Monday, November 20, 2017

Baby Beet Salad with a Creamy Coffee Dressing #FabulousFallBounty #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Remember what I was saying about providence a couple of days ago?  Well, it is smiling down upon me again today.

This is Day 3 of Fabulous Fall Bounty, hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and sponsored by Melissa's Produce, Le Creuset and Silpat.  These companies sent a dozen bloggers products to use in the creation of recipes for this event.  I received no monetary compensation and all opinions are my own.

One of the things I received, in this huge box from Melissa's, was peeled and steamed baby beets.  These are wonderful to have in the refrigerator.  Especially, if like me, you LOVE beets.  They are so yummy and delicious but they do take a while to prepare.  Having these precooked and sealed beets on hand makes life much easier.

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You can imagine how thrilled I was when the poll for our Crazy Ingredient Challenge was complete and beets was one of the winning ingredients.  Providence.

Each month, our host, Kelly of Passion Kneaded, gives us 2 subsets of 4 ingredients.  We vote on which ingredients we want from each subset and when the tally comes in we are told which ingredients we must include in a recipe created for the event.

It is a lot of fun and, if you enjoy a challenge, we would love to have you join us.  Just put a comment below or on any of the recipe links for CIC and let us know.

The second ingredient this month? Coffee.... that kinda set me back a bit.  My first thought was a coffee flavored smoothie.  I use beets in my smoothies quite often.  I actually played around with the idea of making a beet and coffee ice cream too.  

It seemed as if each idea I had included a creaminess of some sort.  This led me to think about a creamy salad dressing.  I love adding beets to my salads and I thought that the bitterness of a creamy coffee dressing, drizzled on a salad that was sweetened, naturally, with beets would work.

Yes, those are some beautiful beef filet steaks that you see in the background.  This salad was going to be the first course of a Surf and Turf dinner that I was serving for company so I wanted it to be delicious.

And it was.  I kept it very simple.  Mixed greens, sliced beets and a drizzle of creamy coffee dressing.  It was surprisingly tasty and the perfect salad to serve when the rest of the meal is going to be rich and decadent.  Bitter is one of my favorite tastes.  I know it is not for everybody so I did add a little honey to the dressing to cut the bitterness just a bit while still leaving enough that it made you stop and take notice that this was not your ordinary salad dressing.

Baby Beet Salad with a Creamy Coffee Dressing

1 baby beet per person, steamed, peeled and cut into slices
2 handfuls of mixed greens, per person
1 (6 oz) carton plain Greek yogurt
2 T. brewed coffee
1 t. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the yogurt, coffee, honey, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust sweetness and seasonings as desired.

Chill a salad plate for each person.  Place 2 handfuls of salad greens on each plate.  Top with sliced beets and drizzle with dressing. Print Recipe

More Fabulous Fall Bounty

More Beet and Coffee Creations

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Flavors of Fall Salad #FabulousFallBounty

All you squash fans out there, raise your hands.  I've raised both of mine.  I LOVE squash and we eat a lot of it in season.  Summer squash and zucchini in the warm months.  Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti and delicata squash in the winter months.  So delicious and so nutritious as well.

So I was thrilled when Melissa's Produce provided me with several squash to use in our Fabulous Fall Bounty Event, hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  All opinions in this post and on this entire blog are 100% my own.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on that squash and get cooking.  I used up the Delicata before this event ever had a chance to start.  I roasted it up along with some of the fingerling potatoes and served it alongside these Lemon Breaded Pork Chops.  They were so delicious that I made the exact same dish again to serve with a Maple Glazed Ham Steak that I will be sharing with you another time.

Today, though, I want to share how I used the Butternut squash in this Flavors of Fall salad that will be perfect on your Thanksgiving Table.

I love adding squash to my salads.  Normally, I roast the squash but this salad, found at Food&Wine,  calls for a different preparation.

It has you saute the squash on the stove top.  This save quite a bit of time and frees up your oven for the turkey that needs  to roast for hours.   

I adapted this recipe to include some of my favorite things, like rainbow chard.   Sauteeing on the stove top means that you can also add in some of the chard stems to get tender as well.   They add such beautiful color and texture to your salad.

The sweet softness of the squash, the bitterness of the radicchio, the saltiness of the pepitas and the crunchiness of the pecans combine to make this a salad about which your guests will rave and that your family will request year after year.

Flavors of Fall Salad
adapted from Food&Wine

7 T. peanut oil
1 peeled butternut squash, cut into 1" cubes
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped, leaves separated from stems
Mixed salad greens, to include radicchio
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. roasted and salted pepitas

In a large skillet, heat 2 T. of the oil over med high heat.  Add the squash in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Turn over the squash pieces, add the chard stems and let cook until squash is tender and browned on both sides and chard is tender but still vibrantly colored.  Set aside to cool.

Place the remaining 5 T. of oil in a jar with the vinegar, tarragon, parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Seal the jar and shake until well blended.

Place the chard leaves, salad greens, pecans, pepitas, squash and chard stems in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss well to coat.  

More Fabulous Fall Bounty Recipes

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Thanksgiving Week Menu

Wow.....where did this year go?!  I blinked and it is the start of the Christmas season.  It is mind boggling to me.  I don't have one single Christmas gift bought yet!!  Oh well, it will wait until after Thanksgiving.  Perhaps that's as it should be.

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Thanksgiving Day is normally the first day of my Christmas Holidays but this year we are starting early.  Tomorrow we are taking our Little Miss, her Mama and Charlie, her Aunt Amy and Uncle Doug and heading to the Fox Theater for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  We are very excited.  I am even more excited that our Lili is meeting us for dinner while we are downtown.

Image result for grinch musical

Monday we are doing our Thanksgiving Basket Distributions for the Food Pantry. Tuesday and Wednesday I will have the Angel Face here to help me with my Thanksgiving Preparations.

Thanksgiving Dinner will be celebrated later in the evening allowing the kids to see the other side of their families during the day.

Image result for mac and cheese on old mission peninsula

Friday morning we are heading up north.  We will be spending the afternoon and night with our TC family.  Saturday morning we are meeting up with our friends, Bob and Cathy, and 4 other couples for the Great Mac and Cheese Bake Off sponsored by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula.  It should be a lot of fun.

I am sharing our Weekly Menu including the Thanksgiving Feast.  Please stop by and visit so I can wish you and yours a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving Day.  My blogging friends and readers are one of the things for which I will be giving thanks this year.

Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy
Egg Noodles
Glazed Carrots

Dinner out after Grinch

Order in Pizzas or Subs for Food Pantry workers

Taco Tuesday
Tacos, of course

Stew over Biscuits

Thanksgiving Day
Crab and Crimini Bisque
Salad with Beets, Dill and Feta
Roast Turkey
Roast Fresh Kielbasa
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Buttered Corn
Crescent Rolls
Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Persimmon and Chestnut Cookies

Heading North, See you Sunday

Parsnip, Potato and Pear Soup #FabulousFallBounty #SoupSaturdaySwappers #Winophiles

Welcome to the first day of our five day celebration featuring #FabulousFallBounty.  This feast is being hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Cam believes that while Spring produce seems to get the lion's share of attention - think pea shoots and fiddlehead ferns - Fall's fabulous produce is sandwiched between the glut of pumpkin recipes for Halloween and the sweets-heavy holiday season.

Disclosure: This post and recipe contains and uses product provided by sponsors.  There was no expectation from my post other than I write, as always, my true and honest opinions.

So, this year, she invited a dozen food bloggers to share recipes and ideas that celebrate the #FabulousFallBounty. Many thanks to our event sponsors: Silpat for a handy silicone mat; Le Creuset for a lovely serving platter; and Melissa's Produce for providing the bloggers with a beautiful box of goodies.

We hope you enjoy our creations using fingerling potatoes; delicata, butternut, and acorn squashes; garlic and shallots; roasted chestnut and steamed beets; fennel and celery root; pears and so much more! Keep an eye on these blogs for inspiration as we rush towards Thanksgiving...

I thought it was providence that our first day of this Fabulous Fall Bounty event landed on the same date as my #SoupSaturdaySwappers posting date.  Of course, it may have been all in Cam's plan since she, too, belongs to Soup Swappers. 

This month's soup swappers host is Sally of Bewitching Kitchen who chose French Soups as our theme.  Coincidence that two of our sponsors, Le Creuset and Silpat, are based in France?  Well, Sally chose this theme way before Fabulous Fall Bounty was even a thought in Cam's head....providence.

Then, to make things even more remarkable, today is also the day we share wine and food pairings with The French Winophiles.  Providence?  Or Cam's masterminding since we both belong to all three of these groups?  Pray tell Cam!!

So here I was, faced with the wonderful challenge of creating a French Soup to pair with a French wine (in this case our theme is Beaujolais) using amazing fresh and seasonal bounty from an American company, Melissa's Produce.  Oh, to suffer this fate each day would be heavenly.

If you would like more information about The French Winophiles and Beaujolais wines please see my Say Yay to Beaujolais post from this past Thursday.

Image result for my french family table

Okay, I have one more thing to point towards providence in these events today.  I belong to another group, Foodies Read, and had won a cookbook called My French Family Table by Béatrice Peltre. Surely that could not have been part of Cam's plan.  I mean, she does belong to that group as well but how would she have any idea that I won or which book I chose?  Right, Cam?  You could have no idea, right?

Well, whether or not Cam knew or didn't know about how all of these things would work out perfectly for me, I am extremely grateful that it did. 

I found a gorgeous recipe for Parsnip, Potato and Pear Soup in the cookbook that I adapted so that I could use some of the lovely produce I had been provided.  I also adapted the recipe for Hazelnut and Tarragon Pesto in the book to use the Chestnuts that had been part of the package given to me by Melissa's.

This creamy, flavorful soup is given some texture with the chestnut pesto swirl.  The garnish of goat cheese and dried cranberries add a pop of color and brightness to this earthy soup.  It is perfect for a soup and salad lunch, as I enjoyed it, but would be even nicer as a first course on your Thanksgiving table.  

I served it up with a glass of Domaine de Briante Brouilly from the Beaujolais area of France.  I thought the pairing of the dry, fruity wine was perfect with the earthy sweetness of the soup.  

Soupe aux Panais, aux Pommes de Terre, et aux Poires
adapted from My French Family Table 

2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, chopped 
2 T. garlic infused olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts, well scrubbed and sliced
3  small ripe pears, I used Fiorello, cored and diced
6 c. chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. heavy cream
5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
3 T. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. whole steamed, peeled chestnuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 t. finely grated orange zest
1/4 c. tarragon leaves
1/2 c. parsley leaves
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. good olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot.  Add the shallot and leek, cook and stir for about 5 minutes until softened.  Add the parsnips, potatoes and pears, cooking for a few minutes.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and tarragon sprigs.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, until all vegetables are soft.  Remove the bay leaves and tarragon sprigs. 

While soup is simmering, combine the feta and cranberries.  Set aside.  

Place the chestnuts, garlic, orange zest, tarragon, parsley and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined and minced.  Running the food processor, drizzle in the olive oil until a paste like consistency is obtained.  This pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Using an immersion blender, food processor or heavy duty stand blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Stir in the cream. 

Divide the hot soup into 6-8 individual bowls.  Add a spoonful of the pesto to each and stir just enough to swirl it through.  Add a sprinkle of the cheese and cranberry mixture and serve. Print Recipe

Let's see what the others are sharing on this first day of Fabulous Fall Bounty

More French Soup Recipes

Friday, November 17, 2017

Seafood Stuffed Lobster Tail #FishFridayFoodies

It's hard to believe that it is coming up on 2 years since I started this fabulous group called Fish Friday Foodies.  What makes it so fabulous?  The amazing, supportive and loving group of bloggers who join me each and every month.

We take turns each month choosing a theme.  This gives us all inspiration to get creative and have some fun.  This month, with Thanksgiving breathing down our necks, I had stuffing on my mind.  I love stuffing and thought it would make a perfect theme for this month's Fish Friday party.

I asked the members to join me in stuffing fish or seafood, or using seafood or fish in a stuffing.  Stuffing is not just for turkeys! I can't wait to see what the others have decided to share with us today.  You will find links to all of their recipes at the bottom of this post.

I am so excited about the recipe I am sharing.  Frank does not care for shellfish.  He will eat shrimp and he likes certain types of fish but stays away from clams, lobster, crab, oysters, etc., so I was taking quite the chance serving up this Seafood Stuffed Lobster Tail.

This decadent dish contains not only the lobster meat that you removed from the shell but shrimp an crab as well.  All this succulent, tender meat gets sauteed up in butter, stuffed back into the shells and then gets topped with butter soaked Ritz crackers.  This was the most wonderful seafood dish I have ever made!!

I picked up these frozen lobster tails when my local grocer had them on sale for $5 each.  They are great to have in the freezer, especially during the holidays.  I use them for Lobster Bisque or Dragon and Phoenix Soup, I steam them and serve them with drawn butter, I add them to Pot Pie.  If you are lucky enough to have leftovers when you are done stuffing the shell, you can turn them into a Seafood Roll and enjoy it for lunch.  That's what I did!

Removing the meat from the shell is easy peasy.  Just cut down both sides with some kitchen shears and then cut across the tail to remove all of the membrane on the underside of the shell.  Wriggle your fingers under the meat and it pops right out.  The shells are perfectly ready and waiting to be stuffed.

I served this up with pan seared Filet Mignon as the surf portion of Surf and Turf, just in case Frank hated it.  I need not have worried....he was very surprised how much he enjoyed this preparation of seafood.  How could he not?  If you are a seafood lover, you will be swooning over this dish and if you are on the other side of the fence, give it a shot, you may just be as surprised as Frank.

Seafood Stuffed Lobster Tails
adapted from Cuisine at Home

4 (4 oz) lobster tails, removed from shell and cut into chunks, shells reserved
3 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into chunks
8 oz. crab meat
1 stick butter, divided
Juice and zest of  half a lemon
dash of cayenne pepper
2 T. chives, minced
24 buttery crackers (like Ritz)

Melt 4 T. of butter in a large skillet over med high heat.  Add the lobster and shrimp, cook and stir until pink.  Add the lemon juice, zest and cayenne.  Remove from heat and stir in the crab meat, 16 of the crackers that have been crushed and chives.  Let cool and then spoon mixture into the reserved lobster tail shells.

Place the remaining 4 T. of butter into a small microwave safe bowl and cook until melted.  Stir in the remaining 8 crackers, crushed, and sprinkle over the top of the lobster tails.  

 Tails can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hrs before baking.  When ready to serve, bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15-20 minutes, until topping is crisp and stuffing is heated through.  Print Recipe

Scrumptious Stuffed Seafoods

You Make Me Blush Champagne Cocktail #CranberryWeek #MadeinFrance

I thought I would serve a cocktail on this Friday, the last day of  Cranberry Week.  I don't know how your week has been but I can really use a cocktail to kick off what I hope will be a relaxing weekend.

The cocktail starts out with this gorgeous, ruby red simple syrup made from fresh cranberries and cranberry juice cocktail.  Not only is it perfect for this drink but it would be absolutely beautiful drizzled on a dessert plate or over ice cream.

You can use any sparkling wine that you like with this cocktail.  I had a bottle of French Champagne from Jacques Bardelot that I received during our #MadeinFrance event.  That event was a wine and cheese party and this cocktail was also served up with a cheese platter as guests arrived for dinner one evening.

I would like to make a toast right now to Caroline of Caroline's Cooking who hosted this week long event.  It is a lot of work making an event successful and she pulled it off without a hitch.  Cheers Caroline!

You Make Me Blush Cocktail
adapted from Cuisine at Home, issue #60

1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
1 c. cranberry juice cocktail
1 c. sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 bottle Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Dip the rim of 6 champagne flutes into the orange juice and then into sugar, set aside.  

Place the remaining orange juice and the cranberries into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to a sauce pan with the sugar and orange zest.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let cook for 10-15 minutes, until syrupy.  Strain and allow to cool to room temperature.

When ready to serve pour 1-2 T. of syrup into the prepared champagne flutes.  Top with Champagne and serve.  Print Recipe

See all the other recipes being shared for today's final Cranberry Week post - we hope you've enjoyed following along and will try some of the many cranberry creations!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Say Yay for Beaujolais #FrenchWinophiles

Welcome to an early edition of The French Winophiles.  We normally post on the third Saturday of each month, followed by a twitter chat.  We are still chatting on Saturday and would love to have you join us at 11 AM ET. You will find us by using hashtag #Winophiles.  This month we will also be using the hashtag #Beaujolais.

So why are we posting early this month?  Beaujolais is releasing their 2017 harvest today!  Each year the current harvest of Beaujolais wines are released on the third Thursday and it has become a great marketing tool for them.  You can learn more about Beaujolais wines and this event by reading this invitation post written by Jeff of Food Wine Click, who is hosting this month.

Disclosure: I received free samples of wine for the purposes of this and future posts.  All opinions and ideas are strictly my own.  I received no monetary compensation for the writing of this post.

This year, on of our members, Lynn of Savor the Harvest, was able to procure samples of four different Beaujolais wines for our group to try;  Nature Terra Vitis from Vignerons de Bel Air, Brouilly from Domaine de Briante, Morgan Côte du Py from Domaines Piron and Cote de Brouilly Les Garances from Domaine Baron de L'Ecluse.

You can see what the others have to say about this wine in their individual posts:

The recipe I chose to showcase this wonderful wine made with primarily Gamay grapes is a rustic dish from Israel called Shakshuka.

Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in tomatoes and vegetables.  Often served for breakfast, I decided to enjoy it for brinner and pair it with the bottle of Côte du Py.  You can find versions of this dish in nearly every culture. This dish in France is spelled Chakchouka. I shared the Italian version, Uovo al Piatta con Pomodori, last Easter season.

I found this recipe by Celeste of The True Spoon on a website called Honest Cooking. It appealed to me because Celeste had paired it with Beaujolais when she served it.  I also was thrilled with the addition of beets to the recipe.

I had recently received a wonderful box of produce for our #FabulousFallBounty event that starts in just two days.  One of the items included in this box were some steamed and peeled baby beets.  Perfect for this recipe.

The most interesting thing about this pairing was the difference in my tasting as compared to Frank's tasting.  I took a sip of the wine and was please with how light and smooth I found it.  I thought that it was the perfect wine for this rustic dinner.

Frank also enjoyed the pairing but after he took a couple of sips of the wine he said "Wow, this is really a chalky wine".  We, more I than he, enjoy chalky wines.  I like when you take a sip of wine and it is so dry that your mouth feels like you just licked some chalk.  But I was surprised when Frank said this.  I didn't find the wine that dry at all.  It was not sweet. It was very fruity.  But it did not leave that chalky feel in my mouth as it did in his.  This just goes to show that tasting is in the buds of the beholder.  We should never judge a wine on someone else's review.  We all have our own palates and a wine that I love may not be the wine you love and vice versa.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and pairing that I am sharing with you today.  Stay tuned for further Beaujolais pairing from me and the other members of The French Winophiles.  You can find our posts on most social media platforms by following #gogamaygo and #lovebeaujolais.  Please join us for our chat this #Winophile chat Saturday morning at 11 ET when we discuss all of our #Beaujolais pairings.

Beet Shakshuka
adapted from The True Spoon

8 oz. baby beets, steamed, peeled and chopped
8 oz. fingerling potatoes, cut into bite size slices
3 T. garlic infused olive oil
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. caraway seeds
3-4 eggs

Place the potatoes and onion in a cast iron skillet.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Place in a preheated 400* oven for 15 minutes.  Add the beets to the skillet. Stir, flipping the potatoes to allow even browning and return to the oven for 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, cumin and caraway seeds.

Pressing down with a spoon create indentations for each egg you are using.  Add an egg into each well, season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 10-12 minutes, until whites are set and yolks are cooked to desired consistency. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.
Print Recipe

Join me on Saturday as I pair the Brouilly with a marvelous French Soup that I prepared for #SoupSaturdaySwappers featuring #FabulousFallBounty.