The Wine List (Thanksgiving Edition Part 2)

Thanksgiving has to be one of my most favorite holidays.  Even though it was a week ago, I’m still dreaming of the sausage stuffing made by my friend, Holly.  The delicious smell of roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts with garlic and rosemary still lingers in my kitchen.  The turkey…oh, the turkey!  Pieced out and slow-roasted to a golden brown – pure heaven!  We also enjoyed a boozy version of cranberry relish spiked with vodka and Grand Mariner, and a lovely kale caesar salad that has become a specialty of my friend, Pat.

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The table was set with my great grandmother’s china.

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The Wine List: Thanksgiving Edition

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I’m a list-maker.  Phew, I said it.  It’s out there.  I feel so much better now.  Yes, I make lists.  I come from a long line of list-makers.  My mother makes lists, my grandmother makes lists, my aunts make them…you get it.  Lists are in our blood.  Before I knew it, I was addicted to the satisfaction I got from crossing a big, fat line through each item on the list.  Each line meant a tiny victory for me.  Some lists are simple and fun, like what is needed at the grocery store.  Other lists, however, might as well be Mount Everest: the endless list of books I want to read, places I want to travel, home improvement projects, general life goals.  You know, lists that remind me of what little progress I’ve made.  Lists that mock me and, in turn, get moved from the top of the stack to the back of a drawer.

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Roast Chicken (Again, Because Why Not?)

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Guys, for the last five weeks I have been involved in a practicum experience as part of my degree; I have been working with a wonderful English teacher and her 8th graders every morning and Friday was my last day.  I absolutely loved my experience and the conclusion was bittersweet.  I was sad to say goodbye to the students I worked with, but I was happy to be able to get back in the kitchen and start blogging again.

As you all know, I love roast chicken.  I posted about it a couple of years ago, but I wanted to revisit it.  This time, I chose to keep it even simpler; no veggies, no herbs, no roasting pan, no nonsense.  Just a chicken, some kosher salt and black pepper, and a skillet.

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White Chicken Chili

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This semester has been absolutely hectic and my absence from blogging has been weighing on me.  I apologize to those of you who follow and read my musings and recipes; hopefully this delightful and hearty soup will make up for my inability to keep more than a few plates spinning at the same time.

We’ve entered Autumn in the midwest; my favorite season.  The air gets crisp and clean, the windows are open, and the sweaters have been unpacked.  I love baking and cooking during this season, as it lends itself to some of my favorite recipes: roast chicken, shepherd’s pie, chicken noodle soup, lasagna and chili.

Recently I was craving the latter, but was also craving a change.  Rather than go with the usual tomato-based chili with pinto, black, and kidney beans, I opted for simplicity: chicken thighs and cannellini beans.

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Vivan’s Texas Sheet Cake

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I’ve never been a gambler.  Well, at least not a good one.  I rarely win anything, be it a stuffed toy at the county fair, or a pair of tickets via the local radio station.  This fact does not bode well for me since I have a group of friends that likes to meet occasionally for a “friendly” game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

We have some really, really good players in the group and I am so bad that I only play when I know I have decent cards – I’m giving away all my secrets here!  In all seriousness, the game is always fun.  I see it as a way to connect to friends on a human level rather than via Facebook, and hey, when we host, I always make some sort of sweet or savory snack!  So, even though my friends walk away with my buy-in (all $10 of it!), at least I can say I provided something good to eat while they do it.

This time, we welcomed two newcomers into the fold.  My friend from Norway, Thomas, was here visiting and he brought his friend, Anders.  To mark the occasion, I felt that something chocolatey would suffice.  I instantly thought about my mother’s Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s quick and simple, and totally divine.

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Braided Blueberry Cheese Danish

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Last week I had the pleasure of spending some time in lovely Madison, Wisconsin.  My dear cousin lives there with his wife and three darling children, and it has been 13 years since I last visited.  It was due time, for sure.  We spent a lot of time at the house, but we also had some chances to check out what Madison has to offer in terms of food experiences.

A couple of friends of mine also live there and gave me an extensive list of places to try.  Sadly, I was only able to check out two of those places, but one of them, La Brioche, was such a home run that I had to try my hand at one of their signature pastries – the cheese Danish.

Their cheese Danish is very straightforward, but I wanted to try something different.  I scoured the Internet to see what I could find that included blueberries (because I had a HUGE container of them).  I found a few, and picked the best elements of each one.

I made my own puff pastry, but I am not going to include that recipe in this post.  Instead, I’ll urge you to buy a puff pastry from the freezer section of your local grocery store.  Why, you ask?  Because this Danish is so good, but took waaaay too long to put together.  If you’re hoping to make this for a brunch or even dessert, take it easy on yourself and just buy a package of puff pastry.

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Ginger-Basil Chicken Thighs with Green Tomato

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I’ve professed my love for The Kitchn many times on this blog, but this time, it’s serious.  We have a tomato explosion in our garden this year, and as I was staring out my office window and all of the lovely green beauties hanging on their vines, I happened to stumble upon this delightful recipe.  It’s also culinary bonus when I find that I have all the ingredients on hand necessary to complete the dish!

In general, I try to avoid using my oven too much during the summer.  But when zucchini abound, I bake zucchini bread.  When peaches are in season, I bake peach pie.  And when a roasted chicken and tomato dish like this comes along, I do not hesitate to turn on my oven.  It’s that good.

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One of my favorite flavor combinations is ginger and garlic.  The addition of fresh basil from my garden elevated this dish and offered a summery depth of flavor that went perfectly with the green tomatoes.

The original recipe called for Sherry, but I was out, so I used Shaohsing rice cooking wine instead.  You should be able to find it at any Asian market and often in the “international” aisle of your local grocery store.

I also added a little fish sauce and some chopped scallions to round it all off.  The whole dish came together so quickly, which was perfect for a summer night.

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All the ingredients go in the same roasting dish!  So easy!

I chose to pair this with steamed jasmine rice sprinkled with a little rice vinegar.  Roasting the green tomatoes made them slightly sweeter, but they still retained a little sour bite, which went really well with the juicy chicken thighs.  Give this dish a try and let me know how you like it!  Enjoy!

Ginger-Basil Chicken Thighs with Green Tomato
Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

1 large (or two medium) green tomatoes, cored, halved, and sliced 1/2 -inch thick
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Shaohsing rice cooking wine
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 scallions, chopped
steamed jasmine rice sprinkled with rice vinegar (for serving)

Method:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except 1 tablespoon basil and all the chopped scallions; stir to fully incorporate.

Turn out into a 9×13-inch roasting dish.  Roast until chicken is fully cooked and the tomatoes are softened, around 25 minutes.  Stir halfway through roasting time to make sure all chicken is cooked through.  Serve on steamed rice and garnish with remaining basil and chopped scallions.

 

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