Award Ceremony – January 2019.

My friend Goldie cracks me up and always puts a smile on my face. She is so supportive of my blog ” A Jeanne in the Kitchen” too. We all need more Goldies in our lives.

One day at a time...

Here we are again.

Sooner than we thought we would.

It is the end of January.

We have discussed in prior posts and comments how time flies, but I’m just marveling how having a calendar does nothing to help. You would think that having one and being able to look at one to see how much time we have would prepare us. But it does not. At least not me.

So live, because who knows when your calendar will run out. And you will not see it coming, since you never look at it anyway.

Thank you to all who are reading this for entering a new year with me. For staying on this crazy blogging bus.

And a special THANK YOU to those who nominated me. You will see that some of the tags are a bit outdated, but it is because I was busy around the Christmas season…

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Spicy Scallops a la Crema

I guess it has been awhile since we last dined on scallops.  I was thinking it had not been all that long ago, but apparently, I was wrong.  I love, love, love scallops.  They are among my favorite seafoods.  I could eat them everyday and never get tired of them.  They are also very healthy for you. Spicy Southwestern Scallops  Not only do I love scallops, but I also love anything in a cream sauce, loaded with vegetables.  I know, it is super fattening, and not the healthiest sauce option, but we all have to have some vices, right?!  Fortunately, I do not eat foods in a rich cream sauce everyday.  I would weigh about 600 pounds if I did.  Every now and then, though, it is just fine.   The other day, I made a spicy scallop dish in a rich creamy sauce that was decadently delicious; spicy scallops a la crema.

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Spicy Scallops a la Crema

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1 1/2 lbs sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry

5-6 slices bacon, chopped and cooked

3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 TBSP garlic

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

3 cups baby spinach, stems removed, chopped

1/4 cup sweet Spanish peppers

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

1-1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

olive oil and/or butter for cooking

2-3 TBPS butter

cooked pasta

 

Cook the bacon to your desired level of crispiness.  Usually when adding bacon to a dish, I like it a little crispier than if I am just eating bacon by itself.  Set aside and reserve the grease.

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Cook the scallops in the bacon grease and add either more butter or olive oil, as needed.  Cook the scallops for about 2-3 minutes per side.  If cooking a lot of scallops, cook in batches.

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Once the scallops are cooked, remove them and set aside.  Again, using the same pan, and adding either more butter or oil as needed, saute the vegetables and add the seasoning,

 

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Add the cream and mix well.

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Once the cream is mixed in, you may need to adjust the seasonings if needed.  Then add the bacon, scallops and Spanish peppers.  Add the remaining butter to the sauce to finish it and make it really rich and creamy.  Combine well and serve over your favorite pasta.  You can use any kind of pasta you like, but this is a heavier sauce, so a heartier pasta will be best.  For this dish, I used farfelle or bowtie pasta.

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Dinner was served with cheese bread (I left it to my husband to cook while I was at work, and it got slight over done.  It still tasted good though.) and a crisp chardonnay with hints of apples and melon.  Decadently delicious!

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Life Happens

I apologize for my “lack of blog’ content today.  I had a super busy day, and it’s still going.  All I can say is  …. Life happens.  We all just have to roll with the punches, and live it.  Live it now, while it is happening, not in the past when it is too late or in the future when no ones knows what will happen next.  Fear not though, there are still many, many fabulous dishes yet to be cooked and enjoyed.  I’ll catch you all on the flip side.

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Cornbread with Red Chili-Pecan Streusel Topping

There are some food combinations that just seem to be perfectly paired.  They are good on their own, but so much better with their partner; burgers and fries, bacon and eggs, chips and salsa, and of course, chili and cornbread, just to name a few.   The other day when our Colorado blizzard came to town, it was perfect day for both chili and cornbread.  A Bowl of Chili  It was very cold on the outside, but warm and cozy on the inside.  My mother was a Texas girl, and cornbread was a staple.  I grew up on cornbread and I love cornbreads of all kinds, but I also love to shake things up and break out of the mold.  One of my favorite cornbread recipes is cornbread with a pecan stresuel topping.  It just perks up the flavors and has its own unique Southwestern personality.  “Cornbread is very accomodating stuff, welcoming a host of add-ons that only seem to make it more satisfying”.  (p.214 – The Southwestern Grill, Michael McLaughlin)  This cornbread has it all; a little sugar and spice along with some toasted pecans and everything is very nice.  A little taste of this, and you will know you are living the good life.

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Cornbread with Red Chili-Pecan Streusel

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Streusel Topping

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 TBSP med. hot chili powder

1 TBSP cinnamon

6 TBSP cold butter, cubed (This time I used some of the cinnamon butter we brought home from our nephew’s wedding.  Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Caramel Sauce  I definitely liked it with the addition of cinnamon and will be doing this again.)

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and blend, except the chopped pecans.  Once everything is coarsely mixed together toss in the chopped pecans and mix thoroughly.  You want the mixture to be crumbly.  Chill until ready to use.

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Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Preheat the oven to 375* F

Spray an 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray

Mix together all the dry ingredients.    Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together.  Then mix in the melted butter and combine with the dry ingredients.  Mix everything together until just blended.  Do not over mix.  Pour the corn bread mixture into the baking dish.  Spread it evenly in the dish.  Then evenly cover the cornbread with the streusel topping.

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Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the the edges of the cornbread start to pull away from the edges of the pan, or when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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My grandfather used to love his buttermilk, and he drank it all the time.  When I would visit, I wanted to be like “Papa” so I asked for some buttermilk too, thinking if papa likes it it must be pretty good.  WRONG!!!   After one or two small sips, I was cured from that for life, and have never touched it since.  So when I bake, I use the dried buttermilk, because although I love to bake with it, I absolutely detest drinking it on its own.  This way, I just mix it with milk and I have it when I need it and none gets wasted.  It is easy to find, in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.  The directions call for mixing it with water, but I prefer mixing it with milk.  It makes it creamier and richer.

A Bowl of Chili

We had a blizzard here yesterday.  There were complete white-out conditions, it was frigidly cold, the roads were a complete disaster and the sky dropped 10 inches of snow at my house.  This was all in the morning hours of the day.  I was out and tried to brave those conditions before turning around and calling it a day.  Once I was safely at home, there was no way I was going back out into that mess.  NO WAY!  But as bad as it was for those few short hours, by the afternoon, it was back to blue skies and sunshine.  As I sit here looking out my window right now, most of that slushy mess on the roads yesterday is gone and the snow is already starting to melt some.  Awwwww! Life in Colorado!  As bad as it was on the outside though, it was perfect day to stay inside and cook up some good heart warming chili and cornbread.

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I love a thick, strong and bold chili.  And I love it with a lot of meat.   I almost always a steak or a roast rather than hamburger meat.  If I do use hamburger meat, it is combined with the steak to add more texture and richness.

Chili Con Carne

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2 1/2-3 lbs steak or roast , cubed

1/2 cup (more as needed) flour

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2-3 jalapenos, diced fine

2 TBSP garlic

1 can dark red kidney beans, with the sauce

1 can stewed tomatoes, with the sauce

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP tomato paste

3-4 TBSP chili powder

2 tsp cumin

4-5 cups beef broth

1/2 cup red wine or vinegar

oil and or butter to cook the meat

 

Remove the excess fat from the meat and discard, then cube then the meat into bite sized chunks.  Add the flour  and salt and pepper to taste and coat the meat.  This is to help it coat the meat brown it as well as thicken the chili.

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Once the meat is coated, in a hot skillet with enough oil and/or butter, add the meat and cook until completely browned, stirring frequently.  When the meat is browned, add the vegetables and continue to cook until the vegetables are semi-soft and the onions are translucent.

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Once everything is cooked, transfer the meat and the vegetables into the slow cooker and set aside.

Mix together all the wet ingredients and the spices, then add to the meat and vegetable mixture.  Combine thoroughly.  And let cook at the low speed/temperature for 6-8 hours.  Stir occasionally, to make sure nothing sticks and the flavors incorporate well together.

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Once the chili is cooked, serve it alongside some warm cornbread and take away all your chills.

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Still Fighting the Crud

Just when I thought I was feeling better, the crud came back with a vengeance.  This has been going on now for over three weeks.  I am so done with it.  I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  There is no other way to describe it except to call it “The Colorado Crud”.  As much as I have wanted to be in the kitchen, it just hasn’t happened.  However, I will be making some chili today.  It is perfect chili weather.  This is what it looks like right now.  This is the view from my back deck, overlooking our first frozen pond.  This snow just came in late last night and into the wee hours of the morning.  Now this being Colorado, most of it will be gone by tomorrow, but at the moment, we are in almost complete white-out conditions.

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This is from my front porch.

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The view from the office, upstairs.

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We are in almost total white-out conditions.  I tried to make it in to work this morning, and made it about 8 blocks.  It took me 30 minutes to make those 8 blocks, and I saw at least 15-20 cars stuck and skidding all over the place.  So I called in and said NO WAY!  Then it took me another 30+ minutes to make it safely back into my garage.  For all of those driving in this today, be safe, be smart and be careful.

 

Nothin’ Better Than Burgers

Many, many years ago, when I first got out of culinary school, people used to ask me all the time “if now that I am chef, do I still like burgers and dogs?”  ABSOLUTELY!  Especially when they are good burgers and dogs.  The sad thing though, is that it is getting harder and harder to find good burgers, unless of course, I am willing to spend an arm and a leg for them, which I am not.  So, we make them at home.  Yes, you need good beef, but you can doctor them up anyway you like to make them even better too.  About 6-8 months ago, we went in with some of my husband’s siblings and bought a quarter cow.  We have it stored in the freezer, and pull it out when we need it.  With this quarter cow, we got A LOT of hamburger meat too.  So …. burgers are on the menu fairly often.  We also like bold and flavorful burgers, which are hard to find when dining out, but then we like bold and flavorful foods no matter what they are.  Today’s burgers were served with bacon and sauteed mushrooms and onions that I sauteed in the bacon grease, along with some garlic fries.  Yummy!

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I mixed the ground beef with all these seasonings to make them delicious gourmet burgers.

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Spicy Gourmet Burgers

2 lbs ground beef

1 TBSP garlic

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 TBSP dried onions

1 TBSP steak seasoning

2-3 whole roasted chili peppers, skinned and seeded, chopped fine

 

Mix everything together well.  Using your hands and really mashing everything together is actually the best way to get all the flavors incorporated into the meat.

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Once everything is incorporated together well, form the meat into patties to your desired thickness and size.  I made the patties about 1/3 lb each.   The higher the fat content of the meat, the higher the shrinkage rate will be when the burgers are cooked.  This beef has a higher fat content than what we usually like, at about 80%, so the burgers did shrink a bit more during the cooking process.  Usually we like leaner beef, but these sure were tasty burgers.  Fat does taste good!

Once the burgers are shaped, slap them on the grill and cook to perfection.  I love mine on the medium rare side, with just a touch of pink left on the inside.

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For the fries, I tossed them with parsley, salt and garlic immediately after I took them out of the fryer, while they were still hot.  The best garlic fries we have ever had were from Gott’s, a chain of restaurants in Northern California.  We have been trying to re-create them ever since.  I think we are very close, if not right on.

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***On a different note ….  Thank you to all who wished me good healing thoughts.  I am almost back to 100%.  I still have a cough, but nothing like it was before, and all the other symptoms are almost completely gone as well.  I think it was the good healing energy coming from all of you that really helped.  Fortunately, I am normally very healthy, and I rarely get sick.  On those rare occasions, because I am normally so healthy, I do not take long to recover.