Brownifer Bites: 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Brownifer Thanksgiving!

If you've ever been invited to our Thankgsgiving feast, then you know how it is!  We make all the traditional dishes because we love turkey and those comfort food leftovers!  But we're a diverse bunch.

Our family loves ethnic food!  My mother always brings Jamaican favorites, Brownie and I change it up every year, but everyone always insists on my Indian chicken and my sister brings the Mexican flair.

This year, we had Jamaican Peas & Rice, Curry Goat, Indian Chicken, Laab with lettuce and Mole Chicken!

In one living room, it's game time and TV trays, in the other living room, it's coffee and visiting time.  Everyone moves about and mingles as they feel comfortable.  It's one of my favorite family get-togethers!

If we invite you, NEVER assume there won't be enough food!  Just come and enjoy!

Oh, bring wine! ;-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

First Attempt at Asian Cuisine!

Just a quick photo!

We love to eat Asian food of all kinds - but neither of us are incredibly talented at cooking it.  So Brownie broke out the wok and for the first time - successfully made us Asian cuisine!  Stir Fry Veggies with Noodles and Laab Lettuce Wraps.  SO good, I could do this every night!!!!

Homemade Bagels

My homemade bagels are a huge hit in our house!  These babies with cream cheese are to die for!  One batch makes 8 bagels and some weeks .... it just isn't enough.  The key is definitely sticking with high-gluten flour!

I found the recipe I use here and while they don't necessarily LOOK like they do in their pictures, the flavor is definitely there.  I'm in love with this recipe.

Now, get baking!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Linguine Marinara

We used one of our jars of delicious homemade marinara tonight with some grass-fed beef and ate it over linguine - this sauce is just amazing!  The kids liked the high beef-to-sauce ration and it kept them from picking out the tomatoes! :-)  Score 1 for the parents!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mexican Chicken Soup (with recipe)

Threw this together tonight for my first adventure in canning soup. I actually wrote down a recipe!!! Sort of; soup is about taste and personal preference. I listed my ingredients but no quantities because well...everyone likes different flavors. Soup depends on the size of your pot as well. Always remember that soup grows quickly and you can end up nearly overflowing the pot if you're not careful. I always make too much 
But soup freezes amazingly well and it can be pressure canned if you're so inclined. 

Chicken...I just buy a whole organic cooked chicken and pull the meat, shredding and tearing it into small pieces. It gives me a good balance of light and dark meat and if I don't use the whole chicken, I have plenty for chicken salad later. Ain't nobody got time to cook a whole chicken! If you prefer large chunks of chicken, you can absolutely cook some thighs or breasts and chop them. Totally your call.
I also don't prep for this until I'm cooking. The time it takes to cut and chop and shred chicken gives the soup time to simmer and flavors to make friends. 

Taste your soup after stirring in batches of anything and adjust your spices and salt. Taste constantly. Add small amounts at a time; you can always add more but you can't take it out! You'll know the soup is done when the veggies are soft and you taste it without thinking something is missing. With soups, I follow a rule my friend from India gave me: if it's missing something you can't put your finger on, add cumin. This has NEVER failed me 
Chicken, cooked
Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Canned tomatoes
Canned green chiles
Chopped onion
Chopped celery
Chopped carrots
Raw garlic cloves
Zucchini and yellow squash, sliced and quartered
Cumin, salt, chili powder, cilantro, thyme, garlic powder to taste
1. Sauté onions, carrots and celery with olive oil until soft, adding fresh minced garlic halfway through.
2. Fill pot with water until covering vegetables, bring to a boil.
3. Add zucchini and yellow squash, add water to cover vegetables again. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
4. Add salt and spices to taste
5. Add chicken, keep simmering
6. Add beans
7. Add canned tomatoes, juice and all
8. Add green chiles
9. Throw in some salsa for flavor
10. Simmer and adjust spices until the flavor is what you want. If you want spicy, add some cayenne pepper a little at a time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Homemade Marinara

We spent a very long day making this marinara!  We got 30 lbs of tomatoes from a local farm and threw in our latest garden harvest for measure.  We kept it simple:  tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic and a little salt.

We cooked it down for 2 1/2 hours and after trying it on an omelette this morning ... I think that may have been a bit too long.  Next year, I want to leave more of the juices in the marinara when we can.  But the flavor?  You won't find ANYTHING in a jar on the grocery store shelf that is even CLOSE to this sauce.

I can't recommend making and canning your own enough!  We will make so many delicious things with this!  We got 9 quarts .... I'm thinking we better double that (at least) next year!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chicken Remoulade Wraps

We had some remoulade sauce leftover but ... no more shrimp!  So Brownie used some of the cooked chicken in the refrigerator and these beauties were born!  Chicken Remoulade Lettuce Wraps with cajun bell pepper and lemon juice!

I could eat about a million of them!

Pulled Pork Tacos!

We come up with some pretty awesome things to do with our leftovers!  Our favorite is Mexican food - so much flavors to be had!

Brownie roasted a chili for us, I made rice .... and that was that!  The smoky flavor of the pork was just to die for!

Always consider Mexican food when you're wondering what to do with leftover BBQ! :-)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sweet Red Bistro

We haven't had a date in a long while, we were due!  Tonight we chose Sweet Red Bistro in Albany, Oregon.  This wasn't our first trip to the restaurant, but I thought I would share a little about it here.

This space was home (for years) to the old Boccherini's Coffe & Tea House.  It's always been a quaint and relaxing space to spend time in.  Albany-ites were so sad to see Boccherini's go but now .... we have Sweet Red's in its place!

You can order from a list of beautiful wines (lots of sweeter dessert options here) or you can even bring your own bottle and they will open it and pour it for you.  I always like to try one or two of their wine flights to taste which goes better with what I'm eating and tasting.

Tonight I also decided to try the tomato basil soup - I was starving.  It was delicious and full of basil flavor!  

We ordered the cheese board, knowing that it would fill both of us up and we felt like playing and flirting and creating fun combinations of nuts and cheese and fruit.  It was perfection!  

The atmosphere here is perfect for a romantic date night.  The lighting is low, you can tuck yourself in the back and enjoy your food.

The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable about the wines and food!  They answered all of our questions without a blink and when my flights of wine came, I got to hear all about each of them. 

Tonight we also did something we rarely do:  we ordered dessert!  No need to order coffee, the wines went wonderfully with our chocolate dessert!

Overall, we adore this place.  The art on the walls, the ambiance, everything just screams 'relaxing sexy date night'.  It was perfect for our mood!  Love it!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Shrimp Remoulade

When I visited New Orleans in my early 20's - this was by far my favorite dish to eat everywhere we went.  I spent every morning at Pat O'Brien's with a Hurricane and a Shrimp Remoulade salad.  When I came home - I missed these babies so much!

I have found several recipes online with different variations of remoulade sauce - all of which are delicious.  But I do have my favorite and it's easier than you might think!  Just PLEASE be sure to let your sauce sit in the refrigerator for a while and let those flavors mingle - it's SO important for your final product!

And never toss the shrimp into the big bowl of your sauce - you'll contaminate everything.  Keep the sauce stored separately and toss in a small bowl ONLY what you'll be eating.  Trust me.  The sauce can make the shrimp limp if it's in there too long, too.

Go recipe hunting and make your own 'Nawlins shrimp salad! :-)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Trout Cakes and Mashed Potatoes

The kiddos love to cook with us!  Well, sometimes.  Today was a college football day and a few of them just weren't in the mood to sit and watch the games.  Now, I know they can make mashed potatoes, so that was easy.  But what else to use?  All I could think of was some trout that we had caught and cooked that was waiting to be eaten in the refrigerator.

So we de-boned the meat and made trout cakes!  The kids love to impress their dad and I with pretty plating when they make food - so this was their final product!  Of course, potatoes and trout aren't a usual pairing but ... the kids were so proud and ... both were delicious so ... win/win!

Happy Footballing, college fans!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Brownie's Birthday Dinner

We were so swamped this weekend with my sister-in-law's wedding!  Somehow, the kids and I pulled off plans to make Brownie a fabulous dinner we knew he'd love.

The kids helped me make the French Onion Soup, his favorite, they made the mashed potatoes and one of my stepson's even took his Bobby Flay perfect grilling instructions out to the BBQ grill and grilled the steaks 100% by himself!  He did an amazing job and we are SO incredibly proud of him!

Brownie was relaxing and enjoying watching us go in and out of the kitchen - it was a fabulous birthday dinner for him, he loved it!

Our kids are awesome!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Canned Tomatoes

Gorgeous tomatoes out of the garden, waiting to be canned!

Being a Foodie is always about quality ingredients in our opinion.  We grow tomatoes, we can the tomatoes.  They're delicious straight out of the jar over pasta in the fall and winter and they are the perfect base for sauces when we want to make Italian food!

If you don't have a garden or you don't produce enough in your garden to can in jars, I suggest finding a local farm or market selling tomatoes by the pound and getting 30 - 60 lbs and canning them!  You won't regret it.  In fact, you may become dependent on them and panic if you run out of jars.  No need for a pressure canner, these babies use a simple water bath.

Home Canned Tomatoes, cooling.
For the record:  no, this really wasn't enough jars for this past winter :-)  We'll be doing more this year!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ducks on The Patio!

So we finally got a TV mounted out on the covered patio this year!  Of course we will be having lots of gamedays out here, but this was our first!  As a house divided, we will have some Beavers games as well!  This way, everyone can grill their food and never miss a play or a bad call!

Brownie even had his neon sign out and plugged in....

Now on to the food - you know that's our favorite part!  We made sure snacks were available and ... that they were all green and yellow!  It was a fun day!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Smoked Salmon Linguine

From the BBQ this evening .... Smoked Salmon Linguine with smoked heirloom tomatoes and a garlic/dill butter sauce.  Butter, smoky amazingness!!!!  Brownie hit it out of the park again!

Grilled Sockeye Salmon

I do love it when we're gifted cuts of fish and meat!  This week, we got some salmon and Brownie has been itching to eat it!  So here is the lovely:  Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Leek Carbonara and Garlic/Tarragon Aioli.

More, please.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tomatoes Four Ways

I love summer!  I especially love the fresh tomatoes!  I love planting them, growing them, canning them, and eating them!  We are blessed with an abundance from our garden right now with not quite enough to can yet, so ... we're playing with them and having a night of tomato appetizers! 

I'll start with my favorite:  Tomatoes and Cottage Cheese.  I ate this simple pairing my entire childhood and it's still one of my favorite summer comfort foods! If you've never had it:  try it!  You'll love it, I'm sure.  Brownie drizzled balsamic on these but .... I like mine plain.  No salt, no pepper, no drizzle. Just creamy cottage cheese and fresh sliced tomatoes!

Caprese salad is also one of our favorites around here.  My daughter as a chocolate cherry tomato plant that is going insane with fruit!  So I picked up some mozzarella and we made a different version of this delicious salad:  Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad! Delicious!  I think I still prefer the classic, but this was a fun creative way to change things up!

We put two of our other favorites on one plate because we were running out of room :-)  I like to buy Willamette Valley Cheese Co. Creamy Havarti and melt it over fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes .... it's divine!  Again, the drizzle made it too sweet for me but Brownie loved it.

And of course, Heirloom Bruschetta!  Brownie likes to melt cheese over his bruschetta, but it looks like I won today and got nice and fresh!  Tomato heaven!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Jen's Indian Chicken

If you've known us long, you've probably tried my Indian Chicken.  It's spicy and rich and filling!  I start with at least 2 lbs of chicken thighs (depending on how much leftovers I want), cut each thigh into about 3 pieces.  I toss it with flour and spices.  Now I'm manic, there is no rhyme or reason to which spices or how much I throw in - I just intuitively do it.  Until you know, it smells right :-) Then I toss it in a pot with some oil in the bottom to brown it and fill it with some water until I have just the right amount that will make the sauce with however much flour I used.  I let that simmer for 15 or 20 minutes and I go back to see how thick my sauce is, it's usually good.  But I always need MORE SAUCE.  After all, the best thing about Indian Cuisine is the sauces!

I have my favorite simmering sauces that I use and I always buy two jars to add to my chicken so it can simmer down. Once those are poured in, I let it simmer for another half hour, sometimes longer if we're cooking other things and waiting on a holiday dinner.  Longer isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I just keep turning the temperature down until it's on warm if I think it's cooked too long.  I taste it to make sure the flavors are right before I serve it, though.  I have an Indian friend who told me once, "If you think your Indian food is missing something, add Cumin."  The woman was right.  Works every time!  Even in my regular cooking I use this rule :-)  Cumin is the answer.

I cut broccoli and cauliflower into small, bite-size pieces and steam it, then dish the chicken over the vegetables.

Make your own version of this, you won't regret it, I promise!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Homemade Bread

Building posts for our new blog!  Starting with:  Jen's Bread.

A lot of our recipes will include 'homemade bread' so we thought we would talk about our bread first.  We use two different recipes, depending on which ingredients we have on hand.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter which recipe you use,  Homemade bread is just always better!  Google recipes, use your family recipe, alter them, make them your own.  You get to choose the ingredients and you know what your family is eating!

My recipes make 2 loaves of bread.  We have five children - bread goes fast!  On weeks when we don't have the kids and there is no way we'll eat two loaves, I make them anyway.  If need be, I will slice one loaf and freeze it in a ziploc bag.  This makes tossing slices into the toaster easy and ...the bread doesn't go bad.

Good point, by the way.  Home made bread won't last as long as store-bought bread.  So make and store accordingly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Filet Mignon skewered on a rosemary sprig from our garden with roasted veggies!

Our first crop of rosemary was ready to harvest, so we took long sprigs and Brownie used them as skewers for cuts of filet mignon and grilled them!  I can't even tell you how delicious that fresh rosemary was with those tender cuts of meat!  A few bits of grilled onion and .... YOWZA!  Juicy and fragrant!   I highly recommend trying this!!!

Gnocchi - First Try

Our first attempt at making gnocchi!  We used white and purple potatoes ... I'm not sure this was 100% a success but they did taste good!  If anything, the texture was ALL wrong.  Brownie sauteed them with sage butter and herbs so ... the flavor was seriously awesome.  But I think we need to try this again and see where we went wrong :-)  Or maybe I should just leave this challenge to Brownie instead of getting my clumsy hands in the way!  HAHAHAHA

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vegan BBQ

I have a dear friend who is trying to get back to eating vegan and we were long overdue for a visit.  Since we asked him over, we made sure that all of our snacks and everything we grilled was vegan.

Brownie sure does some amazing things with herbs and spices and vegetables!  We were all so full and everything was delicious.  If you think you can't fill up on vegan food - think again!  Portabello mushrooms are an amazing grilling substitute for meat and they have such a rich, meaty flavor.

Vegan BBQ was a success!  What other challenges can we throw around here!?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fresh Trout!

We took our kids fishing on our way back from camping today and they did pretty well!  I cleaned these beauties tonight and they'll be going in the freezer for future foodie adventures! :-)

It's summer!  Get out there and catch your own ingredients! :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lake to Table!

Brownie and I went fishing today and caught some nice trout!  There's just nothing like cleaning and them and getting them straight on the grill!  :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grilled Rock Fish with Pasta Salad

My stepdaughter wanted Brownie to make her some of his 'pretty food' since we usually only make those things when the kiddos don't need tending.  So tonight, both of us girls got spoiled with his cooking!  My parents gave us some rock fish from one of their fishing trips and ... we put it to good use as usual! :-)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Smoked Duck Breast

Smoked Duck Breast with a Raspberry Port Reduction, Duck Skin Chicharrones and Black Truffle

Brownie has a friend who loves hunting ... someday I will encourage him enough to join these expeditions and fill our freezer!  But I do enjoy the random gifts he brings home from 'beer with the guys' nights!  This week, it was a duck hunting expedition that filled this friend's freezer and they had tried everything and hadn't come up with anything delicious to do with the meat.  So he challenged Brownie to do something!

I personally think he succeeded and now I would like him to become an avid duck hunter :-)  He smoked the duck breast on the BBQ with alder wood and created this beautiful plate for me tonight!

Love, love, love!!!!!!  Yes, this is what everyone should do with duck meat!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superbowl Sunday

Brownie is a huge college football fan, but neither of us are too interested in the NFL.  The kids were playing and running around the house with the game on, but no one was glued to the TV much.  So we decided to do what we do best - cook!

We now have food for the week and the kids were patient with us because we baked cookies :-)  Win/Win!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rainbow Trout Cakes

Rainbow Trout Cakes with Garlic Dill Aioli and Sriracha Drizzle

I requested that Brownie make me something in our kitchen for our anniversary.  What we had was some trout that my mom caught on a fishing trip to Diamond Lake in the freezer.  So he made these for us!

Taking the meat off of a cooked trout isn't easy!  This was definitely a labor of love!  Happy Anniversary to us and Happy Eats!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cooking Challenge!

Tonight one of my friends was craving some good food and got carried away in the grocery store.  She wanted Brownie to make some of his yummy creations for her!  So since we had no plans, Brownie agreed to create from whatever she brought over.

She brought a LOT of food over as you can see!  The only rules were that he had to use every ingredient.  So like a kid on a playground, Brownie went to work.  We were up until 1am eating the amazing things he put in front of us, one after the other.  So stuffed - totally worth it!!!!

First, he put out pate and cheese with crackers for us to munch on, which was yummy.  Market of Choice has SUCH good pate and cheese!

His first creation:  Shrimp and Sardine Croquettes with Red Miso Sauce.  DIVINE!  I could have devoured hundreds of these!  Crunchy and flavorful on their own and that sauce....more please!  But there was so much more to come ....

Then we were served Steamed Muscles in a White Wine/Ginger Broth with Tomatoes and Garlic Toast points.  Soaking up that broth with the bread is one of my favorite things to do!  The flavor is just beautiful.  The muscles were fresh and had really nice flavor.  Living in Oregon does have its benefits!  We are blessed with so many different types of local seafood!

Next, he brought us Duck Liver Bruschetta with an Oyster Mushroom, Brown Butter Sage Saute.  These flavors were SO good together!  Rich and creamy and savory and that fresh sage .... ugh!  To die for!  If this doesn't inspire any one to go buy some duck liver, I don't know what would!  

I can't really say that I had a favorite last night, but this is certainly at the top of the list!  Next course was Pasta with Pate and Triple Cream Brie Sauce with Jalapeno Ginger Shrimp.  Be still my heart, this was incredible.  I never quite understand how these flavors work in his head, but Brownie always seems to dazzle my taste buds!  

Now, Brownie was certainly given some strange ingredients to use that really had to be used creatively.  The next dish did just that:  Kale and Almond Chip Crusted Shrimp with Ginger Jalapeno Triple Cream Brie dipping sauce ... see how he tied those two together and saved himself some time?  :-)  Very wise.  But these were so good, I really loved these little morsels.

Last, but certainly not least was the Grilled Lamb Chop, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with a Roasted Red Pepper and Horseradish Cream Sauce.  Oh my.  Life just doesn't get any better than this.  The lamb was cooked perfectly (as if the man could ruin meat) and the flavors were so delicious together.  A fine choice for a Grand Finale!

I have never been so full in all of my life, and still so eager to eat what is put in front of me next!  It was an awesome night showcasing his talents and creativity and he officially has another big fan now; my friend was blown away and so very impressed.  Challenge met!

Now .... I have to do the dishes....see you in a few days!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

More Oysters!

Today we went on a driving adventure around our beautiful Willamette Valley with no particular destination in mind.  Of course the places we end up at either serve food or inspire you to cook your own food by offering you gorgeous ingredients.

Today, one of our stops was Fisherman's Market in Eugene.  They serve food, yes, but more importantly, they SELL fresh seafood :-)  They had a great price on fresh oysters, so Brownie had to have some.  After a quick trip to the grocery store on our drive back home, he decided to grill up his catch of the day.

He did them two ways.  One with a spicy and slightly sweet BBQ concoction that he whipped up and the other with a spinach/bacon/panko topping, sprinkled with romano cheese and topped with horseradish.

My mouth is watering as I type.  They were so full of flavors....everyone should go get some oysters RIGHT NOW.