What a busy fall!

Let me begin by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE!!!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZA!!! My beautiful niece and beautiful ‘adopted’ daughter share this birthday. It’s the big 21 for Liza….I wish you both love and joy!!

This has been an amazingly busy month and it’s not over yet. Two weeks ago our younger daughter was home for the weekend. Last weekend number one child was here. We had a visit from Liza, and there is more to come. This weekend a childhood friend is coming to visit. Phew!

Of course this means there was a lot of food prep and consumption! For our Moose there was an amazing Harvest Minestrone soup. The recipe is from MindBodyGreen and is amazing.

I made a six quart pot of it….. And then for my carnivorous hubby, I took out two quarts, added 16 oz of beef stock and mini meatballs. Everyone was happy.

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I made kisir with both Moose and Liza. The recipe can be found in my previous post “Food is love…… A totally fun afternoon…..”. Both girls enjoyed it and will hopefully make it themselves.

With Tammy there was a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So much fun! And a leisurely dinner at Aroma Thyme. where we enjoyed great food and lovely company. The festival was a hoot too.

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All of the usual suspects continued in my day to day planning….. Meatloaf, quinoa, chicken…..ooooh!!! So for Sunday dinner with Tammy here, I made a YUMMY pasta dinner….
Pasta
Pesto
Sundried tomatoes
Chicken medallions
OH MY MY HOW DELISH!!! And super simple.

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This morning I prepared the fruit and nuts in sherry for the first fruit cake cookies of the season. Thanks Ina Garten!

What have you been cooking up?

The flavors of fall are the best. Get cooking people! And enjoy!!!!

Flavors of Fall:: Comforting food for a Blustery Day

The weather has turned colder quickly and the leaves are turned and falling. The telltale crunch of leaves makes me smile. I remember fall with the girls….apple cider and Halloween costumes.

When they were little I always made spaghetti and meatballs on Halloween. It was easy to prepare ahead and eat whenever they were exhausted and had their bags full of goodies….. Sigh. My babies are all grown up.

But I still make spaghetti. Tonight we are having it. Of course, over the years I have changed and improved it (I hope). LOL

Now….planning ahead….. I will be making meatloaf again at the end of the week. I have made it the last two weekends and Barry can’t get enough. I wanted meatballs for tonight’s meal, and more to add to a soup I am making on the weekend with our veggie-tarian, Moose. I am going to make a Harvest minestrone for everyone…. and for Barry I will add meatballs to it. He likes his meat!!

First I put on the sauce. Today I mixed two large cans of crushed tomatoes, one small can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of paste…a can of water too…the small one from the paste. I wanted the sauce rich and creamy. I put a large onion, peeled and only cut in half, three garlic cloves, and a stick of unsalted butter into the pot. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce to simmer. I have already removed the onion, but the garlic I will pick out later. Rich creamy sauce….mmmmm. Now it really doesn’t need anything else, but I wanted it to marry with the flavor of the meatballs I was going to make so I put s&p, basil, and oregano in this time.

At the market this morning I bought 3 pounds of ground beef. I buy 80% so it has good flavor. And it was on sale! Then I looked for ground pork, and since there was none, the butcher went and ground it fresh….yes thank you…. 1.5 pounds and it looked fabulous!

At home I put both meats together and mixed them well. Then, of the 4.5 pounds, I pulled off three and bagged it to freeze for meatloaf. The rest was enhanced with flavor….s&p, basil, oregano, and onion powder. In meatloaf I use fresh onions and peppers, but I am going to make these small, so onion powder gives the flavor without the veggies causing the little guys to fall apart.

Anyway, all mixed…and I use the cook’s best tools – my hands – to do this. I began to roll them into small one inch meatballs. Into a sauté pan to brown the outside, turning them to get a nice crust. You need to babysit and turn them, but small ones take 5 minutes so not a biggie.

I put 18 meatballs in my sauce and gave them a gentle stir. This sauce will simmer all afternoon so the meatballs and the sauce, and all the flavors will cook together and be so yummy!! In fact, the house smells great already.

To stick to the spirit of Halloweens past, we will have spaghetti pasta. I often use penne or something fun like cavatappi, but today it is tradition all the way. Yum!!!

Now I know that it is not traditionally Italian to serve meatballs with pasta. And especially not acceptable to cook the meatballs in the sauce….but I’m sorry…..it’s good. So forgive my deviation from tradition.

Oh, so the meat I kept for meatballs actually made 18 for my sauce for dinner tonight. And it made another 28! They are cooked and cooling. I will store them to add to Barry’s soup. In fact, I believe that there will be enough for another meal.

So let’s recap…..sauce made, check! Meats mixed and divided, check!! Meatloaf mix in freezer for the weekend, check!! Meatballs made, cooked, and divided, check!! Meatballs in sauce, check!! Meatballs cooled and frozen for later this week, check!!

Planning meals ahead doesn’t take tons of work, just some thought. Spaghetti and meatballs will be enjoyed tonight and tomorrow. And soup will be made Friday. Meatloaf will be made Saturday. Wednesday and Thursday I have to plan, but easy enough. For the working folks who check me put now and then….planning is the key and Sunday should be your prep day.

What are you planning this week?? Whatever you have, enjoy!!

Flavor Seeker:: A fun new way to make roasted potatoes

I kept seeing these “Hasselback” potatoes in recipes and the more I saw them the more intrigued I was to make them. Nothing tough or complex, but the technique makes the ordinary baked or roasted potato …. Well, whimsical!

Preheat the oven to 450*. Take your potato and slice one side to make a sturdy bottom. Then cut slices down to about 1/4″ from the bottom and about 1/4″ apart. A gentle oil coating and a sprinkle of salt (I would put pepper too, but Barry isn’t a big fan) and in the oven they went. I baked them for an hour. Then I removed them….mmmmm……they already looked great. Crispy on the outside edges and creamy inside. But I didn’t stop there. Cheese was not only sprinkled, but tucked into the crevasses and back into the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese was melted and golden.

Whoa. So I made soup for dinner for Barry. Specifically I made broccoli cheese soup, so a cheesy baked potato made a nice side.

Who am I kidding…they are AWESOME! And they went right to the top of the keeper list.

Give them a try….you are sure to enjoy!

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Sweet corn and a two soup day

So yesterday I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen. I call it puttering. Among my other kitchen accomplishments I froze two bags of corn for the holidays. Freezing corn is so simple. I read a number of sites and suggestions and went with what seemed simple and sensible.

Here goes…. Shuck the ears of corn. Get all of the silk. No one wants to eat corn off the cob and get silk in their teeth! Put it in your best corn pot, cover with water, and boil for 3-7 minutes. I chose 5! After it is boiled, you have to shock it in ice water for the same number of minutes as you boiled it. Longer is fine, but no less. You can prepare a big bowl of water and ice, and at first I did. Then I thought, if I take the pot to the sink, run cold water in the pot until it cools and throw ice in there, it is easier. And I am always looking for easier. LOL

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Now I will give you another trick that I saw a number of chefs do and it works like a charm. To cut the kernels off the cob, and not make a huge mess, put a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl….

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Now use the small bowl to steady the ear and cut the kernels off as close as you can to get all of the deliciousness, but not so close to get hard pieces of cob….

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When you are done, take the small bowl out and break the kernels apart….

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Put the corn into freezer bags. Mark them with the contents and date.

Everything I read says that without blanching (boiling and shocking) the corn should stay fresh for 6 months. With blanching you can go 8-10. Frankly, I have frozen about a dozen bags of corn, and we have already eaten two, and I pulled one out today to use in soup…. So if I still have some left for the holidays I will be happy. And that is only three months away.

Phew! Now go freeze some corn and stop buying processed stuff!!! LOL

I made not one, but two pots of soup today. What better way to usher in the fall!? I made a yummy 15 bean soup and beef vegetable. Barry had the bean soup for dinner. He had seconds, so it’s a keeper.

I don’t think there are many soups he won’t eat, but he LOVES beans…all kinds. So bean soup is always a hit for him.

So we will talk more about soups, but I am tired. My kitchen is cleaned up, the soups cooled and put away, and lunch made for tomorrow. Time to put my feet up and ….. Enjoy!

Happy Fall!

I had a busy summer. Our Moose moved from Chicago to Silver Spring MD to finish her degree in DC. In between she spent a few weeks with us. It was a good visit as we got the chance to know our daughter as a blossoming woman.

Moose turned 25 while home and we celebrated by taking her on a wine tour….something she had dreamed about for years but never had the chance to do. The best part was that we didn’t tell her a thing. The surprise was worth it. The trip was fabulous!

Having not posted for awhile, I put up some food pictures on my Facebook page and one of my nieces, Katie, asked me where my “fancy blog” went. I responded that I had been grumpy and writing while grumpy was bad….I was encouraged to do so. Art thought it would be amusing.

So call me the Grumpy Gourmet.

Summer is gone and today is the first day of fall. Seemed like a good day to write again. I am already in full fall food mode and I have started my Christmas planning and shopping. Our Moose and her significant other split up, but remained friends. Having only three kids to buy for, Boyfriend declared that the extra buying power should be thrown in his direction…. After all, he had catching up to do on Tammy and Moose. Well, all had trouble not laughing and agreeing.

So Katie girl….. I am back. And I am ramping up the soup season. I have also been to the farms and gotten so much deliciousness. Corn this summer has been AMAZING so I have been buying a lot and freezing it. I will show you how in the days that follow.

With Tammy in a new job, Boyfriend excelling in his masters while still working full time, and Moose incredibly happy in DC, it is hard to be grumpy about my continued unemployment. Almost.

I have realized something odd though. Happiness is a full pantry. With uncertainty comes trepidation. In these times I find comfort in a full pantry and fresh food on my counter.

We will talk some more this week. I thought I would take a few moments this morning over my Sunday morning coffee time to say…..

THE GRUMPY GOURMET IS BACK!!!!

Back to my coffee and to……..enjoy!

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Flavors of Fall ~ Chicken & Apples in the Slow Cooker

I have all of these beautiful apples and am eager to enjoy the flavor. With family weddings and weekends away I have sadly neglected the crate in my basement! I made apples and pork, cranberry- apple sauce, and rustic apple pie. Today I am putting dinner in the slow cooker and using some of my yummy apples. I am also going to make another rustic apple pie for dessert.

So Chicken & Apples in the Slow Cooker:

  • 2 lbs. chicken ~ I defrosted chicken breast purchased on sale a couple of weeks ago.
  • 2 white or yellow onions ~ sliced
  • 3 large apples ~ peeled, cored, and sliced
  • a healthy pinch of Kosher salt
  • a pinch of ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 tbsp tarragon

It is really as simple as this. Arrange slices of onion and apple in the bottom of the slow cooker, making a lovely bed for the chicken. Place the chicken on that, and season with the salt & pepper. Gently pour the broth and cider over the whole thing.  Sprinkle the tarragon over the top. Slow cook for 3 – 4 hours.

Now if you prefer a different flavor, you could replace the tarragon with rosemary, or any seasoning of your choice. You could also put rice into the crock pot (2 cups cooked)! We are not big rice eaters, but how great if you are. Dinner in the slow cooker. Add a green or salad and eat up.

I will serve this with some potatoes for Barry and a green vegetable. I will make a small pot of cranberry and applesauce. And there will be apple pie for dessert for my hubby.

What are you making for dinner? If you hadn’t decided it is not too late to put this lovely meal in the slow cooker. Enjoy!

Food is Love ~ The Ultimate Comfort Food Dinner!

Last night I made a dinner that was a knock out! I started to make Barry the keeper chicken noodle soup that he loves but I had an urge to change it up. So dinner became Chicken Pot Pie Soup. Now I didn’t make a pie crust top but the soup seemed to need a pie crust somewhere. I had seen a soup recipe that suggested actually baking a pie crust and braking it into pieces (like crackers) to actually put into the soup when serving. Then I saw a savory tart idea. And as I always do, I changed the recipe and made it my own.

So let me talk about the tart. It was oh-so-yummy!! When Barry asked me what a savory tart would be like, I said, “Remember the rustic apple pie? Well, take out the apple filling and put in cheese, potato, and caramelized onions.” YUM!!!!

So here is my Savory Potato and Onion Tart.

Ingredients:

  • pie crust
  • fontina cheese
  • one potato
  • one onion, caramelized beautifully!

I am not a baker. I am not afraid to admit that and when I need a pie crust, I buy the ready made Pillsbury crusts. So for this savory tart I did that. Take out one crust and unroll it. To make the tart cook properly, place it on parchment paper on your sheet pan. Shred about 4 oz. of cheese in the middle to make a lovely bed. I always reach for fontina, but there are other cheeses (really!?) so add your favorite, but stick to mild, soft, and gentle cheese. Take one potato and slice it very thin. Make it a small potato because once you slice it thin you really don’t need a lot! Cover the cheese with the slices. Over all of that, add the lovely caramelized onions.
   

When you have nicely tucked the crust around the bed of flavor, put it into a preheated 375 degree oven. It needs 30 – 35 minutes. I will say again… no two ovens are exactly the same. I checked mine in 30 minutes and decided it need more time to get golden brown. I added another 8 minutes to the timer. It was perfect!

Now for the Chicken Pot Pie Soup:

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 boxes chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 chicken breasts, diced ~ I used a rotisserie chicken this time, it was on sale
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • salt & pepper ~ to taste
  • roux: made from 2 tbsp butter/2 tbsp flour/1 cup cream

I began the soup the way I would any chicken soup. Put a few turns of olive oil around the soup pan over medium high heat. Add the diced carrot, onion, celery, and (this time) potatoes. Salt the veggies to flavor them and to help them begin to soften. Cook the veggies until they are soft and the onions translucent. Add the stock, peas, parsley, oregano and additional salt and pepper. A small pinch of pepper and a healthy pinch of salt to begin. Stir and taste a little… if you need to add a little you can, but you can’t take it out!

Turn up the heat and bring this to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add the diced chicken. Simmer at least 20 minutes. While you are waiting for the soup to simmer, make the roux. (I actually timed things so that the tart was in the oven at this time too.)

A roux is simple: Put even parts flour and butter in a saucepan. On medium heat, melt the butter into the flour. Add the cream. You can use milk for a roux, but in this case I wanted the extra creaminess. Now add a pinch of salt and a little pepper. I add a pinch of paprika and a pinch of nutmeg any time I make a roux. Whisk this until thick and smooth. I needed to add a little water to thin it just slightly, so adjust as you need to.

The roux should go into the soup when it is done. I don’t recommend pouring it all in at once, but putting it in slowly and stirring it in well. You are looking for a consistency that is creamier than soup, but not as thick as stew. I already decided that I would make Chicken Pot Pies in the near future. The recipe will be nearly the same!

Well, dinner was a success. And we have planned leftovers for tonight’s dinner. We will look forward to this meal again. The soup was scrumptious and the tart amazing. It was hard not to eat too much! I highly recommend this warm and comforting meal. More importantly, Barry does! The tart alone would be filling enough for dinner!

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!