Carrots Vichy

Supposedly, the pure waters of Vichy, France are optimal for cooking carrots, but really to make this recipe wicked simple and wicked tasty, I find that lemon-lime soda (think Sprite or 7-Up) really works a treat!

Seasoning the carrots with a bit of salt and black pepper, adding a dab or two  of unsalted butter, and a very little bit of sparkling soda, then cooking over low heat for about 45 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the cooking liquids have become a glaze works a treat.

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into thin spears
•2 tbsp unsalted butter
•1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
•Dash of rosé wine (optional)
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•Chopped fresh parsley

Add the carrots to a medium pot along with the butter, Seasoned Salt, black pepper, soda, and, if you are using it, about one tablespoon of rosé.

Cover and cook over low heat, stirring every now and then, until the cooking liquids have reduced and the carrots are glossy and nicely glazed.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Note: if you look in your market’s ethnic foods section, you can find Mexican Sprite or 7-Up, both made with real sugar instead of corn sweeteners.

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Oh Fu-u-u-u-dge

Yep.

‘Tis the season for all of the tasty treats; and if they just happen to be wicked easy to toss together, and gluten-free, I call that a holidaze bonus.

I was scanning Salon.com and when they featured this microwave fudge, I thought it looked really very tempting. Well… except for their choice of liqueurs added – I mean Absinthe? Not in this house, thankyouverymuch.

Cointreau and a bit of Java Infusion seemed much more like something I wanted with my dark chocolate.

INGREDIENTS
•3-1/3 cups (20 ounces) of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
•1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
•2 tbsp Cointreau
•1 tbsp Coffee liquor
•1/4 tsp sea salt
•1 tsp of vanilla
•Coarse sea salt

Lightly grease an eight inch square pan and line with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to hang over the sides of the pan.

Add all of the ingredients, except for the coarse sea salt to a ‘wave-safe bowl and microwave on high for one minute.

Remove from the ‘wave and stir.

Return to the ‘wave for 30 seconds, then pull it out again and stir again.

If it all mixes together into a thick but well blended mass, you are good to go.

If the chocolate chips are not all melted, return to the ‘wave for another 30 seconds, then pull the bowl out and stir again.

At this point, you should be good.

Transfer the fudge to your parchment paper lined pan, smoothing it out as well as you can, then sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.

Leave uncovered to cool for eight hours or so, then lift out of the pan and cut into 36 small squares.

Yeh. I know, but this fudge is wicked rich, so those tiny squares of goodness will be more than enough, and with 36 of ’em, well, you have plenty to share with friends and family for the holidaze.

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Parfait! Swiss Turkey Casserole

For me, one of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers; and one of my very favorite things to do with leftovers is to make Swiss Turkey Casserole.

Starting out about 50 years ago as my Aunt Buzz’s company-worthy Swiss chicken casserole, this version has become as traditional and looked forward to as the main feast.

And why not? Turkey and Swiss cheese and mayo, and bread cubes; what is not to love?

INGREDIENTS
•4 cups diced cooked turkey
•1 cup diced celery
•1 cup diced onion
•2 cups bread cubes
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1/2 cup milk
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp parsley
•1/4 tsp salt
•8 oz. Swiss cheese – cut in thin strips

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven to 350º and butter a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish.

In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, milk, Sherry Peppers and hot sauces together with the seasonings until blended.

Stir in the celery, onion, Swiss cheese, turkey, and bread cubes.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for another five to ten minutes, until the top is golden brown and just a bit crispity.

Note: if you want to, by all means go ahead and put the casserole together earlier in the day or even the day before. Just cover and stash in the fridge until you are ready to bake it, and increase the covered baking time to 50 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Chowder With Sausage

I was looking for something that would be flavorful and flexible for dinner the night before Thanksgiving – family were coming in from several places and arrival times could only, truly be known when they actually arrived – and the nice folk at Southern Living came through with an almost perfect sounding slow cooker recipe.

Almost perfect? Yes, because it called for chicken, and, since the next day was gonna be centered around another piece o’ poultry, I swapped out Italian sausage.

And it was pretty darned tasty.

And easy, because it is a slow cooker recipe.

Note: my main, six quart, slow cooker has a number of additional settings, such as “brown” and “simmer” and “sauté” and “steam,” so I was able to make the entire chowder in one pot. If you have a more traditional slow cooker, you’ll need to sauté the sausage and veggies in another pan first.

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb Italian sausage
•2 cups chopped sweet onion
•2 cups shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
•1 cup chopped celery
•4 cloves garlic
•3 tbsp Pepper Relish
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•6 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
•2 cups corn kernels
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp dried oregano
•6 cups chicken stock
•1 cup plain yogurt
•1 cup half and half
•Chopped fresh chives
•Hot sauce

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Brown the sausage, breaking up into tiny pieces for five minutes, then add the onion, cabbage and celery and cook for another five or ten minutes, until the sausage is cooked through and the veggies are tender.

Add the garlic, pepper relish, Sherry Peppers and hot sauces and cook, stirring, until most of the pan juices have cooked off.

Transfer to a slow cooker (or turn off the “sauté” setting) and add the sweet potatoes, corn, seasonings and chicken stock.

Cook on High until the potatoes are tender, about four hours.

Note: Slow cooker sweet potatoes tend to like to screw around with me; so, after four hours, my sweet potatoes were still like little rocks in liquid with stuff

*Sigh*

Fortunately, I was able to set the cooker back to “sauté” and cook until the potatoes were well and truly tender, mebbe another 30 to 45 minutes. If you do not have this option, I would strongly suggest you plan on giving the chowder five or six good hours of slow cooking time.

Temper the yogurt by whisking in some of the hot chowder, then add that to the slow cooker along with the half and half.

Using an immersion blender, mash about 1/4 of the chowder until smooth, then stir to mix throughout the chowder,

Stir to mix and heat through.

Serve with chives and hot sauce.

This was another hit for the weekend, and made enough for ten folk or so.

I should note: this chowder is gluten-free, so, bonus! I passed around some air-fried Brazi-Bites (gluten-free Brazilian Cheese Bread) and no one really missed bread or rolls or crackers.

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Pizza Fondue

As often happens when family comes for the holidaze, they tend to come and go in shifts.

Some came Wednesday morning and were staying through Saturday, others arrived Wednesday evening and left just after lunch on Friday; so aside from the big day on Thursday, I was looking for flexible recipes that would work whenever I got to tossing them together.

This recipe, original from Taste of Home, worked a treat for Friday lunch before some

folk needed to head home. I bumped up the original recipe by sneaking in extra veggies in the form of shredded cabbage (bagged coleslaw mix) – no one noticed – and, I made it all gluten-free by serving the fondue with toasted tots instead of chunks of French bread, so, bonus!

INGREDIENTS
•1-1/2 lb meatloaf mix (or ground beef)
•1/2 large sweet onion, diced
•1 cup shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
•2 tsp oregano
•1 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•2 jars pizza sauce
•2 cups shredded Cheddar/Jack cheese
•1 cup shredded Mozzarella

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Brown the meat over medium heat, breaking up the meat into small chunks, for a few minutes, then stir in the onion, shredded cabbage (trust me, no one will know you’ve added veggies), oregano and other seasonings, Sherry Peppers and hot sauce, and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through and most pan juices have been cooked off.

Drain well, then return to the pan along with the pizza sauce.

Cook for a few minutes, stirring every now and then, then reduce the heat to low add the cheeses, and stir until they have melted.

Transfer to your fondue pot and serve.

The Taste of Home recipe called for serving with bread sticks, garlic toast, or green pepper slices; but air fryer toasted tots (five or six minutes at 400º) worked a treat, and since they are gluten-free, this was a safe, tasty lunch for the whole crowd.

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Roasted Beet Salad With Creamy French Dressing

And, just like that, Thanksgiving was over and the holidaze were upon us.

We had most of my in-laws for much of the turkey-based weekend, and, if I do say so myself, my food was pretty much a hit.

Desserts, always a safe bet, were a friend’s home made pumpkin pie (a classic!), along with Burnt Basque Cheesecake and Butterscotch Mousse; both really lovely, and gluten-free, so, bonus! And then, there was the salad…

This was a might bit risky, because, beets, but most folk really liked it.

INGREDIENTS
Roasted Beets:
•2 cans sliced beets, drained and rinsed
•Coarse sea salt

Creamy French Salad Dressing:
•1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
•1⁄2 cup ketchup (I like this spicy version)
•1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
•2 tbsp sugar
•1 small sweet onion, cut into wedges
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Pepper
•1 cup olive oil

Salad:
•Roasted Beets
•Thinly sliced red onion
•Chopped celery
•Salad greens

First things first, make the salad dressing by adding the onion, sugar, seasoned salt and pepper to your blender jar.

Top with the cider vinegar, ketchup, and mustard – adding ingredients in this order keeps the dry ingredients from spraying up along the sides of the jar while blending. Sure, you will be scraping down the sides of the jar anyway, but I like getting the seasonings well incorporated right from the get-go.

Blend until the onion is well and truly chopped and everything is nicely blended.

Scrape down the sides of the jar, then, with the blender running, slo-o-owly drizzle in the oil, allowing it to become completely emulsified in the dressing.

Note: you might not need the entire cup of oil. I ended up using about 7/8 of a cup this time; while in the past the dressing had absorbed the full amount. Watch your dressing in the blender and see how it is absorbing the oil.

You now have yourself a lovely, home made, creamy French dressing that is not only freshly made, but considerably lower in sugar than most bottled dressings and even a lot of other home made!

Transfer the dressing to a jar, cover tightly, and stash in the fridge until needed.

Note: this dressing is pretty terrific right away, but the flavor will develop and improve after resting for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Dressing made, let’s roast some beets!

Heat your oven to 350º.

Drain and rinse your beets, then pat dry.

Toss the beets with coarse sea salt, then arrange in a single layer in a baking pan.

Note: I used a rack, but you can just arrange them on a foil lined baking pan without the rack, if you prefer.

Bake for 20 to 35 minutes, until the beets are a deep, deep maroon, and greatly reduced in size.

Remove from the oven, let cool, then keep handy in a bowl or other container.

Note: I think that the beets are best if roasted and cooled just before you make the salad, but, they are also fine if you transfer the cooled beets to a covered container and stash in the fridge until needed.

Now, for the salad…

I used shredded Greenleaf lettuce and chopped Romaine, but feel free to use your own fave(s) – baby spinach works nicely here, too.

Toss the lettuce(s) together with the beets, red onion, and celery, then serve with the creamy French dressing.

Even if you don’t care for beets, I think you will like this salad.

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Cocktail Sauce

Folk are getting ready to gather, and there will be shrimp, so, we’re gonna need some cocktail sauce.

And by cocktail sauce, no, I do not mean that stuff you buy in a jar at the market; have you seen those ingredients?

Fortunately, an old friend’s mom has given me The Way to make The Best Cocktail Sauce. Loaded with lemon juice and horseradish and spicy ketchup and chili sauce and stuff.

It’s fast to toss together, too.

INGREDIENTS
•1/4 cup ketchup
•1/4 cup chili sauce
•2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
•2 tbsp horseradish
•1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tsp hot sauce

Note: this recipe can easily be doubled, or even tripled, so, have fun!

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer to a covered jar and chill for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to fully blend.

Great sauce.

Happy holidaze.

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Margarita Mimosas – For The Win!

So, YEH.

The holidaze are almost here and, if your house is like ours, folk will be coming, so you might as well have a decent drink. And, really, this drink is a bit more than decent. Based on a cocktail I love at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, the Margarita Mimosa is as refreshingly good at brunch as it is before – or, heck, even during dinner.

The best thing is, you can make most of it in a pitcher ahead, then chill and, in the midst

of everything, pour some into a glass and top of with champagne, easy peasy!

INGREDIENTS
Sour Mix:
•2 cups water
•2 cups sugar
•2 cups lemon juice
•1-1/2 cup Key lime juice

Margarita:
•3 cups tequila
•3/4 cup (12 tbsp) Cointreau
•2 cups orange juice
•2 cups lemon sour mix
•Champagne

Note: this is actually a double batch, which makes sense given the season and the likelihood that you’ll have a full house. In truth, even if you don’t have a full house, it’ll keep in the fridge for several days, so, enjoy!

First, make your sour mix by stirring the water into the sugar in a pot over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid is clear.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before stirring in the lemon and Key lime juice until well and truly blended.

You can keep this sour mix in the fridge just as it is for a couple of days, but why not make your holidaze a little bit easier?

I like to stir the sour mix together with the tequila, Cointreau, and orange juice and then chill that in the fridge, then, in the middle of all the chaos and cheer and trauma that is the holidaze , all you need to do is open a bottle of champagne – I really think that extra dry is the way to go here, but you do you – pick the turkey up off the floor (don’t ask), then pour the margarita into a glass and top with a splash of something suitably sparkly.

Cheers.

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Butterscotch Mousse – in the Blender!

One of my friends thinks that this is actually more of a pot de crème, but I would say that as long as it tastes as good as it does, I don’t really care what you call it.

Butterscotch pudding was a big fave of mine when I was a kid, so, when I came across a bag of butterscotch chips leftover from a baking project my husband planned to do, but didn’t; I got to thinking about a book club gathering we had coming up and what I was gonna do for dessert that was gluten free and not too fussy.

Note: this made six small, very rich, servings, but, as with most blender mousses, if you need to make extra, do not try to just double the recipe. For some reason, it just doesn’t work. Instead, just make it in batches. You can also, if you like, store the mousse tightly covered in dainty individual serving dishes or, especially if refrigerator space is at a premium, go ahead and store it in one larger, tightly covered bowl and scoop it out into your dainty individual serving dishes at the table.

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 cup heavy cream
•1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
•1/4 tsp orange zest
•11 oz butterscotch chips
•1 tbsp scotch whisky
•3 egg whites

Add the butterscotch chips and the scotch to a blender jar and pulse to coarsely chop.

Warm the cream with the espresso powder and orange zest until almost boiling and the espresso has dissolved into the cream.

Remove from the heat and, with the blender running, pour the hot mixture over the chips until smooth and thick.

Scrape down the sides of the blender jar then, with the blender running, add the eggs and continue to blend until they are fully incorporated.

Pour into your dainty individual serving dishes or into one larger serving bowl, then cover tightly and chill for at least a couple of hours or, always more better, overnight.

The mousse will thicken while it is chilling.

Perfectly lovely as it is, but no one from my book club said “no” when I offered some whipped cream.

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Holidaze Barbecue Sauce

Finally.

He we are, the pinnacle we have been working towards all frikkin’ week.

Holidaze Barbecue Sauce!

But first, a story (hey, it’s a food blog)…

A few months back, an unplanned medical incident brought all of my in-laws to our house for a weekend. The unplanned medical incident worked out, and we

decided to have a feast of celebration the night before everyone went to their respective homes.

I decided to make a couple of racks of ribs, and just to jazz them up a bit, stirred my Barbecue Sauce together with some of my Pepper Relish, pineapple juice, Arby’s Sauce, and Sherry Peppers Sauce.

The table was crowded, the room, noisy, but when the third (or fourth) family member asked about the sauce, I hatched an idea for a specialty gift; which is this…

INGREDIENTS
Single Batch:
•12 oz Barbecue Sauce
•8 oz Pepper Relish
•6 oz pineapple juice
•1 tbsp Arby’s Sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

For Gift Giving:
•3 quarts Barbecue Sauce
•2 quarts Pepper Relish
•48 oz pineapple juice
(I used 36 oz this time + 12 oz orange juice)
•1/2 cup Arby’s Sauce
•1/2 cup Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: measure the pineapple and/or orange juice into the barbecue sauce and pepper relish jars, then cover and shake to get any good bits lingering to the sides of the jars before adding to your pot or slow cooker.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large pot, or a six quart slow cooker.

If making this on the top of the stove: cook over medium low heat, stirring quite often, until the sauce thickens and darkens, about 90 minutes or so. Give it a run with your immersion blender, if you can.

If making this in the slow cooker: Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for eight or nine hours, stirring every now and then – I usually set this part up to work overnight.

Set your slow cooker to high and continue to cook until the sauce thickens and turns this lovely dark red color. Again, a run with the immersion blender to chop up any really large pepper bits is nice, but not required.

Ladle the sauce into prepared canning jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Transfer the jars to a rack to cool, then check that they have sealed by pressing a fingertip to the center of each lid. If it is already or stays down when pressed, your seal is good. If it pops back up (you can hear it), reprocess those jars for another 15 minutes or so and test again. I have rarely had this happen to me.

I ended up with 15, twelve ounce jars; enough to make the holidaze merry for many!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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