1/2 c. and set aside.  Place herbed goat cheese into processor with crumbs and pulse until combined.  Spoon goat cheese mixture into each mushroom cap.  Top with reserved bread crumbs.  Bake in a preheated oven at 400* for 15 to 20 minutes, until mushroom caps are tender and filling is lightly browned.  Print Recipe

Let's see what everyone else created using Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wine and Cola Braised Beef Shanks with Diamante Des Karantes

This month for French Winophiles, led by Christie of Confession of a Culinary Diva, we are visiting the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.

This is a coastal region whose wines are the up and coming new jewels of France.  The area is known not only for it's wonderful food and wines but also for it Medieval History and many tourists visit this area to tour the ancient castles.

I went to my local (half an hour away) International Market place as opposed to our local (45 min to an hour) away wine store.  Last week when we were celebrating WinePW and I went to the International Market Place looking for a wine for Santorini, I had no luck finding anyone to help me and was told that the lady "who knew about wines" would be back in a couple of hours.  This week however, we were met by Joe who is new to the store and in training to go to another store.  Joe is very knowledgeable about wines and has spent time in France learning about their wines.  When I asked for a wine from the Languedoc region there was only one choice available but Joe assured me it was a great choice and that we were going to love it.  I decided to give it a go and pay the $55 for this wine rather than driving further to the wine store, not knowing if I would find anything as good that was less expensive and wasting time and money for gas even if they did have a larger selection.

Diamant is named for the diamond shaped land on which the winery sits. It comes from an ancestral vineyard and it is aged in oak casks.  Diamant is 34% Syrah, 33% Grenaches and 33% Mourvedre.

To showcase this wine I was intending on making Wine and Cola Braised Short Ribs from a recipe I had found in Cuisine at Home.  When I went to grab short ribs from the freezer I learned that we are out of them, but I did have some Beef Shanks which are just as good or even better for braising. Then, those of you who know me will not be surprised, I also didn't have several of the other items that the dish called for so I ended up winging it.  I did have the wine and cola so I left the name the same LOL.

So when the Beef Shanks were about done, the potatoes simmering and the squash was roasting we opened the bottle to allow it to breathe....and, of course, we poured ourselves a little sip....well a medium sip LOL.  You know that old get what you pay for?  Folks any bottle of wine in our household that is more than $30 is considered a splurge and you know what we got for $55?  We got a silky smooth sip that tasted bright but not light. It had a medium heavy feel on the palate with overtones of berries and licorice.  It was D E L I C I O U S....and that was without allowing it to breathe and drinking it sans food.

We have 3 dogs and we had 3 beef shanks.  I removed the meat from the bones and plated it along with the roasted squash while Frank mashed the potatoes.  The dogs got their bones outside while we enjoyed our dinner inside.  It was a happy night for all of us.

The wine was good before dinner.  The wine was good with dinner.  The wine was good after dinner, while sitting in the hot tub.  The wine was good.  So was the dinner.  So was relaxing in the hot tub.  I hope your Saturday night was just as good as ours.

Wine and Cola Braised Beef Shanks
very loosely adapted from Cuisine at Home

3 or 4 Beef Shanks
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
1 onion
2 carrots, scraped
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
2 T. sweet paprika
2 T. Tomato Paste
1/2 cup port or sherry wine
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 c. red wine
1 can cola

Pat beef shanks dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add enough olive oil to cover bottom and allow to heat but not to smoke.  Sear the Beef Shanks on both sides in the hot oil.  Remove to a plate.

While Beef Shanks are searing, place vegetables in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times.  When beef shanks are removed to the plate add the minced vegetables to the hot pan, cook and stir for a few minutes, add the paprika and tomato paste, cook and stir a couple minutes longer. Add the port or sherry and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is evaporated.  Add the orange zest, orange juice, wine and cola to the pan. Return the beef shanks to the pan submerging them in the liquid.  Add a 5 or 6 stems of parsley to the pan, cover tightly  and place in a 300* oven for 3-4 hours.  Print Recipe

Let's take a look at what the others found to share with us from this region of France

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