Roast Chicken Breast & Root Vegetables (Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, and Beets)

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts (skin on)
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Rosemary
  • 3 beets, halved
  • 4 medium carrots, halved length-wise
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into ½ inch thick wedges
  • 1 medium onion, cut into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Generously season chicken breasts with salt and Herbs de Provence.  Drizzle olive oil over beets, carrots, potatoes, and onion and season with salt and Rosemary.  Place chicken in 8×13 inch baking dish and arrange beets, carrots, potatoes, and onion around the chicken.  Bake in oven for 50 minutes, then turn broiler on high and broil for 5 minutes, until chicken skin is crispy and golden brown.  Remove chicken from the oven and let sit 5 minutes while you prepare the goat cheese cream sauce.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add cream and goat cheese and whisk for 3-5 minutes until sauce thickens, coating the back of a spoon.  Remove beets from roasting pan and serve with sauce, along with chicken and remaining vegetables.

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Slow Cooker Braised Chicken Soup with Rice and Winter Greens

  • 1 bone-in chicken breast and 2 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 bunch beet greens (collard, mustard, or turnip)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4c diced celery
  • 1/2 c diced carrots
  • 1/2 c dried rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 rind (2-3” piece) pecorino romano, plus ¼ cup shaved for serving

Tear greens into small pieces, discarding the stem.  Add to a pot of boiling salted water and boil for 6 minutes.  Drain and rinse.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low 6 hours, or high 3 hours.

Remove chicken from pot and tear into bite-sized pieces (it should fall off the bone) and return to the soup.

Garnish with grated pecorino and serve with fresh baguette.

Note: the rice will break into small pieces and become a bit mushy.  I really like this, but if you prefer, you can cook the rice and add to the soup 15 minutes before serving.

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Eleuthera + Conch Chowder Recipe

Beach on the Golden Mile in front of Tippy's

Eleuthera, meaning freedom, is one of the out-islands in the Bahamas.  It is 110 miles long, but considered very rural, with a population of only 8,000, and no major resorts or hotels.  The island is known for some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world, with crystal waters in all hues of blue and powder-fine light pink sand that feels like walking on sugar.

Ten Bay Beach, Eleuthera

This year marked my eighth trip to Eleuthera, and Matt’s ninth.  On our first date, Matt asked me if I would want to go with him to this magical place.  Let me think about that one for a minute…  ummm, yes.  Since then, we have made this our special spot for many happy occasions, including our honeymoon, birthdays, and many times over the Christmas and New Year break.

Snorkel Town

What is there to do?  Chill out and get on “island time.”  A typical day goes like this: wake up and take a walk on the beach, looking for sand dollars, starfish, pieces of coral, sea fans, sea urchins, sea glass, and so on.  After walk, take a swim and bring your snorkel.  Most of the beaches on the Atlantic are dotted with reefs, so you can just walk out into the water and snorkel for hours.  After your morning swim, head over to Tippy’s or The Beach House for an order of conch fritters and a frosty Kalik or delicious rum drink.  Then digest your food while you lay-out under the sun and read a book.  Take another swim.  Maybe head into town to find some fresh fish, conch, or lobster and head back to the house to make dinner.  Watch the moon rise and count shooting stars in the night sky.  Go to bed.  Repeat.

Fresh lobster at Governor's Harbour

Next time you are in the Bahamas and have a pound of conch meat, I have a great recipe for you.  Or maybe you’re in Austin this winter and want to bring the islands to you.  I suggest Conch Chowder (and maybe a Cuba Libre for dessert).

Conch Chowder

  • 1 ½ cups conch meat
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 32 oz Clamato juice cocktail
  • One 14 oz can okra with tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

For the conch: pound the conch meat with a meat mallet (or your fist, or an empty beer bottle, depending on what ya got) until flat and tender.  Chop into dice.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the conch, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until veggies are soft.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add okra, Clamato juice, thyme, oregano, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add potatoes and simmer another 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.  Enjoy!

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French Breakfast Muffins

This recipe is a family favorite.  Everyone goes bananas over these muffins.  My mother always made these as part of her Christmas cookie gift boxes.  Try them out this holiday season!  This actually comes from Betty Crocker circa 1970.  Shhhhhh.

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350.  Grease 24 mini muffin cups.  Mix thoroughly shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, and the egg.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, alternately with the milk.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden (if there is any doubt, poke with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, they’re ready).  Mix sugar and cinnamon.  Immediately after baking, roll puffs in butter, then in sugar mixture.

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Coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog)

This is a treasured recipe that I got from the guys in the kitchen at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami.  We spent Christmas Eve there 2 years ago and bellied up to the bar.  The guys in the kitchen made this to share with the staff and we were lucky enough to have a taste.  It was so yummy.  Somehow I convinced them to give me the recipe…  tee hee.  Happy Holidays!

5 cans evaporated milk

3 cans coconut milk

2 cans condensed milk

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 egg yolks

White Rum to taste

Whisk egg yolks with the cinnamon and vanilla until the yolks lighten in color.  Combine the rest of the ingredients.

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Elderflower Blancmanges

Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free

This dessert is from my good friend Karen Morgan’s cookbook “Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free.”  This was very easy, so beautiful, and so delectable (don’t let “gluten-free” scare you).  A must for your next dinner party.  The only thing you must have is a fine sieve.  I unfortunately didn’t read that in the recipe beforehand and the only thing I had was a tea strainer so I strained the milk mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, which took probably 30 minutes longer than it should.

Nonstick cooking spray or clarified butter

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups almond meal

4 teaspoons granulated gelatin

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons Elderflower liqueur (St. Germain), divided

1 cup citrus marmalade (the recipe calls for 3  citrus marmalade, but I used orange marmlade)

Candied lemon peel (OR you can use candied ginger or candied orange thingies)

Lightly coat 4 decorative molds with cooking spray or butter and set aside.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the milk and almond meal.  Cook over medium-low heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan.  Remove from heat and and infuse for 10 minutes.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the almond meal with the back of a spoon to extract all the milk.

Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water and allow to soften for 5 minutes.  Whisk the gelatin into the hot milk until dissolved (I had to add back to the heat to dissolve but that was because it took me so long to strain).  Add sugar and whisk until dissolved.

In a deep bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.  Using a whisk, stir the cream into the warm milk mixture, along with 2 tablespoons of the liqueur.  Pour into the prepared molds and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.  (Karen’s tip for the round molds I used was to set them atop an egg crate so they were stable).

Just before serving, combine the marmalade and 2 tablespoons liqueur in a small saucepan and cook lover low heat until melted.  Spoon onto dessert plates.

To un-mold the blancmanges, submerge the bottom of each mold in warm water (just a quick dip or the cream will melt and look like ice cream) and then invert on top of the marmalade.  Garnish with the candied candy stuff of your choosing.

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Creamy Masala Sauce

This is a sauce I learned from a Whole Foods Cooking Class for Indian Sauces. My sister-in-law, Toddy, gave this class to me last year as a Christmas gift.  Great gift!!  I made a delicious veggie (potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini) masala.  Try this with chicken, too.  Cook the meat or steam the veggies first and then add to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

1 cup blanched almonds (I peeled these but don’t think its necessary)

1 cup unsweetened dry coconut flakes

6-8 roma tomatoes, chopped (if not in season, I used whole Cento San Marzano tomatoes and chopped)

1 Tablespoon minced ginger, unpeeled and sliced thinly

1 small white onion

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons coriander

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup low fat sour cream

1 tablespoon salt

chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon canola oil

In a large pan, heat oil and add chopped onion, ginger, and turmeric and saute on medium heat until the onions are soft.  Add coconut flakes and almonds and cook 3 minutes.  Add chili powder,  coriander, and cumin and saute for 30 seconds to toast the spices.  Add tomatoes, mix well and cook on low for 2-3 minutes.

Cool the mixture for 5 minutes.  Place the mixture in a blender (leave an opening in the blender or keep the top off or it will explode) and blend into a coarse paste.  Put the sauce into a pan, add sour cream and salt and simmer 10 minutes (add meat or veggies at this step).  If the sauce reduces and becomes too thick, add water or chicken broth to maintain creamy consistency.

Serve with rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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Turkey Mole Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

Well, by the time you read this you probably won’t have any Thanksgiving turkey leftover.  Try this with chicken and then bookmark this recipe for next year.  I look forward to making this a post-Thanksgiving tradition for years to come. Got this tasty little nugget from  Thanks, Gwyneth!

According to the wiki page for mole sauce,  one legend of the origin of this sauce comes from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla sometime early in the colonial period. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns went into a panic because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, chili peppers, spices, day-old bread nuts and a little chocolate and more. They killed an old turkey they had, cooked it and put the sauce on top. And the archbishop loved it.

So you see, turkey with mole is one of the world’s perfect combos, like peanut butter and chocolate, or bread and butter, or…

Mole Sauce

Yield: about 3 cups of sauce

  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, roughly diced
  • 4 dried red chilis (ancho)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • one 14-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • ¼ cup whole almonds, roasted
  • ¼ cup white sesame seeds, roasted, plus more for serving
  • 3 ounces high quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce (feel free to adjust amount according to your heat preference)
  • 3 cups shredded turkey meat
  • small handful fresh cilantro leaves for serving

Bring the wine to a boil in a small pot, add the raisins and apricots and remove from the heat. Let them soak for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the chilis over an open gas flame until fragrant and toasty. Discard the stems and seeds from each chili and roughly chop. Place the chilis in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them soak for at least 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the raisins, apricots and wine. Drain the chilis, discarding the liquid, and add to the pot. Add the tomatoes, 2 cups chicken stock, pumpkin seeds, almonds and sesame seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for one hour. Stir in the chocolate, pepper and chipotle. Transfer the mole to a blender and puree until completely smooth (be sure to take the center cap out of the top of the blender to let heat escape or you’ll have a real mess). Ideally it’s best to let it sit for a few hours, letting all those flavors get to know each other. Return sauce to pan and add shredded turkey.  Add remaining chicken broth ¼ cup at a time until desired consistency.  Simmer on low heat for one hour.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, pickled red onions, and an additional sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.

Pickled Red Onions

3/4 cup (180ml) white vinegar
3 tablespoons (50gr) sugar
pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 whole cinnamon stick
a small, dried chili pepper
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings

1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chili until boiling.

2. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.

3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

4. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.

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Simple and Elegant Lasagna

Simple and Elegant Lasagna

This was so easy and took maybe 30 minutes to throw together.  My husband said this may be the best thing I’ve ever made.  Just a few quality ingredients make this dish simple yet elegant.  I may make this for our next dinner guests.  YUM!

Serves 4

4 fresh lasagna noodles (not dried)

3 links hot Italian sausage

3 cups simple tomato sauce (marinara, I used san marzano- or make your own)

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup or more to taste grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus, 4 tbsp for topping

Cook lasagna noodles 2 minutes, drain and set aside.

Over medium high heat, brown sausage (remove from casings) and break up into small pieces.  Add tomato sauce.  Bring to simmer.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle flour and stir quickly with a whisk until mixture turns a golden color.  Gradually add milk (may need to remove from heat time to time to avoid clumps) and keep whisking until all milk is added and mixture is smooth.  Add cheese and combine until smooth.

Take one noodle and define into thirds.  On first third, spoon 1/8 meat mixture.  Add 1/8 béchamel sauce.  Fold noodle over and repeat.  Fold over top, and top with a drizzle of béchamel and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese.  Repeat with remaining noodles.

Gently lift individual lasagna and place into a large baking dish (or prepare in a large baking dish and skip having to move it).  I baked at 375 for 10 minutes or so and then put broiler on high and let the cheese slightly brown.  Remove and let stand 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

This is great on a cold day and full of flavor. Good comfort food.

¾ lb chicken tenders, cut into 1 inch pieces

4 cups good quality chicken broth

1 teaspoon chili garlic paste

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (about 1 thumb-sized piece)

2 stalks fresh lemongrass

2 tablespoons soy sauce

juice of one lime

6 oz dry rice noodles, cooked and drained

Fresh cilantro

One bunch scallions, thinly sliced
In a large pot, heat about 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders and cook about 5-6 minutes, until almost cooked thru. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and chili garlic paste. Stir to coat chicken in mixture. Add garlic, ginger, and lemongrass and sauté about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and lime juice. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
In a deep bowl, combine 1 cup cooked noodles and 1 ½ cups chicken soup. Garnish with fresh cilantro and scallions. Add Sriracha Sauce for a little extra kick.

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