Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - All Aboard the Polar Express

The Polar Express

Getting ready to board
Mrs. Claus
Waiting to take us back to reality

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Day After the Feast

Whew!  It must be old age.  Every year it seems it takes me longer to do less cooking.  Or, perhaps I have just learned how to space everything out so that it seems longer.  All the prep work.  I definitely need a shopper and a sous chef.  Anyway, I enjoyed the meal and I hope everyone else did too.

Recently, I have been looking at new construction in my area and all the homes and condos have the very much desired 'open floor plan'.  Now, I too have an open floor plan, but my kitchen is back in the corner and while it is visible from the front entry, it is not visible from the living areas, if that makes sense.  So, I took some photos of my home before and after the meal. 

Here is my view as I sit and eat:
And here is the view from the other end of the table:
That wall in the above photo separates the dining room from the kitchen.  I was told by a rep at one of the homes that no one wants a formal dining room anymore and that the china cabinet, which would have no place to go in the new home, was not something anyone used anymore either. 

Now imagine that the wall disappears.  My view stays the same.  Everyone else?  Well, behind the wall is the stovetop:
Doesn't look too bad cause the pans are already in the dishwasher.  (and yes, that is a TARDIS cookie jar) On the other counter is this:
I forgot to take a photo of the peninsula with all the hot food.  Now, I ask you:  'Would you want to look at this mess while you eat?'

I just do not get the fascination with a large open area with the TV, furniture for lounging, kitchen, a dining table and of course, the fireplace all in one room.  Who are these super neat cooks?   Or do they just order pizza?

I think I will keep my galley kitchen and peninsula.  Yes, you can't have everyone helping in the kitchen, but that has never been my problem, lol.  It is bad enough to know that you have to finish eating and then put leftovers in the fridge and do the dishes without having to look at the mess while you are eating.  OTOH, if it is only a pizza box....
Too much food?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe Re-post

I first posted this recipe in 2012.  We had it for my birthday dinner that year, which up until this year I usually cooked at home.  It really is too heavy for a side with any large meal, so I made it as the main course with a vegetable.  Here is the recipe with a few updates to the original post.

Lobster mac and cheese.  Ooo-ey gooey deliciousness.  And we ate almost the whole tray full.
It was a simple meal.  Lobster macaroni and cheese and baked acorn squash.  There were only four of us eating.  

I have always made this as a side dish, never as a meal by itself.  Wow.  Just concentrating on the flavors in the dish was a treat in itself.  No turkey, ham, chicken, whatever, to get in the way.

For those of you so inclined, here is my recipe.  I made one tweak when I could not find the lobster pieces I used to purchase.  I bought Lobster Classic and we all thought it was great.  

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

 8 ounces penne or other tube-shaped pasta
½ tsp salt
4 cups milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp flour 
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
5.2 ounces garlic and herb Boursin cheese
1 lb cooked lobster meat, chopped 

 Preheat oven to 350.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and cook pasta @ a rolling boil until almost tender.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Set aside in a large bowl.
Bring the milk to just a boil in a heavy bottom saucepan.  While the milk is heating, melt the butter in another pan, whisk in the flour with wooden spoon.  Continue whisking for three minutes over low heat.  Do not brown.  Remove from heat.
Add the hot milk to the flour and butter mixture and whisk thoroughly.  It should be smooth.  Remove from heat and add seasonings and Boursin cheese and keep whisking until the mixture thickens (place on low heat if necessary).  It should coat the back of a spoon.
Pour over the pasta, stir in the lobster meat and toss to coat completely.
Grease a 13x9 baking dish and fill it evenly with the pasta and sauce.  Sprinkle the grated gruyere evenly over the pasta; add a dash of salt and pepper.  Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
Bread Crumb Hat.  Mix 1 cup Panko bread crumbs with 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and 4 Tbsp melted butter.  Top casserole 5 minutes before end of baking time to allow bread crumb hat to become golden brown.
Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes to set.  Serve.
Dish can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated before baking, but it will take longer to cook in the oven depending on how cold it has gotten.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Thanksgiving Feast in Production

I started planning my Thanksgiving dinner several weeks ago.   It is still a work in progress.  Every year I try to do things just a little simpler - no stuffing the turkey breast with fruits or sausage or whatever, mashed potatoes from a package.  I look for recipes that I can prepare ahead and then throw in the oven to cook - sweet potato casserole.  I try to add something new - the roasted beet salad.  And everyone wants to know what is for dessert.  I have never made a plain pumpkin pie.  

Yesterday I made the cranberry chutney.  It has so much bourbon in it it will keep for weeks, lol.  I would love to do fancy appetizers, but I think I will assemble a dozen for the platter and then let everyone else assemble their own.  I would gladly throw the turkey in the slow cooker, but my boys like the skin so I'll do it in the oven the same way we had it last month.  I am only making a half recipe of dressing since I always have too much left over - and then I proceed to eat it all.  The Brussels sprouts are a favorite, but I am not doing the carrots everyone likes, maybe for Christmas (yes, I have a draft of that menu too). 

I have a layer of chocolate chiffon cake in the freezer and I am going to try a simpler pumpkin mousse made with Cool Whip.  Call me lazy, but the dessert will be so rich and everyone will be so stuffed (no pun intended) that I doubt they will notice.  Especially if I top the dessert with my Chantilly cream.  The pecan pie brownies will be a new item and I hope they work out.  Here is the menu:

Smoked salmon, cheese, and cucumber bites (I'm thinking a cucumber slice instead of the bread.  And I am not making my own pickled salmon, I'm buying it)
Roast turkey breast and gravy
Chestnut dressing
Sweet potato casserole with pecan topping
Mashed potatoes
Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta and scallions
Roasted beet and goat cheese salad
Brandied cranberry chutney

Pumpkin mousse and chocolate chiffon trifle
Pecan pie brownies

Oh, I am getting hungry just thinking about it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11, 1946

Me, sometime after November 11 (I'm the one in the blanket)

Veterans Day Remembered

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Ramscappelle Road Military Cemetery - There are many photos on this site and more explanation

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thursday Tree Love - Michigan Style

I do not usually join in the Thursday Tree Love blog hop, but I was out yesterday morning with the trash, the sun was shining, and the trees finally had some color - very late for Michigan.  So here is my view as I looked from east to west in my yard.

Yay for fall color.