1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
Mix all the ingredients until the butter if fluffier and then refrigerate.Read more!
1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
Mix all the ingredients until the butter if fluffier and then refrigerate.Read more!
The process begins by adding sugar, water and a touch of salt to a saucepan. Once the mixture begins boiling, watch it carefully but do not stir. I used a non-stick saucepan and it made the process a lot easier.
As the sugar mixture boils, it will get very thick. Then you’ll start seeing come color in your clear sugar. First some blond shades and then a richer medium brown. Once it begins to show some real color, begin stirring until the sugar is evenly medium brown and remove from the heat.
Now you’ll want to be careful as you add the cream, because it’s cold cream meeting molten sugar. Slowly add the cream and whisk vigorously so that the sugar doesn’t form a ball as it hits the cream. Whisk until fully mixed and then just let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
The caramel is thinner than you would expect for a caramel sauce, but as it cools it thickens up nicely. If you’re using the sauce for something hot, it won’t stay as thick however.
This sauce would be great on top of ice cream, as a dip for apple slices, or with some bread pudding.
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cream of tartar (don’t sweat it, if you don’t have any on hand. I doubt a pinch of anything will change the consistency)
1 cup heavy cream
1. Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, salt and cream of tartar in a small saucepan. DO NOT STIR.
2. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar begins to brown, stir until evenly medium brown.
3. Then carefully add 1 cup of cream and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
4. Remove from pan into a heat-safe bowl and let cool before refrigerating.Read more!
During my recent trip to the Trailing of the Sheep festival in Ketchum, Idaho, we knew we had to stop for a nice dinner somewhere. After looking at restaurants online and some of their reviews, we settled for the Ketchum Grill.
We had reservations at 8pm and the place was packed. Luckily at the entrance you’re met with some nice chairs and a very warm fireplace while you wait for your table.
Once we were called, we were seated at a small table for two, where I had to squeeze in hoping not to knock anything off a fellow diner’s table. They had the night’s specials on the wall and quite a few large parties. Our drink orders were taken and a few minutes later we were presented with some great bread.
One slice seemed to be wheat and had walnuts and a fruit of some kind and tasted nutty and flavorful. Another slice was white with fruit and also tasted great. I didn’t ask what kind it was, I just ate it.
By this time my water was empty, and the waiter seemed to disappear from our table. He was doing the best he could. Management seemed to give him a whole section of about 6-7 tables and one of those had a party of eight. I’m not sure what they were thinking because he couldn’t keep up.
It took a while but then our food finally came. My mom ordered slow roasted lamb with Indian spices and mint yogurt (it was a sheep festival after all). I ordered the grilled peppered breast of duck with Idaho huckleberries and port.
I snuck a bite of the lamb and it was OK. It tasted like pot roast. For some reason I expected something a little more, especially with the price attached to it. It wasn’t dry but imagined it would be in some kind of wonderful pan juices. I’m not sure where the Indian spices were, because they weren’t in the meat. The mint yogurt didn’t really add anything to the dish when the meat was supposed to be the star. Basically, I could have made pot roast at home for a lot cheaper.
I ordered my duck medium. It was topped with an Idaho huckleberry sauce alongside some wild rice. The sauce wasn’t overly sweet and tasted pretty good. The duck breast was tough. I could barely cut through one of its stringy tendons inside the breast. I wasn’t pleased, but I ate it anyway. I’ve made duck breast at home twice, by roasting it. One time it came out wonderful and tender. Another time it came out tough. Perhaps it’s just a finicky bird to cook.
It was now time for dessert. We were full, but we weren’t going to leave without some dessert. My mom ordered the inside out German Chocolate Cake. Broiled coconut-pecan topping was layered in between rich chocolate cake, and topped with an almost too rich chocolate ganache.
I ordered the pumpkin brioche bread pudding with salted caramel ice cream. It was awesome. The pumpkin flavor was pronounced but not overdone and the housemade ice cream was creamy and delicious. The middle of the bread pudding wasn’t as warm as the outside, so I assume it was reheated, but I ate through that too. I wouldn’t want anything to go to waste.
Overall it was an OK place to eat, and my mom seemed happy. But it wouldn’t be my first choice. I’d need to experience the other fine dining hot spots in Ketchum, before giving Ketchum Grill a second look.
This is an adventure in bitter veggies. The highlight of this dish is radicchio. It’s that little red head that looks like cabbage at the grocery store. Here in the U.S. you’ll find it mostly in salads, but here’s another way to get your veggies.
Radicchio is a leaf chicory. It’s bitter, but the taste mellows with cooking or grilling. In Italy, where the vegetable is popular, it’s usually eaten grilled in olive oil, or mixed into dishes such as risotto.
I’ve cut down the amount of radicchio in this recipe, because it called for three heads. I couldn’t even fit that in my saute pan. One and a half heads should be just fine. Once the cream sauce is made, season with salt to taste. This should help cut down on the bitterness. The richness of the cheeses also helps cut through the radicchio. The pasta would also go well with meat that has some sweetness to it, such as teriyaki chicken. Hey, why not mix Asian with Italian.
Yep, it’s time to break out the fall recipes and throw a little spice into some cakes. This Oatmeal Cake turned out nice and fluffy and the broiled topping gives it a nice sweetness. It’s great paired with some vanilla ice cream, or even better, perhaps some salted caramel ice cream. If you want to make it a little more moist with a hint of apples, I imagine you could add 1/4-1/2 cup applesauce to the mix. The kitchen is for testing.
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour a 9-inch springform pan; set pan aside. In small bowl pour boiling water over oats. Stir until combined; let stand 20 minutes. In medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and oatmeal mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool on wire rack at least 1 hour more.
4. Transfer cake to a baking sheet. Spread Broiled Nut Topping over warm cake. Broil about 4 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until topping is bubbly and golden. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
5. Makes 12 servings
6. Broiled Nut Topping: In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup butter and 2 tablespoons half-and-half, light cream, or milk. Cook and stir until butter melts. Add 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and 1/3 cup flaked coconut.Read more!
Last week I traveled from St. Paul to my home state, to take my mom to a Ketchum, Idaho tradition; The Trailing of the Sheep Festival. It’s a weekend of food, events and shows centered around the culture of sheep in Idaho. You’ll find traditional Basque and Pervuian dancers, sheep dog training and trials, barbecues and local restaurants preparing lamb dishes for all to try.
The main event is a parade, but it’s not your normal event. Main Street is shut down, thousands of people line the streets and 1500 sheep are herded right through town.
Traditional wagons that sheepherders live in, pulled by beautiful horses were the first “floats” to take the trek through Main Street. I don’t remember what kind of horses these are but they are huge and have amazing color.
The sheep were late and the chilly wind was brisk. My teeth were chattering toward the end but at least the sun was shining. Finally, an hour late, the sheep were finally spotted at the end of Main Street. They were moving at a fast pace, and it didn’t look like 1500 sheep, but there they were, packed into Main Street. Apparently every black-faced sheep represents 100 white-faced sheep. I’m guessing this helps the herders keep track of their flock. The sheep were not moving at a leisurely stroll. It seemed like they were gone in about 15 seconds, so getting a good picture was a roll of the dice.
It’s now the home to Starbucks, but in 1936 it was a general store. It served as the sheep center where ranchers congregated to swap stories about prices and weather. It’s at the corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road.
Sheep through Main Street is quite a sight but you’ll want to watch your step after the sheep leave. Once the parade was done, we hurried to get some soup and a burger to warm up.
For more history on the event, here’s my other blog post.
There’s nothing like biting into a gooey, warm and fresh cinnamon roll. But only if it’s made from scratch. If you’re tired of the lackluster rolls you find in the grocery store, now’s the time to try making your own.
This recipe is slightly modified from a recipe by Jerilyn Brusseau, the woman who helped create the recipe for the famous/infamous Cinnabon. This recipe is closer to what her grandmother taught her to make, according to an article in the Seattle Times. Jerilyn Brusseau sometimes replaces up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, and occasionally she adds half a cup raisins to the dough or ¾ cup walnuts to the filling.
I was pleasantly surprised by the dough in this recipe. The rolls came out of the oven lighter but not dry and not doughy. If you’ve ever had Cinnabon cinnamon rolls from the mall or airport, you’ll notice their rolls are doughy. Of course, since they’re swimming in sugary cinnamon and icing you may not notice after all.
I wanted a regular cinnamon roll with some delicious icing. But if you prefer something more akin to a sticky bun, you can drop the icing and double the filling. Just turn your baking pan upside down onto foil, to allow the syrup to flow over the finished rolls.
For the rolls:
1 cup warm water
3 packages dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 (3 ½ ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
1/3 cup butter
1¼ teaspoons salt
6½ to 7 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling: (double recipe if making sticky buns)
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1. Allow butter and cream cheese to reach room temperature.
2. Beat cream cheese and butter together in a bowl.
3. Slowly add in all powdered sugar.
4. Once sugar is in the bowl, beat for additional 12 minutes.
5. When almost done add vanilla.
If making sticky buns:
I love snickers and I love fudge. So someone decided to put the two together. I first heard about this limited edition Snickers bar months ago, so I was looking forward to taking my first bite. Little did I know, finding this thing was a going to be a challenge. I could spend $11.00 for a box of them at Sam’s Club, or I could just hope it would end up in a local store where I could just buy one, or three. Luckily I waited.
My local Walgreens finally had them in stock, located right at the cash register. This Snickers tastes like a Snickers, but with some big changes. The caramel is replaced with creamy fudge dotted with peanuts. The normal nougat is replaced with a thinner strip of peanut butter nougat. It definitely has the good old fashioned fudge taste with a hint of the peanut butter. It was worth the wait. And yes, it seems new candy excites me.Read more!
This is one of the more classic pasta sauces, but the debate remains; whether or not it should contain cream. I happen to love the non-traditional carbonara but this one is pretty good as well. I added chicken breast to mine but you can do without it. The eggs in this dish are cooked only by the heat of the pasta and bacon fat.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
generous 1/2 cup bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 lb. spaghetti
2 eggs room temperature
3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pan of water to a boil. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil and saute the bacon and the garlic until the bacon renders its fat and starts to brown. Keep the bacon and its fat hot until needed.
2. Add salt and the spaghetti to boiling water, and cook until it is al dente.
3. While the pasta is cooking, warm a large serving bowl and break the eggs into it. Beat in the parmesan cheese with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
4. As soon as the past is done, drain it quickly and mix it into the egg mixture. Pour on the hot bacon and its fat. Stir well and serve immediately.Read more!
Today I’m off and flying to my hometown in Idaho to visit my Mom. This weekend I’ll be taking her to see the Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum, Idaho. Of course, I’ll be taking my camera to capture the fun and hopefully we’ll be stopping at some good places to eat on the way.
Here’s a little history of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival and what I have to look forward to…
“Sheep figure prominently in the history of man providing him food and fiber for clothing. The story of sheep fills the pages of western Asia and European history. England and Spain were large producers in the middle ages and introduced the animals into the New World. Those in the western United States were brought in by the Spanish through South America and Mexico in the 16th and 17th century.
In the south west region of Idaho, it is said that John Hailey brought the first sheep into the Wood River Valley in the late 1860's. At that time, Idaho recorded a breeding sheep population of 14,000. As the mines began to play out in the Wood River Valley, the sheep industry filled an increasingly large role in the local economy. By 1890 there were a reported 614,000 sheep in Idaho. A 1905 newspaper photograph of a shearing plant in neighboring Picabo states that 95,000 sheep were sheared that week. In 1918 the sheep population reached 2.65 million*, almost six times the state's human population. (It was not until the 1970 census, after a large decline in the sheep industry and an influx of new residents, that human numbers finally exceed sheep in Idaho - 700,000 to 687,000.)
During this time, thousands of lambs were shipped by railroad from Hill City, Fairfield, Picabo, Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum to markets around the west. As a major sheep center, Ketchum was second only to Sydney, Australia.
When Sun Valley was opening its winter ski resort in 1936, sheepman Jack Lane was holding forth at his general store in Ketchum. It served as the sheep center where ranchers congregated to swap stories about prices and weather. Today the building is still located at the corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road and houses Starbucks Coffee.
During the depression, when lamb prices plummeted, Lane was one of the few who extended credit to the sheepmen. It took some men four or five years to pay off their debts but Lane stuck by them. Of this famous gathering place Jack Lane's son Pete recalled, "They had telegrams come in daily with different livestock prices from Omaha, Chicago, and Sioux City and Saint Joe, Kansas City and later on Denver and Ogden. It was a whole life of fraternity...there was tremendous competition not so much for the price you got, but the weight of your lambs and how good they looked. It was a real pride in doing business."
In this region of Idaho, the Scots, men like James Laidlaw, were among the first to settle into the sheep business successfully. Laidlaw arrived in the region with only the clothes he wore. He worked as a herder and took his pay in sheep. When he had gathered enough animals he started his own operation in the Muldoon area bringing in relatives and friends from Scotland to homestead and work with him. He went on to distinguish himself developing some of the finest lambs in the state including the Panama breed, which he created crossing a Lincoln ewe and Rambolais buck. He is credited with bringing the first Suffolk sheep into Idaho. Today the headquarters of the Laidlaw ranch has been incorporated into Flat Top Sheep Company, sheep outfit started by John Thomas (later U.S. Senator) in the 1920's. Today it is run by the third and fourth generation of Thomas' family, John and Tom Peavey.
In addition to the Scottish influence the role of the Basques in the sheep industry was critical to its success. They began to arrive in the U.S. from their homeland in northern Spain in the mid-1850. They came in response to the gold rush but soon they began migrating around the west finding jobs as sheepherders. Their hard work and dependability made it possible for sheep operators to leave large numbers of sheep in lonely and remote mountain pastures in their attentive care. Many Basques stayed on in this country often beginning their own sheep operations - the Cenarrusas, Etcheverrys, Guerrys and Oxarangos among the others. Today most Idaho herders are Peruvian. There are some Mexican, Chilean, and several Mongolian men as well.
In 2004, as they have since the early part of the century, sheep migrate north each spring from the lower elevations of the Snake River plain of Southern Idaho, traveling in bands of close to 1,500 sheep, through the Wood River Valley to summer high mountain pastures. This traditional route takes them up Highway 75 through newly populated, residential areas and the towns of Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum. Some continue their journey over Galena summit into the Sawtooth Mountains. In the fall, the animals retrace this trail south to desert fields and it is this return migration that we celebrate as the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.
In 1997 the Wood River Valley began this proud tradition of honoring the history and heritage of sheep ranching in the region. We invite you to join us this year for the 12th Annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival of sheep and stories, of music, food, hikes, and history.”Read more!
I’ve finally been able to harvest a few things from my sad looking fall garden. A few radishes finally bulbed out. And the bibb lettuce hung on long enough to give me some good leaves. The spinach and bright lights swiss chard awarded me a few small but tasty leaves as well.
I picked all the greens and thoroughly washed them, because they were quite dirty with our latest rain splashing dirt on them. Once they were all clean, I shook the water off and put them in a damp paper towel and then in a ziploc. This should help them stay fresh in the fridge a little longer.
According to the forecast I’ll need to cover the kohlrabi and the carrots before they get nipped by frost. I’m hopeful the carrots have enough time to mature. They seem to be looking stronger at their root base. But I’m not so sure about the kohlrabi. They seem awful small.Read more!
You’ve probably seen the Taco Bell Home Originals in the grocery store. It’s an easy way to get dinner on the table with taco shells, seasoning and salsa all in one box. And I’ve used it many times for a quick meal. But as I read the seasoning packet I discovered it has MSG, or monosodium glutamate.
I’ve heard MSG is bad all my life, and I figured it wasn’t even being used anymore. So I had to do a little research of my own. I discovered MSG is a sodium salt and is used as a flavor enhancer. But shouldn’t the flavors stand on their own?
Although once associated with foods in Chinese restaurants, MSG is now used by most fast food chains and packaged in many processed foods. You may not even know you’re eating it because the salts can be contained in hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, any one of which may appear as "spices" or "natural flavorings."
Some people are convinced they’re sensitive to MSG. Some symptoms that have yet to be proven include headaches and nausea. However, I don’t doubt these people. When I was a kid, diet soda would make me sick. Perhaps there’s some things we just shouldn’t be eating.Read more!
When it comes to hot wings, they’re usually deep-fried and/or breaded and coated in hot wing sauce and then dipped in blue cheese dressing. That’s not only messy, but rather fattening. But there’s one dang good alternative to all that. This recipe may even be added to my list of easy dinners along with my good ol’ standbys of tacos and chicken carbonara.
For this recipe you’ll turn the regular hot wing recipe inside-out. Instead of bone-in wings, we’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts. We’ll drop the blue cheese dressing and stuff the breasts with blue cheese crumbles. And instead of coating each piece in sauce, we’ll use the wing sauce as a dipping sauce. I found the saltiness and tang of the blue cheese and the kick of the sauce are the only seasonings you need.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 pound blue cheese (4-5 oz.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Hot sauce to serve. (recommended: Frank's Red Hot Wing Sauce)
Celery, sliced thin, to serve
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Stuff 1/4 of the blue cheese into each breast.
2. Secure the openings with toothpicks and season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a nonstick, oven-proof skillet over medium heat and sear the chicken on both sides until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
4. Put the chicken into the oven until it is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes or until a 170 F degree internal temperature is reached.
5. Once done, let chicken breasts rest for a few minutes, then remove the toothpicks and slice in thick strips.
6. In a small pot, heat up the wing sauce on medium low.
7. Move sliced chicken breasts to serving platter with ramekins of hot sauce and celery.
If you can’t find wing sauce, add the ingredients below to your favorite hot sauce.
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Hot Sauce)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Add the butter, hot sauce, and white vinegar and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Pour the sauce into a serving ramekin.Read more!
Explore the curious side of everyday food, life and gardening. I'm a news promotion writer/producer by day, and someone who's just as creative at home. I like to experiment in the kitchen and explore new ways of doing things, whether cooking, gardening or just in life. Hopefully you'll learn something with me, because frankly, I'm learning as I go. :-)