Apple and Sausage Stuffing


Apple and Sausage Stuffing

A good Thanksgiving stuffing is full of flavor, crunchy on top but moist in the middle. I have tried many, many variations of stuffing over the years, but I always come back to this version with its balance of sweet and savory. If you prefer, use pork sausage for even more flavor, but be sure to drain it well before adding to the mixture. You can also use any apples you prefer, tart or sweet. Make it vegetarian by leaving out the sausage and using vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small French bread baguettes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. turkey or chicken sausage, cut up into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stem and chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stripped from stem and chopped
  • 3 sage leaves, minced fine
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 10 grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. low-sodium chicken stock or broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss bread crumbs with 2 tbsp. melted butter and bake on 13×18 baking sheet for about 7 to 8 minutes until just browned and crispy.

Meanwhile, in large sauté pan, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat and add the onion, celery, and apples. Sauté for 8 minutes until softened. Add honey and red wine vinegar; sauté for 1 minute. Remove to large bowl. Cook sausage in same sauté pan until just cooked through; drain if needed.

Add baked bread cubes, cooked sausage, all fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper to cooked vegetables/apples in a large bowl; add chicken stock and toss to moisten evenly.

In a 9×13 baking dish brushed with butter, transfer stuffing to dish and bake covered for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until browned on top, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Cheers and happy cooking!

Tangy Italian Coleslaw


Italian ColeslawI know you are thinking, “What is she doing using balsamic vinegar in coleslaw?” But before you think I’m crazy, using balsamic vinegar adds the perfect combination of sweet yet tangy and the apple seals the deal. I came up with this one day when I was putting together coleslaw with what I had in the fridge, and I was out of white vinegar and mayonnaise. So I thought “What the heck!” and went with it. Try it and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 head cabbage, washed and shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and chunked
  • 1/4 c. quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 6 grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place the shredded cabbage and carrot together in a bowl with chunked apple, and toss to combine. In separate bowl, beat vinegar with garlic, salt and pepper until salt dissolves. Beat in olive oil with a slow stream, whisking constantly. You can also place all vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar with cover and shake to combine. Pour over slaw and toss to coat. Only add until lightly coated, a little at a time. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Refrigerate any leftover balsamic vinaigrette for up to 2 weeks in lidded, glass jar.

Cheers and happy cooking!

 

Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos


Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos

This pulled pork recipe is super easy and is full of smoky flavor. And just so you don’t have trouble finding the pork meat in the store (and for reasons I will never understand), a pork shoulder is also called pork butt. Throw it in the crock-pot and forget it. If you prefer less spicy, leave out the chipotle peppers and cayenne in the dry rub. You can also slow cook the pork roast in a Dutch oven or any deep casserole dish with a cover at 300 degrees for six hours.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 (5 to 7 lb.) whole pork shoulder
  • 1 small can chipotle peppers, with adobe sauce
  • 2 cans dark soda (Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper)

Directions:

Place quartered onions in the bottom of crock-pot. Generously season pork roast on all sides with dry rub (see recipe below) and set roast on top of the onions. Pour chipotle peppers with sauce and both cans of soda over roast and onions. Cover crock-pot and set heat to medium high allowing to slow cook for 2 hours. Turn down to medium low and continue to cook for at least another 4 hours turning the roast once. Resist the temptation to open the lid, as letting out all the heat will extend cooking time.

With two forks, check if meat falls apart easily. If it does not, allow cooking for another 30 minutes to one hour. Remove meat and allow it to cool enough to touch. Shred with forks or very clean fingers. Discard any large pieces of fat.

Refrigerate liquid left in the crock-pot and scrap off top layer of hardened fat and discard. Pour de-fatted liquid from crock-pot in blender (including onions and peppers). Puree into a smoky and flavorful liquid. Put shredded meat back into liquid and warm until hot in saucepan.

Serve on warm flour or corn tortillas and top with shredded Romaine lettuce, Pico de Gallo, grated cheese, avocado, cilantro, or whatever your heart desires.

Pork Rub

  • 1/4 c. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. sweet paprika
  • 3 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. garlic flakes
  • 1 tbsp. onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix together in large bowl. Makes 1 cup. Store in tight-lidded glass container for 6 months.

Cheers and happy cooking!

White Chicken Chili


White Chicken ChiliA follower asked me to come up with a tasty White Chicken Chili recipe some months ago, and I played around with different variations until I came up with this recipe. Using a whole chicken is economical and gives the chili more full flavor. To make ths chili even simpler, you can use a rotisserie chicken cut up and is available at most grocery stores. Or you can even substitute cooked chicken breasts or thighs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole fryer chicken, cut up
  • 2 dried ancho peppers
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 6 grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 2 cans green chilies, chopped
  • 2 c. white Northern or mixed beans (canned), rinsed
  • 8 c. low-sodium chicken stock/broth
  • 1 c. whole organic milk
  • 2 tbsp. cornmeal

Garnishes:

  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Cooked noodles, if desired

Directions:

Cover chicken until just covered with water, add ancho peppers and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes until done. Allow to cool, strain chicken from broth and remove from bones. Shred or cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In large Dutch oven or soup kettle, sauté onion and jalapeño pepper in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add cumin, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir for 30 seconds. Add chopped green chilies and chicken stock. Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and 3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.

Whisk milk with cornmeal in small glass bowl and pour into the chili. Cook for an additional ten minutes to thicken. Check seasoning and adjust, adding sea salt if needed, to taste. Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Cheers and happy cooking!

Baked Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce


Baked FishHere in Northeast Wisconsin, the Friday fish fry is a common dinner option especially in Spring as we have many Catholics who give up meat for lent. I will admit that fried fish with fried potatoes is really tough to beat, but I wanted to come up with a healthier alternative that is still tasty without all the added fat. Getting a crispy and flavorful crust is key to the success of this dish, which panko breadcrumbs, seafood seasoning and fresh herbs do the trick. You can substitute haddock or halibut for the cod if you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, stripped from stem and chopped
  • 1 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp. seafood seasoning
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt (or low fat mayonnaise)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • 4 (6 oz) skinless cod, washed and patted dry

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat up butter and olive oil in skillet and sauté shallot until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté 1 minute. Add panko, seafood seasoning and black pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, transfer to dish and set aside to cool.

Fish Feast

In small glass bowl, whisk together yogurt (or mayo), egg yolk, lemon zest and black pepper. Coat tops of fish with yogurt mixture on one side and press coated side in breadcrumb mixture. Place fish coated side up on wire rack placed on flat baking sheet. Bake until opaque and just cooked through about 40 minutes, until coating is crunchy and brown. Serves 4.

FIsh Sides

Serve with traditional Wisconsin fish fry sides: fried potatoes, toasted bread, sliced onions, sliced dill pickles, lemon slices and homemade tartar sauce (recipe below).

Tartar Saiuce

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  • 1 c. low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 dill pickle, chopped fine
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. onion, minced fine
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. seafood seasoning

Mix all together in small bowl and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cheers and happy cooking!

Ultimate Margarita


margarita

A margarita is a nice treat after a productive day at work. Making it with good tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice is essential to a really good margarita. You can blend this if you prefer. I lalso love the fresh lime zest in the lime-salt-sugar rim. Make a batch of simple syrup and you can make margaritas from scratch for a month!

Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes
  • 3 oz. blue agave tequila
  • 2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. orange liqueur (Cointreau preferred)
  • 1 oz. Simple Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp. Lime-Salt-Sugar (recipe below)
  • Lime slices

Simple Syrup:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water

Lime-Salt-Sugar:

  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker or lidded glass jar with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur and Simple Syrup. Cover and shake until mixed and chilled, about 30 seconds. Place Lime-Salt-Sugar on small plate. Press rim of glass into the mixture to rim the edge. Pour shaken margarita into the glass. Add lime slice to glass rim and enjoy! Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Simple Syrup:

In small saucepan, mix sugar and water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Will keep in refrigerator for up to one month.

Lime-salt-sugar:

Blend together lime, salt and sugar in mortar and pestle or mini food chopper.

Cheers and happy cooking (or drinking in this case)!

Seafood Chowder


fish chowder

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a nice bowl of Seafood Chowder warms the soul. I use low sodium vegetable stock instead of fish stock to improve the flavor profile but keep the fishy taste to a minimum. Seafood medley is a great and inexpensive option for adding a mix of clams, squid, octopus, shrimp and mussels and is found in the frozen fish aisle in most grocery stores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. seafood seasoning (preferred brand:  Phillips)
  • 12 grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 bottle (8 fl. oz.) clam juice
  • 6 c. low salt vegetable stock
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on, scrubbed and cut up into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can (6.5 oz.) chopped clams, with juice
  • 1 bag (1 lb.) seafood medley, thawed
  • 1 lb. haddock or cod, thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 large buttom mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or 2% milk)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Lemon slices

Directions:

Heat olive oil and butter in the bottom of a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring constantly for one minute. Add bay leaf, thyme, seafood seasoning, black pepper and red pepper flakes if using. Add wine, clam juice, and vegetable stock and bring to a soft boil.

Add the potatoes and return to a soft boil, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, covered with lid cracked partly open, until the potatoes are almost done, about 5 minutes.

Add fish, mushrooms and cream and cook on low uncovered until fish is just cooked through about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme stalks before serving. Add parsley and serve with lemon slices.  Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers and a dry white wine, such as Captain’s Walk Chardonnay.  Serves 8 to 10.

Note:  For a thicker chowder, add two tablespoons whole wheat flour at the same time as seasonings before you add wine, stock, and clam juice.

Cheers and happy cooking!