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Baked Fish with Butter & Sherry

Sometimes the title says it all…That’s certainly the case with Baked Fish with Butter & Sherry. 

We have lovely fresh fish. We’re going to bake it with butter and sherry.

Then we’re going to eat it and be SOOOOOO happy because it is so delicious and it was so easy to make!

Honestly, start to finish this meal takes 15 minutes or less. Maybe 20 if you want rice.

Here’s what you need:

Baked Fish with Butter & Sherry Ingredients

Fish (Cod), Butter, Sherry, Parsley, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Baked Fish with Butter & Sherry Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the fish, choose something white and flaky and plan on 6-8 ounces of fish per person.

I have cod. The original recipe called for scrod which, even though I love fish, I’m pretty sure I’ve yet to encounter. Halibut would be good. So would snapper or sole.

Try to avoid super thin fillets of fish. If you only have something very thin like swai or tilapia, be sure to reduce the cooking time.

Butter the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to accommodate your fish. Place the fish in the dish and season lightly with salt & pepper.

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Click HERE, there’s more!

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Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Long before there was an IKEA anywhere near where I lived, there was my friend Sonja who introduced me to Swedish Meatballs.

Prior to meeting Sonja and being invited to her amazing Swedish Holiday Dinners, I was not a fan of meatballs.

When you grow up in the midwest, what passes for meatballs are often those sticky sweet crockpot concoctions with lots of red ketchup-y sauce. Every single church dinner or potluck I attended featured those sweet meatballs in heavy rotation.

It wasn’t until I moved to Minnesota that I experienced a real Swedish meatball in all its brown sauce glory.

Now that we all have IKEA, where meatballs are a daily feature, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. However, once you are Gluten Free and can no longer eat the IKEA meatballs when you are buying too many candle holders, cute juice glasses with flamingos, and white serving dishes you don’t have room for in your kitchen cabinets, you might feel cheated out of the full Swedish shopping experience.

Enter the Gluten Free Swedish Meatball! Almost as good as Sonja’s (I need to get that recipe), but I think better than IKEA’s. Especially since I can eat them!

And obviously if you’re not Gluten Free, just use regular bread and flour but MAKE THESE MEATBALLS!

Here’s what you need:

Swedish Meatball Ingredients

Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Onion, Eggs, Bread (I used Udi’s GF), Butter, Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil, Flour (GF for me), Beef Broth, Milk, Sour Cream, Nutmeg, Allspice, Parsley, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Swedish Meatballs Shopping List

Lulu says hi!

While you’re putting together your shopping list, consider that you might want some mashed potatoes to eat with all the awesome gravy you are going to have. I also require Lingonberries which I buy at IKEA. Tart and delicious!

As I mentioned, I used Gluten Free bread but regular old sandwich bread is fine for everyone else.

If the crusts are especially firm, cut them off and cut or tear the bread into little pieces. Place it in a bowl and pour ¼ cup of milk over the bread bits.

Let it sit and get good and soggy.

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Finely chop 1 medium onion, about 1 cup.

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Pick a skillet big enough to hold a bunch of meatballs, add 2 Tablespoons of butter, and melt over medium high heat.

Add the onions and sauté until golden but not too browned.

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In a large bowl, combine 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork.

For some annoying reason, my store does not package their ground meats in a 1 pound package so I have more like 1 1/3 pounds of each.

I suspect that part of what made Sonja’s meatballs so good is the fact that in Minnesota they have Ingebretsen’s, an amazing Swedish Market. If you have the option of going there, get their ground meatball mixture. I’m not sure what ratios of meat they use, but it makes the best meatballs I’ve ever had. They also have a store full of ridiculously cute Scandinavian items you didn’t know you needed, but you DO!

Back to the meatballs! Separate 2 eggs and add the yolks ONLY to the meat mixture.

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Give this a quick mix with clean hands to incorporate the egg slightly into the meat. (That way when we add the warm onions, we don’t have scrambled eggs.)

While you’re mushing things together, use your hands to mush up the bread that has been soaking in the milk then add it to the bowl of meat.

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Add your golden, sautéed onions and season with ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, & 1 teaspoon pepper.

Mix the meat together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Try not to go crazy with stirring or mixing. Just get it all together. Over-mixed meatballs tend to be tough.

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Scoop out a little of the meat mixture and roll it into balls about 1½ inches in diameter. Think ping pong ball sized.

My extra meat gave me 40 small meatballs.

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Add a few Tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil to your pan.

Working in small batches, fry the meatballs until nicely browned on all sides.

The meatballs will finish cooking in the gravy so don’t worry if they are still a bit pink inside.

After each batch, transfer the meatballs to a plate or tray and continue frying, adding oil as needed, until all of the meatballs have been browned.

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After your last batch of meatballs is done, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter to the skillet.

Note:  if your meat was fairy fatty, you might have enough grease already in the pan to skip the butter. You want at least 2 Tablespoons of grease in your pan for the gravy.

Add 1/3 cup of flour and whisk to make a roux.

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Cook the flour into the butter and pan drippings for about 1 minute then slowly add 4 cups of beef broth.

Whisk until smooth.

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At this point, if you are me, you will realize that your pan is WAY too small to accommodate all of the gravy plus all of the meatballs.

If so, transfer the gravy to a large soup pot or dutch oven.

It is important to go ahead an make the gravy IN the pan you used to brown the meat to get all those good bits of flavor THEN transfer it to a bigger pot or pan.

When the gravy starts to thicken, add ¾ cup sour cream and stir to combine.

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Be sure to use full fat sour cream or your gravy will separate and curdle.

Plop those meatballs back into the gravy, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Give them a gentle stir occasionally just to be sure they don’t stick to the pan.

Swedish Meatballs

Taste the gravy and adjust the seasonings. I added a bit more nutmeg, allspice, salt & pepper.

Make a plate with meatballs, mashed potatoes,  and broccoli or something green so you don’t feel guilty about your second helping of meatballs.

Don’t forget the lingonberries! (Because you need to experience a bite of meatball and a bite of lingonberry together…so good!)

Swedish Meatballs

Like most things meaty and saucy, these were even better on day 2.

If 40 meatballs is a little off putting to you, keep in mind that you can always freeze half of these already cooked in the gravy for a quick meal some night when you are too crazed to cook.

What I lack in advance meal planning, I more than make up for with big hearty pots of good food available for meals throughout the week.

Here’s the recipe:  Adapted from a bunch of recipes on the internet but mostly Alton Brown and jocooks.com

Swedish Meatballs

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Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Bark

If your Valentine’s Day festivities involve chocolate (and they should) or you just happen to find yourself with leftover melted chocolate, you owe it to yourself to make Chocolate Bark!

I don’t often think about Chocolate Bark except at Christmas when those tins of Peppermint Bark are everywhere…calling to me, tempting me.

However, now that I’ve made my own awesome chocolate bark at home, I think I can make a big detour away from those store bought tins.

The glory of homemade chocolate bark (other than the obvious glory of any kind of good chocolate) is that you can CUSTOMIZE it to whatever flavors you like or what you have on hand.

Time to root around in the pantry to see what might be lurking there…

Chocolate Bark Ingredients

I happened to have a bag of these freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joe’s. I bought them to make meringues that never happened and couldn’t figure out what else to do with them.

Note that they are dehydrated (crispy) not dried (chewy) so they are perfect for bark.

They’re also sort of bizarre and fun to eat all on their own. Astronaut fruit!

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I also had pistachios and some crystalized ginger pieces.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Chocolate Covered Strawberries

We’ve got a chocolate and strawberry situation going on here.

I might need an intervention…I confess to eating some of these for breakfast!

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching so how about we skip all the expensive retail hoopla and make some Chocolate Covered Strawberries right in our own kitchens!

Melting and dipping. We can do that!

Here’s what you need:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Ingredients

Strawberries, Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, Crisco/Vegetable Shortening (optional & not pictured)

Click here for a Chocolate Covered Strawberries Shopping List

This is the time to go get the good strawberries.

If you live in Florida, you’re in luck because strawberries are in season right now. If you’re me, you’re even more in luck because most of the strawberries in the state are grown just a few miles from my house. Yippee!

Unlike the Chocolate Covered Strawberries you will find in stores, I do not like to buy those big, gigantic strawberries on the stem.

Sure they look great, but they’re often pithy or hollow in the middle and don’t have much flavor. Buy the best smelling, reddest, ripest berries you can find.

Sometimes I get 2 boxes and pick out the best ones for covering with chocolate and leave the others for fruit salads or smoothies.

For this recipe, I’m using a quart of strawberries or about 20 berries.

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The trick to getting the chocolate to STICK is to be sure your strawberries are completely and totally dry.

Rinse them to get those little hairs and seeds (and any dirt) off but then dry them thoroughly. I pick each berry up and dry them individually.

Dry them by hand and then let them sit and air dry some more while you melt the chocolate.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching.

I don’t know about you, but to me saying “I love you” is even better when chocolate is involved.

Most people don’t realize how easy it is to make luxurious chocolate mousse at home.

There are a few tricks, but in its basic form with just a little melting, whipping, and mixing you can own Valentine’s Day.

One big romantic chocolate gesture of love, coming right up!

Here’s what you need:

Chocolate Mousse Ingredients

Chocolate, Eggs, Sugar, Butter, and Heavy Cream. Grand Marnier or other liqueur optional but highly recommended.

Also, whipped cream, raspberries or strawberries, and chocolate nibs or shavings for garnish are an excellent idea.

Click here for a Chocolate Mousse with Grand Marnier Shopping List

Separate 3 eggs and put the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.

Separated Eggs

Sorry there is no egg separating picture but I didn’t have any extra hands while making this.

Basically you can crack the egg and carefully tip the yolk from shell to shell letting the white drain out. OR my favorite method is to crack the egg into your clean hand and let the white drain through your fingers while keeping the yolk safely in your hand. I almost never break the yolks doing it this way.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Mahi Mahi with Honey Balsamic Spring Onions

Mahi Mahi with Honey Balsamic Spring Onions happened because I looked out the window of the Opera House in Sarasota where we were rehearsing and saw a little farmer’s market in the park across the street.

We all raced out there on break to buy fresh strawberries (SO good!), veggies, cookies, and scones.

I found these spring onions and grabbed all of the bundles of small ones that they had.

Spring Onions are not to be confused with Green Onions or Scallions. They’re actually a whole different onion and yes, available mostly in the spring. (Sorry, we have spring in February in Florida but you can find spring onions now through “real spring” in your stores too.)

The onions cook quickly as does the fish which makes this a perfect weeknight meal or meal when your schedule is totally and completely crazy. Honey & a bit of balsamic vinegar make a quick and tasty sauce.

Simple but elegant and beyond delicious.

Here’s what you need:

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Mahi Mahi (or other fish), Spring Onions, Honey, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Fresh Thyme Sprigs (not pictured), Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Mahi Mahi with Honey Balsamic Spring Onions Shopping List

You will see spring onions that are slender like these or spring onions that have a big, baseball sized bulb. For this recipe, since the onions cook quickly, look for the bulbs on the small side.

This is a recipe that is easily multiplied for more servings. Plan on about 4 small onions per person…they shrink down quite a bit as they cook. Plus, they are very mild.

We will use the whole onion so remove any gnarly looking outer leaves. Leave the root end intact but trim off the little hairy roots if they are still on your onions.

Slice each onion lengthwise in half but try to keep them attached as much as possible.

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I’ve saved a few of the tender dark green parts to the right side of my board for a garnish.

After you’ve sliced the onions lengthwise, cut them in half or in 3rds so they are shorter and will fit on top of the fish when cooked.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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African Peanut Stew

Get ready for a big bowl of vegetable goodness!

African Peanut Stew is another wonderful recipe from my new Oh She Glows Cookbook.

You might remember that my friend Barb gave me this cookbook and I happily used up all the post-it tabs marking recipes.

Like the first recipe I tried, Perfect Chickpea Salad and a recipe (coming soon) for quick tomato sauce, African Peanut Stew does not disappoint!

New Cookbooks!

No tired old vegetable soup here. You’re looking at a bowl full of veggies that packs a powerful flavor punch thanks to the addition of peanut butter, smoky cumin & paprika, and just a hint of spice.

I’ll try just about anything that includes a sweet potato and spinach so I was SO happy to have a big pot of this soup to nosh on all week.

Here’s what you need:

African Peanut Stew Ingredients

Onion, Garlic, Red Bell Pepper, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Jalapeno Pepper, Vegetable Broth, Diced Tomatoes, Peanut Butter, Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, Olive Oil, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Smoked Paprika (not pictured) Ground Cumin (not pictured), Dry Roasted Peanuts, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for an African Peanut Stew Shopping List African Peanut Stew

A great thing about this recipe is that once you do your initial chopping, everything else goes very quickly. Since there is no meat in the soup, you can cook up a big pot in only the time it takes for the veggies to soften. Great for busy weeknight schedules!

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

Look at that beautiful bird!

It might surprise some of you to know that I don’t have any problem admitting when I am wrong.

I like being right well enough, but if someone has a better idea or a better way or convinces me to try something new or different, I’m all for it. Bring it on.

So, if you remember when I declared that Smothered Chicken was the best roast chicken ever, I may have been slightly wrong because Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken is so ridiculously easy and so ridiculously juicy and so ridiculously good that I am hard pressed not to change my Best Roast Chicken vote in its favor.

This recipe came to me last year when my friend Roz sent me a link to a great “Tournament” on Buzzfeed for the Best Roast Chicken Recipe. They did a Final Four Style tournament with all the heavy hitters like Julia Child and Martha Stewart. After all was said and done, Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken came out on top.

I made it then but wasn’t totally convinced at the time. However, my friend Cody tried the recipe and raved and raved and raved and raved about about it and proceeded to launch a campaign to get me to reconsider. There were photos…many, many photos…

So I tried it again and I’m here to say what Cody, Buzzfeed, and the internets have known all along…

THOMAS KELLER’S ROAST CHICKEN IS BEST ROAST CHICKEN EVER!

And, it couldn’t be easier!

Here’s what you need:

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken Ingredients

Whole Chicken, Salt & Pepper. Optional but highly recommended are chicken broth and some fresh herbs like thyme and/or rosemary.

Mr. Keller suggests butter (yes, butter) and Dijon mustard for serving with the chicken. Mr. Keller is correct.

Click here for Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Yes, that is extremely hot but that’s what makes this bird so good.

That is also what will totally smoke out your kitchen if your oven is not completely & pristinely clean. Even with a clean oven, you will still have a fair amount of smoke but is this chicken worth it? YES IT IS!

First you need a nice chicken. Sometimes they call them roasters and sometimes they call them fryers. The only difference is size so buy the best looking bird you can find. Mine is about 4 pounds.

Be sure to take any innards out of the cavity of the chicken…sometimes the neck is in there too.

Rinse the bird if that’s your thing (the science keeps changing on that one…I’m a rinser but I’m also a clean-out-my-sink-er too) and pat it dry INSIDE and OUT.

Drying the bird is essential to having crisp skin.

You will also need a roasting pan, a rack if you have one, and some clean cooking string for trussing.

Half Assed Chicken Trussing

Speaking of trussing, I don’t really do it.

I know, I know…I own the Julia Child instructional video but I don’t have a trussing needle.

So, I present to you my Half Assed Trussing Method which works just fine.

Take 3 toothpicks and stick them through the skin to close up the cavity of the chicken. Then tie the legs together with some kitchen string to hold the chicken in shape and also protect the breast meat.

Perfect? No. Workable and easy? You bet!

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Mushroom & Pea Risotto

Risotto, in any form, is one of my favorite dinners to make.

It’s another one of meals that you see in fancy restaurants but until you make it at home, you don’t realize how easy it is.

Basically, risotto is plump Italian Arborio rice that is cooked slowly in broth until it is tender and thick. Unlike conventional rice that you pop in a pan with a bunch of water, risotto is cooked, and more importantly stirred constantly and slowly so that the starches can develop into a delectable creamy consistency.

Once you’ve got the hang of making risotto your options are endless.

You can start with any kind of broth (veg, chicken, beef), add some veggies, and some protein (shrimp & scallops are my favorite risotto guilty pleasure).

Every now and then, I like to go with all veggies like Mushroom & Pea Risotto.

Here’s what you need:

Mushroom & Pea Risotto Ingredients

Mushrooms (Shiitake & Crimini), Arborio Rice (Risotto Rice), Frozen Peas, Shallots, Garlic, Fresh Thyme, Olive Oil, Butter (not pictured), Vegetable Broth, White Wine, Pecorino Romano Cheese, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Mushroom & Pea Risotto Shopping List

The only absolute MUST with risotto is the rice. You must use ARBORIO rice. Regular long grain rice is not the same thing and will not work. 

Arborio rice has plump, short grains with more starch so it cooks down into an incredibly creamy broth. Most stores carry arborio rice so if you don’t find it, be sure to ask.

You could make this with regular white button mushrooms, but I don’t think they offer the most bang for your mushroom buck.

Instead, I would go for some of the “wild mushrooms” that are available in the store. They’re not really wild anymore but they’re more interesting and flavorful than the old standard shrooms.

I have about 8 ounces of shiitake mushrooms and 8 ounces of crimini (or baby bella) mushrooms.

Wash, rinse, brush off, or clean your mushrooms to your liking then remove the stems. The stems of the shiitake are not great eating so I cut them off. I also remove the stems of the criminis because I don’t think they add that much to the flavor and they’re often tough.

If the caps are small you can simply cut them in half. Slice any larger caps.

shitaki mushrooms

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Picadillo

picadillo

Mmmmmmm! Picadillo…Cuban Comfort Food.

You might not know that I’m a big fan of Cuban food. It helps that I now live in Florida and get to visit and work in Miami somewhat frequently. However, one of the best and most memorable Cuban meals I’ve ever had was in the not so tropical location of Minneapolis, Minnesota!

What makes that even more interesting was that it was breakfast…one of my least favorite meals of the day.

Honestly, breakfast sucks when you can’t eat eggs or bread. Don’t even try pawning off those egg & gluten substitutes on me. I’ll just pass.

Going out to breakfast with me is often an entertaining but odd mix of cobbling together “extras” from the menu to make a meal…homefries, fruit, veggies if they’re available, grits if I’m really lucky, etc.

Well, when my friend Larry and I went to Victor’s 1959 Cuban Cafe, a funky little (very little) joint in South Minneapolis last summer, I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that I was served a breakfast that almost made my eggless gluten free self weep with joy.

I was picking through the menu trying to oder the breakfast hash without the egg, maybe a side of something else when the nice waitress who also happened to be GF and allergic to eggs said that if it wasn’t too weird for me to eat black beans at breakfast, why didn’t I just order the Picadillo from the regular lunch/dinner menu.

Breakfast at Victor's 1958 Cafe

This plate of food made me sooooo happy! It also makes me wonder why we don’t all eat plantains for breakfast. Yum!

So when I received TWO Latin/Cuban cookbooks for Christmas, Picadillo was one of the first recipes I had to try at home.

Picadillo is basically a savory beef hash usually served with black beans and rice. It can also be used as a base filling for empanadas, tamales, fritters, etc. Even breakfast!

Here’s what you need:

Picadillo Ingredients

Ground Beef, Onion, Green Pepper, Garlic, Parsley, Diced Tomatoes, Green Olives, Capers, Raisins, Olive Oil, Sherry Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Cumin, Oregano, White Wine (not shown), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Picadillo Shopping List

If you want to serve this with black beans and rice, get the rice started right away. (I’m still working out the black bean recipe…the ones I made were good but not great.)

Click HERE, there’s more!

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