Ughhh, as I write this we are snowing, sleeting, and icing. It is mid-April…where is spring?!
My twin sister lives in Appleton, Wisconsin and she had 20+ inches of snow in the last week. To keep our sanity, Chuck and I have decided that we are going to ignore the landscape out there and prepare for spring nonetheless!
To put us in a spring-y mood, we decided to make garlicky dill pickles, BBQ sauce, and a twist on baked beans. Winter is over in our minds… so bring on spring and summer! Even Cappuccino tried to help!
These pickles are great on sandwiches or for snacking or frying. YUMMMM.
Chuck’s Dilly Garlic Pickles
1 whole cucumber
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup water
6 cloves of garlic
½ tbs. black peppercorns
4 tbs. dill
¼ cup salt
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
This is my twist on our family’s baked bean recipe. My favorite addition is sautéed bratwurst, although I have used ground beef. Add a side of vinegary cole slaw to make a hearty meal!
Nancy’s Baked Beans
½ cup BBQ sauce
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup water
3 tbs. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ¼ lb bratwurst, casings removed
2 onions, chopped
2 (28oz) cans baked beans
2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained
2 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup molasses
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1in. pieces
My family has been making our own BBQ sauce for generations. It is really easy to make and much better than any bottled sauce I have found. I have made changes over the years and this is my latest version. Try it on all types of meat!
Nancy’s BBQ Sauce
4 slices bacon
½ cup onion, grated
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chili sauce
2 tbs. hot sauce
½ to 1 tsp. of Liquid Smoke
Need to feel like spring has sprung?! Test these out at home and let us know how they turn out!
Three Nor’easters in two weeks?! And a fourth being discussed?! Clearly, March does not mean spring in Maine! I can recall several snowstorms that came well into April in the past… I’m just hoping the snow will be over before then this year!
With all this snow, I am all about comfort food! When the snow is falling outside, there is nothing I love more than to make those warming soothing meals that I grew up with. Plus, after all that hard work shoveling, you need something hearty to fill you back up! Macaroni and Cheese, Tuna Casserole, American Chop Suey, Meatloaf, Chili, Chicken Stew, Fish Chowder… There are so many favorites that comfort me!
Chuck’s Meatloaf with my family’s recipe for Zimm’s Potatoes is always a go-to for me. What’s better than meat with a casserole of cheesy potato goodness?! Plus, the leftover meatloaf always makes for a great sandwich the next day.
In the mood for soup? Try my Fish Chowder recipe, perfect with either clams or haddock. Believe me, one cup of this and you will be comforted!
3 pounds of ground beef
1 cup of brown sugar
5 cloves of garlic
2 celery stalks
2 tsp beef stock base
3 slices of uncooked bacon
4 slices of ham
½ cup heavy cream
Puree the last 9 ingredients in a food processor. Add this mixture with the brown sugar to the ground beef and mix with your hands until incorporated. Bake in a loaf pan for about 1 hour at 375 degrees.
2 lbs of hash browns
1 cup diced onions
1 16 oz sour cream carton
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1½ cups of crushed corn flakes
½ cup melted butter
Mix first 5 ingredients together, season with salt and pepper, and place in a baking pan. Combine corn flakes with melted butter and top the potato mixture. Bake in a 375 degree oven until bubbly (about 45-60 minutes).
Nancy’s Fish Chowder Recipe
16 ounces fish (clams or haddock)
*If you are using clams, be sure to drain the clam, reserving the juice.
1 tbs of butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup diced celery
7 slices of bacon, diced
7 potatoes, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
Clam base, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh thyme and parsley
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! What are your plans? Headed to your favorite restaurant? Staying in? Why not make an easy dinner at home for your valentine? While it may sound complicated (and expensive) to make a meal that’s fancier than usual, we promise it isn’t!
Our DIY Valentine’s Day meal is quick and easy. Just pick up a few premade items at your local grocery store and dress them up for a special night.
To make your at-home Valentine’s Day meal memorable, start by planning ahead. Put a small table for two in your living room for a change of pace. Place a new linen on the table and light two candles (we recommend red) to set the mood. Set the table with cloth napkins, your best silverware, and dust off that china hiding in your cabinet. Add a wine or champagne glass and your table is ready! Want to go the extra mile? Write your menu on a card and place it on the plates. How simple is that?!
Here is your menu and grocery list, along with estimated cost:
Baby Greens Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola
Nancy’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Strudel
Chocolate Pudding with Raspberries and Cream
Hannaford Express Pear Gorgonzola Salad Kit $2.99
Puff Pastry Sheets $4.69
Premade Mashed Potatoes $3.99
4 Slices Swiss Cheese $2.99
4 Slices of Deli Ham $3.69
1 Jar Alfredo Sauce $3.99
1 Rotisserie Chicken $4.99
Prepared Chocolate Pudding $.89
Whipped Topping $1.89
Fresh Raspberries $2.00
Total estimated cost for this romantic meal: $32.11
While strudel is baking, prepare dessert:
Finish entrée preparations:
Want some more ideas to make your night special? Here are some more romantic tips and recipes:
One item being raved about this past holiday season has made its way to my kitchen. I’m excited to tell you about the Instapot! What’s mainly advertised as a pressure cooker, is really a jack-of-all-trades.
The Instapot is a great tool for quick, after-work meals. Not only can you throw frozen meat into it, but the meat cooks tender, juicy, and quickly. Here are the average cook times for popular meat options.
Of all the features offered with the Instapot, my personal favorite is the pressure cooker. Meals that could take up to 12 hours, like chicken bone broth, will only take two with the Instapot. I’ve experimented with some new recipes and they came out terrific. Join me in trying these new Instapot recipes: Pork Chops with Port Wine Glazed Cherries & Risotto and Tender-Tasty Beef Brisket.
This is a simple yet flavorful and tender pork dish. The risotto was made with a cast iron pan, but it is feasible to cook in the Instapot. Estimate 25 minutes for cook time.
First, cover the brisket in a seasoning blend (Chuck’s Pork and Beef Seasoning is a recipe that I like to use). Once the brisket is covered in rub, you can leave it covered in the fridge overnight.
Chuck’s Pork and Beef Seasoning
¼ cup of each of the following:
Brisket Sauce (make in bowl)
If you’d like to try some other recipes of mine, check out our last blog article Spice Up Your Kitchen in 2018!–there are some great Mediterranean flavors to try!
About sixteen years ago, I did a Festival of Nations event and served meatballs from thirty different countries. Events like these remind me and others of the diversity of flavors available to us and the impact that a single ingredient can have on a dish. It’s one of the reasons I love what I do so much.
As we push toward the New Year, I thought it would be fun to give some thought to new flavors that have become quite popular. Globalization has made it possible for spices of the world to travel, and for us foodies to experience other countries right in our own backyards. I mean, less than a century ago, we couldn’t even purchase cashews, but now we can’t go into a grocery store without noticing them. Access to eclectic flavors is really a privilege. As we step into another year of diverse and delicious cuisine, I plan to share some recipes that I find that fit into this expansive theme.
Some flavors I’ve been particularly drawn to are those of the Middle East and Northern Africa, variations of Mediterranean, really. Two recipes I have become very familiar with are the vibrant Maghrebian Harissa and the herb-loving Za’atar. Please join my palate and me in trying these out-of-this-world condiments and spices.
Move over Sriracha! Harissa is here.
This is a vibrantly sweet, smoky, and spicy condiment that transforms into a hot, garlicky and complex chili paste. The basic recipe calls for hot peppers, garlic, salt, and lots of olive oil, but you can also add some coriander, caraway seeds, and maybe cumin and dried mint depending on your preference.
Makes 1 cup
Za’atar is a wonderful spice mixture that can improve any dish— it brings out flavors similar to salt. Like most regional seasoning mixtures, there are literally hundreds of versions, but this is mine. These flavors work really well in a number of dishes, but especially with grilled meats, fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, and all sorts of other vegetables. I also use za’atar as an oil-based dip for flatbread!
Simple Roasted Za’atar Chicken