Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Weekend Round-Up

Happy Birthday JFK May 26, 1917
As we remember all those who have given their service to our country take time to thank a veteran. 
______________________________________
Cook's notes: Easy ideas for you Memorial Weekend Get Together 
fruit tray
shrimp served in small cups or shot glasses with sprigs of parsley 
fruit and cheese tray

Memorial Day Menu #1
Cook's Notes:Grilling season is here so dust off your barbecue, fire it up and get your grill on! Savor the flavors of the season with tasty grilled skewered chicken, beef or pork marinated in a Moroccan style spice blend. As a time saver use a prepared box of herb couscous or Basmati Rice. Tzatziki sauce served as a side for the kabobs, a simple fresh fruit compote drizzled with a squeeze of lime juice topped with fresh mint and Sea Salt Brownies round out this meal. Wine pairing: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or Red Zinfandel.
These two recipes previously posted. Moroccan Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2015/05/fire-up-grill.html
Memorial Day Menu#2

Stir Fry Ginger Sesame Chicken with Green Beans
Cook's notes: This dish was easy to put together and perfect for a Memorial Day supper. Beef  or pork can be substituted for the chicken. A fresh fruit combo pairs well with the savoriness of this dish.
Green beans or asparagus should be cooked al dente.
Recipe inspiration came from McCormick and Sons.Inc
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken fillets, beef (sirloin) or pork tenderloins cut into large chunks
  • 1/3-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TB. Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 2 cups green beans, ends trimmed or asparagus spears, cut 
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 large tomato diced and patted dry on a paper towel
  • 2 TM. lemon juice
  • 3 TB. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 6 orange slices
  • 2 TB. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash red pepper flakes
Directions:
  • In a large bowl coat chicken pieces with flour.
  • In a wok or large fry pan heat 1 TB. oil and sear each piece of chicken 3-4 minutes per side and set chicken aside.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil and saute onions. Keep onions in the pan. 
  • To the rest of the flour in a bowl; add in orange juice, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, dash pepper flakes, honey, broth, lemon juice, sesame seeds and Hoisin sauce. Mix all sauce ingredients and add to large pan or wok.
  • Add chicken back into pan with carrots, zucchini, green beans or asparagus, mushrooms and cook on low 20 -25 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.
  • Cover pan and let set on stove, off heat for 10 minutes more. 
  • Just before serving add in tomato chunks and orange slices.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hoisin Glazed Chicken

Full Moon Rising
Cook's notes: A chicken dinner with an Asian flair. It's the perfect beginning for your holiday weekend grilling. It can be ready in 30 minutes. The dish is a nice blend of sweet, salty and sour – plus the sesame oil and the spices add a new layer of flavor.  I added a side dish of herb baby roasted potatoes but rice would pair well with the chicken. The broccoli was steamed in a foil packet. A  squeeze of lemon was splashed on broccoli before the packet was sealed. The packet was placed on the grill the last ten minutes of cooking time for the chicken. Another option to consider is when steaming the broccoli add in red peppers, mushrooms and sprinkle the mixture with 1/2 tsp. dried herbes de Provence.  
Recipe serves four and was adapted from cookingclassy.com

Hoisin Glazed Grilled Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 TB. soy sauce
  • 1 TB. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1- 1/2 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3/4 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing grill
  • Sliced green onions and sesame seeds, for serving

Directions:
  • Preheat a gas grill over medium-high heat to about 400 degrees. Meanwhile pound chicken to an even thickness using the flat side of a meat mallet. 
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, honey and Chinese Five Spice Blend. Pour half of the hoisin mixture into a separate small bowl.
  • Brush grill grates lightly with oil. Grill chicken 4 minutes then brush both sides with hoisin sauce mixture from one bowl (if you prefer a nice dark char on your chicken you can brush with sauce at the beginning vs. after the 4 minutes). Continue to grill on opposite side until nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes longer, then brush both sides (using a clean basting brush) with remaining sauce and continue to grill about 1 minute longer, or until center reaches 165 on an instant read thermometer. 
  • Serve warm with green onions and sesame seeds.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fire Up The Grill

With Memorial Day right around the corner here's a Thursday night special: 
Foil Packets
Create your own seafood dinner for the grill. The packets keep the veggies and shrimp tender during grilling—and cleanup is easy. 
Lemon Shrimp with Corn and Zucchini
Cook's  notes: Serves 4. Foil packets can be grilled or baked. 
Ingredients:
  • 3 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut in 1-2-inch chunks (about 3 C)
  • 4 ears corn on the cob, cut into 1-2-inch pieces
  • 1 lb uncooked shelled and deveined shrimp 
  • 8 lemon slices

Directions:
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Tear off 4 sheets of foil, each about 14 x 18". 
  • In large bowl, combine oil, garlic, thyme and Old Bay seasoning.  Add zucchini, corn and shrimp; toss to coat.
  • On each foil sheet place 1/4 of the shrimp mixture in center. Top with lemon slices. Bring sides together and fold, leaving room for steam to circulate; seal ends.
  • Place packets in a single layer on large baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before opening. Serve immediately or grill on a medium high heat 15 minutes.
    Lemon Dijon Salmon with Potatoes and Squash
    Cook's notes: This amazing meal is made in individual foil packets and cooks in under 30 minutes on the grill or baked on a rimmed baking sheet.  It's adapted from a recipe found on The Scrumptious Pumpkin.  
    Ingredients:
    • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices (1/16 inch or less)
    • 1 small yellow squash, cut into thin slices (1/8 inch)
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 tsp. olive oil
    • 10-ounce package fresh baby spinach
    • 6 tsp. lemon juice
    • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard, divided
    • 3 tsp. oregano, divided
    • 3 tsp. herbes de Provence, divided
    • 6 TB. white wine
    • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds salmon
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Directions:
    • Tear off 6 squares of heavy duty aluminum foil, each at least 16 inches long. Place equal amounts of the potatoes, squash, onions, and garlic in the center of each foil piece.
      Pull up the sides of the foil to create a ’bowl’ containing the vegetables. Place the spinach on top and to each packet drizzle with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
      Cut the fish into six individual portions and place on top of the spinach. Season the salmon by spreading each with 1 tsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence. 1/2 tsp. oregano and 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard.  Add 1 TB. white wine to each packet. Enclose packet and seal edges. 

    • Place on grill and cook 20 minutes on medium high heat or in oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how thick the fillets are. Wait 5 minutes before opening packet.
    Extra Foil Packet Notes:
    Suggested seafood:salmon, shrimp, bass, walleye, cod
    Suggested vegetables: peppers, red onion, carrots, artichoke hearts, fennel, leeks. scallions, canned chickpeas, potatoes, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, zucchini, baby greens
    Assembling packets: mound vegetables in center of heavy duty foil, top with a sprig of parsley, basil, thyme, oregano or rosemary. Place seafood on top, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Add a splash of white wine or water. Bring the short ends of foil together and fold twice to seal. Fold in the sides to seal. leaving room for steam.
    Cooking the packet: Time will vary depending on thickness of seafood. Grill medium high just until fish is cooked, about 12 minutes or in oven 400 degrees placed on a baking sheet, Bake about 12-15 minutes. Always let packets sit 5 minutes before opening. 


    Check out Bella's latest story Out of Control from WWN Rockport, Texas

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    Here's to Your Health

    Benefits to Eating Dark Chocolate
    Eating dark chocolate rich in cacao has been linked with numerous benefits, including stress reduction and  improved heart health, but a new study has revealed it can potentially make your brain smarter and improve memory.

    Dark Chocolate which is 70 percent cacao, is a major source of flavonoids– powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components that are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health.

    The California team’s initial studies at Loma Linda University have shown that absorbed cacao flavonoids penetrate and accumulate in regions of the brain associated with learning and memory. 
    It's important to clarify that these benefits only apply for pure dark chocolate. Milk chocolate,chocolate desserts, and other chocolate sweets do not carry the same benefits.
    Egg On
    Don't turn down an egg because you are worried about cholesterol. A recent study found a moderate intake up to an egg a day does not raise the risk of heart disease.  
    A large egg contains 77 calories, with 6 grams of quality protein, 5 grams of fat and trace amounts of carbohydrates. It’s very important to realize that almost all the nutrients are contained in the yolk, the white contains only protein.
    Eggs also contain small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body… including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, Vitamin E, Folate and many more.

    Nuts to You
    Adding almonds to your diet can improve overall nutrition. It's a great way to get essential vitamins and minerals in your diet. They are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium Almonds are also a great source of protein, fibre, low in sugar and contain no salt or cholesterol. One serving contains almost 13 grams of unsaturated fats. They are the highest nuts in protein, fiber, calcium, riboflavin and niacin.
    Good Question 
    Q: What  is a good substitute for mayonnaise? Light mayonnaise 36 calories
    A: To replace mayo in dressings, try nonfat plain Greek yogurt 9 calories or a mix of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt is your best bet. Check out these alternatives as sandwich spreads.   
    Hummus- 25 calories
    Mashed Avocado -23 calories
     Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882), known professionally as Waldo Emerson, was an American essayist, lecturer and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    Almond Poppy Seed Chicken Salad


    Almond Poppy Seed Chicken Salad Sandwiches
    Cook's notes: With the advent of warm weather and summer right around the corner what's not to love about a cold chicken salad sandwich. You get crunchy goodness from the almonds, a creamy light dressing, and sweetened with dried cherries.  The filling can be served on a croissant, a healthier route with a lettuce wrap or whole grain bread. Either way its a winner for dining al fresco.  A time saver is using a rotisserie chicken.
    Recipe adapted from cookingclassy.com and serves 4.
    Ingredients:  
    Chicken
    • 1 lbs,  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, chilled and diced into small cubes or use a rotisserie 
    • 1-1/3 cups red grapes, halved
    • 3/4 cup small diced celery
    • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
    • 1 TB. parsley flakes
    • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
    • 1/3 cup chopped green onions (green portion only)
    • Romaine lettuce
    Dressing
    • 2/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt 
    • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
    • 2 TB. honey
    • 1 TB. red wine vinegar
    • 1 TB. poppy seeds
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
    Directions:
    For the dressing:
    Mix all dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined.
    For the salad:

    • Add all chicken salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl or a salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to evenly coat. Store in refrigerator. Serve within 2 hours for best results (it's still good for another day but the almonds soften a little and the grapes juices run into the dressing). Add romaine lettuce to sandwich with chicken salad filling.
    • *To cook the chicken, I lined a rimmed baking sheet with foil. I pounded chicken to an even thickness and brushed both sides of the chicken lightly with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkle with Herbes de Provence. Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven until center registered 165 (this will take about 30 minutes depending on thickness of chicken breasts). Then let chill in the fridge.
    A time saver is using a rotisserie chicken.

    Common Kitchen Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 
    You thaw and marinate food on the counter at room temperature.
    Government food safety guide calls this a very risky thing to do. Instead thaw meat in refrigerator and same with marinating.
    You don't prep before you cook.
    Home cooks tend to do everything at once and the results can be chaotic. Prep everything first and assembly for recipes goes so much faster.  
    You  don't think about time and sequence before you start cooking
    Start each recipe by reading all the steps through and start each recipe in a proper sequence.  The issue of timing is critical. 
    You don't use a cutting board
    A lot of people use their counter tops to chop, mince and slice. It's bad for your knives and potentially can cause cross examination. Glass cutting boards are also a bad idea for your knives.  No need also to avoid wood cutting boards. Just keep your boards clean and oiled with mineral oil and they are safe.   
    You don't preheat your oven adequately
    It's crucial for many baked goods for oven to be fully heated to 350 degrees. 
    You don't label and date the food you put in the freezer.
    Did you know that one thing in your kitchen that won't spoil no matter where you store it is honey?
    You don't use parchment paper.
    It's best for cakes and cookies and makes clean-up a breeze.
    You don't let your meat rest after cooking.
    Tent your cooked meat with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes.

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Almond Streusel Coffee Cake

    Start the day with your favorite cup of coffee or tea, a slice of Almond Streusel Coffee Cake and a good book. I can recommend "Kitchen Boy" a riveting novel by Robert Alexander, that I just finished in a 24 hour time period. It was that good.
    He's a Minnesota author whose real name is Robert D. Zimmerman.
    Zimmerman/Alexander is an author of mysteries, psychological thrillers, and children's books. He has won several literary awards. He also wrote the bestselling novel "Rasputin's Daughter "and the forthcoming "The Romanov Bride." Alexander/Zimmerman has spent over thirty years traveling to Russia, where he has studied and also worked for the U.S. government. He speaks frequently to book clubs and schools sharing his love of books and Russian history.
    "Kitchen Boy" is a historical fiction novel that recreates the tragic and fascinating story of the final days of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov (the last Tsar of Russia) as seen through the eyes of their young kitchen boy, Leonka. Now an elderly Russian immigrant, Leonka claims to be the last living witness to the Romanovs’ brutal murders and sets down the dark secrets of his past with the imperial family. It is a compelling novel with the last few chapters true page turners. I couldn't read fast enough to find out answers to the many questions that surrounded the family's murder. I also found the story to be a touching portrait of a loving family held in captivity. It will pique your interest to google or search the library to find out more about the Tsar and the missing children. "Kitchen Boy" also is a great book club selection.

    Almond Streusel Coffee Cake
    Cook's notes: I really liked the flavor  in this recipe and  the crunch of honey roasted almonds mixed in the streusel topping.  You can save calories by using yogurt over sour cream. You won't even miss it. This cake is perfect for a coffee get together, brunch or even served as a dessert. 
    Recipe adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com
    Cake Ingredients:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp.almond extract
    • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
    Streusel Filling and Topping:
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup quick rolled oats 
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tsp.  Saigon cinnamon
    • 1/2 stick cold butter
    • 3/4 cup Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Almonds, chopped
    Directions:
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
    • To make the streusel topping and filling, place the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your floured fingertips until evenly distributed. Stir in chopped almonds. Set aside.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
    • Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and Greek yogurt. Mix until well combined.
    • Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
    • Spoon half of the coffee cake batter into the prepared cake pan, the batter will be thick. Sprinkle half of the streusel topping/filling over the cake batter. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling, spreading gently. Sprinkle with the remaining streusel. 
    • Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut into squares and serve.
    Sour cream can be substituted for Greek yogurt.

    Sunday, May 22, 2016

    Walking in F. Scott Fitzgerald Shoes

    Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist and short story writer, whose works epitomizes the writings of the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.
    Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The beautiful and Dammed. The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night.  A fifth, unfinished novel,The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. He died of a heart attack in 1944 before its completion. Fitzgerald also wrote numerous short stories, many of which treat themes of youth and promise, and age and despair.


    Born in 1896 in Saint Paul Minnesota, to an upper-middle-class family, Fitzgerald was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed on his father's side, Francis Scott Key, the lawyer and writer who penned the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. But he was always known as plain Scott Fitzgerald. He was also named after his deceased sister, Louise Scott Fitzgerald.

    The dominant influences on F. Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration, literature, time spent at Princeton, his wife Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and alcohol.  Fitzgerald was attracted to Zelda who was considered the quintessential 1920s “flapper.” Shortly after the publication of “This Side of Paradise,” he married Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama judge. Beautiful and unpredictable, Zelda was a major inspiration for the new generation of liberated “flapper” girls Fitzgerald often wrote about in his novels and stories. She smoked and drank in public, cracked risqué jokes and was an accomplished painter, dancer and writer. The couple’s fashionable clothes and booze-fueled antics made them the toast of the literary world.
    But their glamorous lives were later visited by tragedy in the 1930s. Fitzgerald sank into alcoholism and struggled to write, and Zelda suffered a mental breakdown and spent the latter part of her life in and out of sanitariums. They had one daughter named Scottie.

    Following Fitzgerald's footsteps began in St. Paul, Minnesota where our group of 10 gathered downtown in Rice Park to have our photo taken beside his bronze statue. This life size replica was created by Minnesota sculptor, Michael Price.  
    Kathleen loves literature, fine quotes, and the history of St. Paul. What better way to celebrate her birthday than to walk in Fitzgerald's shoes on a brisk and I might add windy Spring afternoon.
    Courtesy of The Fitzgerald Society we all had our brochures A Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald's St, Paul's Homes and Haunts to keep us on track with three designated car drivers. Due to time constraints we had to skip other downtown locations which included the St. Paul Hotel, where Scott and Zelda spent time in between homes,Union Depot, where Scott would catch the train to go out East for schools (In the "Great Gatsby" he described coming back to St, Paul on the train), and St. Mary's Church, where Fitzgerald's grandparents worshipped  and donated a marble baptismal font, and  The Fitzgerald Theater. This theater is committed to programming that reflects the audience and mission of Minnesota Public Radio and is home to Garrison Keillor's, A Prairie Home Companion. The Fitzgerald Theater is St. Paul’s oldest theater, built in 1910.
    From downtown we headed up to the Summit Hill-Cathedral Hill District where well-preserved Victorian-era dwellings and other historic architectural treasures are located throughout this nationally famous area of St. Paul, Summit Avenue. 
    F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896 in his parents’ apartment at 481 Laurel Avenue. The three-story apartment building is located in Saint Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood. Today, the building is a National Literary Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Driving past the stately Victorian mansions on Summit Avenue of railroad barons James J. Hill and his son Louis W. Hill's home,  we stopped at a more modest property at 599 Summit avenue. It was here Scott published his first novel "This Side of Paradise" and a number of short stories, including A Camel's Back.  
    626 Goodrich Avenue is where Scott and Zelda briefly lived after the birth of their first and only child Frances (Scottie) Fitzgerald in Oct 1921. 
    It's the yellow Victorian house on the right almost hidden by spring foliage.
    An added bonus to the trip was finding the old St. Paul Academy building where Fitzgerald went for three years. In 1909, at age 13, Scott won his first byline with the publication of a short story in the school magazine. Now a professional building, the young Fitzgerald is immortalized by a bronze statue on the stairs holding his school books.
    The Commodore Hotel opened in 1920. Evicted from their White Bear Lake cottage, Scott and Zelda moved into the luxurious Commodore Hotel, awaiting the birth of their first child. A speakeasy was said to have operated in the basement of the Hotel.
    The hotel and its elegant art deco bar attracted literary figures F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as gangsters Al Capone and Fred Barker. The hotel was renovated in the 1970s but the outside still looks much like it did when Ma Barker met her son Fred's girlfriend here. It recently reopened in Oct 2015 with another stunning renovation inside maintaining an art deco influence. 
    It was here we had a chance to toast the birthday girl with the Commodore's signature drinks: The Fitzgerald, The Zelda and The Dorothy Parker. 
    Our second to last stop was 420 Summit Avenue-The University Club, a place where Scott and Zelda once held a "Bad Luck Ball" in 1922. The University Club figures in several of Fitzgerald's stories, including The Ice Palace. 
    We enjoyed a lovely dinner overlooking the city of St. Paul. 
    A birthday would not be complete without a birthday cake. Our last stop was Kathleen's house to cap a very fun day walking in Fitzgerald's shoes. And I might add tracing the footsteps of Fitzgerald inspired all of us to reread his classic books and short stories. Many in the group did their homework, were well informed and came with their favorite quotes. 
     
    And  this is one of my favorite Fitzgerald quotes.