11.28.2009

Thanksgiving Feast

It has taken a few days to recuperate from the Thanksgiving Feast, but everything turned out spectacularly wonderful and delicious.

The List was done 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, plenty of time for revisions. There were 3 trips to the grocery store (I had only intended on two, but three were required.) I learned this trick a few years ago, never try to do all the Thanksgiving shopping at one time; you will inevitable have to make another trip. So now I plan two trips, but, well this year, anyway. There were 3 days to prep and cook. And within 30 minutes (or less) the meal was finished, but that’s how Thanksgiving goes.

The List worked well, as always, with small check marks beside each item as part of the prep was complete; a large check mark next to each one when the item was finished and ready to be served; and a line drawn through each item as it was placed on the table. I do this because one year I forgot the deviled eggs. The eggs sat in the refrigerator all during dinner, and were discovered when things were being condensed down to store after dinner. Very frustrating, although, clearly not missed.

Here’s a picture of the turkey when it was done cooking on the Weber grill.

HH’s sister and brother-in-law were here, as well as Anna (she’s camera shy.)


HH and I.

Finally, HH’s plate ready for him to dig in!

11.26.2009

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Everything was delicious at the Diner, I hope all was great for you as well.

11.24.2009

Ancho Chili Corn Chowder

The Diner is open and in full swing!

Since it’s football season, it’s just time for a pot of something to be cooking on the stove Sunday afternoon. HH wasn’t sure that “soup” qualifies as football food (i.e., “man food”), so wings were added to the menu. Just wings from a bag, no big deal, so no recipe for those.

Anyway, I fixed one of my favorite “soup” recipes; it’s actually chowder, Ancho Chili Corn Chowder to be exact. This recipe originated from Paula Deen Magazine’s November/December 2007 issue, and it’s delicious!

Here’s how it’s fixed Holly’s Diner style:

Ancho Chili Corn Chowder – Holly’s Diner style

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup finely chopped red onions
½ cup finely chopped celery (I don’t care for these, so I don’t put them in)
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (these were not on sale, so none this time)
1 (11 oz) can niblet corn, drained (I use 2 cans, this time frozen fresh corn from summer that I saved)
1 (4 ½ oz) can chopped green chilies
1 cup frozen country-style hash-brown potatoes, thawed (I use ½ a bag)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ancho chili powder (this is a mild chili, perfect for my cooking)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (too strong for HH, so I don’t use it)
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 ½ cups chicken broth
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Garnish: chopped red bell pepper (again, not on sale this week, so nixed)

In a large saucepan, combine butter and olive oil. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, corn, green chilies, and potatoes. Cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until vegetables are tender. Add flour, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth, stirring to mix well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream, and cook 5 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly. Garnish with chopped red bell pepper, if desired.

(Sometimes I like to let this sit a little longer on the stove, so, in this case, I add more broth – two 14 oz cans worth.)

Enjoy!

PS – I think the picture of this turned out really crappy, but I want you to see the thickness. Please don’t let the picture discourage you from trying it! (Editorial Note: I removed the photo, it just looked so unappetizing. I will try again the next time I make this recipe.)


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11.22.2009

Thanksgiving Planning Update

In case you are following along in your Thanksgiving Planning, things have changed a little. Here’s the update:

2009 Turkey Day List
Turkey – smoked
Honey Baked Ham
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Corn Bread stuffing
Herbed Monkey bread (my sister-in-law’s recipe)
Green beans (NOT the casserole kind!)
Deviled eggs
Fresh cranberry sauce (i.e., from scratch, it’s not that hard)
Canned cranberry “jelly”, I guess it is (I’ve succumbed to the pressure!)
Cranberry Waldorf salad
Gravy
Apple Pie (Mrs. Smith’s deep dish is the best, and Daddy’s favorite)
Key Lime Pie (my sister-in-law’s recipe)

The oil for the deep frying was just too expense this year, so we are smoking on the Weber.

HH is “dying” for a Honey Baked Ham, so again I’ve succumbed. We’ll have a ¼ ham.

The Monkey Bread is Herbed Monkey Bread.

The Green Beans will include craisins.

The Deviled eggs are now mine, since my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law are not going to make it.

Pumpkin Pie is out, since no one loves it, Key Lime Pie is in!

A couple of new things.

Two big trips to the grocery store done, still a small trip tomorrow. Hopefully that will be it!

11.19.2009

Holiday Gift List Update

Well, yesterday was a BIG DAY, and some of the items on my wish list have been removed, how exciting! So an update is in order:

• More Diners Dive-Ins and Dives - Guy Fieri’s new book, the first one was delicious, I’m sure this one will be equally as mouth watering

• The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky, it’s a synopsis of the “America Eats” project the Federal government sponsored in the early 1940’s but was never published
I’m very excited to get this book, so now I can peruse it at my leisure and not have to digest the whole thing in three weeks before it’s due back at the library

• A Santoku knife - like what Rachael Ray uses and all the other chefs on cooking shows
Oh My Gosh! HH has been pulling my leg for a week, saying he hasn’t had time to visit the Diner! He did great!! This knife is billed as an “heirloom,” wow! I’m going out to by onions and carrots and celery today, just to cut! (HH, you did really good.)

• Some “spaghettoni” – I was given this a few years ago I think it was from Williams Sonoma, it was a spaghetti I liked and HH liked it too

• A microplane rasp grater or microplane paddle grater – for zesting, nutmeg and hard cheeses (HH is asking himself right now “what hard cheeses?” Just wait and see!)
Not one, but two! A mini, perfect for nutmeg and ginger and other spices. And a larger one for zesting, hard cheeses and chocolates. Oh, the fancy things that will be coming out of Holly’s Diner!!

• An oval enameled Dutch oven – just think of the meals “in-a-bowl” I could make!

• A grill pan or griddle with the “marks” on the bottom so I can get grill marks in the kitchen when grilling outside is not an option (be quiet, SS, I don’t want to hear it! There IS winter in San Diego and it does get cold – I have to put a sweat shirt on!)

• A long weekend with nothing to do but cook and create and experiment with friends and family stopping by the Diner to sample the delicious morsels of the kitchen

And, finally, in case you haven’t been paying attention --
• Mastering the Art of French Cooking – preferably “seasoned” but new would be fine, I will keep searching for a seasoned version at second-hand sources

For some of you skeptics out there, this list came in very handy for those who ask!

11.15.2009

Molé

Sing it with me, “Molé, Molé…” to the tune of Louie, Louie, what else!

Ahh, my adventures in Molé. You remember Three Recipes, One Long Weekend – my first attempt at mole ever. It just happen to land the day after HH had tasted Molé for the first time made by a wonderful home-cook with Hispanic heritage. How was I supposed to compete with that?!

My mole attempt last February was a from-scratch recipe that I slaved over and worried about, since I had never actually had mole before, it just sounded delicious. After my less-than-stellar attempt, I asked the husband of the home-cook if it would be possible to have the recipe (since I knew him, at the time, and not the home-cook). Luis was very generous (as was his wife, Diane) and shared the secret WITH ingredients!

I waited a few months, tried again and successfully made Chicken Molé Enchiladas. The timing was such there wasn’t time to report about it to you, Faithful Reader. I tried the enchiladas again the other day, with success a second time, here’s Diana’s recipe. (Hold on to your zapatos! It could not be any easier!)

Diana’s Molé for Holly’s Diner Chicken Molé Enchiladas

1. In a pan, put a tsp of olive oil or vegetable oil on low heat and melt a disk of Abuelita Chocolate. (Abuelita is in a cardboard octagon shaped box with about four thick disks of chocolate in it. The box is yellow with a picture of a smiling grandmother drinking a cup of hot chocolate on the front.)
2. Pour the whole content of Knorr Molé Pablano into the pan with the melted chocolate. (Knorr Molé Pablano is in one of those cardboard-ish pour containers.)
3. Add a little water until desired thickness.
4. Add cooked/shredded skinless/boneless chicken until warmed through and combined.
5. Place a cooking spoon full of the mixer on a flour tortilla to one side, roll tortilla and place in baking pan with some of the thinned mole in the bottom.
6. Bake at 350º for 25 – 30 minutes. Serve.

I used two chicken breasts for eight enchiladas. And this time I made it I could not find Knorr Molé Pablano (my sister-in-law searched for it on a trip to Mexico this past summer, so I should have some stock in a few weeks). In the meantime I used Doria Maria Molé (this is in a small glass jar) – a little spicier but not bad, and a lot thicker so it needed a lot more water (≈ 1 cup total).

The secret to Molé, ask someone who knows. Someone who will be generous and share their traditional family secrets of ease. Chicken Molé Enchiladas are a new “regular” at Holly’s Diner – HH approved.


11.12.2009

Quote of the Day

I just ran across this quote in some food research I'm doing.

I'm not saying my wife's a bad cook, but she uses a smoke alarm as a timer.
by Bob Monkhouse, an English entertainer

HH thinks I use the smoke alarm as a timer, too.

11.10.2009

Thanksgiving Planning


It’s my favorite time of year, time for Thanksgiving planning!

That means lists, lists and more lists. It also means looking for sales. It means cooking for days just to eat a gut-busting meal in about 20 minutes (okay, maybe 30.) Then the clean-up follows and the leftovers – not my favorite part, but we’ll get to that later.

Now is the time for lists. I have two of them going right now: the Turkey Day list (what’s being served); and the Grocery List.

Since the Diner is open to family on Thanksgiving Day, there are a few extra things on the list (oh yeah, and there’s a family reunion the day after Thanksgiving, so there’s stuff on the list for that too – again, more on that later.)

Right now, here’s how it’s looking –

2009 Turkey Day List
Turkey – deep fried
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Corn Bread stuffing
Monkey bread (my sister-in-law’s recipe)
Green beans (NOT the casserole kind!)
Deviled eggs (my mother-in-law’s)
Fresh cranberry sauce (i.e., from scratch, it’s not that hard)
Canned cranberry “jelly”, I guess it is (I’ve succumbed to the pressure!)
Cranberry Waldorf salad
Gravy
Apple Pie (Mrs. Smith’s deep dish is the best, and Daddy’s favorite)
Pumpkin Pie (by popular demand, not my favorite)

Reunion
Broccoli salad
Deviled eggs (mother-in-law’s)
Bow tie pasta salad (sister-in-law’s)

Grocery List
Turkey
Potatoes
Sour cream
Chives
Sweet potatoes 3
Orange peel 2
Apple 2
Pecans
Ginger
Onions – 3 yellow, 1 purple
Leeks
Garlic
Pillsbury biscuits 2
Green beans
Eggs 3 doz
Fresh cranberries
Can whole cranberries 1
Can cranberry jelly 1
Cranberry juice
Jell-O (lemon)
Walnuts (for 2 dishes)
Jar of gravy (for back-up)
Baking soda
Mayonnaise
Broccoli
Raisins
Bacon
Peanut oil
Ginger ale
Soda
Coffee
Butter
Paper towels
Tuna

Now, some might argue that I don’t need to make a list, I already have the Turkey Day lists from previous years and I’m doing the same thing, but I need a new list every year! How does one invite change if one continues to work off the same list year after year?! With a new list, too, I KNOW if things change when looking back from year to year. (By the way, things don’t change much at Thanksgiving, I just love making the stuff that, well, I love!)

These lists will stay attached to the refrigerator through Thanksgiving, changing in form as the big day gets closer and through all the food on the table. Let the process begin!

11.09.2009

My Holiday Wish List

I am not trying to be PC and I’m not trying to solicit gifts. I actually have to put together a “holiday” wish list each year since my birthday is just before Thanksgiving, and so birthday and Christmas gifts are sometimes lumped together – it’s not a bad thing.

So this year I thought I would put my list out there – publically. No more retelling of the list. No more telling this person this part, and that person that part of the list. Here is the list, what I can think of right now, subject to change, for everyone to see!

More Diners Dive-Ins and Dives - Guy Fieri’s new book, the first one was delicious, I’m sure this one will be equally as mouth watering

The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky, it’s a synopsis of the “America Eats” project the Federal government sponsored in the early 1940’s but was never published

• A Santoku knife - like what Rachael Ray uses and all the other chefs on cooking shows

• Some “spaghettoni” – I was given this a few years ago I think it was from Williams Sonoma, it was a spaghetti I liked and HH liked it too

• A microplane rasp grater or microplane paddle grater – for zesting, nutmeg and hard cheeses (HH is asking himself right now “what hard cheeses?” Just wait and see!)

• An oval enameled Dutch oven – just think of the meals “in-a-bowl” I could make!

• A grill pan or griddle with the “marks” on the bottom so I can get grill marks in the kitchen when grilling outside is not an option (be quiet, SS, I don’t want to hear it! There IS winter in San Diego and it does get cold – I have to put a sweat shirt on to keep warm!)

• A long weekend with nothing to do but cook and create and experiment with friends and family stopping by the Diner to sample the delicious morsels of the kitchen

And, finally, in case you haven’t been paying attention --
Mastering the Art of French Cooking – preferably “seasoned” but new would be fine, I will keep searching for a seasoned version at second-hand sources

I hope that helps some of you “wanting to know,” and gives others a few ideas for your own holiday list!

11.08.2009

Albondigas

It’s getting to be that time of year, fall is in the air (that means it’s in the 50’s at night), I start wearing long sleeves during the day, and I’m ready to put pots on the stove to cook up something yummy (look out HH, it’s meal-in-a-bowl time).

This past week it was Albondigas – Mexican Meatball Soup. This soup is hearty, it has vegetables and meat (arr, arr – man-food!), and it smells delicious when you walk in the Diner.

The recipe is very easy, and I modify it a little from the original recipe I got from my friend Laurie years ago to fit HH’s tastes.

Albondigas2 quarts chicken broth
1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I put in half this because HH doesn’t love cooked tomatoes)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups carrots, sliced (I use about 4 carrots shredded)
1 – 4 oz can chopped green chiles (not as hot as you might think)
1 tbsp Chile powder
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

And for the meatballs,
1 slice bread, broken up
¼ cup milk
1 lb lean ground beef
¼ lb ground pork
(I substituted ground turkey for all of this, added some poultry seasoning and garlic powder, HH never knew the difference!)
2 tbsp uncooked rice
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten

Heat olive oil in large pot, add onion, garlic and carrots. Sauté until onion is tender. Add broth and diced tomatoes. Add onion mixture, chiles, Chile powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cilantro to broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat.

Prepare meatballs – place bread in mixing bowl. Pour milk over bread, soak five minutes. Add beef and pork (or turkey) to bowl; blend well. Add rice, onion, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and egg; blend well. Shape meat mixture into walnut sized balls. Drop meatballs one at a time into gently simmering soup.

Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve.

Enjoy!

11.06.2009

Halloween in Homewood

The big Halloween Bash took place this past weekend in Homewood. After two years of planning, and even longer anticipation on SS’s part, the time had finally come! It was perfect and wonderful and scary and ALL of the little girls were scared happy the entire evening!

We started off the food prep by Miss Audrey Rose and I making Witches Fingers cookies. SS took some regular cookie dough, added a little green food coloring, mixed them together and let the dough firm up in the refrigerator. Miss Audrey Rose and took almonds and dyed them black. We them shaped the dough into fingers, placed the black almonds for “nails” and put indentations in the dough for knuckles, and baked according to the cookie dough instructions.

I have to say, the Witches Fingers looked more like Monsters Fingers, but it still worked – they still tasted fabulous. Unfortunately in all the commotion, I did not get a photo, but you get the picture.

Next were the Mummy Dogs. Take hot dogs, cut them in half for kid-size and leave whole for adult-size. We took breadstick dough from the refrigerator section of the supermarket and used about 2/3 of each bread stick for each ½ hot dog. Just use a pizza cutter placing three bread sticks together and making a few cuts, that way you will end up with enough for four Mummy Dogs kid-size. For the adult-size, you add about a third to each one.


Just be aware that as they sit, the mummy wrap starts to spiral itself off the bottom of the dog, but it’s all good; it tastes the same in the end. We also learned to cook them to the just brown shade instead of golden brown. Golden brown made the bread sticks too tough when they “hung out” at the party.
Next were the PB&J Pumpkins. SS had very thin white sandwich bread, which I gave her a hard time for at first (not whole wheat), but the bread was perfect for this project, any thicker and it would have been a challenge to cut. Smooth PB for kids and crunchy PB for the adults – cats were for the adults.
Then we moved onto the Grilled Cheese Ghosts – it was Colby cheese for the kids and pepper jack for the adults. Again, cats were for the adults. We cooked up way more than we needed, but by putting them in the oven with some foil over them the next day, the reheat was perfect!

Finally, we had Scarecrow Brains – popcorn, crushed pretzels (we didn’t have pretzel sticks), mixed nuts with a drizzle combo of 2 egg whites, a tsp each of garlic salt, onion powder, soy sauce, sugar (we nixed the curry because of the kids). The “drizzle” seasonings are whisked together until the egg whites start to peak, and then combine with the other ingredients. Put in oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Tastes great!

We had orange drink, water and lemon/lime drink and a dark rum/ginger ale combo for adults with “eye balls” floating with the ice. Plus werewolf cupcakes that another talented mother made. And, of course, candy galore.

We did the Monster Mash, a Costume Parade and the evening’s topper was the Haunted Basement with a “werewolf” and dead relative who did not know she was dead, a demented child and “Mr. Bones” from the graveyard.

Bodey the cat made a surprise appearance, apparently it was quieter in the Haunted Basement than in the “after” room where all the girls who had already toured were waiting – Bodey wanted nothing to do with that room!

The Hostess for the evening was “Wicked Winona” (SS) and the tour guide was Midge (me). Miss Audrey was a clown that night, but “Wednesday Adams” for Halloween – she was perfectly scary at both!

A fun time was had by all. It was the perfect recipe for a group of mostly eight year olds.

11.03.2009

Food in the South Revisited

I just returned from my annual trip to Alabama, Halloween is the key to the timing. Any, boy, was it delicious!


I started out with a home-grown favorite – Chick-Fil-A, although I had to have mine with lettuce and tomatoes (sans pickles) because I needed some veggies with that tasty fried fillet. Not as traditional as the Southerners might prefer, but it what works for this Southern California girl.

Next was a lunch stop at Bottega, Frank Stitt’s restaurant. SS and I got to sit in the room reserved for dinner service, since the luncheon area was full and the weather was questionable for outside seating. It was beautiful. We shared baked macaroni and cheese, and ham and cheese pizza. Both were delicious, but the best part was the tea.


I ordered iced tea; it was served a small pitcher of simple syrup so I could make my own sweet tea! It was wonderful; I was in control of my own sweetness destiny! I think I had three or four glasses of tea, just so I could make my own sweet tea each time and indulge in the simple syrup.

Next, we stopped by the Piggly Wiggly. If you are not from the South, it is hard to believe there is actually a store that exists with this name, but there is. The Piggly Wiggly is actually were the food aisles we are so used to today in our “super markets” originated. They were part of “self service” progression of markets in the 1950’s. Anyway, I picked up some Smucker’s Peach Jam. I can’t get Smucker’s Peach Jam in San Diego, so each year I have to stock up on it in Birmingham for HH’s peanut butter and peach jam sandwiches.

The next morning we went to Savage’s in downtown Homewood and picked up our order of fresh baked orange rolls. I learned they are like the cinnamon rolls we serve at Holly’s Diner, but with orange sauce and small pieces of orange rind inside. We went down the block to O’Henry’s Coffees (which, SS tells me, is so beloved by the neighborhood that when a Starbucks was opened down the street, the locals were so loyal to O’Henry’s that Starbucks didn’t last.) Both were delicious.

I doubt that the orange rolls I can buy in the refrigerator section of the grocery store will have the same personal touch, especially the orange rind that the one’s from Savage’s have.



The final stop on the Southern Culinary Tour was the Spiced Pear Tea Room. Afternoon tea in the South, it was everything it should be – three generations having tea in the “pink room,” enjoying tomato basil bisque, champagne salad and a chicken salad sandwich on white bread without the crust, of course. The peach apricot tea I had was lovely, and Miss Audrey Rose was fascinated by the honey service shaped like a beehive. It was a lovely ladies luncheon at the Spiced Pear Tea Room.


I’m looking forward to next year’s trip and all the Southern delicacies already!