Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Relaxing on the Beach


A floppy hat, a classic beach chair and reading a good book at the water's edge are the essential ingredients for a perfect vacation day.  This 9x12 oil on canvas was painted from a photo of my beautiful daughter relaxing on the beach.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mashed Potatoes - Make Ahead and Refrigerate

Mash Now, Eat Later - Makes 10 cups

The thought of peeling, cooking and cleaning up from mashed potatoes the day of a holiday is terrifying.   Therefore, my Thanksgiving dinner is all about doing as much as I can ahead of the big day. This recipe makes 12-16 servings and keeps in the refrigerator  for up to 10 days.  (Yes! 10 days!) 

As a working woman, I've learned that in order to plan a large dinner like this, organization and time management makes it all possible.  I make these mashed potatoes the Sunday before Thanksgiving, refrigerate them in baking dish, and bake them after I take the turkey out of the oven on Thanksgiving day.  The cream cheese and chives make this mashed potato version very flavorful and velvety smooth every time.  This Irish girl would not steer you wrong, you will love this mashed potato recipe!!!

5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 - 8 oz package of cream cheese
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a large covered pot.   Add peeled and quartered potatoes and bring back to a boil, lower heat and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender.  Drain potatoes and return to the pot and mash the potatoes until smooth.  I prefer to use my KitchenAid mixer for this step.  Add cream cheese, butter, chives and salt & pepper and blend until incorporated.  Add the whipped potatoes to a buttered  2 qt. baking dish.  Let cool and then cover well with saran wrap and then tin foil. I then put a sticky note with cooking instructions on top and refrigerate.   On Thanksgiving day - remove from refrigerator early in the day and bring to room temperature. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until heated through.  Put in a serving dish and give a good stir.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuscan Chicken, Kale & White Bean Stew

We were very fortunate to have survived Sandy's frightening wrath with only a couple of days without power (running on generator) and a few large tree branches down in the yard.  After a week of eating out or ordering take out and a snowy northeaster headed our way, I needed this dinner.

This stew was a welcoming meal for my family arriving home on our first snowy evening of the season. It started out as a soup, but when you need a knife, fork, and spoon to eat, it became a stew.  Don't be put off by the list of ingredients -- it's a one-pot dinner.  Braising the chicken thighs till the meat falls off the bone in a broth of vegetables with wine gives this dish over the top depth of favor.  Make sure you serve it with grated cheese and crusty bread.  For left-overs, I took the meat off the bone for an easy take-to-work lunch.

Tuscan Chicken, Kale & White Bean Stew 

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs, skin and fat removed.
2 links of hot turkey sausage
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 cup white wine ( I used Sauvignon Blanc)
2 cans chicken broth, low sodium
1 small can tomato sauce or one cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup canned white beans (rinsed)
2 cups of chopped kale
Grated parmesan Cheese

In a dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of olive oil and brown the links of turkey sausage over medium heat.  Remove sausage, slice, and set aside.  Salt & pepper the chicken thighs and add to dutch oven, brown on both sides.  Remove thighs, set aside and lower heat.  Add crushed pepper, onion, carrots and celery and sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic.   Deglaze the pan with wine, add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, chicken thighs, and sausage.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and add sprig of rosemary to the top.  Simmer for 45 minutes uncovered.  Remove rosemary sprig and add in the kale and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.  Stir in white beans.  Serve in large soup bowls with grated cheese and crusty bread.