Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast 2012!

This year my girls are with their dad for Thanksgiving.  They will be getting a chance to spend Thanksgiving with there Grandfather, who is a wonderful man, and all of that side of the family.  So Kelly and I will be going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Reno, which I'm excited for, but I was a little bummed that we wouldn't be getting to cook our own Thanksgiving dinner together.  So a last minute decision was made that he would come this way the weekend before, while I had my girls on an off weekend and we would throw together a little family Thanksgiving dinner of our own.  Since it was a last minute decision and I'm working a lot these days there wasn't enough time for me to do my normal "from scratch" cooking with everything - so we had, as Sandra Lee says, a semi homemade Thanksgiving.  And it was DELISH!

Here is the menu:
A brined and smoked turkey (pre-brined and spice rubbed by Foster Farms)
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs
King Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Simple Is Best Dressing
Celery root mashed potatoes
Shitake Mushroom Gravy
Cucumber, Pear and Fennel Salad
Steamed Carrots and green beans in butter and tarragon.
Dessert:  Hostess Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's - just because it's our last chance!  There would have been Twinkies too if any were left on the shelves.

And now.....for the recipes (how to's):
The Turkey was a pre-brined Foster Farms turkey rubbed in paprika, onion and unspecified spices.  It smelled quite good for a commercial rub!  Kelly smoked it on my charcoal Weber Bar B Q over apple wood.  This is hard to explain, other then you need to cook it over indirect heat and keep a meat thermometer in the turkey and cook it until around 155 degrees.  Instructions will tell you 165, but if you take it off at 155 and let it rest under foil, it will finish cooking and you won't have a dry turkey, but it will be cooked all the way through.   Once charcoals are ready, move them to one side of the bbq and set the turkey over the other side.  Put the lid on, and remove it as little as possible.  Be sure you've soaked the wood chips, and put them on about half way through cooking.  I would say it took around 3 1/2 hours for us to cook a 12 lb turkey.

Cranberry Sauce:
I've been making this sauce for years and it's ALWAYS a favorite.  Way better then that weird jelly stuff in a can, and very easy!
1 2/3 cup ruby port - I usually use Tawny port and it turns out just fine
1/4 balsamic vinegar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberies
3/4 cup sugar.
Combine the first six ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the rosemary sprig.  Mix in the cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and the cranberries are burst, stirring occasionally.  This takes about 6 minutes.  Cool and transfer to a bowl and chill.  This can be made a week ahead of time, and it makes 3 1/2 cups.

The Hawaiian Rolls - stop at your nearest grocery store and pick some up.  ;-)  I have seen a recipe for these and hope to one day try that out.  But for now - store bought worked just fine

Simple is Best Dressing from November 2012 Bon Appetit Magazine.
I cut this in half for just the 4 of us:
3/4 stick of unsalted butter, plus more to grease baking pan.
7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons ( the Bon Appetite recipe used day old white bread torn into 1 " pieces dried out in an oven for 1 hour)
1 1/4 cups chopped Walla Walla onion - grown in Kelly's garden.   - the original recipe calls yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp of chopped fresh sage
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tbs of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup homemade turkey broth (original calls for low sodium chicken broth.)
1 large egg.

If you want to do the bread crumbs from scratch, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Butter the baking dish and set that aside.  Scatter the bread on a rimed baking sheet and bake stirring occasionally until dried out - about 1 hour.  Let cook and transfer to a bowl - OR
Put the 7 1/2 oz of dressing croutons in the bowl.

Melt 3/8 cup butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and celery.  Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add to the bowl of bread/croutons.  Stir in herbs, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in 5/8 of the turkey/chicken stock.  Toss gently and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together 5/8 stock and 1 egg together. Add to bread mixture.  Fold gently until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to the prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  The dressing can be made a day ahead and rebaked, uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.  If chilled add 10 to 15 minutes.

Celery Root and Mashed Potatoes.
This one I more or less made up.
I took one celery root and peeled it and chopped it into 1/2 inch pieces.  I boiled it in cream and whole milk with a sprig of thyme and a tbs of butter - just enough liquid to cover the celery root - and I boiled it for about 25 minutes until it was softened.  I removed the thyme and puree the celery root and milk mixture in a cuisinart. 

Kelly boiled about 6 yukon potatoes and mashed them together with the celery root mixture with a cube of butter.

Shitake Mushroom Gravy:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry Sherry
3 tbsp butter
 12 oz fresh shitake mushrooms stemmed and sliced.
1 tbsp fresh rosemeary
4 cups of my homemade turkey stock ( or chicken broth)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

Mix flour and Sherry in a small bowl until smooth - shaking them up in a plastic container works great!
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and rosemary and saute' until they begin to soften ( about 3 minutes)  - this step can be done 3 hours ahead of time.

Transfer any juices you may have from the turkey if you have any - we didn't because we were bbqing - and add enough broth to measure 5 cups.  Add to saucepan with mushrooms.  Add flour paste and whisk until smooth.  Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently.  Boil until thickened to a light gravy - about 10 minutes.  Mix in cream, thyme and tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Cucumber Pear and Fennel Salad.

This is a recipe that I modified from the 2012 November Bon Appetite magaizine.
I peeled and cut up 2 cucumbers, chopped one small fennel bulb into 1/2" squares, placed them in a bowl and added 1 diced pear and 1 diced apple.  I tossed in some pomegranate soaked dried cranberries and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette - which consisted of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, walnut oil, and rosemary.

Steamed carrots and green beans:
1 small bag of baby carrots and one small bag of harricot verts.
about 1 tbs butter and 1 tbsp chopped tarragon.

Steam the carrots for about 15 minutes and add the green beans.  Steam for no more then 10 minutes.  Put in a bowl while still hot and toss with butter and tarragon and a pinch of salt.  Easy peasy!

Normally I pride myself on some yummy desserts, but there was no time, and considering my girls have NEVER had a Ding Dong or a Ho Ho ever in their short lives, I thought it would be fun to let them have a little taste of mine and Kelly's childhood. It's their last chance right? And I know they will be indulging in some yummy desserts on Thanksgiving with their aunts, because they're both amazing cooks.  And I know Kelly and I will be getting some delicious goodies from my Aunt in Reno as well. 

So that was our first semi homemade, semi official Thanksgiving together.  And it was awesome!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Canning on a beautiful fall day.....

Ok, today I'm actually back with a couple of recipes.  I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time "talking" about these recipes, because I'm flat out beat right now, but I will get the pictures posted and the recipes published. 

Got my canner going sterilizing some jars and quickly boiling some tomatoes that my fiance' grew in his garden so they would be easy to peel. 
This is the Walla Walla onion my man grew in his garden.  About 1/2 cup of that will be going into the chutney. 
And here are all the magical ingredients:
I found this recipe at An Oregon Cottage and cut it in half based on the amount of tomatoes I had left. 
2 lbs of tomatoes peeled and chopped - I had a variety of Roma's and plum tomatoes.  The Roma's were perfect for this because they're so meaty and not so watery. 
1/8 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup copped onion
3/8 cup of brown sugar
3/8 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tbs pickling salt
1/2 lime zested and juiced
1/2 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped white raisins
Combine all of the above ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and cook at a low simmer for 1 and a half to 2 hours, until thickened.  Stir often to avoid scorching or sticking. 
Ladle into 1/2 pint canning jars leaving 1/4 inch head space and boil in a hot water canner for 10 minutes. 
This is what it looked like after about 1/2 hour.  It smelled AMAZING!

This is what it looked like before jarring it.  The smell was so intense and mouth watering.  The taste?  Wow!  If we have a good tomato season next year, all the tomatoes are going to this recipe and I'm never eating ketchup again!  That's how good this is!  As the author from The Oregon Cottage says, this is adult ketchup - and it's delicious! 

So while the chutney was simmering away and I was cleaning, doing laundry and walking the dog in between I started in on this:
14 lbs of apples.  These came from my ex husbands tree.  You may have seen me post on here about them before.  They're HUGE and very juicy.  They may look a bit beat up, but they very good apples.  I'm grateful he was kind enough to share these with me this year. 
So I got into my meditative apple peeling mode and kept going until my hand cramped up too much to go anymore. 
And made it through 7 lbs of apples.  I was thinking about saving the peels and make juice for jelly later, but knew I would be biting off more then I could chew, so I let go of that notion and stayed focused on the applesauce.  This recipe isn't so structured.  My guide is, as always, my favorite canning book, Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan. 
They recommend putting about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and filling the pan with peeled and quartered or cut into eights apple slices until they are no more then 2 inches from the top.  Their only recommendation on spices is what ever sounds good to you.  So I put in 4 tsp of vanilla, sprinkled generously with cinnamon, and grated about 1/8 of a tsp of fresh nutmeg on them.  They do recommend a sweetener and I put in a cup of a mixture of brown and white sugar.  I would have done all brown, but was out and was not about to make a trip to the store at this point. 
Then this is boiled down until the apples are soft.  This doesn't take long at all.  There were a lot of apples here so it took 10 minutes at the most.  A smaller batch could take 3 to 5 minutes. 
At this point my house smelled wonderful!  So much like fall. 
My final product before canning.  I like my applesauce chunky, because that's the way mom did it.  It takes me back to my childhood, but at this point you could run it through a strainer, a french mill or a cuisinart to make it smooth.  You want to reheat it before you jar it though.

Place it into hot sterilized pint jars ( it took 9 pint jars for 7 lbs of apples) and process in a hot water bath canner for 20 minutes. 

This is my final bounty for the night, minus a couple of jars that are still being processed in the canner. It wasn't big enough to hold all of them at once. 

9 pints of comforting applesauce from a local tree and 1 and 1/4 pints of tomato chutney made with home grown tomatoes and a home grown walla walla onion.  Food tastes so much better when it comes from close to home. 
I can't wait to grill up some lamb burgers and put some of that chutney on them - Oooo, and pork chops and applesauce are going to be soooo good! 

Now, to figure out what to do with the other 7 lbs of apples.......

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Regroup - Restart

I have taken quite a long break from here.  Life just got crazy busy and some things just needed to be put aside.  Unfortunately Omnivores Delight was one of those things.  But I'm back!  I've changed things around a little bit.  Let me know what you think.  Too busy? 

I've got a few food projects coming up.  I have a bag of apples that are hopefully still worth using. (Pie? Apple sauce? Chutney, Apple butter?  hmmmm)  A bag of banana's that need to go in the freezer for banana bread later, a bowl of tomatoes that I'm thinking I may make into tomato chutney, and I have another super cool project coming up that I will fill you in on later.  Let's just say a certain hunting season has opened and consequently has opened up a fun little opportunity for me. 
To be continued......

Under Construction

Currently under construction.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Book of Jonas Book Review

 This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

The Book of Jonas, written by Stephen Dau, isn't a long book, nor is it a difficult read.  I found it a bit vague.  The main character, Jonas/Younis is from an unnamed Middle Eastern Country, and there are many other things that are shadowy and unspecific in the book.  Part of me didn't like that, but what I did like is how Stephen Dau got straight to the business of what was going on in the emotional lives of his characters.  He gave us just enough of their particular stories to explain why, but at the same time, by jumping around in the story, he kept us wondering about what really happens.  Why is Jonas so tortured by his past, what really happened to Christopher, is Rose ever going to find closure?  Where is this all going to end up?

The metaphor of the gazelle and the lion is perfect.  What hit home for me with this book is how Dau pointed out the stark differences in cultures while showing how they're all blurred all together.  As different as we all are, we're all human.  We all feel pain and loss and even the worst of enemies who share a tragic loss can, at least for a time, share in their grief and give each other what they need in that moment.  But when that moment comes when the lion lets go just long enough for her instincts to take over, what will be the lifelong consequences of those actions.  It could go so many ways.....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's a cooking with what I've got kinda' day......

On Easter day I cooked a ham - even though I was home all by myself, just because I wanted the leftovers.  So this morning it was my challenge to come up with a good yummy breakfast for my girls and I using some of that ham, and whatever else I had in the house.  I decided no shopping allowed.  Figure it out with what you've got and this is what I came up with:
Tater Tot, Ham, Cheese and Egg Casserole. 
First I layered the bottom of my greased casserole with thin slices of ham.
 Then I topped the ham with four slices of Tillamook sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese.
 Then I mixed together 4 eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/4 chopped onion and 1/4 chopped celery and added some garlic powder (about 1 tsp), 1/2 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper.  Then I poured that over the cheese and ham.
 I topped that with frozen tater tots. 
 Then I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on the tater tots.  I had the oven preheated to 350 degrees and baked the casserole for 45 minutes. 
 This is what came out of the oven.....

My oldest rated the casserole a 7 out of 10 - good enough for her to eat two huge servings!  I think we'll be using this recipe again. 

Then, my little one came in a few hours later and said, "I want pizza!".
So, once again - the challenge was - how can I make that with what I've got - so I pulled out some sourdough bread, a jar of marinara, some mozzarella and parmesan, pimentos, onions and tomatoes.  And this was lunch - She downed 2 whole slices - which is a lot for her!

Now, I'm off to finish up working on my navy beans soup and some corned bread. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars - Book Review

This was an amazing book by John Green.  Bittersweet.  Funny and heart wrenching. A hard read for a parent of a young teen and knowing parents of childre who have survived cancer, it hit home. If forced me to look at life in a way I never have before.  It forced me to look at my childrens' lives in a way I'm not sure I wanted to, but I appreciate. 

It's a well written, easy to read and believable story that I will read again and I will be sharing with my teenage daughter, because I think it will teach her to value each an every day......because you never know when tomorrow will come and you should value each and every day.  "Cancer perks" are not all that they're racked up to be. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Review - Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

This was a fund book and the title rocks!

The main character, Graecela Jones (ACE) is amazing – I see so much of myself in her and she does so many things that I wish I could or would do.  In saying that, I think that was the one downfall.  This woman does everything we all want to do in a fantasy world and gets away with it.  There is no way, in the most remote possibilities that life would go this way, but damn! You sure would like it to, and in this book it does.  It makes the book a fun read.  This book if a fantastic escape, especially for women. 

I found that Diary of a Mad Fat girl took on, not only abuse in marriage, but in a subtle way, how that abuse is still accepted and swept under the rug by family and friends, even today.  I loved how it was attacked and addressed and in a subtle passive aggressive sort o’ way, put in our faces.  By no means a sophisticated read, but a damn funny one and a rewarding one.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a good laugh and a feeling that someone has had a chance to  experience a little “justice” in their lives. 

Cordelia's Essay - How To Make Toast

Hi there! Today I'm writing an essay on how to make toast!  If you already know how to make toast, then this is pretty useless.  Although, if you need to learn how, then I'm offering you a new skill!  Woo hoo!

Step number one; obtain a piece of bread of your choice.  If you don't know where the bread is, you're going to have to look for it on hour own. Once you find it, extract the desired amount of toast you with to make.

The next step is toasting your bread.  To do this, you're going to need a toaster.  Find the slots for the bread in the toaster, and put your bread in. Now push down the slider thing on your toaster.  All you need to do now is wait!  Don't get scared or startled when the toast pops out. 

Congratulations!  If you're reading this it means you've successfully toasted bread!  Now's the time for you to locate the butter. Most likely, it's in your refrigerator.  Once you are in possession of that, find a butter knife, or the dullest knife in the house.  Take a few slices of butter and spread them on the toast.  You can be done, or add any other toppings, like jelly or jam. 

Awesome, you learned how to make toast!  The last step is, of course, to eat it!  When you eat, one bite at a time. We wouldn't want to choke. Thank you for reading my probably useless essay about toast! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Back to Taqueria Tech

So back to my birthday taco post.  So what would Negra Modelo and Coca Cola have to do with taco's, other than drinking them with your taco? 

Beef taco's

My daughter's friend hates her birthday already, at the age of 12 she's already hating her birthday.  That's just not right.  I'm 44 going on 45 and I still love my birthday!  A 12 year old should most definitely like her birthday, especially since she is now one more year closer to being a teenager.  When I was 11 turning 12, I could not wait for my next birthday because I would officially be a teenager. 

So I had to do a little something to make her birthday special. This girl LOVES taco's.  So a few days before her birthday my daughter and I set up a little special taco birthday dinner for her friend.  Me being who I am, I could not bring myself to do the silly hard shell, hamburger cooked with packaged taco spice and grated cheddar cheese tacos.  If it was coming from me, it had to be the real deal.  So I pulled out my trusty Taqueria Tech recipe collection and made homemade shredded beef tacos. 
My homemade pickled Mexican Vegies
The beef boil
Mexican Rice
Sides for the tacos
And the taco dinner!
Now for the recipes:
Shredded Beef:
2 1/2 lbs rump or any other beef cut
6 oz dark Mexican beer
1 11 1/2 oz jar of hot Mexican veggies - I used my homemade pickled Mexican veggies (verduras escabeche) with 1/2 cup of the pickling liquid
3 or 4 dried pasilla chilies
1 peeled orange
1/2 tablespoon California chili powder
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp Mexican Oregano
4 or more cursed garlic cloves

Use fatty meat - fat equals flavor.  Prepare the chilies by roasting them on an open flame until they just begin to brown, then soak them, completely covered in hot water until slightly pliable, about 20 minutes.  Slit them down one side, rinse out the seeds, and lay them flat open on a paper towel.  
Cut the beef into quarters and put all ingredients in a large pot and stir.  Add enough beer or water to just barely cover the surface of the meat.  lay the soft chilies over the top of the meat chunks and bring to a rapid boil.  Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the cooked meat and place it on a large cookie sheet, reserving the liquid and veggies.  With two forks shred the meat and arrange it on the sheet so it will bake evenly.  Ladle some of the cooking liquid onto the tray and place it in the oven.  Bake the meat, turning once, for about half an hour.  Make sure it doesn't burn.  

Strain and reserve the cooking liquid from the veggies.  Remove the orange and peppers.  Puree the veggies with a bit of the liquid.  Save half for something else like enchilada sauce.  When the meat is deep brown, return it to the puree mixture and cook it down until it's almost dry.  Keep some of the juice so the meat will be easier to reheat later.  Keep the beef covered in a warm oven until ready to use for tacos.  

Taqueria Beans from canned refrieds:

1 30 oz can of "spicy" refried beans.
1 sliced onion
2 or 3 garlic cloves
2 to 3 tablespoons lard
1 small package cream cheese
1 medium handful of jack or cheddar cheese - or Mexican cheese
canned green chilies or minced jalapenos.

Prepare the lard by melting it in a large pan. Lightly saute' the sliced onion and garlic cloves.  The plan is to flavor the lard only.  Don't let the garlic and onion brown.  Remove them and place the canned beans and their liquid in the hot lard.  Be careful not to splatter the hot lard on yourself.  Add the chilies or jalapeno's, unless you want the beans mild.  Add the cream cheese and grated cheese, turn on medium heat and stir until all is melted and mixed together.  

Arroz a la Mexicana (Mexican rice)

1 cup rice
1/3 cup chopped white onions
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon pasilla or New Mexico chili powder
2 peeled, seeded finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the rice until golden.  About 10 minutes. Drain oil from the rice.  Add the onion, garlic, cumin, and the chili powder and saute', stirring continually for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, peas, pimiento, and tomatoes.  Cook covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  

Sides for the taco's - salsa, sour cream, avocado, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, crumbled Mexican cheese or shredded cheddar, and limes.  

Along with this I served sliced cucumbers with sliced lemons and kosher salt.  

To drink?  Negra Modelo and Mexican Coca Cola

And there is one yummy Taco Birthday party! 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taqueria Tech

I've been meaning to post about my little taco fest I served up for one of my daughter's bff's a while back.  Every day life takes over and I have yet to do it.  It's too late for me to get it posted tonight, once again - but damnit I'm going to post something - so here is a teaser.....
What - other then drinking - could these two things have to do with tacos?  I'll give you 3 guesses until tomorrow night - when I can hopefully get back here and tell you the answer. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting Happy

How do you practice self-acceptance and find unconditional love for yourself? How does practicing love first help you attract more love and happiness in your life?

Self-acceptance is something that has never come easy to me. I have spent years trying to accept myself through the eyes of others. I am finally learning to accept myself on my own terms. The first thing I needed to do was to leave my marriage. A marriage that was an emotionally abusive one and I needed to start working my way through healing from that. That took some therapy, eliminating poisonous relationships and building healthy ones, and leaning on a special person to get me through the initial hell. Going through that process has taught me to learn to ask for help, and it has shown me who I can trust and who I can’t. Finding and building a support system gave me the safety net I needed to heal and get my strength back. I finally started to learn to give myself permission to do things for myself. Things like taking time to meditate and do yoga, or sit and write out my thoughts and feelings in my journal.

In learning to give myself that time I got myself back into a regular exercise routine, and that in itself – good strenuous exercise – gave me so much confidence. The endorphins lifted my mood and helped me to get through the tough days with a smile. The more I put into my workouts, the stronger I became physically and the more confident I became emotionally. The exercise was huge in turning my attitude around. My fear subsided, my desire to enjoy life grew, and my love for myself came back. And this wasn’t about losing weight or looking better in the mirror – this was just all about feeling better, physically and mentally.

As my attitude improved, my situation at work improved. The people in my life seemed to be more positive and my children are happier. My new love for myself has not only attracted a better situation at work and better friends, but it has also brought a new love into my life, which would not have happened without me finally learning to accept and love myself.

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