July 8th, 2017
June 27th, 2017
I hope everyone had a bountiful 4th of July celebration. We had our usual large family get together at the lake with lots of food and wine and fireworks. Before getting to this wonderful chicken recipe I would like to share some of the highlights of our fun.
Of course there was lots of food. Here is a typical meal prepared by many hands including our son and daughter-in-law.
Our annual wine tasting is always a hit. The wine is supplied by one of the other Davids in our family. This year he chose Malbecs for the red wine blind tasting. Known for their plump dark fruit and smoky flavor, Malbecs offer a good alternative to the more expensive Cabernet Sauvignons. The 4 top place winners were 2013 Burgess Cellars (Napa Valley), 2013 Rewen Estate (Argentina), 2013 Eighty-Four (Napa Valley) and 2014 La Bete Noire (France).
On another rainy afternoon, our blind white wine tasting involved Albariño wines. Most Albariño wines come from the Atlantic Coast of Spain. Eric Asimov describes them as consistently pleasant, refreshing and resolutely dry with a citrus flavor. Our top four were a 2016 Senorio de Sobral (Spain), 2015 Pazo Senorans (Spain), 2016 Eighty-Four (Napa Valley) and a 2015 Valminor (Spain). The Valminor is a great value at $10.77 a bottle.
Of course the kids had their own juice and soda tasting. There was no consistent winner but one total loser. That would be guava juice.
But most of the fun was in the water. We love this special holiday.
But back to this wonderful creamy pesto chicken recipe. My basil is thriving and Kristen brought me some from her garden. I used the huge bunch she brought me to make pesto. This was what we had for dinner last night after everyone had gone home. We needed something light and this recipe from the blog Diethood was perfect. You can find the recipe here.
June 22nd, 2017
A good side dish is always welcome on a dinner table. Sometimes it as simple as sautéed green beans. But I am trying to incorporate unusual combinations in our diet. Everyone loves corn, but how many people love swiss chard? In an effort to include it, I made this corn gratin that has all of the friendly flavors of corn with the brightness of healthy chard and nutrient rich red peppers.
We decided to have this with our Chicken instead of potatoes. A salad rounded out the meal. Three days to go on the diet marathon. David is looking forward to enjoying the 4th of July with family without restrictions. View some of our previous family get togethers.
Needless to say, he will not be sticking to a diet. We always have a blind wine tasting that involves many wine choices. (By the way, the plastic bottles on the right are for the kids juice tasting). So many funny pictures.
I don’t think any of the adults had this reaction to the fine wines that we were tasting. Maybe this year we should give the kids better choices.
But this was a very good choice for dinner tonight. Hope you give it a try. Would look pretty on your holiday table.
Happy 4th of July. Will see you next week. Enjoy!
CHARD AND SWEET CORN GRATIN ( The New York Times )
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 generous bunch (3/4 to 1 pound) Swiss or rainbow chard, stemmed and washed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Black pepper
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 to 3 ounces Gruyère, grated (1/2 to 3/4 cup), to taste
- Kernels from 2 cooked ears sweet corn (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
- 1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin.
- Blanch chard: Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the chard leaves. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add chard leaves. (Set aside stems for another use, or discard.) Blanch 1 to 2 minutes, until tender but still bright. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then drain thoroughly and squeeze out excess water; chop medium-fine.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet and add red pepper . Cook, stirring, until pepper is soft. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds to a minute, then stir in rosemary, thyme and chopped blanched chard. Season with salt and pepper and stir over medium heat until chard is nicely coated with oil, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in chard mixture and Gruyère. Stir in corn and mix well. Scrape into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over top and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned on the top and sides. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
April 20th, 2017
We have a weight loss contest going on in our household. David and one of our New Year’s Eve gang friends, Barbara, have challenged each other to lose 15 pounds. The first one to do so will get a monetary reward. They both have been struggling since January 1st with a weigh-in each Monday. They are both getting close. It is down to just a few pounds each. But they have decided to extend the contest to 20 pounds lost. Needless to say, I have been challenged to put healthy low-fat food on the table.
Cooking Light came to the rescue with this Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs recipe. The spiced flour coating made the thighs crispy. The tequila sauce, onions and tropical fruit added juiciness to the oven braised dish. It was a real winner. It was also quick and easy. I served it with farro and broccolini.
We had this for dinner last night. It may have done the trick, because David’s weigh-in this morning indicated 4 pounds to go to reach the 20 pound goal. I hope no one gives Barbara this recipe.
MARGARITA-BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS ( Cooking Light )
1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion (about 1 medium)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tropical dried fruit (I used a combination of cranberries and pineapple)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup tequila
1 lime, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small baking dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt; dredge chicken in flour mixture.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
Combine fruit, juice, and tequila in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave at high 2 minutes. Pour fruit mixture into pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 1 minute. Pour onion mixture over chicken; top with lime slices. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Yield: 4 servings. 350 Calories.
March 16th, 2017
One of the harbingers of Spring for me is my get together with blogging buddy Penny of Enjoying the Simple Things. While we were shopping my crock pot was ready and waiting to offer these herb flecked potato wedges to accompany David’s grilled meat and a quickly tossed salad.
Our first stop on our antiquing outing is always The Screen Door. It is one of our favorite antique malls for unique finds. This wire wall hanging was tempting, but we passed on it.
We saw this Chateauneuf du-pape bucket at another place. I am now thinking that I should have bought this. I can just see it filled with greenery or fresh or dried flowers.
Shopping works up at appetite and we always have lunch on the patio of Fig, our favorite French bistro. I ordered the very un-French Pappardelle Bolognese. It was creamy and studded with delicious sausage.
Penny ordered the salmon with potatoes and fresh peas drizzled with a mustard cream sauce. Fig does the best job with salmon. It is always flaky and cooked to perfection.
It was good to come home to these tender and tasty potato wedges. This recipe is good for a crowd too. I love recipes that cook themselves so I can concentrate on other parts of a meal.
CROCK POT POTATO WEDGES (The Magical Slow Cooker)
- 3 lbs. small red potatoes (about 8 cups after being cut)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ cup parmesan
- more parmesan for serving
- Wash and cut the potatoes into wedges. Add to the slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. Pour this over the potatoes and stir. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
- Sprinkle with additional cheese for serving if desired.
In a twist of fate, serving beef stew in sunny Florida turned out to be just the right thing to do. With company coming, I wanted to make my Guinness Beef Stew in honor of St. Paddy’s Day but had reservations about serving stew in 80 degree temperatures. On cue a cold front swept through and temperatures were in the 40’s and 50’s. We ate this warming stew on the patio wearing sweaters.
My Guinness Beef Stew is best cooked the day ahead so that you can remove the solid fats that come to the top. This also allows the stew to develop greater flavor. It incorporates Guinness Stout, Beef broth, carrots, celery, onions and the beef. Cooked slowly the meat becomes very tender. I usually serve this with mashed potatoes garnished with buttered breadcrumbs.
Instead of Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, you may want to try this Guinness Beef Stew. Guinness is an Irish Stout developed by Arthur Guinness in his St. James Brewery in Dublin, Ireland.
We will be heading back to North Carolina over the weekend. It has been a relaxing 6 weeks in New Smyrna Beach Florida. We have enjoyed it so much that we will be returning next year. Finding short term rental properties is challenging in this popular community. We were lucky to find this charming Spanish styled bungalow for our next visit. The owners are a delightful couple and we feel honored that they are willing to allow us to rent their vacation home.
GUINNESS BEEF STEW
2 1/2 to 3 lbs chuck roast, cut into large cubes
3 Tbls olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into large rounds
2 to 3 Tbls flour
1 16 oz can Guinness Stout
1 14.5 oz.can beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dry and salt and pepper the beef cubes. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the beef in batches until nicely browned. Remove beef to plate. Add the vegetables to the pot and cook over medium heat until softened. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes. Return the beef to the pot and pour in the Guinness Stout and the beef broth. Add the flavorings and bring pot to a boil. Cover with lid and place in a preheated 325 degree oven.
Braise the stew for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. It can be served at this point, but it is better to let cool and then place in the refrigerator over night. Remove the solid fats that have accumulated on the top. Put the stew back into a preheated 325 degree oven and cook until heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes or Colcannon.