Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring is Wild Flower Season!

For the first winter in a long time, we had rain!  Rain means flowers as it starts to warm up.  That means a drive and a picnic!

On one of our outings we drove to an area near our home.  We drove through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to see the hills covered in colors...nature's palette!  Join me as we drive into the foothills.

It was a lovely, warm spring day!  I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday this week. 

Thank you Susan for enabling us to share our spring outings!  You can visit Susan and the see the other spring adventures at A Southern Daydreamer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Simple Butter and Tomato Sauce

I am delighted to be able to participate in the Saturday Blog Showcase! Each Saturday we have an opportunity to share a recipe that we have made from a fellow blogger's website. The hostesses are Ann at Thibeault's Table and Lori at All That Splatters. The ladies alternate weeks and this week Lori is the hostess. Thank you ladies for taking time to allow us to share!

 What was I going to cook on a Friday night when there was no way that I was going to drive to the store!?  What was in the pantry?  My daughter told me that she had picked up a small container of puttanesca that we could add to something...hmmm...I remembered my friend, Queen B, at Cozy Kitchen by the Sea.  In October she had prepared a dish that caught my eye.  It sounded great and looked even better so I knew that I would be giving it a try.  With two cans of diced tomatoes on hand, 6 Tablespoons of butter, an onion and angel hair pasta, I was ready!  Queen B credits the recipe to Giuliano Hazan and you can find it here at Cozy Kitchen by the Sea.

Preparation was a breeze!  When I served it I did have the small container of puttanesca available for those who like spicy and I also had some crab for those who like seafood.  The sauce was wonderful and no matter what was added at the table, everybody exclaimed how delicious it was.  This is an excellent example of a meal that is quite tasty, only requires a few ingredients, and doesn't take forever to prepare! 

Thank you Queen B!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chicken Piccata

The Kitchen Gnome is generous.  He claims that I make the best Chicken Piccata.  He has sampled the dish in some of the local restaurants and maintains that he is correct.  He is sweet.

I came across the recipe in 2002!  I make it the same every time.  I have only tweaked it a tiny bit.  Nothing can compare to the snap of lemon with the first bite!  The recipe came from the sample issue of Cuisine at Home Magazine.  Needless to say, I have subscribed since the sample issue!

I served the Piccata with Wine Lovers Rice and steamed brussel sprouts.  Steamed sprouts suited my timetable on this evening.  My daughter, though, just made Brussel Sprouts with Browned Butter and Toasted Almonds that she claims is the best.  It sounds as though it would be a great match to the Chicken Piccata.  You can get that recipe on her blog, A Bit of Butter

 Chicken Piccata
adapted from Cuisine at Home

3 chicken breasts, pounded, cut in half
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp capers, drained
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Parsley, chopped, for garnish

Season the breasts with salt and pepper, lightly dredge in flour.  Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.  Saute breasts 3-4 minutes. Flip and saute the other side for 3 minutes.  Cover the pan with an inverted plate, to warm it.  Transfer breasts to a warm plate; pour fat from the saute pan.

Deglaze saute pan with wine and add the crushed garlic.  Cook until the garlic is slightly brown and the liquid is nearly gone, about 2 minutes.  Add stock, lemon juice, and capers.  Return breasts to pan and cook on each side 1-2 minutes.  Transfer breasts to a warm plate.

Finish the sauce with butter and lemon slices.  When the butter has melted, pour the sauce over the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.


This is a favorite recipe at out house.  Fresh lemons are key to its success!

 I am participating in Foodie Friday, hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.  Take time from your busy day to visit and take a look at what the fabulous participating cooks have prepared!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage

 Before I tell you about my first experience with Corned Beef and Cabbage I want to share with you something that I recently learned.  I entered the name of my blog into Google to see where I might be...  Unknown to me, somebody has snatched my blog and has it feeding into another blog at  They have surrounded the blog with advertising..hormones, herbal remedies, etc.  The ads change.  I have been very upset that somebody would do this to make money.  (Guess I shouldn't be...)  It is so inappropriate! 

Out of curiosity I searched the blog name of some of my blogger friends.  I did not find that they had this special treatment!  (Thank goodness.)  My question to all of you is:  Has this happened to you?  How do you keep it from happening?  What steps can be taken so that somebody cannot do this?  I am very much interested in your experiences.

I remember eating corned beef and cabbage when I lived at home.  I loved it!  I love cabbage, corned beef, potatoes, of course I would love this dish.  I decided that I should make it as part of my St. Patrick's challenge but along the way I learned something.  I learned that Corned Beef And Cabbage is not Irish.  I had no idea.  My curiosity was sparked when JanMary left  me a St. Patrick's Day greeting along with the following note, "I have never had or made corned beef - but I think we are missing out here in Ireland and need to give it a try!"  What?  It isn't Irish?

The researcher in me started reading...I learned that before the mid-19th century Ireland exported most of its beef so it was not readily available to the majority of Irish citizens.  It was an indulgence of royalty.  Beef was raised for dairy products, sheep were raised for wool leaving pigs for the peasants to eat. 

Irish emigrants found their way to America after the potato blight in the mid-19th century.  They saw that corned beef was more readily available here.  They ate corned beef and cabbage not because they were Irish but because these items were inexpensive, available, and popular among the working class!

It wasn't until the 1920's that corned beef and cabbage came to have an association with Irish cooking!

So, thank you JanMary and Kathleen for letting me know that this dish is not a traditional Irish meal!

Some folks rinse their corned beef and then add the spices:  allspice, bay, salt...I took the shortest path to a good meal!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

2 to 2 1/2 pound corned beef brisket (uncooked) in brine
1/2 large head cabbage, chopped, medium-sized pieces
8-10 small red potatoes, halved or quartered
3 carrots, peeled and chunked

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the corned beef in a large Dutch oven that has a tight fitting lid.  Cover the corned beef with water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and place in the oven, braise until very tender, about 4 hours.

Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and cover with foil.  Add the cabbage, potatoes and carrots to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage, potatoes and carrots to a large platter.  Slice the corned beef and arrange around the vegetables.  Spoon additional cooking liquid over the corned beef, if desired.
Serve with mustard or a Horseradish sauce.


This is such a simple dish that I have no idea why it took me so long to make it!
Don't wait!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Potato - Shepherd's Pie and Colcannon

The Potato...How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I adore the potato. It can be prepared in so many ways...but, for this German girl to participate in Cuisine Kathleen's second annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl, there had to be some research. I hit the books, cookbooks, that is. I hit my folder of clipped, printed, and saved recipes. I found a number of Irish potato dishes that I had always wanted to make but I never seemed to get to it. In fact, I found too many recipes...

I decided to first put together an Irish Shepherd's Pie. It is made with round steak cut into cubes instead of ground beef or lamb. This was outstanding! The family had no difficulty eating this "warm up your tummy" dish! I morphed about three recipes together to come up with this recipe...and I am glad that I did!

Irish Shepherd's Pie

Serves 6

Potato Topping
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup Irish Cheese, or cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 pound lean round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 cup pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup beef stock, divided
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup Irish Cheese, or cheddar, grated
2 Tbsp parsley or green tops of scallions for garnish

Boil potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain potatoes well. Add butter to the potatoes. Mix together the sour cream, egg, and heavy cream. Combine the mixture with the potatoes and mash until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 cup cheese. If the potatoes are too thick, stir in some more cream. Set aside for later.

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil then the cubes of round steak. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat for 5-7 minutes. Pour off any excess oil, leaving a little. Add the chopped carrots, celery, crushed garlic, onion and oregano to the meat. Cook together for another 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup beef stock to the meat mixture and cover with a lid. Simmer until carrots are tender.

In another skillet over medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter and adding the flour. Stir together for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of beef stock and Worcestershire Sauce until there are no lumps and it is smooth. Continue whisking while adding 1 Tbsp tomato paste and 2 Tbsp wine. Thicken to a gravy about 2 minutes. Add sea salt and ground pepper. Taste. Adjust the sauce to taste. More wine, salt and pepper may be desired. Pour gravy onto the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir in the peas. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler to high. Spoon the meat, vegetable and gravy mixture into a small casserole dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat. Top the potatoes with Irish cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with parsley or chopped scallions (green tops only) and serve.


This goes on my list of comfort food favorites.  I don't think it has to be cold outside for me to enjoy this dish! 

The next dish that I had heard about many times but had never tasted nor prepared, is Colcannon.  My daughter kept telling me that I needed to make it and, she was right!  This makes potatoes special!  It was her recipe that I morphed just a bit!  (My SIL says that I shouldn't mess with my daughter's recipe because it is the time....)  I saw many different approaches to this dish...and came up with a recipe that included bacon prepared crisp and crumbled!

I must also mention that my sister-in-law gave me the lovely bowl!  She brought it home from an Ireland vacation, for me!  I have a wonderful sister-in-law...she is so thoughtful.

Serves 8-10

3 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces, fried
1/2 large head savoy cabbage, cored, shredded
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half, as needed
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook covered, about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are soft enough to mash.  Drain.  Mash the potatoes, a rough mash, with a masher, add 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup half and half.  Mix.  Add the sour cream and additional half and half until blended.

While potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon and set aside.  Pour off grease and melt 1/2 stick butter in pan.  Add garlic and green onion and cook, stirring until softened.  Add the cabbage, cover the pan, and let the cabbage steam for about 10 minutes, stir occasionally.  

Once the cabbage is steamed, add the mixture to the potatoes and season liberally with salt and pepper.


It was fun to spend March exploring Irish Cuisine.  I even tried corned beef and cabbage which will be posted after St. Patrick's Day!  Take time to visit Kathleen Cuisine and see what other festivities are happening!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

I was intrigued with this month's Bon Appetit. It seemed to have so many different things that I wanted to try. In the article, "A Slice of Ireland", there is mention by the author, Andrew McCarthy, that in the Irish countryside, there are as many versions of soda bread as there are cooks. I thought about it, read the article and yep, it did seem that there were many twists to the recipe! We all like to put our spin on a is what makes us creative, it is what makes for an improved recipe. But wait, sometimes, the basic recipe is the best recipe.

I decided that I would try the basic recipe that Mrs. O'Callaghan makes at the Ballinalacken Castle Country House and Restaurant. It is said to have a firmness to its texture and a sweetness that lingers after the first taste...why not try it?

What is soda bread? Soda bread originated about 1840 when soda as a leavening agent was introduced in Ireland. The bread is rather basic...flour, buttermilk, soda, butter...and in this recipe some brown sugar.

There is a cross cut in the dough prior to baking. There are said to be several reasons why the bread has a cross. One legend says that folks did it to "let the devil out" while it's baking...for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. The criss-cross was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays.

The recipe, as written, produced a dough that was anything but shaggy! After reading the reviews I see that most folks added another 1/2 cup of buttermilk which is what I am recommending. The bread's flavor was wonderful. I will be making this again.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled margarine or butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups buttermilk (add additional, about 1/2 cup, to get the dough to shaggy)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Spray heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray. (I used a pizza stone.)

Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add margarine and cut in until margarine is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add buttermilk; stir until shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 7-inch round. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough. (I made two six inch loaves instead of one.)

Bake bread until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Individual Meat Loaves

Time goes by is time for another Ina Garten recipe. Barefoot Bloggers were to prepare Individual Meat Loaves for today. Tonya of What's on My Plate selected the recipe for us. Thank you Tonya!

I had not prepared meatloaf in many years. I could never find a recipe that ever motivated me! My mom always made meatloaf...with Lipton Onion Soup mix. The onion flavor in that mixture was way too strong for me. So, you know that I raised an eyebrow when I saw that I needed three cups of chopped onions for this recipe. That was a bit much for me, however, I found one very large onion and it came to three cups.

As it turned out, the flavor wasn't too strong...there was just a lot of onion! I think when I prepare this again, I will add more spices. I thought the flavor was a little flat...even with all of that onion!!

You can get the recipe here at Food Network. This was easy to prepare and it made a few meals! There really is nothing better than a meatloaf sandwich, is there?

After a few steps....dinner!

Step 1 Saute the onions and spices.

Step 2: Add the tomato paste, worchestershire and other ingredients.

Step 3: Mix onion mixture and hamburger meat.

Step 4: Shape into individual meatloaves and bake.

Serve with potatoes and asparagus! Yum!

Sunday, March 7, 2010






Susan at A Southern Daydreamer is hosting Outdoor Wednesday. Stop by and watch winter turn to spring!

Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake

Every once in a while we like to have a cake around the house. I like those that can double over as a breakfast cake. I never seem to have time to sit down in the morning and have a breakfast. I usually grab a banana, a carton of yogurt or something else that is quick. To me this cake is more of a breakfast cake. It is not too sweet. The flavor is subtle. It is perfect with coffee or tea.

Cardamom Vanilla Pound Cake
Gourmet, March 2009

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar in mixer at medium speed, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in lemon juice until combined well. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top. Gently rap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.

Beat cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla extract using whisk attachment of mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve cake with whipped vanilla cream.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Slow Roasted Chipotle Salmon with Pineapple Rice

I am delighted to be able to participate in the Saturday Blog Showcase! Each Saturday we have an opportunity to share a recipe that we have made from a fellow blogger's website. The hostesses are Ann at Thibeault's Table and Lori at All That Splatters. The ladies alternate weeks and this week Ann is the hostess. Thank you ladies for taking time to allow us to share! There are so many wonderful cooks out there that it is difficult to select just one dish!

When I first saw this recipe on Mari's blog, Once Upon A Plate, I knew that I had to make it. It was all that I could think about! It took me awhile but last week I did it! I was not disappointed. This was an absolutely delicious meal. The Kitchen Gnome said he would give it three thumbs up if he had three! Cute guy. He raved and raved about it. I think this one goes on the rotation!
Mari shared that she got the recipe from Pam at Sidewalk Shoes. I want to give both ladies credit for this one!! This recipe is getting around...and it is so worth trying. If you like salmon you will enjoy this preparation for a change of pace. Combine it with the Pineapple Rice and you have the makings of a wonderful dinner!

I did make a change to the recipe. I used one large salmon fillet. For the rice, I used a can of pineapple chunks.

Slow-Roasted Chipotle Salmon with Pineapple Rice
Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home

4 servings

3 Tablespoon adobo sauce (It is from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo.)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 skinless salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon scallions (green part only), thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 225 (F)

Line a baking sheet with foil, and coat with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.

In a small bowl combine the adobo sauce, sugar, and salt. Place the salmon on the baking sheet and brush the tops with half of the sauce.

Roast in the oven for 20 to 40 minutes depending on how thick the salmon is.

Adjust the heat to broil, brush the remaining glaze on the salmon, and broil 3 inches from the heat for about 3-5 minutes.

In a small saucepan combine the wine, sugar, ginger, and lime juice. Bring to a boil and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup (about 5 to 7 minutes) stirring occasionally.

Blend the butter and the cornstarch together and whisk into the sauce. Simmer until thickened (about 1 minute.) Stir in the scallions and serve with the salmon and the rice.

Pineapple Cilantro Rice

Makes 4 cups

1/4 cup onion, diced
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup long grain rice
1 can crushed pineapple, undrained (15 oz)
3/4 cup pineapple juice (6 oz)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
In a 2 to 3 quart saucepan (with tight fitting lid) saute onion in butter over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Stir in rice and saute for one minute more.

Add pineapple, pineapple juice, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then stir in cilantro.


A delightful meal.
This wonderful combination of flavors makes one savor each bite!