Friday, November 24, 2017

Homemade Cracker Jacks for #FoodnFlix

Our FoodnFlix selection for this month was chosen by my friend, Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures.  Amy chose the Thanksgiving Classic: Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin. Here is Amy's Invitation Post.

It is probably too late for you to watch and join us this month but  you can learn about our group and how to join in the fun next month by going to the group guidelines.

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This movie is thirty years old and I had never seen it before.  I don't know why I had never seen it.  Steve Martin and John Candy are two of my favorite comedians but for whatever reason it was never in my radar.

So, in case you live under the rock next to mine, this story is about Neal (Steve Martin) who is on his way home to Chicago from a business meeting in NYC.  It is two days before Thanksgiving and he had promised his wife and kids he would be home before morning.

Neal just barely makes his flight to find that he has been downgraded to coach and to add insult to injury he is seated next to a less than desirable seat mate, Del (John Candy).  Neal just wants to be left alone and Del, a natural born salesman, just wants to be friendly.

The flight gets rerouted to Wichita, due to a huge snowstorm, and Neal finds himself stranded without another available flight and unable to find a room....Del to the rescue...What ensues is a hilarious comedy of errors from the sleazy hotel, to a doomed train ride and finally to a rental car that they hope can take them home in time for the holiday.

I laughed out loud several times during this movie.  It is classic John Candy/Steve Martin fare.  Food inspiration left a little to be desired:


  • Neal's family is enjoying a dinner of Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad and Milk while waiting for Neal to arrive home.
  • Del is always eating.....NOTHING BUT JUNKFOOD....starting with Hot Dogs and Beer, Soda and Lifesavers.
  • Neal is forced to share a bed with Del and LOTS of Cracker Jack Crumbs.
  • There is breakfast in a diner where I spied Oatmeal, Pie, Grapefruit, Coffee, Strawberries, and Eggs.
  • Peanuts while on the train
  • Finally a real dinner in St. Louis that skimmed over what appeared to be Steak and Salad
  • Neal has a flashback of a homey, comforting, traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings
  • And an evening of camaraderie eating all the junk food and drinking all the alcohol available in a hotel room refrigerator.
The movie ends, as you knew it would with Neal and Del becoming bosom buddies and being welcomed home by Neal's family who were waiting until the very last minute to celebrate and now have a lot for which to be Thankful.



I decided to make up some homemade cracker jacks that I shared with Frank but NOT in bed...on the couch in our living room while watching another movie.

I found this recipe for Copy Cat Cracker Jack on Food.com.  It was easy and it tasted just like Cracker Jack and I'm sure it would have been just as miserable to sleep in as store bought Cracker Jack.


Home-Made Cracker Jack
slightly adapted from Food.com

3/4 c. popcorn kernels, popped (about 10 cups)
1 1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
1/4 t. baking soda
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. dark corn syrup
1 stick butter
pinch of salt
1/2 t. vanilla

Combine the popcorn and peanuts in a large roaster.  Place in a 250* oven to stay warm while making the glaze.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil without stirring for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in soda and vanilla.

Remove the roaster from the oven and pour glaze over all.  Toss and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.  Return to the oven for 45 minutes, stirring and flipping the popcorn every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and spread out onto parchment paper to cool.  Print Recipe

Thursday, November 23, 2017

For these Lord, I am grateful......

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I am, each year so extremely grateful for my loving, supportive, caring family and friends.  I know that not everyone is as blessed as I and I thank the Lord each day for surrounding me with so much love and warmth.

On this day, I will look beyond my family and friends to see 10 other events, occurrences and things for which I have to be Thankful this year.

  1. Another cancer free year for Frank.
  2. Financial stability
  3. Settling into our new home.
  4. 4 rambunctious, crazy mutts
  5. Scuba diving in the Carribean
  6. Cruising in Alaska
  7. Strolling in Vegas
  8. Outings to Theaters, Operas and Plays
  9. Successful works of Charity
  10. Over 30 books read or enjoyed audibly
I hope that this past year has been abundantly wonderful to you and yours.  May God bless and keep us in the coming year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Persimmon Chestnut Spice Cookies #FabulousFallBounty

Today is the final day of our Fabulous Fall Bounty event hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and sponsored by Melissa's Produce, Le Creuset and Silpat.


I received the above products from these companies.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I have received no monetary compensation for this post.

It has been quite the week!  There have been tons of wonderful recipes from the dozen bloggers participating in this event.  I have shared a French Soup, a salad full of Fall Flavors, a Baby Beet salad, a Mexican dish containing Guajillo Chiles and thought I would end this party with dessert.


Are you familiar with persimmons?  I have to confess that until last year, I had never tried one.  They weren't even part of  my vocabulary.  Then, I was sent some from Melissa's Produce when they sponsored one of our Wine Pairing events and I fell in love.

Needless to say I was very excited to receive some again in this Fabulous Fall Bounty Basket.  Last year I made a cake and some dip.  This year I decided to make some cookies.



This gave me an excuse to use my new Silpat mat.  I use my silicone mats all the time and I'm excited that I now have 4 of them so that when making cookies, I can get two baking trays ready while two are in the oven.  That makes short work of your baking time.

I also use silicone mats when roasting veggies.  Anytime you would use parchment paper on a baking sheet you can use the silicone mats.  I still keep parchment on hand for lining cake pans though.  I'm waiting for silpat to come out with round mats to be used in cake pans and different size square and oblong mats to be used in baking pans. Their website promises new products coming soon so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


I found this recipe for Persimmon Cookies on Allrecipes.com.  It called for walnuts but I had some steamed and peeled chestnuts from Melissa's so I substituted those.

I also used ginger instead of cloves and lessened the amount of nutmeg in the recipe.

The final adaptation was replacing the raisins with dried cranberries.

These soft, chewy cookies were reminiscent of taking a bite of spice cake.  The only moisture in these cookies comes from the persimmon and egg. The persimmon had turned gelatin like from the cornstarch but dissolved upon addition to the creamed butter.

I had the batter made and all 4 trays of cookies, containing 20 cookies on each tray,  baked and cooling in less than an hours time.  Perfect for during the busy holidays.


I had enough cookies to take to our church for the choir concert afterglow and still put some in the freezer to serve during the holidays.  I am going to pull some of them for the Thanksgiving dessert table.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the recipes from this Fabulous Fall Bounty event as much as I.  I have found lots of great new recipes that can't wait to try.  This cookie recipe is destined to become a yearly tradition.


Persimmon Chestnut Spice Cookies
adapted from Allrecipes. com submitted by Patty Tindall

2 ripe Fuyu persimmons, stemmed and quartered
1 t. baking soda
2 c. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 c. sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chopped chestnuts

Place the persimmons and baking soda in a food processor and puree.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and persimmon.  Stir in flour mixture and then beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the cranberries and chestnuts.

Using a small cookie scoop place onto a baking tray covered with a silicone mat.  The cookies do not spread much at all and are very cakelike so you can put 20 per tray.  

Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Print Recipe

Final Fabulous Fall Bounty Recipes







Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guajillo Chilaquiles and Mexican Flavored Acorn Squash Soup #Fabulous Fall Bounty

Welcome to Day 4 of our 5 day event called Fabulous Fall Bounty.  This event, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, has been so much fun and there have been tons of great recipe ideas for the Holiday season that is nipping at our heels.


Camilla had arranged for sponsors to assist us in creating recipes for this Fabulous Fall Bounty event.  Melissa's Produce provided all the bloggers with a huge box of seasonal produce.  Le Creuset provided us each with this gorgeous platter.  Silpat sent us each a baking mat.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for any of the posts in this event and all ideas, thoughts and opinions are completely mine and completely honest.


I'm pretty excited about today because not only was I able to use products from each of our sponsors but I am able to share two recipes with you that together made a perfect Meatless Monday meal.


I had gotten this wonderful bag of dried Guajillo chiles from Melissa's.  I did what I always do when given Mexican ingredients.  I turned to my well used copy of Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen and looked up Guajillo in the index.  There were some great recipes that I will be trying including one for a Grilled Steak with a Spicy Guajillo Sauce. Stay tuned for that.

I finally decided to make Guajillo Chilaquiles for a Meatless Monday meal.  I was concerned that the Chilaquiles by themselves would not be substantial enough to constitute a meal so I decided to roast up the Acorn Squash and Celery Root along with some sweet onion and carrots and create a Mexican inspired soup.



I simply made a simple roasted and pureed soup, added some chili powder and cumin for flavoring and garnished it with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for some texture.   It was amazingly tasty.


Frank made up some of his Fantastic Margaritas and it was a wonderful casual dinner perfect for Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday.

Don't forget to stop by and see all the other Fabulous Fall creations following my recipes.

Guajillo Chilaquiles
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
16 med. large dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 t. dried oregano
black pepper, to taste
dash of cumin
5 1/3 c. chicken stock, divided
1 1/2 T. olive oil
salt, to taste
sugar, to taste
1 pkg. Totada or Taco corn shells, broken into pieces
1/4 c. Crema or sour cream thinned with a bit of milk
1/4 c. Mexican crumbling cheese or Feta cheese
1/2 of an Avocado, peeled and sliced


Place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until soft and blackened in spots, set aside to cool.

While garlic is roasting, use other side of skillet to toast the chiles.  Open the chiles and lay them flat onto the skillet, pressing down with a spatula.  Cook until they crackle and send up a wisp of smoke, turn and press down to toast the other side.  Set aside, in a small bowl, until all chiles are toasted.  Cover with boiling water and allow to rehydrate for half an hour.

Drain and discard the water from the chiles and place them in the bowl of a food processor.  Peel the roasted garlic and add to the chiles along with the oregano, pepper, and 2/3 cup of the stock. Blend to a smooth puree, stirring and scraping often.  Press through a medium sieve strainer, removing any leathery skin from the chiles.  

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over med-high heat.  When hot enough that a drop of the puree sizzles when dropped into it, add the remaining puree.  Cook and stir until puree thickens into a paste, about 5 minutes.  Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and simmer, partially covered, until it resembles a thick tomato sauce, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and season with salt and sugar.

Add remaining chicken broth to the pot and heat to a boil.  Add the broken corn shells. Stir and cook for a few minutes until they are softened but still retain shape.  

Spoon onto a platter. Drizzle with the crema, sprinkle with the cheese and garnish with the avocado slices.  Print Recipe



Mexican Flavored Acorn Squash Soup

1 acorn squash, quartered and seeded
1 celery root bulb, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 of a sweet onion, halved with root intact
1 large or 2 small carrots, scraped and chunked
1 T. garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil and a garlic clove roasted with veggies)
salt and pepper to taste
4 c. chicken stock
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. cumin
Roasted, salted pepitas for garnish

Toss the squash, celery root, onion and carrots in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender and browned.

Remove from oven and place into a food processor or heavy duty blender.  Add the chicken stock and puree until smooth, adding more liquid (stock, water or cream) if necessary to achieve desired consistency.  Season with chili powder and cumin.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Reheat and serve garnished with pepitas.  Print Recipe

More Fabulous Fall Bounty Recipes




Monday, November 20, 2017

Baby Beet Salad with a Creamy Coffee Dressing #FabulousFallBounty #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Remember what I was saying about providence a couple of days ago?  Well, it is smiling down upon me again today.

This is Day 3 of Fabulous Fall Bounty, hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and sponsored by Melissa's Produce, Le Creuset and Silpat.  These companies sent a dozen bloggers products to use in the creation of recipes for this event.  I received no monetary compensation and all opinions are my own.


One of the things I received, in this huge box from Melissa's, was peeled and steamed baby beets.  These are wonderful to have in the refrigerator.  Especially, if like me, you LOVE beets.  They are so yummy and delicious but they do take a while to prepare.  Having these precooked and sealed beets on hand makes life much easier.

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You can imagine how thrilled I was when the poll for our Crazy Ingredient Challenge was complete and beets was one of the winning ingredients.  Providence.

Each month, our host, Kelly of Passion Kneaded, gives us 2 subsets of 4 ingredients.  We vote on which ingredients we want from each subset and when the tally comes in we are told which ingredients we must include in a recipe created for the event.

It is a lot of fun and, if you enjoy a challenge, we would love to have you join us.  Just put a comment below or on any of the recipe links for CIC and let us know.

The second ingredient this month? Coffee.... that kinda set me back a bit.  My first thought was a coffee flavored smoothie.  I use beets in my smoothies quite often.  I actually played around with the idea of making a beet and coffee ice cream too.  

It seemed as if each idea I had included a creaminess of some sort.  This led me to think about a creamy salad dressing.  I love adding beets to my salads and I thought that the bitterness of a creamy coffee dressing, drizzled on a salad that was sweetened, naturally, with beets would work.


Yes, those are some beautiful beef filet steaks that you see in the background.  This salad was going to be the first course of a Surf and Turf dinner that I was serving for company so I wanted it to be delicious.


And it was.  I kept it very simple.  Mixed greens, sliced beets and a drizzle of creamy coffee dressing.  It was surprisingly tasty and the perfect salad to serve when the rest of the meal is going to be rich and decadent.  Bitter is one of my favorite tastes.  I know it is not for everybody so I did add a little honey to the dressing to cut the bitterness just a bit while still leaving enough that it made you stop and take notice that this was not your ordinary salad dressing.


Baby Beet Salad with a Creamy Coffee Dressing

1 baby beet per person, steamed, peeled and cut into slices
2 handfuls of mixed greens, per person
1 (6 oz) carton plain Greek yogurt
2 T. brewed coffee
1 t. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the yogurt, coffee, honey, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust sweetness and seasonings as desired.

Chill a salad plate for each person.  Place 2 handfuls of salad greens on each plate.  Top with sliced beets and drizzle with dressing. Print Recipe

More Fabulous Fall Bounty






More Beet and Coffee Creations

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Flavors of Fall Salad #FabulousFallBounty

All you squash fans out there, raise your hands.  I've raised both of mine.  I LOVE squash and we eat a lot of it in season.  Summer squash and zucchini in the warm months.  Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti and delicata squash in the winter months.  So delicious and so nutritious as well.


So I was thrilled when Melissa's Produce provided me with several squash to use in our Fabulous Fall Bounty Event, hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  All opinions in this post and on this entire blog are 100% my own.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on that squash and get cooking.  I used up the Delicata before this event ever had a chance to start.  I roasted it up along with some of the fingerling potatoes and served it alongside these Lemon Breaded Pork Chops.  They were so delicious that I made the exact same dish again to serve with a Maple Glazed Ham Steak that I will be sharing with you another time.



Today, though, I want to share how I used the Butternut squash in this Flavors of Fall salad that will be perfect on your Thanksgiving Table.


I love adding squash to my salads.  Normally, I roast the squash but this salad, found at Food&Wine,  calls for a different preparation.

It has you saute the squash on the stove top.  This save quite a bit of time and frees up your oven for the turkey that needs  to roast for hours.   

I adapted this recipe to include some of my favorite things, like rainbow chard.   Sauteeing on the stove top means that you can also add in some of the chard stems to get tender as well.   They add such beautiful color and texture to your salad.


The sweet softness of the squash, the bitterness of the radicchio, the saltiness of the pepitas and the crunchiness of the pecans combine to make this a salad about which your guests will rave and that your family will request year after year.

Flavors of Fall Salad
adapted from Food&Wine

7 T. peanut oil
1 peeled butternut squash, cut into 1" cubes
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped, leaves separated from stems
Mixed salad greens, to include radicchio
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. roasted and salted pepitas

In a large skillet, heat 2 T. of the oil over med high heat.  Add the squash in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Turn over the squash pieces, add the chard stems and let cook until squash is tender and browned on both sides and chard is tender but still vibrantly colored.  Set aside to cool.

Place the remaining 5 T. of oil in a jar with the vinegar, tarragon, parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Seal the jar and shake until well blended.

Place the chard leaves, salad greens, pecans, pepitas, squash and chard stems in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss well to coat.  

More Fabulous Fall Bounty Recipes






Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Thanksgiving Week Menu

Wow.....where did this year go?!  I blinked and it is the start of the Christmas season.  It is mind boggling to me.  I don't have one single Christmas gift bought yet!!  Oh well, it will wait until after Thanksgiving.  Perhaps that's as it should be.

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Thanksgiving Day is normally the first day of my Christmas Holidays but this year we are starting early.  Tomorrow we are taking our Little Miss, her Mama and Charlie, her Aunt Amy and Uncle Doug and heading to the Fox Theater for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  We are very excited.  I am even more excited that our Lili is meeting us for dinner while we are downtown.

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Monday we are doing our Thanksgiving Basket Distributions for the Food Pantry. Tuesday and Wednesday I will have the Angel Face here to help me with my Thanksgiving Preparations.

Thanksgiving Dinner will be celebrated later in the evening allowing the kids to see the other side of their families during the day.

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Friday morning we are heading up north.  We will be spending the afternoon and night with our TC family.  Saturday morning we are meeting up with our friends, Bob and Cathy, and 4 other couples for the Great Mac and Cheese Bake Off sponsored by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula.  It should be a lot of fun.

I am sharing our Weekly Menu including the Thanksgiving Feast.  Please stop by and visit so I can wish you and yours a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving Day.  My blogging friends and readers are one of the things for which I will be giving thanks this year.

Saturday
Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy
Egg Noodles
Glazed Carrots

Sunday
Dinner out after Grinch

Monday
Order in Pizzas or Subs for Food Pantry workers

Taco Tuesday
Tacos, of course

Wednesday
Stew over Biscuits

Thanksgiving Day
Crab and Crimini Bisque
Salad with Beets, Dill and Feta
Roast Turkey
Roast Fresh Kielbasa
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Buttered Corn
Crescent Rolls
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
Pumpkin Pie
Persimmon and Chestnut Cookies

Friday
Heading North, See you Sunday