Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar Night Treat

We visited J Coco this weekend and had a great birthday meal with Ben. Fried stuffed olives were on the menu and we all loved them.  So much so that for Oscar Night we made some for appetizers.

Fried Stuffed Olives
Large pitted green olives
Boursin cheese (I made my own)
1 egg beaten
Plain bread crumbs

I stuffed the pitted olives with the Boursin style cheese. I made 3 stations, flour, egg then breadcrumbs. Coat with flour, dip in the egg and then roll in bread crumbs. Let them dry on a rack before cooking.  In a small sauce pan heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to 375 then fry the olives in small batches till golden, about 45 seconds. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Delicious.

Home made Boursin

2 ounces cream cheese
1 T sour cream
3/4 t garlic powder and onion powder
3/4 t dried thyme leaves

Mash all together and load into a small piping bag to fill the olives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shrimp and Grits y'all

Starting thinking about dishes for the Lenten season and ran across this Southern treat. Grits usually remind me of cream of wheat. In this case the savory factor over rides the breakfast blandness and the prep includes dairy so its off the list but I had a few shrimp in the freezer so...
The creamy, cheesy grits make a nice foil to the garlicky shrimp doused with fresh lemon.
This was heaven.

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb peeled raw shrimp
1 tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 fresh lemon juiced

For the grits
1 cup milk
3 tbls quick grits
1 c shredded white cheddar
Pinch of salt

Marinate the peeled shrimp in the oil and garlic. Prepare the grits by bringing the milk to a boil then slowly add in the grits, whisking all the time. When the grits thicken after a few minutes of cooking, remove from heat. Add the cheese and whisk till combined and cheese melts. Set aside and quickly saute the shrimps and garlic till the shrimp are pink. Remove from pan and add lemon juice to the pan and scrape up brown bits. Add shrimp back to pan and coat with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over grits. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

feeding the Masses...

 Mackenzie had a few friends for dinner and let me do the cooking. I love cooking for folks who love eating. She had special guests, Andy and Patty, her frequent travel companions, in tow and we had a pleasant dinner, pulling out all the stops.

I began with our standard Crostini, toasted bread with Sage infused butter, crispy procuitto, piquant provalone and topped with a sage leaf. I also roasted a breast of lamb along with the usual charcuterie.
Dinner was easy. Homemade pasta covered in a braised short rib gravy. a fresh salad with handmade croutons and our favorite oil and vinegar dressing. A few loaves of fresh French baguettes and a NY style cheesecake rounded out the feast.  Great wine flowed and kids, conversation and raucous laughter ensued. I believe we all had a great time.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


 So much going on it is hard to stop and write about it. Firstly, I have been using Nick's gift from Christmas and been baking bread from the new Cooks Illustrated book he gave me.

The Italian bread was intriguing and my first few attempts are hit and miss. I must use the temp probe before pulling for the oven. Makes a huge difference. I had 3 really beautiful loaves but one was a bit under cooked and I had to discard it.

You really have to get these up to 200 degrees or they will be doughy and unappetizing in the center. At the higher oven temp they will get very brown. Even with convection I might have to turn them half way through. This one was a little undercooked.

The recipe calls for beer since its a same day bread and not time to develop a yeasty flavor that a long rise provides.  A cup of Budweiser does the trick to 3 cups of Bread Flour, 2 Teaspoons of salt and yeast and a few tablespoons of water for a little more moisture. A rise till double after kneading then shape to a large loaf. Cut down the middle before spraying with water and placing in a hot oven 400 degrees.  Had a nice crumb and light crispy crust. But like I said, takes its temp. It will fool you.

Next on the agenda is a party for Mackenzie's guests at the house. Short rib ragu was ordered so I made my own papparadelle pasta.  About a dozen eggs later I had about 5 pounds of finished pasta for the freezer.

Then Valentines Day is on the horizon. It calls for Lobster tails, Filet Mignon and fancy fixings. I was able to use the Sous Vide for the meat and seafood. Tried a version of Serious Eats potatoes and everything turned out great. A bit of Bearnaise sauce for the meat and it was delightful. I may never cook a steak any other way.

The Lobster was just perfect too. The day took a lot of prep to prepare but the beauties I made it for are so special to me. Too much steak, left overs will become steak pasta for sure.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grilled cheese and Tomato soup

Nothing better on a cold winter's evening than a hearty tomato soup with crispy, creamy grilled cheese. Yum.
The soup cozy courtesy of Miss Mackenzie keeps your mitts from burn damage as you remove the piping hot bowl from the microwave. Gads, we are old fogies!

The soup was crafted from a quart of roasted tomatoes and garlic from the summer garden kept safe in the freezer just for tonight. Combined with some broth, a bit of cheese and sauteed onions then hit it hard with the immersion blender. A bit of thyme gives it some mystery and a nice pour of cream for mouth appeal. A little salt and a few grinds of pepper rounded out the rough edges. 

I had sliced Gouda, Muenster and American for the buttery grilled sandwich and topped it off with shaved parmesan before the last flip. So very tasty especially when dunked in the hot soup.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Chicken Curry for Sunday dinner

A cold Sunday after church here in Omaha. Before we left, I took some split chicken breasts out of the freezer.  When we got home I fired up the sous vide and cooked all the chicken, setting some aside for lunches this week. Meanwhile, I did a bit of research on recipes and found a lot of great ideas.

Here is my version.

Chicken Curry

1-2 chicken breasts, either cooked and cubed or shredded or cubed raw to cook with the dish.
1 medium onion cut into thin petals
Shitake mushrooms. I bought about 4 ounces bulk.
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbls oil
1 tbls garlic ginger paste
2 tbls curry I like hot
1 pepper I bought a Serrano and sliced it thin
2 cans of coconut milk I used Lite
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
A squirt or 2 of Siracha Sauce
Green onions cut diagonally

In my large chefs pan or wok, heat the oil till shimmering. If you are cooking the chicken, do it now, cooking till just done.  Remove the chicken and set aside. Drop in the onions and saute till it starts to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms, garlic ginger paste and pepper. Cook a few minutes then add the curry and let it toast a bit. Add the coconut milk all at once. Stir and allow to thicken just simmering. If your chicken needs a few minutes more of cooking, add it or shred your cooked chicken and add to the pot. Adjust seasoning. I found the coconut milk a bit sweet so I squeezed a lime in to tone it down. Garnish with green onions and cilantro or basil. Serve over rice.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Champagne Shrimp Bisque (when you don't have the exact ingredients)

Image result for champagne shrimp bisque 

 Two weeks ago, at the Fangman's, Lori made this soup for dinner. It was delicious and it was meatless day so I decided to make it also.

The original recipe from The Cottage Journal looks like this:

Makes about 6 cups

4 tablespoons butter
½ cup minced shallots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups clam juice
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound
Medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
Garnish: Gruyère cheese, chives
1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Gradually whisk in clam juice and stock; bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. (At this point, soup can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)
2. Cut shrimp into ¼-inch pieces. Over medium-low heat, add cream and Champagne. Return soup to a simmer, and slowly whisk in cheese ¼ cup at a time, letting melt between additions. Stir in chives and shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Garnish with shredded Gruyère and chives.
Note: Clam juice can be replaced with chicken stock for a milder flavor.

Tom's pantry version

 Not having  some of ingredients I subbed a few things with a pretty good outcome. The soup was velvety and smooth with a great flavor.

Firstly, Clam Juice. Well you can buy it bottled but what are you going to do with all those shrimp shells?  You are buying shrimp in the shell right? It tastes the best and has the best texture so once thawed and peeled, reserve those shells.

In a saucepan, place a medium onion, unpeeled, cut if half. Also a few stalks of celery, a chopped carrot or two, half a head of garlic cut in half along the equator and you shrimp shells. Cover with cold water, add some salt and a few peppercorns and in about 30 mins you have a quart of shrimp stock!

Next champagne? Well I did have a cup of a dry Chardonnay as a sub.

2 Cups of Gruyere? How about 2-3 slices of processed Swiss (melts better) and a little Parmesan to round out the edges?

I also subbed onion for the shallot, minced. Now just make the recipe with the substitutions.

I found the roux to be perfect for the amount of fluid listed and I used all Shrimp stock and it was great. Of course I had dried chives but they reconstituted well in the process. Taste along the way to make sure you headed the right direction. This was a great meal but lesser without of friends.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ravioli Soup and family

Every year about this time we venture west to Brenda's folks and have a quiet dinner and gathering. This year, besides the Stromboli, which is required to cross the county line, I brought a soup recommended by Lori last week. Ravioli Soup uses frozen ravioli but the rest is on me. Cooking for about 8 this will feed all with leftovers. The recipe for stromboli is elsewhere on the blog, explore.

Ravioli Soup

2 pounds of sausage I used Jimmie Deans and an Italian bulk  sausage
Medium or large onion chopped
5 cloves minced garlic or more
5 cans of tomatoes  I used all diced but a few cans of sauce would have been best. 2 large can of Hunts Spaghetti sauce would have hit the mark too.
2 quarts chicken stock
1 tbls oregano
1 tbls basil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces mozzarella shredded I used whole milk
A few cups torn spinach leaves
2 bags of  frozen mini cheese ravioli

Brown the sausage and drain the excess fat leaving enough to saute the onions then the garlic. Add the tomatoes, stock and spices let simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To assemble, bring soup to a rolling boil. Pre heat the broiler. Place a handful of spinach in each heat proof bowl lined up on baking sheets.  Drop ravioli in soup and cook till they float and puff a bit. Ladle into bowls over spinach then top with shredded mozzarella. Broil till bubbly and a little brown. Serve.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Started the day early this year. Made my popover batter and let it rest in the fridge. The results were magnificent. Thank you Serious Eats for all the tips and techniques!

Then I placed my NY Strip roast in the Sous Vide and we went to church. About 5 or so I took out the roast and hit it with my new toy, the Searzall!

Nick gave me escargot plates for Christmas so we had christen those with some Shrimps and cheese with garlic butter and a baguette left from last night. Just the three of us this year, we had a quite feast while missing the boys but what a feast it was. I made Bearnaise and Brenda made horseradish cream for the beef. Gene's potatoes, from my sister's brother in law's recipe and buttered green beans. So much food left in the house we can eat for a week!. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Eve with Friends....

Our usual fare for this day is a Sausage and Tortellini soup that we love but we have loved it for the last 5 or 6 years so it is time to move on. Normally the Orthodox fast this time of year but sadly we do not participate that much. We have a family and friend tradition which we have done for many years that involves our oldest and dearest friends, Jeff and Michale as well as Bob and Kim and whatever child is not working that day. In this case Mackenize, Nick and Jill will be present we hope.

So this year I searched my soul and Pintrest and found a Chicken and Mushroom soup that looked tasty so I made atrial run last weekend and it was delicious! Onward and upward. So here is the recipe we will be making this weekend:

 Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

by DamnDelicious below.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or more, as needed*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary


  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.
Original link here:


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