Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Mango Chutney

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Mango Chutney....doesn't that sound wonderful?  When I spotted this recipe in the December 2010 issue of Fine Cooking, I fell in love.  Sweet potatoes are a favorite at our house.  They are certainly not a potato that should be reserved for just Thanksgiving or Christmas. They have a wonderful flavor and are very versatile.

I was especially looking forward to preparing this dish...smooth, sweet potatoes combined with mango be sure...a nice combination....on paper, that is!  I was totally disappointed in this recipe.  It just didn't seem to have much flavor.  What I expected would make my taste buds stand up and take notice was...well, blah.  I double checked to see if I had omitted something...nope.  What to do?

Well, I couldn't give up.  The next evening I added a little butter...more salt...that usually helps....I added a bit of cream...   This dish was going nowhere.

So, I share the recipe hoping that somebody will make it and tell me that for them, it was perfect.  Maybe somebody will springboard from this recipe and save it....if you do, please share.  I keep thinking it has just got to be good, but as written, this was not a fave at our house.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Mango Chutney

2 lb. sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 
Kosher salt 
1/3 cup jarred Major Grey’s mango chutney 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
2 small scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated) 
1 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger 
Freshly ground black pepper 

Put the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan. Add cool water to barely cover and a large pinch of salt. Boil over high heat until the potatoes are very soft when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the saucepan. Set the pan over high heat and dry the potatoes, stirring often, until any liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

If the chutney contains any large chunks, finely chop them. In a small saucepan, bring the cream, chutney, scallion whites, ginger, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat.

Force the sweet potatoes through a ricer or a food mill and into a serving bowl (or mash for a chunkier texture). Stir in the warm cream mixture and season to taste with more salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the scallion greens and serve immediately.


Let me know if you have tried this recipe or if you made modifications that worked!

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Mix Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum and Fat Camp Friday hosted by Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Hummers

We have been having some unusually cool weather in the mornings.  Hubby has been gone and I have found myself sitting on the patio with my cup of coffee or glass of ice tea just enjoying the breeze and reading.  As I read I heard a hummingbird "chirp" that was more of an alarm...or warning.  I glanced over to see that the little guy was positioned on a branch near the hummingbird feeder.  He would not allow any other hummer to feed.  He immediately chased "intruders" and returned to his branch.

 When he was still there the second day, I finally figured out that there must be a nest nearby.  I decided that if he was going to sit still I might as well take a few pictures.  When hubby returned he said that this had to be the most photographed hummer in the area.  He was right.  I spent a few hours each day taking pictures.

It was fun trying to photograph the hummingbird "battles" I got some really nice blurs! I was never able to spot the nest.  I didn't want to agitate the little guy.  He was faithfully guarding the area.

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.  Hop over and take a look!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sour Cream Cake with Blackberries and Blueberries, Revisited

I seem to be revisiting quite a few recipes of late.  As the summer berries start to appear in our weekly produce box, my mind jumped back to when I first started blogging.  I remembered that Ann, Thibeault's Table had posted a raspberry cake and that I had made it substituting fresh blackberries and blueberries.  It was so delicious and moist that I broke my vow about sweets and made the cake!

Sour Cream Cake
with Blackberries and Blueberries
(Adaptation by Thibeault's Table; original recipe at

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch Springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

2 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 or 2 tsp vanilla extract, to taste.
1 to 1 1/2 pints of fresh blackberries and blueberries

Mix sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, melted butter, and oil together.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda,

Mix the flour mixture into the sour cream mixture.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. (You may need to smooth it out over the bottom.)

Sprinkle with half of the berries. Spoon the remaining batter over the berries. Sprinkle the remaining berries over the top.

Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes. Test cake for doneness with a tester or a toothpick.

Let rest for 10 minutes on a cake rack. Turn cake out of pan, peel off parchment and turn cake up right.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (4 oz) cream cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together and drizzle over cake while it is still warm.


Yum!  If you have time, stop by Thibeault's Table.  Ann always has wonderful recipes to share!

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum, Sweet Tooth Friday hosted by Alli at Alli and Son, and Fat Camp Friday hosted by Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring Green Risotto Revisited

All of us have recipes on "the rotation" that we enjoy over and over again.  We also have recipes that make their way to the rotation but are prepared less frequently.  I guess a good question is, "How often do we revisit recipes before they are considered part of the rotation?"  I haven't really given a great deal of thought to that question.

While considering it I found myself categorizing the rotation...there are the seasonal repeats, then there are the quick repeats that require minimal effort on the cook's part, anytime of year repeats, cooking for a crowd repeats, it could go on and on I guess.  So, I don't think I can really answer the question without things getting convoluted!

Last week, though, I remembered a recipe that I had vowed to make again.  It was the Spring Green Risotto that I had made last year.  It is a wonderfully creamy dish with spring vegetables...peas and asparagus along with another favorite of mine, leeks!  It is a great dish but as a the prep.  This isn't a dish that one can start and then remember that the fennel isn't chopped, the chives aren't  chopped and the chicken broth is MIA!

This is a Barefoot Contessa Back to Basic's recipe that is so very tasty.  It yields quite a bit so we shared with the neighbors that evening.  They shared with us, too.  My neighbor dubbed the evening as an over the fence potluck!  We always meet each other at the side fence to do our borrowing and sharing.   I loved tasting her dish.  She made a wonderful polenta with mushrooms and a Tuscan chicken...yum.

The recipe for the risotto is here on last year's post.  The timing in the recipe is generous.  I think the key to the preparation is ladling the broth in a little at a time and stirring until it is absorbed before adding more broth.  It seemed to come together quickly.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easy Peasy Roasted Smashed Potatoes

I got the cutest little potatoes in the veggie box last week.  I love getting the little guys.  They are so buttery and creamy.  I decided that a quick high-roast would be the way to go.  It is so simple and I am never disappointed.

Easy Peasy Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Baby potatoes
Olive Oil
1-2 Tbsp Rosemary, finely chopped
Sea Salt (Garlic salt or Kosher salt works just as well.)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet.  Bake about 15 minutes until soft and golden.
Remove from the oven and smash the potatoes just until they crack.  (You can see I was too forceful at first!)  I placed a one cup measuring cup on the potato and applied pressure until it cracked open.

Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, sprinkle with chopped rosemary.  Place the tray back in the oven.  Bake another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with Sea Salt.



I am sending this over to Miz Helen's Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday, Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday and Mangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Friday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lindsey's Taco Pizza

My daughter is a good cook.  She is an innovative cook and willing to create recipes.  She gets an idea, collects the ingredients and all of a sudden we have a delicious meal!  Her recipes always turn out.  I called her and invited her to dinner last night.  At the mention of her Taco Pizza she was in the car and on her way over.

At dinner we talked about what to name her creation.  We made up all kinds of names...Pizzaco was one but decided that naming it what it is was a better idea, taco with a Mexican flair!

The crust had that wonderful crunch on the bottom.  I think that is because the directions say to pre-bake the crust for five minutes.  Sometimes we get so eager that we forget to read directions!  This time we followed the steps as written for preparing the crust....delicious crunch accompanied by Lindsey's great flavors!

Lindsey's Taco Pizza

1 Pillsbury Pizza Dough - Thin Crust
1 bottle taco sauce
1 can refried beans
3/4-1 pound hamburger meat (I used 96% lean.)
1/2-1 package Taco Seasoning mix
1 can green chilies, drained
1 can sliced black olives, drained
Grated Cheese (I used the Mexican cheese mix that came pre-grated.)
Salsa (I used hot, by preference.)
Sour Cream
Avocado slices or guacamole
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Cook hamburger per directions on Taco Seasoning mix package.

Unroll the dough onto a greased baking sheet.  Pre-bake per package directions.
Remove from oven.
Layer the following.
Spread taco sauce onto crust.
Spread refried beans over the crust.
Spread meat mixture over the beans.
Sprinkle chilies over meat.
Spread  cheese over pizza.
Sprinkle black olives over the top.

Bake for remaining time.

To serve, cut the pizza as desired.
Garnish with lettuce, a spoonful of sour cream, a slice of avocado,a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro.


This is so tasty.  The whole family loved it.  Thank you Lindsey for sharing your creation with me!

I am participating in the Celebrity Cook-Along - Pillsbury Doughboy hosted by Lynn at Happier Than a Pig in Mud.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Darting Small Packages

I thought that I should share something more gentle this week.  Last week's share was a bit scary and keeping one's distance from it is critical!

The hummers have been dive-bombing the feeders.  We have had up to half a dozen at one time dodging one another in the air.  These two guys were more thirsty than fiesty!

They are so quick that it is hard to capture them but I did get a few...

They can even share the feeder!

They are a challenge...but they are so beautiful!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer hosted by Susan.  Stop by, it is so much fun to see everybody out and about!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baked Turkey Breast with Apple-Honey Glaze

I was excited to see fresh turkey breast at the market last week.  Just the thought of it brought forth memories of great the house smells and how much I enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner!  I don't know what I always seem to save turkey for the holiday...probably because it brings back memories of how many hours of preparation the meal takes!

Turkey breast seemed to be a good way to enjoy the meal without hours of prep.  I kept it simple...just turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad and cranberry sauce.  It was delicious as were the hot turkey sandwiches that followed, the next day.

Baked Turkey Breast with Apple-Honey Glaze
adapted from Pacific Fresh

Serves 6-8

1 bone-in turkey breast, about 3 pounds
Apple-Honey Glaze
Fresh rosemary sprigs, garnish
1-2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place turkey breast in a small roasting pan. Loosen the skin and place butter underneath.  Mix herbs together and sprinkle under skin.  Pour glaze over turkey.  Bake, uncovered, 1 hour, basting with juices several times while baking.

Cover and bake 30 minutes more until the juices run clear or a meat thermometer registers 150°F.  Remove from oven and let stand, lightly covered, for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Transfer to a warmed platter and slice.  Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.  Use drippings to make gravy, if desired.

Apple-Honey Glaze
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

I made a little gravy from the pan juices.  I added some chicken stock and water to get to about a cup and a half.  I thickened it with a flour paste.  I also had some fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator so I sauted them in butter until softened.  Then I added a splash of sherry and let them simmer on a very low temperature.  I added the mushrooms to the gravy...yum!


Sometimes we just need turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy!

I am sharing with Make a Foodie Friend Monday hosted by The Saturday Evening Pot.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Praline French Toast Casserole

Last month I was supposed to post a Paula Deen recipe and participate in the Celebrity Cook-Along hosted by Lynn at Happier Than A Pig In Mud.  The month slipped by...I didn't think about it until the day I was to post!  I tried to hurry and select my recipe.  But, I could not even find the cookbook.  The Kitchen Gnome suggested I look under the mayonnaise!  I laughed when I finally found it under the mayonnaise and next to the butter!

There is no mayonnaise in this one, folks...just a little butter.  I knew that I would have to make this dish when I first sampled it at a breakfast in honor of a co-worker's birthday.  It was so rich and so was just yummy!  It stretched a long way....A little serving works best on this rich casserole so there are at least 12 servings...maybe more.  I know I stepped back into the room for a second serving!

Praline French Toast
Paula Deen and Friends

Yield:  8 servings

8 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
10-12 slices soft bread, 1 inch thick

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups chopped pecans

Generously butter a 13 X 9 inch casserole dish.  (This size dish does not really work.  All of the bread won't fit and it over-flowed in the oven the first time I made it.  I used the lasagna pan this time.  It you use a smaller pan, be sure to place the casserole on a baking sheet.)
Mix the eggs, half and half, maple syrup, and sugar in a large bowl.  Place the bread slices in the prepared casserole dish and cover with the egg mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and let soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Remove the casserole from the refrigerator.

Make the topping:  Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the sugar and maple syrup and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour the mixture over the bread and bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.


This is a great dish and should satisfy the sweet tooth for at least six months!

I am sharing this at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Sweets for a Saturday hosted by Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum and Fat Camp Friday hosted by Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Have I Ever Mentioned How Much I Hate Snakes?

I hate snakes.  All kinds.  They were in my nightmares as a child.  I am scared to death of them....any kind.  I get cold chills just thinking about them.  That said you can imagine how excited I was when the Kitchen Gnome told me that he had something for me in the container in the yard.  He said it would make a good post for Wednesday.

Gee, the container even had a "Bonus Inside"!  I noticed that the lid was kind of taped on...clue number one.  I also noticed the noise coming from inside...clue number two.  Note to self:  Go the opposite direction from this surprise.

The Kitchen Gnome asked if I wanted to go with him on the quad to take the snake out in the foothills to release it.
"How big is this snake anyway?" I ask.
"Oh, about 3 1/2 feet long," he responds..."but he has just eaten."
The answer is: "Not if I have to hold the container."  He secured the container on the quad and off we went.

I stood a good distance away when the container was opened.  We weren't certain if the snake would quickly leave the container or hang around.  The guy was a bit angry so I figured he was going to stay in the area to express himself.

He coiled up, tested the air, and sent his message....stay away.

The snake's tongue provides sensory information to the brain through the Jacobson's organ on the roof of its mouth.  In this case, odor.

Pit vipers also have a two chambered pit organ located between the eye and the nostril on each side of the head.  Since warm-blooded creatures give off thermal radiation even when motionless, the snake's brain is able to identify this heat by comparing the temperature in the outer and inner chambers.  The snake distinguishes between the input received from the right and left pit organs in relation to itself enabling the snake to strike with accuracy during the day or at night.

I was directed to come around to the other side so that I could get a good picture.  Why would I want to face a snake that is coiled and warning of a strike?  When a rattlesnake strikes, it covers a distance of about 2/3 the length of its body.  I can be brave.

I hoped that the picture would be in focus because I wasn't going to linger in the area!  I am amazed at how well camouflaged the snake is.  I will not be walking the dog in the grassy foothills.

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer hosted by Susan.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Lately, I haven't been too excited about cooking.  The day slips by and I haven't taken anything from the freezer and am left with trying to figure out what to put together.  One of us may not be hungry, but the other is!  This night I had defrosted some chicken breasts but I didn't want to do the know the usual: chicken, vegetable and salad...the routine...

I was in the mood for pasta and I had run across a basic sauce recipe written on a slip of paper.  I knew I didn't have a few of the ingredients but I opened the pantry door and figured if Rachel can reach in a grab a few things and make a meal, I could too!

The Kitchen Gnome seasoned the chicken breasts and headed for the grill.  He is King of the Grill and always does a great job!

Grilled Chicken and Pasta 
with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped, oil reserved
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
8 oz pasta (I used bow-tie)
Basil Chiffonade:  8 basil leaves, stacked, rolled, finely cut across the roll to make a chiffonade.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 2 Tbsp reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.

Add the chopped onion and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and saute for one minute more.

Add the tomato paste and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Slowly add the wine and sun-dried tomatoes.  Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook al dente.  Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Add the drained pasta to the tomato mixture.  Toss to coat adding reserved pasta water to moisten.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place on a platter with sliced chicken breasts.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and the chiffonade.  Serve.


This was quick and easy and trying not to sound like Rachel...I am sure it was ready in under thirty minutes!  The leftovers disappeared the next day.

I am sending this to Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday and to Miranda at Mangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Friday, and Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kestrels - The Smallest American Falcon

My daughter called very excited to tell me that there were about five kestrels putting on a show in her backyard!  I wasn't able to dash over at that time for their antics but they are hanging around the area.  They must be nesting in a nearby tree and food is plentiful as there are fields to the back of her property.

I finally was able to go by and take a few pictures.  They were in the distance and around the perimeter of the field.  They are such beautiful little guys.  It was difficult to catch them but I have a few shots to share.

The neighbors didn't seem to notice that they were on their fence and hanging out under the patio!

There are not as crisp as I would have liked but you can see their beautiful colors.

I am hoping to get back over when they are once again in her backyard and not just on the perimeter of the field.

I am sending this over to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!