Monday, April 20, 2015

A New Wine - Even on a Monday night

My daughter and I like to try new things and we especially like to try to new alcoholic Adult beverages.  We've had some hits and we've had some misses (let's not talk about the pickle juice and tequila shots).  Our recent yummy find wis Lillet, a French aperitif fortified wine. 

A few weeks ago my daughter found a French cookbook on sale at Anthropologie so she grabbed it and brought it home.  We browsed the entre's and sides, but became engrossed in the desserts and cocktails, of course!  There was a cocktail in there that used Lillet which sounded so refreshing. We researched the wine and called our local liquor store to see if they even stocked it.  They confirmed so off we went and bought one bottle of white and one of blush.  It's not dreadfully expensive but considerably more than the 3 buck chuck from Trader Joes.  We had NO idea how it would taste but we really wanted to try it.  I can't remember what the cocktail was (not because I had too many, but because I just don't have much short term memory, which may be a direct result of all of the alcohol consumed since high school but I digress.   I know it involved some club soda but that's about it.  The goal was to find a summer drink and I think we found it and will make again as soon as we find the cook book. I'll have to post about it later when we find the book.

Anyhow, tonight I wanted a glass of wine and remembered I had some leftover Lillet.  So I cut up an orange and a lime added it to the glass with some ice, poured the Lillet and viola, I had a nice refreshing drink. 

Even though Lillet is a bit expensive I do see it becoming one of our go to cocktails this summer while we sit in the sun in the evenings and weekends.  While the temps have dropped back down to almost freezing my Lillet cocktail made me think of warm summer days not long to come. 

I'm also intrigued by the recipes on the Lillet website.  I think I'll try this one:
Oh I can already feel summer coming around the corner and I think we'll have a few signature drink concoctions. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Salad

Recently we were invited to dinner at our friends house. They were making steaks and I offered to bring some potatoes and salad. I wanted to make a fancy salad with lots of different fresh ingredients. We have a local grocery store that carries a wide variety of produce so I decided to start there. 
I picked up a bunch of kale, fresh radishes, red leaf lettuce, bulk spinach, green onions, avocado, and strawberries.  I had some dried cranberries and walnuts in the cupboard and threw them in.  I made sure to cut the cut the kale away from the spines because kale can sometimes be a little bitter. 

A friend of ours fishes up in Northern Wisconsin and my husband always orders a wheel of Blue Cheese. It sits in our refrigerator and eventually becomes Gorgonzola.  Either way it is amazing and tastes great on just about anything.  So I decided to add it to our salad.
We picked up a bottle of Brianna's Blush Wine Salad Dressing.  It paired well with the strawberries and cranberries.  That salad was amazing!
I'm looking forward to the spring and summer produce.  The warm spring and summer weather make me crave fresh cool salads with lots of different ingredients. It's easy to find new things to try but you do have to be brave on some of the ethnic items.  I'm amazed at how grocery stores have evolved since I was young.  I can remember when my Mother had difficulty finding leeks.  We lived on the Southside of Chicago so leeks probably weren't in high demand in our neighborhood.  They probably aren't today either but I can't be sure since I don't shop there.  Today in the burbs the gourmet grocery stores have everything.  It's a culinary trip around the world in those stores.  Things like Malanga, Chinese Eggplant or Karela (which I will NEVER try again after a recent taste test) and so many other exotic fruits and vegetables available from all over the world at reasonable prices are available.  Sometimes my daughter and I Google a recipe just to know what it is used for. Sometimes we buy it and try it which is how we figured out we will NEVER buy Karela again.   
Who would have guessed a trip to the grocery store could be so exciting! Oh, and what makes it even more of an experience?  Some even sell wine and beer along with a full service restaurant.  Saturday morning grocery shopping is the new Happy Hour!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Menu

Years of Easter Sunday dinners have taught me many lessons.  I could never understand how the Queen of homemaking, Martha Stewart could serve up beautiful dinners and look so calm and collected.  Ok Ok, I know that was made for TV but I secretly always wanted to just one time be that organized and "perfect". 

I never accomplished it and probably never will but I'm getting close because I've discovered the art of pre-planning, cooking ahead and organization.

My family isn't that sophisticated to care, we're a very down to earth bunch and honestly they wouldn't be happy sitting at a formal dinner but I still like to set up a wonderful buffet of flavorful tasty dishes.

My Easter Menu is simple this year.  Mr. Saylor loves to buy some special HUGE ham that will produce leftovers for weeks ahead.  I'm in charge of the sides.  Past years I've made two meats but this year we're sticking with the ham and ham alone.

My Easter Dinner:

Glazed Carrots
Roasted Brussell Sprouts w/bacon
Mashed Turnip
Corn Casserole
Mashed Potatoes w/Gravy
Sweet Potatoes
Green beans w/Almonds

Mini bundt cakes
Lamb cakes
Dirt pudding cups for the kids

I've got my new table cover, my new table runner, my forced Hyacinth bulbs are all set, can't wait to see how it all turns out!
A Blessed Easter to all.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cornish Hens

Cornish hens always seemed like a difficult dish to prepare so I never tried making them for my family.  Sometimes that proverbial light bulb can go off in my head and make me realize the obvious.  If I can roast a big old chicken I can roast a little Cornish hen right? 

I bought some Cornish hens at the grocery store and decided to try to make them for our Sunday dinner.  My son is always skeptical about my new dishes so of course he made some comments when he saw those little birds going into the oven. 

First I made a rub of salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and sage.  I rubbed the little hens with Olive Oil and then rubbed them with the mixed.  I added about 10 cloves of garlic in the pan and put them in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Then I added a couple of cups chicken stock, some carrots and onions and turned down the heat to 350. 

While the hens were in the oven I made some wild rice, added some cranberries and walnuts.  Then I made some sweet potatoes and some fresh green beans and dinner turned out beautifully. 

My son Mr. Skeptical actually enjoyed it.  I plan to try them again on our grill.  Barbequed Cornish hens sound amazing.  If only our weather would cooperate!

It was a little sad when I was preparing these little hens so tiny and cute.  I sometimes understand is exactly why people go vegetarian.