Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Oyster Roast

Happy  Monday and happy Thanksgiving week!  If you, like many of us, suffer from a little post holiday cabin fever, consider hosting a little post-turkey-day Oyster Roast.

For this month's issue of Focus on the Coast, I teamed up with the owner's of Wilmington's Famed Hieronymus Seafood to learn all about how to host the perfect oyster roast (yeah, I rhymed).  


Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

Photos by Jason Armond for Focus the Coast

How beautiful did the pictures turn out?  Head on over to Focus on the Coast for some tips on everything from creating the perfect menu, to preparing and serving your oysters. 

I'm signing off for a week of gluttony and relaxation.  Cheers, and see you next week! 




Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu

Is everyone ready for turkey day?  I know I am!  This year I'm heading to sunny Florida to spend the holiday with my Mom's side of the family.  I can't wait for a little warm weather, lots of turkey, naps, and good family fun. 

This year, I had my annual Friendsgiving fairly early so we could celebrate with my friend Stephanie one more time before she moved to Japan.  




I like to keep my menu pretty traditional. Here are a few of my turkey day faves:




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Garlic-Herb Pull Apart Rolls

When I break out my bread maker, whip up a homemade sourdough, and enjoy the yummy smells wafting through my house as the dough rises and bakes, there's just nothing better. 

But let be honest, nobody has time for that on the regular.  Homemade bread is a special occasion/weekend project for this girl. 

These delicious pull apart rolls add a homemade twist to a store-bought staple.  Start with a canned biscuit, cut into quarters, and roll in a flavorful mixture of butter, olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic, and even you might forget there's a canned biscuit in there.  These will take you all of three minutes to get in the oven, and the best part is no one has to know! 



Ingredients:
* 1 can of refrigerated biscuits (I used Grands Butter Biscuits)
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 tbsp. butter
* 1 tbsp. thyme, chopped
* 1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped
*1 tsp. garlic (1-2 cloves), minced
* salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cut each biscuit into quarters and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  

In a skillet, combine butter and olive oil over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove from the heat.  Roll each quarter of dough into a ball, then add each ball to the pan of garlic oil.  Cover all sides of the dough, then add three dough balls to each muffin tin.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.  Enjoy! 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Autumn Bruschetta

I don't know if it's the bazaar-ly cold weather or the excessive Christmas ads on tv, but I find myself in the Christmas spirit already. I'm just itching to bring my holiday decorations down from the attic, and yesterday I even found myself slightly embarrassed that I still have a glass pumpkin shaped bowl full of gourds on my kitchen table.  

But wait…. Thanksgiving hasn't come yet!  It's still fall!  To adjust my seasonal confusion, I thought I'd make a nice fall dish.  I bring you: Autumn Bruschetta. 


Layers of sweet and savory flavors just taste like fall in one bite.  I pureed sweet roasted butternut squash with a bit of chicken stock and parmesan to enhance the flavors.  For the second layer, brown sugar caramelized onions.  And to top it off?  Tangy, savory bleu cheese.  


For a make-ahead Thanksgiving appetizer, prepare the squash puree and caramelized onions a few days in advance, and assemble on the big day.  

Ingredients:
* 1 baguette, sliced
* 3 c. butternut squash, cubed
* 1/3 c. chicken stock
*2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
* 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
*1 tbsp. thyme
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1 tsp. brown sugar
*3 oz. creamy blue cheese
*cooking spray (preferably olive oil)

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange butternut squash  on a baking sheet and spray generously with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden brown.  Set aside to let cool slightly before pureeing. 

To caramelize the onions, heat a sauté pan to medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions to the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until caramel in color (stir often and reduce heat to medium low if the onions start to brown quickly).  Season with salt, pepper, and add brown sugar and thyme. 

Add the sliced baguette to a sheet pan and toast in the 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until slightly dry and toasted.  

Puree the squash, chicken stock, and parmesan cheese together in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. 

To assemble the bruschetta, spread the squash puree on each baguette slice, top with caramelized brown sugar onions and crumbled blue cheese.  Serve as is, or return to the oven for 3-4 minutes if you prefer the cheese to be melted.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that has a bad rap, and I won't lie, I get it.  If they aren't properly cooked, they can have a bitter, harsh flavor.  That's why I like to cook them with bacon, or something equally as delicious. 


I've been seeing a lot of shaved brussels sprouts salads lately, and i've been eager to try a recipe out myself.  If you're not a brussels sprouts fan, this salad just might win you over.  The thinly sliced, raw brussels sprouts have a very mild flavor and a wonderful texture.  When paired with my tangy cider vinaigrette, sweetened with chewy craisins, and topped with pecans for a little crunch?  It's down right irresistible 


With it's bright colors and fall flavors, this is a great addition to the Thanksgiving table, or any Fall meal at that.  Next time I make it I might try shredding in a green apple or cabbage - the possibilities are endless! 

Ingredients:
* 1 lb. brussels sprouts
*1/4 c. craisins
*1/4 c. pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

Dressing:
*1 (heaping) tsp. whole grain mustard
* 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* salt, pepper
*1/4 tsp. sugar

Prepare the dressing by whisking together all ingredients.  Set aside. 

Use the shredder blade on your food processor to finely shred the brussels sprouts (many grocery stores sell shredded brussels sprouts if you don't have a food processor).  Toss the brussels sprouts with craisins, nuts, and half the dressing.  Add more dressing as needed to evenly coat everything.  Set aside for ten minutes to let the flavors marry and serve.