Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberries Sauce with Rules for Thanksgiving

I realize it's two days before Thanksgiving however, I wanted to post a recipe for those that may be waiting until the last minute to bring something to the Thanksgiving table.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  Not only does it allow the healthiest of persons splurge it brings a plethora of family stories and memories.  Mine, well, for those that know me, it's right out of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas to the Family".  Not kidding.  I not only prepare for other families during Thanksgiving, but I have now been handed the crown to prepare for my husband's side of the family, going on 3 years.  No longer using Ocean Spray's canned cranberry sauce (which, don't get me wrong, Thanksgiving isn't the same without and who doesn't like the imprint of a can?) I prepare this recipe, originally given to me by a former co-worker.  I think she found it from "she has too much time on her hands" Martha Stewart.  Nonetheless, it's really, really, good and the recipe I have is on the same post-it note I wrote it down on over 5 years ago.  A few Thanksgiving rules (by Sam Sifton, formally of the New York Times) that should be adhered to, unless you're going to be at my in-laws, which after 20 years I'm still bitter about because they do not follow.  At all.  Except for the butter and pie part.  And now that I'm cooking the dinner, it really gets under my skin.  1) Do NOT prepare appetizers before the big meal.  This is really upsetting particularly when I've been cooking all day and you stuff yourself with god knows what so that you can not get seconds.  If I wanted to serve pickled okra for Thanksgiving for you to fill up on, my week would have been less stressful.  2) Do NOT have a salad.  Thanksgiving is for turkey, gravy, dressing, maybe 1 or 2 vegetables and potatoes.  This is not a healthy meal.  3) There will be butter.  If you're my father-in-law, it will be one pat per club cracker. (excuse me while I grab the trash can)  4) You will eat pie.  I hate pie.  But, I will partake in one bite just so I can make the Thanksgiving day meal complete.  Don't bring cookies.  The Pilgrims didn't so neither should you. 5) There will be snoring.  Enough said, but it won't be by me.  I would have left by then.  All in all, it is comical yet celebratory occasion.  Being truly thankful is what it boils down to.  Thankful for family, friends and the blessing that God has so generously given us.  And that, my friends, is how the cookie crumbles.  Be blessed in all things, including your in-laws.


3 1/2 cups of cranberries
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tbs red wine vinegar
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tsp grated ginger
3/4 c light brown sugar


Combine in large saucepan over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop.  Reduce to low, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes.  If too thick, add water.  Chill.  Bring to room temperature until ready to serve.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Capanelle Pasta with Carmelized Onions, Peas & Mint - serves 4 with leftovers

I just looked at my blog to see what everyone else is writing, i.e., Jaime Oliver, who posted a recipe starting with "Sticky Squid Balls with Grilled Prawns".  Just so you know, I will never post something like that on this site, let alone something with that kind of tag line.  Immediately sets the tone, don't you think?  Kind of like some of the acts of my husband.  It's been awhile since I've mentioned him and his time is due.  He's is in the landscaping business and, sometimes, in return for his services, some of his clients feel the need to give him odd items that they either don't want, or, don't really need. Reminds me of my old cat, AC, who brought an array of dead animals to show his love an affection even though I had no idea what to do with it. Take this past weekend for example.  He comes through the door with what appears to be a sack of grain stuffed in a pillow case hunched over his shoulder.  To my surprise, one of his clients, who happens to own a mattress company here in Dallas, gave him the new luxury item for anyone who cherishes a good night sleep and has the money to spend for it.  A pillow made entirely of buckwheat.  You heard me, buckwheat.  Now, I'm not sure about you but I only know of one thing to do with such a grain and that is to eat it, not sleep on it, unless you're a farmer or a monk who lives in the 1700's.  It weighed more that my son.  The fact that he carried it over his shoulder should tell you how heavy it was.  The kids and I used it to do sit-ups.  We all took turns laying on it and, we might as well had pulled up and rested our heads on a boulder.  Are you supposed to sleep with your chin to your belly?  Because that's about where mine landed.  Maybe this was Jaime's inspiration for his recipe.  It ended up being a door jamb for the closet door that my husband never closes.  I may use it to drop on my son when he refuses to wake up in the morning.  One thing we won't be using it for is sleeping, unless of course we have sticky squid balls for dinner.  It too, could be all the craze, if you're willing to pay for it.


4 large yellow onions
1/2 cup olive oil
16 oz dried campanelle or farfalle pasta
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Thai fish sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped mint
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for shaving


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to package instructions.  Cut the onions in half and thinly slice lengthwise.  Heat the oil in a very large skillet.  Add the onions and cook over high heat, stirring, until dark brown, about 15 minutes. Add the peas to the pasta for the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Drain well, saving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Add the vinegar and fish sauce to the onions; cook 2 minutes.  Add the drained pasta, peas, reserved cooking water, mint and grated cheese.  Cook 2 minutes, until hot.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls; use a vegetable peeler to shave shards of cheese on top.

Inspired by Radically Simple

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finally, Family Dinner at the Table Opposed to On the Run Tomato & Mozzarella Risotto with Shrimp

An hour and 18 minutes ago a friend just texted me stating that she needs her "fill" of my blog. Feeling the pressure,  I now write as I've heard from many of you.  So, here goes. Not sure about your lives but if they are as busy as mine, who has time for family dinner.  Last night marked the first time in at least 3-4 weeks that the four of us (that would mean my family, not someone else's), joyfully, sat around our dinner table for dinner.  These types of moments make my heart sing and leave a permanent smile on face, at least until my chi of reading in bed gets disturbed by noises coming from one of my child's body. My catering business is doing fabulous and I have been blessed beyond measure, recently accepting a position with Jen-Air as their executive chef for the metroplex.  This just adds to my already crazy schedule not to mention just being a wife and mom.  The kids are temporarily on a holding pattern with sports, which was last night, all to begin again today.  So, I ask that you take heed in these types of moments.  They are the best times to talk, laugh, catch-up, play the initial game, feed the cat at the table and, most importantly, relish in the beauty of the best gifts that God has given you, no matter how busy your schedule.  Family. Dinner. At home.  At the table.


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 1/4 cups organic vegetable broth 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice 
3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 ounces chopped fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup) 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 cups torn fresh baby spinach 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for shrimp

In a medium skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering.  Meanwhile, season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add shrimp to pan and saute until pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add rice to pan; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup broth to rice mixture; cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/3 cup broth. Add remaining broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Stir in tomatoes; cook for 1 minute.  Add shrimp, stirring to incorporate.  Add cheese, pepper, and salt to rice mixture, stirring constantly until cheese melts. Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/3 cup broth, spinach, and basil. Place 1 cup risotto in each of 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over each serving.