"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Carrot Bacon

Last night I was doing a vegetarian dinner of creamy lemon pasta with asparagus and thought a bacon component would be a nice touch, sort of like a carbonara.  I love carrots and thought why not carrot bacon?!  Slice it thin, marinate in some liquid smoke, roast it off and viola!  Having thought I was a pioneer of this idea, I went to google and found out I wasn't even close.  Leave it to those vegans.  Countless versions already done.  So, while not original, it was delicious.  Have fun and Enjoy!

6-8 large carrots
1/2 cup vegetable broth (could use chicken stock too)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sliced carrots into thin strips using either a mandolin or food processor to keep them uniform. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, soy sauce, olive oil, liquid smoke, and paprika. In a shallow dish, mix carrots with broth mixture until carrots are completely coated. Arrange carrot slices on a foil wrapped baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap. 

Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven and flip carrots. Put baking sheet back in the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes. (It might take more less time depending on how thick or thin you slice your carrots.) You’ll know you’re  bacon is done when the edges are crispy and the center of each looks dry. 

Carefully move the bacon to a plate with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature before crumbling over a salad or putting on a sandwich. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Creamy Lemon Pasta

This creamy, bright lemon pasta is just right for a great easy and fast vegetarian dinner. If you want to reduce calories, you can substitute the cream for a rich vegetable stock or chicken stock if keeping it vegetarian is not a consideration.  If using stock, I would add a teaspoon corn starch when thickening sauce). This also can be "hefted up" by adding sautéed fish, shrimp or chicken.

1 lemon

1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1# spaghetti
3 Tbsp. butter, in pieces
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 to 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste 

Zest lemon and slice into matchsticks. Juice lemon, strain and reserve. Place zest in a large non-reactive pan with wine and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and cook until it reduces to a syrupy mixture, about 1/4 cup, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour in about a 1/4 cup of the cream (stock). Stir, then pour in remaining cream (stock with corn starch). Return to heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened and reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain.

Return the hot pasta pot to the stove. Pour in cream mixture (stock), butter and lemon juice; stir, then add hot drained pasta and a few tablespoons of cooking water. Toss together and then the cheese in 3 or 4 parts, tossing each to meld with sauce. Add more cooking water if sauce is too thick and crumbly.

Plate each portion of pasta on plates and drizzle each with olive oil, a little sea salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Orange Beef with Scallion Rice

1 1/2 pounds beef top sirloin
3 Tbsp. peanut oil (can also use vegetable oil)
2 Tbsp. Corn starch
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets 
Zest from one orange
2 Tbsp. fresh squeeze lemon juice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flake

2 cups, plus 1/4 cup Chicken stock 
1 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sliced scallions 

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper 

 In a heavy bottom pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add rice and mix to coat completely.  Heat rice for 2 to 3 minutes, stir. Add chicken stock (or water), scallions and salt. (Taste liquid, it should taste like soup.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed. Turn off heat and reserve covered.

In a small bowl whisk together orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt; Set aside. Trim beef and slice into strips, lay out on a pan lined with paper towel. Season with salt and fresh black pepper. Toss with cornstarch and coat evenly.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat until hot. (you should see the top of the oil start shimmer smoke lightly) add beef, turn heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until know longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger, cook another minute.  Add broccoli, stir and cook until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in reserved sauce, 1/4 cup chicken stock, orange zest, lemon juice and crushed red pepper flake. Cook, stirring until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. 

Serve on a bed of the scallion rice and Enjoy!

Menu 11/25 - 12/1

Christmas Party at Bob and Tammy's

Chinese Orange Beef with Broccoli
Scallion Rice

Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Dill Butter
Pan Roasted Kale with Garlic and Chiles

Lemon Pasta
Sautéed Zucchini Squash with Italian Herbs
Chopped Romaine Salad with Roasted Beets

Dinner out - Celebrating E's Birthday

Christmas Party at Gil's

Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri sauce
Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash
Oven Roasted Carrots with Golden Raisins and Moroccan Spice

Skillet Apple Pie

Apple pie, especially this time of year (any time actually) is an absolute go to for dessert.  This preparation is so easy that you could just about have pie any day of the week, not just for a special occasion.  I know, your waistline will curse this recipe, but your taste buds will go wild.  The brown sugar and butter underneath the crust on the pan bottom makes a fantastic, nutty, delicious note to this winner of a dessert.  Enjoy!

2# Granny Smith apples
2# Braeburn apples
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 package refrigerated piecrust
1 egg white
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Vanilla ice cream (or any other you'd like- Butter Pecan is great)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Peel apples and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Toss apples with cinnamon and 3/4 of cup granulated sugar.

Melt butter in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and place one piecrust in skillet over brown sugar mixture. Spoon apple mixture over piecrust, and top with remaining pie crust.  Whisk egg whites until foamy., then brush the top of the pie with the whites.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Cut 4 or 5 slits in the top for steam to escape.

Please pie in the oven and bake for 1 hour (you may need an additional 10 minutes if not golden brown enough) or until golden brown and bubbly.  If excessive browning starts to occur, shield with aluminum foil during the last 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack 30 minutes before serving. Top each piece with ice cream and enjoy!

Shredded Chicken Adobo Tacos

We had a hankering for a good street food Mexican. You know, double soft warm corn tortillas filled with Carnitas or shredded smoked chicken and all the extras (white onion, Queso fresco, cilantro, etc.) So, I found this recipe in the New York Times which looked very authentic. The only change I made was instead of cooking the chicken from a raw state, I got a rotisserie chicken at the market and remove the skin, then shredded. It makes this super fast and easy. Be aware that chipotle chiles are spicy, so if you’re not into too much heat, go lightly. The smokiness of the adobo does make this dish a total winner, enjoy!

(for the sake of time you can substitute a cooked rotisserie chicken and disregard the first seven ingredients)

4large bone in chicken thighs, about 1 1/2 pounds
3 scallions, left hall, 
1 Bay leaf
1 thyme branch
3 black peppercorns
1 allspice berry
2 cloves
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
1/2 cup chicken broth
8 fresh corn tortillas


One small white onion, finally chopped, soaked and ice water for 10 minutes and drained
Finley sliced Serrano chiles, can use jalapeño instead
Sliced radishes
Sliced avocado
Crumbled case so fresco or mild feta cheese
Crème fraiche or Mexican Crema
Cilantro sprigs
Dried oregano
Lime wedges
(Disregard the first step if you’re using cooked chicken. Just shred and reserved for the steps that follow)
Put chicken thighs in a sauce pan and cover with 3 cups of water. Add scallions, Bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove chicken and cool. Shred chicken with your fingers, discarding skin and bone. Strain broth and reserve; you should have about 2 cups shredded chicken.

Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion, season with salt and cook until softened in a bit browned, about 5minutes. Add garlic and cumin, cook for one more minute. Add chop chipotle chili in adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add shredded chicken and stir to coat. Add chicken broth and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until sauce is thickened somewhat. Correct seasoning with salt if needed. Keep warm.

Warm the tortillas over steam, keeping them soft and pliable. I like to stack what I need, wrap them in tinfoil and put in 350°F oven for five minutes. If I need to hold them warm for any length of time, reduce oven temperature to 180°F.

 Build the tacos quickly: put a spoonful of the saucy chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with a teaspoon of chopped white onion, a few slivers of Serrano chili, some radish and avocado slices, a teaspoon of queso fresco and a teaspoon of Crema. Add a few cilantro sprigs and a small pinch of oregano. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side. Ole, enjoy!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mexican Slaw

Juice from 2 limes
1Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 dried arbol chile, stemmed, seeded and cut into rings
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 C. shredded peeled jicama
3 medium raw beets, peeled and shredded
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated

In a small mix bowl combine the first 6 ingredients and whisk together to form the dressing for your salad. Reserve.  In a large bowl, mix together the jicama, beets, and cucumber.  Top with dressing and toss to fully coat.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (can be as long as overnight).  Serve cold and Enjoy!

Thanksgiving 2017

Ahh, once again we are at my favorite holiday; nothing beats it.  I find there is something magical about getting into the kitchen with family and friends (yes, at my house we all join in) and cooking a terrific meal together.  Then, sitting down around the table with a few more (many) bottles of great wine and having a really long dinner with tons of conversation, laughs, and reflection on why we are so fortunate to have the love of those that mean so much to us.  It is truly a special time and I love it!

This year we are going with very simple appetizers, but crowd favorites.  A dry brined bird, which Kim will expertly roast off in the oven. And, yes you do see Tator Tots on the menu(Ore-ida brand and they will go for a swim in the fryer to get that perfect crunch).  Many favorite sides and  lastly, not one, but two pies- both classics.  Enjoy!!

Appetizers –
Homemade Guacamole and Salsa
Warm Tortilla chips

Charcuterie board-
Serrano Ham
Manchego cheese
Fig spread
Kim’s Sweet and Sour Pickles

Dinner –
Brined and Roasted Whole Turkey
Pan Gravy
Balsamic Glazed Caramelized Shallots
Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Walnuts
Sausage and Herb Dressing
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Tator Tots with Spicy Ketchup
Maple Glazed Root Vegetables
Parmesan and Bacon Green Beans
Skillet Apple Pie, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Warm Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Weekly Menu: 11/18 - 11/25

Tilapia with Crab and Spinach Stuffing
Lyonnaise Potatoes
Roasted Carrots with Onion

Pork Carnitas with Warm Corn Tortillas
Black Bean Salad with Avocado, Cilantro, and Lime
Mexican Style Slaw

Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry
Steamed Rice with Scallions

Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup
Romaine Salad with Caramelized Shallot Vinaigrette

Beef Chili
Jalapeno Corn Bread

Thanksgiving Dinner- "The Best Holiday of the Year!!"

Dinner out

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tilapia with a Crab and Spinach Stuffing

Makes 4 servings

4 Tilapia filets
8 oz. Crab claw meat
½ sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
6 portabella mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 oz. olive oil
2 oz. butter, plus some to grease baking dish
12 oz. bag of frozen spinach
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. dry vermouth
2 Tsp. Old Bay seasoning
½ C. Panko breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400⁰ F

Place a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and butter.  Once butter has melted, add onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until soften; add spinach and cook until most of the liquid has been evaporated, 8-10 minutes.  Add vermouth and reduce by half.  Add cheese and crab, gentle stir together.  Season with Old Bay and correct seasonings with salt and pepper.  Remove stuffing from heat and reserve.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish with soften butter.  Place tilapia filets in dish, season with salt and pepper.  Divide stuffing amongst the four filets gently patting down onto fish.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and drizzle with olive oil.  Place into hot oven for 20-25 minutes until fish is cooked.  Turn oven’s broiler on high and move the dish to the top rack.  Cook another 3-5 minutes under the broiler to deepen the golden color.  Remove and serve.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Best Roast Chicken; Trust Me!

Dry brining with salt before roasting in a very hot oven is the secret to this scrumptious recipe.  Once you are ready to cook the chicken, you can always hit it with herbs and spices (a rub) to enhance the flavors.  Some coriander, red pepper flake and mustard powder makes a nice warm glow to the bird.  Or, just some coarsely ground fennel seeds and black peppercorns.  Also, curry and garlic powder mixed and sprinkled on is very nice.  It’s almost limitless the fun you can have.  Just plain is also amazing.  Lastly, you can always arrange some veggies around the bird as it goes into the oven for a built-in side dish.  Onions, carrots, celery, and russet potatoes are good go-to’s.  But, don’t forget winter squash (like Kabocha or Acorn), fennel wedges, leeks, even some thick chopped bacon or pancetta can make a great accompaniment.

3 ½ -4# Chicken
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
12’ cast iron skillet (can also use an enameled cast-iron baking dish)
Olive oil
Kitchen twine

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with kosher salt inside and out.  Now, tie the legs together with kitchen twine and let sit for an hour minimum. (Salting the bird ahead of time allows the seasoning to really penetrate the meat.  An hour is great, but longer is better.  You can go up to a day ahead of time, just make sure to refrigerate the bird if you do.)

Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and set the cast iron skillet on the rack.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Once oven reaches temperature, pat chicken dry with paper towels again and lightly coat with olive oil.  Drizzle a bit more oil into hot skillet which will prevent sticking.  Place chicken in the center of the skillet and roast for 50-60 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should register 155°F.  It’ll climb to 165°F as the bird rests.)

Remove from oven and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes (and up to 45 minutes).  Transfer to a cutting board and carve.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu 11/4 - 11/10

Pan Roasted Black Cod topped with Shrimp and Spinach
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with a Fennel and Mustard Crust
Apple Sauce
Chopped Salad tossed in a Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash Loaf with Cranberry
Grilled Romaine with Parmesan, Roasted Garlic Dressing

Indian Spiced Red Lentil and Vegetable Stew
Basmati Rice

White Chicken Chili
Acorn Squash with a Spiced Cider Glaze

Dinner at Republic (Detroit)
Taste of France with Wine Pairings Event

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a Cabernet-Mushroom sauce
Oven Roasted Broccoli
Mashed Parsnips with Parmesan and Green Onion