Thursday, May 30, 2013

Horseradish & Herb Mashed Potatoes

The potato....oh how I love thee!

I could say a million words, sing a thousand love songs and nothing would come close to truly expressing my deep devotion to this starchy, tuberous crop!

I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump when I list all the ways I love to eat the potato....fry it, saute it, bake it...I don't care, just get in my belly!

With all that being said, and you now judging me because I seriously proclaimed all of that of an inanimate object, I will share with you the most recent way I have found to consume my favorite plant.

I saw a recipe similar to this and requested we have it for my birthday.  Since it was after all my birthday, I was relieved of the cooking duties so I did not get to document it.  In order to have it on the blog, I took one for the team, making a true sacrifice and made them again, with a few edits of my own!

Horseradish & Herb Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes
1 stick butter
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon chives
2 tbsp fresh or prepared horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and mash the potatoes with the butter until no lumps are left and add the remaining ingredients to the mashed potatoes.

Stir in the horseradish and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Taste and see how you are doing....adjust flavors if needed.  If they seem dry add some more sour cream and/or half and half.
I served mine with braised lamb shanks and both were heavenly and even better together!
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Braised Lamb Shanks

 I have never, in a million recipe searches, ever thought to take a gander at any lamb recipes.  It wasn't anything we grew up cooking at home.  It was simply a dish Mom would order at a restaurant every now and then but nothing I ever cared to try.

When my friend, Michael, cooked racks of lamb for a group of people one night I thought there was no way I was getting out of there with out at least trying it!  After that I was sold on its tastiness, but was still incredibly intimidated to cook it myself.

The stars seem to align when Michael is in the kitchen and even if the microwave is on fire, the plumbing in the sink is exploding and the dogs are chasing their tails in the backyard, something delicious is produced when Michael is cooking.

I, on the other hand, do not have the same kind of luck.

At least I wasn't deleting lamb recipes as soon as they hit my email anymore but I was still hesistant, until I came across this recipe.  It looked simple enough....all terms I knew fairly well, which is always a plus.  There weren't any crazy ingredients I would never be able to find in the store, so I thought I would give it a try.

It turned out to be absolutely sinfully delicious!  It was as simple as I had hoped, it was fall-off-the-bone tender and was perfect with some easy horseradish mashed potatoes and an arugula salad!

Braised Lamb Shanks

4 large lamb shanks
plaín flour
olíve oíl
2 red oníons , thínly slíced
2 garlíc cloves , crushed
1/2 cup balsamíc vínegar
l bottle red wíne , full bodíed
2 cans tomato purée
1 spríg of rosemary

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Dust the lamb shanks wíth flour and season. 
Heat a dutch oven and add a little butter and olive oil.  You want to make sure that whatever pot you are using also has an oven proof lid, like the below pictured Dutch Oven
Add the onions and cook until soft, then scoop out. 
Put in the lamb shanks and brown all over. 
Put the onions back in the pot with the garlic, balsamic, wine, tomato puree, rosemary and season.
Using the tomato puree can, pour in your wine and swoosh it around making sure to get every last bit of the tomato puree.
Keep tippin' that bottle up....making sure to get every last drop of course.
Don't worry....Mom will take care of those last few...

Cover, put ín the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours until the meat is almost falling off the bone. 
Remove the lamb from the casserole and keep warm. 
Boil down the juices to thicken them if they seem too thin.  
Serve immediately, preferably with mashed potatoes of some sort!
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fruit Dip

For years I have been perplexed as to why people would dip their fruit in anything, especially a yogurt dip.  The fruit in and of itself is perfectly and deliciously sweet, why do anything to take away from its natural flavor?

My opinion quickly changed when I was running my mouth at a party and to stop myself from divulging every last embarrassing thing I had ever done I quickly shoved some fruit in my mouth.

By some miracle of divine providence my apple crisp grazed the dip bowl in the center of the lovely arrangement and in my mouth it went.


It was heaven on my Granny Smith!

I loved it, finally I knew what everyone had been doing all this time!  Thankfully I stopped myself before I took that same apple crisp, licked it clean and dipped it back in there for was a close call but I did in fact refrain!

I quickly found the bearer of this heavenly treat and asked for the ingredients....with a pen and paper I sat eagerly ready to write at a moments notice.

As my friend, Scottie, looked at me with a puzzled expression over her drink glass she told me, "it's just sour cream and brown sugar".


How could it be that simple?  Could something so tasty be so easy?  I was certain it was going to be a pinch of this and a dab of that and if I was really lucky I would get gramma's secret ingredient.

To my surprise she chuckled and said, "Yeah, I even use the low fat sour cream".

This was crazy talk.  Surely she was pulling my chain!  There was no way two ingredients, one of which was "low fat", could be this delicious.

I thought I would give it a try just so I could prove she was lying to me. 

Well friends, she was telling the God's honest truth.

The two ingredients will be the best two ingredients you throw together for your next gathering!

Stay with me here....I am gonna walk you through this one.

Fruit Dip
In a bowl, add as much sour cream as you want dip.  Add about a 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Stir together and taste.  Add more brown sugar if needed.
Serve with fresh fruit.
I promise you I am not lying!  Give it a try to prove I might be and I swear you too will be hooked!
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oven Roasted Salmon with Hollandaise

It is no great secret that I am not the best with leftovers.  It is just not one of me strong suits and I have come to accept that over the years.  

As I try to become more and more budget conscious I am realizing that leftovers don't have to mean that you are eating the exact same thing over and over again.

Recently we had broccoli and hollandaise for Mother's Day dinner.  Because I typically cook too much of everything, we naturally had leftovers of the hollandaisse.  The next night I was trying to figure out something that would be quick but still tasty that I could make for dinner.  

I didn't have anything in the fridge that was going to make a meal so I knew I was going to have to go to the store for at least some ingredients. 

Suddenly I had an idea....these moments do make me feel like a lightbulb has literally lit up over my head.  I thought about some salmon someone had once made for me that seemed super easy, and was absolutely scrumptious, and then I put two and delicious together and thought I could top that tasty salmon with some of the leftover hollandaise and VOILA! I would have a meal...with some roasted sweet potatoes and some more steamed's my fave after all!

So that is what we did.  With a few salmon filets and just a couple more ingredients from the store a perfectly divine meal was created in less than 30 minutes!

Oven Roasted Salmon Filets with Hollandaise

Salmon Filet 
Olive Oil
Garlic Salt
Worchestershire Sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  
Brush each piece of salmon with a little olive oil dusting each filet with garlic salt, rosemary, thyme (or any savory herbs you prefer but don't get crazy, they can easily overpower it if you aren't careful....less is definitely more in this case) and Worcestershire sauce. 
Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Serve immediately with a hollandaise sauce.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Homemade Pasta

The first time I made homemade ravioli I was shocked by the difference in texture from that which is sold in the grocery store.

After I made homemade gnocchi I swore I would never again buy it in the store.  What came out of the recipe given to me passed down from a beautiful Italian grandmother produced the most delicious, light, fluffy dumplings that seemed to melt in your mouth while the store bought kind seems tough and chewy now by comparison.

So with all of this in mind, when my dear friend, Michael, and I were walking around the grocery getting the goods to make Creamy Cajun Pasta he suggested we make our own pasta....hell, we had done it before, we could do it again....

....except sometimes Michael and I have a tendency to make a huge mess in the kitchen AND food won't be on the table until about 2 hours past the time we had originally planned.

For this reason, mid-week meals aren't necessarily our forte but it was a Friday night so we tossed precaution to the wind and went all in (ok, I did, Michael rarely worries as much as I do)!

Forgive the repetition in the beginning of this recipe as it is the same that I used for the ravioli, but why reinvent the wheel, right?  Besides, I am still in a food coma from this incredible meal!

Homemade Pasta

3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup water

Sift flour and salt together. 
Place flour mixture on a board, making a well in the center of the flour. 
Drop eggs into the flour well, using your hand or a fork, break the yolks and beat eggs slightly. 
Combine the eggs and flour together, gradually adding enough warm water to make a stiff dough.  Knead dough well, until smooth; cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes. 
Cut dough in half and roll each half of the dough out on a floured board, into a very thin sheet (about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick).
At this point you can use a pasta guitar like we had or just cut it into very thin strips the size of linguine.
AS I so often times hear, pasta can only be seasoned while it is boiling so make sure to bring you water to a boil and then add a generous sprinkle of salt to the water.  This will give the pasta a delicious flavor.
Cook between 2-4 minutes or until al dente.
Drain and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or just with a small pat of butter and salt and pepper.  Either way you will never want to go back to store bought pasta!
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spicy Red Snapper

With the weather slowwwwllllyyyy changing into spring, I love switching from the hearty soups and crockpot meals to the light, fresh dishes of spring and summer!

The garden is planted and soon we will be able to reap the benefits of it's bounty, but until then we must make due with the supplies at the store.

Being in Nashville we find ourselves a bit landlocked and isolated from the delicious fresh seafood available for all those coastal living folks, but even still we are able to get our hands on some tasty fish pretty frequently.

With that said, I have been trying to incorporate more seafood into my diet but sometimes find pasta easier to prepare after a long day at work.  My sister-in-law introduced me to this delicious meal most recently and it has opened my eyes to all different ways that fish can be prepared in a quick and painless process for something incredibly tasty!

Spicy Red Snapper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced capers
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
4 (6 ounce) fillets red snapper

In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, red pepper and capers. 
Add more olive oil if needed.
Saute over medium heat until onion is soft. Add the tomatoes with juice, and the wine. 
Reduce heat to low and simmer. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon as the sauce cooks.
Once sauces begins to thicken add the snapper fillets and push them down into the pan. 
Cover and cook over low heat until the fish flakes with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Then of course there must be pictures of my favorite little munchkin and his new slide!
Can't leave out the puppies!
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