mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

fresh peach pie in February! . . .

 

fullsizeoutput_151

I know peaches aren’t in season. But somehow, I had a hankering for fresh peach pie to have for our dessert tonight. Using three peaches, I peeled them and cut up the fruit. Sprinkled cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and flour on top. Mixed it gently together.

Took out one prepared pie crust (Pillsbury) and laid it out on a board. I spooned up the peaches onto half of the crust, dotted it with unsalted butter and closed up the pie by joining the circle and folding the crust edges together. Then, I made it look pretty by cutting the crust top to let the steam out and making a crimped edge with my fingers.

I beat up an egg and brushed the pastry all over with the beaten egg. Mixed up some sparkling sugar with Penzey’s cinnamon and sprinkled it on the top. In a 375 degree oven, it baked for about 35 minutes or so.

We’ll have it tonight, warmed up with some vanilla ice cream on top.

YAY, Spring is almost here!

a cherry winner for valentine’s day dessert!

DSCN0341

Happy Valentine’s Day today!

Here’s an inspiring recipe that I adapted for our Valentine’s dessert tonight.

Because I couldn’t find any frozen cherries at Whole Foods this a.m., I used tart cherry jam from Michigan that I had in the fridge. Heated it gently with a splash of red wine and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. D-I-V-I-N-E!! slightly sour but still quite sweet.

Will heat it up and serve it in margarita glasses filled with vanilla ice cream for dessert tonight! YUM!

A contemporary and sophisticated pairing with classic vanilla ice cream!

 

 

“perfect roast chicken for a snowy day. . . “

DSCN0309Yesterday at the new Whole Foods market that just opened in Shrewsbury, the next town over, I was surprised to find “Bell and Evans” whole chickens for sale. The last time I was there, I looked for it but found only Bell and Evans cornish hens that were about two dollars more than Perdue at the Stop and Shop. My eyebrows went up when I looked at the price: usually it costs about $9 for a small chicken at Market Basket – and around $13 at Idylwylde Farms. When I flipped the chicken over, the price was $2.95 or 99 cents/pound for a 3 pound bird!  Yup. I bought two of them at $2.95 and brought them home, one for the freezer and one for dinner tonight. That’s an amazing price to pay for a whole Bell & Evans chicken. They’re tender and very tasty.

We’re supposed to have heavy snow today starting around noon and turning to freezing rain until 10: p.m. tonight. It seems like a really good time to have a roast chicken dinner – (as long as the power holds out) and for leftovers tomorrow. There are as many recipes to roast a chicken as there are days in a year. I like to make some Pepperidge Farm stuffing and bake Japanese sweet potatoes alongside. Some fresh carrots and onions placed around the stuffed bird provide a nice side vegetable garnish along with what’s left of the herbs growing in the north window of the house. At the last minute, I’ll saute some fresh zucchini and onion together. There will be lots of vegetables, a nice bird with drippings and stuffing!

Here’s my easy prep to make this savory dinner:

  1. Rinse bird in cold water and dry well inside and out with paper towels.
  2. Butter a roasting pan and set the bird on it; smear the bird with unsalted butter, add salt and cracked pepper to it.
  3. In a skillet, heat up a tablespoon of butter, saute a small amount of chopped celery and vidalia onion, add some Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing and stir. Sprinkle on some Bell’s Seasoning on the stuffing and add bits of chicken broth to moisten the stuffing – but not too much. Let it COOL.
  4. When cool, stuff the bird and set it in the roasting pan; cut up carrots and onions to place around the bird in the serving pan. Preheat the oven to 375-400 (my oven has been temperamental lately and I’ve been using a oven thermometer to gauge what it’s really doing rather than what it’s set on.)
  5. Once the oven temp is around 400 degrees, I’ll also add a couple of Japanese sweet potatoes on a separate baking sheet. These are delicious if they’re cooked long enough so that they’re fork tender.
  6. Place the bird and vegetables in the oven and roast until golden brown. The inside temp of the chicken should be around 165 degrees when tested with an instant meat thermometer. Take the dish out and shield it with some aluminum foil for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
  7. Scoop the stuffing from the bird and plate, adding roast chicken pieces and juices on top. Spoon up the vegetables and place around the chicken. Serve the baked Japanese sweet potatoes alongside.
  8. Make a simple lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing.  A snug, cozy meal for supper while the weather is inclement outside!

“homemade cream of mushroom soup . . . sort of” . . .

DSCN0305DSCN0308Our New England forecast for this Wednesday is for SNOW – starting midday and building until 10 p.m. tonight. For lunch today, I looked in the fridge for ingredients to make homemade soup. Usually, I make a tomato/broth based soup with celery, onion, carrots and a little macaroni. But today, there were only very large cans of stewed tomatoes in the pantry – and not much else to shore it up with.

In the fridge, I spied a half box of thickly sliced mushrooms which had served well for the brown rice tortilla pizzas we’ve been having for lunch. There was a can of cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard so mushroom soup it would be for our lunch. I chopped up half a leftover Vidalia onion; a tiny carrot and the fresh mushrooms. I heated up some Kalamata olive oil (from Trader Joe’s) in a small soup pot, added the vegetables and let them sizzle for a short time. Added a small splash of cooking sherry (too much is overwhelming) and stirred the can of soup into the pot. The mixture was pretty thick until I added a can of milk/water and stirred it well. Added some dried parsley that freshened up the soup and made it look more appetizing. Set the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

With the soup, I’m toasting some whole grain bread. We’ll spread it thickly with plain cream cheese. This soup is partly homemade with a can of prepared soup. Can’t get any easier than that! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . . !

cucumber fun! . . .

DSCN0294

Today on Facebook, I came across this stimulating post – about using cucumber halves, seeds removed, to serve as “sandwich” covers for fillings of your choice. Tonight, I used one long cucumber, peeled it so it looked striped, rinsed and cut off the ends.

Then, I used about half a block of cream cheese, softening it while adding tiny chopped red onion, fresh chives, parsley and dried dill. Squeezed a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice in it to make it more “spreadable.” I used a paper towel to dry out the inside lengths of the cucumber – which, when wet, would not allow anything to adhere to it. I used my clean hands to spread the cream cheese and then added the contents of a package of smoked salmon. YUM! It looked fabulous! I closed the two sides together and sliced it in half, one for each of us. I’m also thinking of slicing them in half lengthwise to make them more manageable to hold and eat.

In addition, I had some avocadoes that were finally ripe and I used two of them, some fresh chopped tomato, red onion, tabasco, fresh lime juice and mashed it roughly with a fork to make guacamole, not wanting it to be too mushy. I had a pack of spinach-kale chips which I spread around the dip. .

Finally, to add a little warmth to this light supper, I heated up a can of cream of tomato soup to accompany the cold vegetables dishes.

Light, healthy, tasty = and pretty easy to put together! Thanks to my friend’s post on Facebook!

Super Bowl barbecued chicken wings! . . .

DSCN0285Well, I have to admit that I’ve never made chicken wings for a football game. But since this might be a chance for the Patriots to win a 6th Super Bowl game, I thought I’d give it a try. Especially since I’m hoping that they’ll win without having us bite our fingernails to the very last minute! GO PATS!!

I bought a pack of chicken wings at the store, rinsed them well and dried them, placing them into a big mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, I mixed together the homemade barbecue sauce:

1 scant cup of Heinz ketchup; 2 Tablespoons of Poupon dijon mustard; 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, a squirt of honey, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, hand ground coarse pepper, Lawry’s garlic salt. Stir together with a spoon and add to wings, stirring until they’re covered with the sauce.  I left the bowl of wings on the countertop, placing a dinner plate over the top.

When it was suppertime, I placed the wings onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and roast them at 375 degrees until cooked through. Then, I switched the oven to the broiler and browned the wings until they’re golden and crispy.

At the same time, I baked some cornbread with creamed corn to go with the chicken wings. Might grate some fresh cabbage and onion to make a light coleslaw to add some crunch to the meal.

We are hoping the Pats pull off another win. But all the others have been so suspenseful that I’m hoping for an early lead so that I can sit back, relax and knit during the game! Either way, I just hope they WIN!

 

“chicken alphabet soup”. . .

 

DSCN0218

It feels like we’ve been eating too much beef lately. It’s good, but yesterday while I was in the grocery store, I saw a small whole chicken and thought it might provide a nice change.

Last night for dinner, we had a roast chicken with stuffing, onions, carrots and tiny potatoes. Today, I’m making a chicken noodle soup to go with leftover chicken sandwiches for supper. (Since we favor dark meat – thighs and drumsticks, wings and so on, we usually have a good amount of breast meat left over.)

But instead of re-cooking the breast meat into a soup that would dry it out and make it tough to eat, I’m going to slice the cold chicken thinly and make old-fashioned chicken sandwiches, not chicken salad, just chicken with Hellmann’s and toasted oatmeal bread.

For the soup, I’m going to add chicken broth to the carcass pieces and leftover onions and carrots. Simmer gently. Removed the carcass pieces and harvested any leftover chicken from it, placing the chicken pieces back into soup broth. For a playful touch, I found some miniature alphabet macaroni in the pantry and cooked it separately.  I added it to the soup, tasted for seasoning and added a little salt.

At dinner time, I served bowls of chicken alphabet soup with our sliced chicken sandwiches alongside. Simple and frugal. I’ll have to think of what to have for dinner this weekend. It’s not Super Bowl weekend yet so I think we’ll keep eating light. Or almost light.

 

 

 

spinach and cheese quiche for supper. . .

gruyere-spinach-quiche-recipe-2

(photo courtesy of “SheWearsManyHats.com”)

We live in New England and the weather has been grey, foggy and icy. It’s about 28 degrees out and raining: a recipe for icy sidewalks and streets. A good day to stay indoors. Surveying the possibilities for supper tonight, I have a third of a bag of frozen spinach, some shredded cheddar cheese, fresh eggs (thank God!) and milk. This spells quiche to me except for a tender pastry crust.

Looking on the internet, I came across the NYTimes recipe for a short crust made in ten minutes with flour, salt, butter and ice water.  I decided to cut the cold butter into the flour/salt mixture myself rather than using a food processor. Then I wrapped the ball of crust to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The chilling requirement made me get up off the couch and put together the crust before lunchtime rolled around!

Now, all I’ll have to do near supper time is to saute a chopped shallot in butter, add the defrosted spinach and season with salt. Roll out the crust and press into a pie pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pre-bake the crust (which might shrink a little.)

Add the cooked spinach mixture to the prepared crust; then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Beat four room temperature extra-large eggs and add 1 cup of fresh whole milk and combine. Pour the egg mixture into the spinach/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and place the quiche into the oven for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

So this is our warm and tasty supper from almost thin air! Hope the weather will improve tomorrow: Bon Appetit!

 

roast cornish hen with stuffing. . .

fullsizeoutput_120One of our regular dinners is roast cornish hen with stuffing. The size of these small birds is ideal: half for each of us. Plus, they roast up beautifully with a glaze of orange marmalade & a dab of butter, set up on a bed of Pepperidge Farm stuffing.

The stuffing is made by sauteeing chopped a shallot with some chopped celery heart in butter and a sprinkling of Bell’s Seasoning. Then, I add the chopped up giblets and brown with the vegetables. Add some Pepperidge Farm stuffing crumbs and chicken broth to moisten.

I empty the skillet of the cooked stuffing and then melt some butter in the clean skillet. The hen is split in half by cutting through the breastbone. I dry the rinsed halves and  brown them in the medium-high skillet.

After the cornish hen is golden brown, the stuffing is divided and the two halves placed on top.  In the microwave, I heat up some orange marmalade with a dab of butter and brush it on the bird before sliding the pan  into a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

When the hens are cooked through (meat thermometer at 165 degrees,) take them out of the oven. With a wide spatula, lift each serving with the stuffing on the bottom and place it on a plate. A salad of lettuce, avocado and blood orange goes along well with this dish.

As G. and I prefer the dark meat, so we usually finish that off and save the breast meat for a tender chicken salad sandwich for lunch the next day.  Bon Appetit!

fullsizeoutput_11d

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braised veal shanks . . . aka “osso bucco”

 

DSCN0189

Yesterday, I saw a can of white beans (cannellini) in the pantry, I had some grape cherry tomatoes in the fridge and some lovely broth in the freezer I wanted to use. As I drove to the grocery store, I dismissed making beef stew (boeuf bourguinon,) or pot roast. We had a truly lovely boneless prime rib roast for Christmas Eve and a ham for New Year’s Day.

To my surprise, I found some veal shanks and the label said “osso bucco.” I’ve cooked veal shanks in the length-wise cut but not “osso bucco” although I’d read rapturous descriptions about this dish over the years. When I got home, I looked up a number of recipes for this dish and found that some used white wine while others called for red wine. Some called for lots of stewed tomatoes and others called for tomato paste.

In no recipes did any include bacon (I had a few slices that I’d wanted to use – and the boeuf bourguinon recipes call for bacon in the beginning. Nor did they include white beans which I have used in a braised veal dish awhile ago. So, here’s my version of braised veal shanks which I think will be lovely for our dinner tonight.

  1. Tie shanks together with twine, salt and pepper them and lightly dust in flour.
  2. Cut up 3 slices of bacon into small pieces and brown in a heavy enamelled deep braiser pan.
  3. Add and brown chopped garlic (3); onion (1 small whole) and quarter cut carrots (5) in the same pan. Stir and cook until aromatic and golden brown. Add halved grape tomatoes and rinsed large white beans (canned.)
  4. Make a well in the middle of the cooked vegetables and add a little olive oil; Place the prepared veal shanks in the center and brown on both sides.
  5. Add fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
  6. I sprinkled a little red wine on top of and around the veal bundles; then added Chicken stock until the liquid almost covered most of the contents.
  7. Place the pot into a 350 degree oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours until veal is fork-tender. Let it rest.

Open up some refrigerator rolls and bake a batch of crescent rolls. Serve the braised veal and vegetables on top of a bed of cooked fresh noodles in shallow pasta bowls.   A small tumbler of chilled Riesling seemed just right to drink with the meal – besides that’s what we had opened!