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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don't forget to stop and smell the rosemary!

    I went running a few weeks ago with a friend at Shelby Farms. Shelby Farms http://www.shelbyfarmspark.org/sfpc/front is an amazing and massive city park here in Memphis. It has beautiful landscape,running trails and bison (or buffalo...you be the judge). So I meet her there,make a quick trip into the facilities and I'm ready to run in no time flat.As we're walking to the trail, I notice the nice landscaping they have around the guest station and lo and behold there is a massive rosemary bush! I make some comment about how lovely it is and then I run my hands the through its branches,smell my hands and take in a whiff of my 2nd most favorite herb (my 1st being mint,any kind of mint really...but that's a later conversation). Now I have done this move before,I see rosemary,touch it's branches,smell my hands and instant "ahhhh",the difference in this certain time and all the others was I NOTICED IT!  My sweet sister has the same reaction to roses.We would stop in the grocery store to pick up something and stop in the floral department.Walk by a rose bush or even see a few fresh roses on display.She always reminds me to stop and smell the roses. She takes a quick minute from her thoughts,routine or whatever may be going on and she takes in a moment of appreciation for the simple things. She's taught me well.
  
      Rosemary is a staple culinary herb and it has way more to offer than just a pretty herb in your garden or in a city park next to the guest station. The two most recent uses for it in my kitchen have been a delicious dip and mixed in with butter(or olive oil)to make really good garlic bread. Enjoy!
    


White Bean and Rosemary Dip
Ingredients:
2 15oz can cannellini beans,rinsed and drained
juice of half a lemon
1 TBL fresh chopped rosemary
2 clove garlic,roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp gr. black pepper
(for a spicy kick substitute 1/4tsp red pepper flakes)
1/2c extra-virgin olive oil,divided
Directions-
 -in the bowl of a food processor place all the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil.Pulse a few time to combine.Then with the food processor running,drizzle olive oil through the feeder tube into the mix and puree dip to desired consistency.Scrap this really good dip into a serving bowl,drizzle a little bit more olive oil on top of the dip and break out the tortilla chips!
*This dip keeps for a few days in the fridge,it might dry out a little so just drizzle on some more olive oil and you've got yourself a tasty midday snack.
*Another note,this dip does really well at parties.Folks like it quite a bit and the thing I love most about it is IT'S SO EASY TO MAKE!
  Oh the rosemary fun continues,ready here goes:  I made this dish http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000281351  from Virginia Willis's cookbook Bon Appetit,Ya'll the other night for some family and threw together this rosemary garlic bread .It sounded easy and really I was just craving the ingredients and add in a learning experience and ta-da ! we've got tasty garlic bread.
  
Rosemary Garlic Bread
Ingredients:
1 loaf french bread,halved lengthwise
1 stick butter
2 medium size rosemary branches
4 coves garlic
2 tsp kosher salt (any salt will work really)
Directions:
 -On a cutting board chop up together the rosemary leaves,garlic cloves and salt. The salt will draw out the moisture from the garlic and you will star to see the garlic get soft at this point you can either use the back of a spoon to make a paste of the mixture or CAREFULLY hold the top edge of your knife and drag the blade over the garlic mix and it will form a paste of sorts after you've done this move a couple of times. Soften the butter in the microwave,stir in the garlic/rosemary mixture and cover.Spread this on the bread and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes,just long enough harden the edges.Slice in to strips and enjoy!

**LEARNING MOMENT!** So my dear husband was helping me get dinner ready and was in charge of spreading the butter/garlic/rosemary  mixture on to the bread. Somehow he buttered one of the halves of bread with ALL of the butter mixture and there was none left for the other half! So in a quick move,he scraped off half of the garlic/rosemary mixture and spread it on the other half.I drizzled some olive oil( I would say maybe 1/4c total,if I had to guess) over the same half and we were saved. All of that quick thinking gave us two recipes really for some great garlic bread and another cooking moment together. Thanks honey.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Now I've got an ACTUAL garden!

  Tomorrow afternoon (hopefully after a little of the sun has faded), I am going to plant some tomato plants and pepper plants! I was recently blessed with a delightful garden space in my yard and the seedlings are ready to go in the ground.The plastic squares of seedlings and the set of pots on either side have grown a bit more since this picture.At last count I have 25 tomato seedlings and 25 pepper seedlings to get started with and I hope they all take well and grow big! Get out the gardening gloves,the knee pads and pour up the water,it's going to be a productive afternoon,yeehaw!
          I  planted some heirloom tomato plants and cayenne pepper plants a few weeks ago. The heirloom tomato plants were purchased at a fantastic nursery up in Lexington,Kentucky. Yeah remember that trip,(the same trip where we had that delicious family dinner nite,yep that dinner was after the plant shopping), it rained the whole time and my adventurous family decides to go to this amazing nursery in the pouring down rain,oh our loves for plants,yeah. The nursery is called King's Garden Center( http://www.kingsgardens.com/ )and it was definitely worthy of royalty. The staff was really helpful,the plant selection out of this world and it was a haven on a rainy day for some ladies lookin' to plant something.If you're driving through Lexington,Kentucky and you know whats good for you and your garden,stop in this nursery and have some fun! We did! So the heirloom tomato plants were so exciting and the names and colors of the tomatoes to come,I just could not stand it! Enjoy these just for a minute or two.
    So yeah wrap that package full of  pictures of with a big red bow of cayenne peppers! I can't wait to make this recipe ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/emerils-homemade-sweet-and-spicy-pickles-recipe/index.html ) next weekend. The recipe calls for dried cayenne peppers and hopefully the pepper plants produce enough peppers to make a second batch of this recipe later in the summer! I found the dried whole red cayenne peppers at Penzey's Spice Shop for a really good price and the splash of red will make the jars of pickles extra enticing. It should be a blessed, plentiful and spicy summer!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simple Ingredient,Even Easier Method

       The simple ingredients are the ones that remind me why I got into cooking all together. I think it's even better when I can use that simple ingredient to make delicious meal,now that's what I'm talking about.The simple ingredient,Pace picante sauce. The easy prep tool,the slow cooker. Life is too easy sometimes! Last Sunday was family dinner nite at my house and we had the best menu ever! TACO NIGHT! Taco night is still a little bit of work if you have a variety of extras to dress your tacos,but the extras really make it for me. I decided to serve beef tacos and chicken tacos. I set up the extras( lettuce,black beans,corn,shredded cheese,green onions and tomatoes),warmed the taco shells and tortillas and we were off! I browned the ground beef and shredded the chicken. The beef was seasoned with a taco seasoning packet and the chicken...oh the chicken! I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/chili-chicken-tacos and knew it was exactly what I wanted to serve.Earlier in the day I prepared the ingredients,set-up the slow cooker and pushed the COOK button. The house smelled amazing when we got home and the chicken fell apart.Oh my goodness,it was spicy,garlicky goodness shredded chicken. It also now has a permanent home on my TACO NIGHT menu. Enjoy!

     ** So the link takes you to Martha's recipe,but here's my version of it:
  Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos      serves 6
Ingredients:
4lbs boneless,skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves,thinly sliced
1 16oz jar Pace Picante Sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 TBL olive oil
1/2c water
Directions-
- combine all ingredients in bowl of slow cooker.Cook either 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.When the chicken is finished,transfer to plate and let cool. Shred chicken on a cutting board.(It should shred pretty easily,if not fall apart in picante,garlic love...Yep I said it.) Now you can either transfer it to your serving dish or put it back its cooking liquid and keep warm until ready to serve. (The olive oil added a little more fat to the mix and the water helped the chicken to steep sort of ,braise may be the term I'm looking for,either way,I think it made for a really tasty broth.)This was dang fine on some tacos.Make you some rotel dip and you've got a great TACO NIGHT ahead.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Frontier,Even Better Wine



 I had this wine tonight at Bosco's. It hit the spot and went really well with this spicy chicken pizza I always order ( yeah... set the sun by me,it's the Pollo Diablo). It had the spice and a hint,small hint of cherry and the finished up really well. I bought a Malbec wine when I was visiting up in Kentucky,at this fantastic wine shop run by a guy named Charlie (I'll find out the name soon,it was raining and well the wine looked pretty great and in the middle of it all I didn't catch the name). So it's a Malbec too, from Argentina and if it's anything like the one I had tonight  http://www.monteswines.com/english/nuestros_vinos/cs_malbec.htm  it will be just perfect. I spent the first half of the day working,the second shopping with my hubby and the evening with friends and that amazing hubby. We enjoyed a delish dinner and the malbec wine just wrapped the day up in a bow. Thanks Montes and Boscos!

Ps. found it enjoy and call Charlie he knows a lot, http://www.wineshop116.com/

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekly Delivery,Week-Long Inspiration

     So a month ago my mom calls me ,thrilled about this CSA(community-supported agriculture) share idea and she wants to know if we will enjoy some of the produce with her,... heck yes! She had read an article in the paper about local farms that you can buy a share of and enjoy the bounty of that farm's production on a weekly basis. The farm she picked to support is Downing Hollow Farms in Olive Hill,Tn, downinghollowfarm.com and what a delicious choice she made. They send a fresh,organic selection of seasonal produce once a week to the Cooper-Young Community Farmer's Market (in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church,just through the light at Cooper and Young) on Saturday mornings.They have their own tent where you pick up your bag and can also choose from some of the very same produce you'll be taking home,but MORE of it if something strikes your fancy,they've got you a whole table to purchase from! The produce is packed carefully and lovingly in a reusable grocery bag.The contents of the bag the last two weeks, has varied slightly but we've gotten mostly various greens,radishes,parsnips,carrots and huge spring onions. The bag might also contain some extra goodies such as homemade strawberry jam,fresh-baked ciabatta bread or a potted plant(last week chives for the garden,this week a perfect yellow dahlia).
               I brag about all of this for two reasons: 1. This produce delivery has been such a treat and will continue to be for months to come ( really good idea, mom). 2. These folks work really hard to grow and sustain this amazing farm.(check out the website,not only does it have a list of produce to come,but the land is beautiful!)The produce they send home every week with you is so fresh,so dang tasty and teaching people in the misouth-area to eat healthy,think more about what they eat and giving us a small part of them. Thanks Downing Hollow folks!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Family Dinner Nite in Wilmore,Kentucky!



       I decided a little over a year ago that my family should get together and eat once a month,together is the key word. I know a good meal warms the soul and when it is enjoyed with people you love and even sometimes like,that meal becomes priceless.The guests list changes by the month and the location is usually our house,but this past weekend dinner was relocated to Wilmore,Kentucky. My sweet sister Caroline and her fantastic,patient husband Nathan with their lovable chocolate lab Sam, moved last summer to Wilmore,Ky. They have come back to Memphis to visit and we have gone up there to visit.Wilmore is a great little college town and you should go visit when you can oh and stop in and visit Jose,he makes delicious mexican food,...but I digress.

         Ok so this past friday a special trip was made by some very special ladies,up to Wilmore to see the Phillips family and most of all Sam! Our mom Mara Sprott,aunt Carol Jean Fox and mother-in-law Betty Harris all piled in my Expedition and set out for the bluegrass state! We arrived a little soaked by all the rain,settled in and got the visit off to a good start.All the ladies went shopping on Saturday.Nathan went to study(smart guy) and Sam,...well she was just a sweet puppy dog.I think the trip might have been way more boring if it had been sunny,but the rain not only made the day more interesting,it made us all the more hungry for a good,wholesome dinner together.We got home,dried off and settled in for a good family diner nite. The menu was marinated pork tenderloin,roasted asparagus,rosemary red potatoes and yeast rolls...oh and caramel brownies and vanilla ice cream for dessert,delish! The nice thing about dinner was that not only was it  easy to prepare and full of flavors,but it brought family members together at one table for a real meal and real laughs.


 Marinated Pork Tenderloin:             
Ingredients:                                          
2 pork tenderloins
2 TBL McCormick Greek seasoning
2 TBL olive or vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
   Pat dry pork with paper towels,rub seasonings and olive oil all over pork.Let marinate for 30 min to 1 hour in glass baking dish.Place pork in roasting pan and bake at 425 degrees for 30 min or until pork reaches internal temp of 160 degrees.
Roasted Asparagus:
Ingredients:
2 bunches fresh asparagus
salt and pepper
olive oil
Directions: Chop off woody ends of asparagus,peel off slick outside layer and coat in olive oil,sal and pepper.Place in single layer on a bakng sheet.Bake for 15-20 min at 425 degrees until asparagus is tender.
Rosemary Red Potatoes:
Ingredients:
2 small red potatoes per person
1 tsp dired rosemary
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Directions:
  Wash and scrub potatoes. Dry off and quarter and toss in a large bowl with the seasonings and olive oil. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 min-30 min at 425 degrees until tender and browned on the edges.
***You can bake the asparagus and red potaotes at the same time,just keep and eye on the baking time,the potatoes will need a little more time.
Yeast rolls: follow package directions.