Weekend Special – a Cozy Dinner to Face the Rain and Ice

Right on schedule, it’s the January Thaw. After weeks of subzero weather, it would feel pretty good … if it didn’t bring rain … and ice. It may be above freezing but it’s wet and still chilly. Outside there will be a mess of slush and ice but, thankfully, inside it will be cozy and warm. Why not invite friends over for a game or movie night and dinner?

Here are a few suggestions for a cozy meal:

Set up the Jenga tower and invite everyone to gather by the fire. Pass a plate of warm and toasty Mushroom Crostini, sip a glass and hold your breath until the tower falls.

Start dinner with a hearty salad. Many of us grew up with pale tomatoes and paler lettuce. Now we lean towards vibrant colors. Kale, radicchio, arugula, roasted veggies and more come together in all their glory. Give my Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash or Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts a try. You’ll be glad you did.

For a cozy main course, enjoy a spoonful of Sweet Potato Polenta topped with delicious Roasted Shrimp & Andouille Sausage.

For dessert, load that Oscar contender that you missed in the theatres and enjoy it with my Mini Tarte Tatins. Be sure to add a spoonful of your favorite vanilla or ginger ice cream.

Stay dry and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How will you spend this rainy-icy-snowy weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Dress like an Onion & Roasted Shrimp & Andouille Sausage

It’s hard to be glamorous when you live in a cold climate. If you’ve ever doubted this undeniable truth, just spend ten minutes watching the Golden Globes or Oscars. Heck, you don’t have to stay up for the awards, just watch the preshow parade on the red carpet.

There’s you, wrapped in a blanket, wearing a double layer of leggings, a turtleneck and a ratty old fleece. Out in Los Angeles, Saoirse, Emma, Meryl and Michelle saunter down the red carpet. They are sleek and beautiful in perfectly fitted gowns. Their hair, long and loose or wound into a fabulous twist, is impeccably coiffed. Back on the sofa in New Hampshire, if you’re not wearing a wool cap, your hair is pulled back in an ancient scrunchie.

Now, it’s all well and good to look like a ragtag bundle of fleece and wool in the privacy of your own home. However, whether you like it or not, you’ll eventually need to go out – if for no other reason than to stock up on milk and cocoa. Plus it’s a good bet that, in spite of the cold, you’re still expected to show up for work.

As if life wasn’t busy enough, we now have to worry about getting to work on time in spite of the deep freeze. Hopefully, your boss understands that everything takes longer in the winter in New Hampshire.

Somewhere in my travels, I was given the excellent advice to dress like an onion. I think it might have been in Italy … as in vestiti come’ una cipolla. Whoever offered this sage advice neglected to add that all those layers take time. Not just putting them on but scrounging around to find them.

Take for instance; the long johns I bought the year I returned to New Hampshire. I rarely wear them but when I need them, I really need them. Then, since nothing seems to fit over those heavy long johns, I need to figure out where I stashed the too baggy pants. The ones I bought by mistake. Let’s hope I didn’t finally toss them in the donate pile. Thankfully, the top layers are easier. First, I pull on one of my many turtlenecks, then add a pullover and finally top everything with big, heavy sweater and scarf.

Of course, those are just my inside clothes. Next comes the adorable hat my niece knitted for me, jacket and gloves. Shoes go into the bottomless bag I call a purse and warm boots go on my feet. In my wishful thoughts, my layering has made me look like a well put together Milanese. In reality, I look like the female version on the Michelin man.

Next, it’s time to get the car started and warmed up. If you are one of those crazy people who parks your car outside in spite of the cold, you need to brush the snow off first. By the way, sorry to call you crazy but, I confess, I don’t get it. You have a garage; why don’t you use it? What on earth is so important that it’s inside while your car faces the elements?

For anyone with the misfortune to live in the northeast without a garage, you have my unbounded sympathies. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. A garage is a relatively recent thing for me but I could never go back. The worst was when I lived on the top of a very cold and windy hill in Vermont. Luckily, I could walk to work. More January days than not, the engine refused to turn over and my car stayed put, admiring the frosty view. Is it possible a car needs to dress like an onion too?

Stay warm and bon appétit!

Roasted Shrimp & Andouille Sausage
Unlike a lot of winter comfort food, this cozy dish doesn’t need to bubble in the oven for hours. It comes together in about 30 minutes and pairs beautifully Sweet Potato Polenta. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon or to taste ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil
1 pound smoked andouille sausage, quartered lengthwise and roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
2-2 1/2 pounds extra jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined

Put the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

Put the tomatoes, onion and bell peppers in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 cloves minced garlic, the cumin and half of the chili powder and herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss again.

Add the sausage to the vegetables and toss to combine. Divide the sausage and vegetables and spread evenly onto two baking sheets. Roast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, turn the pans and switch oven positions and roast 10 minutes more.

While the sausage and vegetables roast, prepare the shrimp. Put the remaining garlic, chili powder, herbs and the cumin in a bowl, add 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice and white wine and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and toss again. Tossing a few times, marinate for 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the sausage and vegetables, drizzle with the marinade and spread everything in a single layer. Return to the oven and roast until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve immediately. The shrimp are a delicious with Sweet Potato Polenta.

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One Year Ago – Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci
Two Years Ago – Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Three Years Ago – White Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens
Four Years Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
Five Years Ago – Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola & Walnuts
Six Years Ago – Spanakopita Triangles
Seven Years Ago – Braised Red Cabbage
Eight Years Ago – Apple Bread Pudding
Nine Years Ago – Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How are you dealing with the miserable cold? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

A Cozy Dinner for a Numbing Cold Weekend Special

The snow is piling up outside but it’s warm and cozy inside. (Knock wood that power stays on!) It is a great day to cuddle up at home with a cup of tea, a blanket and a book. Before I get to that, I have a few suggestions for a cozy dinner this weekend. (Unfortunately, today’s relatively balmy temperature – 15°F – will be short lived. The weekend promises another blast of numbing cold.

Whether you stay in by the fire or bundle up for a ski, skate or snowshoe, it’s going to be a cold weekend. Here are a few suggestions to warm up at the end of the day:

Start the evening in front of the fire. Warm up with a nice glass of red wine and mug of soup. You’ll love my Wild Mushroom Soup. Add a wedge of your favorite cheese and crackers and the hors d’oeuvres are done. Take your time, relax and enjoy.

Eventually, you’ll want to move to the table. For a cozy main course, you can’t beat my Braised Short Ribs. Serve them with my Sweet Potato Polenta and a spoonful of Roasted Carrots with Pearl Onions and/or Roasted Parsnips.

Staying with the cozy theme, enjoy my Bananas Foster for dessert. Serve the fiery bananas with a spoonful of your favorite vanilla, banana or rum raisin ice cream.

Stay warm and bon appétit!

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For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How will you celebrate the New Year? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Tree Trimming Family Dinner Special

Is this your weekend to decorate the tree and deck the halls? If yes, I thought you might like to celebrate with a special family dinner. You’ll want to think cozy and one-pot wonder. That way you can assemble dinner and let it bubble while you decorate. Here are a few suggestions for a delicious tree trimming dinner:

When it comes to cozy, is there anything better than a nice stew. I figure you might be a little tired of turkey so I’ll skip all poultry dishes this week. (If not, then check out my recipe index.)

First thought, you might like my Brazilian-inspired Pork & Black Bean Stew with Salsa Verde. I like to serve this stew with Basmati rice.

Not interested in pork? Alright then, how about a trip to Italy with Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms & Creamy Polenta?

Or, enjoy a taste of France with my Braised Beef Bourguignon. Serve the beef with Smashed Potatoes.

Start you dinner with a nice salad. If you haven’t had a chance to try my Kale & Radicchio Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, then by all means do. Thinking you’d like something a little simpler. How about Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad?

And for dessert? Well, maybe you’d like to give my Ginger-Orange Cheesecake. Otherwise, then I think you and your family might like my Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing.

Happy holiday and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! target=”_blank”>Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Another Rainy Weekend Special

Four large trees decided to tip over and take down power lines in my neighborhood this past Sunday night. We were plunged into cold and darkness. My street was not alone. Tens of thousands of houses in New Hampshire were in the dark. Lucky us, our power was restored mid-afternoon on Tuesday. Thousands across the state, some a mile or two down the road, have not been so lucky.

After a few days delay, work has resumed on the kitchen. The latest addition to the team is here to paint. Welcome Coleen. Bill, the electrician, is also here whittling down his punch list. If all goes as scheduled (no more power outages please), the kitchen will be all but done tomorrow.

Thank goodness. After an unseasonable warm fall, it looks like the weather has turned cold and dreary – typical November. Just before seven this morning, I went outside for my daily walk around Pleasant Lake. You could not see your hand in front of your face. It was that foggy. I guess it’s another comfort food weekend. It’s probably safe to assume that it is just one in a long string of comfort food weekends.

Why not invite a friend or neighbor without power to dinner this weekend? Need some suggestions … how about:

Get out your roasting pan. Main course, starter or hors d’oeuvres, you can never have too many roasted veggies. For an elegantly hearty start to your party, try my Butternut Squash Crostini with Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction. Or keep it simple and let your guests help themselves with my Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus.

When you are ready to head to the table, toss up a great salad with fall flavors. Roasted mushrooms are a delicious addition to tossed greens. See for yourself with my Mixed Greens with Roasted Mushrooms.

Now for the main course. How about a Roast Chicken. (Think of it as a Thanksgiving dry run.) Serve the chicken with my Savory Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions.

For dessert, there is nothing like a creamy pud. What could be more New England than Maple Mousse with Apple Compote .

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Comfort Food for a Rainy Weekend Special

Yesterday was an absolutely miserable day and  more of the same is in the forecast. Well, we could pout, stamp our feet and whatever other petulant stuff you like to do. Or, we could have a go at some comfort food.

My kitchen is almost done and it is definitely usable. Last night, I was in an inventing mood. I was in a fusion mood and mixed it up with an interesting new dish. At least, I thought it was interesting. To start, Caribbean black beans met chorizo and cuddled up for a while. Then, I added a few shrimp. If you like, you could think of it as Caribbean Jambalaya. Staying with the Caribbean-Cajun fusion theme, I served it on top of a dollop of Sweet Potato Polenta. Just to continue the mix up, I added a little chipotle and cheddar to the polenta for a whiff of Tex-Mex. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. Happily, my guests agreed.

So, if you were ever wondering, the answer is yes. I do treat family and friends as guinea pigs when inventing new recipes. I also invite them to photo shoots. As soon as dinner is snapped for prosperity, the meal can begin. Unfortunately, my camera’s battery was dead so you’ll have to wait for pictures of my Caribbean-Cajun-Tex-Mex fusion.

With heavy rain headed to the northeast, I think this is going to be a good weekend to cook up some warm and cozy comfort food. Think soup or chili, pasta or stew. If you are more baker than cook, go for a great pie, coffee cake or cookies.

Whether you are sweet or savory, cook hearty with love and a dash of spice. Here are some suggestions:

For the cooks –

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Bake

Mediterranean Meatballs with Couscous

Hearty Black Bean Soup

Harira (Middle Eastern Soup with Chicken, Chick-Peas and Lentils)

Coq au Vin (French Chicken Stew)

Carbonnade á la Flamande (Beer Braised Beef & Onions)

For the bakers –

Apple-Oatmeal Cookies

Zucchini Muffins

Ginger Scones

Rustic Apple Croustade

Have a great weekend in the kitchen and bon appétit!!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Rockin’, Rollin’ and Casserolin’ & Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Bake

As soon as I think it’s time to write about colder weather, a blast of warm tropical air comes rolling up from the south. We keep asking each other, “Can you believe this weather … in October?” If we’d only stop and think about for a minute, we’d realize it’s hardly unexpected. It’s hurricane season. A quartet of mass destruction, Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria have plagued countless lives and ruined even more property. Turning northward, they brought heat and humidity to New England. Fortunately, we were spared high winds and flooding.

Warm weather has postponed my semi-annual changing of the drawers. For those who don’t follow this tradition, it happens twice a year. In the fall, turtlenecks go in the drawer. T-shirts and shorts take their place in plastic storage bins. The reverse happens in the spring.

Anyway, the delay has been a good thing. What with the new kitchen coming together, I needed the extra time to wipe down cabinets and counters, wash dust-covered dishes and find places for everything. You’ll be happy to know, I’m down to the last few strays. The fondue stand needs a good spot by the weekend. Otherwise, it and all the other homeless bits and bobs are going to the freecycle table at the dump. I’ve already filled a couple of boxes.

As soon as that’s done, I can start rockin’ and rollin’ and casserolin’. A classic casserole sounds like the perfect dish to break in my new kitchen. After all, everyone loves them. Casseroles are a part of our heritage. Think back to all those hearty dinners after hiking, biking or skiing. Maybe it was raking leaves and shoveling snow at your house. There was a bit of both at mine.

Fast forward and who could forget all the casseroles we took to potlucks in our twenties? I was living in Vermont and then western Massachusetts. It was cold a good part of the year so a casserole made sense. Besides, let face it, if you are in your twenties, you’re probably broke. A good casserole is as cheap as it is filling and delicious.

Perhaps the best thing about casseroles is their versatility. From classic French or Italian to spicy Tex-Mex, there are no limits to possible combinations. However, there are a few basics when it comes to assembling a great casserole. Start with your starch of choice. They’re all good – spuds, rice, tortillas or my favorite, pasta. Next, you’ll need some protein and veggies. Don’t forget, the end result is a one pot meal. You need to cover all the bases. Think beans for a vegetarian treat; create a delicious surprise with leftover pot roast or sauté up some chicken. You probably have yours but my favorite vegetables to put in a casserole are mushrooms, broccoli and spinach along with the requisite onion and garlic.

You’ll need a sauce. Any of the basics will do – Béchamel or the lighter Velouté, cream sauce, pesto or tomato sauce. Use any one in a multitude of variations or combinations. You can find most of them in a jar but give homemade a try. I promise the result will be worth the extra trouble. Finally, there is the cheese. From the king of cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano, to a humble cheddar, a great casserole is all about the cheese. Goat cheese, feta, ricotta, gruyere and fontina, we love them all.

With the last of the tropical heat and humidity surely gone, there is no excuse … it’s time to get rockin’, rollin’ and casserolin’. Bon appétit!

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Bake
Try this warm and cozy casserole the next time you have a crowd over. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
Classic Velouté Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2-1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup dry Sherry
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
About 8 ounces (2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
About 1 ounce (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
12 ounces pasta – cavatappi, penne or rigatoni
1 – 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut in bite-sized florets

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet. Reduce the temperature to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn the chicken, add the white wine and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken in a large bowl and reserve.

Make the Velouté Sauce. (Recipe follows.)

Put the sour cream, sherry and herbs in a bowl and whisk to combine. A little at a time, whisk the Velouté Sauce into the sour cream. Return the sauce to the saucepan.

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil, add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the onion and garlic to the sauce.

If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until golden. Add the mushrooms and 2/3rds of the cheeses to the sauce and, stirring frequently, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a large casserole.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, less 2 minutes. When the pasta has about 3 minutes of cooking time left, add the broccoli. Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it to the bowl with the chicken.

Add sauce to the chicken, pasta and broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer everything to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

You can make ahead to this point, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Cover and bake the casserole at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until piping hot and golden, about 15 minutes more.

Velouté Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking continuously, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste.

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One Year Ago – Cheddar Ale Soup
Two Years Ago – Ravioli with Roasted Butternut Squash
Three Years Ago – Gorgonzola & Walnut Shortbread with Savory Fig Jam
Four Years Ago – Soupe de Poisson Provençal
Five Years Ago – Hearty Black Bean Soup
Six Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
Seven Years Ago – Gingerbread Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago – Buttery Chocolate Almond Brittle
Ninet Years Ago – Pork Stew PaprikaOr Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your favorite casserole recipe? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017