April 23, 2015 – Freezer Clean-out Time

Since we’re winding down on this trip, I took everything out of the freezer and I could not believe what all I have in there. I won’t list everything, but suffice to say – we could probably live off this inventory for 2 months!!

I wasn’t going to admit this on any ‘social media’ – but, then I realized some good recipes and ideas are coming out of this cleanup project, so like everything else in my life, I’m hanging these ideas out for everyone.

The bad part is, I will be making dishes I can’t possible duplicate; as in the dish we had today – a dish from Noble Pig’s blog: Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom Pasta.

The following is a statement I make so often upon seeing a recipe which sounds too good not to make, but…….

But, I don’t have Bowtie pasta, bacon, or ham, or sour cream… …

Here’s the recipe and I think the original would be very tasty, but with the revisions I had to make, I think it was wonderful!! I made kind of 1/2 a recipe of the below –

Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom-Leek Pasta – Altered to fit our ingredients Author: Noble Pig, 12/28/12

1/2 lb bowtie pasta, dry (I used 4 oz. Spaghetti Rigati)
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced (I used 1/4 cup prosciutto bits)
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced (no leeks, I used 1/2 on onion)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used dried morels and porcini)
2 cups leftover ham, cubed(no ham, used ~2 cups seasoned alligator bites a cook gave me in Louisiana and I froze)
8 Tbs butter (~ 3 T. clarified butter from freezer)
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (used green)
1/2 head purple cabbage, shredded(no purple- didn’t use)
Garnish with: freshly ground black pepper (added Truffle Salt – great addition of musky flavor.)
dollop of sour cream (had none – not needed)

1. Make pasta according to package directions. Let sit in the water to keep warm. Kind of bastardized the method from here, but pretty much close:

2. Sauté bacon over medium heat until slightly brown. Add leeks and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more. Add mushrooms and ham and cook until done. Remove from pan.

3. Without wiping the pan, melt butter and add cabbage. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add bacon-ham-mushroom mixture to the cabbage as well as bowtie pasta. Toss together and serve immediately. serves 6
Apr 22 Alligator, Mushroom Pasta 1  Onions, reconstituted morels and porcini mushrooms
Apr 22 Alligator, mujshroom pasta 2  Cabbage, pasta and sautéed alligator added to the onion mixture –
Apr 22 Alligator, mushroom pasta plated a great combination of flavors: Morel and Porcini mushrooms, prosciutto bits, sautéed cabbage and onions tossed with pasta and chunks of Louisiana seasoned alligator and seasoned with Truffle salt and lots of freshly ground pepper – what a dish!!

And, because we have so many goodies in the freezer, I don’t think we’re going out for Mexican tonight after all, as we had planned. In fact we may not have dinner at all…also found some Vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I have bourbon, maple syrup and peanut butter….know where I’m going with this?????????????? Probably will be our dinner.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
Dec 1 P.Butter Honey Bourbon Milkshake
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we use frozen yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
More dishes which turned out very tasty from leftover packages:
Apr 21 Hawaiian Pork Tostada Hawaiian Pork and rice from a Medford, OR restaurant – diced the pork, added the rice and a can of refried beans spiced up with taco sauce and packaged up in 1/2 cup baggies. One morning, spread the filling on a crispy corn tortilla topped with tomatoes, green onions and cilantro for a Tostada dinner.

Apr 18 Hawaiian Pork burrito For brunch, used the filling in a burrito and topped again with tomatoes and green onion and served with a grapefruit and banana salad. Four more pkgs. are left to think about.
How easy can a dinner or brunch be for a busy family?

Apr 21 BBQ Rib Pizza A pkg. of BBQ Ribs with sauce morphed into a wonderful pizza! Brush a pizza dough round with BBQ sauce, then layer chopped rib meat (or BBQ Pork roast meat), cheese slices (I had Taleggio cheese), tomato slices, dried basil and red pepper flakes sprinkled over and baked. Sprinkle with green onions as it comes out of the oven.

It was a good feeling to scratch out a few items on my list of freezer goodies, but I have a couple pages to go yet, so I’m anxious to see what dishes  develop out of this little experiment. I’m thinking the real challenge will be to have on hand some of these same packages again so when I have to go freezer diving, I can recreate them.  More to come……

April 19, 2015 When Grandkids grow up – Grandparents Have Fun!!

???????????????????????????????   ???????????????????????????????  We spent the afternoon with our oldest Grandson, Jimmy/James, his fiancé, Amber and his best friend, ‘Abe’ and had just the best time!! Introduced them to wine tasting and these beer drinkers took to it like champs; picking up the nuances of matching wines they weren’t particularly liking with food which brought a sparkle to their eye as they discovered how food can change the whole perspective of liking vs. disliking a particular wine.
Apr 19 wine taste 3  Apr 19 wine tasting 4
And, a new experience for Roy and me, after years of wine tastings, we were introduced to a  new way of tasting. Instead of ‘bellying’ up to the bar for one taste after another, we were given wine flights of the wines we chose to taste. 2 Hawk winery, in Medford, OR, also offered a bistro-style menu, which we took advantage of and this was the best possible thing we could have done. Ordering an Artisan cheese and charcuterie platter plus an Olive mix of three varieties served with Pita triangles gave the perfect introduction for the ‘kids’ to mix and match flavors with wine.

Manning the wine tasting bar, Amy was knowledgeable and ready with the history of the wines, winery and the beautiful building housing the tasting room. Had to go with a bottle of their Red-Tail Red

Tasting notes: “Released in November 2014, Red-Tail Red is a proprietary blend with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit used was sourced from the Rogue Valley and the wine was aged in both French and American Oak barrels, blended specifically for 2Hawk. The nose on this wine is full of black cherry and currant; the flavors on the pallet include tangy berries, black cherry, wood spice, and herbs. This is a full-bodied red with ripe flavors. The firm tannins are off-set nicely by a touch of oak on the finish. This wine will pair wonderfully with just about any meat dish you might put a glass of it next to!”
When you are in the Medford, OR area, you will miss a real joy of a winery if you don’t stop in for the beauty of the winery itself plus superb wines. And, tell Amy hello!

Two other wineries we experienced the same day were:
picked up a bottle of Semi-Sparkling Rose Jolee  –

Tasting Notes: “A lovely pink shade, with soft aromas of rose and mango provide a delicately balanced wine perfect for summer fun. The sweet fragrance is enhanced by the flavors of grapefruit and strawberry. Completed with a slight spritz, this wine provides joy with each sip.”

On to Ledger David Winery
Had to buy two bottles here of their 2012 Epitome of Three (a blend of Syrah, Sangiovese and Tempranillo) – what a luscious wine this is.

Tasting Notes: “Our proprietary Syrah-based blend is redolent of raspberry jam, briary black fruit and distinct pepper notes. Oak shadings are noticeable on the palate behind the concentrated ripe fruit and round tannins giving the wine a feeling of delicate balance and substantial density.”
Apr 19 wine tasting 5  And, back to our daughter’s for grilled burgers and winding down after a full day of enjoyment with family.

Thank you Jimmy, Amber and ‘Abe” for making us such proud grandparents!

April 18, 2015 – Two Week Food Regime

We have been on a 2 week ‘food regime’ aka  diet – a word I hate to use. We survived and survived very well, too!! The selected foods we were allowed made it easy to be creative and overall got us thru this ordeal! The reason for all this?? The wonderful food we have been eating and cooking on our road odyssey since last July. But, it was so worth it. We are almost ‘home’ where we will be starting the next chapter of our adventure. Looking for a house in Port Angeles to remodel and settle in to a little (please God) cottage. And, because P.A. has come into the real world, go back to raising chickens!!

Here are a few pictures of making our ‘regime’ more palatable and surprisingly the challenge was fun, also.

The ‘diet’ is an extreme one and probably not thought to be healthy by the medical world, but it is the only one I’ve ever been able to continue for the entire 2 weeks.  We are given one week’s list of foods and you repeat the week once. It is never advised to continue it any longer. So, I won’t post the ingredients – I don’t want to suggest anyone else try it, I just know it works for me. It’s called the Air Force diet and I’ve been resorting to it every few years since the 1960s.

Every morning the breakfast was the same for the 2 weeks – eggs, toast, grapefruit  & coffee
An example of one of the lunches – 2 eggs, tomato, lettuce: I hard cooked the eggs, chopped them, combined with the chopped tomato, wrapped in butter lettuce and drizzled with balsamic the first week and the brine from Peppadew peppers the second week. It was fantastic and I’ll be doing this off the regime, too!
One dinner – Catfish, combination salad, dry toast & grapefruit: again with the balsamic drizzle – I swear I may never go back to salad dressings, this is so good! For our fish day we had catfish both times!!
One Lunch: combination salad s/drizzle Balsamic, grapefruit, coffee – decided to just go for a chopped salad and we really enjoyed it!
Another lunch was fruit salad – and this being April we are just beginning to see beautiful fruit in the markets and we really enjoyed this –
???????????????????????????????  Can anything say summer better than this lunch????
The most interesting days were the 7th and 14th  (last day)  – dinner food called for: chicken, tomatoes, cooked cabbage, celery, vegetable soup, grapefruit. I always have the most fun with these ingredients.
.??????????????????????????????? 1st week’s chicken dinner
The 1st week with this dinner, I sautéed the veggies, added chopped chicken breast meat then added the can of undiluted vegetable soup mixed with Sriracha – wonderful stir-fry type dinner.
??????????????????????????????? 2nd week’s chicken dinner
2nd week – got a little more inspired and I was missing doing some real cooking, came up with this dish and I’m so glad I wrote it down, because it will become a staple in our lives, it’s that good!

CABBAGE “GUMBO” OR STIR-FRY:   Sauté 2-3 cups shredded cabbage, 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup chopped onion, and seasoned with S&p, dried basil & oregano. While this cooks mix together 2 T. Mirin with 1/2 tsp (to taste) Sriracha and add to the cabbage mix.
(Note: Instead of adding oil, other than just a tad to begin the veggies cooking, I added 2-4 T. water – they will steam a little while finishing cooking – the water along with the mirin mix will keep all from sticking or browning)
When the veggies are crisp tender, add 2 rough chopped tomatoes and a can of undiluted Campbell’s Vegetable soup and continue cooking until heated thru. I oven-roasted chicken thighs seasoned with ‘Cook’s Seasoning’ (which is a staple: 2 parts Kosher salt/1 part granulated garlic/1 part white pepper) and served on top of the ‘gumbo’ this time instead of adding to the dish.

We finally gave in and weighed ourselves yesterday and low and behold we are at the weight we were when we started on this adventure!! Success!

And, just a closing note: we found (on the days I cheated) –  Chardonnay is very good with grapefruit!! Who knew? J

April 15, 2015 – It’s Almost Basil Time!

Basil Jelly – a Chef’s Journey recipe
It’s almost time to plant our basil and then not much longer before we can start taking advantage of our ‘harvest.’ It’s great to have this jelly in your pantry  during the winter and be reminded of this wonderful summer flavor.
Basil Jelly 2

4 cups water
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves — finely chopped
1 package powdered fruit pectin — (1-3/4 ounces)
3 drops green food coloring — optional
5 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, bring water and basil to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain and discard basil. Return 3-2/3 cups liquid to the pan. Stir in pectin and food coloring if desired. Return to a rolling boil over high heat.

Stir in the sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; skim off foam.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids.

Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: 6 half-pints. Allow jelly to set up 5 days before using.
Note: The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Add 1 minute to the processing time for each 1,000 feet of additional altitude.

Using Basil Jelly:
An old friend, Labs, suggested: Layer slice of mozzarella on a cracker, top with a dab of basil jelly and tomato jam – Caprese Salad takeoff.
Topping a cream cheese cracker.
Melt over low heat combining a few red pepper flakes and use as a sauce or glaze when grilling,
Slather a toasted bagel.

P.S. And, this year, I’m going to add a couple jalapenos to the mix!!


April 13, 2015 Half A Pie – Apricot & Pineapple Goodness

A couple of years ago I bought a pie pan that has become the number 1 used in my kitchen. Because there is just the two of us, I rarely baked pies because we found ourselves pigging out every time! This clever half-pie pan solved the problem for us. They are readily available online. I ordered mine through Amazon.
half pie plate

Add a scoop of ice cream – and, in my case with apricot pie, I want chocolate – and I have a perfect dessert. Be easy on yourself, Pillsbury makes wonderful, easy pie crusts.

For the Crust:
1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
Make your own crust
For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh apricots, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, juice squeezed out as much as possible (optional)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar for sprinkling, or as desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Carefully open the crust pkg. and fit one half the crust in the pie plate allowing the other half of the crust to drape over straight edge. Set aside in refrigerator to keep cold.

In a medium bowl, combine the apricots, pineapple and lemon juice.

In another small bowl, mix the 1/2 cup sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle over the fruit and gently combine. Spoon the apricot filling over the pie crust in the pan, and fold the draped half of crust over. Crimp the edges of the crust together with a fork, and cut slits into the pie to allow steam to escape. Cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of foil to prevent burning the crust.

Bake on center rack of the preheated oven until the pie is browned and the filling is bubbling and thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool and sprinkle top with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
Apr 29 Apricot Pie ready to bake  Apr 29 Apricot  pie 2

Won’t you feel virtuous not eating an entire pie??