Wow your holiday guests with … Lavender/Thyme Mushroom Turnovers.

So, you’re having a holiday party and want to serve something out of the ordinary and delicious. I have the perfect recipe for you. It may seem time consuming but let me tell you it is worth the effort. Your guest will rave over these and ask you to make them for every occasion. This recipe has been in my family for years. Only recently did I add the lavender to the mix. What a wonderful addition.

Lavender is my favorite herb, period. It’s my favorite scent and every time I’ve tried it in my cooking experiments I’m wowed by the wonderful taste it provides. It’s on par with rosemary as far as I’m concerned and I’m surprised it doesn’t garner the attention some other herbs receive. It is subtle and soothing to taste and smell. It’s wonderful as a calming tea, in scrambled eggs (amazing actually) or simply mix some into goat cheese and serve with water crackers. I grow my own lavender so I always have it on hand but if you don’t have any on hand you can buy it at Dean & DeLuca or order it online. Keep it in your staple of herbs.

Lavender/Thyme Mushroom Turnovers.

  • 8 oz soft cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 lb. minced mushrooms (button & crimini)
  • 1 + 3 tbsp stick softened butter
  • 1 medium minced onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried lavender petals
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 egg beaten

1. In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, flour, salt and stick of butter until smooth. Shape into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. Using a sauté pan melt butter and cook onions until they begin to soften, add garlic and mushrooms, sour cream, thyme, lavender, salt and pepper, cook until all are cooked and mushrooms are soft. Let cool before assembling turnovers.

3. On a floured surface roll the dough so that it’s about 1/8 inch thick, then using a 2-3/4 inch cookie cutter cut into circles. Fill each with round with 1 tbsp. of the mushroom mixture. Seal the turnovers with the beaten egg and brush the top with egg as well.

4. Bake at 350, 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, makes about 20 turnovers.

French Toast that will make you giggle.

Just ask my dear friend Connie. Every time I prepare it for her she giggles after each bite. I love watching her eat it. I made it for D this a.m. for the first time. He swears this is the first time he’s ever had French toast (other than fast food). He was impressed. It certainly is a mouth pleaser. It’s easy to make too.

Most of the time I soak the bread overnight. I didn’t do that this time and it was just as tasty if not more so. You have to use a crusty bread for it to really sing so I buy an Italian loaf usually. It’s crusty and dense yet with air pockets to help absorb the liquid. I also used real cream today instead of milk and half and half. Wow. What an amazing difference that made. So here’s what you’re need.

1 loaf of bread or about six thick slices depending upon how many you’re serving,                1 cup heavy cream,                                                                                                                              1 egg,                                                                                                                                                1/2 tsp. vanilla,                                                                                                                                1/4 tsp almond extract,                                                                                                                1/2 tsp. cinnamon,                                                                                                                          1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg.

Whisk all liquid together. Butter a baking dish and line the dish with the bread. Butter the top of the bread then pour liquid over it. Turn the bread so that it’s well absorbed. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with REAL maple syrup. None of that fake stuff please. It’s also good with fresh berries and bananas.

Yum-Mee

It’s been a long week.

So, I’ve had to work four days at my part-time retail job. It’s a fun job but it’s killing my feet. Wow. I haven’t really cooked many meals this week. The one meal I did prepare was a huge hit though.  I love it when experiments go right in the kitchen.

I was in the mood for something Mexican that wasn’t tacos, burritos, or enchiladas. Those dishes seem more American than Mexican anyway. I call it Chipotle Chicken & Rice.The problem I didn’t have many authentic ingredients on hand so I kind of had to improvise. Here’s the breakdown:

1 large chicken breast
1 small onion
1/2 cup minced red pepper
1/2 tbsp butter
1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp chipotle pepper rub
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 cup chicken stock
1- 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces and marinated in olive oil, salt and a chipotle pepper rub by Pampered Chef for about an hour and a half.  Brown the chicken and set aside (I keep mine warm in my toaster oven).  Saute one small onion, 1/2 cup red bell pepper in butter until they begin to soften then add the rice and cook until rice starts to become golden in color. Once rice is ready pour in chicken stock, Rotel and cream. Lower temperature to low and cover with tight lid. Let cook for about 20 minutes then add the chicken and cook for another five minutes. Before serving mix in the cheese.

Enjoy. Yum-Mee!

Curry Venison & Vegetables over couscous

It’s hunting season and if you’re from the rural parts of the US it’s highly likely that someone you know hunts deer. I don’t always enjoy the gamey taste of venison but with the right herbs you can make anything tasty. I get bored with chili in the fall so this is dish is a nice change. Rich meat require rich spice so curry is perfect. I also make this dish with ground turkey or chicken but in the fall use what you have.

1/2 lb ground venison
1 bag frozen spinach
1 tub button mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, roasted & chopped
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Thaw and drain completely the spinach.

2. In a large skillet or soup pot, saute onions, garlic with venison, salt and pepper as well. Once the venison is brown add in the spinach, mushrooms and roasted bell pepper, cook together for a few minutes then add curry powder. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for approximately 30-40 minutes.

3. Prepare couscous (I always use chicken/beef/vegetable stock). You can also add raisins and pine nuts for texture and to counter balance the heat of the curry.

4. Serve curry mixture over couscous and top with fresh goat cheese. Enjoy!

My version of Asian slaw.

This salad is a crowd pleaser and one that is frequently requested by my friends. I decided to create my own dressing for this because the recipe I was using previously used the spice packet from the ramen noodles and I never felt good about using it because it’s filled with MSG and sodium. My dressing was better on all levels.

You can do this a couple of different ways. When money is tight I chop all the ingredients individually. If not then I just buy the bags of coleslaw and the broccoli slaw. Either way you do it is fine as long as you end up with the same quantity of cabbage mixture. I make a lot because it’s so popular and I can eat it for several days running.

In a large skillet cook the following mixture until it becomes golden brown then let cool completely.
¼ stick of butter
2 packages of Ramen Noodles,
½ cup of unsalted peanuts,
1 tbsp sesame seeds

While mixture is browning, mix together the following in a large bowl:
1 small white cabbage finely chopped
½ of a small red cabbage finely chopped
2 large carrots julienned
2 bags of broccoli slaw
½ cup cilantro chopped
4 green onions chopped
1 cup white raisins

Dressing
Whisk together ingredients until very well combined. I use a container I can shake to insure the sugar dissolves.
¼ cup apple vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola, grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Srirache hot sauce (optional – you can also use cayenne powder)
1tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp garlic powder

Once you have all the ingredients ready, mix in the dressing until veggies are thoroughly coated. Let slaw set in the fridge for at least an hour before you add the crunchy mixture and only right before you serve it.

A fall favorite … Butternut Squash Soup.

Every year when I make this I think … Why haven’t I made this sooner. I love this soup. It’s always so satisfying and delicious!

1 medium to large butternut squash
1 small onion
1 small sweet potato
2 stalks of celery
2 large carrots
6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp curry powder (I prefer Madras)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

Roast your squash (cut in half and coated w/olive oil, salt & pepper) for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, finely chop all the other ingredients with salt and pepper and saute until soft. Add stock then when the squash is ready, cube it up and throw in with soup mixture. Add curry powder and cook for approximately 35 more minutes.

Once all ingredients have cook, puree in blender.

Serve with crusty bread or croutons.

Enjoy

My famous Mango / Avocado Salsa

I’m posting this recipe first because it’s kind of my specialty and this is hands down the most requested recipe I make. If you make this your friends will beg you to make this every time they see you.

You will need the following:
2 Mangos – diced
2 Medium or 1 Large Avocado – diced
1/2 Cup Red Onion – minced
1 or 2 Jalapeno’s – minced
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper – minced
1/2 Cup Cilantro – chopped
Juice from one lime and salt & pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with tortilla chips (I prefer the lime flavored). If the jalapeno’s aren’t spicy enough then I add some cayenne pepper to add heat. This lasts just about a day and a half. That is if it doesn’t get gobbled up instantly.

Enjoy!