Saturday, January 25, 2014

an american icon

Vance and I went to the Frist Center today to see a great Norman Rockwell exhibit. We grabbed drinks afterwards at 1808 Grill in the Hutton Hotel - a lovely day date! In addition to his well-known Post covers, the exhibit showed a large variety of his work.

One recipe for this post! Roasted red pepper & sweet potato bisque - creamy and great with grilled cheese.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons EVOO
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dash crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 cups homemade broth or stock (I used turkey, but chicken or vegetable are great too)
sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, red pepper, onion, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and dried herbs. Toss to coat. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (tossing every 15-20 minutes), until the vegetables are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool for several minutes. Working in batches, puree vegetables with broth in blender or food processor until smooth. (You can add up to a cup of water for a thinner consistency). Pour mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Serve in cups with a dollop of sour cream to cut the heat a bit (optional).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"you could call the blog...loaf."

This is blog is about meatloaf. There's nothing clever about it. Two loaves - two varieties of baked deliciousness.
Spicy Sausage & Turkey Meatloaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup of minced onion
1 celery stalk, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 carrot, minced
1/2 cup of minced green onion, including the onion greens
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup, divided 1/3 and 1/3
1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey (or beef if you'd prefer)
3/4 pound of spicy ground spicy sausage (I used pork, but you could use chicken, etc.)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 35o degrees. In large pan, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until translucent, add celery, carrot, garlic and green onions. Saute for about 8 minutes until all vegetable are soft. In large bowl mix slightly cooled vegetables and all remaining ingredients. Mix well with your hands. Mold into a loaf and place in a misted baking pan. Bake for about an hour and test (should be 155 degrees internally) - may take another 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and slice. We enjoyed our meatloaf with spiced sweet potato mash and garlic-broccoli rage.

BBQ Black & Pinto Bean Loaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained well
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained well
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers, hot or mild, drained
1 cup whole kernel corn, unsweetened
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg slightly whisked with about 2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet add oil, turn to medium-low heat and sauté onions until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute for another 5 minutes. Add kidney beans, black beans, green chili peppers and corn, continue to sauté until beans soften up, about 3 minutes (use a wooden spoon to slight smash some beans). Add oregano, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper, stir to combine.
Combine in a large mixing bowl bean mixture, egg/water and bread crumbs  Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, add bean mixture, shape into a loaf. Bake for 30 minutes, add barbecue sauce and bake 1 additional minute. Remove from oven and allow to set 5 minutes. Cut into 8 slices and carefully remove each slice with a spatula.
This loaf can be a bit odd. It is serious bean city...but it is quite good on a toasted bun in sandwich format.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

a week in the northeast

I had a great trip to Boston and NYC this past week. Between lots of work events like dinners, receptions and interviews, I was able to enjoy a number of great restaurants and see  two exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Frick Collection. The MFA was exhibiting a large selection of John Singer Sargent's watercolors. The Frick, in NYC, had a small exhibition on the Dutch masters and the permanent collection was even more stunning than the exhibit!
Pomegranates II, John Singer Sargent
Simplon Pass, Reading, John Singer Sargent
Bedouins, John Singer Sargent
Mother and Children, Renoir
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer
Lots of great food and some quality time with my Mom - it was a wonderful week!

Monday, January 6, 2014

a cold dinner for a cold night

Even though a nice warm meal is typically just the thing to beat the chill on a cold night, some nights it's nice to have room temp or cold dinner option (especially if your husband is getting home from the hospital at 11:30 p.m. and will be raiding the fridge). Enter - Asian noodles & spring rolls. I have shared a pork spring roll recipe before - these were pretty similar. Shredded pork, carrot, bell pepper, lettuce, little soy and some spicy peanut sauce.
Spring rolls are so delicious, Vance and I can't get enough of them! Next time will be shrimp and veggies. The unexpected star of last night's dinner was adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Sesame Noodles, adjusted to serve a very hungry couple or three normal adults.
6-8 ounces, whole grain angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 t
ablespoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha

2 whole
green onions, sliced thin
(little vegetable or canola oil if the flavor is too strong for your palette)
Whisk together all ingredients except noodles. In large bowl, pour dressing over noodles and toss. Try not to choke as you inhale this delicious and simple dish. This would be great with some sauteed shrimp, veggies, chicken, old sneaker, tire...anything.
And when I said it was cold here...I meant like 7 degrees cold, almost a state of emergency for Nashville.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

the sign of a great Christmas

Christmas 2013 photo recap...we never take enough pictures!
Labor of love...sand tart cookies.
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs and 1 egg white
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
In standing mixer, cream the butter, sugars, 2 full eggs and vanilla. Then add flour in small batches, mixing as you go. When flour is completely mixed in, refrigerate the dough for 24 hours. Take a handful of dough and begin rolling, placing the rest back in the fridge until you need more. Roll out on a well-floured surface, adding more flour as you need it, to prevent dough from sticking to the cloth. If dough starts sticking to rolling pin, dust it with flour frequently, too. Using cookie cutters, make some beautiful cookies and assemble on a baking sheet (with parchment or Silpat). Mix a bit of water with egg white and using a pastry brush, lightly coat each cookie (don't get puddles!). Sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar or cinnamon and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or less. Depending on your oven's temperature and the thickness of the cookies, baking time will vary. Watch them closely to prevent them from burning. Take them out just as their edges begin to turn a light shade of brown, or even a little sooner, if you don't want the brown edges. Cool on a wire rack. These take a while, so clear your afternoon!
Billy at Rippa Villa estate tour in Spring Hill, TN (what a trooper). We did also have a great lunch in Columbia at Square Market Cafe. If you are south of Nashville, this is lovely little spot for a bite.
Mom & Dad at Rippa Villa...note the different facial expressions than Bill. This is their type of day.
Vancer & Maura - Christmas 2013 (at Belle Meade Mansion)
From Vance's now infamous Manhattans to coconut cake, turkey to Mom's fruit cup...we had such lovely food and so many good times over the holidays - it was rare to have time to step away for the camera! I think this is the sign of a great Christmas.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

auld lang syne

Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. - Wikipedia
Cheers to 2014 with a Champagne Cocktail!

Place a sugar cube in a flute, hit it with about 4-5 drops of Angostura bitters and top with Champagne. Garnish with a citrus twist. 
I made Ina Garten's sea bass with preserved lemon sauce last night for our New Year's Eve dinner. It was light and citrusy - along with Bobby Flay's sautéed kale - yum! We started with carrot, ginger & apple soup.
soup in Cynthia Rowley's Dirty Dishes
1 & 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1 & 1/2 apples, peeled and chopped (or two small apples)
1 & 12 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable stock
2-3 tablespoons EVOO
pinch of nutmeg
Heat the EVOO in a large Dutch oven or stock pot and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute. Add carrot and apple and continue to cook - pour in stock and bring to light boil. Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and add pinch of nutmeg. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
Pork and sauerkraut for January 1! Enjoy New Year's and the start of 2014!