Decorating Cookies

Traditions are important to hold onto for many reasons.  They bring us together and they help us form everlasting bonds with others.  Some are cultural traditions and others are traditions within a family.  Either way, I think they are important to hold onto and to preserve and pass down through the ages.

Our friends Janet and Bob have had a family tradition for many, many years, of making and decorating cookies to give as Christmas gifts.  Their tradition continues and yesterday we were lucky enough to partake in the fun and colorful festivities as well.  Janet, her son and his family all baked tons and tons of cookies and boxed them all up as gifts to give to their friends.  After boxing up a heap of cookie boxes, it was time for a pizza break.  After the pizza, the decorations were brought out, and it was time to get to the fun, colorful business of decorating, where our imaginations were allowed to run wild.  There were no rules and no holds barred.  Let the decorations fall where they may.

 

Brian and Shelly boxing up the cookies.

IMG_4561

Three generations of family fun in the kitchen.  Janet, Brian and Emily all making the frosting for the cookies.

IMG_4567

Shelly and Emily getting ready to mix the colors into the frosting.

IMG_4570

Peter and Emily making colors.

IMG_4575

IMG_4572

Janet in her pantry, proudly displaying all her cookie decorations and supplies.

IMG_4598

And the decorating begins.   All those gingerbread cookies on the cookie tray were in need of color and decorations.  We had our work cut out for us.  There was a wide array of various colors and decorations from which to choose.

IMG_4578

Shelly proudly displaying some of our finished masterpieces.

IMG_4579

All of us showing off our cookie masterpieces.  Believe it or not, we are all so into our work AND no one even tasted or did quality control checks throughout the whole decorating process.

IMG_4581

IMG_4585

My Bronco mittens.

IMG_4582

IMG_4587

IMG_4590

What Christmas would be complete without ugly sweaters?  We had some pretty “ugly” sweaters too.

IMG_4592

Cleaning up after.  All these bins and boxes filling the counter tops are loaded with delicious Christmas cookies.

IMG_4589

We got to take home a box of cookies too.

IMG_4595

Enjoy the holidays and the holiday traditions with family and friends.  That’s what the holiday are for.  Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season, with a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Green Bean, Artichoke and Mushroom Casserole

We eat a wide variety of vegetables all the time.  There are very few vegetables we don’t eat.  In fact, off hand, I really can’t think of any.  Most often, we eat fresh vegetables too. They taste better and are much healthier as well.  This time we enjoyed a casserole made with green beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms.  Aside from this being a very colorful and tasty dish to make, it was also a very health dish too.  Green beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms all contain high amounts of proteins (high amounts as far as vegetables go) and fiber, as well as other necessary vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, selenium, Vitamin B and Vitamin D.  And because they are all high in fiber, they are all also very low in calories.

IMG_4550

Green Bean, Artichoke and Mushroom Casserole

IMG_45441 1/2 lbs fresh green beans

1 onion, chopped fine

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 TBSP garlic

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half

1 cup mushroom, sliced

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup Parmigiano cheese, divided

 

Cook the green beans for about 5 minutes in boiling water.  Then drain and cut into pieces that are about 1 inch in size.  Saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent.  Toast the pine nuts until the are lightly golden.

IMG_4546

Preheat the oven to 350* F

Toss everything together along with the rest of the ingredients, using only half of the Parmigiano cheese.  Make sure to coat the vegetables well.    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the vegetable mixture evenly out onto the pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned.  Add the remaining Parmigiano cheese to the top right before serving.  I served the green bean, artichoke, mushroom casserole along side pork chops that I marinated in a chili lime sauce and garlic mashed potatoes with a buttery chardonnay to round out the meal.

IMG_4552

 

Pollo y Camarones del Diablo

We love spicy food.  Most things we eat have a bit of a kick to them, some more than others, but most of our meals have at leave a little bit of heat to them.  We like that bit of fire and heat that makes our taste buds come to life.  We also love shrimp and chicken.  We eat a lot of both, cooked in many, many different ways.  This dish is a combination of all of the above.  I had to make a combination dish because I did not have enough shrimp that was unfrozen to make into a meal by itself.  Chicken and shrimp is always a good combination too.  They pair very nicely with each other.  Dinner was chicken and shrimp over pasta served with a spicy tomato sauce (chicken= pollo and shrimp = camarones), or pollo y camarones del Diablo, a crusty cheese bread and a bold red blend that made the meal complete.  The wine I served was from Bookcliff Vineyards, one of our local wineries in Boulder, Colorado.  You can find them at bookcliffvineyards.com.

IMG_4538

Pollo y Camarones del Diablo

IMG_4524

1-1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into slices about 1×2″ in size

1 lb large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined

2 TBSP garlic

1 onion, sliced very thin

2 large jalapenos, or to taste, diced fine

1 TBSP red pepper flakes

1 jar marinara sauce

3 ripe tomatoes, medium dice

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram

1 TBSP each dried basil and oregano

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Saute the onions, garlic, jalapenos and mushrooms together in olive oil until the onions are translucent, for about 4-5 minutes.

IMG_4527

Add the shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp are done, about another 4-5 minutes.

IMG_4530

Once the shrimp is completely cooked, removed the shrimp and vegetables from the skillet and set aside.  Cook the chicken, adding more olive oil as needed, until it is completely cooked.   Add the tomatoes and the shrimp and vegetable mixture and combine well.

IMG_4532

After everything is mixed together, add the marinara sauce and herbs, and blend well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.  If you want the sauce a little thicker, continue to cook it a while longer.

IMG_4535

IMG_4536

When the sauce is done, serve it over your favorite pasta, and enjoy.

IMG_4540

Tamales with A Creamy Adobo Sauce

Adobo.  What is it?  Is it a method of cooking?  Is it a seasoning?  Is it a sauce?  Is it a dish?  The simple answer is yes.  It is all of the above.   The word adobo is derived from the Spanish word adobar, which means to marinate.   Before the days of refrigeration, meats were marinated in vinegar, garlic, chilies and salts as a way of both flavoring the meats and also preserving them.   The style of adobo cooking is both Spanish and Filipino in origin.   When the Spanish colonists came to the Phillipine Islands, they discovered the native people marinated and cooked their meats in a similar way as was done back in Spain, and they called this style of cooking adobo.   The adobo way of cooking is to marinate meats in a flavorful sauce made from vinegars, garlic, chilies and salts, and various other ingredients overnight, then to cook the meat in the same sauce.  After the meat has cooked and simmered and is done, it is then browned in oil before serving.   In the Caribbean Islands, the word adobo has a completely different meaning.  To the Caribbeans, particularly those in the Domenican Republic and Puerto Rico, adobo is a type of dry rub made from various herbs, spices and seasonings that is rubbed onto meats before cooking them.  In Spanish and Mexican cooking, adobo is most commonly  referred to as a type of sauce that is used, usually made from chipotle chilies and other bold herbs, spices and vinegar.  Adobo is also a dish all unto itself, and is the unofficial national dish of the Phillipines.   Whether it is used as a spice or a seasoning, a cooking method, or as a sauce, some form of adobo is very popular all throughout the areas where the Spanish had their colonies and left their influences.  As with any dish that is very popular throughout the world, there are many different varieties and versions.  No one way is right and there are no wrong ways either.

Dinner was tamales, which are Mexican/Spanish, so I made my adobo as a sauce for the tamales.  I also made mine as a creamy sauce, rather than just the traditional vingary type sauce.  By adding cream and butter, the acidity of the sauce was reduced and it was just perfect for the tamales.  And since adobo is more Spanish in nature than Mexican, I chose a smooth, velvety red wine rather than a margarita to accompany the meal.  I did not make my tamales this time, but I do quite often.  As much as I love to make them, they are very time consuming, and if I am running short on time, why make them when there are so many wonderful tamales that are already made all around.

IMG_4519

Creamy Adobo Sauce

IMG_4506

2 TBSP canned chipotle chilies with their sauce, minced

1 TBSP olive oil

1/4 onion, chopped fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 tsp dried cloves

1 TBSP cinnamon

1-2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 cups water

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 stick of butter (optional)

 

In a hot skillet, saute the onions, garlic, spices and chipotle chiles until the onions are soft and translucent, for about 8 minutes.

IMG_4507

IMG_4509

Once the onions are softened, add the vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  I used red wine vinegar, but you can use whatever type of vinegar you like.  Each type of vinegar will change the flavor of the sauce.  Have some fun with it and mix it up.  Use differnet kinds of vingegar every time you make adobo.

IMG_4511

After the vinegar has evaporated, add the water, and again cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated and has cooked off.

IMG_4512

Cream and butter are optional.  I love a rich creamy sauce, so I added both.  After the liquid has been cooked off from the sauce, add the cream and mix well.

IMG_4515

Adding butter is just adding the finishing touch.  Add it right at the end, when the sauce is done and incorporate well into the sauce.  Now it is ready to serve over your meats, or like I did, tamales.

IMG_4517

I was using up leftovers as our side dishes.  I had a bean salad, some beets and sauteed Brussels sprouts with onions.  They all complimented the tamales and adobo sauce very well and made for a very colorful plate.  !Desfruitas!

IMG_4521

Let’s Talk Cooking

With the holidays and all the fun and festivities going on, I actually have not been in the kitchen as much these days as I normally am.  It is a busy, busy time of year for everyone, with all the frivolities of the season, the decorating, the shopping and wrapping, etc, so we are eating out more than we normally do, and we also have a lot of leftovers we need to get through, which also means I am not cooking as much at the moment as I normally do.  So once again, I will let the wisdom and voices of others do the talking for me.  Here is what they are saying now.

 

“Cooking should be a carefully balanced reflection of all the good things of the earth”.

~ Jean and Pierre Troisgros, from “The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean & Pierre Troisgros~

Image result for jean and pierre troisgros pictures

Those who are one in food are one in life.

~Malagasi saying~

A Malagasi Meal from Madagascar

Madagascar_Food_Meal-750x563

~Socrates~

Image result for socrates quotes pictures

 

” A smiling face is half the meal”.

~Latvian Proverb~

“The same food may be consumed in a happy or an unhappy atmosphere, but only in the first will it be a feast”

~Margaret Willes, from Soop Meagre and Syllabub~

Margaret Willes

Enjoy the season and make the most of the holidays. Spend time with your family and friends and those you hold dear.  Until the next time ….

Happy Birthdays

My husband, aka “the Daddy Dog”, and Lucie both had a birthday yesterday.  It was a pretty low key celebration, but both got presents and treats and both had a happy birthday.  I won’t reveal Larry’s age now, but Lucie just turned 7, which for a giant breed dog, is getting up there.  Both Lucie and the Daddy Dog still think they are young, and are still definitely young at heart, but if they do too much, their bodies start to tell them otherwise.  One of Larry’s favorite dinners for special occasions is steak Oscar, and that is what he requested for his birthday dinner.  Ask, and you shall receive, especially on your birthday.  I make it quite often.  It is filet mignon, cooked to your liking, topped with asparagus, Hollandaise sauce and crab, served over mashed potatoes. Steak Oscar.

IMG_4493

Hollandaise Sauce

IMG_4486

3 egg yolks

1-1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 dash of Tobasco sauce

1 stick of melted butter

a pinch of nutmeg

a splash of water

IMG_4488

Whisk everything together except the melted butter.   Either over an open flame (if you are fast enough) or over a bain marie (a water bath or a bowl placed over a sauce pan with boiling water), whisk the egg mixture constantly, so the eggs do not scramble and slowly add the melted butter in a slow steady stream.

IMG_4490

Keep whisking until all the butter is incorporated into the egg mixture.  Serve immediately.  (I only removed it from the heat because I could not pour the melted butter and take a picture at the same time).  As long as the eggs are over the heat, you need to be stirring them constantly, or they will scramble.  You do not want scrambled eggs for a Hollandiase sauce.

 

The steak Oscar was Daddy’s dinner choice.  Lucie did not have her choice of dinner, or she would have gladly eaten the steak Oscar as well, but she did get birthday treats and prezzies.  She knows these are all for her and she really wants them NOW.  She is trying hard to get a hold of that big birthday bone cookie.

IMG_4478

Brother Vinnie has now discovered there are new treats and toys, and he wants them too.

IMG_4479

The birthday kids.  Lucie is one happy girl.  She finally got her cookie.  She wasn’t too happy that she had to share it with her brother though.

IMG_4482

Daddy with his girls, Nicodemus and Lucie.  Happy Birthday Daddy Dog and Lucie.  Love you lots.

IMG_4484

 

Perfect Presents

Seasons’ Greetings all.  I just love Christmas and the Holiday Season.  I love all the lights and the festivities.  And I really LOVE presents.  The little kid in me just loves to open presents.  But as much as I love to receive presents, I actually love to give presents more.  I was out doing some Christmas shopping earlier today, looking for those perfect gifts to give my friends and family.  There is something special about going out and to try to find the perfect gift for those who are special to you.  It’s fun to bring joy and good cheer to everyone, whether you know them or not.  I know it is not Christmas yet, and we still have about 2 weeks to go before the actual date, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the season for the whole season, right?!  I am sharing my delightful, early Christmas presents that I was “allowed” to open, with all of you.   As you know, I had my ornament exchange party last week,  Holiday Fun.  All who came had a great time, we all enjoyed some really delicious foods, and everyone went home with some new ornaments for their tree.  We have really eclectic ornaments that fit our eclectic personalities.  These are the new ornaments that now and forever shall also have their places on our trees.

I have a collection of various different frogs, guitars, swimming and scuba diving ornaments because well …..  these are who I am.  Aside from being a chef, and “A Jeanne in the Kitchen”, I am also a swimmer and a scuba/rescue diver, and when I get time, I do play my guitar.  The froggies come from my water aerobics classes that I have been teaching for many, many years.  One of my favorite exercises to do is “froggies” and anyone who has ever taken any of my classes knows this, and hence, the froggie tradition came to be.  This handsome guitar playing frog was from my friends Janet and Bob.

IMG_4473

IMG_4474

IMG_4476

This one to me is the perfect ornament for a Rocky Mountain Christmas.

IMG_4477

Then there is my whole little tree that is filled with fun cooking ornaments and beach-themed ornaments from my friends Kathy and Lynn.

47384468_1957097760993685_5975808923452571648_n

Aside from fun ornaments, cook books are ALWAYS a favorite of mine.  As you all know, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cookbooks. Some might even say I am obsessed with cookbooks (my husband being the main one).  Last year, my nephew Adam and his wife Claire, from Australia, gave me this delectable beauty.  My dad was an Aussie, from Melbourne, and we still have “heaps of rellies” over there, and fortunately, we got to celebrate the season with some of my Australian family last year.  That was a FABO Christmas.

IMG_0527

This year, my friend Delores gave me this libra grande delicioso!  Both of these beautiful cook books will provide a lot of delicious meals, filled with many happy memories, for years and years to come.

IMG_4394

Today, I received some pure cookie perfection in the form of DELICIOUS molasses cookies, from some of Santa’s elves out in California, who just happen to be my very good friends Scott and Traci.  It’s already turning out to be a very good Christmas.

IMG_4471

So, just in case you were wondering what to get me for Christmas, I have given you some ideas of the perfect gift.  🙂  Happy Holidays everyone.  Enjoy the magic of the season.

 

Let’s Make Wine

We have been members of InVINtions, A Creative Winery InVintionsWine.com (The Hallowine Party at InVINtions) in Greenwood Village, Colorado for quite a few years now.  We go there all the time, and no matter what we do, we always have a fun time.  Sometimes we go just to taste wines, other times we go for their great parties and events.  Today, we got to be winemakers for the day with our friends Janet and Bob.   We made a red blend made from Australian Grenache-Syrah grapes, and Australian G.S. is the name it goes by on the label.  Today was the day we made the wine.  We have to wait for about 45-60 days to let it ferment before we can bottle it and drink it.

When we first arrived at InVINtions, they were not quite ready for us, so we brought in lunch that we enjoyed with a few wine samples before we got to make our own batch.

IMG_4407

Once we finished lunch, our wine tutor, Evan, brought out all the ingredients we needed to make our wine.  We had our grape juice, grape skins, yeast, wood chips, bentonite and other flavorings.

IMG_4412

IMG_4414

We started the process by adding the reversed osmosis water and mixed it with the bentonite, then we mixed in the big bag of grape juice.

IMG_4420

IMG_4424

After those were all mixed together, we added the grape skins.  We put them in in large cheesecloth type bag and mashed them up.  The bag will remain in the mixture through the fermenting phase.

IMG_4430

Janet and I tasting the grape skins.  They tasted just like grape jelly.  Yum!

IMG_4433

Mashing up the grape skins into the wine mixture.

IMG_4441

IMG_4442

The masher.

IMG_4436

Reading the gauges and testing to see if we have all the right proportions and that everything is at the correct levels.

IMG_4447

Everything is in the proper proportions and the levels are correct.  Now it is time to add the yeast.  The yeast is the last ingredient we need to add.  The yeast is what allows the grape juice and skins to ferment.

IMG_4458

It’s ready to go.  Let’s cover it up and let the fermenting begin.  Let there be wine.

IMG_4461

It’s sealed tight, with a little release valve to allow it to off gas.  Now we wait.  Out mixture will need to ferment for about 45-60 days before it actually becomes “wine”.  After it goes from grape juice and skins to wine, it will be time to bottle it.  We can either drink it right away or we can let it age and wait to drink it later.

IMG_4465

Here we are, enjoying the “fruits” of our labor.  A votre sante!  Salud!

IMG_4468

 

 

 

Lets get it going #59

I am always up for a good party. I’ll cook. Come see what’s cookin’ with “A Jeanne in the Kitchen”. You can find me at ajeanneinthekitchen.com

Its good to be crazy Sometimes

Its all a bit quiet this week, are you lot getting fed up of partying every weekend?

If not come and join in click here and lets go for it

View original post

Smoked Turkey and Vegetables Crepes

We have all heard of and most likely eaten some type of crepe.  They are very thin and delicious French pancakes that can be filled or not filled.  Crepes are very versatile and can be eaten many different ways, at any time of day.  They can be filled with a savory filling and eaten as a main meal or they can be filled with fruit and/or other fillings to be eaten as either a dessert or breakfast.   The word crepe is French for pancake, but derives from the Latin word crispus, meaning crisp.  Originally they were called galettes, which translated to flat cakes.  Crepes originally hail from the Northwest region of France, known as Brittany.  When they were first created, they were used as bread and very rarely had fillings.  Up until about 100 years ago, savory crepes were always made with buckwheat flour and were knows as galettes sarrasines.  Dessert crepes were made with wheat flour.  In France, “crepes are traditionally eaten on Candelmas and Shrove Tuesday to celebrate renewal, family life, and hope for good fortune and happiness ahead.  ” (p. 5 – Crepes – Sweet & Savory Recipes for the Home Cook, by Lou Seibert Pappas).  It is customary to touch the handle of the frying pan and to make a wish with a coin in the hand while the crepe is being flipped.  In earlier times, the French farmers would give their landowners crepes as a symbol of their allegiance to them.  Crepes are eaten all over the world and go by many names.  The Italians call them crespelles.  In Hungary, they are known as palacsintas.  The Jewish culture refers to them as blintzes and the Russians call them blinis.  To the Greeks, crepes are called kreps and Scandinavians call them plattars.  Each country and each culture adds a slightly different and unique twist to their crepes, but no matter what you call them, or where you eat them, they all have one thing in common; They are all delicious.

I made my crepes last night with a bit of a Southwestern flair.  When Larry smoked the ribs and the turkey, we had some smoked turkey legs as well.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, then the idea of making crepes struck me, and my Southwestern smoked turkey and vegetable crepes were created.  I took the meat of the bones and shredded it, then added pumpkin, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes to use as my filling.

IMG_4391

IMG_4372

Smoked Turkey and Vegetable Filling

1-1 1/2 lbs smoked turkey, shredded

1-2 cups fresh spinach, stemmed and chopped in a rough cut

1 shallot, minced

1-1 1/2 TBSP garlic

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

5-6 mushrooms, sliced thin

1 cup pumpkin, cubed small

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil for cooking

 

Saute the pumpkin first for about 5 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables and the other ingredients and continue to cook for about another 5-7 minutes.  One the vegetables are all cooked, add the turkey.  Mix everything together well and set aside.

IMG_4376

IMG_4378

IMG_4379

Savory Sage Crepes

2 large eggs

1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup flour

2/3 cup corn flour or masa harina

2 tsp fresh sage, chopped fine

2-3 TBSP melted butter

1/4 tsp salt

 

Mix everything together in the food processor for about 30 seconds or until well blended, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cooking.  In a small, HOT skillet, with butter, and add about 3 TBSP of the batter to the hot skillet.  Make sure to swirl it all around to cover the pan completely.  Cook for about 1 minute, then loosen the edges with a spoon, and gently flip the crepe over and continue to cook for about 1 more minute.  Repeat until the crepe mixture is all done.  Greek Crepe Cannelloni Stuffed with Beef.

Preheat the oven to 350* F

Once the crepes are all cooked, spray a baking pan with cooking spray, and fill each crepe with filling, then roll everything together.  Lay the crepes side by side in the baking sheet until the baking sheet is full.  Before baking, if you like, you can top the crepes with cheese of your choice.  bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is nice and hot.

IMG_4387

IMG_4389

I hate dry food and almost always have some kind of a sauce to top my foods.  I made a tangy pumpkin-yogurt sauce to top my crepes.

IMG_4386

Tangy Pumpkin-Yogurt Sauce

1 cup pumpkin vinaigrette

1 cup plain yogurt

1 TBSP ginger

1 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

 

Mix everything together and heat in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, then spoon over the hot crepes and serve.  I served my crepes over wild rice with a roasted vegetable medley, with a fruity, lightly oaked chardonnay.  C’est ce bon!

IMG_4390