Monthly Archives: February 2017

WEEKEND IN ANNAPOLIS and Vegetable Soup

What a lovely weekend. For a dear friends birthday two other couples as well as ourselves spent an overnight in Annapolis at the O’Callaghan hotel. We were joined later that evening by another couple that lived nearby. We went to Pussers for dinner and then to the Fleet Club for a cocktail. As if that wasn’t enough we ended the night in a tavern called the Rams Head. I have pictures to prove it but will protect the innocent. As far as I can tell a good time was had by all and the birthday girl was well celebrated!

Dinner at Pussers was good. I would have to say my favorite taste sensation was the Tuna Poke. Chunks of spicy marinated raw Tuna, covered with white and black sesame seeds on a bed of seaweed salad. Long slender fried wontons accompanied the dish as a vehicle to eat the tuna and salad. My husband and I love Asian food and this was no exception. Of course, the martinis, wine, and beer flowed freely too. Good company, great conversation, and lots of laughs. That is, after all, what celebrations are all about. Then on to the Fleet Club.

One of our friends, being a member of the Fleet Club, decided to take us in as guests. It was also convenient that it was right next door to Pussers. So in we go, all 8 of us! It was packed to the gills with young adults, most barely 21 as far as I could tell. In fact the birthday girl commented, “I feel like a chaperone at the Prom.” I had to agree. It was loud and noisy and the floor was so sticky from spilled drinks your feet actually stuck to the floor. I remember those days but can honestly say I do not miss them. One cocktail and we were out! Just a bit much for the more mature crowd that evening.

So on to the Rams Head! As always on the weekends, this place was packed. We headed downstairs to the bar and found a couple spots and ordered, more cocktails of course. So much fun and laughter, I have to say, I love my friends. With cell phone held high over my head I started taking pictures of everybody with no warning and have plenty of memories and some really funny pictures.  

Homeward bound Sunday morning and as if we hadn’t had enough we stopped at a place called the Jetty in Kent Island for some hair of the dog. I should mention, this is were my husband and I met 22 years ago and the rest is history. Then home to Cambridge to attend a Muskrat and Crawfish festival in downtown Cambridge. Packed weekend, wouldn’t you say? We were so tired I couldn’t wait to get home and get in my comfy lounging attire, PJ’s that is. Also couldn’t wait to get back home and make something comforting, healthy, and tasty. So a big pot of Vegetable soup sounded just right and it was and is. Soup is always better the second day, which is why I always make a big pot. 

I have posted the recipe which is close to what I make all the time. You can add beef to it if you want some protein. Crab meat is also a nice addition with Old Bay to your taste.  I like it either way. Also any vegetable is acceptable and to your preferred taste. It is so much better the next day as all the flavors have time to catch up and join each other making it even more tasty.

                                                                                                    Vik’s Vegie Soup

  • 1/2 head cabbage, sliced in large shreds
  • 2 cups mixed veggies 
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cut french green beans, cut into thirds
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  •  1 small turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, large diced
  • 2 cans, fire roasted tomatoes, do not drain
  • Vegetable broth or chicken broth to cover
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water as needed to allow for evaporation
  1. Prep all the veggies and place in a large stockpot
  2. Add the undrained tomatoes
  3. Cover all with broth 
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. (I simmer for a good two hours.)
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

If you like your soup sweeter you can add some brown or granulated sugar to your taste. I prefer to stay away from the extra calories and find it is sweet enough. If you add beef, brown it in the stockpot first and then proceed as above.

Very easy and delicious! Til next time….

Ciao xoxo

Vickie

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CROCK POT CHICKEN FOR THE WEEK

Not sure about all of you and where you live but it’s supposed to be winter here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The average temperature here this week has been 60 degrees. While I am happy for everybody’s wallet regarding paying electric and heating bills I can’t help but feel the worse is yet to come. Next week our weather projection is also good. I have seen blooms on branches and green peeking above ground. After returning from Aruba in January my husband is doing cartwheels! Did I mention he hates the cold? Cant wait to see what the rest of February and March bring. I am going to predict a snow storm for Easter. They way things are going it would be no surprise to me.

I am a nurse of 40 plus years. While I still practice it is only part time, lately it seems more like full time. Hence my hectic week. With both of us running it’s hard to keep up with each other but eventually we are able to meet up for dinner and have the occasional glass of wine before we both pass out from exhaustion. With that said, I turn to my trusty slow cooker made by, who else, CROCK-POT! We eat a lot of chicken and fish. I have found that rotisserie chickens are great but I don’t always feel like running to the store and usually have frozen chicken all the time. I have a quick cooking method for boneless, skinless, chicken breasts that makes life easy when you get home from work. 

We had chicken cheese steak subs with peppers, onions, and mushrooms that were filling, and out of this world. I used shredded Gruyere and sub rolls that I ripped some of the soft bread out of to reduce the carbs. It can be used for chili, soups, salads, tacos, stew, potpies…the list is endless. Once you have the chicken cooked it’s a quick and tasty throw together when you just don’t feel like standing over the stove when you get home from work. So here’s the method, it couldn’t be easier and you will have quick meals in a flash.

                                                                                            CROCK POT CHICKEN

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (frozen or thawed)
  • PAM cooking spray (I like olive oil)
  • chicken broth
  • garlic, onions (optional)
  1. Salt and pepper both sides of your breasts
  2. Spray your CROCK POT lightly
  3. Place the breasts in the crockpot (if they overlap a bit it’s okay)
  4. Pour enough chicken broth to surround but not cover the breasts
  5. I like to add whole garlic cloves to the pot for flavor. You can use whatever you like. Onions, apples, celery, carrots, or herbs of choice. It’s totally up to you. You don’t have to add anything, I just like the added flavor.
  6. Turn your pot to low and cook for about 5-6 hours.
  7. When done, remove from the pot and slice, shred, or cube, or a bit of each depending on how you want to use it.
  8. Refrigerate it and use it all week in your favorite recipes.

This chicken is so tender and moist you will wonder why you haven’t done it before. If you have a really good recipe, please share! I love a good chicken recipe. 

Til next time……Ciao xoxo

FRENCH ONION SOUP

I love French onion soup. It’s one of those soups that I enjoy more at home than when I am out simply because between the cheese and the onions it can get a little messy. Unfortunately I am not happy unless I am wearing my food! My husband always says I wear it well.

My husband of 20 years informed me he had never had French onion soup. Ludicrous, I said. So I went on a mission to find a recipe that was suitable for Weight Watchers but was also tasty. I came up with the recipe below and guess what? You do all of it in your CrockPot. Super easy and super tasty.  By the way, Joseph loved it. So it was a success and will definitely stay in my recipe repertoire.

 I am told French onion soup freezes well. I will let you know how that goes, since there is a lot of it left. If it freezes well this is a bigger winner than I had planned on. It’s always nice to have soups at hand for those days when nothing but soup and a sammy or salad just hit the spot.

Forgive my crouton’s……..I am infamous for burning the bread. Honestly, it was fine! Yours will be perfect.

                                                                             SLOW COOKER FRENCH ONION SOUP

SERVING SIZE 1 CUP (serves 8)      4 WW PP.  

  • 4 sweet onions sliced thinly. (I used a mandoline but a food processor would also do the trick.)
  • 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of good Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp of brown sugar or sweetener of your choice
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 64 oz of beef broth
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme, crushed
  • Splash of good Sherry or to taste
  • Fresh grated nutmeg
  1. Set your crockpot to high and add the butter, Worchestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, brown sugar,  and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Approx 1-1 1/2 hours.
  2. Add the broth, salt, and thyme. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  3. Add the Sherry and stir to mix.

To serve: Cut slices of french baguette and toast them. In individual oven proof bowls, ladle the soup, place a slice of toasted baguette, and top with 1 oz of Gruyere cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Grate a small amount of Nutmeg on the cheese slices (use caution Nutmeg is powerful.)  Serve immediately.

Mac N Cheese

So, some of the ladies I work with have decided they are going to lose weight. Their motivation is to put $25 in a pot and at the end of 60 days, one lucky person will win the total of that pot. At last count I believe we were at $250. Not too shabby and I wouldn’t mind being the benificiary of that loot! Not to mention, I’m extremely competitive and what great motiviation to get in shape for summer. So I am devoting my diet to Weight Watchers. I have done Weight Watchers for years and I know when I follow it……it does work!

So out come all of my old recipes. My pin boards are loaded with WW recipes and tips also. My monthly WW card came and along with my card was a recipe for Crunchy Top Mac N Cheese. I was craving pasta and comfort food and this one certainly did not dissapoint in any way. It is a large portion and very filling.  I rounded  out the meal with roasted brussel sprouts, one of my fav’s, and both my husband and I found the meal very satisfying. I hope you will try it and tell me what you think. This has limitless possibilities for cheese choices, so make it yours.

This is 4 servings at 7SP per serving!

 

WW Crunchy Top Mac N Cheese

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 C panko
  • 1 (20 oz) package peeled and cut up butternut squash
  • 3/4 C vegetable broth
  • 1 C shredded reduced fat sharp Cheddar
  • 2 Tbsp Pecorino (I used Parmiggano/Regianno)
  • 2 Tbsp Neufchatel (1/3 less fat cream cheese) I used 2 wedges of Laughing Cow
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/4 C mini pasta (I used macaroni)
  • 2 C small cauliflower florets
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring large saucepan of salted water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 4 minutes; set aside.
  3. Add squash to boiling water; cover and return to boil. Cook, uncovered, until squash is very tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine broth, Cheddar, Pecorino, cream cheese, mustard, salt, and cayenne in blender. With slotted spoon, transfer cooked squash to blender and puree. (LEAVE the water in the pot)
  5. Bring water back to boil. Cook pasta half the time directed on package; add cauliflower during last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain; return to pot. Stir in puree and toss to coat. Spread pasta mixture in prepared baking dish; top with crumb mixture and spray with nonstick spray. Bake until top is golden and casserole is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Fried Chicken…Not!!!

Okay….so I have a grandson, Wyatt. Absolute love of my life, can’t get enough of him, and he loves my pancakes! He stayed with Mimi and Pops so Mom and Dad could have some adult time. I love it, however dinner with an 8 year old can be a challenge. So doesn’t every child like chicken tenders? I think so, seems like that’s  what they always ask for when they go to Mickey D’s, and oh, don’t forget the toy! So I decided, chicken tenders it is, with a salad and some oven fries.

I saw Trisha Yearwood make fried chicken sandwiches on TV with her Momma’s white gravy. It looked good and I figured, this is a Southern gal, why not. I made my own buttermilk biscuit recipe, they turn out perfect every time. I did not make the gravy, I was more interested in this amazing looking fried chicken.

With recipe in hand I did exactly what it said! My chicken was beautifully browned but just did not have that crunch. In fact, it tasted like chicken wrapped in pancake batter. It tasted okay but definitely did not rival any fried chicken I have made before. So, back to my original oven fried chicken which has amazing crunch and, it has to be said, it’s a healthier way to eat fried chicken.

Anyway, that’s what cooking is all about right? Variety and finding that perfect recipe! I am posting my Buttermilk Biscuit recipe. I hope you try it!

                                                                              BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Flour for dusting your bread board
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. In a medium bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine all dry ingredients
  3. Using a pastry blender or large fork, add butter cubes into the dry ingredients. Blend, without over blending, until the dry ingredients resemble course meal.
  4. Add the buttermilk slowly, and stir with a fork until the mixture is just combined. It will still be somewhat dry but should hold together when pressed.
  5. Dump the mixture out onto a slightly floured board.
  6. Using your hands, gently pat the dough out until it is approximately 1/2 inch thick. DO NOT over handle the dough and do not use a rolling pin…simply flatten the disc out with your hands.
  7. Starting at te very edge, use a round cutter and cut the biscuits. DO NOT twist or turn the cutter, cut straight down and remove. ( This makes 6-10 biscuits depending on the size of the cutter you use.)
  8. Place the biscuits on an ungreased cooking sheet, with sides of each biscuit touching each other.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
  10. Remove from the oven and brush with the 1 Tbsp of melted butter.
  11. Serve warm with butter and honey or whatever you fancy.

Enjoy,

Vickie

Super Bowl is over…..

Well, unless you live under a rock you know that Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is a big hero. So another Super Bowl has come and gone and we have another annual Skeet and Eat under our belts as well, number 5. What is Skeet and Eat you ask? Well, listen up…..I’m gonna share.

We live on the very outer fringes of Cambridge, Maryland. We are blessed to have some land and it is very quiet until the Del Grosso’s host a party! We always had Super Bowl parties but added a little something to the day. We have our friends and family over, they bring a dish to pash and share, beverage of their choosing, and their weapon of choice to shoot clay pigeons or target shoot over the pond in one of our fields. Quite a bit of fun actually. Hence the name “Skeet and Eat”. This was our 5th annual and as far as I can tell a good time was had by all. The weather cooperated here and everybody got to go out and enjoy the day.

Among the dishes that were brought was Oyster Chowder, Buffalo dip, guacamole, venison fondue, and meatballs. I made oven burger sliders that turned out pretty good. I got the recipe from Pinterest and tweaked it a little with my own twist. The original recipe was called French Onion Beef Sliders. They did, as the recipe suggested, go quickly. I don’t know about you but I love a good burger. So you might want to check that one out. I will say this…..the next time I make this I would totally cook the burger in a sheet pan and then cut the patties into squares to fit 24 slider rolls instead of chopped burger. I just really appreciate the burger in it’s purest form.

So, with football behind us it’s time to start looking forward and think about what cool crops we are going to put in our raised beds. Kale and spinach are always good and we love them. We also love lettuces, so that is at the top of our list. March is usually a good month here to start cold crops so it’s not too soon to start plotting and planning. I do want some more beds built simply because we need more space for some of the summer plants I want to put in. As soon as planting begins I will include some pictures and highlights of our farming follies.

I have been drawing quite a bit lately since being outside presents a problem with the cold and the rain. I recently drew a piece for my friend Robyne for a birthday present. As we mature it gets harder and harder to come up with gifts. I know myself that I don’t really need anything so thoughtful, handmade gifts are a treasure. So here she is……! 

I have some new projects coming up, and will incorporate more recipes in the future. The cookbook is coming along nicely as well.  See you soon!

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