Huckleberry Bread

I love doing themed meals, dinners and parties.  I always have.  I think it is fun to just have a theme and to run with it, seeing where it will take me down the path of creativity.  That is why I developed my dinner and a puzzle theme.  As you know, the last puzzle we did was an elk puzzle, so dinner was elk sausage and pasta with vegetables.  Walking On the Wild Side  I also love breads; breads of all kinds.  Breads can either be a great accompaniment to any dish, or they can also be a meal in and of themselves as well.  When I made my elk pasta dish, I also made some huckleberry bread that allowed me to use the rest of our wild huckleberries we gathered from our backyard.

Granted the huckleberry bread is a sweeter quick bread that I normally would serve more with salads or as a breakfast bread, but it actually went pretty well with the elk pasta too.  At least I think so anyway.  I am always thinking outside the box and am always looking at things in different, often unexpected angles.  Never be afraid to try something new.  That’s what makes life fun and interesting.  🙂

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Huckleberry Bread

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Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C

Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray

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2-3 cups huckleberries

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

 

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and huckleberries together and set aside.

Then whisk together the eggs, milk, cooking oil and sugar.  Once everything is thoroughly mixed, add it to the flour mixture and gently fold everything together.  You do not want to crush the huckleberries.  Once everything is combined, pour it into the prepared loaf pan and make sure it is evenly spread out.

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Bake for 1 hour, or until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean, and the bread is nice and golden brown.  If the bread is browning too much before it is completely cooked, top it with some aluminum foil and continue to bake until it is done.

Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan and slicing.  If you like, slather it with creamy, soft butter, and it will just melt in your mouth.  This bread is so moist and flavorful.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

YouTube Video #3 – Making a Vegetable Galette

Video #3, Making a Vegetable Galette has been filled with many technical difficulties.  The filming and editing was easy-peasy, but downloading has been quite the challenge, and has literally been an all day event.   Vegetable Galette  The only reason I can think of is because it is longer.  This is my most complicated and longest video yet.   But, at long last, here it is.  I made this one for our friend Bryan, who calls this a “vegetable pie”.  He asks for this every time he comes over.  When I do not make them as the vegetable “pie”, and just serve them as the vegetable side dish, he calls them “vegetables a la Jeanne”.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as Bryan does.  This is a fun one.   Please, please, if you like it, and I really hope you do, feel free to share it and to let everyone know they can find it on YouTube as well.

If there is ever any specific recipe you would like to see me demonstrate, please do not hesitate to let me know, and I will get it done for you. I am still a work in progress, but I we are making great headway.

Stay safe and stay well everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

Walking On the Wild Side

Here is the latest installment of my puzzle and a dinner series.  This one is a bit of a deviation from the others, since it was not of a location, but was something completely different instead.  Our latest puzzle was an elk puzzle, hence my quest for elk meat from Wally’s Quality Meats.  Wally’s Quality Meats  I had to wait a couple of weeks after finishing this one because Wally’s was closed for a couple of weeks right after we had finished our puzzle.

Elks

I purchased both elk sausage and elk filets.  I used some of the elk sausage this time.  I made a simple creamy pasta with vegetables and the elk sausage.  Sticking with the wild theme, I also made some huckleberry bread using the rest of the huckleberries we collected from our bush.  I’ll Be Your Huckleberry  Since elk was on the menu, and wild game tends to go better with heavier, bolder wines, I went with an Argentine malbec.  It was the perfect choice.

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Pasta with Elk and Vegetable Cream Sauce

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Cooked fettuccine

1 lb elk sausage, cubed

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thin

1/4 red onion, sliced thin

1 1/2 TBSP garlic

1 jalapeno, diced fine

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

2 cups chicken broth or 1 can

1 cup heavy whipping cream

salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

olive oil for cooking

 

This is a heavy sauce, with rich flavors, so you need a heavier pasta that can withstand these heavier, richer flavors.  Fettuccine is perfect.

Cube the elk sausage and saute for about 2-3 minutes in the olive oil.

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Add the vegetables and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are mostly tender, but still have a little crispness to them.

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Add the chicken broth and bring everything a boil.  Then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the whipping cream.  Mix everything together thoroughly and readjust the seasonings as needed.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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If you like your sauce a little thicker, incorporate some flour into the sauce and let it cook down for about 5 minutes.  I added about 1-2 TBSP of flour.  Serve it over fettuccine, and dinner is served.  Even while dining in the burbs, you can still walk on the wildside, even if only for just a bit.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Curried Rice and Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney Vinaigrette

It was another salad day.  We had some leftover roasted chicken from Costco, and this was just a perfect way to use some of it.  I still have enough chicken left for yet another meal too.  We get so many meals from the Costco chickens.  They are simply the best.  🙂 This time I decided to to use my chicken for another salad.   I made an Asian salad with a mango chutney vinaigrette.  It was bold, exotic and very cool and refreshing all at once.  It really hit the spot on a hot summer’s day.  I served it with some potstickers and a crisp, cool, citrusy Spanish Chardonnay to make for a perfect summer meal.

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Curried Rice Salad with Chicken and a Mango Chutney Vinaigrette

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2 cups cooked rice

1/4 red onion sliced thin

1/4 red bell pepper and 1/4 green bell pepper, sliced thin

1 cup peas, thawed if frozen

1 apple, peeled and cored and diced

1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin

2 cups shredded chicken, cooked

either spinach or lettuce of your choice – optional

 

Mango Chutney Vinaigrette

3/4 cup mango chutney

1 TBSP curry

1 TBSP garlic

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tsp dried mint or 1 TBSP fresh mint, chopped fine

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste – optional

 

 

Mix all the ingredients for the chutney vinaigrette together and set aside.  Then start assembling the salad.  It is a combination of a salade compose and a tossed salad.  The Chef’s Salad  Toss all the salad ingredients together with the exception of the lettuce or spinach and the chicken.  Then add the dressing and combine thoroughly.  Only add as much dressing as you need.  You do not want it to be swimming in dressing, but you want just enough to coat everything and to give it a lot of flavor.

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Start with a layer of greens.  Then add the tossed ingredients.  Finish with the shredded chicken and add more dressing on top of the chicken.  I added some potstickers on the side as well to make the meal complete.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Wally’s Quality Meats

It is getting harder and harder to find independent butchers these days because most of us get our meats from our local grocery stores.  But when you do find an independent, locally owned and operated butcher, they are a real treat.  I found such a treasure called Wally’s Quality Meats purely by happenstance.  “Wally’s Quality Meats has been delivering quality service and products to Westminster, CO since 1997.  Wally’s is well known for its reputation for following through when only the finest will do. Whether it’s a holiday, special occasion, a great day to grill, or you simply want to treat yourself to the best,  Wally’s offers a wide selection of the highest quality meats available.  From our USDA choice and prime beef, aged for tenderness and flavor, to our pork, lamb, veal, elk, buffalo, venison, game birds, and Red Bird all natural chicken, to our large assortment of homemade and locally produced sausages. Wally’s also offers a variety of deli meats and cheeses.”  And, it is literally just down the street from where I live.  Bonus!

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Larry is known as the “Coupon King”, a title he proudly acknowledges.  He was clipping coupons and came across one for Wally’s Quality Meats.   I wanted to purchase some elk meat (more to come on this in the near future), and that is not something you can usually find at your local grocery store, at least not mine.  So coupon in hand, I went to Wally’s.  I was thoroughly impressed.  The minute I first walked in the door, the aroma of freshly made beef jerky permeated through the store.  It was just calling to me, and I had to have a sample.  It was some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever tasted.  It was so fresh and full of flavor and very tender.  The store was spotlessly clean and well stocked with a wide variety of fresh and frozen meats, seasonings and other goodies.

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I love elk, as well as a lot of other game meats, but I do not cook with them all that often.  I asked Dan, the owner, if he could recommend any particular rubs or spices that would really enhance the flavor of the elk, and he pulled out his favorite.  You can tell he really likes this one by the “smile in his eyes”.  So, of course, because this rub came so highly recommended, I bought this too.

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I bought way more than I had intended to when I went to Wally’s, but somehow, I get the impression they are used to this.  It’s hard not to want to purchase everything in the store when you see all the great quality of meats there.  This is what I came home with.  You will see them in some great recipes in the very near future.

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Wally’s Quality Meats and Delicatessen is located at 11187 N. Sheridan Blvd., Suite #8, Westminster, CO 80020.  You can reach them either by phone at (303) 439-8024 or online at http://www.wallysqualitymeats.com.  They are open Tues-Fri from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 9:00 Am – 5:30 PM.

Stay safe and stay well everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

Nature Walks – The Things In People’s Yards

We had a quiet walk around our lakes this time.  There were some of our furried, feathered and reptilian neighbors and friends lolligagging about, but not many.  Everything was pretty quiet and calm.  So I captured a variety of things I saw in people’s yards instead.

We saw we everything from rock sculptures to fancy wind movers to a moose in a tree.

This yard had both hanging gardens and a sculpture of rocks.

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Then there were the wind movers.

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There were also pelicans and turtles.

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And a moose in a tree.

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With all this craziness going on in the world today, sometimes we all need to just step back a bit, and have a little fun.  SMILE!

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

I’ll Be Your Huckleberry

We have lived in our house for over 13 years, and we are still finding nice little surprises all around.  Last year, we discovered we had a huckleberry bush.  It produced a few small berries, but not that many.  Not really enough to do anything with.  This year, we had quite a few.  Larry picked a whole bunch of our wild huckleberries the other day and today, I turned these mini berries into some mini muffins.

Huckleberries are small berries that resemble tiny blueberries, but they are not as sweet as blueberries are.  They are more bitter.  These tiny little berries are abundant all over North America and are a variation of the English hurtleberry or whortleberry.  The berries are often red, blue or black.  The name ‘huckleberry” applies to a wide variety of plants that bare these tiny fruit that are part of the Gaylussacia species.

Huckleberries were traditionally collected by Native American tribes and were used in a wide variety of Native foods as well as in traditional medicines to treat pain, heart ailments, and infections.  Today, huckleberries are used for many types of foods including candy, pie, ice cream, muffins, pancakes, salads and dressings, tea, jams, syrup, and so much more.  Not only are huckleberries eaten and enjoyed by humans, but they are also loved by the local wildlife such as bears, birds, deer and coyotes as well.  And just think, we have them growing wild in our backyard.

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Lemon-Huckleberry Mini Muffins

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Preheat the oven to 400* F or 200* C

Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray

 

2 1/2 cups flour

1 TBSP baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon rind

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 stick or 1/2 cup of butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup huckleberries or blueberries

 

Mix all the dry ingredients, including the berries, together and set aside.

Whisk the egg, milk, butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice together.

Then gently fold in the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  You do not want to crush the huckleberries.  They are fairly delicate.

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When everything is thoroughly mixed together, spoon the mixture into the muffin pans.  You can use either mini muffin pans, like I did, or regular muffin pans.  For the mini muffins, I spooned about a heaping tsp of batter into each cup.

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Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly golden.

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This little mini muffins are going to be light and airy, like their cousins, the scone.  They just pop right into your mouth like popcorn.  Do you think you can stop at just one?  Go ahead.  I dare you.  🙂

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

Southwestern Slow-Cooked Short Ribs

The other day when our friends Suzanne and Bill came over, they gave us a big bag of roasted chilies.  We love roasted chilies and use them quite often.  So I created a delicious way to use and to highlight those fabulous, flavorful chilies.  I used the slow cooker and turned them into Southwestern slow-cooked short ribs.  When making small batches, our small rectangular slow cooker is the one we pull out.  I use this one much more than I use our big slow cooker.

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Southwestern Slow-Cooked Short Ribs

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2 lbs short ribs

3 TBSP flour, mixed with salt & pepper to taste

1/2 red onion, diced, medium

2 TBSP garlic

1 can or 2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 tomatoes, diced medium

1- 1/2 cups, roasted chilies, peeled and seeded, medium dice

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp marjoram

2 tsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

 

Pat the short ribs dry then coat them with a thin coat of the flour mixture.  Pan-fry in canola oil, or other vegetable oil, for about 4-5 minutes per side to brown.

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As the ribs are browning, cut the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

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Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray.  Once the ribs are browned, place them into the slow cooker and add the cut vegetables on top of the ribs.

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Mix the chicken broth with the remaining flour mixture, the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs and combine well.  Then pour on top of the vegetables and ribs.  Cover and cook at a medium-high temperature for about 6 hours.

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When done, the rib meat will be so tender, it will literally just fall right off the bone.  I served it over rice with some corn on the cob on the side.  !Desfruitas!

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I still have a lot of chilies left over, so there will definitely be more chili dishes coming your way soon.  Thank you Suzanne and Bill.  YUM!

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

Nature Walks – Fall Colors in July?

I know 2020 has been one hell of a wild ride so far, but now even Mother Nature has decided to act up a bit too.  According to the calendar, it is the end of July.   For all the countries in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it is summer time, and for a lot of places, like here in Colorado, summer time meats HOT, HOT, HOT!  We have been averaging in the high 90’s F or low 40’s C all summer.  But I am actually starting to see some of our trees and bushes transitioning into their fall colors already.  The first time I saw it, I thought it was a fluke, but then I started to see it more and more.  What’s is going on here?  I love Fall, it’s my favorite season, but we’re not done with summer yet.

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IMG_3602There is no doubt about it.  2020 will go down in history as one of the strangest years ever, at least in modern history.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Wrapping Up the Shrimp

I gave you a little teaser yesterday when I mentioned we were having friends over for dinner, and that the theme for the evening was Mediterranean.  Mediterranean Spinach and Orzo Salad  It was a simple meal that was simply delicious.  Originally I was going to make something else, but Bill kept teasing how he wanted something with bacon.  So bacon it was.  Bacon wrapped shrimp that is.

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The bacon wrapped shrimp was definitely the focal point of the meal.  The surrounding cast were the Mediterranean spinach and orzo salad, along with some pesto focaccia bread (I did not make the focaccia this time, though I easily could have.  Costco had to good of a deal to pass up), and a chocolate cherry coffee cake for dessert.  I could have sworn I had already given you the recipe for this cherry chocolate coffee cake, but I can’t seem to find it.  I guess that means I will just have to make it again so you can have the recipe too.  🙂

I had some leftover tomato-basil vinaigrette that was just perfect as a marinade for my shrimp.  The Chef’s Salad  As I was par cooking my bacon, I marinaded the shrimp in the tomato-basil vinaigrette for about 30 minutes.  If you marinate shrimp or other more delicate seafood in something with an acidic base for to much longer than 30 minutes, it will “cook” the fish, which will make it tough and chewy when you actually do cook the fish.

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Par cook the bacon before wrapping it around the shrimp.  You do not want to over cook it.  You want it where it is still pliable with some fat, and not crispy at all.  If the bacon is crispy, you will not be able to wrap it around the shrimp.  So it still has to be pretty soft.   The reason for par cooking the bacon is because the shrimp will not take that long to cook, and the bacon takes longer.  You would either have under cooked bacon when the shrimp is done, or burned, over cooked shrimp when the bacon is done.  Neither of those is a good option. Cook the bacon on a griddle or in the oven so it does not curl up.  You want it to be as straight as possible, again, making it easier to work with when wrapping it around the shrimp.

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Once the bacon is semi-cooked, let it cool for a bit and cut it in half.  One of the half pieces is perfect for one piece of shrimp.  Start carefully wrapping it around the shrimp, and then skewer them up.  Grill the bacon wrapped shrimp for about 3-4 minutes per side or until both the shrimp and the bacon are completely cooked.

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Once the shrimp and bacon are cooked, slide them off the skewers and enjoy.  If there is a little extra sauce left over, heat it up and top your shrimp with it to add a little extra flavor.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.