Collards and Black Eyed Peas

Well Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail…And I have my Bunny Bait ready and waiting. No Easter Bunny is missing the house of my Grands! And my niece Jordan (Instagram @jblodgett1) makes this special concoction to insure that the bunny doesn’t miss your home.* She has that covered, so I’m covering your brain game with an excellent green veggie/starch combo for Easter lunch, or any meal actually! I promise you one thing; this simplified recipe will become famous. So, tuck your head down, don your mask, take your hand wipes, race to the grocery, break the “always fresh” recipe rules, and secure these simple ingredients. Make one dish easy on yourself with the best canned ingredients ever! Sit back, hit the pause button, and enjoy your Easter. I hope you have family and/or loved ones with you. Vaccinations are becoming more available; but please continue to be diligent in your efforts to stay safe and healthy. I cherish you all!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
2 t salt, divided
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned black eyed peas
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned collard greens
2 Tbs chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced
3 Tbs lime juice
4 cups cooked rice
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, for serving

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add onions, a pinch of salt, and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.
Combine cooked onions, peas, collards, and chipotle chili in large pot.
Bring to simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve:
Place rice on side of plate.
Place collard mixture half on rice and half beside rice.
Squeeze lime juice on rice and collard mixture.
Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese.

Note: This is also delicious served over Raisin Cinnamon Toast instead of Rice.
Voila!
*Jordan creates specialty items all year long for holidays and “every days”…so follow her Instagram for details. She specializes in all things wonderful! Respond to me if you can’t find her; I’ll get you there.

Lemon and Pepper Jelly Shrimp

The great Rocco DiSpirito was on The Drew Barrymore Show a couple of weeks back and I was blown away! Rather than totally freak out when I researched his life as a chef, I decided to Keep Calm, Munch On, Try his Recipe, and Order a Couple of his Books. No recipe hunting for you this weekend good folks; I’m just handing it out to you. Just enough spice to make you happy but not ring the fire alarm! This is so full of ease and joy to prep, that you will be cooking it quite often. Add a simple salad or asparagus (to my version) and you have a totally balanced meal, nutritious, and calorie conscious. This food is pure art; and…we’re off!

This is what you need:
1 lb large, cleaned shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 t coarse ground salt
2 Tbs butter
Juice of a lemon
3 to 4 Tbs Pepper Jelly, to taste*
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

*I used Jammit Jams Garlic Pepper Jelly, so I omitted the 2 garlic cloves.

And this is how you do it:
Blot shrimp dry with a paper towel.**
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Add 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.
Add shrimp, seasoned side down, and sauté for 2 minutes.
While this is sautéing, season the “upside” of the shrimp.
Flip shrimp over with tongs and cook second side 2 minutes.
Immediately remove shrimp to separate bowl.
In hot skillet, add lemon juice, butter, and pepper jelly.
Stir until jelly is meted and all is combined, about 2 minutes.
Toss shrimp back in skillet and stir to cover with sauce.
Serve over cooked rice.***

**I blot most things dry before placing in a skillet…shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef, and pork fillets. It improves the texture during cooking if the protein is dry when added to the pan. Trust me!
***Rocco’s recipe calls for sautéed broccoli rabe to be served with this shrimp, which really cuts down on the calories. Unfortunately, that’s not one of my favorites, and honestly, I really like a little starch. OOPSIE !! I think we have a winner here; and speaking of winners, Super Bowl LV is in 8 days…who’s going to win?
P to the S. I have a favorite! TB for history, just saying.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Polenta and Cherry Tomatoes

Wake up Monday…I’m here to put some well being in to your day. The last couple of weeks I took some personal time to try a few recipes that I have seen on Food Network, daytime talk shows, and in magazines. I went straight by the recipes (well, for the most part)! It was fun, mindless cooking, with the recipe front and center, rather than analyzing and creating. So remember the Buddy System and pass it on; be sure to tag the source if you post it on the Insta. This first one is from Katie Lee Biegel, as seen on The Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Kicks you happily in the back of the throat and keeps you smiling. Simply put, it’s simple but not simplistic. How’s that for using a “root” word thrice in one sentence…grammar baby! Ha!

Nonstick cooking spray, for the baking dish
1 lb tube polenta, sliced 1/2″ thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
2 t Italian seasoning* 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 
6 cloves garlic 
1 pint cherry tomatoes (a slight break from Katie’s recipe, because this is what I had on hand)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place 5 slices of polenta in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 Tbs olive oil.
Place the chicken breasts on top of the polenta slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top each with the Italian seasoning* and Parmesan.
Arrange the garlic cloves and tomatoes around the chicken.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 4 Tbs olive oil.
Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes.
Garnish with Parmesan and olive oil to taste.
Serve warm.

*If you don’t have premixed Italian Seasoning, simply combine and whisk together the following:
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried rosemary

Katie’s cookbooks always find their way to the top of my browsing pile! And her newest book It’s Not Complicated comes out in March. Can’t Wait!

Corn Salad

As we head in to Labor Day Weekend (another excuse to celebrate) and approach the final weeks of fresh corn season, I present to you a very cool corn salad. So put some well-being into your weekend. It’s simple to throw together but packs plenty of wow factor! I grabbed this and adapted it from the August/September issue of Garden and Gun. The recipe hails from April McGregor of Farmer’s Daughter Pickles and Preserves, right here in our own North Carolina, Hillsborough to be exact. Shop there or forever hold your peace. Peace…that’s a great idea!

Salad Corn Salad

So here’s what you need:
6 ears corn
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber, seeds removed, and diced
1/4 cup diced jarred roasted red peppers
2 Tbs liquid from red pepper jar
1/4 cup diced Vidalia onion
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1/2 t kosher or Himalayan salt
1/2 t fresh black pepper
1/4 cup Julianne fresh basil

And here’s what you do:
Bring large pot of water to boil.
Season pot with salt.
Add corn and blanch 2 minutes.
Remove cobs from hot water and place on paper towel 15 minutes to cool.
Remove kernels from cobs.
Combine all remaining ingredients except basil, and mix well.
Add corn kernels and stir to combine.
Chill at least an hour.
Place salad on serving platter.
Sprinkle basil on top of salad.

Spicy Sesame Noodles

“It’s just another manic Monday; I wish it was Sunday, ‘Cause that’s my fun day
My I don’t have to run day. It’s just another manic Monday.”
Well said Bangles! Click the link and listen to that fun tune from 1986.
Well we’re going to make this a Meatless Manic Monday. Let’s Go Sesame or Go Home!Starch Sesame Noodles II

Here’s the ingredient list:
6 oz uncooked soba noodles
2 t dark sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs creamy peanut butter
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
4 t soy sauce
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 Tbs sesame seeds

And here’s the how to make it magic:
Cook noodles according to package directions.
Drain.
Place noodles in large bowl and toss with oil.
Whisk broth and peanut butter in medium bowl until blended. (May not look smooth.)
Stir in onions, red pepper, soy sauce, jalapeño pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Pour mixture over noodles.
Toss to coat.
Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
Garnish with green onion curls.

Freezing Fresh Corn

The very best thing on earth after the corn season is over is fresh Silver Queen sweet corn during the winter. So I’m going to teach you the easy peasy way to stock your freezer. I use it all fall and winter in soups, stews, and as a side starch for dinner.  I froze 2 bushels this past weekend, which made 30 quart bags. So to break it down for the less ambitious, 42 ears of corn will make 8 quart sized bags, just half filled, so that they lay flat to freeze. Yummy…So, step by step, here you go.

Freezing Corn I

Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop ears of corn in. Blanch 2 1/2 minutes.

Freezing Corn II

Using tongs, transfer cooked ears of corn to ice bath for 3 minutes to stop cooking process and cool corn. (Make an ice bath by filling sink partially with cold water, and adding ice.)

Freezing Corn III

Remove ears of corn from ice bath and place on kitchen towels to dry for 10 minutes.

Freezing Corn IV

Remove kernels from cob. I find this easiest to stand an ear on the raised part of a bundt pan, letting the kernels collect in the pan.

Freezing Corn V

I use quart size freezer bags to freeze. I fill each bag about half way, so that I can then press all air out of bags and lay them flat to freeze.

PostScript…you have about 3 weeks left here in ENC to secure your Silver Queen corn and get it frozen! Post to the PostScript…It took me one hour to process 42 ears of corn and get it in the freezer. I used 2 pots of boiling water and each held 8 ears of corn at a time.

Chicken Soup with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings

Soup. Owned.

Everyone knows I could eat soup for every meal. Make this yummy chicken and dumplings (with a twist), and call your best friend. Some things are simply worthy of passing down, and this one will not disappoint! It’s a one bowl wonder; no need for bread on the side – it’s right there in the soup just looking up at you. Licking my lips.soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iv

Here’s your grocery list:
1/4 cup salted butter, divided
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
8 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 t kosher salt
Breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup coarse plain yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t lemon salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme

Now, here’s your “how to”:
Melt 2 Tbs of butter in soup pot over medium high heat.
Add carrots, celery, and onion.
Cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 6 minutes.
Add 2 Tbs of flour.
Stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes.
Add half of broth, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining broth, and chicken.
Remove pot from heat.

In medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, lemon salt, black pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup flour.
Cut remaining 2 Tbs butter into flour mixture with pastry blender, until it resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, parsley, and thyme.
Stir just until dough is moistened.

soup-chciken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings-iiHeat soup pot over medium heat.
Roll dumplings into 10 to 12 balls.
Drop dumplings 1/2 to 1 inch apart into soup mixture.
Cover and cook until dumplings are done, and dry to touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Initially they will appear to be breaking apart.
Leave them alone and they will be just fine.
Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

Next stop, Bangkok! Crossing borders. Taking cooking lessons as we venture to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Um hmm. Coming home with new talents to share. Can’t wait. Bet you can’t either!

Freezing Fresh Butter Beans

Starch Freezing Butter Beans

Ready for the Freezer, Anxiously Waiting for the Winter Yummy Stews!

The time is now! Butter beans are coming out of the fields; these are the smaller more tender beans, as opposed to the larger, tougher lima beans. So…1. Run to your local farmer, or Farmers’ Market if you dwell in a larger city 2. Grab several quarts of shelled beans (trust me, you don’t want to shell them) and 3. Get your freezing game going. On the cold dreary days of winter…yes, it will get cool then cold again, and I can’t WAIT…you will be so happy that you froze these local gems. They will be available for another three weeks in the south and a bit longer in more northern areas; so the time is plentiful! For planning purposes: I froze 22 quarts yesterday and it took roughly two and a half hours. Part of the beauty was that I was rocking to my favorite Pandora stations in my 68 degree kitchen (yep, that’s right, 68 degrees!) while some idiots great folks were running around outside in the 100 degree heat. You are aware that I abhor heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, right?!  A tutorial isn’t even necessary; here’s how you do it:

Wash shelled butter beans thoroughly, removing any debris.
Heat large pot of water to boiling.
Add as many beans as pot will hold. (My large pot holds 4 quarts.)
Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. (Water does not have to come to a boil again.)
Drain and cool immediately in ice water bath for 5 minutes. (Mix cold water with ice in large bowl and pour in beans.)
Drain well.
Dry on large towel in thin layer.Starch Freezing Butter Beans II
Package in freezer zip top plastic bags.
Squeeze as much air out as possible.
Seal, and freeze up to 9 months.Starch Lima Beans Freezing II

Wild Rice Dressing

Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing III

Gathering the Ingredients

Happy Friday! Told ya I’ve been practicing for Gobble Gobble Day! So this was a hands on experiment. I’ve just never been wild about my dressing for the Holidays. So I’ve been on a crusade the last few weeks. I poured over recipes and landed on this jewel. Tried it I did. Report Card: a resounding A+. May I hear a Whoop please!! *Note: You may notice melted butter drizzled over the dressing in the casserole dish pic below. The original recipe called for this, but I didn’t think it added anything except extra calories; therefore I left it out of the recipe here! Hello delicious!

1 lb ground sausage
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 cups wild rice
4 Tbs butter
2 onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t dried sage
1 1/2 t dried thyme
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
3 cups Panko

Butter, Onion, Celery, Herbs, Broth

Butter, Onion, Celery, Herbs, Broth

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook sausage over medium heat until browned, about 7 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
Chop sausage to render fine crumbles.
Bring broth, water, and bay leaf to boil in soup pot.
Add rice and reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer 25 minutes, until rice is tender.
Strain rice through colander, reserving 1 1/2 cups liquid.
(If you don’t have that much liquid, add chicken broth to make it right amount.)
Wipe out pot.
Melt butter in pot over medium heat.
Add onions and celery.
Cook 8 minutes, until tender.
Add garlic, sage, and thyme.
Cook 30 seconds.
Add reserved rice liquid, stir, and remove from heat.
In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper.
Slowly whisk this into broth and vegetable mixture.

Stir in rice, Panko, and sausage.Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing II
Transfer to 9 x 13 baking dish.
Cover loosely with foil.
Bake 40 minutes.
Uncover and cook additional 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Let dressing rest 10 minutes prior to cutting.Starch Wild Rice Sausage Dressing

Parmesan American Fries

Appetizer Parmesan FreisWell Yum Tum! Darn, it’s the week end and this is freaking fun easy (nod to some R. Kelly song!) Have fun with this. Forget the calories…”it’s the freaking weekend!! Baby I’m about to have me some fun!” Get out there and shout people. It’s FRIDAY, FINALLY!

 

1 26 oz bag Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food Fries
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/ 2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 450°.
In small bowl, combine parmesan, rosemary, and lemon zest.
Bake fries according to package directions.
*To render crispy hors d’oeuvres fries, I find that they are undercooked at package directions. I always cook them longer, checking at 2 minutes intervals until desired crispness arrives.
Remove 2 minutes before fries are finished cooking.
Sprinkle with Parmesan mixture, salt, and pepper
Return to oven and cook additional 2 minutes.