Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans

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It’s important to use the best quality product of each season. Right now we have an abundance of juicy strawberries. This salad uses some of my favorite ingredients. What is life without an aged balsamic? . Throw in some creamy goat cheese and spinach and you will have my full attention! It’s simple and has something for everyone. A little sweet, a little savory and lots of flavor.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is always labelled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and carries a D.O.P. (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta”) stamp — a European Union certification that guarantees an ingredient’s quality, production, and place of origin. You don’t cook with this aged balsamic. You drizzle this syrup over foods like fresh strawberries. It enhances the flavors of foods. You can even put it on vanilla ice cream. Buy the good stuff. It’s expensive but a little goes a long way.

Candied Pecans

2 tbsp butter

1 cup pecan halves

2 tbsp brown sugar

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Toss in the pecans and brown sugar. Sir to coat the pecans. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to caramelize. It takes about 3 minutes. Don’t walk away! It’s easy to burn the pecans. Stay with the 3 minute time frame. It’s better they are a little under done than burnt. Spread out the pecans on wax or parchment paper and cool. Go ahead. Sample a FEW! They are sweet, but not too sweet.

Salad

6 ounces of baby spinach leaves

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, stems removed (or more!)

Small log of plain goat cheese, sliced (or more!!)

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

salt and pepper

In a large bowl, place the spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and pecans. Drizzle some balsamic and olive oil over salad. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss gently. Wait until right before you want to serve this salad, before you add the dressing.  You can add more strawberries or goat cheese if you’d like. It’s a salad! Go crazy!

Happy Summer!

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Here’s the original recipe

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They tell me it’s summer. As I walk the countless steps through the kitchen, I pass a chair with a rainbow of blue coats, piled on its’ back. Such a burden to carry the weight of the weather on your rails. My fleece jacket is backpack ready for the icy air in our antiquated building. My spring coat is warmth from the damp, early morning air. Train station approved. My long raincoat is ready for a tempestuous Northeast storm. A warranty from a rainy, long ago college graduation. My blue coats.

They tell me it’s summer.

I roast to you!

It’s Soup Saturday in my house. If you’re looking for something different, but not too adventurous, you need to try this soup. It’s so easy and delicious. You don’t even need to put any dairy in this soup. The roasted parsnips add a sweetness, and the cumin adds some spice. Don’t tell anyone there is cauliflower in it. They will never guess! Enjoy!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

                               Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, I make a lot of soup.  Soup is good. Most of my soups are tomato based and often include lentils, spinach, different spices and some kind of sausage. I’ve been looking to make something different and healthier. I have read various recipes that used roasted cauliflower, but they relied on too many spices. I found one recipe that used roasted cauliflower and roasted parsnips. Pure magic. I adapted the recipe so that the sweetness of the parsnips would be the dominant flavor. Instead of roasting the spices with the vegetables, I added them later into the chicken stock. Instead of roasting the onions, I sautéed them in olive oil. My new friend, the Immersion Blender, made sure the soup was creamy.

1 head of…

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Turkey in the morning, turkey in the evening, turkey at supper time….

 

If you are reading this, you have survived 2016 successfully! Good for you. Did you make an resolutions? Didn’t think so. Every Sunday I get deep and introspective. I thought today would be even more so, but it was not. I am glad to see 2016 go, but nervous about 2017. I don’t think we should put pressure on the new year. It’s up to us to be successful and happy. Is it about choosing a small safe world or taking risk and chance in a big scary world? Meh. I’d rather think about cooking food for the ones that I love.

I found this Turkey Chili recipe in the Washington Post. This is a Sarah Moulton recipe. She was the host of one of the Food Network’s first shows. I loved watching her awkward knife skills, being a lefty. Every time I say “impeccably clean hands” I think of her. What? You don’t use that phrase? You should! It reminds me to keep washing my hands to avoid cross-contamination. She was a great teacher, and I learned many things from her. She’s moved on from the Food Network to PBS and is still cooking and writing about cooking.

I’ve adapted the recipe a little. Her recipe is here.

Turkey Chili

1 cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing tortillas

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 pounds ground turkey or chicken

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste

Four (or more) 6” corn tortillas

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken stock (store-bought works well)

2  15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1   5-oz. can of chopped green chilies

2/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 tbsp. lime juice

¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Combine the onion and oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high; add the ground turkey or chicken, the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper (to taste) and the ½ teaspoon of salt; cook for about 6 minutes, breaking up the meat, or until it is no longer pink.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium, then add the flour; cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Pour in the broth, stirring. I would put 2 cups of chicken stock in at first. I like my soup thick. If you want the soup thinner you can add more stock. Once the mixture starts bubbling, stir in the beans and green chilies. I like to mash one of the cans of beans. It helps thicken the soup. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sour cream, lime juice (to taste) and season lightly with salt. Stir in about ½ cup of cheese and stir until melted. You can either add the rest now, or sprinkle it on top of your bowl.

Taste the soup. I found that I had to put a little more cumin and chili powder, as well as salt in it. It’s better to add, since you cannot take out spices once they are added.

Now for my favorite part of the soup, the tortilla toppings! On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place tortillas in a single layer. Brush vegetable oil on the tortillas. Sprinkle salt over them. Put in the oven, on the middle rack for about 15 minutes You want the tortillas to crisp up and brown lightly. Watch them so they don’t burn. Your home will smell wonderful. Take them out of the oven to cool. If you have a rolling pin, you can crush the tortillas with it, making them into coarse crumbs or tear them into small chunks. I prefer the chunks. Of course.

Add the tortillas to the pan and let the soup bubble around them for 2 minutes. Spoon into bowl. Sniff and smell. Lower spoon into bowl, lift to mouth. Smile. It’s delicious!

NOTE: I like to make this soup the day before I plan on serving it. The flavors develop more when you wait. You can, of course, serve it immediately. Your leftovers will be fantastic!

 

Oh yay! Thanksgiving is here!

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Thanksgiving is here and you are in a panic! I can see it in your eyes…hear it in your breathing. You’ve got your kids coming home from college, in-laws staying for days, friends “stopping by.” Not only do you have to prepare a FEAST on Thursday, but there are the meals before and after that need to be planned. Oh, you didn’t think of that? Lucky for you, I have a few recipes that are easy. You can use disguised poultry for some of these meals. Don’t worry that you’re having turkey on Thursday. If you make my Tortellini sausage soup, you can use turkey or chicken sausage. Don’t tell anyone. Serve with some hot rolls (store-bought this time) and everyone will be happy! You can make this today and serve it tonight or tomorrow as your guests roll in. A hot pot on the stove makes a happy guest.

Another crowd pleaser, with disguised poultry, is my chicken enchiladas. Make it in the morning and serve it later. Buy the rotisserie chicken in the grocery store. No one will be the wiser. You have enough to do this week. This meal is quick and delicious. It can be mild or as spicy as you’d like. If anyone asks what’s in it, change the subject! “Look, is that snow?” or “I see deer in the yard!”

You’re tired and ready to collapse. You can prep a nice breakfast the night before if you make my breakfast souffle. A little bit of work at night makes for an easy breakfast in the morning. If you want to get fancy, buy some challah bread and make French Toast. You can make it and keep it warm in the oven while people wake up and stroll to the table. See, it’s easy! Check your syrup supply. Buy the bacon too!

Let me give you a few words of advice. ASK FOR HELP. I should listen to myself. You don’t have to do everything perfectly or yourself. If people ask if they can bring something, repeat after me, “Yes!” Do your best, not Martha Stewart’s best.  The holidays are about being with your family or friends, the people you care about. Everything else falls in place. Relax. Laugh. Eat. Create your own traditions.

Make a schedule of what needs to be done and when. While one thing cooks, another is prepared. Planning makes it easy.

One more thing, check your toilet paper stash. Oh, and coffee. Make sure you have enough coffee. You will make it through this week and have many happy memories-unless you run out of toilet paper!!

The holi-daze are here whether you like it or not. It won’t be long before you are suffering from frugal fatigue or host-traumatic stress disorder or making silly resolutions you will not keep. Enjoy the small moments.

Happy Thanksgiving…..breathe!!

Hot time in the summertime…..

I made these today on a very hot summer day. I used a rotisserie chicken and jarred jalapeño peppers. It’s even easier and I think it tastes better! I added these changes to the recipe.The house did not heat up and I have leftovers for lunch!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

I made these the other day before that summer sun heated up my house. Of course, I forgot to take a picture! Don’t despair, this recipe was lovingly adapted from this Easy Chicken Enchilada recipe. Here’s a picture of them ready to be cooked!

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Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is super easy. I often cheat and used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If I have any leftover chicken, that goes right into the pan! You can make this as spicy or as mild as you’d like. This kind of meal doesn’t require a precise recipe, but some guidelines. I just eyeball the amount of chicken I use. You top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce. If you don’t think you have enough sauce to cover them, just add a splash of water or a little more of the cilantro base. The top is covered with cheese, so you don’t…

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Dark chocolate makes the very best…..broooowwwn-ies!

These are perfect for the Fourth of July cookout you’re having. Rich and delicious. Cut them in small squares.

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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The Baked Brownie

I somehow stumbled upon this fabulous Brooklyn bakery while cruising along online. I have several of their cookbooks. They are droolish-ish. I have made several things, all chocolate, and am very pleased with their recipes. So, chocolate you say? Well, my favorite chocolate is milk chocolate…..ummmm…semi-sweet chocolate.. errrrrrrr……white chocolate. Well, let’s say I love most chocolate but dark chocolate. Until now! The original brownie recipe calls for all dark chocolate, but I used a blend of dark and semi-sweet chocolate. I was scared of too much dark chocolate. Of all things to be afraid of…..this fear stopped me cold. What if I didn’t like these brownies after using 5 EGGS? I hate when things don’t come out right. I mentally calculate the wasted ingredients and mope. This is the first recipe that I can say, beats out any brownie mixes I’ve used. I’ve…

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