Thursday, October 23, 2014

walnut * pepper * paprika

Tasty walnut & roasted red pepper relish to try on tofu, pork, or chicken.
¼ cup walnuts
2 red bell peppers (about 1 lb.)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon hot cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Place walnuts in a small bag and crush a bit with a mallet (I prefer this method over chopping on a cutting board). Toast walnut pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darker, 8–10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Heat broiler. Broil bell peppers on a broile rproof rimmed baking sheet, turning occasionally, until softened and skins are blackened in spots, 20–25 minutes. Transfer bell peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 15 minutes. Peel peppers, seed, and chop. Toss bell peppers, garlic, mint, oil, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, vinegar, and walnuts in a small bowl; season with S&P.
We had our relish atop dry fried tofu and a quinoa, black bean & spinach salad. Very fall, very yum.

Monday, October 20, 2014

nothing bundt cake

the kind folks at Nothing Bundt Cakes offered me a free cake! This eclectic storefront offers a big variety in - you guessed it...bundt cakes. From pecan praline to white chocolate raspberry (and of course reliable classics like vanilla and lemon), these cakes are as delectable as they are pretty!
The timing was perfect as we enjoyed some chocolate chip bundt for Vance's birthday.
My Aunt Middy used to make a delicious chocolate cake with vanilla frosting - and this bundt took me back to those days. Paired with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk, the chocolate chip bundt cake with vanilla frosting is a decadent and delicious treat. This spot is now on my short list of favorites for fun desserts!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

you are special today

Growing up, when it was your birthday or something special happened like you got an award  in school you were given the red plate at dinner. This Clark family tradition is one of my favorite, and it's something that lives on in the Clarbaugh household. 
Vance is very special today (well, it was yesterday, but I think he is special everyday) – 34 years of being special. To celebrate I made a sage spiced pumpkin hummus and a fall dinner including Ina's slow roasted beef.
Sage Spiced Pumpkin Hummus
1/2 can packed pumpkin
1 can chick peas
1/4 cup water
2 tables chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cloves minced garlic
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup tahini
2/3 tables EVOO
Mix all ingredients (except the olive oil) in food processor until incorporated. Drizzle in the olive oil until desired consistency – nice and smooth. Serve with pita chips, crudités, apple slices or whatever other vehicle you use to get hummus to your mouth.
Along with the hummus, Vance tried a sampling of pumpkin beers (not all of them - but a couple!)
Sam Adam Harvest Pumpkin Ale was my personal fav.
Speaking of beer, Courtney, Jill and I were enjoying a fall pint at the Taproom this week, and it was mentioned how brussel sprouts are one of those foods you grow to enjoy as you become an adult. For me, other foods in this category include meatloaf, cauliflower and fish (outside of fried flounder).
Vance (who perhaps has always had a little adult streak in him) has loved brussels since he was a wee Albaugh. Along with tenderloin and mashed potatoes, I made shredded brussel sprouts with pancetta for his birthday dinner.
1.5 pounds brussel sprouts
4 ounces pancetta, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
S&P to taste
Cut off the hard end and peel away top layer of sprouts. Rinse and dry well. Pulse the brussel sprouts in the food processor until they are all shredded. You might have to do this in two batches. In a large sauté pan, lightly brown the pancetta - remove to a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pancetta fat and then add the garlic. Saute until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the shredded brussel sprouts to the pan and mix well. After about 5 minutes, add the balsamic vinegar - cook for another 10 minutes until brussel sprouts are tender (add the pancetta back in during the last few minutes). Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Lastly, we enjoyed two great desserts (little much? agreed.) One, I will post on later this week, but the other was a delicious apple pie from The Loving Pie Co. in Berry Hill. Nothing says fall like apple pie!

Friday, October 10, 2014

it's roasting time

We have had a few cooler days here in Nashville (of course we still are in the 80's here and again), but cooler weather does call for a menu change. Time to get to roastin'!
roasted acorn squash with brown sugar butter
1 acorn squash (halved or quartered with seeds scooped out)
1-2 teaspoons EVOO
1 tablespoon butter, room temp
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Takes acorn squash halves or quarters and assemble on a cookie sheet. Brush all exposed squash flesh with oil, equally split the butter and rub over flesh. Spring brown sugar on each piece and generously salt and pepper. Ensure squash balance flesh-side up. Add a little bit of water to the pan (less than 1/4 cup) and place in oven on middle rack. Roast for an hour - pricking the squash to see if the flesh is soft. It may take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish
1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces, broken
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons dried currants
4 dried apricots, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Cornish hens, patted dry
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Saute the onions and celery until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for 1 minute more. In a mixing bowl combine the onion mixture with the rice, parsley, nuts and dried fruits and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 1/2 cup of the rice into the cavity of each hen. Tie the legs of each bird together with kitchen twine. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the remaining butter with the vinegar. Brush the birds all over with the butter mixture and season with salt and pepper. Put the hens on a rack in a large roasting pan, breast-side up. Roast the hens until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170 degrees F., about 80 minutes. Set the birds aside at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before carving.