Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Liebster Blog - Thank You!

Liebster: German word meaning "dearest" or "beloved." 
Liebster Blog Award: an honor awarded from one blogger to another to show support for an up and coming blog.

You like me! You really, really like me! OK - I'm not Sally Field - but I am very honored to be awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Susan at The Wimpy Vegetarian, Emily at Life on Food, Chandra at The Plaid & Paisley Kitchen, and Leanne at Around the Table.

Leanne writes a great blog filled with the kind of food you want to eat. Tackling everything from homemade ricotta to lemon & honey crock pot chicken Leanne's blog will make you hungry!

Emily's blog features great dinner dishes with a healthy dose of baking and a sprinkling of chocolate served alongside some tasty tidbits about life. 

Chandra is a wife and mother who dishes up great homestyle favorites her husband and sons will enjoy - and you will too!

Susan at The Wimpy Vegetarian write a great blog about being mostly vegetarian. You have to check out her PB&J Chocolate Cake!

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers, in the spirit of fostering new connections. And in the spirit of paying the love forward, I am passing this award on to the following great up and coming blogs:

Healthy Foodie Travels - Kiri writes great stories about her travels and all the delicious sights she encounters along the way.
Diary of a Semi Health-Nut - How can you not love someone who makes healthy fun?
No One Likes Crumbley Cookies - TR has terrific gluten-free recipes. Be sure to check out his Chocolate-Orange Creme Brulee.
Cafe Terra Blog - Terra writes really tasty recipes and her photos will make you hungry for sure!

I hope you will take an interest in these great up and coming bloggers - you'll be glad you did!

Chili at Church - The First Annual Chili Cook-Off

Nothing beats a hot bowl of chili on a cold, blustery day. I have a couple of favorite versions that I make at home and will often order chili when I'm out at restaurants during the winter. There is something intrinsically comforting about ordinary beans and beef being transformed into something nuanced and layered with exotic spices from a variety of chili peppers, vegetables, and your own "secret ingredient." Imagine my excitement then, when I heard* about the First Annual Boston Chili Cook-Off sponsored by Church Restaurant.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Lasagna Hat-Trick : Grilled Eggplant, Sausage & Peppers, and Bolognese

I really want to call this Grilled Eggplant Sausage & Peppers Bolognese Lasagna but that is just too much of a mouthful... an awesomely delicious mouthful, but a mouthful nonetheless. I'd also love to call this "the best damn lasagna you ever ate" but even though I am made of awesome, I'm not quite that cocky. So, instead I offer you a lasagna hat-trick featuring interpretations of three well-loved Italian-American dishes:
  • Grilled eggplant - a classic in antipasti and a lighter substitute for that other favorite: eggplant parmigiana.
  • Sausage and peppers - an Italian-American favorite of street vendors, backyard barbecues, and ball games.
  • Bolognese sauce - an homage to my second home of Bologna, Italy and one of the most beloved exports to Italian-American cuisine.
This isn't a classic lasagna by any means. There is no ricotta, no egg to act as a binder. It is simply layer upon layer of deliciousness. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Candied Orange Peel - Fresh Citrus Candy

I was first exposed to the process of candying citrus peel when I worked at a French restaurant that offered the sweet, tart, chewy sugared strips along with candied nuts and house made chocolates to guests at the end of their visit. I was amazed at the transformation the discarded peels, which elsewhere would be considered fit for the compost heap, went through to become a trésor for fine dining.

The best part? It's some of the easiest candy you'll ever make. It's a bit time consuming, but not difficult. So the next time you're making a recipe that calls for citrus juice or segments, save the peels and make some delicious homemade candy.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Orange Cranberry Walnut Bread

I have had a lifelong love affair with fruit breads ever since tasting my Grammie's luscious banana bread as a child and helping my Mom make fruit breads as gifts every Christmas. This orange cranberry walnut bread is a fabulous breakfast or snack bread. The orange scent permeates the sweet, crisp exterior while the inside remains tender and moist with bursts of tart, fresh cranberries and rich toasted walnuts; It is so flavorful that adding butter or cream cheese to a slice really is gilding the lily.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Citruslove Bloghop - Broiled Maple Orange & Grapefruit Supreme

Winter is the prime season for citrus. Sweet-tart grapefruit, juicy sunset colored oranges, perfect tiny tangerines and so much more. My favorite are oranges - in all their forms. I love to snack on clementines and I keep oranges handy to zest into both sweet and savory recipes for a fresh hint of citrus. Even if it wasn't #citruslove month, I would probably be making all manner of orange recipes this month like this broiled maple grapefruit and orange suprême.

This is one of my favorite ways to serve citrus to a crowd. The combination of tart grapefruit and succulent orange broiled with a kiss of maple makes a typically cold fruit sweet and warm. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pulled Pork - City Style

Of the many things I loved about living in North Carolina, one of my favorite was the multitude of good quality barbecue joints. On two of my three cross-country drives I made it a point to stop at as many barbecue places as I could conveniently locate. While certainly not an exhaustive list, I have enjoyed barbecue in such classic locales as the Carolinas, Austin, Texas and Kansas City. As any American can tell you barbecue means different things to different people and folks whose hometown happens to be in a well-known barbecue region will assure you that theirs is the only true barbecue.
City style pulled pork with confetti collards and pickled red onion

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

This velvety cauliflower and sweet potato soup is not only delicious, it's super easy to make and fast enough for a weeknight dinner. In fact, the soup will be ready in about the time it takes to make a salad, slice some crusty french bread, set the table, and corral everyone in for dinner. After all the excess of the holiday season it's nice to get back to some lighter fare for a bit.

My love of soup and of my immersion blender is already well-known. This healthy soup is lightly flavored with cinnamon, is gluten free, and can be made vegan by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.