Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turkey Recipe Roundup

Turkey options...just a few. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful and safe Thanksgiving!

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~
Bluebear, Denali and yes the Turkey!

Turkey Sliders
Turkey Breast in the Crock Pot
Turkey Roulade
Grilled Turkey Sandwich with Cheddar Cheese
Traveling and PlanningThanksgiving Dinner
Simple Thanksgiving Dinner
Kary's Cobb Salad with Turkey
Ground Turkey Meal Options

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Green Beans Spicy~ side dish or appetizer/starter

Fresh and Spicy Green Beans~ Great as a side dish, appetizer/starter

If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional green bean casserole here is a kicked up version of green beans, this dish will add some spice to your traditional Thanksgiving meal.

        1 lb fresh green beans, tips cut off, rinse and dry
        2 Tablespoons light Soy sauce
        1 garlic clove minced
        1 teaspoon chili powder
        1 teaspoon Agave or honey
        ¼ cup slice almonds, lightly toasted

How to Prepare:

        Fill a large cooking pot about ½ full and bring to a boil
        Add the green beans and cook over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes, until tender~I like a little crunch in my green beans, no mushy green beans for me
        Drain the green beans, then fill the pot with cold water to keep the green beans from further cooking and they should retain their bright green color, set aside
        Coat a small sauté pan with non-stick cooking spray and brown the almonds
        Careful not to burn!
        In a small in bowl mix together the soy sauce, minced garlic, Agave or honey
        Heat a large skillet, add the olive oil and toss in the green beans, heat for 2 to 3 minutes
        Add sauce, toss to make sure the green beans are well coated and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until liquid is evaporated 
        Sprinkle in the toasted sliced almonds

Serve as a side dish or great as an appetizer warm or cold.

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Enjoy ~

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Goldfinch, Book Club and Beouf Bourguignon

 “Have you read the Book? Book Club” This month we are reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. 
Image result for the goldfinchIt's that time of year for me to host our book club! We are a flexible group and since we had several scheduling challenges in September, also a flu bug (we never get the flu but this year it hit my usually healthy hubby hard) so we rescheduled for the first week of October.

We selected the “The Goldfinch” as a summer vacation read because as Rosemary reminded us it is 771 pages, we love Ro and she has a memory that beats everyone in our group.

The best way I can explain the book is in terms of food, the words read like a long leisurely meal, the story is disturbing but so brilliantly written. Just when you think the meal is over the host brings out another delicious dish. The author takes on a journey through the streets of NYC, the dry desert of Las Vegas and the ancient streets of Europe.

The story of Theo and his buddy Boris is disturbing, haunting and yet you want to keep lapping up the book like amazing gravy. It is a story filled with references to great works of art, the lost art of furniture makers and pulls us into the world of antiques. This was another tale of nurture versus nature and it reminds us that there are so many children lout there who raise themselves, living in unimaginable conditions.

As usual with our group some of us loved the book, some the writing more than the story, others not so much and several just did not have time to read it. But hey that is why we are called “Have you read the Book? Book Club”.

Ann brought up the subject of what constitutes literature versus a good book or novel. We talked about how a good book makes us feel like we are there, in the experience. However in literature there is something more, sometimes we might not love the story or the characters; however we love the writing style, which compels us to continue to turn the pages. In the “The Goldfinch” this is a perfect example of literature, the writing is beautiful and complex, the words create an image so complete you feel that you are there in the Antique shop or the dry deserted housing development in Las Vegas or in a hotel room in Amsterdam.

As I read the book I had the feeling that the story was written by someone from Europe. I thought maybe Donna Tartt was raised in Europe; however I discovered that she was raised in Greenwood, Mississippi. She attended the University of Mississippi then transferred to Bennington College and her writing style is considered neo-romanticism”. Per WikipediaThis prose style is relatively unique in contemporary American literary fiction, particularly given a present tendency by fiction writers and literary critics to favor a more brief and to-the-point prose style.” This explains why we would consider “The Goldfinch” literature and it won the Pulitzer Prizefor fiction in 2014.

Sometimes when we host book club we try to set the mood of the book through the meal that we prepare. I was trying to decide what to cook for our book club that would compliment the book. The weather in the Carolinas had turned cool and my best bud Karin suggested something French like Beouf Bourguignon, I could brown the beef the day ahead, chop the
Beouf Bourguignon in the Crock Pot
veggies then toss it all in the crock pot for a slow simmer all day long. Easy and always delicious, the only way to make beef stew!

The night of book club the distinct aroma of Beof Bourguignon greeted the ladies as they arrived. As it turned out the cool weather disappeared and here I was with a heartwarming dish on a very warm day.

We all love a cool salad, however I was trying to think of veggie’s to serve as an appetizer. So I visited my local market and picked up my favorite roasted red pepper and pine nut hummus, a couple of cucumbers which I peeled and sliced and served with a side of crackers for a little something to nosh on while sipping a glass of vino before serving up the main dish.

As we discussed the book we finished the evening with vanilla ice cream and my homemade chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips, which is always a hit!

We definitely recommend that you read “The Goldfinch” , a great discussion book, enjoy the enjoy! 

Here's a quote from Donna Tartt…"I believe, in a funny way, the job of the novelist is to be out there on the fringes and speaking for an experience that has not really been spoken for.
To really be centered and to really work well and to think about the kinds of things that I need to think about, I need to spend large amounts of time alone.
Everything takes me longer than I expect. It's the sad truth about life."

Did you read the book and what meal would you prepare for book club?

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Food Favorites

Happy Halloween! Halloween Food favorites

I love Halloween! It’s that time of year when creativity is at its peak and the costumes just get better and more imaginative every year!

Chicken Fingers Baked

And of course the gran babies make it really fun again.
This year my gran baby Avery is dressing up as Miss Captain America with a sparkly tiara, shield and tutu. Avery will be four this November and she is a fan of Mickey, Princess, Mermaids, Ninja Turtles and most recently Marvel Characters.
In the past Miss Avery has been Minnie Mouse, the cutest pumpkin you have ever seen and an adorable Little Mermaid Ariel. Her brother Beckett celebrated his first Halloween last year as Ariel’s best buddy Sebastian the crab and this year he will be a Ninja Turtle Donatello. Of course last year Avery didn’t want Bluebear to be left out so he dressed up as Scuttle.

I thought I would share some of my favorite foods that are great any time and a crowd favorite whether you are hosting a Halloween party, looking for something to take to a gathering or cooking for yourself.

What are your favorite Halloween recipes and what is your favorite costume?

Kid favorite Chicken Fingers Oven-Baked ok admit it everyone who eats chicken loves these!
Easy Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Recipes:

More Fav’s
 Shrimp Marinated Lulu’s Awesome Recipe  ~ The shrimp is so delicious as an appetizer or try my Shrimp Pasta Salad, Mardi Gras Style always a fan fav!

A great family favorite is Apricot Zingers; Dried Apricots, Organic Jalapeno Peppers and Bacon Appetizer from Carries Vitt’s new cookbook, “The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic”. 

What are you cooking for Halloween? 

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~ 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cooking with Kary: Grilled Bratwurst, Bell Peppers, Sweet Yellow Onio...

It is the last weekend of Octoberfest at our favorite German Restaurant in Charlotte, The Waldhorn. If you can't make it to a local celebration celebrate at home! 

In honor of October Fest here is my favorite way to prepare Bratwurst, any time of year! Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~

Cooking with Kary: Grilled Bratwurst, Bell Peppers, Sweet Yellow Onio...:  Grilled Brat's, peppers, onions, tomatoes and Home Fries What are you cooking this Fourth of July weekend? Doug-King of the...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canning Tomatoes with Friends, it Take's Two!

Let the canning lesson begin!

Ms. Elaine, one of my best friends and I decided that this year we were going to can tomatoes, green beans and corn.

So far no green beans, you can blame it on the lack of rain; however several weeks ago the tomato harvest was in full bloom! Our usual Saturday ritual of yoga, farmers market and breakfast turned into a last minute preparation to can on Sunday afternoon.

Elaine grew up canning with her Mom; however she had not tried her hand at canning tomatoes since she lost her mum many years ago. 

Here’s what we learned: It takes two! We followed the directions in the book that came with Elaine’s Mothers Pressure Canner and I think Elaine’s Mum would be proud!

We planned on 50 pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes and Bill from The Specialty Farmer, Inc had a truck load of fresh organic tomatoes that were ready for canning. Once the tomatoes start to crack and sit in the hot summer heat they will begin to put off a very unpleasant smell. So be prepared to can when the tomatoes are ready, they will not wait for you. I found many websites that provide in-depth information on canning and they suggest adding lemon juice, our recipe did not call for lemon juice and since Elaine has used this recipe for years  we followed the instructions. Elaine has already made tomato soup from one of her pints, which she said was beyond delicious!

Here’s what we used:
Recipe called for 50 lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes; however some of the tomatoes were really ripe so Bill loaded us up, probably 70 pounds because although the tomatoes were fresh off the vine with such high temps the tomatoes start to spoil rather quickly.
Sharp paring knife – Cut out the bad parts and if it smells, well do I need to tell you to cut until all you smell is fresh tomato. Now we know where the term “Rotten Tomatoes” comes from.  Elaine said they always canned as the tomatoes ripened, so she never experienced the tomatoes starting to smell.  
24 Pint jars and 7 Quart canning jars
New Lids with sealsboil, remove with tongs and air dry right before you start canning
Large Pot to boil the tomatoes in
Large Spoon with slates to remove the tomatoes from boiling water
Large bowl to cool the tomatoes, we both had a huge Tupperware bowl with the green lid, check in your kitchen you probably have one as well…
Large spoon to push out the air in the jars and pack in the tomatoes
Pressure Canner ~ we used Elaine’s Mother’s and it still does the job!
Salt ~ Just a pinch per jar

Place a large pot on the stove and bring to a boil.

Rinse off the tomatoes and use you’re pairing knife to cut out any bad spots, the tomatoes should smell fresh. Place in the boiling water, we had a variety of sizes so we just put 5 to 6 in the large pot, don’t crowd them. 

It only takes 1 to 2 minutes for the tomato peel to start falling off. Once they start to peel use your large slated spoon to remove the tomatoes and drop immediately in a bowl of cold water, the peel should fall right off.

Next cut the tomatoes in quarters and put in the jars, using a spoon to pack the

jars. You need about ½ to 1 inch from the lid so they will seal properly. 
This is really important: Make sure you clean and dry the rim of the jar so they will seal properly!

Next stack the jars in the canner per the instructions, seal and turn on the heat. We waited for the “Jiggling” sound, then we waited for the sound of the steam escaping…Make sure you pay close attention and follow the instructions for your canning equipment!

Once the canner cools remove the jars from the canner and wait for the sound of the lids to
pop, which indicates that they are sealed!

We decided to leave the jars to cool at Elaine’s and I planned to pick them up the following Saturday. I had pictures to carry me over until I proudly placed the jars in my pantry! I can’t wait until I crack open the first jar and I will let you know what I make with them. Soooo many recipes to try….

For a more in-depth process on canning go to simplycanning, 
youtubePickYourOwn - Canning tomatoes made easy and illustrated, love this site they even use the font that I love!

Thank you Elaine and of course Chloe for sharing your kitchen, I can't wait for our next cooking adventure! 

Do you have a canning story to share?

Just cook something, or can something! Cheers! Kary~ 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen Produce~ What to buy

It seems like almost every day I have a discussion with someone about the cost of organic produce and food. With many children, teachers and staff heading back to the classroom I thought it would be the perfect time to post this.

This is my go to list from Environmental Working Group

Clean 15

If the cost of organic produce does not fit into your budget or isn’t available in your neighborhood here is a list of the “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables. The following is a list of vegetables and fruits with the lowest pesticide residues, which was posted by the Environmental Working Group on their website.

Here is their list of the “Clean 15”:

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangos
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon

The Dirty Dozen posted by the Environmental Working Group

Now for the list of the “dirty dozen” that you should spend your hard earned money on. Recommended by the Environmental Working Group here is the list of vegetables and fruits with the highest pesticide residues. Let’s go shopping!

Here is the list of the “Dirty Dozen”:
Organic Blue Potatoes

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Cherries
10. Kale/Collard Greens
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes

Hmmm what about tomatoes? I will need to do some research, of course home grown is always best... Have you seen this list before and what are your thoughts?

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary~