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The last day of April has finally arrived and my greenhouse is growing! The poblano peppers finally started to pop their heads as did the heirloom tomatoes! These are the last seedlings to emerge. I wanted you to see what things look like today…we are a short distance away from these guys going into the ground. In a couple of days I will be leaving the door to the greenhouse open at night to acclimate the plants to the cooler evening temperatures.

Left side of the greenhouse

Right side of the greenhouse

The potato pots have had additional soil added to them and I will be adding more again. The greens need to remain above the soil so the plants stay healthy.

Potatoes

Acorn squash and cucumbers

Corn

Green beans

Peas

Tuscan melons

Zucchini and wax beans

What are you doing for your garden this year? Let me know!

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I was given a single pork loin, and I had to come up with what to do with it. And, I was thinking about a raspberry pear jam from my neighbor Kathy…What could I do with both of these items given to me to make a luscious dinner?

I went on a quick trip up to Boa Vista Orchards in search of pears. The season of these being available from the farm was over. But I did spy some Granny Smith apples, so I grabbed one of those.  Then nearby I saw really good looking oranges, so I grabbed one of those too! Then I found the treasure of the day:  fresh asparagus!

So what can I do with these ingredients?  Here is what I put together:

Ingredients
1 single pork loin
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
Zest from one orange
2 shakes of Saigon cinnamon
4 twists of fresh ground salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash of cumin

Sauce
1/2 cup of raspberry pear jam
1 cup of Chardonnay (You can substitute Merlot for the Chardonnay, but the Chard was really, really good!)

Take the pork loin out of the refrigerator to warm up. Take the next 7 ingredients and combine them. In a greased baking pan, add the potato and apple mixture.

Apples and potatoes

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. While this is cooking, take the raspberry pear jam and add this to a saucepan and blend with the Chardonnay. Heat on medium high, and bring to a boil.

Jam and wine sauce

Reduce the heat to medium low, and stir every five minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, and strain the seeds from the mixture into a bowl. Be sure to push on the solids with the backside of a spoon. Rinse the pot and return the mixture to the pot.

About this time the timer should be going off on the potato apple mixture. Remove this from the oven, stir the potatoes and apples, and then split the mixture so that they are split in half with a trough in the middle. In the open area, lay in the pork loin.

Pork loin added to the apples and potatoes

Even the potatoes and apples around the loin, and then with a paint brush, baste the loin with the raspberry pear chardonnay sauce. Just a bit, because the rest will be used for a drizzle over each serving! Put this back in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 135 degrees. While it is baking I got the fresh asparagus ready.

Asparagus is ready to go

At the 25 minute mark I basted the meat again with some of the jam sauce, and again at the 30 minute mark. When the pork is done, remove the pan from the oven.

Right out of the oven

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover. Stir up the apples and potatoes and cover. Get the asparagus going. Let the meat sit for 10 minutes. Reheat the wine and jam sauce. Slice up the meat,

Slice the meat

and serve it up with the apples, potatoes and asparagus. Drizzle the jam sauce over the meat

Dinner is served!

and dinner is served!  This dish was incredible blend of flavors and it was so yummy that we ate the whole thing!  This recipe is a keeper, and Kathy, I will need more of your terrific jam!

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My little upstarts have been going gung ho! Today I noticed that tomatoes are coming up as is the Love in the Mist! It is so exciting to see the changes in the seedlings. I will be donating some of the many plants to the community garden that feeds those in need. The last photos were taken 4 days ago, and here is what it looks like today!

Left side of the greenhouse

Right side of the greenhouse

Corn

Beans, cucumbers and squash

Potatoes

Zucchini

Isn’t it amazing to see the difference after 4 days?  Check back again to see the progress!

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In thinking what I would make for dinner tonight, I rummaged once again through the freezer, and a couple of days ago I discovered the roast I had put away. I will be slow roasting this and will also feature roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips to accompany this dish. Slow roasting of the meat will keep the “pink” color of the meat from side to side, and any leftovers will make great roast beef sandwiches. So let’s head off to the kitchen!

Ingredients
1 – 3 1/2# beef roast
Fresh ground salt and pepper
1 tsp each of rosemary, thyme and basil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Yukon gold potatoes
A good handful of baby carrots
2 medium sized parsnips

Allow four hours for this to cook. Take the roast out of the refrigerator and let it warm up. If there is a nice layer of fat on the meat, score it.

Score the fat

While it is warming up rub with the fresh ground salt and pepper. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the herbs one at a time. Then combine in a bowl to blend evenly. Rub this on all sides of the roast. Slice the garlic into thin slices, and cut into the meat and insert the slices of garlic. Next using a slight bit of olive oil, rub this over the meat.

Rubbed with herbs and oil

Once the roast has sat out for about an hour or so, turn the heat up on your oven to 200 degrees. While this is heating up, get your pan ready, and include a roasting rack to set the roast on. When the oven is ready, place this in the oven on the 2nd rack from the bottom. Set the timer for four hours. Do not open the oven!

About an hour and a half before the roast is done get your vegetables ready. Although I really love veges cooked around the meat, for this recipe, you will have to cook these separately. I cut the potatoes into chunks, left the already peeled baby carrots whole, and the peeled the parsnips, and cut those into chunks too. Then I used about 1 tsp of rosemary, and parsley, a couple of dashes of onion powder, and 3 twists on the salt and pepper grinders. Then I used about 2 TBS of extra virgin olive oil. Using my hands I mixed it up.

Potatoes, carrots and parsnips

Set these aside. There are a couple of steps that you will need to do with the roast, so at the 50 minutes before the timer goes off, preheat the oven for the vegetables to 375 degrees. Place those in the oven. Stir these periodically during roasting.

Roasting vegetables

When the timer goes off for the meat, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil.

Before hitting it with high heat

Then turn the oven up to 500 degrees. When the oven is hot, place the roast back into the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature at this point. I cooked this to medium rare and pulled this out of the oven when the temperature hit 132 degrees. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. The temperature will go up as the meat rests.

Let the roast sit

After about 10 minutes the veges should be done, and the meat ready to carve.

Slice up the meat - see the garlic?

Plate it up with your veges, and use some of the juices to pour over the meat.

Dinner is served!

Stay tuned as I will be fixing up Steve’s Baked Tilapia tomorrow!

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Normally I make beef stew in the crock pot. Yesterday with the snow event and no power for most of the day I had to prepare this on the stove top. Nothing is better than a stew on a very cold day, and our bones were definitely warmed by this dish!

Ingredients
1 1/2# stew meat
flour
garlic powder
salt and pepper
Hungarian paprika
1 onion
extra virgin olive oil
64 oz. beef broth
1 cup good red wine, I used Zinfandel from Storey Winery
3 potatoes
handful of prepared baby carrots
3/4 cup of frozen peas
1/4 # fresh green beans
2 bay leaves
1 TBS savory
1 TBS coriander
2 TBS rosemary
2 TBS parsley

Cut up the meat into bite size chunks…sorry the photo is poor… 😦

Meat is cut up and ready to use

Then take the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and the paprika and add to a zip lock bag. Put the meat in and shake it vigorously. Set aside. Next take the onion and chop coarsely. Add this and 3 good glugs of olive oil to your stew pot. Turn on the heat, add the onions. Cook down for about 3 minutes and then grab the pieces of beef out of the bag. Do not worry about excess flour as you grab the meat as it will thicken the stew. But do not add in the rest of the flour from the bag. Brown the meat. While this is browning, peel the potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Trim up the green beans.

The vegetables are ready to go

When the meat is brown add the broth and the wine. Then add your vegetables. Next add the herbs.

Everything is added

Bring this up to a boil, and then cover, turning the heat down to low. Check your stew often to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the stew pot. Cook on low for about 2 hours, and then serve.

Dinner is served!

Don’t forget to have a glass of the wine that you used in the stew!

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I am all for simple in the kitchen on a Friday night! To start off the weekend, and after a tiring work week, what could be better than a meal cooked in one pan on the stove top? Pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir, take a sip and then let’s get started!

Ingredients
4 pork sirloin steaks
2 russet or Yukon gold potatoes
A generous handful of baby carrots
1 cup fresh mushroom sliced (I forgot to get these and will used canned instead! 😦 )
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 package of frozen artichoke hearts (or canned if you cannot get frozen)
3 TBS butter
Thyme
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Take the pork steaks and trim some of the fat from the sides of the steaks.

Trimmed pork steaks

Place the pieces of fat in a deep frying pan. Next peel the potatoes and carrots and cut them into chunks.

Cut up carrots and potatoes

These will need to be par-boiled before we use them. So get a pot of water going with these added and par-boil for 7 minutes. Before draining the water off the potatoes and carrots, place the frozen peas in the bottom of the colander. Rinse in cold water when done. While these are par-boiling let’s get the fat going. Turn the heat up on the pan to medium high. We are going to render this fat for use in our dish. Stir the fat so that all sides become a beautiful golden brown.

Browned pork fat

When this is done, remove the pieces from the pan and set aside on paper towel to drain. Then add the pork steaks and brown on both sides.

Start to brown the pork steaks

Then remove the steaks from the pan. Next, add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and peas to the pan and stir to coat the vegetables.

Coat the vegetables in the pork fat

Then move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add in the steaks,

Move the vegetables to the side and add the pork

moving the vegetables around so that the meat ends up on the bottom and are covered by the vegetables. Next, use a couple of really good shakes of dried thyme leaves over all, and then follow this with a couple of grinds of salt and pepper, then dot with the butter.

Top the vege's with salt, pepper, thyme then butter

Cover the dish, turn the heat down to medium low and cook for 30 minutes.

During the cooking process - smells great!

Turn the meat over, and re-cover with the vegetables. Using a baster collect the juices and spread over the top. Cover again and cook for another 25 minutes then serve this up!

Dinner is served!

This is one of those comfort food dinners that is so good on a wet a rainy night like tonight!  Oh, and the rendered pork fat, cut it into small pieces and give this to your dog as treats!  It will add luster to the coat!

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Can you imagine flank steak that melts in your mouth? And flavors that explode in your mouth? Well here is a recipe that explodes with flavor and melts in your mouth. The secret? Marinating the meat all day! Now let’s go off to the kitchen!

Ingredients
1 1/2 – 2#’s of flank steak
3 heaping soup spoon of hoisin sauce
6 capfuls of cooking sherry
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 1/4″ thick pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
wooden skewers – about 2 dozen

First, lay out the flank steak on your cutting board.

Lay out the flank steak

Slice this across the grain in strips about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

Cut the flank steak across the grain

Place the meat in a ziplock bag.

Next, get your ingredients for the marinade ready.

Marinade ingredients

Combine the hoisin sauce, sherry, soy sauce, green onions, minced garlic and ginger in a bowl. The hoisin is a bit sticky so stir this up well as it will stick to the sides of the bowl.

Marinade

Pour this mixture into the bag of meat, zip the bag and then shake the bag really well to coat the meat. Set this in your refrigerator and turn the bag a few times during the day.

One half hour before you are ready to cook, place the skewers in a pan of water to soak. You do this so that they do not burn up on the grill. Also, take the meat out of the refrigerator. After the half hour, thread the meat on the skewers.

Skewer the meat

Next get your grill ready. Because the meat is thinly sliced these will cook rather fast. Once the grill is nice and hot, start adding your skewers

Set the skewers on the grill

Turn the skewers to cook evenly

Turn the skewers

until they are done!

until the meat is done!

Serve these with rice, or potatoes, and don’t forget a fresh steamed vegetable!

Dinner is served!

And, dinner is served! One note: This dish does not require any salt. So taste this before getting that shaker out! Enjoy!

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I have been a bit under the weather, and I wanted to make a simple dinner for this evening. Tonight the fare is sirloin steaks, baked potatoes and steamed asparagus.

Take the steaks out about an hour before cooking, and season both sides with fresh ground salt and pepper.

Steak seasoned with fresh ground salt and pepper

My husband will be doing the grilling tonight. He says the steaks take 20 minutes.

Steaks midway through cooking on the grill

Scrub the potatoes and rub with a bit of oil and fresh ground salt.

Potato scrubbed, oiled and ground salt and pepper added

These will take 50 minutes or so to cook, so you will need to time the rest of the dinner. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees, and when the oven is ready, place the potatoes on a rack in the center for 25 minutes. Turn 1/2 way through the cooking time. Before removing from the oven test them to make sure that they are soft cooked.

Get the asparagus ready next. Wash them and then snap the stalk.

Bend the asparagus until

The asparagus snaps

Lay these in a steamer basket. When you are ready to steam these get your steamer going and cook until just crisp tender, about 6 – 8 minutes.

When the steaks are done, pull them off the grill and let them stand for 5 minutes. During this time, get those spuds ready by adding a bit of butter, and sour cream if you like. Lay the asparagus on the plate and lay on the steak!

Dinner is served!

Serve this dinner with a really good Bordeaux or try a Cabernet Sauvignon! Enjoy!

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I wanted to make another comfort food dinner and found some turkey cutlets at the grocery store. This is such an easy dinner! I had everything else I wanted at home.

Ingredients
1 package of turkey cutlets
1/3 # fresh green beans, washed and cut
2 potatoes, skins on, washed and cut into wedges
Panko bread crumbs
Thyme
Onion powder
Flour
Paprika
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
Vegetable oil
Hot salt mix (given to us by friends, but feel free to try Spike instead, or whatever seasonings you like!)
Butter

Start with the green beans and get them ready and in the steamer basket.

Green beans ready to steam

Next cut the potatoes into wedges and put them in a bowl of water to soak out the starch. Let this sit for a half hour. While this is soaking, get the items ready for the cutlets.  Measure about a cup and a half of the panko and put it into a bowl. Add a couple of good shakes of onion powder, and three shakes of thyme leaves. Mix this together. Next, add to a ziplock bag a little bit less than one cup of flour. To this add some paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper then shake the bag. Then take two eggs and beat them really well.

Cutlets, flour bath, egg wash and panko are ready

The potatoes should be ready by now to prepare, so drain them and pat them dry. Then  put them into a bowl and add a bit of oil and the hot salt seasoning, and a good shake of paprika. The oven – heat to 350 degrees. Lay the potatoes out on a silpat if you have one, or on a greased baking sheet.

Potatoes are seasoned, on the silpat and ready for the oven

Bake these for 30 minutes, and get the cutlets ready.  First, take a cutlet and shake it in the flour bag.  Then dip and turn a number of times in the egg.  Follow this by dredging in the seasoned panko.  Set the cutlet on a bread rack to dry.  Repeat this with all the cutlets, and let them sit to dry.

Cutlets are breaded and need to sit to dry a bit

At this point the potatoes should be ready to turn.  Do this and set the timer for another 30 minutes.  At this point, if I have anything left to clean up I get it done now, and get my plates and silverware ready.  20 minutes before the potatoes are done, start to heat some butter in a large skillet and when it just starts to bubble, add the cutlets. Cook these over medium high heat.

Cutlets are cooking in butter

Five minutes into cooking the cutlets, turn on the heat to start the green beans steaming. After another five minutes, turn the cutlets.

Turn and continue to cook

The cutlets, green beans and potatoes should all be done at the same time!

Sit back and enjoy this dinner with a Grenache!

Dinner is served!

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We invited friends over to watch the Super Bowl Commercials, oh, and the game. The commercials are very entertaining and I must say that I would watch more TV if advertisers made more commercials like the ones that run during the Super Bowl.

We started out the day with a variety of finger foods. I took it easy on myself and went pre-made.

Superbowl Goodies

For dinner I was making Emeril Lagasse’s Braised Brisket of Beef. The dinner was easy to make, took hours to cook and was spicy! And it was cooked in beer! There is something about cooking in beer that makes flavors jump and this recipe was terrific!

Braised Brisket

Along with the meat we had

Peas and the onions cooked with the beef

Roasted potatoes and carrots

And of course wine!

Fenton Herriot 2008 Syrah

The wine is from one of our local wineries. We enjoyed Fenton Herriot’s 2008 Syrah which went perfectly with the meal. Here is the link to Emeril’s recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/braised-brisket-of-beef-recipe/index.html

My favorite commercial during the game:

If you watched the game, what was your game day fare, and which commercial did you like best?

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