Watermelon – The Sweet and the Savory!!!

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Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than ice cold watermelon! I recently got creative with this wonderful fruit and my friend Lisa insisted I post my recipes, so here we go! At our Father’s Day gathering I wanted to serve a creative appetizer, so I drizzled watermelon with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled it with some super creamy goat cheese. Yummm! You get the sweet of the watermelon with the savory of the balsamic and creaminess of the cheese.

Those watermelons are so big that I always seem to end up with some leftover. For some reason it dawned on me to blend up my leftover melon with a little sugar to make a type of nectar that could be used to make a variety of drinks. It could be mixed with sparkling water for a nice refresher or with a little rum or vodka for cooling cocktail! I hope these recipes help to cool down your summer a bit!!!


Balsamic Watermelon With Goat Cheese

Ingredients

1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/2 cup good quality Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Sugar

1/2 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese (or Feta Cheese for a more pungeant flavor)

In a small saucepan, whisk together vinegar and sugar. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half and syrupy.  This will take about 5 minutes. After cooking, chill in refrigerator. Cut watermelon into square shaped bite size pieces.  Round shapes don’t work as well for capturing the cheese in your bites. Arrange melon on a plate and drizzle with chilled balsamic reduction and then sprinkle with crumbled cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Watermelon Drinks

1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar

You could use a blender or an immersion blender to combine your chunks of watermelon and sugar to make your necter.

Watermelon Margarita – Blend necter, ice, margarita mix or lime juice and tequila.

Watermelon Refresher – Mix necter, lime juice and sparkling water.

Watermelon Mojito – Mix necter, lime juice, mottled mint and rum.

Enjoy!

Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker – An Easy Dinner That Satisfies!

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It has been way too long since I’ve posted anything and I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but after posting something on Facebook I had a request to post this recipe. Pork ribs were on sale at my local grocery store, so I picked up a rack. With the cold weather, we haven’t been in barbecue mode, but I have been in slow cooker mode! So slow cooker ribs it is! 

I was looking through one of my cook books and saw a few recipes for ribs with saurkraut. Now that sounds interesting! I didn’t have much saurkraut on hand, but I did have a jar of red cabbage. This sounded even better to me! I must say, it did not disappoint! The ribs were tender and delicious and the cabbage was incredibly tasty!

This meal was super easy to make and was incredibly satisfying! My family loved it! I served it with a side of corn and some fresh baked sourdough bread. I made my own sourdough starter for the first time, but that is another post!

Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

1 rack of pork ribs (I used loin back ribs), cut to fit in slow cooker, I cut mine in half

1 – 12 oz jar of German red cabbage

2 cups of barbecue sauce (I used 1 cup of Kinder’s Sweet Sriracha BBQ sauce and 1 cup Kinder’s California Gold BBQ sauce) 

2 tsp liquid smoke

Season ribs with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Cover ribs with red cabbage,then pour over BBQ sauce and finally, sprinkle on the liquid smoke. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Cook shorter time for on the bone ribs. Cook longer for fall off the bone meat. Mine was somewhere in between and was very nice to eat.

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving – Three Berries in One Wonderful Cranberry Sauce

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One of the things you can do a couple days in advance of the holiday is make your cranberry sauce. I’ll admit that I have often used canned cranberry sauce, because I had yet to find a homemade recipe that made the work of making from scratch worthwhile. That definitely changed after I made this last year!

I recently watched the TV special Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Thanksgiving again. One of the recipes she shared on that special was Very Berry Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe last year and my husband and I agree; YUMMMMM! It will definitely be gracing our Thanksgiving table again this year!

It has the usual tangy flavor and bright color that you would expect from cranberry sauce, but this sauce sports more than just cranberries! It also has raspberries, blueberries and a surprise ingredient. Whiskey!!! I was worried that the whiskey would overpower the fruit flavors, but that was not the case at all! That flavor is really not distinctive, it blends in to simply make a great, fruity tasting sauce! The 3 different berries are what really make it!

So thanks to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! I would like to share her recipe.

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Put the first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan and stir. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining berries and cook for an additional 4 minutes. I noticed a lot of whole cranberries still, so I used my potato masher to gently mash it a little and break up the berries. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate until cold and thick.
The original recipe says it makes 24 servings. I can believe it’s that many small servings. It makes quite a bit.
Super simple and it tastes fantastic! 
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving Tips – A Wonderful Salad for a Special Dinner

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  As I’ve mentioned before, some of my favorite recipes come from the Taste of Home folks. They have a monthly magazine, website and annual cookbooks that have wonderful, down to earth recipes. I love that their recipes are usually made from a combination of commonly used ingredients, so I often already have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Several years ago, my sister ran across a Taste of Home recipe for a fabulous green salad called Festive Tossed Salad. It’s a little more work than your run of the mill green salad (not that bad though!), but it tastes WAY better than those every day salads. We tend to make this salad for special occasions and family gatherings, since it’s a little more work we usually have someone other than the hostess bring this item. That way the person brining it can focus on that one thing and when that’s all you have to make, it’s not overwhelming at all.

Festive Salad

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2/3 cup canola oil

• 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

• 10 cups torn romaine

• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

• 1 medium apple, chopped

• 1 medium pear, chopped

• 1/4 cup dried cranberries

• 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cashews
Directions

1. In a blender, combine the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and salt. Cover and process until blended. With blender running, gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds and blend.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the romaine, cheese, apple, pear and cranberries. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Add cashews; toss to coat. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Enjoy!

A Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish – Sweet Potatoes and Apples

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About 20 years ago (man, I’m old!), I was at an office potluck and a co-worker of mine brought the most wonderful sweet potato dish. Keep in mind, prior to this I did not like sweet potatoes. My mom didn’t cook them much at all growing up, so my only exposure was that dish where they’re covered in marshmallows and to top it off, I don’t like marshmallows much either! Anyway, this dish my coworker brought was both sweet and savory. In addition to the sweet potatoes, there were apples in the dish.

I asked her for the recipe and she said she didn’t have it. Her mother had made the dish for her to bring, so I asked her to please ask her mom for the recipe. She comes back into work and tells me that her mom won’t give her the recipe. It’s a “secret” family recipe. What’s a girl gotta do to get that stinkin’ recipe!?! Thanksgiving was coming and my friend said that her mom would make those sweet potatoes every year, so I gave her marching orders to hover around her mother and take copious notes. Well she came through!!!

This dish has been a family favorite for the last 20 years and it always gets rave reviews when I share it with others. I’ve taken it to a few church potlucks and the such.

Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also pretty darn easy to make. Nothing complicated, but the flavors come together wonderfully! The recipe I have is pretty rough and these days I usually just make it from memory. It’s kind of a vegetable lasagna as you’re simply layering the ingredients and it’s easy to increase/decrease the recipe based on how many people you’re feeding. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

4-5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half, short-ways

2 – 15 oz cans apple pie filling
Butter or margarine
Brown sugar
1 tbsp Brandy
Place sweet potatoes and 1 tbsp brandy into large pot of water making sure to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes from hot water and slice into ½ inch slices. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and spread one layer of sweet potatoes, then thinly cover this with a layer of pie filling (about ½ can or more if you need it), spoon dots of butter over apples about a teaspoon or so 2-3 inches apart. You just want them spread apart. Then sprinkle about 1/3 cup brown sugar. Now repeat these layers. I usually try to end with the brown sugar on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until warmed through and bubbly. If you’re making a bigger batch, it may need to cook longer.
You really can’t go wrong with the amounts of the ingredients, so play with it and see what looks good to you. It’s amazing how much flavor that little bit of brandy in the water adds!

Thanksgiving Part 5 – The Best Dressing EVER!!!!  Lets Just Say There Is Chorizo In It!!!

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For some odd reason that I don’t understand, I am the only person in my family that likes stuffing/dressing. Who are these people I live with??? Since they don’t much care for it, I rarely make it. Thanksgiving is my one exception though! I ALWAYS make dressing on Thanksgiving and several years ago I came across a recipe that is so fantastic, even my dressing-free family and friends love it. One of my girlfriends stakes her claim on our leftovers every year!

One year we picked up a holiday edition of Sunset magazine and this is where I found my all-time favorite dressing recipe. This dish is extremely colorful and the variety of unique ingredients create a bold, bright flavor. Let’s just say there is chorizo involved! CHORIZO!!!! Geez I love that stuff!!! There is also fresh baked corn bread, mushrooms and butternut squash, just to name a few.
I just know you and yours will love it as much as we do!!!

Southwest Cornbread and Chorizo Dressing

1 butternut squash (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.)

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 onion (6 oz.)
1 red bell pepper (8 oz.)
1 fresh fennel head (9 oz.)
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound chorizo sausage (see notes)
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth 
CORNBREAD (RECIPE FOLLOWS)

Preparation
1. Peel and seed squash. Cut into 1-inch chunks; you should have about 3 cups. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, combine 1/2 cup water with brown sugar and the squash. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring once, until squash is almost tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until most of the water is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Peel and chop onion. Rinse, stem, seed, and chop bell pepper. Rinse fennel and trim off and discard base of head and tough stalks. Chop enough fennel to make about 1 cup. Rinse mushrooms and slice 1/4 inch thick.
3. Squeeze sausage from casings and break into chunks into a 12-inch frying pan or 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat; stir often until lightly browned and crumbly, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour sausage into a wire strainer to drain; discard fat.
4. Preheat oven to 350°. Add butter to unwashed pan over medium-high heat; when melted, add onion, bell pepper, and fennel and stir often until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir until limp, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sausage, cilantro, sage, and thyme. Add squash.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth. Break cornbread into 1/2-inch chunks and drop into bowl. Add sausage mixture and stir gently to combine. Scrape dressing into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish and cover with foil.
6. Bake until hot in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Makes 10-12 servings. 
Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400°. In a bowl, mix 2 boxes (8 1/2 oz. each) corn muffin mix, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 large eggs until blended but still slightly lumpy. I have also used Marie Callender corn bread mix. Just follow package instructions. Pour batter into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake until top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cornbread cool in pan on a rack.

Thanksgiving Tips Part 4 – Barbecued Turkey – Great Tasting and It Frees Up Your Oven!

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Inside Kel's Kitchen


I think we can all agree that the backbone of a great Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey! I know for me, if I screw up the turkey I feel like I have failed as a Thanksgiving host.

I forget exactly how we discovered it, but about 20 years ago my husband and I discovered the joy of the barbecued turkey. This moist, smokey flavored bird is definitely the star of the meal. An unexpected perk to barbecuing the bird, is that you don’t have a huge turkey hogging up your oven. I have never been blessed with two ovens, so on a big cooking day oven space is at a premium. Since I usually put my husband in charge of the barbecuing, it keeps him occupied and out of the kitchen. Prior to putting him to work on the barbecue, he was always sticking his finger in to taste things…

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Thanksgiving Tips Part 3 – It’s All In The Prep!!!

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Inside Kel's Kitchen


The planning and shopping are important, but it’s the prep that will really reduce the stress of preparing a large dinner like Thanksgiving. As you do your prep, try to think of every litle thing you can do ahead of time. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, unwrapping your butter to put on a dish or opening the cans of cranberry sauce, will shave minutes off your Thanksgiving Day work. Trust me! It all adds up and you’ll cherish those free moments on the day of thee holiday!

Let’s Get Prepping!!!

My key to a relaxing Thanksgiving day is to hit the prep activities hard. I usually take the day before Thanksgiving off from work and work my rear off that day Go dish by dish and think about what you can do in advance

  • Brine your turkey?
  • I usually stuff my turkey with fruit, so I have that…

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Thanksgiving Tips Part 2 – Making That Grocery List and Shopping

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Here are my Thanksging tips continued from my earlier post… 1. Decide what to make and what to buy. I’m not a great baker and my husband LOVES the sweet rolls from our Win…

Source: Thanksgiving Tips Part 2 – Making That Grocery List and Shopping

Thanksgiving Tips Part 1 – The Details of Menu Planning

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Last year I posted a series of Thanksgiving related posts discussing everything from planning to recipes. Since most of you started following my blog after that time, I thought I would re-blog some of these entries. I really enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and would love to help others learn to make a delicious meal while keeping stress to a minimum. If you haven’t already, follow my blog to see my Thanksgiving series.

Inside Kel's Kitchen


It’s probably no surprise that November is this foodie girl’s favorite month to cook. In addition to it being the beginning of soup and slow cooker season, it also means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

I LOVE Thanksgiving dinner!!! I love cooking it and I love eating it! Because I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner numerous times over the years for groups both big and small, I think I have really developed my large meal preparation skills. Over the next few weeks, I would like to write a few blog entries highlighting recipes, strategies and techniques that you all might find helpful in preparing your own Thanksgiving meal.

My goal for the Thanksgiving meal is to serve delicious food, while trying to keep it healthy and not killing myself with the stress. This is where careful planning comes into play. My Thanksgiving days are usually pretty relaxing as I get…

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