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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Tart

There we were in Costco and in front of me was a box of chopped butternut squash.  I wasn't certain I could find the recipe that triggered my desire to buy the box but I figured the worst that could happen was butternut squash soup.  At the same time I bought a bag of cranberries.  I do love fresh cranberry season.  We use a few bags and toss a few more into the freezer for the mid-summer fresh cranberry craving that inevitably happens.  I knew there was a magazine with a herd of cranberry recipes that'd sounded good.  Was I ever in luck.  Not only was said magazine on my hassock, the butternut squash recipe was for both butternut squash AND cranberries.  

The recipe came together VERY easily.  Other than adding the blue cheese before baking, I followed it to a "T."  I let the tart sit the prescribed 10 minutes after baking and it was still a bit runny.  But, the flavor was still magnificent.  

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Tart

 1 pie crust
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 c diced red onion
2 T honey
1 T olive oil
2 t minced fresh sage
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese


Preheat your oven to 450.  Put the pie crust in a pie plate and crimp the edges.  Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the pie crust.  

In a medium bowl toss together everything else but the blue cheese.  

Pour the butternut squash mixture into the pie shell.  Top it with the crumbled blue cheese.  

Bake 30 minutes.  This is best if you let it cool for 10-15 minutes so it's not so runny.  NB:  the recipe called for 1/3 c blue cheese and for sprinkling it on after the tart bakes.  Your choice!  

adapted from Cuisine at Home

Monday, August 26, 2019

New Life for Leftovers!

Lobster creme brulee.  Sounds fabulous, eh?  We did a trial run and liked it so I made a double batch for the family brunch.  Four of my five brothers and two spouses were going to be at our home prior to my nephew's wedding.  I wanted to make a really special meal.  

The reaction from the family was underwhelming.  Everyone expected it to be warm.  And, it was supposed to be served cold.  Three ramekins came back with exactly one bite taken out of them.  And, I had three ramekins totally left over.  That's a bunch of lobster to toss.  

Now, to figure out what to do with the leftovers.  Once choice was to rinse away the creme brulee and make something totally different..  Quesadillas, lobster rolls, pasta.  All of those were in the running.  I came up with the idea of lobster roll pasta.  Sounded great but I couldn't find a recipe that worked.  

The pasta pot got filled with water and put on the stove.  At least we were going to have lobster and pasta.  Exactly what was yet to be determined.  I got out the container of the leftovers and dipped my spoon in.  It really had a lot of potential.  I'd tasted a bit of Dijon mustard stirred in.  Connie'd tasted a bit of sherry.  And, of course, lobster rolls have butter.  But, BROWN butter is MUCH better.  Time to experiment.  In went a couple of teaspoons of Dijon.  Better already.  Then a couple of tablespoons of dry sherry.  Ok.  We're on to something because that was the best yet.  About that time the butter I'd tossed into the saucepan reached a lovely shade of brown.  And, oh my, did it every smell fabulous!  Into the butter went the leftovers.  Stir, stir, stir, taste.  We have a winner!

Because I had about half of the creme brulees left over, I'm going to give you the recipe for half of what I made...


1 large or 2 small freshly cooked lobsters (we used 6 very small cold water lobster tails)
2 t finely chopped tarragon
8 egg yolks
2 T lemon juice
1 c heavy cream
1 c whole milk
2 T panko - omit if you're making pasta sauce
3 T finely grated Gruyere 

Add in if you're making pasta sauce:
2 t Dijon mustard
3T dry sherry
4 T butter, browned


To make the creme brulees, shell and chop the lobster.  Put it in the bottoms of six ramekins.  Sprinkle with the tarragon.  Put the cream and milk into a saucepan and bring it almost to a boil.  Crack the eggs into a bowl with the lemon juice (and salt and pepper if you'd like.)  Lightly mix with a fork.  When the cream mixture is warm, temper the eggs by adding about a tablespoon of cream to them.  Then, continue adding until the egg yolks are warm.  Pour all of that into the balance of the cream mixture.  Divide the custard between the ramekins and bake in a water bath at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  

If you're going to make the pasta sauce, hold the lobster aside and make the custard sauce.  Add in the mustard and sherry.  Brown the butter in a small saucepan and pour it in along with the grated Gruyere.  Stir in the lobster and serve over pasta.  

recipe adapted from Creme Brulee by Sara Lewis

Friday, July 12, 2019

Baked Chicken Rose and Feta Stuffed Cucumbers

I've been having a lot of fun with a cookbook that's really old.  It belonged to a friend of mine who recently passed away.  Her hubby showed up at the office with a box of cookbooks.  This was the first one that I pulled out.  Published in 1963 by the Wine Advisory Board it is well beyond dog-eared.  Just as I do, Janet wrote lots of notes on the recipes she tried. And on the ones she wanted to try.  We started with one called Sherried Tomatoes.  Connie inhaled his serving while declaring, "These are some of the best tomatoes I've EVER had."  It was a recipe Janet had marked, "Excellent."

One that she'd not marked tried or to try was called Baked Chicken Rose.  Now, let me mention again that this cookbook is old.  VERY old.  It's of the generation that used convenience foods whenever possible.  So much so that when I found a recipe that called for starting with making chicken stock I was totally shocked.  So, this recipe calls for chicken bouillon and canned mushrooms and margarine.  Things I pretty much avoid or, in the case of margarine, never use.  I also realized that using chicken thighs I could make the whole dish on the stovetop.  It's just plain hot enough that I didn't want the heat of the oven.  What did we think?  I"m so glad there are leftovers!!!  This was a five out of five.  I've never used rose wine in a dish before but I'm certainly going to start now.  Fabulous flavor!!!  If I was someone who had the monthly rotation of recipes, this one would be on it.  But, I don't so all I can say it I'll make it again SOON!

To go with the chicken, I made a salad.  Not too sure what I was going to do, I peeled and seeded a big cucumber.  Then, I cut the halves in half so I had four smallish "boats."  My mind went to my friend Christiane's cucumber salad.  That I love, love, love.  I also could taste a wonderful herb salad.  Out to the herb garden where I cut a big handful of dill and a big handful of parsley.  Those got chopped finely.  Then, out came a tub of feta and the jar of capers.  I added some of each to the bowl of herbs.  Then, I poured in some really good extra virgin olive oil and pretty much mashed the whole thing up.  All of that went into the boats.   Which went onto plates and were topped with a good drizzle of everything aioli.  It's basically a spicy mayo with some tomato and some mustard and some peppers in an aioli base.  It's yummy!  But, you could drizzle over a balsamic glaze or a nice salad dressing just as easily.  We gave this one a five out of five too.  

Here's the recipe for the chicken:

Baked Chicken Rose


6 chicken thighs, bone -in and skin on
2 T butter
6 T flour
1 c chicken stock
1/2 c rose wine
1/4 c thinly sliced green onions
8 oz box cremini mushrooms
1 T butter
1/2 T soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz can artichoke hearts (reservc the juice!)


Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the flour over the chicken skin.  Put the chicken thighs in skin side down.  Saute until they're nice and brown.  You're not going to want to eat the skin, but the browning will add flavor.  Flip the thighs and sprinkle on the balance of the flour.  Cook for a few minutes and then pour in the stock and the rose wine.  Allow all of that to thicken a bit.  While you're initially cooking the thighs, in a small skillet saute the sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter.  Once the liquid has cooked off, add in the soy sauce and garlic.  When that liquid has cooked off, remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.  Back to the thighs...  Add the green onions and the artichoke hearts and juice.  I chopped the artichoke hearts and they pretty much cooked into the sauce.  Next time I'll put another can of them in and cut those in half.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the sauce is thickened.  I had to add a bit more flour to get it as thick as I wanted.  You can serve this over rice, noodles, pasta, bulgur, quinoa, couscous...  Or, just plain. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Shrimp Pesto Quesadillas and Sausage Sandwiches on French Toast

This week has been clean up the kitchen for two.  First, we had brunch with kids and grandkids at one of our favorite places and brought home hash browns with corned beef and half a eggs florentine. Here's what we had at Uptown Cafe:

Then, I made grandson Bradley's favorite crepes for dinner and made homemade sausages to go along with them. 

For dinner one night I used the rest of the ground pork and made pork burgers using essentially the same mix I'd used for the sausage.  When I couldn't find my Hoosier Mama cookbook with my favorite sausage recipe, I made one up.  And, wound up liking it better.  I can't quote you the measurements but can tell you the ingredients:  ground pork, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, salt, ground black pepper, ground sage, garlic powder and dried onion.  Here's the mix ready to be mixed: 

They were really good on some kaiser rolls with mustard, tomato and lettuce.  Unfortunately, they were inhaled before I remembered a photo!

The leftover sausages got put onto an open faced sandwich.  First I made some french toast using rye bread, milk, eggs and a savory seasoning from Penzeys.  I topped that with some sliced tomatoes, then the sausages, then grated mozzarella cheese.  The whole shebang got topped with a poached egg and some everything bagel seasoning.  Here's what that looked like:

Along the way I bought several clamshells of strawberries on closeout at the stand up the street.  Some went into a strawberry/turkey/almond/cheese/spinach salad topped with a jam dressing (jam, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, whole grain mustard and olive oil) and some went into strawberry daquiris.  Those were thanks to Connie's efforts!

Finally, we were out of leftovers to use up.  Connie wanted pesto.  So, I pulled out my friend Monica's trusty recipe.  Still the best one I've ever had!  Would we do old faithful linguine with pesto?  Or something else?  Shrimp sounded good.  Off to this blog.  I found pesto risotto.  We've made that and loved it.  And, then there was the pesto BLT.  YUM.  Except my heart was set on shrimp.  Ok, on to  More pesto risotto.  And, all kinds of pasta with pesto and shrimp.  And, then, Kevin Lynch of Closet Cooking to the rescue.  Shrimp pesto quesadillas.  He'd made pesto shrimp and had leftovers and turned it into quesadillas.  I was starting from scratch so used his recipe as inspiration and on I went!

The shrimp were cooked in a bit of olive oil, white wine and garlic.  Monica's pesto was made.   A triple batch!  And, I got the quesadilla ingredients ready to go.  Here's the recipe:

Shrimp Pesto Quesadillas
serves two

two tortillas
14 - 21-25 size shrimp, uncooked
1 T olive oil
1 T white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c pesto
1 T olive oil
1 c shredded Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)

Pour the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the thawed shrimp and saute until one side is pink.  Add in the white wine and the garlic.  Flip the shrimp and cook until the 2nd side is pink.  Remove the shrimp to a bowl and rinse out the pan.  Remove the tails and coarsely chop the shrimp.  Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  Lay the first tortilla in and fold it in half so it follows the contour of the pan.  Fold the other one in half and add it to the pan.  Turn the heat on to medium.  Open one tortilla and sprinkle half the cheese in.  Then, so the same to the other.  Next, add the shrimp.  Then, coat the sides of the tortillas that'll fold down on the shrimp and cheese with the pesto.  Once the first side of the tortillas is nice and brown take them out of the pan very carefully and flip them then slide them back into the pan.  I use a plate for this.  Once the second side is brown, plate the quesadillas and drizzle them with balsamic glaze. 

Here's how it looked:

Friday, June 21, 2019

Mystery Trip!

Mystery Trip!

We trust our friend, JoAnn Carr, implicitly when it comes to arranging mystery trips.  This time she said there’d be great food and wonderful gardens and several other surprises.  We were in!

On Tuesday morning we met the bus at 8:30 am on the north side of Indy.  Before we left the parking lot JoAnn had us all guess where we were going to go.  I guessed Petoskey, MI and Connie guessed Saugatuck, MI.  We were basing our guesses on the fact that the first stop for the bus was the south side of Indy AND the weather forecast JoAnn had provided.  We were right about north but wrong about Michigan.  Out of the St. Luke’s parking lot and east toward Meridian.  North on Meridian.  Then, WEST on 465.  Obviously it wasn’t the east or middle of Michigan.  North on 65.  It wasn’t until we went west on the Toll Road that we knew we were both wrong.  At that point everyone started speculating about where in Wisconsin we might be going. 

First stop.  Chicago Botanical Gardens.  Talk about stunning!  This was our lunch break and it was perfect.  In fact, it was Connie’s favorite stop of the trip.  He loved the bonsai exhibit.  I loved the English walled garden.  And, we both loved our lunch.  We split a veggie sandwich and a honey roasted barbecue brisket sandwich. 

Back on the bus and northward.  JoAnn tells us it’s time for dessert but we’re going to have to work for it.  We wend our way through a little commercial area and get off the bus at a candy store and factory in Graysline, IL.  There each of us gets a slab of toffee.  We’re going to get dark or milk chocolate and toppings and get to adorn our toffee.  That was LOADS of fun.  And, a great dessert too!!  Next door was a winery.  A herd of siblings own it and each has their own wine.  I chose a Vigonier and the gal helping us was so excited because it’s HER wine.  LOL. 

Our sugar fix taken care of, we meandered back to the bus.  From there we headed to Lincolnshire and the Marriott resort.  Connie and I got a lovely room on the third floor.  We had a view of the lake that was lovely.  About an hour later it was time to head to dinner.  A place called Dover Straights.  Dinner was quite nice.  A roasted pepper soup, salad, then your choice of steak, chicken marsala, salmon or fried shrimp.  Then, a choice of desserts.  The twice baked potato was every bit as good as Mom’s.  And, Connie’s fried shrimp were amazing.  After dinner one of the owners sang.  He was pretty darned good!

Back to the hotel and just enough time to try and sleep.   Except I’d forgotten to ask housekeeping for a blanket and was stuck with the puff.  I hate those things.  They’re just way too warm.  Particularly since I have my own personal heating unit sleeping next to me!
After a quick breakfast at the hotel – and a yummy omelet – we were back in the bus.  Trekking across all kinds of country roads to the San Filippo estate.  They’re the folks who own Fisher Nuts.  Jasper and Marian and the original couple.  He collects just about anything that makes music.  There’s an organ with 5000 pipes.  Gramophones  You name it, he’s got it.  We got a glimpse into the lower floor too.  Loads of gambling equipment.  I have no clue whose collection that is!  Then, eldest son Jeffrey and his family have moved in.  And, Jeffrey collects items related to perfume.  So, now there’s a gallery about perfume.  And, another entire building with a carousel, three train cars and more musical items. 

Three hours later our brains were stuffed with information and our eyes had soaked in so much beauty that it became clear that stop was the highlight of the trip.  On to lunch.  At a place called Chessies.  Connie had fabulous tilapia.  I had chicken parmesan that was just ok.  The peppercorn ranch dressing was some of the best I’d ever had!  And, the service was stellar. 

From lunch we headed to a place called Wandering Tree.  Lovely gardens and a fun miniature railroad set up.  The Japanese garden had a couple of great water features.  As did the rest of the gardens.  Connie loves to have his photo taken with his hand in water.  Needless to say we got a lot of photos of him! 

After that we headed to a chocolate factory.  Except the factory was shut down for the day and we were only going to get to hit the discount store.  Which was less than exciting.  Particularly since there was no winery next door!  Back on the bus to the hotel.  We had about half an hour before it was time to get back on the bus for dinner.  And, then, I got the text.  The text that said there was once again water in our basement.  I looked on the radar and there was lots more rain heading toward Indy.  We had a choice.  Risk more flooding or take a taxi to O’Hare, rent a car and drive back a day early.  We chose to not take a risk with the house.  About midnight we got to the house and Connie headed to the basement.  DRY!  We decompressed with a glass of wine and headed to bed about 2am.  With the alarm set for 3am to check yet again.  DRY!  We were in the clear!  Obviously, what the landscaping guy had done with the grade in the back had stopped a good part of the flooding.  Now, we needed the fellow working on the downspouts to finish his thing.  Which he has now done.  WHEW!