Saturday, November 10, 2012

2012 52 Recipe Challenge

We've gotten into a food rut and our way to break out of it is to make 52 new recipes in one year.
  1. Liege Waffles *
  2. German Dijon Chicken *
  3. Stuffed Calamari
  4. Chicken Marsala *
  5. Sally Lunn Bread 
  6. Beer Braised Pot Roast -
  7. Paves vu Mail (Pan Braised Steak in Mustard Sauce) *
  8. Cajun Chicken Pasta *
  9. Italian Sweet and Sour Chicken *
  10. Tuscan Lamb Shanks with White Beans *
  11. Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders *
  12. Grilled Panzanella Salad *
  13. German Style Grilled Pork Tenderloin
  14. Caponata *
  15. Chocolate Chip Bread
  16. Scalloped Squash, Corn, and Red Pepper Gratin
  17. Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing *
  18. Jack and Coke Slow Cooked Beef *
  19. Chili Dusted Kale Chips -
  20. Mesclun and Fresh Herb with Goat Cheese Salad -
  21. Porterhouse Steaks with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese *
  22. Cucumber Salad *
  23. Savory Corn Bread
  24. Alabama Pulled Pig -
  25. Chopped Vegetable Salad with Feta and Olives *
  26. Hot Fudge
  27. Perfect Pancakes
  28. Bourbon Marinated Flank Steak
  29. Roasted Chicken w/ Tomatoes & Olives *
  30. Nacho Cake
  31. Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary
  32. Sherried Tomato Soup *
  33. Make Your Own Mini Fritatas *
  34. Braised Leg of Lamb *
  35. French Baguettes *
  36. Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque *
  37. Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bread *
  38. Perfect Pound Cake -
  39. Roasted Pumpkin Cheese Fondue *
  40. Chocolate Fondue *
  41. Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart *
  42. Slow Cooker Cola BBQ Pulled Pork
  43. Squash and Tomato Bake *
  44. Short Rib Ragu
  45. French Apple Tart
  46. Semolina Pasta *
  47. Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta) *
  48. Pane Siciliano *
  49. Porkchops with Garlic and Wine Sauce -
  50. Slow Roasted Salmon
  51. Crab Imperial *
  52. Slow Roasted Rack of Lamb
* denotes a dish I'll make again
- denotes a dish we didn't like

Top 5 of 2012
11. Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders
47. Cacio e Pepe
32. Sherried Tomato Soup
25. Chopped Vegetable Salad with Feta and Olives
39. Roasted Pumpkin Cheese Fondue

1. Swedish Liege Waffles
11. Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders
42. Slow Cooker Cola BBQ Pulled Pork
39. Roasted Pumpkin Cheese Fondue
33. Muffin Tin Mini Fritatas

Monday, November 05, 2012

Minnesota, Vote No and Welcome our Gay Friends to "The Club"

A little over 11 years ago I married my best friend, a right and a privilege I took for granted. I didn't want to get married, and was not the kind of girl who grew up dreaming of Prince Charming and a white dress and living happily ever after. Instead, I channeled Mae West and embraced her famous quote, "Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution." It wasn't that I wasn't in love, I just thought the marriage certificate was a fine way of ruining a perfectly good relationship. Living in sin was much more my style anyway; bonus, I secretly enjoyed pissing my parents off. So, you might ask, what happened to change my mind?

 Buying a house together as two single individuals was a pain in the arse. We didn't qualify for the level of mortgage that we would have if our incomes were seen as one. Then there was an employment hiccup that left one of us with a potential health insurance coverage; neither of our employers at that time recognized our domestic partnership. Finally there was a little incident at a hospital when Nurse Ratchet denied me access to see the love of my life because I was not the next of kin. There are over 1100 federal benefits afforded to married couples, and more through state, local, and private organizations, that are not given to those who do not or are not allow to get married. We have a very romantic love story, but when it came to getting married we did it for purely financial and practical reasons.

What happened next surprised me. Everyone always says "we won't change after we get married" and let me tell you, that's bull. Things change. What changes most is how people treat you, how seriously they take you and your relationship, and the expectations everyone has of you. Then we changed; even as independent as we both were, we were a team and we were expected to stick together even when the chips were down and the team was losing. We couldn't just walk away when things got too hard and it wasn't just because of the legal piece of paper; we would be letting down everyone who shared in our day, who promised to help us through, who saw us declare "until death do us part."

After 11 years of wedded bliss I am again questioning whether I want to be married. It's not that I'm unhappy with the relationship, I am unhappy with this feeling that I belong to some exclusive club that many of my friends are not allowed to join because they are gay. Mom always made us invite all the kids in class to our birthday parties; my first lesson in banning exclusiveness. I've never been one to participate in organizations bar membership from others and denying people the social, economic, and emotional benefits of marriage because who they love is just another form of discrimination. Some opponents of gay marriage say it will destroy traditional marriage, I feel the opposite. Marriage is cheapened by not allowing every loving couple the right to marry, the opportunity to declare themselves a team in front of their families and their government, and the ability to capitalize on the protections and safety nets we have in society to try and keep relationships stable. It makes marriage it less special.

I'm embarrassed that I took the right to get married for granted. I never wanted to get married, I never wanted children, I did it simply because it made getting a mortgage and other benefits easier. I almost called the wedding off a dozen times because traditional marriage scared and disgusted me; I saw other people's marriages and I wanted none of them. Yet, with this hate and disdain for marriage I had no problem marching to city hall with my passport and cash and obtain a wedding license. Now, 11 years later, I realize what an amazing gift that moment was, and wish everyone the opportunity to find someone they love and experience that moment, regardless of sexual orientation.

 A few days before our wedding, when I was strategically planning our escape route, my fiancee looked at me and said "life is just too hard to go at it alone, we are a team and I want to declare that team in front of everyone we love. If you don't want to sign the marriage certificate I understand, but you shouldn't be scared. Our marriage doesn't have to be like anyone else's, we will make it ours." The Constitution supported my right to get married even though I don't believe in god or organized religion, I wasn't having children, and I refused to take my husband's name. Our marriage is not traditional, but it is ours, and every couple deserves a shot at that regardless of who they love.  Vote No, Minnesota, "the club" is big enough for all of us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Maple French Toast Casserole

This is a hit at brunches big and small!

  • 1 loaf of Cinnamon Bread (or Cinnamon Raisin) (cut into about 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 package of cream cheese softened (8 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups of heavy cream (can substitute half and half)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 21oz can of Comstock (or other brand) apple pie filling, Homemade filling
    • or be creative
      • 6 pureed bananas and chocolate chips
      • Nutella
  • powdered sugar

  1.  Butter casserole dish (13 x 9 size optimal)
  2. Cube Bread and put in large bowl
  3. Beat the softened cream cheese at medium speed.
  4. Add sugar to cream cheese. Continue to mix while adding sugar until smooth
  5. Add in eggs one at a time continuing to mix
  6. Add in cream, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until well combined.
  7. Add apple pie filling and stir filling into the mixture with a wood spoon.
  8. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the bread cubes in the bowl.
  9. Using a wood spoon, mix cube and mixture until all the cubes are well covered.
  10. Add the bowl of batter covered cubes to buttered casserole dish.
  11. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours (bread needs time to soak in mixture)
  12. When ready to cook (next day) set oven to 375 degrees.
  13. Bake covered for about 40-minutes
    1. Note: Cook for 30 minutes and transfer to warm crockpot for tailtating! Skip next step.
  14. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  15. Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jack and Coke Slow Cooked Pulled Beef


  • 3 lb. beef roast 
  • 12 ounces of cola (not diet, we used "Mexican Coke" with cane sugar) 
  • 1/2 cup of Jack Daniels (or bourbon of your choice) 
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder Diced Jalapenos (optional- for spice and taste) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One 16-18 oz. bottle of barbeque sauce 


  1. Cut beef roast into large chunks (will make shredding easier) 
  2. Pour cola, bourbon, chili powder, and diced jalapenos in slow cooker and stir 
  3. Add beef roast chunks to slow cooker 
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours 
  5. Remove beef from crock pot and let sit until cool enough to handle 
  6. Pour Liquid from crock pot into pot/saucier. Add bottle of BBQ sauce, salt, and pepper. Reduce to desired thickness (can skip this if you prefer thinner sauce) 
  7. Shred beef and add back to crock pot 
  8. Pour reduced liquid back into crock pot with beef. Stir. Cook for one more hour on low. 
  9. Serve on soft roll/bun with cole slaw (also great with baked beans)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

German Dijon Chicken

Saveur is one of my favorite magazines. It combines my love of food, travel, human interest stories, and kitchen gadgets and lays them them out on pages with nice, pretty photos. I was immediately intrigued by a Chicken Dijon recipe; it's simplicity, the story, the photo. I've also spent most of my life with a huge disdain for mustard, the very smell would make me puke. Over the course of the past few years I discovered I like stone ground mustard (note: our taste-buds change about every 7 years, meaning foods that used to taste gross can taste good over time). I was excited to take my new love of mustard and cook with it.

It wasn't until I went to go make the recipe that I realized it contained an ingredient that I don't have in the house, because no matter how much I try it I hate it; coriander. But I was committed to making Dijon chicken and started to change up the recipe. Channeling my German heritage, I switched the coriander with caraway seed and then kept making changes along the way. The following recipe for German Dijon Chicken is loosely based on the original Saveur recipe, but it was delicious.
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 piece chicken (about 3 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  1. Pre-head oven to 300 degrees
  2. In a large skillet, toast the caraway seeds over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and let cool. Crush the seeds coarsely with a pestle.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the olive. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add breasts to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until golden brown all over. Over the course of 10 minutes add the thighs, then the legs, then the wings (by size of piece to promote even cooking).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet when it is a nice, golden brown.
  5. Add shallots to skilled and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and wine, stirring with the onions and getting the chicken “brown bits” off the skillet and into the liquid for flavor.
  7. Add chicken and bring to boil.
  8. Cover put chicken in oven to braise in liquid for about 2 hours, or until chicken is almost falling off the bone (check occasionally to flip chicken if it’s not fully immersed in liquid).
  9. Remove chicken from oven. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover and keep warm.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk the mustard with the sour cream. Whisk the mixture into the skillet and simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  11. Return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat. Serve the chicken with crusty bread.
NOTE: I added brussel sprout leaves from the top of the brussel sprout stalks to the skillet prior to braising. I have a freezer full of these because they are delicious and I get them from the farmers' market in the fall. If you too want to add a vegetable to this to give it extra flavor, vitamins, and fiber, add collard greens.