Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Pink Stuff

Most families have old favorite recipes that get trotted out during the holiday season.  I know I have mentioned a number of my family favorites like angel cookies, rib roast, and Yorkshire pudding.  Today I am going to share a tried-and-true, wouldn't-be-a-holiday-without recipe from The Husband's family.

It is referred to as "The Pink Stuff" and my lovely mother-in-law makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. It is gobbled up in great quantities and loved by all who are lucky enough to taste it.  One day I was looking through an old cookbook called A Taste of Oregon and I came upon a recipe that looked very similar to the description my Mom-in-law has given me as to how she creates her pink stuff. 
This year she decided not to make the pink stuff for Christmas dinner so I took it as an opportunity to try my hand at making this recipe to see if it was indeed similar.  It is very simple to make if you have a food processor, which I do. Mom-in-law does not.  She takes the cranberries and grinds them through a manual meat grinder apparatus she screws onto the counter top.  I can't even imagine the effort that must entail!!  Five seconds, pulse, pulse, pulse, and viola, perfect finely chopped cranberries for me.  I am lucky to live in Oregon where local cranberries can be found in the grocery stores. So good!  Throw in a can of crushed pineapples and a pile of miniature marshmallows and some sugar and let sit overnight.  The next day whip up some cream and combine with the rest of the ingredients and there you have it...The Pink Stuff.

P.S. If you're like The Husband's family, you might as well make a double batch while your at it. Take my word for it. There will be no leftovers. 
Mother's Cranberry Christmas Salad (a.k.a. The Pink Stuff)

1  pound fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup drained, crushed and/or tidbits pineapple
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup whipped cream

Grind cranberries. Add sugar, then pineapple.  Add marshmallows. Let this set in refrigerator overnight. Add whipped cream just before serving.  Serves 6-8.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

Sometimes when I cook something that I think would be great to blog about, it turns out to be rather homely and not very photogenic.  Such is the case with this delicious apple pie.  It looked so inviting in an old issue of Bon Appetit, but when I took it out of the oven it was a little on the dark side and not that appealing in appearance.

That is not to say while baking it didn't fill up the house with the most intoxicating smells of apples and cinnamon. Yum.  And it was love at first bite upon tasting.  What makes this apple pie rise above the rest in my opinion, is the addition of a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract and the use of brown sugar instead of white sugar with the apples.  The recipe also calls for raisins which I opted not to include this time.

The other wonderful thing about this pie is that it was so easy to put together as there is no top crust but instead a delicious crumb topping.  If you are a fan of apple pie this should be on your list of recipes to try. I think you'll agree it's a keeper.

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Raisins and Crumb Topping
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup (or more) ice water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 3/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 8 cups)
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 1/4 cup ice water and vinegar in small bowl; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Roll out dough on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp, forming crust sides 1/4 inch above rim of pie dish. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

For filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Mix brown sugar, flour, lemon peel, and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apple slices, raisins, and vanilla; toss until well coated. Transfer filling to unbaked crust, mounding filling slightly in center. Bake pie until apples begin to soften, about 40 minutes.

For the crumb topping:
Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture begins to clump together.
Sprinkle topping evenly over hot pie. Continue to bake pie until apples are tender and topping is browned and crisp, tenting pie with sheet of foil if browning too quickly, about 50 minutes. Cool pie on rack at least 2 hours. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homemade vs. Store Bought

A quick blog entry today to expound on the cost savings in most cases between homemade and store bought products.  Last weekend The Husband requested one of his favorite dinners, Fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar Salad.  As we were grocery shopping I went to the fresh pasta section of the refrigerator case and picked up a 12 oz. pack of fettuccine. I was so startled at the price, $5.95, I put it right back on the shelf.

We are lucky enough that we can usually purchase whatever we like, though I do compare prices, utilize coupons, and look for sales items.  But really, $5.95 for 12 oz. of flour and egg?? Ridiculous considering I have a manual pasta maker at home and know that the quality of homemade pasta is light years ahead of anything purchased, both in taste and in texture.
So home we went pastaless for the time being. 
Upstairs from the basement came my tried and true Italian made Atlas pasta maker purchased at a garage sale for just a few dollars.  In a matter of minutes I had mixed 2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of water to make my pasta dough.  In came The Husband who did the cranking and we had a pound of pasta made within one half hour.  Not only was it a great activity for the two of us (come on, we've been together 17 years, it doesn't take much to excite us), but it was an amazing cost savings.

Here is the breakdown:  Store bought fettuccine $5.95 for 12 oz or .50 cents per ounce  versus Homemade fettuccine   $  .96 for 12 oz. or .08 cents per ounce

Consider cooking from scratch more often for great cost savings and healthier, better food.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Had A Dream

A couple nights before Thanksgiving I had a dream about a turkey sandwich. Not just any garden variety turkey sandwich, but a turkey sandwich recipe that I had created.  I was so excited about this jolt of food creativity.  Not only was it this amazingly creative recipe but in my dream I had also envisioned a blog entry.

Now here is the thing.  In the light of day I knew I hadn't created this recipe.  Who hasn't heard of a Turkey, Avocado, and Bacon sandwich before?  But in my dream, it was a slider on a leftover dinner roll, and I had given it a terribly creative name:  TAB. 
No not this Tab.  My new and amazing sandwich was going to be called the TAB and everyone would be clamoring for it.  I think I need to get a life.  This food blogging has really taken me "around the bend" as a dear old friend once said to me about my blog.

Well, not being the most clever person in the world, I just knew when I awoke I couldn't let this burst of inspiration pass me by.  So today, two days post Thanksgiving with a Tupperware full of turkey leftovers, I decided to make my "dream sandwich."  May I present the TAB.
Ingredients:  Turkey, avocado slices, bacon slices, small dinner rolls, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.  Put it all together and enjoy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homemade Pretzels

I've never had an Auntie Annie's soft pretzel.  I have certainly been enticed by the wonderful aromas of those shops in the shopping malls, but it's just not something I've ever tried.  Recently, while watching Good Eats with Alton Brown on the Food Network, he made soft pretzels and they looked so darn fun to make, I just knew it was something I had to try.

These were fairly easy to make, though the shaping took a few tries to come up with the classic pretzel shape.  Like the bagels I made recently, these most be boiled first before baking. If when boiling, they lose there shape, they can easily be rearranged when you set them on the baking sheet.  The toppings I chose were sesame seed and salt, using a large grained salt as opposed to kosher or table salt.  I read about brushing them in butter when they come out of the oven and then dipping them in cinnamon sugar. That would be good too.

If you're a fan of the soft pretzel, this is a recipe you'll want to try for a fun day in the kitchen!

Soft Pretzels


1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.   Makes 8.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lucky Winner

There are a number of added benefits to writing a food blog besides getting to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  One of these benefits is getting exposure to and enjoying the hard work of other dedicated food bloggers.  Early when I started blogging I stumbled upon the wonderful blog of Debby called A Feast for the Eyes.  As I read her blog, I realized I had found a fellow home cook I could really relate to.  Her down to earth recipes, wonderful photos, great tutorials, and delightful writing style had me hooked.
Recently Debby had a giveaway contest for a gift basket from a famous bakery in Southhampton, New York called Tate's Bake Shop.  This is a bakery frequented by the likes of Ina Garten, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachel Ray.  Recently Consumer Reports listed their chocolate chip cookies as the best of 18 store-bought and fast-food chocolate chip cookies.
Well lucky me!  I won the giveaway and what a lovely package showed up at my door.  In it were two packages of hearty, delicious granola, a very generous coffee cake absolutely loaded with pecans, and a Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.  I can't wait to try to make some of these famous baked goods in my own home.  Thank you Debby for the opportunity to win such a lovely prize and I look forward always to reading your blog.  And thank you Tate's Bake Shop for your divine baked goods.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Soup's On!

I'm ready to admit it. It's Fall.  The leaves appear on fire on all the trees here in my town, labeled a Tree City, USA.  It's gorgeous. It's also frosty in the mornings and chilly at night and the furnace is up and running. 
All of this means only one thing; it's time to make soup.  I have it in my mind that this winter I am going to experiment with more soup recipes.  I have been clipping and bookmarking recipes like crazy.  We'll see if my enthusiasm continues throughout the cold months ahead.

This is a great recipe that I have been seeing on fellow food bloggers sites for some time now. It sounded so warm and substantial for a soup dinner and it was that.  Served with a piece of Texas garlic toast, it was a wonderful meal.  This would be a great meal for after work if the potatoes are baked ahead of time.  Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4  cup chopped green onions, divided

Preheat oven to 400°.
Bake potatoes at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Cut up two of the potatoes into bite size cubes, skin on.  Scoop out the flesh of the other two potatoes and mash well. Discard skins. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, fry bacon until crisp then take out of pan. Reserve 1 Tbsp. bacon fat in pan. Add butter and melt.  Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Do not brown.  Add milk, chicken broth, all of the potatoes, seasoning. Heat until hot but not boiling. Add 3/4 cups of the cheese and cook until melted.

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir into a slurry.  Add to soup and cook until soup thickens.  Add bacon bits, reserving a few for tops of soup bowls.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with green onions, cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and a dollop of sour cream.  Serves 4.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank you Mother

                       Sister Peggy and Blog Author's 6th and 7th Birthday Cakes
                               (We share the same birthday a year apart!)

This blog is dedicated to my amazing mother.  I recently had a wonderful visit with her and we were discussing a project she had begun to tackle; that of organizing the zillion old family photos in many, many photo albums and shoe boxes.  I offered to take the project on and scan important photos to share with my siblings so we can all enjoy them and pass them on through the generations.
                           Sue and Peggy's Shared 7th and 8th Birthday Cake

While going through them, I found the following photos of birthday cakes my mother made for us when were were young and I was quite flabbergasted and in awe of how she was able to tackle such cooking projects in those days.  I must explain that my parents had five children with the oldest one only being five years old when the baby of the family was born.  Imagine having that many children so close in age to feed, bathe, clothe, tend to when hurt or sick, and most importantly of all, love.  She and my father did all of that and more.  I think my siblings would agree, we grew up in a pretty remarkable household. 

Sister Linda's 7th or 8th Birthday Cake

Back to the cakes.  I wanted to share these photos and also a web site called Animal Cut Up Cakes that I found.  This site shows the exact cookbook these designs came from and how to make these very cakes. It was a free advertisement cookbook from Baker's coconut, circa 1959.  These family photos are all taken in the early-mid '60's. As noted in the photos, coconut is a prominent feature on all of them.  Aren't they wonderful?  And wasn't my mother amazing?  Oh, by the way, she still is!!  Thanks Mom for all you did for us to make our birthdays so special.
Brother Frank's 5th Birthday Cake

                                          Brother Mike's 3rd birthday Cake

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homemade Bagels

I have been thinking about making bagels for such a long time.  What was holding me back?  I think it was the intimidation of having to boil these doughnut-shaped rolls in water first.  I have had terrible luck making doughnuts and having them keep their shape.  Well, I'm here to tell you, making bagels is SO MUCH easier.  This recipe is anyway.

I found this recipe on a wonderful website called The Galley Gourmet and the author has a wonderful tutorial of how she made hers if you're interested in step-by-step visual instructions. After reading this blog I was convinced to give them a try.  I will share her recipe with you and encourage you bread makers out there to give these a try.  They are far superior to the too soft versions we find in our supermarkets and the flavor is delicious.  The Husband declared "These are the best bagels I've ever tasted."  High praise indeed!
Homemade Bagels

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Poppy seeds (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Dried onion flakes (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water. Continue to mix until the dough comes together in a mass, about 4-6 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and knead for another 8-10 minutes until soft and smooth. Put the dough in a bowl sprayed lightly with non-stick baking spray. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425ยบ F and bring a large pot of water to a boil; then reduce to a simmer.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Press each piece down to get rid of air bubbles. Form into balls and roll the balls between your palm and the work surface, rotating to form a smooth ball. Coat a finger in flour and press it through each ball to form a ring. Work the rest of your fingers into the hole, stretching the dough and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Gently lower the bagels into the water in batches, 2-3 bagels at a time. Boil, uncovered for about 1 minute. Turn them over once and boil for another minute. Using a perforated skimmer, remove the bagels from the pot, letting the water drain, and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle tops of bagels with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, or leave them plain. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 8 bagels.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Not Ready For Fall

I thought about making a big pot of soup over the weekend but then decided that I'm not ready to give in and start cooking Fall recipes.  I had recently made a shopping trip to the new Trader Joe's in town (it's about time we got one), and I picked up a bag of Meyer lemons for a darn good price. 
I just knew I would be inspired to whip up something with these wonderful lemons if I looked in a recently acquired new cookbook, The Bon Appetit Cookbook.  This cookbook is chock-a-block full of amazing recipes from apples to zucchini, breakfast through dinner, and beyond.  I have a special warm spot in my heart for Bon Appetit as of late, as I was given a little bit of press on their blog site for cooking a recent recipe they published in one of their issues.  It's always been one of my very favorite magazines since I started subscribing in the early '80's.
I found just the recipe for my "I'm not giving up on Summer" lemon dessert.  I share with you this Meyer Lemon Mousse.  It didn't call for Meyer lemons but since that is all I had, that is what I used. Meyer lemons have a much more distinct orange taste and are far less tart then our common garden variety lemons.  They made for a delightful change and a delicious dessert. I also  modified the recipe a bit as it called for toasted coconut layered between the mousse which I opted not to do. Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Mousse

2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream

Place 2 teaspoons water in small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes. Whisk sugar, lemon juice, yolks and lemon peel in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Add butter; stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble at edges, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture; stir to dissolve. Transfer lemon curd to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Beat cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold 1 cup cream into curd.

Spoon into serving dishes and let chill for at least one hour. Serves six.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

I have attempted to make homemade pizza a few times at home and I had just about given up.  I never have been able to achieve the perfect pizza parlor results I have been looking for.  Even after investing in a pizza stone and a pizza peel, I still ended up with flabby thin crust pizza and a broken pizza stone.  Don't believe the manufacturers instructions about it being okay to put in the oven at 450 degrees. 

Recently I stumbled across this recipe for deep dish pizza on a blog called SparkPeople and this pizza sounded like and turned out to be a real winner.  We haven't traditionally been deep dish pizza fans at our house, but one taste of this fantastic pie and we are now converts. 

The recipe below calls for pepperoni but I opted for a Pizza Margherita (tomato and fresh basil) and sausage and olive for my first attempts. It is hard to say which I liked better. They were both fantastic.  This dough for the crust is so wonderful and pliable.  Unlike thin pizza dough that has to be coaxed into what I always hope to be a circular shape, this is easily pushed into the cake pan and up the sides.  It bakes into this extremely favorful (thanks olive oil), very light, and richly browned crust.  I highly recommend this recipe for anyone interested in making pizza from scratch at home.

Deep Dish Pizza


1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 package instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper

1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce (see related recipe, "Basic Pizza Sauce")
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions for Basic Pizza sauce

Cook oil and garlic in medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs and peppers, increase heat to medium, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Instructions for dough

1. To make the dough: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons oil.

2. Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball, and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

3. To shape and top the dough: Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 1/2-inch round and press into oiled pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm spot (not in oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.
4. While dough rises, put half of pepperoni in single layer on microwave-safe plate lined with 2 paper towels. Cover with 2 more paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Discard towels and set pepperoni aside; repeat with new paper towels and remaining pepperoni.

5. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce on each round, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 cups cheese and top with pepperoni. Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into 8 (or four, as was our case) wedges. Serve.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks for Lunch Jodi

Today I would like thank Jodi for our wonderful weekend lunch.  I have never met Jodi. She is a work friend of The Husband's.  She is also an amazing canner and has shared with The Husband and myself some lovely food she has preserved.  This includes Albacore Tuna from our local waters on the Pacific coast, delicious dill pickles, and peaches extraordinaire! 

I like to prepare at least one nice lunch on the weekends as The Husband and I never get to have lunch together during the week.  On this particular day I decided to make a lunch using all of these wonderful products sent to our home by Jodi.  The menu consisted of tuna sandwiches, pickle garnishes, and peaches for dessert. 
The tuna was fantastic. A nice solid block of light tuna that was flaky and full of rich tuna flavor.  The pickles had just the right amount of tartness, garlic flavor, and bite to them.  And the peaches.....oh where do I start.  I am a huge fan of peaches but unfortunately most commercially canned peaches are mushy and have a distinct tinny taste to them.  The moment I opened the jar I knew these were something special.  They tasted as if they were straight from the orchard, bursting with fresh peachy flavor and they had an almost floral aroma to them. Delicious!

So again, thanks Jodi for lunch and I hope we can meet someday so I can thank you in person.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs

My brother-in-law Steve came through again, recommending this winning recipe he had previously tested. This recipe originates from Bon Appetit magazine and it is from the June 2011 issue.  It is in the quick and easy section and it was just that.

This was a fast no-fuss way to prepare a succulent chicken dish.  I had the entire meal on the table within 30 minutes, from start to finish.  I served this along side some rice with roasted almonds and fresh green beans and tomatoes from our garden.  A couple of helpful hints:  take the chicken out of the refrigerator 1/2 hour to 1 hour prior to cooking to ensure your chicken is cooked through, and I feel it is imperative you use a cast iron skillet to get optimal browning of the chicken skin.  Enjoy!

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.

Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking skin side down, moving chicken around to ensure even heat. Cook skin-down until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and cook 10-13 minutes more. Flip chicken so the skin side is facing up and cook until the skin is crisp and the internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if using.