Sunday, August 23, 2009

Duh... how dumb am I?

Am I the only blogger who didn't know that you could sign up for email alerts when someone leaves a comment on your blog? I've been keeping a running tally on a piece of paper for the last 6 months (thanks for cluing me in on this Laura).

So, for those of you who also weren't aware that you could get email notifications, here's how - click on the customize button at the top right side of your screen. Then choose Settings, then choose Comments, now scroll down the the Comment Notification Email box and type in your email address.

Now for a couple of photos that don't make me feel so stupid.
Both taken on the same evening.

This one just taken at sunset after a long day of heavy rain.

This one was taken earlier that evening. If you look carefully, you can see it's a double rainbow.

We were leaving a meeting at the kid's school and found this amazing sight just outside the door. I was immediately taken by the immense beauty and I couldn't believe how perfect the shot was. Right over a church... could you ask for a better set-up??!!

It was raining and I didn't want to ruin my camera, yet I really didn't want to pass up the opportunity to snap a few photos... thankfully there was a narrow eave to take cover under.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes at Home

ButterYum Roasting Sun Gold Tomatoes
ButterYum Roasting Sun Gold Tomatoes
ButterYum Roasting Sun Gold TomatoesSo what do you do when a friend shares a ton of super sweet, itty-bitty, orange colored cherry tomatoes from her bountiful garden? Actually, I popped them like candy for a few days, but now I need to seriously find a use for them before she gives me more... and there apparently will be more... lots more! She said these Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are more prolific than bunnies :).

So I thought I'd try roasting them in the oven to attempt a homemade version of one of my favorite foods on earth... Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

oven roasted sun-dried tomatoesI cut them in half, doused them generously with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled on a little kosher salt and pepper, and roasted them in a 400F oven, cut side up, for about 35 minutes.

oven roasted sun-dried tomatoesThis is what they looked like when they were done. Yummy! Not exactly the same as sun dried tomatoes from the store, but they taste absolutely wonderful. They're soft-ish and still a bit juicy, but their flavor is INTENSELY SWEET!

We ate many of them right off the sheet pan, but I rescued a bunch of them for a ridiculously delicious pasta salad. You should definitely try these!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Surprise... For Me?....

I think my girls have been watching me in the kitchen... I was a little under the weather one day so they decided to surprise me with lunch. The appetizer - apple slices with peanut butter - I love how my youngest fanned the slices. Her big sister made the entree - a bowl of perfectly cooked pasta topped with some of my homemade san marzano tomato sauce, a sprinkling of fresh Percorio Romano, and a sprig of fresh basil from my patio garden - it was so good I had seconds (it was a very tiny bowl ;) ).

They certainly put a smile on my face and a spring in my step... enough so that I could hobble over to a sunny window and snap a couple of photos! Thanks Girls - I love you!!!

Pork and Sauerkraut in the Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut - ButterYum
If you like Pork and Sauerkraut, you're going to love this easy version.

I'm only posting the before photo. Why you ask? Uh, well, let's face it... a pot full of monochrome brown food isn't particularly photo friendly, but trust me, it'll taste great! Seriously, I recently brought a double batch to a church dinner and it was all gobbled up!

Pork and Sauerkraut in the Slow Cooker
recipe serves 6-8 (doubled to fit in a 6.5 quart slow cooker)

3 lbs. Boneless Country-Style Pork Ribs
1.5 lbs. Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
10 ounce can French Onion Soup
1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

Start by cutting the boneless ribs into bite-size cubes and put them in your slow cookerr. Rinse and drain the sauerkraut and place it on top of the pork. Lastly, mix together the soup and brown sugar and pour over the sauerkraut. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6 hours. Stir together and serve.  Alternatively, a single recipe will fit in a 9x13 casserole dish and can be baked in the oven (cover with foil and bake at 350F for 4 hours).

Notes:  If you don't have French Onion Soup on hand, you can substitute water and 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder or minced onion. I prefer Progresso brand French Onion Soup.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shrimp Linguine Alfredo

shrimp chicken linguine fettuccine Alfredo PastaCheesy, Garlicy Goodness... Mmmmm.
When asked what my son wanted for his birthday dinner, he didn't hesitate in requesting this delicious dish - it's every bit as good as the Pasta Alfredo you get in an Italian Restaurant, but did you know how easy it is to make at home? Anyway, I'm not surprised by his request... this was the 3rd year in a row!

I probably don't need to mention that this is a very HIGH CALORIE dish - definitely a culinary splurge for most, but not so much for an active teenager!

Shrimp Linguine Alfredo
Serves 6

1 pound peeled and de-veined shrimp, cooked
1 pound linguine or fettuccine
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and left whole
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (use the good stuff)
salt and pepper to taste (I go heavy on the pepper and light on the salt, Kosher)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
lemon zest for garnish (optional)

Before you begin, have the cooked shrimp ready to go and start making the Alfredo sauce just as you begin boiling the pasta (water should taste salty like the sea - use Kosher or sea salt).

In a very large saute pan, heat the butter and olive oil over med-hi heat (use unsalted butter because the cheese is very salty). Add the smashed garlic cloves and cook for a minute or two, until you the garlic has flavored the butter/oil well (your nose will know). It's okay to let the garlic brown a bit, but don't let it burn. Remove the garlic from the butter/oil. Add the heavy cream; heat until bubbly. Add the cheese; stir until melted and well incorporated. Lower the heat and simmer at a slow rolling boil until the pasta is ready. Just before adding the pasta, add the shrimp to the sauce and gently heat through; being careful not to over cook. Add the parsley, s&p, and optional lemon zest; stir. Add pasta and toss well; serve immediately.

Note - this dish will thicken quickly upon standing. Recipe doubles well. Leftovers can be reheated by adding a little milk and stirring slowly over med heat. Cooked chicken and/or other long pasta shapes can be substituted. Enjoy!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maple-Brined Pork Loin

maple brined pork
I love brining meat, so I was very eager to try this maple-brined pork loin recipe that I found on Chef John's blog Food Wishes. Yum, yum, yum... this pork was juicy, tender, and really delicious - the entire family absolutely loved it!!
I'll definitely be trying more of Chef John's recipes.

Chef John's Maple-Brined Pork Loin
Serves 4-6

2-3 lb. boneless pork loin roast
4 cups cold water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (no substitutes)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3-4 slices fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Veggie oil

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

In a container large enough to hold the brine and pork loin (I used a gallon size zipper top bag), combine the water, kosher salt, 1/3 cup maple syrup, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and rosemary; stir to dissolve salt completely. Add the pork loin; refrigerate for 8-10 hours. Remove loin from brine; discard brine. Dry the roast very well with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 325F.

In an oven safe pan, over med-high heat, brown the pork loin on all sides. Transfer pan to preheated oven; roast for a total of 20-25 minutes per pound. Approximately 15 minutes before the roast is done, make the glaze by combining the Dijon and remaining maple syrup. Reserve some glaze for garnish; brush the rest on the loin. Continue roasting until the loin reaches an internal temperature of 155F. Let the loin rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.