Tag Archives: friday recipe

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thai coconut soup
from Epicurious.com

It all started with a birthday celebration and Voxer.

6 girlfriends and I went to a local Italian restaurant for Spaghetti Night and to celebrate some recent birthdays.  This group of gals could not be a more mixed bag: some married, some single; some with kids, some with no kids; ages ranging from early 30's to 60's.  Some have known each other since birth, some are new to the group.  But we are all friends.  We care about each other.  We do life together.

We had a great time celebrating and eating heartily (no one in this group is bashful about eating) then we hopped in our cars, drove away to our 7 different homes and went to bed.

And then the next day something strange and beautiful happened.

Bright and early the next day, I heard my phone buzzing, messages coming in on Voxer (an app that is like walkie-talkie meets voicemail).  But I was at work and I didn't have time to stop.  It seemed every 10 or 15 minutes my phone was alerting me to a new message!  Later in the morning I had a few moments and I listened to the thread of messages from all 6 of my friends and it went something like this (paraphrasing for the sake of time):

(Friend 1) Thank you everyone for coming out last night, I loved spending an evening with all of you, eating and being loud.

(Friend 2) Yes, thank you everyone, it was amazing to spend time with you all.  Let's do it again on St. Patrick's Day!

(Friend 3) I want to second that, I had so much fun with you all.  Send pictures!

(Friend 4) Amen, all my favorite girls in one place!  Will have to do a Shamrock Day just to have an excuse to get together again!

(Friend 5) Thank you all for such a wonderful night, I had such a good time laughing with you. Thank you for reminding me how beautiful life is.

Here's what I forgot to tell you about this group of gals: every single one of us is going through something.  Big things, little things. Life things.  And although we spent a good amount of time laughing and celebrating the night before, we also shared the challenges and heartaches we were dealing with that week.  That day.

So the Voxer conversation took a turn later in the morning that went like this:

(Friend 3) Friend 5, I went to bed with you on my mind and woke up with you on my mind.  I'm praying for you today!

(Friend 4)  Amen, I'm praying for all of you!

(Friend 6) Can someone pray for me, I've been sick for a month and now I've thrown my back out!

So we spent the next few hours sending each other words of encouragement and prayer.

Then out of the blue, the subject of soup came up:

(Friend 4) I know what will make you feel better Friend 6, my Thai Coconut Soup that you love so much.

(Friend 1) Umm... I really like your Thai Coconut Soup too!

(Friend 3) Yeah, I've been feeling under the weather.... I need some healing soup....

(Me) I don't think I've ever had this soup....

(Friend 5) I like soup too!!

So Friend Number 4 did something completely and totally selfless: she volunteered to make a vat of Thai Coconut Soup for all of us to share.  She packaged it up individually and all we had to do was show up at her house and pick it up.

And we did.Every single girl drove over to her house to receive her gift of soup.  And while we ate her Thai Coconut Soup later that day we knew we were loved, that we were not alone in this mean world.

I know I've shared this with you before, but I'm going to share it again today and I'll go on sharing it every time I feel like I should. Jesus made a big deal out of feeding people.  There is a connection between nourishing someone's body and nourishing someone's soul.  It's such a small act, but conveys so much.

I hope you all have a support group as amazing as mine.  I hope you have people in your life who will make soup for you when they find out you are sick.  If not, you just let me know.

Here is the link to the recipe on Epicurious for Thai Chicken Coconut Soup.  This is not the exact recipe that Friend 4 used but I think it's pretty close.

Maybe you can make a little extra and share it with someone this weekend.

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777

Happy Friday ATC friends!  By the time this post goes live I will be lying on a bed in a light blue, backless gown with an IV poking out of my arm, waiting to be wheeled in for surgery Lucky Number 7.  My last surgery (2008) was to replace my severed ACL but unfortunately it has not felt right since then.  In fact, I've lost roughly 80% of my muscle in that leg.

So my surgeon is removing the screws and washers that were used to attach the new ACL, apparently they aren't necessary any more and are sticking out the wrong side of the bone.  I saw it on the MRI, it was surreal to think that long skinny thing was jutting out of my bone or even in my body at all.

Supposedly I will be back on my feet in just a few days so I will be taking just a short rest before getting back to my crazy life.  And physical therapy, blech.

But that is not going to stop me from our Friday Recipe, no way!

avocados-salad-l

I don't know why exactly, but I have been craving avocados all week.  I have been dreaming up recipes in my mind, pinning and bookmarking other people's avocado recipes but strangely, I have not yet bought a single avocado!  I guess in the back of my mind, I know it's not quite yet time for the creamy California Haas avocados or the smaller but flavorful Mexican avocados that are so easy to find here in Northern California.  Especially when your Uncle planted such a tree and has now grown into a mighty giant.  Yes, when the time is right I will be able to walk down the road and pick a few of my own avocados, right off the tree.  Jealous?

One of the recipes I stumbled on is from Sunset Magazine called Avocados with Warm Bacon Parsley Vinaigrette.  I'm sure I don't need to explain why this simple side dish would be delectable but  besides the obvious there is a bit of sentiment involved here.  My mother used to make the classic spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette and I loved it.  Which is saying a lot because generally I don't like raw spinach.  But the smokey bacon mixed with the tangy vinaigrette is irresistible to me and I know, I know, I know that combo will pair deliciously with velvety avocados.

If you've never made warm bacon vinaigrette it goes like this:  cook your bacon and set aside to drain.  With a little bit of the bacon fat still in the pan stir in and lightly cook garlic, lemon juice, sugar and water.  Check for salt & pepper then add back in the bacon and some chopped parsley.

Drizzle your warm vinaigrette over sliced avocados and then take a moment to thank me for sending this recipe your way!  Click here for the full recipe.

I'm going to be a little sore (actually, a lot sore) and possibly a little cranky this weekend while my knee recovers.  I don't  usually eat much post-surgery, just oyster crackers and Peanut M&M's.  I got my super-size bag of each.  I'm ready for this.

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from Epicurious
from Epicurious

It finally happened.  After months of mind numbing cold, the sun finally came out.  In fact, I was running errands outside the office this afternoon and I actually got hot!  I rolled down the windows of my car and let the preSpring air whip my hair into a knotted mess.  It was glorious.

And that's when it got me thinking... thinking about the upcoming Spring/Summer season and all the glorious produce we are going to have.  For the new friends here, I live smack in the middle of the farmlands of Northern California.  There are large and small farms all up and down the highways and just about everybody has a small vegetable garden or at least a tomato plant or two.  You name it, we grow it: cherries, peaches, corn, strawberries, nectarines, avocados, greens, herbs, garlic, onions, beans, and so much more!

So I've been dreaming.  Dreaming about all the sun-soaked fruits and veggies I'm going to eat so very, very soon.  And that's where this recipe from Epicurious comes in.

This salad recipe contains so many of my favorite California flavors: creamy avocados (yum), crunchy romaine (yum x 2), delicate corn (yum!), smoky chipotle (yummy!!) and puckery lime (YUMMY!!!).   I don't know why they named it Romaine, Grilled Avocado, and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing.  What a mouthful of a name!  They should have simply called it NorCal In A Bowl.

You may be thinking "grilled avocado?!" but try it!  Avocados have so much natural fat, they grill quite well and that little bit of char adds an interesting layer of flavor.  While you're at it, grill up some corn.  Then mix together parmesean, garlic, oil, lime juice, chipotles in adobo and a pinch of salt & pepper to form the dressing.  Toss that all together with some romaine and you will have one delicious salad that will make your taste buds oh so happy. (click here for the full recipe)

The only important thing on my checklist this weekend is to get outside and let the sun shine on my face.  Sunscreen...I need to find my sunscreen!

garlic chicken couscous

Most of the time when I share a recipe I try to include a little story, a little anecdote that leads up to the food.  I try to bring it all full circle in the end.  Today, I'm not gonna lie.  I got nothin'.

What I can tell you is this:  I'm hungry.  I like chicken.  I like quick and easy prep.  And this recipe fits the bill. It has garlic, it has wine, it has onions.  It all goes into the slow cooker and comes out a chickeny-garlicky-saucy dinner to be served over a bed of couscous.  This is a recipe I must share with you.

This recipe for Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken With  Couscous comes from good ole Martha Stewart.  After lightly browning chicken pieces in a skillet, the onion, garlic and thyme are tossed into the slow cooker and the chicken pieces are placed on top with a little salt & pepper.  Flour and white wine are whisked together and drizzled over top.  In as little as 3.5 hours (on high) or 7 hours (on low), the chicken & sauce is ready to be served over couscous which takes approximately five minutes to prepare.  Top it off with parsley.

So there you have it, no fuss, no muss.

What is muss?  I'm going to have to look that up....

cracker jack title

Here it is, as promised!  I'm really excited to share this Friday Recipe with you for a few reasons:

  1. It's a Carey-original recipe.
  2. Actually, that first statement is only partly true.  It's really my mom's recipe, which is another reason why I'm thrilled to share it with you. I just added a tiny twist to make it mine.
  3. This is a super-simple recipe and if you  have young cooks in the kitchen this would be a perfect recipe to start them out on.  I learned this recipe when I was in Jr. High and my mom was my home economics teacher.  I wasn't allowed to call her "mom" in class.  That's a whole other weird story.
  4. The ingredient list is short and cheap.
  5. To put it plainly, it's good.  Really good.

cracker jack handwritten recipe

I have very few memories of my mother cooking with pre-packaged, processed foods.  She preferred to make things from scratch, and she could.  She was a brilliant cook.  Ironically, although she was very health conscious (very!), she was fine with sweet treats that were homemade in our kitchen and we made this recipe for Homemade Cracker Jack often.

It's easy enough to whip up on a weeknight after dinner and still maintain a feeling of health because the ingredients are very natural.  You can easily increase or decrease the size of your batch, making it a perfect party snack.

Are you ready?  Let's get started!  The full recipe will be at the end of this post, but I'll walk you through the finer points:

cracker jack pour

This recipe starts out simple enough... pop some popcorn.   You can use air popped corn, microwave popcorn (natural, not flavored) or you can do the stovetop method, which is my personal favorite.  You are going to need about 2 quarts of popcorn.  Don't know how much that is?  It is roughly 1/2 cup unpopped kernels but you can also use a 2 qt sauce pan to measure your corn after it is popped. This recipe is casual, easy-going, forgiving.  Don't get too hung up on getting exactly 2 quarts of popped corn, just estimate.  All will be well, I promise.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat combine the honey, butter and my addition, molasses.  The molasses is optional, my mom didn't use it.  But I think it adds one more delectable layer of flavor.

After those ingredients are melted and combined add the peanuts.  Some of you observant ones are looking at the above photo and thinking, "Those don't look like peanuts!"  You caught me!  It turns out, I was all out of peanuts so I grabbed some almond slivers.  This proves my point that this recipe is so easy, so forgiving.  You can swap the peanuts for your favorite nut or better yet, use a combination of nuts.  You could even leave the nuts out or use pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds instead.

Pour the melted honey-butter mixture over the popcorn and then using your hands or two spoons lightly toss the popcorn so the syrup and nuts are evenly distributed.

cracker jack tray

Slide the gooey popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet.  I line mine with parchment so the cleanup is a snap. Spread the  popcorn across the pan in a single, even layer.  You observant ones have caught me again, "That doesn't look like a single layer!"  Do as I say, not as I do!    My pan was a little too small.  But you can get around that non-problem by either giving the popcorn a little stir halfway through OR bake it in 2 batches.

Into a preheated 350 degree oven it goes for 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it!  It will be very sad if it burns because there is no salvaging burnt cracker jack.  It will turn golden brown as it bakes, pull it out before it starts turning dark brown.

This part is important: when you take it out of the oven you must let it cool!  You will be greatly tempted to start snacking on your cracker jack as soon as it comes out of the oven.  It will smell nutty and sweet, glistening from the butter and honey.  Resist!  You will blister your fingers and taste buds, I speak from experience.  Also, the popcorn might appear to be a little soggy when it first comes out of the oven.  Be patient dear friend, you will be rewarded.

cracker jack finished

After about 15 minutes of relaxing on the counter the popcorn will be nearly dry and cool enough to touch.  Slide your cracker jack into a big bowl, give it a little toss to break up any big clumps and enjoy!

It's crunchy and sweet.  It's salty and nutty.  It's addicting.  I really hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

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Homemade Cracker Jack

by accordingtocarey.com

1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

1 Tablespoon molasses (optional)

2 quarts popped corn, in a large bowl

3/4 cup peanuts (can substitute other nuts, seeds or leave out completely)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter, honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in the nuts.  Pour mixture evenly over the popcorn and toss lightly to coat the popcorn evenly with the butter mixture.  Spread the sticky popcorn onto a shallow baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the popcorn for  10-15 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through.  Remove the popcorn from the oven when it has turned golden brown.  Let it cool on the counter or stove top for 15 minutes before transferring to a large bowl.  Gently toss to break up any clumps and enjoy!

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blood orange, food, citrus
A ripe blood orange from Uncle Farmer's Market.

 

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I've told you about my uncle, right?  The one I call Uncle Farmer's Market?  Last night I stopped by my uncle's house to say "howdy" and left with a big bag of Blood Oranges.  He had about 15 bags of Blood Oranges that he is getting ready to sell but being his niece and all, I get the family discount: free.

I am a huge fan of all citrus but the oranges I grew up on, the ones my grandpa grew, are considered "eating" oranges, not "juicing" oranges.  This means that they lean a little more towards the tart side rather than sweet.

This is why I love Blood Oranges! They are a delectable combination of fruity and tart, not syrupy sweet, but what really sets them apart from standard naval oranges is their gorgeous ruby color.  On the outside they look just like a regular orange but the inside, oh the inside!  Such a beautiful shade of pinkish-red.

Since I have about 15 pounds of oranges to use up, I did a quick internet search for some new ideas to use up blood oranges.  Aside from peel-n-eat or adding the juice to cocktails, my blood orange repertoire is pretty light.  Thanks to Google I came across a recipe that I think is worth sharing.  The recipe comes from Martha Stewart and is called "Striped Sea Bass with Blood Oranges and Olives".  Just think about that for a second: firm, succulent sea bass paired with tart blood oranges and briny olives. Is your mouth watering yet?

It couldn't be simpler: after cooking the fish in a skillet on the stove, add a pat of butter and saute shallots.  Add the blood orange juice, reduce, then add some more butter.  Because butter is goooooood. Toss in the blood orange segments and olives.  And that's it!  Pour the sauce over the fish and if you like, you can serve it with a little polenta or jasmine rice or simple salad.

You gotta try it!

Get the whole recipe here, from marthastewart.com.  

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In other news, I am still dreaming of warm weather. Sunshine, please come back!!  Hot or cold, I hope you enjoy your weekend.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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Cousin Christmas 2012 is tonight!! I can't remember how long this has been going on, but some years back my cousin Jill, my sister Natalie & I instituted a holiday tradition we call Cousin Christmas. We exchange small gifts (shopping primarily from each other's Amazon Wish Lists), eat our favorite snacks, and drink our favorite beverages. Oh, and wear our Christmas pajamas as you can see in the photo above from Cousin Christmas 2010.  That year I decided makeup was not necessary.  Then my cousin decided to take a bazillion photos and I regretted that decision.

I hear she got a new camera as an early Christmas present.  This year I will be wearing makeup.

After some group-text-planning, we decided to have chips & salsa from Chili's restaurant, hummus and we are going to try a special  holiday cocktail called Winter Wonderland (above). The recipe comes from singlemindedwomen.com and it is a lovely concoction of vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and coconut.  It sounds like a warm snowball in a glass... or something less cheesy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying it, I don't see how it can't be yummy.

Of course, if that doesn't work out I can always have my standard mug-full of marshmallows.

Cousin Christmas is the official kickoff of my holiday celebrating and I'm so excited to eat good food, share time with my loved ones, and remember the greatest gift of all: a tiny babe who came to us one holy night.

...A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices

O night divine, O night when Christ was born...

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I love Pinterest for so many reasons but the biggest reason is that it allows me to be a hoarder without taking up any physical space.  This, however, has created a huge problem with my Food Stuff Board- it has grown to a morbidly obese size and isn't all that helpful when you are trying to find something specific.  One board for everything from appetizers to side dishes to desserts just doesn't work.  So earlier this week I sat down and started sifting through my Food Stuff Board, breaking it down into smaller categories.  So far I have created new boards dedicated solely to appetizers, beverages, gluten free, sweets, breads and soups.

I won't lie, it wasn't a super fun task and I'm only about halfway through.  But I had a good laugh at myself for how many times I pinned the exact same recipe for braised short ribs.  I reeeeeeally wanted to remember that one!

Another plus to all this organizing was remembering all the great recipes I have stored like this recipe for Spanish Chicken with Chorizo & Potatoes from Nigella Lawson.  I'll tell you a few reasons why I liked this recipe:

  • It requires only one pan.  ONE!
  • Potatoes and chicken, classic family favorites.  Kids and adults alike will eat this meal.
  • It cooks in the oven, which means I am not slaving away over a stove.  After a minimal amount of prep, I can toss all the ingredients together, put it in the oven and walk away.  An hour later, dinner is served.
  • The seasonings are simple: oregano.  I know what you're thinking, "What about the salt??!"  Don't' forget how spicy and salty chorizo can be.  Hold off on adding any salt until after it's done cooking.  You might not need any.
  • This recipe heartily serves 6 but you can easily cut it in half for a smaller group.
  • Um, helllllooooo, it's from Nigella.  I adore Nigella.  Sometimes I study her makeup so I can try to look more like Nigella.  Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?  But if I start talking with a phony British accent you should be concerned.

You can find the full recipe over at Nigella's site but I can give you the "gist" really quick:  Preheat the oven to approximately 425 degrees.  Drizzle 2 baking sheets with olive oil.  Add the chicken, tossing to coat in the oil. Add the rest of the ingredients (chorizo, onion, potato, oregano, orange zest) and pop in the oven for about 1 hour, giving the pans a quick turn at the halfway mark.

And if you're looking for even more inspiration, feel free to pop on over to my Pinterest boards and see what other lovely meals I plan to try!

Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you get all your holiday shopping done!

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oven pancake

Uhhhh, ok so your Friday Recipe is really not coming until Sunday.  But it's worth it, I promise!

By now you all know what a Dutch Baby is, right? A little over a year ago recipes for Dutch Babies, or German Pancake, or Oven Pancake started popping up everywhere and to be completely honest, I was dumbfounded.  Not because they aren't amazing, but because I couldn't believe how many people had never heard of them before.  My mother made Dutch Babies at least once a week for breakfast from the time I was little.  And everyone loved them.  They are buttery, crusty and chewy at the same time and the perfect vehicle for a sweet topping, like maple syrup.

Dutch Babies are really economical and require only the most basic of ingredients: milk, eggs, flour, sugar, butter.  They are also speedy to make, which I'm sure is one of the reasons my mother made them so often.  The whole batter is made in the blender, poured into a preheated pan and ready to eat in less than 1/2 hour.  Good stuff.

But what about when you're not serving breakfast to a family of 6?  What if it's just you and your significant other?  Or just yourself?  It seems so wasteful to bake a great big Dutch Baby only to toss most of it in the waste bin.

That's why today I took my mother's original recipe that serves approximately 6 people and shrunk it down to create the Itty Bitty Dutch Baby, serving 1-2 people.

oven pancake german pancake ingredients

As you can see, the cast of characters is pretty simple.  Just 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of milk (not pictured), 1 tablespoon sugar (optional), scant 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and 2 tablespoons of butter.  And an itty, bitty skillet.  Today I used an 8 inch stainless steel skillet but you could also use a small baking dish, cast iron skillet, muffin tin, just about anything with a lip on it that can hold about 1 cup worth of liquid.

oven pancake blend

Because it was such a small batch, I could forgo the big blender and use my immersion blender and the small cup that came with it.  Easier cleanup, I love it!

dutch baby pour

After the butter melted and the mixture was blended, I simply poured the mixture into the hot pan and put it back in the oven until puffy and golden!

dutch baby oven

See how puffy it got!  Be sure to bake it in the middle of the oven so it doesn't puff up to the top of the oven.

oven pancake

Serve it immediately, while it's still piping hot.  My favorite topping is molasses but classically it is served with maple syrup or a lemony glaze.  It would also be great smothered in raspberry jam or a warmed fruit compote!

This Itty Bitty Dutch Baby is large enough to feed  2 hungry people or 1 very hungry person.  I'm not saying I ate the whole thing.  I'm not saying that.

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Carey's Itty Bitty Dutch Baby

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 scant cup of all purpose flour

Start by heating an 8 inch pan in a 425 degree oven, with a generous pat of butter in the pan.  Next, in a blender blend the eggs for about 30 seconds and then add the milk and sugar, blending again for 30 seconds.  Gradually add the flour, again mixing for about 30 seconds.  By now the butter should be melted, foaming and just starting to brown.  Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 12-15 minutes.  The pancake will puff up as it cooks.  When the edges are dark brown and the middle is just beginning to turn golden it's ready!  The pancake will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven,  don't worry, that's supposed to happen. Slice it into wedges and serve with maple syrup, lemon sauce, jam or my personal favorite, molasses.

Simply Sweet Home Friday Favorite

Somewhat Simple

SNAP!
Catch a Glimpse Button

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Baby, it's cold outside!  When I say cold what I mean is this: I live in Northern California and it is below 65 degrees. I realize that for some of you temperatures in the 60's is bathing suit weather but this California girl can't hack it.  The forecast for this weekend is cold rain and a frigid 43 degree overnight low. It makes my teeth chatter just thinking about it!

Here is what I plan to do to combat the wintery chills: warm beverages.  Hot chocolate, hot apple cider, special coffee drinks, hot water with lemon & honey and any other toasty beverage I can curl my fingers around.

Enter this recipe from Sunset Magazine, Warm Apple Pie Cocktail.   Doesn't' that sound like comfort in a cup? And it is so simple: warm unfiltered apple juice with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice then add a splash of spiced rum and top it all off with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Of course if you don't mind leaving out the rum, you could make this drink with your favorite little ones.  Let them toss in the spices and spoon in the whipped cream.  Maybe even sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg on top.  Ohhhhhhh, such goodness!

Yep, this weekend I'm going to throw some logs on the fire, do some online Christmas shopping and enjoy this yummy drink.  And you? What will you be doing to stay warm and cozy?