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Check out these devilish little jack-o-lanterns that will bring a delicious scare to your Halloween diners!
Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Peppers
(Make some IF you dare!!)
Photo courtesy of Lauratok; recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com
Our Napa adventure didn’t just consist of partaking in glorious wines and visiting breath-taking vineyards, I also got my culinary fix as well. Much to my delight we stayed in St. Helena, also the home of the Culinary Institute of America – Greystone! Just walking around the majestic grounds, historic halls and observing the academia-mystique was a treat within itself. (Perhaps in my next life I just might enroll!)
For a little icing on the cake, if you will, just down the road in the quaint village is also one of my favorite little shops, Olivier. After years as an avid online customer (and in a specialty shop now and again) it was wonderful to be in the presence of all the deliciousness Olivier offers.
And if you’ve never had the opportunity to taste an aged balsamic vinegar, you’re missing out! Aging gives the vinegar an intense depth and richness, causing a thick syrupy goodness that is unparalleled. Olivier offers a 25-year-old balsamic that is just that. This dark, rich, decadent condiment of old is perfect drizzled on countless items including strawberries, watermelon, salads or grilled chicken. It truly takes foods to the next level!
Try some today, Olivier has a great offering, in a darling bottle, I might add! ($16.50 for 8.45 oz.) DEE-LISH!!
If the spectacular landscape and fabulous wines weren’t enough, throw in some culinary greatness just to top it off! (Here’s where the inspiration part comes in.) Dining at superb establishments such as Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Bouchon and Bistro Sabor (a great little eclectic Latin cafe which we just happened to stumble upon) was certainly one of the highlights of my Napa Valley experience.
Michael Chiarello is certainly synonymous with Napa along with his restaurant Bottega. He along with others in the area are known to serve up a phenomenal Spanish dish called Paella. Known to many as Spain’s national dish there are several variations of the recipe but because, dear sisters, we’re all busy and want good food fast, I’m giving you my version of this wonderfully tasty (yet easy) dish!
Note: Here’s a great wine pairing (because you deserve it!)…Darioush Viognier, or your favorite clean white wine will do too!
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbs olive oil
16 oz. can stewed tomatoes
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of saffron threads
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small pkg of frozen peas
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb fully cooked smoked sausage, kielbasa or chorizo (pick your fave!), cut into 1 inch slices.
S & P
Salt and pepper the chicken and brown in a large dutch oven with the preheated olive oil. Remove chicken to a plate and add the pepper and onion to the hot pan and saute until soft (about 10 min.). Add the garlic the last 2 minutes, so it doesn’t burn. Remove from pot and add to chicken that’s standing by.
In the same pot, add the tomatoes (along with its juices), chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Add the paprika and saffron along with the rice and stir. Add the chicken/veggie mixture and the sausage, cover tightly and simmer on low for 30-35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
Add the frozen peas and shrimp, pushing them towards the bottom of the pot and cook and additional 5-10 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked.
Dish it up and enjoy!
I just returned from one of my “bucket list” trips. I was incredibly fortunate to be invited on a food and wine trip to Napa, California and it was definitely a trip of a lifetime! Fabulous food, wine and friends…now come on, what can be better than that?
So, now that I’m back, inspired (and sober), I’m going to send some of my pictures, inspirations and maybe a story or two your way – those that I can share publicly anyway!
Stay tuned for some delicious, palate-pleasing treats from the beautiful Cali…
CHEERS TO YOU ALL!
I’m not sure if it’s official, but to me October is Apple month! Not only is it my favorite fruit, but it has to be the most versatile too. So thought I’d throw a few riffs out on America’s favorite. (Feel free to throw a few back now ya’ll!)
As promised, I have started whipping up some of my favorite autumn dishes and dang, my kitchen smells DIVINE right now!
First up is my Gram’s Apple Pie. I was lucky enough to spend so many years in the kitchen watching her lovingly make these tart, yet sweet, flaky pastries. My family still can’t get enough! Every time I ask what to bring to a family function, the resounding answer is always “Gram’s Apple Pie!”. I’m not sure if it’s really the pie itself or the sentimentality each scrumptious bite brings of our days with an extraordinary lady we called Gram.
Either way, I’ll keep the tradition going and also share this recipe as a morsel of “passing the love” to all of you out there, courtesy of “Sister” Gram.
Gram’s Apple Pie – Made easy by me.
(Makes 2 pies…if your family is like mine, you’re gonna need them!)
2 boxes of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, brought to room temp. (Sorry Gram, we’re all busy so I’m gonna cheat a little here for the sake of time!)
10-12 McIntosh apples (depends on size – enough so crusts are heaping full, 1/2 peck usually works well)
1 cup sugar +a little to sprinkle on top
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon + a little to sprinkle on top
2 tbs Minute tapioca
2 tbs butter
3 tbs milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, remove core and slice all apples, putting slices in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and dry tapioca, mix well.
Using 2 glass pie plates, place one crust in bottom of each. Fill each crust, heaping full, with the apple mixture. Sprinkle lightly with a bit more cinnamon over top. Cut up butter into small pieces and dot the top of each pie. Dip your finger in a small cup of water and moisten the edges of the filled pie crust slightly. Take remaining top crusts and cut a small design in the center of the crust to allow for the steam to escape. Lay each crust over top of the filled bottom crust. Pinch the edges together to seal and crimp as desired, removing any excess crust.
With a pastry brush, brush the entire top crust with milk, lightly coating. This will make a lovely brown baked top. Sprinkle with another light coating of sugar and place pies in the oven for about 1 hour. Checking on occasion to make sure crust edges aren’t getting too dark. (If so, cover edges with foil for remaining baking period.) Apples should be very soft and crusts should be beautifully brown. Cool on a baking rack and serve warm with vanilla icecream – YUM!
~Courtesy Thelma Meringa (Love you!)
Happy Fall Everyone!
Let the fresh, fall ingredient recipe-makin’ begin….
It’s a dark, rainy day here today so it looks like a moist, dense, delicious chocolate cake is in order to make my own sunshine. Of course being the chocoholic I’ve confessed to be, ANY day is a good day for chocolate – especially this cake! If you are looking for the chocolate cake to beat all cakes, well you’ve come to the right place my friends. Given to me by my friend Annemarie, she claimed it was truly “death by chocolate”…start writing my obit, cuz this is MY way to go!
Death By Chocolate Cake
1 dark chocolate cake mix
1 – 3 oz. package of dark chocolate instant pudding
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix and pudding with 1 cup of water. Add the oil and eggs and beat on medium speed until well blended. Fold in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate. Cool completely and frost.
1 stick of butter
4 squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 lb box of confectioners sugar
2-3 Tablespoons of milk
Melt butter and chocolate in a large glass measuring cup in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until completely melted. Pour into a mixing bowl and mix in vanilla and salt. Mix on low and add sugar slowly until all added. (Batter will be clumpy) Add 1 Tbls of milk at a time until frosting is smooth, creamy and of good spreading consistency.
Frost cake and prepare for CHOCOLATE AWESOMENESS baby!!
Although I thoroughly enjoy art and music, food is my thang. But put the three together and you get one FANTASTIC evening that shouldn’t be missed!
Trolley Tour 2011 is this Thursday folks and if you read my last post you know that the line up of restaurants supporting these amazing artists and galleries has grown to new heights. 13, count em, 13 restaurants and galleries will be dazzling you with some of the best treats for the eyes AND palate in the region!
Let me give you an exclusive “taste” of what you and I will be experiencing on Thursday at just a few of the trolley stops…and be sure to check out my friend Amber at The Ginger Kitchen she’ll give you a preview of some of the others you won’t want to miss: