Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Wine Braised Potatoes #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

This week our Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project group is sharing Braised Potatoes as inspired by Mark Bittman's cookbook.

Bittman offers numerous ideas about how to cook just about anything and then invites you to run with it. I served up these potatoes alongside Roasted Chicken with a Five Spice Rub, also inspired by this cookbook.  

You do not have to own Mark's cookbook to join us. Most of his recipes can me found online from the NY Times website.  We would love to have you join in the fun.  Just comment below and I will invite you to our facebook page

These potatoes were easy to make and were a tender, creamy and delicious accompaniment to the roasted chicken.  The recipe below will feed 4-5 people.

Wine Braised Potatoes
inspired by The Kitchen Matrix by Mark Bittman

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. chicken stock

Heat the olive oil over med high heat in a deep skillet.  Add the onion, garlic and potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes start to brown.  Deglaze the pan by pouring in the wine and bringing to a boil, scraping any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and liquid is reduced.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour or so, until liquid is absorbed and potatoes are creamy and tender.  Print Recipe

More Braised Potatoes

Sausage and Cinnamon Roll Muffins #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Welcome to this month's edition of Crazy Ingredient Challenge, a fun little group led by Kelly of Passion Kneaded and Lori of Lori's Culinary Creations.  It is kind of like the Chopped of the blogging world.  Two ingredients are chosen by vote each month and the members of the group are sent to create the best recipe they can using said ingredients.

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This month's ingredients are Breakfast Sausage and Cinnamon. Pretty easy ingredients to incorporate.  I was looking forward to making a savory dish, perhaps something Asian but then I went on vacation during the month.

Luckily, I was staying at my brother's house so I did have access to a kitchen and was able to make the recipes for 3 blog posts while I was there, including this one.

I took over the kitchen on a Saturday, making these tasty little "muffins" for breakfast before we headed out for a day of sightseeing and a lunch date with a friend.  I filled the crockpot with Chicken Cacciatore before we headed out to serve along with Fish Vera Cruz for a family dinner of about 20 people that evening.

That family dinner is one of the reasons I chose to make this challenge an easy peasy one.  Not to worry though, it is still very tasty and the perfect breakfast to hand your family as they are walking out the door on a busy day.

I simply browned up some pork sausage, flattened refrigerated cinnamon rolls and rolled the sausage up inside.  I had originally thought to just bake them like that but then I thought perhaps they would be more aesthetically pleasing as Monkey Bread.  Unfortunately there was no bundt pan available.

So instead, I cut each individually wrapped sausage into thirds and placed them into a muffin tin.  Then I baked them according to the package directions.

They were simple and delicious.  They make a compact, complete meal in themselves or they would be perfect served with a plate of tender scrambled eggs.  Whether you grab one as you walk out the door or have a leisurely weekend breakfast with family, these little treats are sure to be a huge hit.

Sausage and Cinnamon Roll Muffins

8 breakfast link sausage, cooked (I used pork)
1 pkg. refrigerated cinnamon rolls with frosting included

Remove the cinnamon rolls from the package and flatten with the palm of your hand.  Place a sausage on top of each and roll the cinnamon roll around the sausage.  Cut each into thirds, placing them into the cups of a muffin pan.  Bake per package instructions (400* oven for 15-20 minutes).  Remove from oven and spread with the frosting.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Print Recipe

More Breakfast Sausage and Cinnamon Creations

Monday, February 19, 2018

Gauguin Gnocchi, served up with a Book Review

Quite a while back, I ordered up one of the Nook deals that occasionally pop up on my e-reader.  This deal gave you the first three books in a series by Estelle Ryan.  The novel I'm sharing with you today is the first in that series, The Gauguin Connection.

See the source image

These novels sat on my e-reader for nearly a year (maybe longer) before I finally got around to opening this one.  Now I am kicking myself for waiting so long and for wasting so much time.  I read this on the airplane while traveling to California.  The trip went by in a flash, so engrossed was I with this well written novel and the characters portrayed.

The protagonist is Genevieve Lenard, an extremely intelligent woman who suffers from high functioning autism.  Doctor Lenard is an unparalleled expert at reading non verbal cues and as such has been hired by an insurance company to study footage of clients who are making multi million dollar claims.

The novel starts with Dr. Lenard meeting a police detective who is a friend of her boss and mentor, Phillip.  Phillip is the closest thing to a "friend" that Genevieve has.  There is mutual respect and trust so when Phillip asks Genevieve to work with this detective, Manny, she forces herself to listen and agrees to work with him in a limited capacity.

The best laid plans......Dr. Lenard soon finds herself surrounded by "criminals" who insinuate themselves into her life.  There is Colin, the handsome and charming art thief and forger.  Vinnie his huge, intimidating and loveable body guard and Francine a fashion model type beauty who can hack into any computer system around.

This unlikely crew all end up working together to solve the mystery of who is having forgeries of great works of art created and then killing those young artists that they have hired to paint the forgeries.  

Vinnie, as big and as intimidating as he is, has a very maternal streak in him and spends his time, while guarding others, cooking and cleaning.  One of the meals he served was his grandmother's recipe for Gnocchi.

I had never made Gnocchi before but this scene in the book made me want to give it a shot.  I found this recipe over at Taste of Home and served it up today for Meatless Monday.  This is also a great recipe if you are abstaining from meat the Lenten Season.

Every nationality has it's version of dumplings.  These "little pillows", as tenderly referred to in Italy, are their version.  I thought they were very similar in technique to Pelmini that I have made with my Russian daughter, Marina.  They are even more similar to Lazy Pierogi, that we make using Frank's Mom's recipe.

I learned a couple of things when making this tonight.  First, I needed about a cup more flour than the original recipe to make my dough able to be worked.  Second, the smaller dumplings were tastier than the large, so I will take better care next to use consistency.  

I used pesto to dress my gnocchi but you can use a marinara sauce, ragu or just toss it with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper.

I am linking up with Foodies Read where my friends and I meet up to see what the others are cooking, reading and eating.  Stop by and find some great reads and recipes.

adapted from Taste of Home

4 large, waxy, golden potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 c. flour
Sauce of choice

Place the potatoes into a pot and cover with water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and spread onto a baking sheet to dry and cool a bit.

Mash the potatoes.  Place 2 cups of the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Reserve any remaining potatoes for another use.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the dough hook onto the mixer and stir in the egg and the flour, a half cup at a time, until it is firm and elastic.  Let knead for a couple of minutes and then turn onto a floured surface.

Using a pastry knife cut the dough into pieces and roll into ropes.  Cut each rope into 1" pieces. Place each piece onto a fork, time sides up, and press with your thumb, creating little pillows with ridges on one side and an indentation on the other.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi in small batches and cook until they float to the surface, about 7 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a wire rack placed over parchment.  When ready to serve, toss with heated sauce of your choosing.  Print Recipe

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Spice up your Love Life with some Shrimp Etouffee #SoupSaturdaySwappers #Winophiles

Since February is the month of Love, Lynn of Savor the Harvest arranged for our French Winophiles group to be gifted some samples of French wines that speak of L'Amour.  She sums it up in her preview post.

We each received 4 very nice bottles.  I will be sharing my own thoughts, impressions and feelings about these wines in the posts that I write.  I received no monetary compensation for this or any post featuring these wines.

I have previously posted a pairing with the Cote-Rotie from Vidal Fleury when I paired it with a Perfect Baked Potato stuffed with Ropa Vieja.

The wine I am sharing in today's post was enjoyed at an early Valentine's Day Dinner that Frank and I celebrated before we left for our California vacation.   Knowing that we would be spending all day on Valentine's Day in airports and on planes, not to mention that we would also be observing Ash Wednesday, we spent the week before our trip having several quiet, romantic dinners at home.

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This particular dinner was my personal favorite.  I cooked up a Shrimp Etouffee from a recipe I found in my Cuisine at Home magazine.  I had never made Shrimp Etouffee before but when my friend, Kathy of A Spoonful of Thyme, volunteered to host our Soup Swappers group this month, choosing Cajun or Creole as a theme, I knew that this was what I wanted to make.

Isn't that a gorgeous graphic that Kathy made for this event?  Soup Saturday Swappers post on the 3rd Saturday of each month based on a theme chosen by one of the members.  If you would like to join in the fun just leave a comment below and I will be happy to add you to our group.

This was the most amazing dish!!  I couldn't believe how wonderfully rich and comforting it was.  I was concerned because Frank doesn't care for too much spice so I adjusted the measurements accordingly.  It was, in our opinion, perfectly spiced and Frank loved it as much as I.

Since Creole cooking has such wonderful French Influences, with those influences being very pronounced in the origin of Etouffee, I chose to pair it with the Savoie Cuvee Gastronomie.

While I liked the crisp acidity of the Savoie, I think that this particular dish needed a more fruit forward wine.  Perhaps a softer, more buttery white or a light red wine would have been a better match.

Oh well, I still have the Rose and the Saint Amour to pair and I loved this dish enough that I can't wait to serve it again.  I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, please enjoy the other Cajun/Creole Soups/Stews being shared today.  You will find links to these recipes following mine.  You will also find links to the other Winophile's L'Amour pairings at the bottom of this post.

I hope that you and your Valentine had a wonderful celebration.  I'm beginning preparation for our Chinese New Year Celebration.  See my menu here.

Shrimp Etouffee
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #127

1 T. butter
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
1 small rib celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4-5 c. chicken stock, divided
2 t. paprika
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. thyme
1 t. oregano
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
4 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/2 medium Vidalia onion
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (I used yellow)
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, flavored with garlic and onions
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the reserved shrimp shells, small diced onion, small diced rib of celery and the bay leaf.  Cook and stir until shells turn pink and vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.   Add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Strain the enhanced stock into a 4 cup measuring cup.  Discard the solids.  Add additional chicken stock to the enhanced stock to make 4 cups.  Set aside.

While stock is simmering, combine the paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Melt 4 T. of butter over medium heat in the same saucepan used for the stock.  Stir in the flour.  Cook and stir constantly until the color of peanut butter, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the medium onion, large rib of celery and bell pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until vegetables start to soften, about 15 minutes.  Stir in half of the spice mixture and the seasoned diced tomatoes with their juices.  Stir in the reserved stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  

Toss the shrimp with the remaining spice blend.  Add to the Etouffee and cook until pink throughout, about 3-4 minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed.  Serve over steamed white rice.  Print Recipe

More Creole/Cajun Soups and Stews

More L'Amour Wine Pairings

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fish Veracruz en Pappilote #FishFridayFoodies

This month's Fish Friday Foodies is hosted by Sue of Palatable Pastime.  A group of us get together on the third Friday of each month to share a fish/seafood recipe based on a theme chosen by the member hosting.  This month our theme is En Pappilote or In Parchment.

If you would like to join us in the future please leave a comment below with your blog name.  We would be happy to have you.

I just returned from a visit to my brother and his family in California.  This past Sunday we had a family dinner for about 20 of us.  This Fish Vera Cruz en Pappilote was one of the entrees that I served.  Fresh, tender fish filets placed on top of a tomato/onion/olive mixture and wrapped in parchment for a short baking period.  They were a huge hit.

I only made eight packets as I was also serving Chicken Cacciatore with pasta and my brother was grilling up some hamburgers.  Other family members were bringing salads, sides and dessert so I thought I would have plenty.  This fish was such a hit that I could have easily used another 8 packets.

This huge platter of fish was gone in a flash.  It was easy enough that I was able to throw it together after a morning of sight seeing and a lunch date with my friend Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Our guests arrived about 5 pm and we were all enjoying dinner by 6.

Please stop by the links below this recipe for many more great En Pappilote fish and seafood recipes. I can't wait to try more recipes using this easy peasy method.  

I am sharing a recipe for 8 servings with this as the sole entrée.  Feel free to adapt the quantities to meet your needs.

Fish Veracruz en Pappilote
adapted from Cuisine at Home

8 (4-6 oz) fish filets (I used Snapper)
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
3 T. capers, drained
1/2 cup pimiento stuffed olives, drained and chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon slices 
Olive oil, if desired

Combine the tomatoes, onion, capers, olives, jalapeno and lemon juice in a bowl.  

Lay 8 sheets of parchment, approximately 24" wide onto a counter.  Divide the tomato mixture and place onto the center of each parchment piece.  Lay a fish filet onto the tomato mixture and top with lemon slices.  Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Fold the wide ends of the parchment together and fold shut. Fold the ends to seal and tuck underneath.  Place onto a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Print Recipe

More Fantastic Fish Recipes

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chinese New Year 2018 Menu and an extended Weekly Menu

We arrived home from California late last night.  It was a wonderful whirlwind of a week.  We spent a lot of time with family and friends.

We spent time with our great nieces and nephews as often as we could.  We visited Avila Beach, San Simeon, and Morro Bay.  We went to wineries, restaurants and parks.  We walked every morning and had dinner with family and friends each evening.  It was a wonderful time and I look forward to returning next year.

But, as is always the case, I am very happy to be home.  I missed my dogs.  I missed my bed.  Most of all I missed my kids and my Little Miss Melody.

So we are getting right back into the swing of things.  Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  We have choir practice tonight and will be spending the next month preparing for our Triduum.

Tomorrow will be spent shopping for Chinese New Year that we will be celebrating on Sunday.  Saturday will be spent prepping for our party and our Angel Face will be spending the night with us.

Sunday is the big day.....Here is what we will be serving up this year:


Chun Juan
(Spring Rolls)

Siu Mai


Bok Choy Gai See Tong
 (Bok Choy and Shredded Chicken Soup)


Jo Moh Sang Yat Gai
(Grandmother's Birthday Chicken)

Char Siu
(Barbecued Pork)

Ji Geung Lo Mein
(Noodles with Young Ginger)


Hua Sheng Bing
(Chinese Peanut Cookies)

Next week is pretty quiet.  I am sharing the extended Weekly Menu today.  Please stop by each day as I share photos, recipes and snippets of our life.

Irish Beef Stew

Fish Friday
Fish Fry at Church

Pasta with Classic Ragu

Sunday-Chinese New Year Celebration
See above Menu

Meatless Monday

Toddler Tuesday

Dinner out after returning Melody

Baked Sweet Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans

Fish Friday
Crab Cakes
French Fries

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

German Pancake with Easy Fruit Compote for #BreadBakers

I am pleased to announce that I am hosting our Bread Bakers event this month.  Of all the groups to which I belong, the Bread Bakers group is the one that takes me out of my comfort zone most often. I am very grateful to Stacy of Food Lust People Love for starting this group and for allowing me to be a part of it.

BreadBakers#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

I asked to host this month because we celebrate National Pancake Week during the last week of February so I thought having pancakes as a theme would give our readers plenty of time to plan their own pancake celebration.

We are also sharing this post on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday as we call it.  Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, when Christians world wide begin 40 days of abstinence and fasting for the Lenten Season leading up to Easter Sunday.

image from Bing.com

Tradition has us using up all of our flour, sugar, butter, eggs etc. to prepare ourselves for the fast. It is celebrated in different ways in different countries but there is always lots of feasting, fat eating and gorging.

photo courtesy of Bing.com

Whether you indulge in Pancakes or Paczki or both I hope that you enjoy your celebration and wish you peace as we prepare for our Lord's death and resurrection.  

These German Pancakes, that I am sharing with you today, are perfect for National Pancake Week even if you are observing a Lenten Fast.  They are not overly sweet and they can be filled with fresh fruit rather than the compote that I am sharing with you today.

One pancake was plenty large enough for two adults and one toddler as today is also Toddler Tuesday in our household, or it would be if I were home.  As you read this, we are enjoying our final day in sunny California, visiting my brother and his family.  We leave to head home tomorrow morning.

If you abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, this would make a wonderful Valentine's Day breakfast to share with your love tomorrow morning.  

I'm really looking forward to everyone else's pancakes being shared today.  We have pancakes from all over the world.  You will find links at the bottom of this post.

German Pancake with Easy Fruit Compote

3 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
pinch of salt
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. butter
powdered sugar, if desired
1 c. frozen mixed fruit, thawed. I used a strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango blend
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2  t. cinnamon

Place the eggs, flour, milk, salt and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Place the butter in a cast iron skillet and place it in the oven.  Preheat oven to 400*.  When oven is preheated, carefully remove skillet, using a potholder over the handle, and swirl the butter to coat the pan.  Pour the batter into the hot skillet and return to the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed and golden.

While pancake is baking, place the fruit, sugar, water and cinnamon in a small skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Remove pancake from oven and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.  Serve with compote, fresh fruit or extra powdered sugar and lemon wedges.  Print Recipe

More Perfect Pancakes