Archive | December 2011

New Year’s Morning Breakfast

poached eggs on toast

A great way to start the New Year off is with a light but filling breakfast.  Poached eggs on whole wheat.  Yum!

I feel like those women on the Activia commercials.  During the holidays I don’t seem to eat as routinely and welcome the quiet beginning of a new year.

Poaching eggs:

Three cups water
One Tbls. vinegar
New eggs aka fresh but only if you have chickens. Old eggs definitely don’t work.

Bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Break an egg into a small bowl and then slide the egg into the boiling water. While counting to 10, break another egg into the bowl and on the count of 10 slide the egg into the water. Boil for two minutes. After removing one egg, count to 10 and remove the other egg.


2 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce triple sec

Pour juice and triple sec into a champagne flute and the top with champagne. One can make this without triple sec. I happen to run out of it and just used the orange juice by itself with the champagne. It was satisfactory.

Cheers to a new beginning.

Bringing in the New Year on a Budget

pot roast dinner

Christmas Weekend was a house filled with the entire family.  If anyone has kids who love all food then you know, as parents you aim to please. What you budget for gifts and food can get out of hand.

Even though my husband and I start a Christmas budget every January, it never fails, we go over budget. I get caught up in the excitement of the holidays.  At least our Christmas is always paid for and dipping into the savings to cover the balance isin’t so bad.

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to scale down.

I was watching a video on Cook’s Country on roasting with Top Sirloin.  Since I went over budget at Christmas, I really didn’t feel right spending $6 lb for 4 ½ pounds of meat.  So I opted for the inferior cut of beef, shoulder roast or commonly known as Pot Roast.  By saving 10 bucks, I was able to buy a bottle of Pinot Noir on sale marked down from $17.  That is if you have a Kroger Card.

I took the same recipe for the butter/herb mixture off Cook’s Country and essentially where I could butterfly the roast, I did and stuffed with the herb/butter mixture.  I did not roast mine in the oven but rather braised it in Wine.

I first cut off all fat from roast which then causes the meat to separate in pieces. I slice larger pieces open like a book. Salt and pepper both sides then spread the herb mixture. Fold back to a closed position and tie up.

stuffed pot roast

Sear the roast on all sides to a nice brown color.  Add liquid of choice for braising, cover and let simmer for at least an hour to 1 ½ hours.

pot roast being seared

Herb/Butter Mixture

4 Tbls (half stick) softened butter
2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbls minced fresh thyme
1 shallot

Mix together the butter, oil and mustard. In a separate bowl mix together the parsley, thyme and shallot. Then blend together all the ingredients. Using half this mixture, spread inside cut meat. Save the mixture on the counter covered with plastic wrap for later.

After the roast has finished, place on a cutting board and spread leftover herb/butter mixture over the meat. Let rest for about 10 minutes.

Resting Pot Roast

Wishing everyone a productive New Year.

Pork Loin Over Picadillo

Butternut Squash and Bean Picadillo

I came across some Butternut Squash in the grocery this week and decided to make a Picadillo and what the heck, why not a slice of Pork loin to throw on top.

But first, I have to ask the question…what is picadillo? I researched many sites and found one definition that sums up the answer to my question.

“The word picadillo (pronounced pee-kah-DEE-yoh) derives from the Spanish “picar,” a transitive verb with a variety of meanings including: to mince, to chop up, to crush, to bite, to punch, to chip, to perforate, to peck, to nibble. From picar, we get “picado,” an adjective meaning chopped — when referring to garlic or onion, or minced — when used to modify meat (carne). Picadillo, a diminutive form of picado, means “minced meat” or, even, “hash.”

“picadillo typically refers to a filling or stuffing made of lean ground beef or pork (or combination of both) cooked with spices and ingredients that may include tomatoes, onions, peppers, green olives, capers, raisins or almonds. Some recipes call for coarsely ground meat, others for finely chopped, others still for finely minced — which may explain one of the sources of confusion. Since ground beef is the least expensive and time-consuming, it is what is most commonly used for picadillo”.
Read more from Seattlepi.

Now that I found the definition, I have to conclude that picadillo has changed dramatically over the years because the recipe I provide here does not include minced meat or even hash. Chopped bacon as the protein perhaps but that is all.  My recipe is a derivation of Chef Aarón Sanchez which lists bacon as the only meat. Chef’s Sanchez recipe.

Whenever I see a recipe I’d like to test, I try to work with ingredients I have in my pantry. I don’t like to get back in the car and drive 24 miles round trip just for a couple of ingredients I might be missing.  In my recipe,  I did not have ingredients for the “Garlic-Chipolte Love” listed in the original recipe.


Three slices bacon, chopped
One medium onion, finely chopped
Red Bell Pepper, chopped
clove of garlic, chopped
One butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed
One 15 oz. can black-eyed peas
One 15 oz. can corn
One cup of white wine (vegetable stock is a good substitute)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

In a medium size pan, brown the bacon. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Add the squash and wine. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and corn and continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes.

Pork Loin Roast

Sear a one pound loin roast in a Dutch Oven and reduce to medium heat until internal temperature is 140° F. About 15 min. per pound.

The Holidays Are All About…

Fennel/Sage Ham

…the Ham.  This is a derivation from Mario Batali’s Italian Ham.  This was served on Christmas Night along with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and green beans. My daughter took over and presented this meal to the family. So happy to have yet another home chef in the family.

Anna Rebecca Photographer, home chef

My daughter, a home chef/photographer

…Apple Red Chili Chutney

Southwest Flavor Apple Chutney

The Apple Red Chili Chutney was ladled over Pork Tenderloin on Friday Night before Christmas Eve.  This savoring relish comes from a recipe book I bought from the Georgia Grille, a neighborhood restaurant in Atlanta.

The Holidays Are All About….cousins re-uniting

Cousins re-uniting

…playing Dirty Santa Games.  My brother gets stuck with a lady’s purse.

Playing Dirty Santa

…tall tales by a fire pit.

Sitting by the fire pit


Turkey Breast Brining in Salt Solution

The Holidays Are All About…

…brining protein in a salt solution.  This is a cooler containing a brine for a turkey breast. Another cooler held venison. In cold weather we can set outside. In warm weather it would be necessary to have ice in the cooler.  For Christmas Eve Dinner we had Turkey Breast and Venison Roast along with a cranberry pecan wild rice mixture and Dijon Brussel Sprouts from smittenkitchen.

…Creamed Corn Salsa

Recipe from Georgia GrilleAnother great recipe from the Georgia Grille.  This is a concoction of corn, green onions, shallots, diced tomatoes, chipotle and cream.  This was served on Friday night as a side dish with another side dish of black beans to the Pork Tenderloin.

The Holidays Are All About…

…Playing Eurorails till two o’clock in the morning.

Family playing Eurorails

…children searching for presents.

Seaching for presents

…a train set.

Child playing with train set

Most of all….it’s about Gratitude.  Life is short, despite that you may live to be 100 or more, wake each day with gratitude.  My husband and I are plenty grateful for the Holiday Season spent with all our children and grandchildren and family.

Baking with Kids

One can only hope that memories of childhood are embedded for life as in the case of Virginia Willis, Cookbook Author of her latest Basic to Brilliant, Y’all.  Virginia reflects on her fond memories of being in her grandmother’s kitchen at the age of three standing on a stool “helping”.  

 Kids Baking Cookies

As with the case of my three year old grandson. He also stands along side his grandma and grandpa. 

For whatever reason as parents we were not as attentive with our kids or perhaps they did not express an interest in baking or cooking.  My husband and I often speak of this and we blame it on spending more time raising kids as opposed to enjoying them.   

Our grandsons love to be in the kitchen and despite the mess we offer encouragement.

Sprinkle decorations on cookies

After all, messes can always be cleaned up but witnessing children having fun playing and being creative in the kitchen is extremely rewarding.

Because my grandkids want to bake “right now”…I know not to go into a long and drawn out recipe.  So I cheated and bought a pre-mixed cookie mix.  Betty Crocker.  Despite what you see in this photo, the cookies were absolutely horrible tasting.  The grown ups on demand from the boys took bites from the cookies and immediately turned around spitting it out.  Incredibly terrible cookies.

Terrible Tasting Betty Crocker CookiesObviously, they enjoyed them.

New York Cheesecake in the Deep South? What Would Scarlett Say About That?

Caramel Apple Nut Cheesecake

I have no grudges against Yankees…really, I don’t.   Sense I started blogging, I have been following many blogs, particularly in the area of interest…food.  I am in awe of the people of New York. I read food blogs like smitten kitchen. I just love to read reports of the day to day life of people in New York. Fascinating!  Obviously, it is and will always be the culinary haven of the world.  I’ve only had a two-day visit long enough to tour the Botanical Gardens but if I had the fundage, New York would be one place I would spend a month.

I’m just not a fan of what has become most popularly known as the New York Cheesecake.  I feel like it would make a good weapon if attacked while walking down the street carrying one.  It’s heavy. While, I only experienced one cheesecake slice while in New York for my two day visit, it may not have been a good example but it was the only example I had to go by…and it was called “New York Cheesecake” on the menu.  I’ve also had cheesecake from the well know franchise “Cheesecake Factory” and I’ve also had cheesecake from various restaurants.  They always seem so thick and heavy.  I decided I wanted to try to make one slightly lighter in consistency.

This recipe of mine took months to develop and get to the right consistency.  I sent this cheesecake to my husband’s office and he reported back that it was eaten while the other desserts on the table had been left.  What a compliment.  My other compliment is from my son who always ask for this on his birthday.  This is also my contribution to my family reunion this weekend before Christmas.

UPDATE: There is a downside to this recipe. After the re-union mentioned above I learned this:  Never take this cheesecake to a Christmas family reunion when you did not attend Thanksgiving Holiday with same family members. While eating this cheesecake during the Christmas party, my family raved over the “pumpkin cheesecake to die for” served at Thanksgiving. This recipe was a huge let down and in fact a cheesecake forgotten. Too bad I didn’t inquire the dessert at Thanksgiving or I wouldn’t have made this. My bad.

My Southern Style Recipe of Caramel Apple Nut Cheesecake:

Slice of Cheesecake


10 inch Spring Form Pan
One stick of butter
2½ cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup of sugar plus 2 Tbls.
Four-8oz. pkgs Cream Cheese
Three eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
tsp lemon juice (optional)
One cup Sour Cream
One Granny Smith Apple
One Cup pecan chips
One jar Caramel Sauce  (Use only about 4 oz. from the jar to adequately cover the cheesecake)

The Process

Preheat Oven to 450°
Slowly melt butter, you don’t want to burn it.
Mix graham cracker crumbs with 2 Tbls sugar
Pour melted butter into graham cracker mix
Spread mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan and slightly up the sides.
Place in the freezer while you prepare the cheesecake.

In a mixer on medium speed add the cream cheese and mix for two minutes. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla. Scrape the side of the bowl for a well blended mixture.
Fold in the sour cream.
Pour into the spring form pan

Bake for 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce the temperature to 200° and continue baking for 45 more minutes.
Refrigerate overnight before serving.


Dice the apple in small bits, sprinkle a little lemon juice to prevent browning. Mix the pecan pieces with the apple.
Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the cheesecake allowing for some to spill over the sides.
Spoon the apples and pecans over the caramel. Slightly pat down into the caramel sauce.

Oh, Oh! You Just Remembered You Were Assigned Appetizers for a Christmas Party This Weekend


Fast! Grab your wallet and keys. Hop in the car and drive to the grocery store.

Run into the deli section and grab a baguette, preferably small in diameter.

Run over to Aisle 5 and midway down on the right look for a jar of Roasted Bell Peppers.   Walk a few feet further down and find a jar of capers.

Run back to the butcher (if there is one in your neighborhood store) and ask for six slices of bacon.  Otherwise buy a small package of Kroger Brand or Wrights Brand Smoked Bacon.

Run to Aisle 10 and grab a seasonal platter (hopefully Christmasy)

Carefully drive home and sing Jingle Bells to turn your crazed day into a positive, festive outlook.

Now, your safely home.  Turn the oven broiler on High.   Grab a skillet and throw the bacon in it and turn the heat on Medium.

Pull out a cutting board and begin to dice/chop up the bell peppers.  Drain out the capers and mix in with the peppers.  Set aside.

On another cutting board or clean the other one, slice in half the baguette.  Now, thinly slice about 1/2 inch thick all the baguette and place on a cookie sheet. Pour a little bit of olive oil in a bowl and with a pastry brush dab the baguettes. Place in the oven/broiler for about three to five minutes.  Don’t let burn just slightly toasted.

The bacon should be getting done.  Place on a paper towel to drain.   Pour excess grease into a grease can (everyone has a grease can, right?)   Just for added flavoring, toss in the pan of drained grease the roasted bell peppers and capers.  If you happen to have a little wine or Port or Marsala even Bourbon would work.  Pour a little into the pan to de-glaze.  Scrub the bacon residue (or CRUD as Anne Burrell calls it) off the bottom and mix it all up.  Yum.

Remove the pan of baguettes from the oven/broiler.

The bacon should be cooled down now.  Chop it up into bits.

In a bowl, any size…throw all the ingredients in except the baguettes.  Mix well…now, place a spoon of mixture onto a sliced baguette.   Place this tray where the dog or cat can’t get to it.

Run get dressed for the party.

Grab the seasonal platter and place the baguettes on it and cover with something, foil, saran wrap, towel.

Carefully, drive to the party and drink responsibly and eat accordingly.

Have a fun time most of all.