Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This will be my go to cranberry sauce (relish) recipe from now on. It is so easy and so good.


1 packages (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to thaw if frozen but I always use fresh during the holidays)
1 cup dried cherries
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, cherries, orange juice, orange zest, sugar and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until most of the berries have burst and liquid is syrupy, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cover, pressing plastic wrap directly on surface of relish and refrigerate.

Make Ahead: Can be made up to two weeks ahead and refrigerated.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Brittany made this for Thanksgiving dinner. She called it Mashed Cauliflower but I call it Creamed Cauliflower. I had a silky, velvety, light texture and it was my favorite dish of the entire meal. Brittany made it as a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. We served both but the ooohs and aahhhs came when everyone tried this dish. If you are making a heavy, rich dish such as lamb shanks or braised short ribs give this a try. It makes a terrific light side.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 Medium cauliflower head
1 Tablespoon of low fat cream cheese (I used chive and onion, but you can use any type)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves minced garlic 
3 Tablespoons of butter

Break up cauliflower into small pieces and boil it for about 6-7 minutes until it is very soft. Drain the cauliflower and dry it between paper towels.  Mix in all the ingredients, and use an immersion blender or food processor to mash it. Serve garnished with chopped chives.


Brittany suggested we make Butternut soup for Thanksgiving. It was delicious. We served it as an appetizer and called them "shooters". My sister's silver cappuccino cup holders made an elegant and perfect vessel.

Celery, onions, and carrots are sauteed until tender. The ginger and garlic is added along with the butternut squash cubes. We roasted our squash with some olive oil to give it more flavor.

Everything is pureed before the addition of some cream. When the soup is ready you make some whipped cream and add some chopped ginger. The addition of the ginger cream puts this soup over the top.


2 TBSP. Unsalted Butter
1 Onion, minced
1 Stalk of celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2-3 garlic cloves, mashed
2- 1 lb.  butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 4 cups)

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 small stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream for soup
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp. of the ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Add the butternut squash and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the squash is completely soft.

Remove the cinnamon stick. With an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup. Return to the saucepan and add the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

In a deep bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and fold in the remaining 1 tsp. of ginger.

Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve topped with a spoonful of ginger cream.

Recipe by Chef David Reardon


Thanksgiving Dinner 2011


Lobster in puff pastry

Sweet Potato Fries and Potato Skin Fries
with Chipotle Aioli and sour cream and chive dip

Butternut Squash Shooters with Ginger Cream topping


Roasted Turkey
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast


Sausage and Sage Stuffing with Cranberries and Hazelnuts
Focaccia Stuffing with dried Cranberries

Minted Peas
Broccoli and Gruyere Gratin
Mashed Potatoes
Creamed Cauliflower
Green Salad with Candied Pecans and Goat Cheese

Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish


Apple Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie with Toffee Walnut Topping

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It was raining on Sunday and I didn't feel like shopping. We were having chili for dinner but I wanted a little something with it. I had a box of Heart Smart Bisquick in the pantry and I remembered a recipe I had saved to try.

These were great. I love this biscuit recipe. **Quick and Easy** You can change it around to use whatever you have handy. Don't have fresh garlic? Use powdered or granulated. No rosemary? Use any herb you like. No Parmesan? Any cheese will work and I think a cheddar cheese would be even better.


2 TBSP. salted butter, melted
1 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 TBSP. fresh chopped rosemary
2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick
3 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup fat free milk (or regular milk)

Preheat oven to 400~. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a small pan, add oil and half the garlic. Saute on low heat about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add chopped rosemary.

In a large bowl, combine Bisquick mix, Parmesan cheese, and remaining garlic. Stir in milk and mix (do not over mix). Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Brush or drizzle biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 5 minutes more, or until lightly browned on bottom.

Makes 14 biscuits.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Beef dips are one of our favorite meals when we have leftover beef.

Start with this, a large grilled tri-tip, or any cut of meat. Cook enough for leftovers. Refrigerate for a day or two. Cut leftover meat into thin slices.

Buy a package of Au Jus mix and combine it with water. Heat until hot.

Purchase some French Sandwich Rolls. Butter them, top and bottom, and broil just until lightly browned.

Dip sliced beef into Au Jus and lay on the bottom of the French roll. Cut each roll in half and serve with Au Jus for dipping.

Prepared Horseradish is also good mixed into the Au Jus for a little zip.

Friday, November 18, 2011


This is a great dish. It should make everyone in the family happy. Steak lovers, pasta lovers, and salad lovers, or if you are Ron, a whole lot of love all on one platter.

I used flat iron steak but any kind of steak would work. A nicely marbled rib eye would really taste good in this recipe.

Penne Rigate Pasta Salad with Rib Eyes Steak and Balsamic Herb Dressing:

1 (1-pound) Boneless Rib Eye steak or steak of your choice

Steak seasoning (your favorite brand)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound penne pasta, or your favorite pasta
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups salad greens/spring mix

Season the steak with steak seasoning.  In a cast iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium high heat. Cook steak about 5 minutes per side until rare to medium rare  Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, follow instructions on package. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

On the chopping board, add the 1/2 teaspoon salt with the garlic.  Smash the garlic into paste with the back of your knife.  In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic paste, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil until well combined. 

In a large mixing bowl toss the pasta, the reserved pasta water, the dressing and the salad greens together.  Taste the pasta and see if it needs more salt and black pepper.

 Arrange dressed pasta salad on plates and arrange steaks on top.  (You can also toss the steaks together with the pasta before arranging on plates if you like).

Recipe from uTry.it.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Another winner from The Essential New York Times Cook Book. Sharon made it this week with rave reviews.

The chicken pieces are browned in olive oil and then simmered in a broth of rosemary, garlic, anchovies, olives and tomatoes.


2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4-5 sprigs rosemary
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups dry white wine
4 anchovy fillets
½ cup Calamata olives (not pitted)
3 ripe plum tomatoes halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
1.)     Combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl.  Add the chicken pieces and toss until evenly coated.

2.)    Place a large casserole over medium-high heat and heat the olive oil.  Add the chicken pieces and fry until golden underneath, about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken, add rosemary and garlic, and fry until the garlic is softened but not colored, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine.  When it comes to a boil add the anchovies, olives and tomatoes.  Partially cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked and tender and the broth is reduced to a rich sauce, 15-20 minutes.

3.)    To serve, discard the rosemary sprigs, and season the sauce well with salt and pepper.  Place a piece or two of chicken on each plate and top with a spoonful of sauce. 

Serves 4

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I made this out of necessity. It was Halloween and I was making Pumpkin Martinis. My recipe said that Trader Joe's stocks Pumpkin Butter. With all the ingredients ready I dashed out to TJ's and they told me I was a few weeks early for their supply of Pumpkin Butter.

I googled it and found a very easy recipe. It was great in the martini and we are still using it on our toast.


1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat/high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to low/medium and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Sharon made this salsa and saved some for me to taste.

This salsa is amazing. It is served over the Staff Meal Chicken in the poultry category but I thought it deserved it's own post.

It's a tomatillo salsa without onion or garlic. My favorite salsa is tomatillo salsa WITH ONION AND GARLIC but....there are just times when you want your breath to smell fresh. You can eat this salsa and have a close encounter without any fear. And, you can use this recipe and add garlic and onion when you want the real deal.

All you need to make this amazing salsa are some jalapenos, tomatillos, cilantro, and chicken broth.

Cook the jalapenos in chicken broth until tender.

Add the tomatillos and cook until soft but not mushy.

Transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor and process until chunky. Transfer to a bowl and add the cilantro and salt


1/4 pound jalapeno peppers (3-4 large), stems removed (not seeded)
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and stems chopped (1/2 cup)
1 tsp. salt

Place  the jalapenos in a medium saucepan and add enough broth to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the jalapenos are slightly tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the tomatillos and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatillos have lost their brightness and the vegetables are soft but not mushy.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor and process until chunky, add cooking liquid as needed to make a thick but loose puree. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro and salt.

Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Makes about 2 cups.

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Ron made this great dinner last night while I caught up on my favorite blogs.  Chicken Piccata, what a treat! He served it with spaghetti and a caprese salad.

Look at the color and richness of our heirlooms. Our tomatoes are still producing and better than ever. These heirlooms have been worth the wait. We have had an abundance of tomatoes this year begining in June. They have been the best tomatoes we have ever had. There is still some basil on the plants, but we know it's getting time to say good bye to summer and start to harvest from the fall and winter garden.

                           CHICKEN PICCATA

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3 TBSP. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 TBSP. all purpose flour
Additional all purpose flour

2 TBSP. olive oil

1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup low salt-chicken broth
1/4 cup drained capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Lemon slices for serving

Place chicken between  2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or rolling pin, lightly pound chicken to 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Mix 1 TBSP. butter and 1 1/2 TBSP. flour in small bowl until smooth. Place additional flour in shallow baking dish. Dip chicken into flour to coat; shake off excess.

Heat 1 TBSP. oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets. Add 2 chicken breasts to each skillet and cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil to keep warm.

Bring wine, lemon juice, and broth to a boil in 1 skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in butter-flour mixture and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in capers, parsley, and remaining 2 TBSP. butter.

Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Serve with lemon slices

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


If you have been to Hawaii no doubt you have been to a traditional luau. I have been to many in my life and most of them are quite touristy except for the Smith Family Garden Luau on the island of Kaui. It is the best and most beautiful of them all. You actually get to see the pig wrapped in ti leaves and cooked in an earthen imu oven. There is a ceremony before they bury the pig, great meal, and dancing and entertainment after dinner. We loved it.

One day I was thinking about digging a hole and cooking a pig in our back yard. I did some research on it and found a recipe that said you can get the same taste of the traditional Kahlua pig right in your crock pot with only three ingredients. I was skeptical but thought I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. Oh yes, it was good and we think it tastes just as good as we remembered. Only three ingredients....pork butt or shoulder, salt, and liquid smoke.

My secret ingredient is Danish Viking Smoked Salt. This salt is great, not just for this pork but as a finishing salt on grilled meats and vegetables.

I buy it from http://www.salttraders.com/ . Liquid smoke (that you can buy in any grocery store) is sprinkled on the pork along with the salt. Turn the crock pot to low and cook 13 to 18 hours.

                                                             KALUA PIG IN A CROCK POT

1-  6 pound pork butt of shoulder roast
1 1/2 TBSP. smoked salt or Hawaiian sea salt
1 TBSP. liquid smoke flavoring

Pierce pork all over with a carving fork. Rub salt over pork and then liquid smoke over the meat.

Place roast in a crock pot, cover, and cook on low for 13 to 18 hours, turning once during cooking time.

Remove meat from crock pot and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.

Use leftovers for tacos or burritos.

Add barbecue sauce to leftovers and serve in hamburger buns.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This week Sharon and I chose recipes from the  Poultry and Game chapter of The Essential New York Times Cook Book. I decided to make Chicken Roasted With Sour Cream, Lemon Juice, and Mango Chutney. This was really good. The sauce was tasty, creamy, and tangy with a little heat from the curry. The sauce came together in about 5 minutes and the cooking time was about 15 minutes making this a great dinner when you are short on time.

All you do is whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chutney, curry powder, and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and cook for 15 minutes. That's it!


2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), cut in half.
1/2 cup Best Foods or Hellmann's mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP. Major Grey's mango chutney
1 tsp. curry powder
Juice of 1 lemon, preferable a Meyer lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450~. Lay the chicken in a medium baking dish (either Pyrex or enameled cast iron).

Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl. Add the chutney and curry powder and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice a little at a time, tasting as you go. It should taste quite tangy. Stop when it is to your liking.

Spoon sauce evenly over the chicken. Place in the oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Season with pepper and serve.

Serves 2

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This is another winner from The Essential New York Times Cook Book. I'm having such a great time with Sharon as we cook our way through this book. I'm stepping outside my recipe comfort box a bit and it really has paid off. I may never have tried this recipe but I did and it was really good.

Pork shoulder is cubed, browned, and mixed with coconut milk, onion, butternut squash, and Asian fish sauce. After 30 to 40 minutes it's ready to serve with a splash of lime juice and some chopped cilantro. I served this on top of some white rice.

                                                     PORK AND SQUASH IN COCONUT MILK

1 TBSP. light oil, like corn or canola
 2 pounds boneless pork, preferably shoulder cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large onion, sliced
1 pound butternut squash or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 2 inch chunks
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 to 3 TBSP. Asian fish sauce
Juice of one lime, or more to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Place the oil in a large skillet or casserole and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the pork. Cook, without stirring, until the pork is nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Add the squash, coconut milk, and 2 TBSP. fish sauce and stir. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pork is tender but not too dry, 30 to 40 minutes.

Uncover and taste the broth. If needed, add more fish sauce. If the mixture is too loose for your taste, raise the heat to high and reduce it until it thickens. Stir in the lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with or over white rice.

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sharon made Shaking Beef from The Essential New York Times Cook Book this week. I was excited to hear how it came out as it is the most popular dish at the Slanted Door, one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants. The restaurant is in the Ferry Building and if you are in San Francisco check it out. It has a great vibe and good food.

Sharon and Art gave it two thumbs up. I'm looking forward to trying it myself.

Beef tenderloin (Sharon used rib eye) is marinated for 2 hours in garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and oil.

Vinegar, wine, sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce is mixed together. Onions are sliced and added to a hot wok along with the meat.

When the beef is browned on one side you shake the pan to release the beef. Butter is added at the end of the cooking for added flavor.

Sharon served this over brown rice mixed with scrambled egg, peas, and soy sauce. The recipe also suggests that you can serve this over watercress with lime on the side.

                                                                            Shaking Beef
1 ½ to 2 ounces beef tenderloin (filet Mignon), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 5 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine or dry white wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 scallions cut into 1 inch lengths
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bunches watercress, trimmed and washed, or 1 head red leaf lettuce, separated into leaves, and washed
2 limes cut into wedges
1.)     Toss the meat with the garlic, half the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl and let marinate for about 2 hours.  (Refrigerate if your kitchen is very warm.)

2.)    Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, remaining sugar, wine, soy sauce, and fish sauce in a bowl.  Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.  Mix about 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

3.)    Divide the meat into portions, and do the same with the onion and scallions.  Put a wok or a large skillet over the maximum heat and add about 2 tablespoons oil.  When the oil smokes, add half the meat in one layer.  Let it sit until a brown crust forms, then turn to brown the other side; browning should take less than 5 minutes.  Add half the onion and half the scallions and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.  Add half the vinegar mixture and shake the pan to release the beef.  Stirring if necessary.  Add half the butter and shake the pan until the butter melts.  Remove the meat, and repeat.

4.)    Serve the beef, drained of excess juices, over the watercress, passing the salt and pepper mixture and lime wedges at the table.

Serves 4

Chef Notes: I used Rib Eye Steak and served over fried rice instead of lettuce.

Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


A quesadilla filled with pumpkin? Perfect for Halloween. These were great. Next time I make these I will use some butternut squash puree. It will be just as good if not better.


2  tsp. canola oil
4 TBSP. finely chopped red onion
2 TBSP. minced jalapeno pepper
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree
1 tsp. chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo and some of the adobo sauce reserved
2 TBSP. chopped fresh cilantro

2 flour tortillas
1 cup freshly grated jalapeno cheddar or jack cheese

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 TBSP. pure pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1 tsp. chipotle sauce

Guacamole or salsa (optional)

Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and minced jalapeno, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3-5 minutes . Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant about 30 seconds.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add in the drained black beans, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add in the pumpkin puree, chipotle pepper, and cilantro and stir until warmed through, about 2 additional minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out skillet.

Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese evenly over 1/2 of the tortilla. Spoon the pumpkin and black bean mixture evenly over the cheese. Top with remaining cheese and fold in half.

Place filled tortillas into the clean skillet and cook, turning halfway through, until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is crisp, about 4 minutes total.

Meanwhile, prepare the chipotle pumpkin crema. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, pumpkin puree, and chipotle sauce until smooth and well combined.

Cut the quesadilla into 3 wedges and serve with the crema and guacamole or salsa if desired.

Recipe adapted from http://www.thebackburner.com/