Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

kalebeetapplesaladAfter seeing a beautiful salad recipe posted by my friend Debra this week, I adapted ingredients we had to make one that looks much like hers and used the same delicious vinaigrette with a bit of extra curry. The result is colorful and tasty –  a work of art  with layers of flavor!  Since we have an abundant crop of kale in our garden, we will have this often in our winter menus. This salad rates very high on the nutrition scale as well. I used pickled beets but you can add roasted or steamed fresh beets instead.

Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad

4 cups ruffled kale, shredded.

2 cups coarsely chopped peeled apples

2 cups pickled beet pieces

Curry Vinaigrette, recipe below.

Wash and pat the kale leaves dry before stripping from center stems.  Roll leaves and slice crosswise to shred.  Add chopped kale to a large bowl.  Add apples.  Drain beets and add, tossing with Curry Vinaigrette at least 4 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.  Toss gently when ready to serve.

Curry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot curry powder.  Use mild if your family prefers.

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

Whisk all ingredients together before pouring over salad.

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

breadpudding2

Years ago, my sister sent me a recipe for bread pudding which I believe she found in the Austin Statesman. I added cranberries and our family raved about it. I do not think I ever made bread pudding before that, but have certainly made up for it since. This has become a keeper, a favorite, a lovely holiday tradition for the Parker kitchen. I have mentioned it before on Kitchen Keepers, but it deserves a stand alone post. I served it this week at our family Christmas dinner.  it is also a favorite guilty pleasure served for next morning’s breakfast or brunch if there are any leftovers!

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

1 pound French bread loaf, plain

1 quart half and half

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

1½cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons almond extract

¾  cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dried cranberries

Tear french bread loaf into bite-sized pieces, place in a medium size bowl Pour quart of half and half over bread and soak for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 325 and butter a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 stick of melted butter, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 3 eggs. Then stir in 2 tablespoons almond extract,  3/4 cups sliced almonds, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Pour soaked bread pieces into buttered baking dish and add almond/ cranberry mixture over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until it is turning golden brown on top. While it is cooking, make Amaretto Sauce:

Amaretto Sauce

½ cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 egg

¼ cup Amaretto

Cook 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until hot. Allow the sugar mixture to cool to room temperature.

Whisk in 1 egg and 1/4 cup Amaretto.  After the bread pudding is cooked, slice it lengthwise and crosswise in the baking dish. Spoon sauce mixture over the top. Then, put the pudding back into the oven under the broiler until the sauce bubbles. WATCH CAREFULLY! It is really easy to burn the top of the pudding at the end. It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.

It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.   For individual servings, cut pudding into squares, place one at a time on oven proof dessert dish, spoon sauce over top and broil briefly as with whole pudding.

Christmas Quiche

quicheWe are baking Christmas breads and Christmas cookies, so when I made this quiche a couple of nights ago, I dubbed it “Christmas Quiche.” Joe says it is my best effort for quiche so far, and I make alot of different ones, so this one is a keeper.  I have an old cookbook from The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. One day I noticed a quiche recipe in it titled Quiche with Character.  I like recipe names that catch my eye, so modeled this recipe after that one. Adding chilies, green onions and olives with pimiento makes both appearance and flavor festive – a Christmas quiche!

Christmas Quiche

Pie  Crust for 9 inch pie (I used Pillsbury refrigerated crusts)

1 1/2 cups shredded Mexcian 4 Cheese blend ( Cheddar, monterey jack, asadero, queso quesadilla)

4 strips thick cut bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled into small pieces

2 chopped green onions, including green tops

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

3 large eggs

1 cup half -and-half

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 teaspoon salt

4-5 drops Tobasco

1 4 ounce can chopped green chiles, drained

1/3 cup sliced green olives stuffed with pimiento

Line pie plate with crust and chill.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread shredded cheese over bottom of pie shell.  Sprinkle with Creole Seasoning.

Add crumbled bacon.

Beat eggs and add cream, half and half, salt, Tabasco, chlies, olives, and green onions. Pour over cheese and bacon. Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

 

 

 

Wilted Garden Greens

wilted-greens

I remember my mother, Opal Teal, making wilted lettuce with iceberg lettuce cooked long enough to “wilt” in bacon grease and sprinkled with vinegar!  I thought it sounded awful and did not share her love for the dish!  All these years later, I think it might have been tastier than it looked!  We love using a few leaves of different greens to make this dish. Our winter garden contains a few thriving plants of Chard, Mustard, Kale, Bok Choy and Cabbage. A mixture of any of those can be delicious, but I usually limit my choices to include only 2 or 3.  The greens in the photo are Mustard and Bok Choy. Balsamic vinegar splashed on before serving makes this a dish Mother would have loved herself!

Wilted Garden Greens

4-5 large leaves of Mustard Greens

4-5 large leaves of Bok Choy

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Wash and pat the greens dry. Strip the center stem from each leaf. Stack several leaves and roll them up before slicing thinly with a sharp knife.

Heat olive oil in iron skillet.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Then add shredded greens, tossing with tongs until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper and add balsamic vinegar before serving.

Smothered Chicken

smothered-chicken

Smothered Chicken is an old Southern favorite, often served with rice.  The tender chicken and smooth sauce is also a wonderful with mashed or baked potatoes.  Add some wilted greens or green peas and a salad for a hearty meal.  We had this a few days ago on a cold, wet night – perfect for warming body and spirit!  Sprinkle sauce with your favorite dried herbs for seasoning if you like, but be sure to brown the chicken first. I brown the chicken in an iron skillet, lift it into a baking dish, and make the gravy or sauce in the same skillet.

Smothered Chicken

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 2 thighs per person.

Flour

Salt and Pepper

Cooking oil for a level of about 1/2 inch in the frying pan.

2 cups of sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken and dust with flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in hot oil in a heavy skillet until lightly browned on both sides.  Remove and place in baking pan.  Pour sauce over the chicken, cover, and bake for 1 hour, or until chicken is tender.

Sauce or Gravy for Smothered Chicken

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Tarragon Peas and Mushrooms

tarragon-peas-and-mushrooms

Since tarragon does not thrive in our part of Texas, we grow Mexican Mint Marigold in the herb bed. I use it in any recipe which calls for tarragon, so for this dish I used the pretty mint marigold flowers for garnish.  I always keep Penzey’s dried French Tarragon in the pantry for times when the herb garden is wintering.  This combination of mushrooms, butter, and chopped fresh herb would be a great addition to green beans, too!

Tarragon Peas and Mushrooms

16 ounce package frozen green peas

1 cup fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 T butter

1 T chopped fresh tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold plus a few leaves for garnish

herb flowers left whole for garnish

Melt butter to pan and add sliced mushrooms. Saute, stirring occaionally until mushrooms are tender.  Add frozen peas and cook 3-4 minutes, until heated through but not mushy.

Put into serving dish with extra herb leaves and flowers for garnish.

 

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

cookie

Nora and I made a new recipe for chocolate cookies that will be one we consider a keeper!   This is for all the chocolate lovers in our family and yours!  Double chocolate, the taste is deep and rich.  Bake them longer if you want a crisp cookie, but they are best when you watch your baking time carefully and take them out when they are soft and puffy. They flatten as they cool, rich and chewy. Very much like a brownie in a cookie!  There are many recipes similar to this online and in cookbooks. Some use peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 14cups butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

34  cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°

In large mixer bowl; cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually blend into creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake only 8 or 9 minutes. Cookies will not look done, but soft and puffy.  LIft with a spatula and place on wire rack to cool. They flatten as they cool.

chewychocolatecookies

Kale with Cherries and Apple

kale

Even though our garden beds are newly planted, we have lovely winter greens that have begun to thrive in recent cooler weather.  Kale is a favorite, so we planted both red and green ruffled kale as well as Cavallo Negra, or Tuscan Kale.  For a side with baked chicken this week, I sauteed kale leaves, chopped apple, and dried tart cherries. Delicious! For this skillet, I only cut 3 large kale leaves!

Kale with Cherries and Apple

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Kale leaves, stems stripped, and chopped

1 Honey Crisp apple, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

salt and pepper

balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in iron skillet.  Add kale tossed with apples, and cherries, and saute until kale is wilted.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

 

Apple Spice Cake with Praline Frosting

caramelapplecake

Many of the flavors of Autumn I love most are combined in this apple cake. The cake looks like the cover of my recent Southern Living magazine, but the recipe omits the layer of cream cheese batter that cake features.  The kitchen smells like a cup of chai tea, and we can hardly wait to slice and taste!  Great for dessert, as a treat with coffee, or toasted for breakfast!

Apple Spice Cake
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups flour
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Praline Frosting
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (about 5 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring brown sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium, stirring constantly; boil,stirring constantly, 1 minute.

2. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Gently stir until mixture begins to cool and thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, sprinkling top with toasted pecans if desired.

Caramelized Butternut Squash

butternut

Winter squashes are not only great decorations before cooking, but also delicious,nutritious, and add beautiful color to our fall table.  My favorite is Butternut Squash.  Roasting and caramelizing adds an amazing layer of flavor.  Try using any leftovers in soup or salad!

Caramelized Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash (6-8 cups cubed) (I have used Costco’s precut squash for super quick and easy preparation)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note:  cinnamon or cayenne may be added for varying flavor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off and discard the ends of  butternut squash. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds with a spoon. Cut into  1-inch cubes and pour onto baking sheet lined with foil (for easier cleanup). Add melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss and spread in a single layer. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize on edges. Turn the squash a few times with a spatula.  Remove to serving dish.