Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What a Waste....of good time and good food!!

I was so angry yesterday.  I awoke and decided to make my unstuffed cabbage rolls in the crockpot. You may have read my Weekly Menu where I told you I had pulled a bunch of leftover's from the freezer and was going to repurpose them into different meals this week.  Yesterday was the day for using up my Beef and Cabbage Soup.  I put it into my crockpot, grabbed a large can of tomatoes and some brown rice from the pantry and went back to the crockpot.  There was only about a cup of rice left in the bag so I just dumped it right into the crockpot instead of measuring it out.  It was filled with bugs!!  Well not really bugs but that dust that is left behind from food moths.  Aaaargh, the entire contents of the crockpot ended up going out to the chickens. Fortunately, I hadn't opened the tomatoes yet.

I wasn't only upset about the waste of food but also because I was looking forward to seeing how the recipe worked using this soup as a base.  Ah well, c'est la vie.  Sunday night's Ragu Bolognese turned out beautifully using leftover roasted kielbasa and meatloaf.

It was thick and hearty and delicious.  I simply sauteed some onion and garlic in olive oil.  When tender, I deglazed the pan with a Chianti wine I was serving with dinner.  I added the chopped kielbasa and the crumbled meatloaf to the mixture with a little salt and pepper.  Not too much because the meat was already seasoned once.  I add the tomatoes and some tomato paste, brought it all to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until it was nice and thick and rich and we couldn't stand smelling it any longer without eating!

You can easily make this bolognese without using leftovers simply substitute a 1/2 pound each of ground pork and ground beef and cook it up with the onions and garlic, draining grease if necessary.

I made up some cheese toasts to serve along with it and preceded it with a salad.  It was a wonderful dinner an used up two of my leftovers that had been taking up room in my freezer.

As for last night's dinner?  I came home from my meeting and here is what I found.....

Life is good.......I love this guy!!
Oven Baked BBQ Pork Chops, Steamed Rice and Glazed Carrots, YUM.

Ragu Bolognese using leftovers

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. red wine (I used Chianti)
1/2 lb cooked sausage, diced (I used kielbasa)
1/2 lb cooked beef, crumbled or diced (I used leftover meatloaf)
1 (1 lb 12 oz) can of good Italian tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the onion and garlic, cook and stir until translucent and fragrant.  Add the wine and cook until evaporated by half.  Add the meat and tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Stir and reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer for two or three hours until thick and rich. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed before serving. Print Recipe

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Fragile Path....Book Review

One of the guys that I used to work with in the police department, Chad Richardson, contacted me and asked if I would review a novel that he had written.  Chad said that it had long been a dream of his to write novels and he had just published his first, A Fragile Path.

Image result for the fragile path by chad richardson

I was happy to do so and he sent me a free download for this purpose.  Chad and I, like many of my friends from work, keep in touch through social media.  He is now living down south with his wife, who is the daughter of another one of our officers, and their six children.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened this book.  Chad and I were friends, we worked together, we attended each other's weddings, we would grab lunch together sometimes and when I was in need he had my back.  But we were not really, buds.....we didn't hang out together or even with the same group of people.  We were each too busy with our own lives, I guess.  I was glad that he thought of me and gave me the opportunity to read his novel but didn't expect to like it quite as much as I did.

It was hard for me, when I first started reading, because I kept flashing back to my friend, Chad, and shaking my head as I tried to reconcile the words with the man.  After the first few pages, the prologue really (which I loved) my mind shifted gears and I was no longer reading a book written by a friend but a novel in which I was engrossed.

The author, did an amazing job with character development.  I felt as if I had been plopped in the middle of this small town and was getting to know each one of it's residents personally.  There were those I loved, those I was ambivalent about, those I disliked and those I hated.  This was a novel about people, community, friendship, family and human nature.  There was no plot but rather just a gentle easy read that filled my flight to California with laughter and tears.

I was a little flummoxed when the book ended.  There were some character's stories that I felt were left unfinished.  Perhaps the author is planning a sequel to this novel?  I hope that is the case.

I recommend this book and would, even had I not ever worked with the author.  Chad Richardson has moved in my mind as a guy I used to work with to an author that I read.  I look forward to his next novel.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Leftover Makeover Weekly Menu

It is a singing in the choir, sharing breakfast with friends, stopping at the store, simmering sauce kinda Sunday.

We are just kicking back and relaxing today.  No place to go, nothing to do.  I love these kind of days and they happen far too seldom around here.  I especially needed this today to recoup from our wonderful weekend.

Friday night we met up with our dive friends at the pool to make sure all our equipment was ready for next month's dive trip.  Afterwards we went to a local restaurant for drinks and snacks.  It was a late night for me and I slept in on Saturday awakening late and having to rush to get ready for a baby shower that I was attending.

The shower was very nice but the hour drive there in the dense fog was very nerve wracking.  The fog had lifted slightly on my way home.  After a very short interlude at home, we headed out to meet our choir friends for dinner downtown before a showing of The Phantom of the Opera.  This was my 4th time for this show.  It has changed some from my first 3 viewings but it is still exciting and spectacular.  It was, however, another very late night and we had to get up early to sing at Mass this morning.

So this afternoon, I am just relaxing and catching up on my blogging.  I went into the freezer and removed several packages of leftovers that need to be used so I am basing my Weekly Menu on those things that are now in my refrigerator. I pulled out some kielbasa, ham, meatloaf, turkey pot pie and beef and cabbage soup.  I'm going to attempt to repurpose all of this into something new each night this week.

I stopped on the way home from church to pick up some good canned Italian tomatoes and started my "leftover makeover" week with a Ragu Bolognese, using some of the kielbasa and all of the remaining meatloaf. It is simmering away as I write this post and it is starting to smell mighty good in this house.

On Monday, Frank has to go downtown to the VA hospital where he is finally going to get his hearing aids.  I don't know who is more excited about this but I think it might be me....no more repeating myself over and over again....YAY.  I have two meetings to attend at church, one at 4 and the next at 6:30.  I am going to do a crockpot unstuffed cabbage roll recipe in the crockpot using the leftover beef and cabbage soup.

Tuesday we will be taking lunch to Aunt Irene and spending the afternoon with her as she showers. She fell in the bathtub a few months ago and is nervous to shower when she is home alone.  I think I am going to use the leftover pot pie to make a soup for this night.

Wednesday I am using the leftover ham in a scalloped potato and ham casserole.  Thursday, the remaining kielbasa will be scrambled with eggs for our lunch and that should take care of all the leftovers.  Frank and I will go out for dinner before choir.

Friday is going to be spent prepping for our Chinese New Year party on Saturday so an easy dinner of poached fish is on the schedule.

Hope that you all have a very blessed week and a relaxing, enjoyable Sunday.  Our Priest this morning told us to go home and "waste the day, spending time with God and those that He has put into your life"...sounds like wonderful advice to me.

Out to dinner with friends

Kale Salad
Pasta with Ragu Bolognese

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Steamed Green Beans

Out to dinner before choir

Fish in Crazy Water
Smashed Red Skin Potatoes

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fennel Crab Bisque for #SoupSaturdaySwappers

Hello friends and welcome to Soup Saturday Swappers.  I love making soups and stews. In the winter, I make them for their warm comfort.  In the autumn, I look forward to using the fall harvest. In the spring, I can't wait to use all the fresh flavors popping up with the sunshine and warmer temps and in the summer you can use a slow cooker to keep from warming up the house or enjoy a refreshing, chilled soup.

I invited some of my friends to join me on the third Saturday of each month to share their favorite soup and/or stew recipes based on a theme chosen by one of the members.  So far, over 20 of my blogging friends have joined in the fun. Our friend, Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice, created this image for us to use in our posts.   There is no requirement to post each month or to host if you don't want.  It is just a great place to get together and swap our favorite old and new recipes.  We would love to have you join us if you are a blogger that is interested in posting with us.  You can let me  know in the comments below or email me at wendyklik1517@gmail.com.

I chose to start this group's posts today because we celebrate National Soup Day on January 21st each year.  When January 21st was a Saturday, I decided that this would be the perfect day each month to get together.  The 3rd Saturday of the month is also when I join another group called The French Winophiles so occasionally I will be posting one post to cover both groups which is perfectly okay as well since this is a relaxed and accommodating atmosphere.

I chose the theme of Healthy Soup Options since I know many of us start off the year very conscious of our eating and physical activity.

I decided to share this lovely, elegant Fennel Bisque topped with Crab Meat and Fennel Fronds.  It is creamy, silky and luxurious yet it contains not one ounce of cream or butter and only 1 tablespoon of heart healthy olive oil divided between 8 servings.  I found this recipe at Food&Wine and knew it was perfect for today's challenge.

It is quick and easy to make, taking only as long as necessary for the vegetables to be tender.  A quick puree in a blender or with an immersion blender and it is ready to be plated.  Topped with tender, low fat but high protein crab meat and some fennel fronds, it makes a gorgeous presentation and a great start to your next dinner party.

Fennel Crab Bisque
adapted from  Food & Wine

1 T. olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, halved, cored and chopped with fronds reserved
1 med. sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 (32 oz) box chicken broth
1 medium, Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2" dice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over

Heat oil in large sauce pan.  Add the onions and fennel bulb.  Cook and stir over moderate heat until crisp tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and potato.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are very tender.

Using a heavy duty blender or immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth and silky.  Taste for flavor and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Ladle into bowls and top with a mound of crab. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and serve.

Let's see more Healthy Soup Options

"Savoie"ring Time with Family #FrenchWinophiles

Jill from L'Occasion is hosting this month's French Winophiles and invited us to visit the Savoie region.  You can see her announcement post here.

I have been a part of this group now for a while and I wish I could tell you that now I know a lot about French wines but I would be lying.  The only thing I know now that I didn't know before is that there are TONS of French wines from all regions of France and each region is well known for either the grape variety or the method of wine making or both.  Oh....and I learned that I LOVE French wines.

Living in Michigan, it is not always easy to find the wines from the regions we are exploring.  Such was the case for this month's region, Savoie.  I wasn't having any luck locating wine from this region.  I do have a wine store in Detroit that carries a lot of wines from all over the world but it is an hour drive and I wasn't sure I was going to make it down there, especially since I had a trip planned to California to visit my brother.

I mentioned this on the group page and several of the other bloggers recommended that while I was in the San Francisco area, I might want to try K&L wines.  As luck would have it, the residential units in which I was staying was only a few blocks from the K& L store.  I went in and was helped by John who was very knowledgeable and set me up with not one, but two bottles  from the Savoie Region.

The first bottle he led me to was the white Apremont.  This is what K&L have to say in their writ up about this wine.
"2015 Veronique Anne Perret Vin de Savoie Apremont : The village of Apremont once sat in the shadow of a great mountain. In 1248 that mountain collapsed, destroying, everything in its path. Fortunately, the mountain itself was made of limestone which is some of the best geological material for growing grapes and the site is littered with limestone scree (broken rock fragments). The grape of choice for the region is Jacqu√®re and some of the best comes from this village. Like most wines from Savoie, the Perret has hallmark aromas of citrus and lemongrass with a touch of peach as well."
This bottle was attractively priced at $12.99 which made it possible for me to also purchase a bottle of the red from the Savoie region.

John explained that red wines were harder to come by in the Savoie region but that they were not unheard of.  This bottle of 2014 Domaine Fabien Trosset Mondeuse Avalanche, Vin de Savoie-Arbin was priced at $19.99 a bottle.  John told me that it would be a lighter wine for a red, more on the order of a pinot noir but with more spice.  I picked up a bottle of this as well. 

I was leaving the San Francisco area the following day and heading south to my brother's home near San Luis Obispo.  I decided I would make a dinner for him and his family who all live nearby and we could do a wine tasting at that time.

While driving down I was trying to think of a meal that I could serve that would please everyone. One of my nieces and a great niece are both gluten intolerant.  My other nephew and his wife work very hard at eating cleanly and healthily.  My sister in law loves chicken dishes but is not crazy about seafood.  My brother loves seafood and beef.  I wanted to serve both wines with this dinner but since there would be 17 of us having dinner I didn't think a sit down meal with different courses for each wine was feasible.

I finally decided to make 3 different stir fry meals and serve them buffet style.  I made Celery Steak, Chicken Pad Thai and Garlic Shrimp with Green Beans.  I used coconut aminos and rice noodles for the gluten intolerants.  Brown Rice and lots of veggies for the health conscious.  Different meats for different tastes and put out both wines allowing people to take what they wanted.

When I was setting out the food, my brother exclaimed "My gosh, Wendy, perhaps I should call some more people from the neighborhood and invite them over to eat some of this".  I just smiled and kept putting out food.  When we were all done eating there was enough left for one person to have a light lunch.  The food was a huge hit.

Some of us drank white, some of us drank red.  I drank both.  White with my dinner and red after dinner as we sat and visited.  I wish I could talk to you about the pairings but, to be honest, I didn't pay much attention.  I liked the wines, especially the red, and I didn't notice anything adverse as I was eating and drinking so I am going to say it was a successful pairing.  

I really enjoyed K&L wine shop.  I had a wonderful time with my California family and my 2 nieces and great niece that I brought with me for this visit.  I had fun taking over my sister in law's kitchen, not only for this meal but for the one I made the following night after we visited the coast and stopped by the fishmonger on the pier in Avilla Beach.

I am home now and will be starting my hunt for wines from the Corsica region which is where we are exploring in February.  Make sure you stop back and see what I have learned or learn from the others who are much more knowledgeable than I.  In fact, why don't you start right now and learn all about the wines of Savoie.  That's where I'm headed.......

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lobster Pot Pie #FishFridayFoodies

We are celebrating the one year anniversary of Fish Friday Foodies.  It was last January that I decided to try to add more fish and seafood to my diet and asked my fellow bloggers if they would be interested in joining me once each month posting a fish or seafood recipe.  They not only agreed to join me but they also volunteered to come up with themes and take turns hosting each month.  I just love my blogging community.

Are you a food blogger who would like to join our group and post with us on the third Friday of each month?  We would love to have you.  Simply let me know in the comments below or by emailing me at wendyklik1517@gmail.com and I will add you to the group.

This month's theme was chosen by my friend and mentor, Stacy of Food Lust People Love.  Stacy challenged us to: 

"Bake us something cozy this month including your favorite seafood. Shortcrust, puff pastry, deep dish with mashed potatoes on top, hand pies, free form galettes or ornate decorated crusts, quiche, even vols-au-vent with seafood filling would qualify. Use one type of seafood or mix it up."

I have been wanting to make a Lobster Pot Pie for a long time now.  The idea of tender chunks of lobster in a creamy sauce with veggies and a crust sounds so appealing to me.  Unfortunately, my husband does not love seafood as much as I.  He will eat fish but prefers it fried.  He will eat small amounts of shrimp, scallops, crab and lobster but isn't crazy about it.  The way I have found to work around this difference of tastes is to serve seafood as a first course where the portions are smaller.

I decided to make these individual lobster pot pies for the first course of our family Christmas dinner where it was just us and our children.  Each year we try to have one dinner over the holidays where it is just our immediate family.  It is not always an easy task getting all of our kids together at one time. This year we were missing our eldest son, Chuck, who was on leave from the Navy for Thanksgiving this year but not Christmas.

I used premade, frozen puff pastry shells for the crusts of each pot pie.  This small shell filled with the creamy, savory filling was just the perfect size for a starter.

I boiled up 3 lobster tails, removed them from their shells and chopped them into bite size pieces before incorporating them into the sauce that started with a base of fennel and onions.  The sauce is a a roux mixed with clam juice and heavy cream.  Sweet peas are folded in at the end along with the lobster pieces.

I placed the bottom of the pastry into a small dish, smothered it with the lobster filling and topped it with the pastry disc.  It was a lovely presentation and a delicious start to our meal.

Individual Lobster Pot Pies

1 med sweet onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 stick butter
1/2 c. flour
3 (8 oz) bottles, clam juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. heavy cream
3 lobster tails, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1 (12 oz) pkg frozen peas, thawed
1 pkg frozen puff pastry shells, cooked per package directions

Melt the butter in a large skillet over med high heat.  Add the onion and fennel, cook and stir until tender and translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add the flour, cook on low, stirring until nutty smelling and light brown, 3-4 minutes.  Slowly add the clam juice, stirring constantly until incorporated and starting to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the heavy cream until smooth and silky.  Stir in the peas and lobster, cook gently until heated through.

Place the bottom of each pastry into individual shallow bowls, spoon the lobster mixture over each bottom and top with a pastry round.  Print Recipe

More wonderful Fish/Seafood Pies and Tarts

Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup for #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Today, for Crazy Ingredient Challenge we were assigned to make a new and original recipe using Barley and Salsa.  I was happy when the ingredients were chosen, knowing that I would be able to make a wonderful dish using these ingredients.

I still had some jars of salsa that I had canned in my cupboard so I pulled that out to use in this dish. Since January is National Soup Month, I decided to stay with that theme and make a Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup.  This was a very easy dish since I used the slow cooker to do all the work for me.

It turned out amazing.  The soup was hearty and filling.  I paired it with Cheese Quesadillas on a take of a Southwest soup and sandwich theme.  The salsa seasoned the soup perfectly and only required a small amount of chili powder.  Of course, Frank is spice sensitive so I go easy on the heat.  Feel free to add the amount that will give you your desired amount of heat.

Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup
a Day in the Life original

1 lg or 2 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1/2 c. pearl barley
1/4 c. diced onion
1 1/4 c. salsa
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (32 oz.) box chicken stock
1 1/2 t. chili powder, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken, barley, onion, salsa, corn, black beans, chicken stock and chili powder in the crock of a slow cooker.  Stir to combine and cook on high for 4-6 hrs.  Stir, taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Print Recipe

Let's see what the others made with Barley and Salsa