Harvest Endive Salad

Fall seems to be a time to start thinking about using apples and walnuts more than during the spring and summer. It may be because the the traditional harvest has come in and these are fresher ingredients than any other time of the year.

Down in the southern United States, where this blog originates, the weather seems to swing between hot and cold for most of the fall and part of the winter, leaving us wanting warm and savory dishes part of the time, and salads the rest of the time!

Below is a salad recipe that lends itself to both savory and sweet. It’s great for a light lunch, a brunch addition, or an accompaniment to grilling. It’s also a swift and simple side to take to a family gathering or holiday party.

HARVEST ENDIVE SALAD
Ingredients:
2 heads endive (or substitute Romaine)
1 medium apple
3 oz Swiss cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1 tbsp fresh chive, chopped for garnish

Directions:
Wash, dry, and trim endive. Cut each leaf into quarters lengthwise. Crosscut into roughly 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large salad bowl.

Wash apple, core and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Add to salad bowl.

Cut cheese into approximately 1/4 inch cubes. Add to salad bowl.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

If serving immediately, toss with dressing and serve. Sprinkle with chives for added color.

If taking to a gathering, wait until you are about to serve before adding dressing and tossing salad.

 

Dressing:
1/4 rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt

Directions:
In a lidded glass jar, combine vinegar, oils, salt and sugar. Cover and shake vigourously to combine ingredients.

 

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

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Holiday Tips and Shortcuts

Time runs short when prepping for the holidays at one point or another for all of us. I’ve gathered up some tips and shortcuts to help you through the holiday season that have proven their worth in my kitchen.

Peppermint is Your Friend
Hard peppermint candy is a wonderful all-purpose garnish for the winter season. Peppermint sticks used as stir sticks for hot cocoa add a minty splash to each cup. Crushed candies can be used to accentuate cookies (see the cookies items below), cakes, and even sprinkled around the edge of plates holding sweet dishes or dusted over slices of chocolate pie. Peppermint isn’t the only mint around. Spearmint is also more available during this time of year, as are many other flavors of candy canes. Get creative with your combinations and surprise guests with a little something extra.

Spiral Ham Saves Time
A spiral cut ham, while a little more pricey, will also save a lot of time when it comes to carving. Guests may choose full or half slices, or even layering the meat into a roll for a quick snack later in the evening. Figure on 1/2 pound of ham per person. The saltiness of ham pairs well with crisp flavors such as apple, pineapple, and cranberry. A chutney of these fruits makes a lovely glaze for baking, and a colorful and tasty spread for snacking on those ham rolls.

Traditional Flavors – From Another Country
Take a step away from the usual at the dinner or gathering table by basing your meal plan in the flavors of someplace far away. Europe is full of possibilities, as are some places closer to home.
Surprise your family with a European flare. The flavors of goose, gingerbread, a cherry stollen, marzipan cookies, and mulled wine will are examples of foods that will change a holiday meal into something memorable.
Going with a Spanish flavors, using saffron, tarragon, fennel and cinnamon to flavor your traditional dishes. The change in spices will fill your home with elegant scents, and offer your family something they won’t be expecting.
A taste of Mexico is another popular change, usually done Tex-Max style. Instead of turkey and dressing, go with tamales and chili, refried beans, hot queso and queso flameado with tortillas and chips.
Let’s not forget Jamaica! Jerked pork, fruit salsas of mango and pineapple, sweet breads, and if you really want to go all out, try roasted breadfruit. The textures and flavors are amazing.

Cookie Exchange
If you find yourself in a time crunch for a cookie exchange, Bake simple cookies such as snicker-doodles or sugar cookies and dip each cookie half-way in chocolate. Add holiday sprinkles or crushed peppermint to add even more tasty appeal. Macaron style filled cookies are also quick with pre-made frostings that come in dozens of flavors. Store bought cookies can also be treated this way, though make them something exciting and special by choosing foreign imports (Mexico and England are popular). Gingersnaps and vanilla wafers make good sandwich cookies. Roll the edges of the filling with crushed hard candies to add color and a personal touch.

Holiday Cocktails
Bring the flavors of the holidays into your party season or family gathering with adult beverages based in apple cider. Mix dark rum, cider, and cinnamon in a pitcher to serve hot or cold. Cider is also a good base for brandy and mulling spices.

Use a crock pot to keep your warm drinks warm with a low setting. Serve as needed all night long.

Cookie Tins
Cookies make great holiday gifts. colorful containers, both plastic and metal are wildly available these days, making cookie gift giving simple and attractive for the holidays. Whether you buy specialty cookies, or bake your own, choose four or five of each type of cookie, place them in cupcake papers to separate them, and arrange them attractively into your containers. Each container should hold several different types of cookies. Make several containers at one time so as to not waste cookies! Use mini tins to make wonderful party favors for guests to enjoy after the event is over.

Brownie in a Jar
Another fun gift for individuals who like to bake is a recipe in a jar. Choose a pretty jar with a good lid. Mason jars are good for this gift, though other styles may be used. Layer the dry ingredients of your favorite brownie recipe into the jar. Recipes for cookies, pancakes, and other baked goods may also be used – the more colorful and different the layers, the better. Write out the instructions and wet ingredients on the back of a festive gift tag and tie it to the jar with a bright ribbon. Add a bow on top for that extra touch.

 

I hope you have as much fun – and time savings! – as I have had with these suggestions over the years.

— Ann Cathey

 

Maple Bacon Mashed Potatoes

Fall is the time of year when maple-bacon flavors start turning up in the odd niches where pumpkin spice has already been and gone. In this case, I’ve run across a recipe that takes an old favorite and gives it a sweet-n-savoury twist.

MAPLE BACON MASHED POTATOES
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
2-1/2 lbs gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp maple syrup
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve some for topping
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped chives for garnish

Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes and cook until a fork will easily slip into the center of a chunk of potato. This should be about 15-20 minutes.

Heat the milk, cream and butter in small saucepan over a low heat until the butter melts. Stir in the maple syrup. This may be done while the potatoes are cooking.

Drain your potatoes and return them to the pot. Using a potato masher or electric hand mixer, slowly stir in the milk mixture until potatoes are smooth and creamy.

Fold in chopped bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you are not serving int he mixing bowl, turn the mashed potatoes out into a serving dish. Top with remaining chopped bacon and sprinkle with chives.

Serve hot. Refridgerate any leftovers.

 

NOTE: Potatoes, like pasta, prefer to go into boiling water rather than to be started cold. Starting your potatoes in cold water will allow the outer layers to cook more rapidly than the interior, allowing the out layers to actually cook off the chunks. While this is a great method for reducing potatoes for potato soup, it’s not so great for mashed potatoes.

 

I can smell this just typing about it. It sounds like a wonderful take on sweet and savoury, just in time for your holiday gatherings.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

 

Grain Free Pumpkin Biscuits

With the pumpkin spice madness coming down upon us, I thought something pumpkin might be appropriate right about now. I keep seeing recipes online for pumpkin rolls, biscuits, and muffins that are Suited to a Paleo diet. They also seem to be suited to a well controlled diabetic diet, so I decided to check them out.

My results were a little different than I expected, but the resulting ‘biscuits’ were quite tasty and great with coffee. They did not rise as I hoped and were very moist – almost like little pumpkin custards rather than what i would consider a biscuit or a roll.

Grain Free Pumpkin Biscuits
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 20 min

Ingredients:
-Dry
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup arrowroot powder (or tapioca powder)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt, more to taste
-Wet
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (OR unsweetened applesauce)**
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, cold or room temperature (not melted)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with baking liner or parchment paper.

In one bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and whisk together to combine

Roll dough into balls and place on parchment paper. Or in my case drop 1/4 cup of mixture into cupcake pan segments. (Mine came out rather wet.)

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and flaky. Serve warm with butter.

DSC_0943

My dough was more of a batter.

 

DSC_0946

Finished ‘biscuits’.

Make them more of a sweet roll by adding a touch of cinnamon and raw honey. Or make more of a savory by adding white pepper, garlic, sage, or your favorite savory spices.

Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, in case you were wondering.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

 

Slow Cooker Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

I prefer to use slow cooker liners. Whenever I buy a box of them, there is invariably a little handout inside that includes a few recipes. They are great for folks starting out with slow cookers!

Reynolds produces liner bags for slow cookers. They, like Crock-Pot, offer recipes from their test kitchens. I rounded up a few more and will share them here, in a couple of fall posts. Why fall? Slow cookers are wonderful for making warm, filling meals that are especially welcome on cooler or cold nights.

Please keep in mind that some of my Cajun friends might take exception to this recipe, and that it’s from Reynolds’ kitchens, not mine.

CHICKEN & SAUSAGE JAMBALAYA
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours on Low or 3 hours on High
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken thighs, boned, skinned, cut into bite sized pieces
8 ounces smoked turkey or chicken sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
Salt, to taste
1 can (14.5 oz) petite-diced tomatoes with onion, celery and green pepper
2 medium red, green or yellow bell peppers, seeded, cored and cut into 2 inch strips
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium yellow squash, cut into bite size pieces
12 oz pre-cooked deveined and peeled shrimp
hot cooked rice
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Directions:
Set up your slow cooker by placing the liner bag inside, fitting it snugly to the bottom and sides.

Place chicken and sausage in the crock. Sprinkle with seasonings. Pour in diced tomatoes. Top with vegetables.

Cover and cook 7 to 8 hours on low OR 3 to 4 hours on high, until the chicken is done.

Carefully remove the lid to allow steam to escape.

Add cooked shrimp and stir gently.

Cook 10 more minutes on low.

Spoon jambalaya directly from cooker into bowls of cooked rice.

Sprinkle with chopped celery and serve

 

Note: Do not lift or transport liner with food inside.

Note: Allow crock to cool before removing the liner and tossing it.

 

–Ann Cathey

Slow Cooker Sausage Lasagna

I prefer to use slow cooker liners. Whenever I buy a box of them, there is invariably a little handout inside that includes a few recipes. They are great for folks starting out with slow cookers!

Reynolds produces liner bags for slow cookers. They, like Crock-Pot, offer recipes from their test kitchens. I rounded up a few more and will share them here, in a couple of fall posts. Why fall? Slow cookers are wonderful for making warm, filling meals that are especially welcome on cooler or cold nights.

SAUSAGE LASAGNA
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 hours on Low
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
1 lb uncooked ground Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 can (28 oz) crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
6 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken in half
1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
Set up your slow cooker by placing the liner bag inside, fitting it snugly to the bottom and sides.

Cook sausage and onions 8-10 monutes in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up meat as it cooks. Drain well.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.

Spoon 1/3 of the sausage mixture into the slow cooker, spreading evenly over the bottom.

Arrange half the noodles on top.

Combine 1 cup of the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses in a medium bowl. Spoon half of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.

Repeat to add another layer.

Top with remaining 1/3 sausage mixture. cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape.

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; sprinkle over top of the lasagne.

Cover and let stand for 30 minutes until the cheese melts and lasagna sets up slightly.

Serve directly from the slow-cooker.

Note: Do not lift or transport liner with food inside.

Note: Allow crock to cool before removing the liner and tossing it.

 

–Ann Cathey

Tortilla Chip Casserole

Many, many years ago (I believe I was in junior high at the time), my family stumbled upon a casserole recipe that we’ve used ever since. We call it Mexican chicken, even though we often make it with beef and it’s about as Mexican as Taco Bell. My brother, at some point, dubbed the beef version Tijuana Meatloaf.

We are not very P.C. in my family.

Anyway, whatever you call it, the casserole made for a cheap, easy, tasty, filling meal. It’s perfect for those nights when you don’t want to cook; if your meat is precooked, it’s just throw and go! But the best thing about this recipe? It has endless variations.

The original recipe calls for:

  • 1# diced, cooked chicken
  • ¾ of a bag of nacho cheese Doritos
  • 1 small can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 small can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • Shredded cheddar

mexchick

 

Originally, I think you were supposed to mix the chicken, tomatoes, and soup and layer it with the chips. We just crush the chips, mix up everything but the shredded cheese, and top with the cheese. Then you heat it up. You can throw it in the over, or you can microwave it (all you’re trying to do is heat everything through and melt the cheese). Easy peasy. Obviously, you can use a pound of cooked ground beef in place of the chicken.  You can trade out kinds of soup, of course, or types of cheese. You could even use diced tomatoes without the chilies, or those with Italian or other seasonings. Or substitute homemade or jarred salsa.

But here’s the thing. Almost anything is possible with this recipe.

  • My sister made it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, plain tortilla chips, and homemade salsa along with the mushroom soup.
  • Last night, I made it with chicken, 1 can of nacho cheese soup, one small can of cheap, off-brand enchilada sauce, and plain tortilla chips, topped with shredded cheddar. Cheddar cheese soup would have also been good. Or, if I’d used more chicken and chips, I could have added some sour cream to the mix. Yum!
  • I also decided that nacho cheese Doritos with leftover brisket, pulled pork, or chicken (shredded), BBQ sauce would be good. Maybe with a can or cheddar cheese soup and some sour cream.
  • If you’re worried about the carbs in the chips (but not the other horrendously bad-for-you ingredients), you could probably make this with pork skins or veggie chips.
  • Since we discovered this recipe, Campbell’s soup has released a great many kinds of “cream of” soups. The current line-up includes: chicken, mushroom, beefy mushroom, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli-cheddar, celery, chicken with herbs, mushroom with roasted garlic, onion, potato, shrimp, cheddar cheese, and nacho cheese. That’s a lot of possibilities! When you add in all the varieties of tortilla (and other) chips available, all the many kinds of cheeses, and various meats, the variations really are endless.
  • You can add other things. Garnish with lettuce and tomato. Throw in some olives, roasted red peppers, or sauteed veggies. Add herbs and spices.

Experiment, and enjoy!