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Mom's Fruitcake & White Chocolate Bark

Well, I am hardly getting to cook these days.  Wednesday we had leftovers as Jim had a meeting here of our Let’s Dance Club.  He is now the president.  Thursday his senior golf group had a dinner.  The food was surprisingly very good.  I had salmon on pea risotto.  It was delicious.  Friday I could have cooked but, I had been up early and toured the governor’s mansion and then had a great lunch with all the Newcomer’s at The Yellow Porch.  I had a yummy black bean burger with salad.  We went to our local Japanese restaurant before dance club.  I had edamame and cucumber rolls.  Jim had his shrimp tempura.  I also ordered 2 squid sushi.  I gave one to Jim and he gave me his tempera fried broccoli.  Jim danced his tango with Rachael.   

Last night was to be our University Club Christmas dance.  One hour before we were to leave, we got a call.  Vanderbuilt University had a wanter main break and they turned off the water in several buildings including our club.  So we met Barbara and Joel at Giovanni’s in Bell Mead for dinner.  I had a delicious grilled octopus as an appetizer followed by pillow soft gnocchi in a tomato sauce for dinner.  They had vanilla galletto with chocolate sauce and Jim had some choral ate cake.  

Speaking of Jim, he woke up with strep throat this AM.  He went to Vanderbuilt Clinic and had it confirmed.  He is on Penicillin.

After breakfast, I started my baking mission for the day.  I made my Mom’s fruit cake and chocolate bark.  I haven’t made it in years as in the east, they only had cut up little pieces of candied fruit in the markets.  You need whole cherries and whole pineapple for hers.  I walked in Publix and there was my dream red and green whole cherries and whole pineapple.  Yesterday I shopped for hours in two different Publix and Costco.  I started making the fruitcake and found out we were totally out of butter.  So back to the market this AM and we now have butter.  

Ingredients:

1# candied red and green cherries

1# candied pineapple cut in large pieces

1# pecan halves

1 1/2 C white raisins

1/8t baking powder

1/2 t cream of tarter

dash salt

6 eggs

1/4 # butter (1 stick)

1 C sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients over the fruits and mix well.  
  3. Cream the butter with the sugar, beat in the eggs.  
  4. Mix the pecans in with the fruit and pour in the butter/egg mixture.  Mix throughly and divide into floured loaf pans.  Press down to release pockets of air as much as possible.  It will make 2 loaf pans or I made 4- (3 1/2” X 6”) loaves.   
  5. Bake at 225 d.F. for 2 1/2 hours. Turn out on a wire rack to cool.  

Next I tackled a chocolate candy recipe I saw on the Trish Yearwood show.  She used a lot of colors, I was going to use red and green, but they only had white or chocolate in Publix.  So I turned her recipe into white and dark chocolate bark with peppermint sprinkles.  Later I am going to turn it around again and Use dark chocolate chips with white melts with cocoa nibs and chopped pistachio.  I am going to type her recipe and you will get what I am doing.  

Ingredients:

1/2 C blue candy melting wafers

1/2 C pink candy melting wafers

1/2 C green candy melting wafers

1/2 C yellow candy melting wafers

1 12 oz. bag white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Special equipment a skewer or tooth pick
  2. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper
  3. Add the 4 colors of candy melting wafers to separate microwave-safe bowls.  Microwave each bowl separately for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for 30 seconds more or until just fluid.  (Microwave should be on 50% or defrost.  I highly recommend you melt over hot water.  White chocolate is tricky and can turn on you in a heartbeat.)
  4. Melt the white chocolate chips in a separate microwave-safe bowl at 70% power for about 1 minute.  If needed, microwaves at 70% in 10-second intervals until fluid.  
  5. Pour the white chocolate onto the silicone mat and spread thin white an off set spatula into a square or rectangle,
  6. Using a small spoon, drop and drizzle the assorted melted candy wafers over the top of  the white chocolate.  Then, take a skewer and grab the color around to make swirls.  
  7. Refrigerate to set up, 1 hour.  
  8. Break the chocolate bark into pieces and serve.  Store in an airtight container.  

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Chicken Bog

As promised we had leftover Monday and so Tuesday I had to cook again.  I had planned this meal to make with the leftover chicken, But Jim wanted to eat it as served Sunday.  So I used frozen chicken breast from Costco.  The recipe calls for rotisserie chicken, but this was easier.  During the Christmas season, easy is better.  

Ingredients:

2 T EVOO

1 C chopped yellow onion

1 C chopped carrots

2 t chopped garlic

1 1/2 C uncooked long-grain rice

1 t kosher salt

3/4 t pepper

4 C chicken stock

1 (4”) piece Parmesan cheese rind

4 C shredded boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken (1 whole)

3 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions:

  1. heat oil in a Dutch oven over mediums-high.  Add onion and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, rice, salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant and rice begins to toast, about 3 minutes.  
  2. Stir in stock, and add Parmesan rind, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until rice is just cooked through about 18 minutes.  
  3. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.  
  4. Stir in parsley and lemon juice just before serving and top with shaved Parmesan.

There is no way this serves just 4.  We ate it for 2 nights and we’ve decided that Jo will get the remaining leftovers.  

No need to cook tomorrow, lunch and dinner parties.  Lunch is at the Centennial Woman’s Club.  It is always a perfect menu.  They are very good cooks there.  Our wine club goes there for our Christmas party.  The evening party is Jim’s senior golf group at Temple Hills.  Club Corp can’t keep a good chef so we will see what is served tonight.  


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Chicken Cooked Under a Brick & Pear and Brussels Sprouts Hash with Crispy Bacon

Saturday we went to two parties.  The first was my Newcomer Group.  We really aren’t new, it is just we have not lived in Nashville forever.  They had a lovely dinner.  Next we went to Jim’s cooked group party.  The coffee group has wine club members and and dance club members and many other interesting people.  And again wonderful food and drinks.  

Sunday I started right after breakfast with dinner.  I took time out to go to John and Tamera’s house for a Holiday Tea with the Democratic women.  I am now an official member of the Democratic Women of Tennessee.  

Breakfast was bacon and scrambled eggs with pepper, mushrooms and cheddar cheese.  

Time for chicken again.  I fixed the wonderful grilled chicken from Mario Batali, Italian Grill.  It says to refrigerate for 12 hours.  Mine got close to 8 and it was fine.  It serves 6 so again, I cut it in half.  We have enough of everything leftover for Monday night.  

I used a prepared rice dish called vegetable paella.  I wasn’t keen on it.  The Brussels sprout hash from Costco was also a winner.  

Il Galletto Al Mattone

Ingredients:

2 young chickens (about 3# each)

3 T fennel pollen or ground toasted fennel seeds

1/4 C sea salt or kosher slat

1 T freshly ground black pepper

1 T chopped fresh thyme

1/4 C EVOO

About 1/2 C chopped fresh Italian parsley

Lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

  1. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut down along both sides of the backbone of each chicken and remove it.  Turn the chickens king side up and press down hard on them with your palms to crack the breastbones and flatten them.  Remove the excess fat and pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the fennel, salt, pepper and thyme.  Pat the mixture onto both sides of the chickens, coating them generously.  Wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and refrigerate  for 12 hours.
  3. An hour before you are ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator.  
  4. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling.  Wrap two clean bricks in a double thickness of heath-duty aluminum foil and place them on the hot par of the grill to preheat.
  5. Gently blot the chicken dry.  Rub the birds all over with the oil.  
  6. Using pot holders or oven mitts, move the bricks to the side of the grill.  Oil the grill rack, using a clean rag dipped in oil or a basting brush.  Place the chickens skin side down on the line midway between coals and no coals.  Place a brick on top of each chicken, cover the grill, and cook for 10 minutes.  Move the bricks to the side of the grill again, carefully lift up each chicken, making sure the at the skin doesn’t tear and place skin side up on the hot part of the grill.  Place the bricks on top again, cover the grill and cook for 15 minute, being careful to snuff any flare-ups with a squirt gun.  
  7. Remove the bricks, carefully turn the chicken over, and cook, still on the hot part of the grill, for 5 minutes more, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.  
  8. Transfer the chickens to a platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.  

While the chicken was grilling I made the Brussels sprouts.  Earlier I had fried the bacon pieces and cleaned and halved the sprouts.

Ingredients:

5 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces

2# Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 T EVOO

Salt and ground black pepper

2 ripe Bartlett pears, large dice

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven 375 degrees F.  
  2. Place bacon pieces in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until most of the fat has been rendered out and bacon is beginning to get crispy. 
  3. Place sprouts on a sheet pan.  Pour bacon and fat from pan over the sprouts.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Toss thoroughly to coat sprouts with seasoning.  Transfer to oven.  
  4. Bake has 22-24 minutes, stirring once during cooking.  Add diced pears and thyme leaves and toss together gently.  Return hash to oven for 4-5 minutes to warm pears through.  
  5. Serve immediately.  

The evening ended with a pumpkin pie I made earlier in the day.  Very good Sunday dinner.  


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Kung Pao Cod

This is the best Chinese meal I have ever tasted.  My cod fell apart so I could not serve it as a slab topped with veggies and sauce, but it looked Like a Chinese meal and was just wonderful.  This meal was for 6.  As it was just Jim and I, I used 3 fillets.  I made the full amount of veggies and sauce.  It is also very easy.

Ingredients:

6 fillets of cod, or other fir fish about 2# total

1 T reduced sodium soy sauce

1 t cornstarch

2 t grapeseed oil

2 t sesame oil

8 cz. white mushrooms, sliced

1/2 C thinly sliced bell pepper (red orange or yellow preferred)

1/2 C unsalted peanuts

1/2 C chopped green onion

Sauce:

1/2 C reduced sodium soy sauce

2/3 C water

3 t rice wine vinegar

1 T brown sugar

1 T cornstarch

1 T grated fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4-1/2 red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Heat a large nonstick saucepan on medium high heat.  
  2. On a cutting board or plate, drizzle the Tablespoon of soy sauce over both sides of the cod fillets, and gently pat away the excess with a paper towel.  
  3. Sprinkle the cornstarch over both sides of the fish, and gently pat away or brush away any excess.  
  4. Place the oil in the pan, and once hot, cook the cod just until golden brown and cooked through, turning once, about 4 minutes per side.  
  5. meanwhile whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  
  6. Remove cod from heat and set aside on a warm plate.  
  7. Add the sesame oil, mushroom and sliced pepper to the pan and cook a minute or two until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the peanuts and half of the green onion and cook another minute.  
  8. Pour all of the sauce ingredients from the bowl into the pan.  It will thicken almost immediately.  Stir and remove from heat.  
  9. Spoon the Kung Lao sauce over the fish to serve, and sprinkle with remaining green onions.  

I served this over rice.  We loved it. 


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Tuscan Sausage and Bean Stew

I scheduled to doctor appointments today, I thought very far apart.  The first was my eye doctor.  Nothing wrong, I thought, just the routine annual checkup.  Ends up my right eye is substantially failing.  Left eye stayed the same.  This resulted in a battery of tests to see if it was brain related.  So I was almost late for the skin doctor.  Here they decided that the medicine proscribed for all the itchy skin I have was not working and wanted to do a biopsy to ID whether it is an allergy or something else.  Meanwhile I have to change everything I wash with even laundry soap.  So in this busy season I have to go back in two weeks.  

The one good thing was this meal.  It is from the Dinner in a Rush WW cookbook.  Unbelievable amount of food for 6 points.  It serves 4.  There is a serving left.  With Jim eating, it is a miracle.  

Ingredients:

2 t EVOO

6 oz. fully cooked Italian-style chicken sausages, halved lengthwise and sliced (I used Aidells)

1 (10oz) package sliced mushrooms

1 small onion chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15 oz.) can channeling beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 t chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 t salt

2 C baby arugula

1/4 C grated parmesan

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add sausages and cook stirring ofter, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with slotted spoon.
  2. Add mushrooms and onion to pot and cook stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in reserved sausages, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, rosemary, and salted bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes.  
  4. Remove from heat and stir in arugula wilted.  
  5. Ladle stew into 4 bowls and top evenly with Parmesan.  

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