November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Review

This was our first Thanksgiving without family. It wasn't the same, but we had a lot of fun with some local friends. One friend who was planning on making a turkey decided that going into labor was more fun - so she enjoyed her new little baby boy and I made the turkey. I also made the ham, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.
The cranberry sauce I use is a recipe from one of my best friends in high school. Thanks Mel for sharing this recipe. Now, I will share it with all of you. Make this for your Christmas turkey or anytime you have poultry around.

Cranberry Sauce
1 pound (4 cups) fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
zest of 1 orange
fruit of 1 orange, peeled, chopped into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Sprinkle ground cinnamon

Wash cranberries and set aside.
Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, oranges, and cloves. Simmer over a high flame, stirring frequently, until berries pop open. (I like to mash it a little so the cranberry pieces are a little smaller). Stir in crushed pineapple, walnuts, and cinnamon. Cool and serve.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I love that Thanksgiving is the first official holiday of the "Holidays." Isn't it appropriate that we are first grateful? Last year my grandma had us go around the table and say what we were thankful for. I know this is a tradition for most people, but it was new for me. It was an emotional moment. I hope to make it a tradition in our home.
Today I am thankful for:
Good food!
New Friends that made the transition to Nebraska so easy
My religion
Being a Mom
And them:

AC and Lou having a picnic lunch on her favorite blankie. It was a lazy day - so we are still in our PJ's.

What are you thankful for?

November 24, 2010

Holiday Green Beans

In case you didn't catch this post over at Whatever Dee-Dee Wants... I thought I would share it with you today. If you are someone like me who is still looking for recipes for the big day tomorrow.
Good luck with all your Thanksgiving cooking tomorrow (and today probably!). I hope it is tasty, relaxing, and filled with people you love!

I love Thanksgiving. I love being with friends and family. I love listening to people express gratitude that may some other time be suppressed. And I, of course, love good food.
Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws. They make the traditional delicious food. Of course I was asked to make my Dinner Rolls I offered to make something as well (mostly because I was starting to think my in-laws only thought I could make rolls). I was assigned the green bean casserole. You know, the typical with the sauce and the fried onions. I love that dish, but decided to go a fresher route. Thanksgiving has so many rich dishes that I needed a veggie that kept its freshness. I was truly thankful last year for this recipe. It was the perfect balance of freshness but still felt like the holidays. I think my family enjoyed it too - I got more compliments on my beans than I did my rolls!
These have now become a favorite in our house. Not just for the holidays, but anytime I want something extra with my beans.

Holiday Green Beans
1 lb bag frozen green beans
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup apple juice or cider
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Microwave your green beans, covered for about 5 minutes. Uncover and microwave for 3 to 7 more minutes until desired tenderness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, saute onion in the olive oil until just caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add apple juice and increase heat to about medium high and simmer until reduced and syrupy.
Toss sauce over beans. Garnish with cranberries.

*I don't usually use the french cut green beans, but I accidentally bought them this time. It's still just as good.
*If you want an extra layer of crunch, add toasted almonds to the garnish.

November 15, 2010

Pho - Vietnamese Noodle Soup

First - sorry for the lack of posts again. I vowed I would be better... but then my baby got sick, I was sleep deprived, and we were having a hard time. So... here is to hoping that she and I get feeling more normal this week!
So back to the food! I first tried Pho (pronounced "Fuh") on my birthday at a delicious noodle house in Provo, Utah. Well, Nebraska doesn't have to many asian restaurants other than Americanized chains.
But being in Hawaii there is always an opportunity to try delicious Asian cuisine (probably my favorite genre to eat). but this time my mom and I wanted to stay in. So we decided to try out this recipe from Steamy Kitchen. It was delicious. We didn't have hoisin, which I wish we had (though it is optional). We didn't char our ginger or onion - mostly because we were starving and didn't want to wait. We will try it that way next time to text the difference.
Check out this recipe. Don't be scared. It is delicious! (oh, and if you are wondering by my picture, we did pork not beef).

November 08, 2010


image via
Well, we made it! After 11+ hours in the plane, Lou and I arrived in Hawaii yesterday. Her calm, sweet personality suffered a little due to the lack of sleep, but really she did wonderfully! (But hey, I wasn't the most pleasant at the end of the day either)
For those who don't know, my parents live here (yes, I know, they think it is rough too). We are here to relax, hit the beach, visit the temple open house, and eat delicious foods. It's funny, my sister, brother, and I were talking about our "must-do's" in Hawaii. All of us mentioned restaurants. Nothing more. I will let you in on some of my adventures here. Plus, my mom and I like to cook together in the kitchen so you won't be without a recipe or two. Just so you can enjoy my surroundings with me: It is 78 degrees, 75% humidity, there is a great breeze; I can hear the kids playing at the school next door, and if you listen - the ocean off in the distance. This place truly is paradise!

November 05, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

I love this foods of this season. They are so warm and comforting. Butternut squash is one of my favorites. This dish is one of those comforting meals you can snuggle up on the couch and eat.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

5 slices of bacon
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp butter, divided
6 c chicken stock
2 c water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 a medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 c Arboio Rice
salt and pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan

Cook bacon until crispy, set aside on paper towels to drain.
In a pan, heat onions, 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter and a pinch of salt over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are caramelized, and soft. (Don't cook too quickly - takes about 30 minutes). Bring stock and water to simmer in a pot then reduce heat to low.
Heat a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil. When oil ripples, add the squash and garlic and soften 2-3 minutes. Add thyme and rice and toast 2 to 3 minutes more. Add 2 cups of liquid and cook it out completely, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue ladling in about 2 ladles of liquid in at a time. Stirring often, allow liquids to evaporate each time.
Risotto will take about 20 minutes. Season salt and pepper, to taste. In the last minute of cooking time, stir in the butter in small pieces,  Parmesan, cooked bacon, and caramelized onions. Garnish with a little more Parmesan and fresh parsley (if you have it... I was out).

November 03, 2010

Beef Goulash with Polenta

I saw a goulash dish being made on the food network, and for the first time in the past 13 weeks, I have really wanted to make meat. My lucky husband. Now, my grocery store was out of caraway seeds so I just left them out. I don't know if that is allowed in goulash, but don't be mad.

Beef Goulash
2 pounds beef, cut into 1-2 inch cubes (the better the cut, the more tender your final product)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, deviened and chopped finely
3 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp whole caraway seeds, toasted and ground
2 Tbsp paprika (if you have sweet and hot in your house, do a little of each!)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp ground marjoram
1 tsp thyme
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups chicken stock, low-sodium
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Season the beef with the salt and pepper, to taste. In a large oven safe Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat until just smoking. Add the beef in batches, being careful not to crowd and be sure to brown the meat on all sides. (Make sure you have your fan going... or else your fire alarm might go off and scare your 20 month old). Remove the meat from the pan to a baking sheet, or something that can catch the juices.
Add the onions and carrots to the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, the moisture from the onions will loosen the bits at the bottom, so stir often. Add the peppers and the garlic and cook until caramelized and all of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and cook about 1 minute. Add in the caraway, sweet and hot paprika, the red chili flakes, the marjoram, and thyme.
Deglaze with the balsamic and let reduce for 2 minutes. Slowly add the stock, then add the beef and any juices collected from the meat. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir gently to combine.
Cover and cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley (no, we were out, so I used cilantro - and it was just as tasty). Serve with creamy or polenta if desired.

**Yes, I know there is red pepper flakes and a jalapeno, but I promise it just gives a little spice - not really "heat." Don't be nervous.

November 01, 2010

What's in Season - November

Yes, it is cooling off and it seems it is time to turn to the frozen section of the grocery store for produce. Well, there are a few produce items that are still at their peak. Here is a taste of what to check out at the grocery store (or farmer's market if you are lucky enough to still have one open).  

Image via

Oh I can't wait for cranberries! I have a delicious Cranberry Cookie Recipe that my mom gave me a few years ago, plus my best friend from high school gave me the best cranberry sauce ever. Wait to see those!

Here are some other things in season in November:
Brussels sprouts
Winter squash
Sweet Potatoes