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Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day and a great appetizer!

I had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!
It all started on Saturday, when I arrived home from work. On the porch was an enormous box filled with the most beautiful two dozen lilies from Pat & Melissa, my oldest son and daughter in law. They know how much I love fresh flowers!

Kevin announced that he was taking me out to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner-El Charro Avita. I had my favorite meal- red posole. Posole is a delicious, brothy, pork and hominy soup. It's garnished with chopped onions, cilantro, radishes and lettuce. Yum! I also had a 'rocks' Margarita that was delicious.
Sunday was also a wonderful day! Chris, our youngest son, called and sent me a couple of books for my Kindle- he knows how much I love to read- and Pat & Melissa called by Facetime to show us their newly completed yard and raised bed planters.
Kevin took me to a late brunch at Bodine's Casino Restaurant. After brunch, went for a drive along the Carson River and took Bridget with us. When we got home, we planted the rest of the tomatoes and hung out in the sunshine on the patio.
That's when i decided to make this fabulous appetizer!
Halloumi cheese is a Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek specialty. It's a semi-firm cheese made from sheep or goat's milk that is perfect for grilling or frying. I haven't seen it in very many places so when I found it at Trader Joe's earlier this week, I knew it would be a special treat!
I removed the cheese from the package, rinsed it (it is packed in a salty brine) and patted it dry. I drizzled some olive oil on both sides and fried it quickly on both sides- about 2 minutes per side, until it was browned and crispy.

I topped it with some zaatar and served with pita crackers.
It was crispy on the outside and melty-creamy on the inside! Delicious!

Dinner was another favorite- corn on the cob, grilled ribeye (for Kevin) and grilled lamb steak with roasted asparagus and salad!
The evening ended with q phone call to my Mother...the best mother in the world...

Kevin and I toasted Mother's Day with a lovely glass of Bogle Pinor Noir.
I hope you all were able to celebrate Mother's Day with wonderful memories and in the company of those you love!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rich Seafood Stew

I'm trying to use up everything in the freezer/pantry in a timely manner after reading a blog reminding me earlier this week!
As you know, I canned/froze a ton of tomatoes/sauce when we left Klamath Falls last year. I also have a lot of frozen chicken stock/turkey stock from this past Fall.
The Lenten Fat Free Vegan (Engine 2) Diet was an eye-opener- I lost  12 lobs. of weight and felt a lot better by eating fat free vegan for 6 weeks. I've added some meat (very little) and some seafood to my diet, but I am continuing to keep the fat and processed foods at a bare minimum for both of us! We are also watching the grains...neither of us are gluten sensitive, but we are making sure that our choices are all good choices!
We are eating meatless meals a couple of times a week and Fridays are now seafood/meatless only days- it's not required of Catholics anymore year round- but it's good for our health and for my creativity in cooking!
I decided to make a delicious-sounding Seafood Stew for dinner tonight, with the basic recipe from a fantastic blog I read on a regular basis, An Oregon Cottage. I know I've referenced this fantastic blog before for many craft and food ideas.....but Jami had this wonderful recipe that I could not resist!
I made some of my own changes but the basic recipe is fantastic!
I stopped by Trader Joe's to find some scallops, since Kevin does not like fish ...and all I had was some shrimp- but Trader Joe's only had scallops in a wierd cream sauce or a 'Seafood Mix' that included calamari. Now, I would eat that all in a flash, but Kevin doesn't like calamari, either. His nickname in the family by the way, (as is my brother in law, Jim Regan's nickname) is "Picky-Fart-Suey". You will have to ask my Mom to tell the story...anyhow, I got a half pound of tiny fresh scallops at a local grocery store so I was all set for this seafood stew! You can also use only fish, if you like. It is a VERY versatile stew!
I first made a homemade Roman Arabbiata sauce...5 cloves of garlic, chopped, added to 2 teaspoons of red chili flakes and added to 1 tablespoon of good olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron pan (or, whatever pan you have) until it smells fantastic and then add 1 tsp. of each basil, oregano and garlic powder. Cook for another 30 seconds. Then, add 1 gallon bag of frozen tomato quarters (peeled) or 1 quart of canned tomatoes and 1 small can of diced green chilis...NOT diced jalapenos, and stir. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes and cool.
In another pan, cook 1 rough chopped peeled onion, 1/2 green and 1/2 red bell pepper, 2 stalks of celery, cleaned and chopped and 2 chopped cloves of garlic in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add 2 large, peeled, and diced russet potatoes to the mix for 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Scoop the entire batch of veggies into the Arabbiata sauce and turn to medium heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender; about 20 minutes. Add 1 cup of either seafood stock, clam juice, or chicken stock if you don't have anything seafoody as stock! Cook for 5 more minutes and then add 1 lb of seafood or fish chunks. Cook for 5 minutes. Top with 1/4 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley. Don't ruin this with cheese! Served in bowls with some bread or like us, leftover broiled Texas Toast!
This make enough for 4 people or 2 people for dinner and 2 more lunches!
Holy Smokes, this was HOT and spicy, but flavorful and incredibly delicious!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Run for the Roses...

Yesterday, May 3, 2014, was the Kentucky Derby. Now, normally, I'm not a big fan of horse racing- but this year, a local guy had a 'workingman's horse' in the running, and so Kevin and I decided to celebrate the Derby in high style!
It's a crazy thing, but this local horse, California Chrome, actually won the Derby! The owner works in Gardnerville, NV- just a couple of miles away, and lives in Topaz Lake, NV which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from us!
Anyhow, I stopped by our local liquor store, Aloha Liquor Store, which is an awesome place with great owners. Same place where we order our keg of beer for the kegerator...which we have to order tomorrow- we just ran out today! I talked to one of the staff members and told them that I... 1. don't usually drink bourbon 2. I don't like harsh liquor that tastes like, well, liquor, and 3. I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg, but I wanted a good bourbon to make some mint-less juleps.
After tasting 3 different types of decent bourbon,(Aloha lets you taste before you buy!!)  I decided on the Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It was very smooth, and had a nice mellow, silky feel. And the best part is that it only cost an ARM!  Yes, the tastings were all total less than one shot- and I live about 1/2 mile away, so yes, it's safe to taste and drive straight home :)
When I got home, I followed the 'classic recipe' for mint juleps...but we left out the mint. Neither of us are big fans of mint (if I have a mojito, I usually ask for it mint-less) so we added 2 teaspoons of simple syrup (1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, boiled, and cooled) to 2 ounces of bourbon over shaved ice. We didn't have silver cups (traditional) and my copper mugs (for Mocow Mules) are packed in the garage somewhere, so we just used a short, fat 8 ounce juice glass and doubled the ingredients :) YUMMY!
OK, the picture is a little blurry, but I think I took the picture after the second cocktail, so forgive me!
We also made a classic Derby meal for dinner...Hot Browns.
This dish is named after the famous "The Brown Hotel"'s the story of the Hot Browns if you want to read it.
I decided to use Bobby Flay's recipe that I saw on one of his 'Throwdown' shows...and it was DELICIOUS!
I fried up a couple of slices of bacon...(there is a slice in the pan for Bridget the Yorkie) ...

roasted some tomatoes in the cast iron pan...
made a Mornay sauce with some smoked paprika,Cracker Barrel Sharp White Cheddar cheese and Grand Padano....
and I baked some 'Texas Toast' instead of making my own 'egg bread'. I also used some sliced roasted turkey from Trader Joe's and added some sauteed mushrooms as my own twist.

I put the tomatoes, turkey and mushrooms on the hot Texas Toast, added the Mornay Sauce and a slice of bacon and broiled until the sauce was browned.

It was so good!

Hope you make this- it is so Fatty Mc Fat but so delicious once a year!

This made me think of the Dan Fogelberg song, "Run for the Roses". I loved all of his music in the 80s.

Born in the valley
And raised in the trees
Of Western Kentucky
On wobbly knees
With Mama beside you
To help you along
You'll soon be a growing up strong

All long lazy mornings
In pastures of green
The sun on your withers
The wind in your mane
Could never prepare you
For what lied ahead
The run for the roses so red

From sire to sire
It's born in the blood
The fire of a mare
And the strength of a stud
It's breeding and it's training
And it's something unknown
That drives you and carries you home
And it's run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moment's at hand
It's the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And it's high time you joined in the dance