Monthly Archives: September 2015

Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Figs, Grapes and Moscato Dressing: “Ode to Wine Country”

Ode to Wine Country

Serves 2

I call this “Ode to Wine Country” because it’s a beautiful salad of arugula and spinach, figs poached in Moscato, globe grapes, walnuts, chicken and a Moscato dressing with a hint of rosemary.  These are the some of the flavors found in wine country.

This salad comes together in about 10 minutes but tastes like a salad you’d get in an upscale restaurant. It is healthy and practically effortless.

My husband and I have both been losing weight recently- he’s down 20 pounds and I’ve shed 10- so we’re eating a lot of salads!,

Salad can get boring after awhile, but this one will keep us coming back for more.

Tip: If you don’t regularly drink Moscato, buy one of the airplane-size bottles for the recipe.

2/3 cup inexpensive Moscato (you’re using it to poach, so it doesn’t need to be an expensive bottle)

6 dried figs

4 cups mixed arugula and spinach mix (you can also substitute a spring mix of greens)

12 globe grapes

12 walnut halves

1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion

2/3 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

6 teaspoons Moscato liquid reserved from poaching

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

¼ teaspoon honey

Goat cheese crumbles (optional)

Place Moscato in a small pot and turn the heat on to medium. While it heats, slice figs in half and set aside.

Next, divide the greens between two plates.  Rinse the grapes off and slice in half.  Divide the grapes and walnuts evenly between the plates. Next, chop the onion and chicken and divide that between the plates.

By now, your Moscato should be bubbling. Add the figs and poach for 3 minutes. Remove figs immediately, but reserve the Moscato liquid.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 6 tablespoons of the Moscato liquid, rosemary and honey. Pour over salad and toss thoroughly. If desired, add goat cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I met a family once who planned their annual reunion around apple butter.

I spent the weekend with this clan – about 40 strong- who peeled hundreds of apples on Friday, and then Saturday slowly cooked the apples down over a huge, antique copper pot. They took turns stirring the apples with a wooden spoon that looked like a paddle.

It was a crisp fall day and I sat at watched steam rise from the pot and the aroma of a campfire, apples, cinnamon and cloves fill the air (I was writing a story about their unique tradition).  When the apples had melted into a thick butter-like consistency, they canned the mixture into the night. When that was done, they made a mega batch of biscuits and used the warm biscuits to scrape up the last of the apple butter that still glazed the inside of the pot.

I can’t eat an apple butter stuffed biscuit without thinking of them. I had to stop this photo shoot to gobble up a biscuit.

apple butter biscuit

I love apple season and autumn means the apples are ripe from the orchards to the farmers markets and the grocery stores.  Now, as much as I enjoy apple butter, I don’t have time to make it from scratch so I whip up a slow cooker version.

You have to peel about 10-12 apples, but if you have an apple peeler, then it’s quick.  I use a mix of Granny Smith and red apples for this.

You can make a variation on this recipe by adding ½ teaspoon or ¼ teaspoon of extract once the mixture has been cooked. For example, split the batch in half or thirds and add vanilla extract, or maple or rum (those are my favorites). It’s just a slight twist on the same recipe. I always start with ¼ teaspoon and then double it if I don’t think it’s changed the flavor enough.

apple butter close

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Makes about 1 1/2 pints

7 cups of peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples

1 ½ cups peeled and sliced red apples (about 2 red apples)

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (use less or omit if you don’t like cloves because you can taste it)

1/3 cup apple juice

Place apple juice in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Core, peel and slice all the apples and place on top of apple juice. Stir together your sugar and spices until well combined and sprinkle over the apples. Cover and cook for 10 hours, undisturbed. When done, allow to rest at the warm temperature setting for 1-2 hours. Then turn off and remove the lid and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to cool.

Place in a food processor and blend until smooth (don’t use all the liquid in the slow cooker or it may be too thin). Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival and other Columbia, Mo, attractions

Well, it’s been about two weeks since I posted anything. I’ve been swamped! I am writing a cookbook featuring my best 50 rotisserie chicken recipes, and that was due the publisher 10 days ago. The very next day, I left to Florida for the Association of Food Journalists conference. It was an amazing conference.

I got back and had a lot of cleaning and writing to do. This is the first moment I’ve had to pause for literally 10 minutes. I will be back at it next week with more rotisserie chicken recipes and other recipes. As I near my 117, I am going to branch out with more recipes.

Also, I have so much to share about the incredible trip to Florida.

But for anyone in Missouri, I wanted to share this story I wrote last week for the Joplin Globe about Columbia. There’s an amazing concert there this weekend.  Columbia is a great town. I have several recommendations of things to do and see.

By Juliana Goodwin

For the Joplin Globe

My husband and I visited Columbia a few months ago and we’re counting down the days until we go back.

I had not been to the college-town in years and was just amazed at the downtown revitalization.  Downtown Columbia was bustling with new boutiques, shops, bakeries, upscale and causal restaurants, breweries, a dueling piano bar and more.   We had a blast exploring.

The downtown offers enough reason to visit, but what has us so excited this time is the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Sept. 25-27 in Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.

For three days, big name musicians like Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, Irma Thomas, Buddy Guy, Brandi Carlile and many more—will play to throngs of music lovers in Columbia. The line-up of 30 national, international and local musicians is spectacular.

This will be my first big music festival and I am so stoked.

Photo Courtesy: Roots N Blues 2014 - RNB

Photo Courtesy: Roots N Blues 2014 – RNB

If those musicians interest you and a road trip is calling your name, you better start looking for lodging or plan to camp because hotels are hard to come by. Festival tickets are $49.50 Friday; $65 Saturday; $49.50 Sunday; $125 for a Weekend Pass. Given the talent that will be on the stage, I think it’s a bargain.  I’ve paid more to see a single musician.

The fall festival was first organized in 2007 and features musicians in the genres of roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, rock, and soul.   American Blues Scene Magazine called it “One of the most prominent festivals in the country!” – at least that is what the website says.

If you hate crowds this is not the weekend to visit, but Columbia is still worth a trip and fall is my favorite time to travel. Here are a few recommendations:

On our last visit, we stayed downtown at the Broadway Columbia, a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, which is about a year and a half old. We loved the hotel, particularly its rooftop bar.

rooftop bar

The view is amazing, albeit it’s a view of Broadway and the city, so it’s not like you’re looking at nature but it’s still wonderful. We were fortunate to have a gorgeous sunset that night- so much so that we pushed our dinner reservations back to take more photos of the orange-encrusted clouds against a pink sky.

Rooftop sunset

The rooftop bar is clearly a local favorite and it’s easy to see why. There are fire features, tall barstools, a festive atmosphere, and a menu to order from.

DSC_0666 (2) rooftop fire

We had dinner reservations so didn’t order any food, but it smelled heavenly. I will definitely plan to try it next time.

If you like craft beer, you have a few choices in Columbia. First, is Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. 5th St., which was producing craft beer since 1994 before craft beer was cool. The beer and food are both pretty good and this is a downtown staple.

But Columbia has two other breweries: Broadway Brewery & Restaurant, 816 E. Broadway, which is another good choice; and Logboat Brewing Company, 504 Fay St. I haven’t personally tried Logboat but it has excellent reviews online and the Belgium-style IPA is on my list for my next trip.

For a casual dinner but good food, try Addison’s, 709 Cherry St.  This restaurants puts a twist on traditional American fare, like nachos. Here’s a description of their nachos: Italian pasta chips topped with Asiago cheese sauce, tomatoes, scallions, kalamata olives, banana peppers, mozzarella cheese, and chicken, black beans, or chorizo sausage. My favorite appetizer is the Crab Rangoon Dip- you get all the creaminess of the filling, but use fried wontons to scoop it up. Again, just an innovative way to present something traditional.

For a fine dining experience, I highly recommend with Wine Cellar & Bistro, 505 Cherry St., downtown.  Chef Craig and Sarah Cyr (sommelier) own the restaurant and wine bar, which has an award winning wine list and affordable options. The couple have owned the restaurant for 11 years and it’s my favorite place to eat.

But if the dinner menu is out of your price range, then be sure to check out the lunch menu because it offers half-size dinner portions for half the price.

Also, Sunday through Thursday, there’s a three course menu available for $30.  I dined on the delectable goat cheese truffles that melted in my mouth the second I tasted them; and tender scallops for the main course.  For this appetizer, they rolled goat cheese into balls (hence the truffle), breaded and fried the balls and served on it a bed of caramelized onions with balsamic reduction.

For my main course, I had the blackened scallops with Missouri pecans, organic California wild rice, ginger-scented braised greens, lemon and grapefruit beurre blanc sauce. The restaurant sources as many local and regional foods as possible, which I love.

I was also amazed at the olive oil and balsamic vinegar served with the bread. They reduce the vinegar in house and they sell it to take home.

Whether you chose to dine at one of these places or go to the concert, Columbia should definitely be on your list of places to explore.

Want to go?

For more information on the festival: http://rootsnbluesnbbq.com/

Greek Burgers

I must share this because it looks so delectable. I love Greek food. I’ve been there twice and it’s an amazing country.

Fabulous Fare Sisters

IMG_4869

If you like Greek Salad, you’re gonna love these Greek Burgers. The burgers are seasoned with all the flavors of Greece and topped with a marinated combo reminiscent of a delicious Greek Salad; tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, green peppers, red onions and Kalamata olives marinated in a simple dressing, and feta served on pita bread slathered with a scrumptious Greek yogurt dressing! Fork and knife may be required!!

Greek Burgers
1 1/3 lb ground turkey
3 tablespoons Greek seasoning (see recipe below)
4 grape tomatoes, diced
8 Kalamata marinated seedless black olives from the deli salad bar (not jarred!), diced
(remember to spoon some of that lovely olive juice into your container!)
1 tablespoon diced green peppers
1 tablespoon diced red peppers
1 tablespoon diced red onion
2 tablespoons diced cucumbers
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
Greek Dressing (see recipe below)
OPA Greek Yogurt Kalamata Feta Dressing
Feta cheese, sliced

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Preserving and using your herbs – and a great pesto recipe

The end of summer means the end of an herb garden is near.

Depending on the weather, you may have several weeks to harvest fresh herbs, but I like to start cutting my plants back now and preserving as many as possible for winter.

If you have a sunny spot in the house, you can bring in oregano, rosemary, and lavender which will usually survive for several months inside. I’ve had mixed luck with basil but it’s worth a try.

Some herbs like rosemary and thyme are easy to dry, while others like cilantro and basil, do not dry well. This week, I have a lot of suggestions on which herbs to dry, freeze or use now (and a great pesto recipe to use up that basil).

First, let’s talk about basil, which is the most commonly grown herb. There’s nothing like fresh basil, but that flavor is hard to capture.  The best way to preserve basil is to make pesto and freeze it.

I recommend buying mini plastic storage containers to freeze basil in smaller portions (about ½ to 1 cup at a time). My husband is a teacher and one of his co-workers, Janice Queen, makes amazing pesto. I asked her to share her recipe. Something I really like about this recipe is it calls for almonds, as well as pine nuts (pine nuts are very expensive, so this is a more economical recipe).  The recipe also calls for a good dose of parsley, which is nice if you’re growing that, too.

Pesto is versatile: use it as a salad dressing, toss it with pasta and fresh tomatoes, or pour it over a block of cream cheese for a quick dip (serve with crackers and French bread).

Herb butters are another wonderful way to use up herbs, particularly rosemary and basil.  All you have to do is soften 1 stick of unsalted butter, stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped basil or 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary. Then spread it on a slice of French bread.  It’s marvelous and an easy and inexpensive addition to a party. You can also add 1 tablespoon finely minced sundried tomatoes to the butter.

If I am serving it at a party, I serve it at room temperature, but if you want herb butter for your family, mold the butter back into a log, place it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for several days (rosemary butter will last longer than basil).

If you have leftover herb butter, use it in pasta, on vegetables, or spread a pat on a steak.

Another idea to use either fresh or dried herbs is to sprinkle herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary or a combination are my favorites) on a mix of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for a quick bread dip. You can use that recipe to marinate vegetables that you’re going to grill, too. Be sure to add salt to both dishes though.

Ok, now we’ve used fresh herbs, let’s talk about drying herbs.

Before you dry any herb, you want to rinse it gently and pat it dry with a paper towel. Only dry herbs that are in perfect condition, and discard any that are wilted or changing colors.

Certain herbs, like thyme and rosemary, dry beautifully. To dry these herbs all you have to do is cut off the stems, lay them on a piece of parchment paper on a pan and let it rest for about 7 days. After that, pull the leaves off and place in a spice jar away from sunlight or heat.

dried rosemary

I dry my rosemary and buy pretty glass jars and give it away at Christmas. Also, you can use dried rosemary to make an herb butter which is excellent on rolls or whipped into mashed potatoes and makes a good hostess gift.

Mint and oregano have a slightly higher moisture content and are better dried after you pick the leaves off the plant. Don’t let the leaves touch each other as this may increase the chance of the herbs molding before they have a chance to dry. Place the leaves on a paper towel on a baking sheet and cover with another paper towel.  Place them in an oven for 24-48 hours (turn on the light in the oven, not the heat). Leaves are ready when they crumble in your hand.

My favorite thing to do with cilantro is let it go to seed and then collect those seeds which are coriander seeds (and those are expensive in the store). Coriander seeds have great flavor. Another option though is to chop cilantro, place nearly 1 tablespoon in an ice cube tray and fill it with water. Freeze. This retains some of the original cilantro flavor, but will still not be the same.

Hopefully this will help you enjoy the last weeks of your herb garden and stretch that flavor into winter.

Easy Pesto

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or a combination (I usually use almonds)

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups fresh basil, no stems

3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Salt to taste

In a food processor, combine the oil, garlic, almonds and Parmesan cheese. Then, feed in the herbs and blend until combined.   It is so easy and freezes very well.

Recipe was originally adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook.