Annual Recipe Auditions

Every March I’m on the lookout for recipes to make “the best birthday meal ever” (hoping there’ll be many more birthdays and meals to come.) Generally, I search for dinner first. Okay, desserts, too. ;)

Surprisingly, this year’s first winner was breakfast.

Chef Mimi recently shared a recipe for Monte Cristo Crepes and my “flavor memory” was immediately transported back to the Monte Cristo’s of my youth — thick French-Toast-style ham and cheese sandwiches with jam, sprinkled with powdered sugar. (The Minnesota version came with warm maple syrup, too.) I loved Mimi’s crepe rendition, but obviously didn’t feel very ambitious come birthday morning. I also forgot the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Oh well! Just another excuse to make them again with the aforementioned. Her Monte Cristo crepes are still on my must-make list, too.

Then my thoughts turned to dinner. Frankly, I was too full after breakfast to even think about lunch! But first, I had to make dessert. Many recipes were up for consideration — some from as far away as Australia — but I decided it didn’t necessarily have to be “cake.” Incredibly, another one of Chef Mimi’s recipes showed up on my table later.

Chocolate Mousse. (Click on the bold links for her wonderful recipes.)

What swayed me most besides her life-long experience eating chocolate mousse made by her French mother (need I say more?) was a statement she made in her post: “I mean, if you’re going to eat chocolate, eat chocolate!” Yes, ma’am. That night it was just The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me for dinner so I halved the recipe to make two generous servings. (Her original recipe serves eight, ahem…) Judging by the way Russ polished off his “serving” it was a total success! I savored the rest o’ mine the next day and it was just as wonderful.

Dinner turned out to be a simple affair — broiled steaks with baked potatoes (preceded by salads), accompanied by a great glass of Cabernet. What a delightful day from beginning to end, especially THE END. But wait… there’s more!

Many thanks for your kind birthday wishes on FB. Greatly appreciated and very uplifting! More “audition results” coming soon too, bearing in mind…

I can only cook (and eat) so many new recipes a day “at my age.” :)

Enjoying friends and flavor at the lake,

~ Kim

Orange You Glad It’s Almost 2021?

(Re-edited to include a recipe…)

Orange isn’t a holiday hue, but it’s my favorite color. (Not that you could tell from my wardrobe or our house — there isn’t a speck of it to be seen.) No offense to red and green, but I love orange’s vibrant cheerfulness!

Above and below are a few favorite holiday foods a L’Orange

First up are/were these sweet potatoes that graced our Thanksgiving table. They made a repeat performance on Christmas Day, too. Easy, peasy — and orange.

Maple & Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ rounds

1/3 – 1/2 cup pecan halves and/or pieces (the more, the merrier!)

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a baking dish and layer with sweet potato slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork easily pierces sweet potato slices. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle pecans over the top, drizzle with maple syrup, and return to oven uncovered. Bake 15 minutes more. Enjoy!

Then, these beautiful citrus fruits from Texas arrived — a gift from a beloved Aunt in Minnesota. (Thank you!) Originally there were more oranges, but I juiced and zested a few to make her Apricot Nut Bread pictured at the top, plus a batch of my favorite Southern pecans below. Sorry, no photo… but, here’s the recipe:

Orange-Glazed Pecans (courtesy of former pecan grower and fab cook, Linda Lamb)

1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups pecan pieces or halves

Combine first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add pecans. Stir until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir until pecans separate and glaze. Pour onto waxed paper to cool. (Ditto on easy peasy!)

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As for the Apricot Nut Bread, see below. The Man Of Few Words gave it a rave review :

“Now THAT’s some good bread!”

Sometimes he actually speaks. :)

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Apricot Nutbread

(recipe adapted from “The Snyder Family Cookbook” submitted by Mariah Snyder)

1 c. dried apricots, cut fine

1/4 c. hot water (soak apricots for 30 minutes)

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 c. sugar, more or less (I punted)

2 eggs

1/2 c. orange juice

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8″ x 5″ loaf pan and set aside.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add orange juice alternately with dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. (I coated them with some of the dry ingredients beforehand so they wouldn’t “sink”.) Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

NOTE: I made a half-batch in a small loaf pan. (Check for doneness around 40-45 minutes.) If you wish, brush 1 tsp. sugar mixed with orange juice over top of the loaf before baking. (I didn’t — TMOFW isn’t much for “sweets” — but he was thrilled with the way this one turned out.) Additionally, glaze or drizzle it with a mixture of OJ & confectioners’ sugar.

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Last but not least is a book I ordered from Marc Ensign, whose skill with words (and the bass guitar) I’ve admired for a long time. Please don’t judge his book by its cover! It may sound rather bawdy, but “Dick” refers to Marc’s neighbor who inspired him and many others (including me) to brighten the world with kindness, humility, forgiveness, and much more.

Plus, it’s my favorite color!

In just over 100 pages, Marc’s succint writing, storytelling, and humor touched my heart. Everybody needs to read this in 2021! You can order it by clicking here. But with shipping delays, sell-out stock, and hardcover copies hard to come by, you may have to wait awhile for delivery. (Be patient!) It’s well worth waiting for — and reading. “Be A Dick” is a treasure — even if it sounds “naughty.”

I don’t often recemmend things on my blog, but the subtitle on Marc’s book says it all: “How One Person Can Change The World In The Most Unexpected Way.” As I said, don’t judge this book by its cover! I received a number of “questioning” comments after my original post, but it was fun to clarify why I did. :) Also, please check out the recipe update above and have a Happier New Year and a happier outlook on life. We all need that in 2021.

Enjoying orange at The Lake,

~ Kim

Pleasant Diversions

These days I’m hard-pressed for topics to write about, unless you want to hear about my housecleaning efforts. Naturally, I turned to food as a creative outlet and diversion. (I’d rather cook than clean closets.)

Pictured above is Salmon Salad on Fry Bread. There was half of a seared salmon filet in the fridge awaiting reheating or reincarnation and I chose the latter. After flaking it, I added capers, finely diced red onions, lemon zest, and enough mayonnaise to hold it together, seasoned with several grinds of black pepper. But, what to serve it on?

A bed of assorted greens came to mind, but I wanted something more substantial. (Crackers or toast would have fit the bill too, but I was fresh out.) Then I thought about “Taco Tuesdays” — or in our neck o’ the woods — Indian Tacos on fry bread. Hot and puffy, fry bread is easy to make and even easier to eat. Why not pair it with Salmon Salad? (FYI, I used cup-for-cup gluten free flour; not quite as puffy as all-purpose flour, but satisfying nonetheless.) Garnish at will — or playfully.

Next up on my diversion list were Beef Short Ribs for supper. Normally I roast them to render the fat, then shred the meat to mix with BBQ sauce, but this recipe caught my eye. Layer upon layer of aromas permeated the house as I seared, sauteed, and simmered — almost to the point of being hedonistic. Served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw on the side, they were everything I hoped for flavor-wise. Many thanks to Holly of Spend With Pennies for this superb dish.

Last but not least, we’ve been graced with some spectacular sunsets lately — particularly this one earlier in November. Between the visual and visceral inspirations, I might even clean another closet.

Enjoying pleasant diversions at The Lake,

~ Kim

Comfort Food IV

History repeats itself, or so it’s said.

On this particular Autumn day I was thinking Comfort Food. Apparently, my mind was on food more than photography. The plated version turned out to be a rather monochromatic affair — further aided and abetted by Oklahoma’s sunshine — but The Man Of Few Words was happy with his supper: breaded pork cutlets, mashed potatoes with Kerry Gold butter, deviled eggs, corn, and coleslaw. He’s also color blind. ;)

My ulterior motive was to eat while it was still hot (foodies everywhere know from whence I speak ) so I snapped a quick photo. While this one may not be worthy of the history books, it sure tasted good.

In researching my vast archives (I’m not exaggerating…), one dish I rediscovered was Neapolitan Meatballs with Ragu. The first time I made it was before the pandemonium… er… pandemic began, in a post entitled An Ode To 2020 and Beyond. Ironically (or prophetically?) I concluded by saying: Enjoying “2020” vision at the lake. I guess we all know how that — and the rest of 2020 — turned out.

Recently I recreated Round Two of that sublime dish over Soft Polenta (instead of pasta) and smiled recalling my previous post’s admonition to “Live life well.” That advice still stands. It also helps to be adaptable when history repeats itself.

Getting back to the pork cutlets, apologies for lack of an “official” recipe… basically I patted the cutlets dry, seasoned them with salt & pepper (S & P), dredged ’em in a mixture of flour, Lawry’s seasoning salt, dry mustard, onion powder, and S & P, dipped ’em in an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water), dunked ’em in bread crumbs seasoned with paprika, and fried ’em for 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown.

For more fun and frolics, feel free to click on the bold “greenish” links within this post. You never know when an actual recipe might show up.

As they say, the rest is history.

Enjoying ongoing Comfort Food,

~ Kim

Pizza Playgrounds

Pizza is a veritable playground.

Just when I think I can’t come up with another flavor combo, voila!

Sometimes I outdo myself…

Here ’tis before it became a “hot mess” (to quote a Southern phrase) — artichoke hearts, olives, toasted pine nuts, and mini-pepperoni slices. Basically, I was cleaning out my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and this is what went into the oven.

Hmmm. What sounds good together?

Better yet, what tastes good together?!

With a lil’ goat cheese for added interest atop a gluten-free crust, my taste buds were intrigued for two days. (Anyone else like leftover pizza for breakfast?) The pine nuts took it over the top… crunchy pizza… YUM.

No matter what life presents, there’s a flavor combo awaiting YOUR ingenuity.

Be creative!

Oh my, YES…

Enjoying pizza playgrounds,

~ Kim