Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cooking School....

I was 'discovered' recently after posting a few recipes I found interesting on the Instant Pot Page on Facebook. A local physician and staff asked me to teach the use of the Instant Pot at their Keto Clinic and I accepted not knowing what to expect.

I have used our pot quite a bit since getting this one around the holidays. I believe I pressure cooked a whole turkey breast in there once but lately I have been using it to tenderize meats before grilling or prepping for other reasons. I know we had used 2 pots to prepare the Irish Stew recipe for the Rainbow House a while back and I was not disappointed in the tenderness of the beef we processed.  I have also used it for pork kebabs and other cuts that benefit from the pressure cooking process.  I had hoped for a 'test' kitchen but basically ended up cooking in the lobby of a local Physicians Building for about 15 ladies and gentlemen.  The recipe had to be Keto which means not many carbs so I picked pork chops and cabbage and added a few extra ingredients like cream, fennel seeds and Dijon mustard to round out the flavors and get a more interesting sauce for the meat. Samples were passed amongst the crowd and pretty well received. It was actually pretty fun and people seemed to enjoy it.  I tend to reserve my pot for tenderizing meats and shun cooking other stuff in it like eggs or desserts. There is a lot of precedence for that but it takes a while to come to pressure and does not seem to save a lot of time in that regard. If you are making beef stews, chicken stocks or beef stocks, this is great. It cuts back the time and need to watch the pot. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dinner for Nicholas, the birthday boy....

Shrimp Bake with Feta and Fennel

Nicholas celebrated his birthday with all of us so I had to have something special. Normally that means a big hunk of meat or ribs but I wanted a little lighter fare this day with the heat and this dish turned out great and definitely a make again. I found 13 to the pound shrimp locally so I bought 2 pounds and the rest was easy.

Mediterranean Shrimp, Feta and Fennel Bake

1 cup of chopped Fennel (about 1 large bulb)
1 can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
2 T tomato paste
1 large garlic clove minced
1 shallot minced
1/4 c dry white wine
2 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 t dry Oregano
2 T Pernod (opt) (most of my eaters with tolerate the faint licorice taste of the fennel but this adds a bit more)
4 - 6  ounces of cooked orzo pasta, al dente.
8 ounces Feta block, cubed
2 pounds shelled raw shrimp, tails on
juice 1/2 lemon

Bread Crumb Mixture

1 cup fresh bread crumbs ( four or five slices white bread)
 zest from whole lemon
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 T olive oil
Combine all and toss with a fork.

Use a large oven safe skillet. Heat 2 T olive oil and sauté the fennel till soft and a little browned. Add the mince garlic and shallot and cook for about a minute then add the white wine. Reduce this a bit the add the canned tomatoes, juice and all and the tomato paste. I let this simmer a bit then added the al dente pasta I have cooked in the microwave (drained)  This was my addition and I omitted the Pernod altogether.

I removed the pan from the heat, set the oven to 400 and topped the tomato/ pasta mixture with the shrimps arranged tails up neatly on top. I covered the dish with the cubed Feta cheese then the bread crumb mixture.  I placed in the middle of the hot oven for just 15 minutes and the shrimps were perfected cooked. (remember they were large so...adjust the time accordingly). Top with a final squeeze of lemon juice.

Served with a side salad and fresh French loaves, this was a big hit.

Surpise Summer Wedding

An invitation to the 'cabin' for 4th of July turned into a surprise wedding of my good friend Doug and his fiancée, Danielle. Such a great couple and we do dinner often with them. Doug and I have flown together once in a while and spent a lot of time training on the system we use at work.  He is relaxed and laid back as is Danielle and we have a great time.

Its was kind of a surprise but Brenda and I had our suspicions that were confirmed when we drove up and Doug is in full tartan and his whole family was there. So nice to finally meet his dad and sister. I have met his brother before a while back. Danielle's family was equally as cordial and accommodating  We stayed till about 3 or 4 then the heat of the day just overcame me and I wanted to go home but we were there for the good part and its just so nice to be included.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Summer dinner on the patio....

Last night Brenda entertained her co workers on the patio with drinks and a summer salad.  The party was a celebration of birthdays and work gossip as well as a  chance to relax and enjoy the summer evening which turned out ok. Not too hot, a light breeze made the evening comfortable.

The salad recipe is on the blog previously with the goat cheese croutons. I just added a healthy dose of grilled chicken to make it more filling.  We had a lot of snacks in addition, including fried green olives and assorted cheeses.

For refreshments Brenda had obtained a recipe from the bar maid in Iowa when we visited Matt and Lori. Of course the recipe was for one drink and I wanted at least 18 servings to make sure the conversation was well oiled.

Strawberry Lemonade Sangria for a crowd

2 Bottles of a good drinkable Pinot Grigio
1 Bottle of Strawberry flavored Vodka
2 cups simple syrup
2 cans of Sprite
Lemons and strawberries for garnish and fruit in the sangria

We  used Lemon Flavored ice cubes (yes, you could buy them at the store)  to cool it all down but had the liquor in the fridge and freezer before mixing  to ensure maximum cooling effects.

A good time was had by all and no one needed a ride home as we offered plenty of other fluids to keep the ladies cool and refreshed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eating Omaha....Barchen

We needed to get together with Jill to deliver some gifts for her birthday so we made plans to hit happy hour locally and choose Barchen,  a German Style Beer Garden in the Benson area.

Mostly beer but sadly, mostly out of beer. Nick tried to order several beers and at least 12 were not available so he settled for what was available. Not much of a beer drinker myself, I sampled a Moscow Mule which was refreshing on this summer evening. The temps were cooler and the shade provided by the large umbrellas provided a lot of relief.

We started with pretzels and mustards with a cheese sauce on the side. Very tasty and went great with beer as well as the Mule.

Jill chose the sausage platter for dinner. A large board came to the table with 8 house made sausages on a bed of sauerkraut.  A sampling of just about everything but it came at a price, $38 for 8 sausages. A side of coleslaw rounded out the fare. Just the right amount of acid to sweet. Most of the sausages were delicious. There were a few I did not care for but the platter disappeared after a bit. More than enough for the 4 of us to eat and that with a few beers and my drink totaled about $105 plus a tip. Pricier than I thought but a nice evening in a great setting with friendly service none the less.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Anniversary Celebrating


Its been a heady weekend of celebrations. Firstly, Brenda's niece was married in Campbell NE and when spent part of the weekend in Loomis NE. We headed home about noon on Sunday to a retirement party in Blair for one my dearest co-workers from my past.
On Monday, all the kids came for a cookout with the usual fare, ribs and sausages.

Tuesday was a whirlwind of shopping and anticipating the evening which included dinner at M's Pub followed by a night at the theater with 'Wicked'.  The evening affirmed my distaste for modern parenting and was further annoying to have the only men's room closed for the ladies.
Today was gathering what I needed to make our traditional anniversary dinner...Veal Saltimbucca and Fettuccine Alfredo. Before we left for the morning, I made the pasta dough and a batch of bread dough for the coming weekend. In our travels we stopped by the butcher for a pound of veal cutlets. Dinner was all set.

We have had this combo on our anniversary for at least the past 30 years. If veal is out of  reach then chicken acts as a sub.

Veal Saltimbucca
1 pound veal cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thick.
Bunch of fresh sage
1 lemon
1/4 c white white
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and butter

Salt and pepper your flattened cutlets. lay a few large sage leaves on the surface and then a slice of prosciutto. fasten with a wooden toothpick. Heat the 2 tbl butter and 2 tbl olive oil in a skillet.  Dredge the plain side of the cutlets in the cornstarch and cook that side down for a few minutes till they start to turn golden. Flip and heat the prosciutto side for a minute of so. Remove to a hot platter and deglaze the pan with the juice if a lemon and white wine. Add 2 tbls butter and whisk until a velvety sauce forms. Pour over the top of the cutlets. I like to add a slice of provolone cheese optionally.

For the noodles I use 3/4 cup flour, one egg, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water or more. It all goes into the small food processor until it forms a dough. I remove it and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours.  I roll it out to #5 in my trusty Atlas Pasta macine, let it dry a bit before slicing the dough into noodles. I dust flour if it gets sticky.

The sauce is simply cream, heated with few cloves of smashed garlic to steep then a pinch of salt, white pepper and nutmeg. A 1/2 cup of shredded parm then I place cooked pasta right in.

Monday, May 14, 2018

When Life Gives You Chickens....

Make a nice salad for work? We had fried chicken for lunch Friday for Nurse's Week and I took the leftovers home to use in a chicken salad for snacks or lunch on Monday for the staff. The chicken was a bit dry to be honest so I need something with a little fat and taste to it to rescue the dry meat. I found that after a debone the leftovers, I chopped the remaining meat and it made it easier to swallow plus I added a few white meat breasts to supplement the mix.

Tarragon Chicken Salad with grapes and toasted walnuts


4 chicken breasts, shredded ( I used grilled, lightly smoked chicken)

½ med red onion chopped fine

2-3 stalks celery chopped fine

2 tbl parsley

¾ cup toasted walnuts

1 cup sweet seedless grapes halved

1 teas dried tarragon or 1 tbl minced fresh tarragon

1 med lemon juiced

¾-1 cup Hellman's Light Mayo

Salt and pepper to taste



Friday, May 11, 2018

Eating Omaha...Maximos Cantina

Ok so its not really Omaha but an annexed little town called Elkhorn. A subject of considerable controversy a few years back. This little restaurant tucked into the corner of Main Street provided some delicious Mexican cuisine and margaritas even though we only sampled the Happy Hour menu.

We sampled a few items which made us full including 5 of the mini tacos in each flavor offered. The fish and Tinga were favorites. The nachos were Ok but the jalapeno
Crab rangoons were a big hit. The margaritas were good too and the price was unbeatable.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wild Hair

So the other day I had a waking dream about a salad which I do not do often, I admit. I was really intrigued with the ide of goat cheese as a crouton. How bad can that be? I need a nice protein to go with and Baker's accommodated me with a couple lobster tails on sale so dinner formed in my hear. Now to execute....

Looks tasty doesn't it?  I had to go to the store to fetch the lettuces, beets and lobster and picked up a fig and olive goat cheese.

The cheese was sliced into rounds, frozen for 20 minutes then dipped in flour, eggs and panko. Fried till golden in hot oil then lovingly layered in the salad amongst the chopped lobster that had been sautéed in butter, sliced fresh beets (super thin) and then dressed in a Poppy Seed dressing from Panera. It was really good.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Chillin and Grillin

Tonight’s  grilled pork loin kebabs in a balsamic vinegar marinade, first in the Sous Vide and then on a hot grill with a side of veggies. I reduced the remainder of the marinade for a sauce over the meat. Very tasty and a lot of leftovers for the rest of the weeks lunches.

The marinade:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbls dried thyme
2 tbls sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

I cubed a 1/2 pork loin into 1 1/2 inch cubes then I divided the meat into 2 freezer bags, added 1/2 the marinade to each bag and used water displacement to seal the bags. I let them cook at 137 degree water bath  for 3 hours, drained the marinade into a pan and reduced till thickened. The meat was placed in a grill basket over hot coals till a nice color was achieved. I served it with a bit of the marinade spooned over.
The veggies were large cuts of zucchini and summer squash, onions, peppers and fennel, doused in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Grilled till they got a little char in a basket then served along side the meat.


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