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I have recently added a new spice mix to my ever growing spice cupboard. It is “Chinese 5 Spices.” This mix actually contains 7 ingredients and is a very flavorful blend. It contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, white pepper and licorice root. That’s it! No preservatives! I have used this mix to make spareribs, and now a braised beef dish, and love the results! So, are you ready to head into the kitchen? Let’s go!

Ingredients - missing the ginger root

Ingredients – missing the ginger root

Ingredients
2 TBS peanut oil
3 slices of fresh ginger, trimmed
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 # beef stew meat – cut into cubes the size of you pinky finger from tip to first joint
2 TBS hearty red wined
1 whole star anise
1 1/2″ length of cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spices
3 TBS dark soy sauce
2 cups of beef stock
Several sprigs of cilatro

This dish takes no time to put together and then cooks in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. So, let’s get that oven going! Set if for 350 degrees. Get out your cast iron dutch oven to start the cooking process!

Add the peanut oil to the pot and heat the pot to high. When the oil is hot add in the ginger, onion and garlic.

Sliced onion, minced garlic and slices of fresh ginger

Sliced onion, minced garlic and slices of fresh ginger

Stir until the aromas hit your nose. Then add in the beef and brown.

Brown the beef

Brown the beef

Once the beef is browned, add the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the cilantro. Combine well,

All ingredients added and ready for braising in the oven

All ingredients added and ready for braising in the oven

cover, and place this in the oven. Set your timer for 2 1/2 hours. Let it do its thing…

Half an hour before this is done, prepare some steamed rice and a lovely green vege. When the timer goes off, remove the pot from the oven, and don’t forget to turn the oven off!

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

By now your veges and rice should be done as well. Remove the cinnamon stick, the star anise and the sliced ginger before serving. Then plate it up! And, top each serving with sprigs of cilantro!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

The aromas are amazing, making your mouth water as you serve this up! And, it is very flavorful! This can be made ahead and served the following day and the flavors will be even better!

Please do let me know if you try this simple, flavorful dish! To my friend Conor: Do you dare try this one? 🙂

Thank you for joining me in the kitchen! Enjoy your Monday! Be well!

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Back in May we planted up the vegetable garden in wine barrels. You might remember that post. If not, you can see this post by clicking HERE! The garden is growing beautifully and I wanted to share some photos with you! Now I do need to mention that I am having issues with the birds eating seedlings, and the earwigs doing some nibbling too…How about a preview of some of our tomatoes?

We have tomatoes!

We have tomatoes!

Going back in time…Here is a view of the vegetable garden when we planted. Mother’s Day is when you want to plant a garden here in the Sierra Foothills! Ready?

May 17th

May 17th

Here is a view from the deck of the garden today!

Looking over the garden today

Looking over the garden today

Quite a difference eh? I have already harvested zucchini! Here is a shot of the zucchini with the acorn squash plants in front.

Zucchini and acorn squash

Zucchini and acorn squash

My corn is now in bloom and is over 6 feet tall!

Corn

Corn

We have 3 different varieties of tomatoes. Celebrity, a purple heirloom and a Roma.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

And, this year I am growing fingerling potatoes!

Fingerling potatoes

Fingerling potatoes

Also in the garden are wax beans and green beans. Having bird issues with these plants! We also have onions and carrots. The radishes have been eaten by something and same with the cantaloupe. My peppers are just seedlings and the cilantro is starting to get bigger! I will be replacing the melon plants with something else that I might see if I can get today.

I hope you have enjoyed this garden tour! Now go out and have a wonderful Wednesday! Thanks for dropping by!

Be well! ^..^

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Due to all the issues with the gophers and voles in my vegetable garden, and also a bad back, I bought a whole slew of barrels to create a raised bed garden of wine barrels! You might remember the post that I did a couple of months ago on what is inside a wine barrel. That post was the second step in creating this garden!

To get the garden going, we had to reduce the area that held the raspberries, and also the strawberry patch. And, we cleared the whole bed of weeds. I am hoping that this garden will do really well this year! So let’s go and check out what we did here!

Here is the first area that we put the barrels.

One area of barrels

One area of barrels

Here is the other area…

The other area

The other area

I just planted these last weekend while I still could because of the upcoming chemo. Check this next photo out! My potatoes are emerging! This year’s potato crop are fingerling potatoes!

Emerging potato

Emerging potato

My tomatoes have been in pots now for a month, and here is the Celebrity variety! I have my first of the season tomato!

First tomato - Celebrity

First tomato – Celebrity

Check out my zucchini plants!

Zucchini

Zucchini

In other areas, I have artichokes and of course those raspberries!

Artichoke

Artichoke

Golden raspberries

Golden raspberries

I hope that you enjoyed today’s tour of the vegetable garden! As the garden develops I will share with you more views!

Hugs and be well, and thank you for stopping by!

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I am working on two recipes. Two which need to be combined. One I have known as a “Cream of Green Chile Soup;” the other is known as a “Cream of Artichoke Soup.” Why? Well, there is a little place located in the town of Pescadero, south of San Francisco, but for us is about 175 miles away. When I lived in the area I used to go to this fabulous little place, called Duartes Tavern, for a mixture of their Cream of Green Chile and Cream of Artichoke Soup! This restaurant has been around since 1894! If you have the chance – GO THERE and have them mix a bowl for you of both of these soups!

So where this is taking me is to the different types of soups that one can make. I have not done a post on this yet, and thought that this would be a good topic for those who love to be in the kitchen like I do! And I am wondering: Is the Cream of Green Chile Soup and the Cream of Artichoke Soup really Bisques or Cream Soups? So here is what I discovered:

Basically, there are 6 types of soups: Stock, Broth, Cream, Bisque, Chowder and Consommé. So, what are the differences?

A Stock begins with water and bones, and sometimes incorporates vegetables into the mix. Fish stock, which is the finest of stocks, can be made with fish bones and water, but if you cook it too long it can become bitter. Beef and chicken are the most common stocks that are made. Stock is made by cooking bones in water with some vegetables and seasonings. Stock can be cooked down and reduced for the flavors to intensify without being overly salty!

A Broth, while being a bit similar to stock, has more seasoning than a stock. It also begins with water, but uses less bones than stock, and still includes some vegetables.

Broth in the soup kettle

Broth in the soup kettle

Meat is usually added, but this is not cooked down to the degree of Stock or it would be too intense in flavor. Bullion that you can buy in the grocery stores should not be confused with broth. Those bullion’s you can buy in the store: Loaded with salt, which is usually the first ingredient.

A Cream Soup generally uses a bechamel, which is a white sauce made with butter and flour. The trick to a good cream soup is to “sweat” the aromatics in butter that you are using for the basis of your soup. This intensifies the flavors. Then you add a bit of flour to create a roux, and add your liquids.

The flour mixture with the addition of the broth

The flour mixture with the addition of the broth

Usually this liquid is a stock, and to finish this soup, you finish it with a bit of cream. I like to toss it in a blender which will smooth and thicken the entire lot of what you are cooking!

A Bisque Soup (pronounced “bisk”), is a soup that begins with a strained broth of shellfish. Traditionally, this soup is made from shells that are ground into a fine paste, which are then added to a broth to help thicken it. Rice can also be used to thicken a bisque. The term Bisque can also refer to a vegetarian style soup which are processed through a food mill or food processor. These more commonly use tomatoes, peppers, squash or mushrooms.

Add potatoes, mushrooms and carrots

Add potatoes, mushrooms and carrots

These really are considered a cream soup but needed to be mentioned here as they are more often than not referred to as a “Bisque.”

A Chowder is more like a stew than a soup. It is similar to a cream soup but it is not blended.

Midway through cooking

Midway through cooking

So with this soup you get chunks of food, while it is still creamy. Most chowders include corn, fish, clams, or potatoes. Again, a chunky cream soup!

The last is Consommé. By its very definition this soup is a strong, rich soup where the flavors are concentrated. What sets this apart are the strong flavors and the clarity of the soup. What clarifies this type of soup are egg whites. They are basically a filter for this type of soup! As the soup cooks the eggs capture the sediment in the broth, which rise to the top of the cooking pot. This is called the “raft.” The raft is then spooned off resulting in a clear, flavorful broth!

I hope that you found this post interesting! I was amazed at the differences between all these types of soup!

Now go out and have a great Wednesday! Thanks for dropping by!

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Here is a recipe that I made over the weekend that was one great tasting dish! It combines cauliflower, Italian sausage, spinach and rigatoni in this lovely baked dish! The surprising ingredient that makes this dish is rosemary! How about a preview?

Preview

Preview

Ingredients
1# Italian sausage
2 TBS fresh chopped rosemary
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups of cauliflower cut into 1″ pieces
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1# rigatoni
4 cups of spinach, chopped
2 28 oz. cans of diced petite tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded Romano cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella

With the ingredients all ready to go, break up the sausage into a preheated skillet and brown. While this is cooking preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take your cauliflower and coat it with the olive oil and then lay in a single layer in a baking pan. When the oven is hot, place this in the oven to bake for about 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Roasted cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower

Reduce the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

By now the sausage should be browned. Add in the rosemary and garlic, and stir until the aromas come up.

Browned sausage with rosemary and garlic added

Browned sausage with rosemary and garlic added

Then add in the tomato sauce and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Tomato sauce is added

Tomato sauce is added

Cook your pasta following the directions on the package. When done, run under cold water. In a large bowl mix the pasta with the spinach. Set aside.

Once the sauce has cooked, add a bit to the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Next add 1/2 the rigatoni spinach mix, top with 1/2 the cauliflower, and then more sauce. Follow this with the Romano cheese. Repeat the layers finishing it off with the mozzarella.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. When done, let this sit for about 10 minutes before diving in!

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

Let me know if you try this tasty dish! It was amazing!

Thanks for dropping in and have a wonderful Monday!

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On a recent trip into the town of Placerville, I stopped in at a store called Winterhill. This is a unique shop that has a variety of flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and truly fun pasta! I saw their collection of pasta and just had to buy this one! It is fun pasta! Check it out!

One colorful pasta!

One colorful pasta!

This pasta comes to us from Italy from a co-op called “Donne del Grano Soc. Coop.” It is a pasta made with a bit of good stuff that appealed to me rather than just plain pasta! Take a look!

Ingredient list on the pasta

Ingredient list on the pasta

And here is the caloric info too!
Nutritional value

Nutritional value

Here is a look at it outside the package…It is really pretty!

Oooh! Ahhh! - Pretty Pasta!

Oooh! Ahhh! – Pretty Pasta!

I cooked up this pasta,

The cooked pasta

The cooked pasta

and combined it with an alfredo sauce, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and baby carrots. Then I topped the pasta with fresh cut chiffonade basil. Here is the dinner I served!
Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

I cannot remember whose blog I saw the squid ink pasta, but they had that too! It is a black angel hair pasta!

So, if you make the trip to Placerville, be sure to check out Winterhill for their oils, vinegars and pasta! For today, just a quick thank you for stopping by and for your comments too! Head into the kitchen and have a tasty Tuesday!

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Last evening we joined friends for another lovely dinner at The Smith Flat House! The restaurant shares the building with other business that makes this the center for health!

Where we are!

Where we are!

The restaurant is in the cellar of the building, which was originally the first floor. When they mined, and the mines are in the restaurant, the digging were piled up outside basically burying the first floor! Here is a bit of history:
History

History

We had another great dinner there! I thought that I would do a quick share with you of some of the meals we ordered last evening! Just so you know, I had a hard time catching photos before folks dug into their plates!

Apple Hill salad

Apple Hill salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Winter Squash Ravioli

Winter Squash Ravioli

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

The Meatzza

The Meatzza

Dinner special:  Roast Duck, with mashed roots and fresh veges

Dinner special: Roast Duck, with mashed roots and fresh veges

All foods are locally grown, and everything is very fresh! Check out their amazing menu!

For more information check out their website!

Thanks for taking a moment to visit today! Have a great Friday!

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I love a good Carnitas, or Carne Asada, but I really enjoy Picadillo, which is Mexican Shredded Beef that is cooked in a red chile sauce! I have looked all over for a good recipe, tried many, but this one, from Food and Wine magazine, with some modifications, nailed it! Let’s get to it!

Ingredients:
4 dried Guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried Ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3#’s beef brisket
2#’s pork butt

Brisket and pork butt

Brisket and pork butt

salt
3 TBS vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
9 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
5 Roma tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp Mexican dry oregano
pepper

First start with the dried chiles. In a bowl add the chiles with hot, hot water to soften. Give these about 30 minutes to do their thing.

Soaking the peppers

Soaking the peppers

While these are soaking, add the vegetable oil to a cast iron dutch oven. Heat and start to brown the meat, one piece at a time. Each piece should take you about 10 minutes. As the meat browns I work on the prepping the other items. As the pieces brown move them off to a platter.

Browned meat

Browned meat

Turn the oven on to 325. Mix the onion, garlic, cumin and coriander together.

Onions, garlic, cumin and coriander seeds

Onions, garlic, cumin and coriander seeds

Prep the tomatoes.

Cored and seeded tomatoes

Cored and seeded tomatoes

Chopped tomatoes and cinnamon

Chopped tomatoes and cinnamon

Prep the peppers. Drain the water on the soaking peppers and chop. Set aside in a bowl.

Seeded and chopped peppers

Seeded and chopped peppers

Once the meat is all browned, toss the onion and garlic mixture into the dutch oven and cook until the onions turn translucent.

Cooking the onions and garlic

Cooking the onions and garlic

Then add in the chiles and jalapeno, tomatoes, and the stick of cinnamon.

Lovely colors  with the tomato, cinnamon and peppers

Lovely colors with the tomato, cinnamon and peppers

Add the oregano and stir to combine well. Then add the meat back to the pot.

Add the meat to the pot

Add the meat to the pot

Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the broth over the meat then cover and place in the oven.  After one hour, turn the meat and remove the cinnamon stick.  Cook another hour or until the meat is tender.  When done remove the meat from the pot.

Remove the meat

Remove the meat

Take the juices from the pot, and in batches puree. Strain the blended mixture.

Strain the sauce

Strain the sauce

Once the meat has cooled, shred it.

Shred the meat

Shred the meat

Then add the strained sauce to the meat.

Add the sauce to the meat

Add the sauce to the meat

You can use this meat in enchiladas, tacos, or try it in a tostada!

This was really yummy and I hope that you try it! Thanks for stopping by today and have a wonderful Monday!

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That Cabernet was so good in that stew that I posted yesterday, I had to try it with chicken! What? Red wine with chicken? You betcha! This dish is rich in flavor and is easy to make! This recipe comes from “Cooking with Wine” written by Virginia and Robert Hoffman, with a couple of modifications…Here is a preview…

Preview

Preview

Ready to head into the kitchen?

Ingredients
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2#’s boneless chicken thighs
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juice
8 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and cut in half
1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, cut into slices, seeds removed
5 TBS capers, rinsed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
parsley for garnish

Take the chicken out and let it sit while preparing the rest of the food. Get the onion chopped, and the wine measured out. Then in a bowl, combine the carrots, tomatoes, garlic, garbanzo beans, lemon, capers and red pepper flakes.

Carrots, tomatoes, garlic, garbanzos, lemon, capers and red pepper flakes

Carrots, tomatoes, garlic, garbanzos, lemon, capers and red pepper flakes

In a fry pan, add the oil and heat over medium high heat. When hot add the chicken and brown on both sides.

Brown the chicken

Brown the chicken

When browned add the onions and cook until the onions wilt. Then add the wine

A pouring shot for Conor!

A pouring shot for Conor!

and cook for about 5 minutes reducing the volume of fluid by half.

Reduce the liquid

Reduce the liquid

Then add the vegetable mixture.

Add the vegetable mixture

Add the vegetable mixture

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes covered. Then remove the pieces of lemon from the pan, and cook another 15-20 minutes.

Lemon removed...

Lemon removed…

I served this up over jasmine rice and topped the dish with the parsley.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Don’t forget to have a glass of Cabernet with this dish! It is a perfect compliment!

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope that this dish inspires you enough that you would like to try it! If you do, let me kno2w! Have a good day!

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Armed with chicken breasts, Roma tomatoes and mushrooms, I head off into the kitchen. What else do I have here that I can add to this? How about some fresh basil, artichoke hearts and capers? It has been a while since I have taken you into the kitchen, so why don’t we head on in?

My inspiration for this came after having a dinner at one of our local spots where I had a chicken dish that was pretty amazing…could I create those flavors at home? This recipe, Chicken Trieste, comes pretty close! How about a preview?

Preview

Preview

Ingredients
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of flour seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
4 TBS butter
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
8 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small shallot finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled
1 TBS capers, rinsed
12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
14 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup robust red wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

The first thing to do is get everything prepped and ready to go. The dish takes about a half hour to cook, with prep time, give yourself one hour.  Pound the breasts until you get them to about 1/4″ thick. Wash and slice the mushrooms, and set aside. You need to keep these separate from the rest of the veges. Get your garlic and shallot ready. Heat water in a pot and when it boils, drop in the whole tomatoes and stir. After about a minute, turn off the heat and pull them out of the water. Run under cold water and peel as you go! Then slice and dice and add to a mixing bowl. Next add the capers and artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Get your herbs, broth, wine and cream ready.

Prepped and ready to go

Prepped and ready to go

Now take the chicken breasts and cut into 8 pieces.

Chicken is ready for breading

Chicken is ready for breading

Dredge in flour mixture, then drop into the egg to coat, followed by the breadcrumbs. Set these on a rack to dry for a bit. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees. Then take 1 TBS of butter and 1 TBS of olive oil and add to a fry pan. Heat over medium heat and when hot start browning the chicken. Do this in two batches so that you do not crowd the pan. You will need to add additional butter and olive oil on the second batch. When cooked place in the warmed oven.

Chicken is cooked and kept warm in the oven

Chicken is cooked and kept warm in the oven

Now on to the sauce! Wipe out the pan and add another TBS of butter. Melt the butter over medium heat then add the mushrooms, garlic and shallots. When all have softened add the tomatoes, capers, and artichoke hearts. Heat for another 5 minutes. You will notice that the vegetables will be giving off juice. This is great as it adds their flavors to the dish!

The veges and juices

The veges and juices

Next add in the chicken broth and the wine.

Wine and broth added

Wine and broth added

Add 3/4 of the basil and the oregano and continue to stir.

Let this cook for 5 minutes. Then slowly add the cream. Stay attuned to your sauce and stir as you do not want to burn it!

Cream added

Cream added

Let this cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add 1 TBS of butter to help thicken the sauce. Add in the Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the chicken back into the pan to coat with the sauce.

Serve this up and top with the remaining basil!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Please let me know if you try this dish! Thanks for joining me in the kitchen today, and have a great weekend!

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