Puzzle Me This

We have a fully stocked refrigerator, with both foods waiting to be made and leftovers from foods already made.  Food is NOT the problem, during these crazy chaotic times.  As much as I love food and love to cook, even I understand we cannot just simply eat our way through all this.  We have been doing our daily walks around the lakes with Vinnie.  He’s loving it, and it gives us a much needed break as well.  We are also finding other ways of keeping ourselves occupied too.  Larry is one of the fortunate ones who has been working from home, but I work with the public and work in aquatics, both as a swim coach and as a water aerobics instructor, so I am unable to work from home.  I am BORED out of my mind.

One of the things we worked on was a puzzle.  We always lead such busy, social lives that this is something we never have time to do.  Now, time is all we have.  We only had one puzzle at home.  From start to finish, it took us about 6-7 hours to finish.  We worked on it a couple hours at a time and spread it out a bit.

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This one is all done (we found out we were missing a piece, but we fit all the pieces together that we had.  We thought we were missing two pieces, but I found that AFTER I broke it up and was putting it all away. Oh well).  On to new things and new projects.

Stay safe and stay well everyone.

Takin’ Home the BBQ

We are still under lockdown, except of course for pick-up and delivery of foods and essential things.  Even though we are still in lockdown mode, we are still trying our best to support the local businesses too.  Last time it was pizza, We Are Supporting Our Local Businesses, this time is was BBQ.  Besides, it was such a gorgeous day, we just had to take a drive and appreciate the day as much as we could.  We went to Georgia Boys BBQ and Smokehouse, ordered it by phone and brought it all back home to enjoy.  There are two Georgia Boys that are relatively close by, and now we have been to both.  One is located in Longmont, Colorado, Georgia Boys BBQ – The Best BBQ in Town and the other one is in Frederick, Colorado.  Both are delicious and both are happy to provide you with some of the best BBQ and smoked meats around, whether you bring it home with you, or eat it there (when you can again).

This is the Frederick Location.

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Georgia Boys specializes in all kinds of BBQ and smoked meats.  My favorite is their burnt ends, but everything is always smoked to perfection and it’s all delicious!  Despite everyone being locked inside, this place was really hoppin’.

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Georgia Boys also has a wide variety of side dishes you can take home with you as well, to help really make the meal complete.

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Aside from the best smoked meats and BBQ style foods, at the moment, Georgia Boys is also selling something else to help ease everyone’s pain through these difficult times.

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But seriously ….. We always enjoy the food and the great customer service whenever we go to Georgia Boys.   They do a great job, even under these very trying circumstances they still manage to provide great service and fantastic food, and always with a smile.  Kudos to all of you for doing such an awesome job, especially now.

We wanted enough for more than just one meal, so we ordered a little extra.  We ordered the burnt ends, always one of my favorite BBQ’d items, pulled pork, smoked brisket, baked beans, and mack & cheese and a variety of different sauces too.  This came with some Texas toast as well.  We will have a few meals from this one.  One the way home, we stopped at Costco and brought home some rotisserie chicken too, just in case we ran out of food.  🙂  Believe me, we had quite a feast, and will have for a few more days to come.  Thank you Georgia Boys.  Keep up the good work.  You are greatly appreciated.

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This time we tried the Georgia Boys BBQ and Smokehouse in Frederick, Colorado.  They are located at 141 5th Street, Frederick, CO.  You can call them at (303) 833-3140 or check out their website at georgiaboys.com.  Believe me, if you have a hankerin’ for some great, downhome BBQ, Georgia Boys is the place to go.  They do Southern hospitality right.

 

 

 

Shrimp Diane

Shrimp Diane is a kissing cousin of Steak Diane.  Both are made with booze and both are D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!  Because these dishes are both fancy dishes, and out of the ordinary, and are prepared in the same way as many French dishes, people tend to think of these dishes as being French.  But they are not.  They are actually American creations, believed to have been created in New York’s Drake Hotel and Restaurant by Chef Beniamino Schiavon, in the 1940’s, although today, their reputation has grown and they are now considered to be “Continental Cuisine”.  Steak Diane is the traditional recipe that over time has grown to include shrimp as well.  Steak Diane was created as a recipe that was made tableside for people as a bit of a show, where the tableside chefs could show off the flambeing skills.  Flambeing meals at your table was enjoyed and made popular by the rich and famous of the times, like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The name Diane comes from the Roman Goddess of the hunt and fertility, Diana.  Diana in French is Diane, which also makes people believe this dish was a French creation.  “Diane” is a French way of cooking foods that was first used by Auguste Escoffier in 1907.   The Diane way of cooking is very similar to cooking something au poivre, or with peppers.  The sauce is flambéed with brandy, Grand Marnier, dry sherry, or Madeira, and poured over the steak or shrimp.  You could use the same sauce over chicken too if you prefer.

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Shrimp Diane

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3-4 TBSP butter

1 1/2-2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 shallots, minced fine

1/4 cup sherry

1/2 cup brandy or Grand Marnier – I used Grand Marnier

3/4 cup chicken or fish stock – I used chicken stock

1/2-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

salt & pepper to taste

 

Saute the shrimp in a hot skillet with the butter.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the shrimp is completely cooked and pink.  Once the shrimp is cooked, remove it from the skillet and set aside.

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In the same pan, add the shallots, the sherry and a bit more butter.  Saute the shallots for about 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  make sure to get all the scrapings from the bottom.

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Unless you are going for the flambe effect, remove the skillet from the heat and pour in either the brandy or the Grand Marnier.  Flames may still rise up, but they will go down in less than a minute, so just be careful.  Obviously, I was going for the full flambe.  You know, it’s all about presentation.  🙂

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Once the flames have died down, add the stock and bring everything to a boil.  Let the sauce boil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  You want most of the liquid to evaporate.

Add the cream, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.  Mix everything together thoroughly.

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Add the shrimp back to the skillet, coat it in the sauce and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes.

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Your shrimp Diane is now ready to serve.  I served it over rice, with some asparagus and my leftover Irish brown Soda Bread,  Guinness in the Stew, Guinness in the Bread with a light, delicious Vin Blanc to make the perfect meal.  Bon Appetit!

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Not 1 … Not 2 … But 3

When I made my lemon-honey chicken, Chicken with Honey and Lemon Sauce  I had no idea I was going to have it 3 totally different ways, for 3 totally delicious meals.  But I did.  Obviously, the first meal was the lemon-honey chicken.

Meal #2 was a lemony chicken and vegetable pasta.

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I started with the chicken breasts, and shredded the meat.  Then I added some heirloom tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, a shallot and a red bell pepper that I sauteed all together.  Once the vegetables were cooked, I added the chicken.

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Next came some wine, some chicken broth and lemon juice to make the sauce.  I wanted to keep the fresh lemony flavors from the original chicken dish, and this was the best way to do that.  I adjusted the seasonings as needed too.  As this was all cooking up nicely, I was also cooking some pasta to serve this over.  Any kind will do.  This time I used penne or mostacelli pasta.

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Once the pasta was ready, all that was needed was some garlic cheese bread (Larry’s version, not mine.  Mine is much better.) and some dry white wine.  Voila!  Dinner is served.

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But this was not the end.  Oh no!  Larry has always been saying that often times when I use up my leftovers I end up with more than what I started with.  This was certainly true in this case too.  🙂  Yes, we could have it as lemon chicken and vegetable pasta again, but where’s the fun in that?  Once again, I put on my creative thinking cap and came up with yet another delicious meal to make.

This time, meal #3 was a Middle Eastern Lemon Chicken Pot Pie.

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I still have some fillo dough, so I made my pot pies with those.  From start to finish, Spray some individual ramekins with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 375-400* F.  Melt about 1/2 stick of butter, or more as needed.

  1.  Carefully take a couple of sheets of the fillo/phyllo (I have actually seen it spelled both ways) dough and fold them into the ramekins, with enough leftover to wrap on top.  Brush the melted butter thoroughly all over the fillo/phyllo dough.
  2. Add some cooked couscous to the bottom of the dish.
  3. Add the chicken and vegetable filling.
  4. Carefully wrap the fillo/phyllo doughover the filling and to the center.  Brush the tops with the remaining butter.  Completely cover the surface of the fillo/phyllo dough.  The butter is to give it flavor, to help it brown and to keep the dough from burning and makes a really flaky, crunchy crust.

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Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.  Let it cool for a few minutes.  Right before serving, sprinkle just a dash of powdered sugar on top.  Caution though, it is still going to be VERY hot, so be careful not to burn your mouth.

I first had these (or a similar version) in a Middle Eastern restaurant years ago, and I have loved them ever since.  Oddly enough though, I cannot find the recipe in any of my Middle Eastern Cookbooks.  I heard the actual name for them once, but have long since forgotten it.  Who needs a name though?  Luckily I can still remember them and how delicious they tasted.  The slightly sweet from the lemon and honey in the chicken matches perfectly with the flaky crust and the slightly sweet from the powdered sugar on top.

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These are just some simple, delicious ways to recreate those leftovers and no one will ever know they were from leftovers at all.

Stay safe and stay well.

 

 

Sad Signs of the Times

Colorado, like most of the United States and much of the world, is officially on lock down because of this COVID19 mess.  We are still allowed to go out to the grocery stores and pharmacies, and anything that is deemed essential, but that is it.  Even though we are allowed to go the grocery store, there is not a whole lot on the shelves to buy though.

This is Sprouts. These are the bulk bins where you can help yourself with as much as you need.  EMPTY!  Even the bins themselves are gone.

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The bins that did have food items in them were already pre-packaged for you.  You get what you get. Period!  I bought a bag of couscous.

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These shelves are usually filled to the rims with pre-packaged items.  Not today.

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I got what I could and what I needed at Sprouts, then went to King Soopers, our main grocery store.  Things were even worse at King Soopers.  I asked the checker if this was helping at all.  She said NO.  During these hours, the store is FULL  and super crowded with people who are the most vulnerable.

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Now they have even marked off where people are supposed to stand for “social distancing”.

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I hope no one has the munchies.  This is the snack aisle.  Most of the munchies are all gone.

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You didn’t want any jam or jelly with your bread did you?

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No eggs or cheese for omelettes today.

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It’s a good thing I think fresh is best.  Nothing frozen at the moment.  I got the last bag of frozen corn and two bags of frozen peas.

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This is perfect if you are vegetarian or vegan, but we carnivores are SOL.

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At least they did have toilet paper, but you can only buy 1 at a time.

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So now the Government has decided to start helping out businesses and workers with checks and loans to help get everyone through these tough times, but sadly, for many, no matter what is given in aid, it is NEVER enough.  The checker at Sprouts said “I wish we were getting money to cover our rent for a full year” even though she is still able to work and collect her normal paycheck, unlike so many others who are not able to do that right now.  I honestly hope we can all pull through these tough times, but I have some very serious doubts.  All I can say is God, help us!  We certainly need it.

Stay safe everyone.

When You Can’t Go To the Pub, Bring the Pub To You

I think most of the world is shut down at the moment due to this coronavirus mess, and no one is allowed to go out for anything “non-essential”.  Being a social butterfly, this is killing me.  I am going stir crazy.  That being said, going out for dinner, unless it is to go or for all my British and Australian friends and rellies, take-away, is just not happening right now.  So ….. Since we can not go out, I made some “pub food” at home.   I made some sausage rolls and served them with some leftover potato salad and green beans.  Typical pub food without the pub,  served in the comfort of our own home, safe and socially distanced from the world outside.

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Pub-Style Sausage Rolls

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8 oz ground pork

1/4 cup onion, chopped fine or 2 TBSP dried onions – I used dried onions

1 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic

1 tsp each dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, dried marjoram

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

basic go-to dough

 

Basic Go-To Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

6 TBSP cold butter, cubed

dash salt

1 egg

5-6 TBSP heavy whipping cream

 

In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt together until it resembles crumbly sand.  Then add the egg and the cream and continue to mix together until it forms a ball.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before working with it.  When you are ready to work with he dough, lightly flour your work surface, divide the dough into equal quarters and roll the dough to about 1/4 in in thickness.

 

Preheat the oven to 400* F or 200*C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For the sausage, mix all the ingredients together well .  I find mixing everything by hand works best.

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Divide the sausage into 4 equal parts and shape into log rolls that fit the size of the dough.

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Carefully roll the dough around the sausage, burrito style, folding in the edges as you go.  Pinch the ends together then dip your finger in water and gently “glue” the seams together, forming a tight seal.  Place the seal side down on the baking sheet.  Make an egg wash ans generously coat the entire sausage roll with egg wash.

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Bake for about 30 minutes or until the sausage rolls are golden brown.

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Now pour yourself your libation of choice and enjoy an imagine you are sitting in your favorite Irish pub.  If you like, you can serve this with a little honey mustard or some Dijon mustard on the side.  You have now brought the pub into the comforts of your own home.  Slainte!  This sausage roll is light and flaky and just melts in your mouth.

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