Life in Caldwell

This is the last of my posts about Idaho. These pictures are from my last day there. Scott and Traci took us into Downtown Caldwell. They live in Caldwell too, but more towards the rural area. What a beautiful, charming place. I could easily live here.

There was everything from beautiful, artistic sculptures, paintings and bridges,

to a fun, musical playground for both kids and adults to enjoy,

to a little vineyard showcasing the types of grapes grown in the area.

Swiffer enjoyed his day downtown too.

There were also colorful displays of Caldwell’s history all over as well.

On the way back to Scott and Traci’s house, this is what we saw. We passed the dairy farm and even saw some goats too. This is definitely living the good life in small town Americana.

Bye-bye Idaho. I had such a fun time touring all around, seeing your sights and visiting with my great, long-time friends Scott, Traci and Karen. I will definitely be back for more.

This beautiful sculpture hangs in the Boise airport.

Time For Gumbo

Not to long ago, we started watching “America’s Test Kitchen“. They have some great ideas. I have not watched to many episodes yet, but so far, I have learned something new from each episode we’ve watched. My latest lesson from them was about making a dry roux and using it for gumbo. I love gumbo and just had to give this recipe a try. It was deliciously rich with flavor. I served it with red beans and rice, some rolls and a smooth velvety malbec on the side.

There are many types of gumbo, and I have made quite a few. I love gumbo. But this is the first time I made it with a dry roux. To make a dry roux, you roast the flour in the oven for an hour at 425* F or about 270* C. When you remove the flour from the oven, it is a rich cinnamon/nutmeg color. Don’t over cook it and burn it or it will taste like burnt coffee. When cooked properly, it will have a very nutty aroma too. I did not add anything to the flour at all; just time in the oven.

Once the flour was out of the oven to cool, I made everything else for the gumbo.

Gumbo

1 cup flour roasted in the oven to a dark cinnamon or nutmeg color

1 onion, diced fine

2-3 celery sticks, diced fine

1 bell pepper, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced

1 jalapeno, diced fine

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into large chunks

1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped fine

5-6 cups chicken broth

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1 TBSP paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste

olive oil for cooking

The onion, green bell pepper and celery are known as the “Holy Trinity” in Cajun or Creole cooking and are the basics for ALL Cajun or Creole recipes. I also added the jalapeno because we like things with a bit of a kick, so I call it the Holy Trinity plus one. Saute all of these along with the garlic and the bay leaves in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken, Andouille sausage, seasonings, and about 4 cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.

Combine the rest of the chicken broth with the browned flour, by slowing pouring it over the flour and whisking it in. Once the flour and broth are combined to make a thick slurry, add it to the rest of the gumbo mixture.

Once everything is added, add the fresh thyme, combine everything together thoroughly, cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

When the gumbo is ready serve it either over plain rice or red beans and rice and laissez le bontemps roulez!

Let the good times roll and enjoy them all. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Boise in Bloom

I had such a great time up in Boise with my friends Scott, Traci and Karen. Even though we were only there for a few short days, we did a whole bunch of things and saw so much. Everything was so beautiful, particularly since everything was in bloom and all the colors were coming to life.

These tulips were so big and bright and colorful. We took a lot of pictures of them. This is in Downtown Boise.

There were also a bunch of daffodils mixed in with all the tulips too.

The flowers were all in bloom and in full color. They were so vibrant.

The trees were also proudly displaying their full colors. These trees were everywhere and oh so beautiful.

No matter where you are or what you are doing, always take time to stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy all the little things life offers and make the time to share it with family, friends and loved ones.

Breadsticks with Peppercorns and Parmigiano

I LOVE breads of all kinds. I could easily make a meal of nothing but bread, and have many times too. Many years ago, when I lived in the San Francisco area, I used to buy a mini baguette everyday while walking from the bus stop to my office and I had it timed just perfectly where I would finish it just as I walked into the building. That was breakfast, and often times lunch for the day too. That was back in the days where EVERY penny was counted and I had to make things stretch as far as I could just to make ends meet. But I digress. Back to breads and back to the present.

I LOVE breads of all kinds. If something is breaded, it is almost always guaranteed that I am going to love it. For whatever reason, I don’t make breadsticks all that often though and I really don’t know why either. They are no more difficult to make than any other kind of bread, and they taste great too. I did, however, make some very tasty breadsticks the other day. I took them “wining” with us when we went to InVINtions. These particular breadsticks are loaded with flavor and have just enough kick to them to wake up your taste buds a bit. I made them with crushed peppercorns, a dash of cayenne pepper and Parmigiano cheese. They paired perfectly with wine, but then just about everything does in my book. 🙂

As with so many of the things I cook, this recipe only requires a few simple, basic ingredients that most of us have on our shelves at all times.

Parmigiano and Peppercorn Breadsticks

2 tsp dry active yeast

3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tsp salt

2 1/2 TBSP crushed black peppercorns

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 TBSP olive oil +more for cooking

1 cup grated or shredded Parmigiano cheese

1/2 cup semolina flour

Make your starter first by combining the yeast with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix them together and let stand for about 30 minutes. You want it to become thick and frothy.

Combine the rest of the regular flour, salt, cayenne pepper, crushed peppercorns, Parmigiano cheese, water and the 2 TBSP of olive oil and mix everything together thoroughly. Then add the starter and incorporate it into the mix.

Once everything is fully combined, on a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a 15×5 rectangular shape, brush with olive oil, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 1/4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450* F or about 230* C.

On a lightly floured surface, punch the dough down and sprinkle the semolina flour generously on both sides of the dough. Cut the dough into 5 equal portions, and then divide each of those portions into 5 more equal portions and roll into dough balls. You will have 25 dough balls.

Roll each dough ball out into a thin pencil shape, about 8-10 inches long.

Coat your baking sheets in olive oil then roll each dough stick with the olive oil by rolling them on the pan. Spread them out about an inch apart. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy. The key to good breadsticks is to make them nice and crispy. I kept them in the oven, with the oven off, and let them “cool” on their own in the oven to help crisp them up.

These are very good as is, or served with either pesto or marinara sauce on the side. I made a pesto this time and served them with that. Man cannot live on bread alone; sometimes you need a sauce to go with it. These breadsticks were a big hit with everyone and they all quickly disappeared too.

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

Chicken Stuffed with Krab and Spinach

I have been back home and have been cooking in my kitchen again. I had been eating a lot of beef and heavier foods lately, and I was craving chicken. But you know me, I am never going to have “just chicken”, and I love stuff in my stuff, so I created something different and dressed it up a little. I had a few containers of little bits of this and little bits of that I had to use up, including some krab (imitation crab) and spinach that needed to be used, so I mixed them together and added some shallots and garlic and stuffed my chicken with it. Then I made a creamy sauce to top it and served it over wild rice.

Look closely. You will see my kitchen thief in her corner, waiting for the perfect opportunity to steal what I have on the counter. She didn’t get anything this time, but she did a couple of days later. She is most definitely an opportunist. 🙂

It is amazing what you can do with just a few simple ingredients. All you have to do is add some creativity and imagination and just see what you come up with. 🙂

Chicken Stuffed with Crab and Spinach

2 lbs chicken breasts

2 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed

1 cup either crab or krab, diced medium

3 oz cheese – I used jalapeno jack

1 TBSP garlic

1 shallot, minced fine

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup flour

1/3 -1/2 cup vinaigrette

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tsp fresh herbs, chopped fine – I used fresh thyme and chives this time around

1 TBSP Peruvian peppers, optional

Mix the flour with the salt & pepper and thoroughly coat the chicken with it.

Mix the shallots, spinach, garlic, crab or krab and the salt & pepper.

Heat some olive oil in a hot skillet and add the chicken. Cook it for about 4 minutes per side or until it is browned on both sides. Once it has browned, remove the chicken from the heat and allow it to cool for a bit. Once it has cooled, slice a pocket in the middle.

Preheat the oven to 375* F or about 190* C.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

While the chicken is cooling, saute the krab and spinach mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are cooked and the spinach is wilted. When it is done, add the cheese into the chicken pockets, then fill them with the krab and spinach mixture. Fill them up well. Then place them in the prepared baking dish and drizzle some olive oil on top of the chicken breasts. Bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked and the juices are running clear.

To make the sauce, I used some leftover champagne vinaigrette I had, but you can use lemon juice, lime juice or wine too. I was just cleaning out my leftovers. Add it to the skillet and bring to a boil to deglaze the pan. Allow most of the liquid to evaporate then add the heavy whipping cream and adjust the seasonings as needed. Bring to a boil once again, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

I added some more lime juice because I wanted a little more zip. But this is optional. Then finish the sauce with about 2 TBSP of butter.

Once the chicken and sauce are done, serve it over rice and top the chicken with the sauce. I used wild rice, but white rice or brown rice are just fine too. I topped my chicken and sauce with the fresh herbs and the Peruvian peppers and voila! All I needed was some bread and a light white wine to go with it, and dinner was done.

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

Wining and Dining at Parma Ridge

Parma Ridge Winery was the last stop of our tour for this round of Idaho wines. Hitting the Caldwell Wine Trail Because it was the last winery we went to this time, and they are also known for their good, wholesome foods, we decided to have dinner there as well. And what an excellent choice this was too. The grounds were stunning, the wines were delicious and the food was scrumptious. What a great way to finish an already fantastic day. We relaxed outside in their garden and picnic area with yet another glass of liquid sunshine and a good variety of fun eats. The menu offered a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and other delicious delectables. After all, we worked up quite an appetite from our hard day’s work of wine tasting. We needed something a bit more substantive than just wine, and to enjoy good foods and good wine, with great friends, in a beautiful location … Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that, does it?! 🙂

Overlooking the vineyards. What a gorgeous view. I could get used to this life very easily.

I thought I had more pictures of the wine and of us enjoying them, but I guess we were all hungry and were more focused on the food at this time. We all ordered something different, and I did not get pictures of all the food, but here is a good sampling of what we ordered.

This flatbread pizza looks of so good, and it was too. It is pizza perfection.

A chicken pesto sandwich with fries. Absolutely mouthwatering!

A refreshing Caesar salad accompanied by a liquid glass of sunshine

And Korean Chicken satay over rice.

This was a perfect ending to a perfect day. We were all full and very satisfied. Life is good. 🙂

The Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro is located at 24509 Rudd Road, Parma, Idaho. You can call (208) 946-5187 or visit them online at http://www.parmaridge.wine. Either way, you will definitely be glad you stopped by for a visit to enjoy their beautiful grounds, their great wines and their delicious foods.

Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Hitting the Caldwell Wine Trail

It just dawned on me that exactly one week ago today, we were hitting the Idaho wine trail, while today, we we are going wining again, here at home in Denver. HMMMMM! Me thinks there is a bit of theme going on here – Jeanne likes her wine. Did you pick up on that too or is it just me?

Idaho has a long history of wine production with the first vineyards in the Pacific Northwest being planted here in the 1860s. Like in other areas Prohibition in the United States virtually wiped out the Idaho wine industry in the early twentieth century, only to be resurrected in the 1970s. Idaho has been making wines for over 150 years. The first grapes planted in Idaho were actually grown in Lewiston in 1864. Two French, Louis Desol and Robert Schleicher, and one German immigrant, Jacob Schaefer planted grapes in Idaho before any were planted in Washington or Oregon. They were winning awards around the country before Prohibition took a debilitating toll on the industry and brought production to an absolute halt. 

Today, most of Idaho’s grapes and vineyards run along the Snake River Valley.

Flying over the Snake River while coming into Idaho.

It was in the Snake River Valley that Idaho’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA) was approved in April 2007. Southwestern Idaho currently has the highest density of vineyards and wineries and includes the Snake River Valley AVA, which covers over 8,000 square miles with comparable latitudes to many famous wine-growing regions in the world. The characteristic cold winters, which might at first seem a disadvantage, are in fact quite conducive, allowing vines to go dormant, to rest and conserve important carbohydrates for the coming season, while ridding the plants of bugs and discouraging disease. In addition, the region’s summer combination of cold nights and warm days serves to balance grape acids and sugars favorably.  The Idaho wine industry has been a steadily growing community for the last 30 years with remarkable growth in the past decade. With 38 wineries in 2008, Idaho is now home to more than 60 wineries, with over 1,300 acres of grapes planted.  Idaho wines have been discovered across the country ranking 22nd in the nation. It is just coming into its own, receiving a great deal of recognition, and winemakers and growers are learning as they go while making great wine along the way.

We certainly did NOT make all 60 wineries while in Idaho. We only went to 5, and even for me, an experienced wine drinker, I had been wined out for the day. But now that I know that are 60+ wineries and growing, that just gives me even more reasons to go back. I LOVE it!!!!!!

Scott, Traci, Karen and I met up with their friends Terry and Colleen, and the six of us all went a-wining together. Traci, Karen and Colleen all worked together back in Southern California for many years. The wineries we hit were all in Caldwell, Idaho. They were: 1) Sawtooth, 2) Hat Ranch, 3) Fujishin, 4) Koenig and 5) Parma Ridge. All of them offered delicious wines and all of them offered a fun and inviting atmosphere and ambience, with gorgeous views of the Snake River Valley as well.

First stop – Sawtooth Estate Winery, located at 19348 Lowell Road, Building C, Caldwell, ID 83607. They can be reached online at sawtoothwinery.com and by phone at (208) 467-1200 ext 5.

We all tried something different. Traci and Colleen both had the mimosa flights, and Karen Scott and I all had the white flights, but we all changed our wines around. Sawtooth offered a bunch of white wines from which to choose on their flights, and we all had something different. We also got a couple of appetizer plates as well. You know, wine and nibblies always go well together.

Now this is a BIG bottle of wine. This is an award winning magnum of a 2004 Syrah. I think we could definitely make a dent in this bottle.

#2 on the trail was Hat Ranch Winery, located at 15343 Plum Road, Caldwell, ID. You can contact them either by phone at (208) 994-6416 or online at http://www.hatranchwinery.com

Another wall of awarded wines.

When I asked for something explaining the history of Hat Ranch, I was directed to this neat little history board.

We all enjoyed some big reds here.

Next stop – Fujishin Family Cellars and & Free Dog Wines, located at 15593 Sunnyslope Road, Caldwell, Idaho. They can be reached online at http://www.ffcwine.com

More award winning wines here too.

We enjoyed a wide variety of wines here. Some of us had reds, some of had whites, and we all had a lot of laughs. I don’t know, do you think it was the wine that was making us laugh, or were we just having a lot of fun and good times? 🙂

Our 4th stop for the day was Koenig Vineyards, at 21451 Hoskins Road, Caldwell, Idaho. You can contact them at either (208) 459-4087 or at http://www.koenigvineyards.com.

Look at all these award winning wines on the wall.

Scott even purchased a bottle or two of bourbon as well.

Karen must have been very thirsty. She had her own bottle of Viognier.

I really enjoyed the viognier too. It was so smooth and creamy, almost like a rich and buttery chardonnay.

Chess anyone?

Colleen and Terry enjoying a nice Syrah.

Great wines shared with great friends, on a beautiful sunny day. Life is good.

We finished the day with one more winery, Parma Ridge, but I am going to have that one be its own post because we also enjoyed a delicious dinner there as well.

We had yet another fabulous day and thoroughly enjoyed all the wines we tried. At the end of the day, all the wineries we tried and all of us earned our “crowns of cork” for a job well done. We worked very hard this day. It’s a tough job to go out and enjoy so much good wine and to enjoy the company of great friends, but we all took our jobs very seriously and are proud of the work we did too. Our job here was done for the day. 🙂

Carpe diem. Seize the day, and enjoy some great wines along the way.

Cooking With Scott – Videos #26 and #27

I was going to wait a couple of days to post these videos, because I was posting things in the order we experienced them from my recent Idaho trip. But the videos are now ready and are already up on YouTube, so I might as well share them with everyone now rather than later.

My friend Scott Hensiek, whom you have all met quite awhile ago (he was my first guest chef actually), My First Guest Chef loves to cook almost as much as I do. We knew he was going to be a guest chef and cooking for us while were visiting, and we had so much fun in his new kitchen, in his new “Idahome” as he and Traci call it. And I have it all on video too.

We were having so much fun, and I have Scott and Traci preparing the whole meal, so there is A LOT to see. There are two videos to this series, and believe me, you don’t want to miss a minute of any of it. You don’t have to watch them all at once, and they are both on YouTube so you can watch them as often as you like, but do watch them. They will be both entertaining and informative. You will see we not only had a lot of fun together, but we also had a great meal.

Thank you Scott and Traci for a FABULOUS time! I am already missing our fun times and the great company. Love you lots!

Thanks to Karen as well, for being our videographer and for doing such a good job of capturing the fun we were having in the kitchen. Love you lots too!

If you like what you see, and I really hope you do, please subscribe to my YouTube page, A Jeanne in the Kitchen, as well as follow my blog, and please, please tell your family and friends too. The more the merrier. 🙂

Touring Around Boise – Part 4 – Freak Alley Gallery

We finished our walking tour of Boise by going through the Freak Alley Gallery. Freak Alley Gallery is the gallery of street art created by local artists. Places like this are popping up in urban areas all around. We have the RiNo district, here in Denver, that I have covered as well, quite awhile ago. The RiNo Art Walk It is always fun to see this unique art, no matter where I go. It is always original and is always one-of-a-kind.

Obviously, I cannot present all of the artwork we saw, but I will give you a good and fun sampling. These artists are very talented.

Do you see the faces? Do you see the wolves?

I guess to some degree, we are all just puppets on a string and someone is always watching us.

This one was not actually a part of the Freak Alley Gallery, but it is sort of, in it’s own way. This beautiful setting was on some other buildings that were not part of the Freak Alley Gallery.

As we were finishing our walking tour, we ended up in the Basque region of the city too. Boise hosts one of the largest Basque communities in the nation, with about 16,000 people claiming this heritage. They mostly inhabit what is known as “The Basque Block” of the city, which is part of the old historic district of Boise. Immigration to the United States from the Basque regions of mostly Spain and France, started in the 1800’s, when the Basque people found more lucrative opportunities in the western United States, initially for mining and then for ranching and sheepherding. Boise, in particular, was a region where the Basque people could let their culture thrive by herding sheep and operating boarding houses.

As I mentioned earlier, Boise was all in bloom too. I am trying to give a good sense of the things we saw and did without overwhelming everyone. I will have to do another segment on just the florals and fauna from the area too. There were so many beautiful and gorgeous flowers everywhere we went. You need to see all the colors in bloom too.

All in all, we had a beautiful day, learned a lot, enjoyed great food and beverages, and had a fabulous, fun day. Thank you Traci. Traci is an EXCELLENT tour guide!!!!!!

Touring Around Boise – Part 3 – Buenos Aires In Boise

When you go to Boise Brewing Touring Around Boise – Part 2 – Boise Brewing it is a given you are going to venture across the street to the Buenos Aires Food Truck, especially if you are there on a Friday night. As you can probably imagine from the name on the truck, the foods served are traditional foods from Argentina, such as Argentinean empanadas and choripanes (Argentine sandwiches). It is owned and operated by a mother and son combo, Betty and Manuel.

There was this sign on the truck and I had to ask Manuel what it meant. He said it is basically the title of a very famous love song in Argentina.

Mama Betty does the cooking and her son Manuel is the customer service representative. Together, they do a fantastic job of putting out some delectable traditional Argentine foods.

After touring around Boise, we were both thirsty and hungry. While we were enjoying our cold brews from Boise Brewing, the aromas from Buenos Aires were wafting across the street, calling out to us. We needed some empanadas. I ordered us some of each kind they offered – beef, vegetable and chicken, only I did not order enough, so a minute later, I went back to get some more. I wanted each of us to have one of each kind of empanada, but my math was not functioning well that day and I miscounted how many we needed. They we SOOOOOO good too. They came with a chili lime sauce. Mama Betty did an excellent job preparing these fried delicacies. They were light and crispy and full of flavor.

But we didn’t stop there. Oh no!!!!!! We continued our Boise walking tour and after finishing, we went back to Buenos Aires for MORE of these delicious empanadas to take home with us as well. We ended up having them for breakfast the next morning. Mama Betty said the best way to reheat them was to put them in an air fryer. We followed her advice and true to her word, they were just as good as they were the first time we had them.

Buenos Aires Food Truck is constantly on the go, moving from place to place. So if you want to see where they are going next, you need to follow them on either Facebook, Instagram or by email at buenosairesboise@gmail.com. You can also give them a call at (208) 614-0648. Trust me, you DO NOT want to miss out on these scrumptious goodies. If I lived in Boise, I would definitely be following this truck around. 🙂