Looking Forward to a Sunny Weekend Special

How do you know the drought that plagued New Hampshire for a couple of years is over? Well, look outside. If it’s not raining now, it was raining yesterday and might just rain again tomorrow. In any case, the garden is lovely and green.

I’ve got an interesting story to finish up this weekend but I’m still looking forward to some outside time this weekend. And, of course, what could be better than a cookout at the end of a beautiful summer day. Here are a few ideas:

Start with a delicious app. The corn at the farmstand is not quite local but it was picked this morning and delicious. Sounds like its a good time to try my Corn Cakes or my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa.

For a salad, I’m just loving grilled greens this summer. I tried grilled romaine for the first time about ten years ago. I was hooked. You must give my Grilled Romaine Salad.

Now on to the main course … how about … Grilled Pork Tenderloin? A great dish, to turn to it when you have a group over. A big group? No problem just double or triple the recipe. Add a tasty and good for you, make ahead Wheat Berry Salad.

Now for something sweet. Local raspberries are at the farmstand so maybe you’d like to whip up a batch of Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato and garnish liberally with raspberries. No? How about Cherry Cobbler? (With a scoop of Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato? … or your favorite vanilla ice cream?)

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

This Is Spring? Weekend Special

I’m doing my sun dance and thinking positive thoughts for the weekend. It looks like the first weekend of spring may be a dreary bust. Ugh!

If nothing else, you can celebrate the celestial change of seasons with delicious a transitional feast. With one foot still in winter, do your best to shove the other into spring. Your friends will be delighted … especially if they’ve been sitting home watching an icy rain all day. Here are some winter-meets-spring suggestions!

Forget simple cheese and crackers, give my Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts a try. Or step it up another notch with my Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli or Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp.

Sit down to a salad. Perhaps you’d like to toss up my Fennel & Feta Salad or Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad.

For the main course, how about pasta with grilled veggies? My Ravioli with Saffron Cream, Grilled Asparagus & Mushrooms will help you forget the cold … at least for a minute or two.

For dessert? My go-to almost-spring dessert is a bright and tasty Lemon Tart. If you don’t feel like baking, you might like my Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard.

Have a great weekend! 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

Get Your Green On & Irish Lamb Stew

So … Friday is Saint Patrick’s Day. The Irish and those that wish they were Irish will celebrate the day. It began as a religious feast day for Ireland’s patron saint. It has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish with parades, dancing, festive foods and a whole lot of green.

Unless you live in Ireland, you’ll still need to report to work as usual. However, the timing isn’t half-bad. It’s nice to know you can sleep in the next morning if you drink one too many green beers. Although my memory is a little hazy, I seem to remember Saint Paddy’s Day pub crawls when I was in college. It’s been a while.

Now, if you aren’t into crawling or you town has few if any pubs, how should you celebrate?

First and foremost, you must wear green. It’s not a problem for me. I like green; I drive a green car and have for years. If you’re not exactly partial to this verdant hue, start digging through your closet. There must be a green sweater or turtleneck in there somewhere. If you can’t find a thing, take a trip to a dollar store and pick up a green bandana. It will have to do.

Now that you’ve got your green on, you should march in a parade. If you like tradition, the first Saint Paddy’s parade took place in 1762. The only problem for those of us in the wilds of New Hampshire, the closest parade is in Manchester. Even then, it’s not until the 26th. There is a parade in South Boston this Sunday. If you can’t wait or want to stay closer to home, make your own parade. With any luck, the weather will be nice. Take a stroll up and down Main Street and show your colors. If you’d like, paint a little green shamrock on each check. Just remember, shamrocks have three leaves not four.

During your stroll, you could search for leprechauns. Then again, leprechaun hunts might be one of those silly things you do after drinking too much green beer. Anyway, I’m not sure I’d really recommend it. The odds of finding a leprechaun and his pot of gold must be what? About even with winning the lottery? Particularly this year! It’s been a blustery month, it wouldn’t surprise me if the little fellows got swept up and blown back to the Emerald Isle.

Next, enjoy an Irish feast. All across the United States, especially in New England, people will be boiling up corned beef and cabbage. However, if you think it is an Irish tradition, you’d be wrong. Historically, you’d be more likely to find pork or lamb than beef on an Irish table. The Irish are famous for their stew. Why not stir up a pot?

End the evening with a jig. It doesn’t matter if you know what you are doing. The point is to have some fun. Find some fiddle music and kick up your heels. Don’t be shy; no one expects you to go all Riverdance. Let go, embrace the music and enjoy the laughter.

Éirinn go Brách, have fun and bon appétit!

Irish Lamb Stew
The epitome of comfort food, a traditional Irish stew is the perfect meal on a blustery March day. Enjoy!
Serves 6
2-3 ounces slab or thick cut bacon, chopped
Flour for dusting the lamb
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
About 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon or to taste dried chili flakes
4-6 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Guinness or other dark beer
3 cups chicken stock
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 pound new potatoes
5-6 stalks celery cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 leeks, cut in 1-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the bacon in a heavy casserole over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the lamb cubes with the seasoned flour. Brown the lamb in the bacon fat over medium-high heat a few minutes per side. Remove the lamb and add it to the reserved bacon.

Reduce the heat to medium. If necessary, add a little butter or olive oil to the bacon fat, add the onion, sprinkle with dried chili flakes and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Put the lamb and bacon back into the stew pot. Add the carrot, beer and chicken stock and season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes, celery and leeks, return the pot to the oven and continue cooking, covered, until the vegetables and lamb are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the stew seems dry, add more beer and/or stock.

Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.

Can be made ahead, cooled to room temperature and refrigerated overnight. Reheat in a 350 degree oven until bubbling.

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One Year Ago – Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary
Two Years Ago – Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Three Years Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Six Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Eight Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? Now that the seasons are changing, how will you spend time outside? Feel free to share!

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

More Winter Weekend Special

Sun on Tuesday, raining on Wednesday, blustery winds on Thursday and polar express weekend – it’s a typical almost spring week in New Hampshire. It seems that every time I get a free morning to ski – either it’s blistering cold or the wind is blowing an arctic gale. It’s making me cranky!

What to do? Last weekend I spent some time in the kitchen experimenting with shrimp curry and making black bean soup.

With frostbiting temperature, I guess I’ll be back in the kitchen this weekend. What about you? Would you like to come over for a kitchen party? No one ever accused my kitchen of being spacious so maybe a potluck is a better idea? Maybe you’ll host your own. Host or guest, here are a few suggestions:

Appetizers to bring along or make together! Dip into some Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus while you flip Savory Blinis and then top with smoked salmon and caviar or whip up some Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard.

Salads to toss! Roasted veggies are a great addition to winter salads. Roast the vegetables and make the vinaigrette in advance. A helpful friend is sure to step forward to put it all together. Choose from my Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad, Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad or Mixed Greens with Roasted Mushrooms.

Bring on the casseroles! Definitely make ahead, a casserole bubbling in the oven will cut down on the kitchen chaos. My Poverty Casserole gets high marks from hungry skiers. Maybe you’ll go with a classic like Decadent Mac & Cheese or Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach (or maybe … Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna).

When in doubt, ask your favorite baker to bring dessert. You might suggest a simply delicious Carrot Cake, an over the top Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake or a fabulous Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart.

Have a great weekend! 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

Time to Ski – It’s a Long Weekend Special

skiing_w_best_friendWe can all take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. We can all welcome the long Presidents’ Day Weekend. The forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds; not perfect but we’ll take it. Strap on those snowshoes or skis and enjoy some outdoor fun.

Afterwards, come in out of the cold for a cozy dinner with some of your favorite people. Here are a few suggestions:

Start the evening with a tasty crostini. Try my Mushroom Crostini or Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini. Or let everyone serve themselves with a bowl of Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus and warm pita.

When it’s time to move over to the table, enjoy a winter salad. Skip the tasteless tomatoes and enjoy my flavor-filled Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad, Mixed Reds & Greens Salad or Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola & Walnuts.

For the main event think stew, a braise and or your favorite chili. autumn_vegetable_chili_02
My current favorite is the very delicious Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans. If it seems like a good time to go vegetarian, try my Creamy Polenta with Mushroom & Kale Ragù. (I suppose you might want to skip the kale salad if you go with this option!) Or enjoy something a bit more exotic with Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives & Preserved Lemon.

Stay cozy through dessert. For a quick and easy apple dessert, try my Rustic Apple Tart. Or delight your guests with absolutely wonderful Ginger Crème Brûlée.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

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

How are you spending the long holiday 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

Groundhog Day & Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore

punxsutawney_philGroundhog Day, we’ve all seen it or at least part of it. No, I don’t mean the annual folderol in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I mean the movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. You know the one where they take a road trip to Punxsutawney. Their mission is to report on the auspicious occasion of a groundhog leaving his burrow to check the weather. Sure, it’s kind of silly but it’s also brilliant, classic Bill Murray. Who can resist?

Before you shout, “I can!” (By the way, that’s my inclination too.) Let’s consider the pros and cons:

First, there’s a definite plus, especially for those of us with unruly hair. Let’s face it; we’d all like nothing more than to wake up one day and look like Andie MacDowell. Who knows, after Green Card, some of us might even want to be her. Anyway, like our beloved Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore), Andie works in a newsroom as a producer. Like Mary, she is smart, charming, funny and beautiful. Okay, she is a bit of a goody-goody but she had one heck of a curly mane.

Next, there’s the mixed pros and cons of Bill Murray. He’s the egomaniacal weatherman sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog festivities. Funny, yes, Bill Murray is funny but he is also painfully obnoxious. He takes petty, peevish and petulant to new levels. Feigning self-assurance, he flirts with the lovely Andie and bullies the cameraman. He is scornful of the Punxsutawnians who just want to have their fun and celebrate their world famous groundhog.

Looking back, it’s pretty clear, in spite of being Bill Murray and famous and funny, he was everything we didn’t want to date. After all, the film came out in the nineties. From coast to coast and around the globe, we single women were convinced that we could do better. Of course, Andie agreed with us.

And finally, here’s where Groundhog Day (the movie not the sort of holiday) comes out on top. The movie is all about change and redemption. As most people know, the movie tells the story of this dreadful man who finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. As the movie progresses, a new twist develops. We figure out that Bill Murray’s character is not only insufferable; he is miserable.

Let’s face it; we’ve all had those times when nothing but nothing is going right. Unfortunately, although we hate to admit it, some of our difficulties are of our own making. Even worse, we’ve all been known to misbehave when things aren’t going our way. Who hasn’t gone off on a ridiculous tirade, done something petty or spent a good part of a day whinging or snapping at any and every one? Like a groundhog in a maze of underground tunnels, we get lost in our foolishness, pride or plain stupidity. Not every day, mind you, but at least occasionally we lose sight of our best selves. It’s okay to admit it; we’ve all done it … well, maybe not Saint Theresa.

As the snarky weatherman relives February 2nd again and again, he slowly but surely begins to figure things out. He begins to learn and change. If we let it, this little piece of cinema shows us that even at our most dreadful and depressed we are still redeemable. Even if our unhappiness turns us into a despicable bully, there is hope. Just like Bill Murray, we can change and grow. We can find love and happiness.

Have a happy Groundhog Day! Bon appétit!

Thank you Anthony Quintano for the photo of Punxsutawney Phil provided under a Creative Commons License.

Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
Whether the groundhog comes out on Thursday or not, winter is here for the duration. This chicken_cacciatore_05comforting chicken dish is perfect for a cold winter night. Enjoy!
Serves 4

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
About 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup or more chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup or more dry white wine
4 ounces fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, trimmed, peeled and left whole
8 ounces whole mushrooms, trimmed and halved or quartered

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the chicken with half of the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side down in the hot skillet. Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, put the chicken broth, tomatoes and wine in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the remaining herbs, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Remove the skillet from the oven. Turn the chicken, scatter the onions, carrots and garlic around the chicken and add the liquid ingredients. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken and vegetables bubble, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Scatter the mushrooms over the top of the chicken and veggies. Adding more broth and/or wine if necessary, cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned and the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Serve the chicken thighs with a spoonful of mushrooms, onion and garlic.

A great dish for a party, double or triple the recipe and use a large roasting pan. This recipe is very forgiving. If dinner is delayed, add more broth and wine, reduce the oven temperature and let it bubble for an additional 30, even 45, minutes. It can also be made ahead and reheated.

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One Year Ago – Poverty Casserole
Two Years Ago – Roasted Cauliflower
Three Years Ago – Savory Blinis
Four Years Ago – Lettuce Cups with Shrimp & Noodles
Five Years Ago – Caribbean Black Beans
Six Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower & Bacon
Seven Years Ago – Chocolate Mousse
EIght Years Ago – Shrimp & Feta

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

What about you? What’s the change you want to make this Groundhog Day? Feel free to share!

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

Still Nursing that Cold Weekend Special

stirring_the_potEarlier this week, I let everyone know that a cold had taken up residency in my chest and head. Well, it’s hunkered down and still there. I’m not sure how the weekend will pan out but I am hoping to join the Women’s March in Concord on Saturday. Whether I throw the covers over my head and cough my way through the weekend or feel well enough to head out and about, I’m going to need soup!

If you do too, here are a few ideas:

For many, Nana’s chicken soup is the only real cure for a cold. I hope you’ll consider one of my spiced up versions. My Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup and Curried Thai Soup with Noodles, Turkey (or Chicken) & Vegetables are both good choices.

For a different take on noodle soup, stir up a batch of my Raviolis in Broth with Turkey Meatballs & Greens or Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci.

Not into noodles? How about my Mexican Chicken Soup?

Or think super foods with my Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup. It’s may be just the thing to build you back up.

Stay well and have a good weekend! Bon appétit!

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

How are you spending the long holiday 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