Sunday Family Dinner

All the Smokey Goodness..and Then Some!

November 2017 Fam Din
Ever since brother got a Traegar Grill/Smoker, we have been living the glorious all-the-smoked-goodness life! So it was no surprise that for his birthday family dinner, he volunteered to take on the entrees. Hey-I wasn’t going to argue with the birthday boy!

We quickly got the munchkins involved. Here’s Maya and Luna making a bechamel. I mean, what 12 and 8 year old doesn’t know how to make a bechamel???

November 2017 Fam Din
And of course, safety first when the rugrats are cooking. Good thing Bella and Princess Leia are such conscientious supervisors.

November 2017 Fam Din
And while the kiddos went to town, I whipped up cocktails. Since brother is a whiskey and bourbon fan, I mixed up a batch of my Boozy Fall Punch (yeah…I’m a little late on posting this).

It had all kinds of autumnal things like bourbon, brandy, apple cider, pomegranate juice, blood orange soda, cinnamon sticks and chopped up fruit.

It was boozy. It was tasty. Mission Accomplished.

November 2017 Fam Din
The cocktails packed a punch! So we noshed on a Charcuterie Platter….because you know how much we love our cheeses and cured meats!

I just realized the La Tur cheese from Murray’s below kind of looks like a mini-cheesecake. But trust me, it was la tur-rific!

November 2017 Fam Din
Seestrah T also made these cute Mini French Onion Bread Bowls as a second appetizer–recipe courtesy of Tastemade.

November 2017 Fam Din
Think of French Onion Soup…but in dip form! And in its own little bread bowl! Brilliant!

And gosh darn it, it was scrumptious!

November 2017 Fam Din
Quick cooking/eating break for a picture!

November 2017 Fam Din
Can’t forget the dudes!

November 2017 Fam Din

Now on to the food!!!

First up, brother smoked a ginormous side of salmon. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t love salmon. I don’t hate it and I’ll eat it–but of the fishes, it’s not my fav. But when brother busted out this Smoked Salmon he smoked low and slow with mesquite wood pellets, I WAS ALL ABOUT IT!!

It was SUPER moist and had the lightest bit of smoke. The added capers and fresh lemon juice helped to cut through the fatty fish and it was perfect!

November 2017 Fam Din
Not to be outdone by the aquatic beasts, he also did up a huge platter of Smoked Beef Ribs.

November 2017 Fam Din

They were, they were….one word.

BEFF-ilicious.

November 2017 Fam Din

This time around, I was in charge of the sides. First up! Mac and Cheese!

And as you recall, I enlisted Maya and Luna to help out. No idea why N popped in…maybe to try to get in on the credit I suppose. That big seestrah of ours….

November 2017 Fam Din

I make Mac and Cheese quite often but I was listening to a Bon Appetit Pod Cast on the way into work and decided to give their BA’s Best Macaroni and Cheese a shot.

Let me tell you gang, there’s a whole ton of various cheeses in this business — Fontina, Gruyere, White Cheddar and Parmesan. But I decided to go big and added Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack.

I mean, I didn’t want them to feel left out.

And instead of making Maya hand shred all the cheeses, we busted out the food processor. She was definitely pleased with that decision.

November 2017 Fam Din
How did it turn out?

Quite good!

Ridiculously cheesy… but I guess 6 different cheeses will do that to a dish. But yes, I definitely recommend it. It’s quite easy to make and the end result is on point!

November 2017 Fam Din

With all that protein and 200 pounds of cheese, I figured it would be good to have some veggies. So I pulled together a quick Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard situation. I quickly sauteed some garlic, shallots and chili flakes in some olive oil and threw in a bunch of Lacinato Kale and Swiss Chard. After they were lightly wilted, I finished it with a douse of red wine vinegar to brighten things up.

Eat your veggies right?

November 2017 Fam Din
Before dessert, most of us cleaned up a bit and someone took a nap. Oh that Leia, she’s a reliable one.

And if you’re wondering what Bella was doing, I can only assume that she was upstairs ordering take-out while watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.

November 2017 Fam Din
Finally–DESSERT!

When we asked brother what he wanted for his dessert, he almost instantaneously replied “flan”.  And I’ve got to tell you, I was surprised. I’ve known him all my life and had no idea that the man liked flan that much!

We were dumbfounded….

Seester N’s F.I.L. has a great flan recipe so we immediately tasked her with the job. She used these cute ramekins to make individual sized flan.

November 2017 Fam Din
And to kick things up (it was brother’s bday after all), she spiked the adult flans with rum!

The Creamy Rum Flan was perfect! Creamy (I know, it’s in the name), light and was the most delectable finish to our meal!

November 2017 Fam Din
Here’s one of the munchkins caught in the act….we do pass on great habits, right?

November 2017 Fam Din
And with that, brother’s Family Dinner was a wrap! Here’s to you V! ❤

November 2017 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Boozy Fall Punch, Various Wine
Appetizers: Charcuterie Platter, Mini French Onion Bread Bowls
Entrees: Smoked Salmon, Smoked Beef Ribs
Sides: Bon Appetit’s Best Macaroni and Cheese, Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard
Dessert: Creamy Rum Flan

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Breakfast/Brunch · Sponsored

Kale, Bacon and Cheese Strata

Bacon and Kale Strata
Y’all hear that bell ringing?

That’s right– SCHOOL’S BACK IN SESSION!!!

It’s the time of year in many households where everyone is just wishing they had a few extra minutes in the morning before they dash out the door for the day.

So for this month, I worked with our friends over at Safest Choice® Eggs to create this deliciously satisfying “make the night before” dish that will fuel up your loved ones for an entire day of work, school, and any shenanigans they may find themselves in.

Bacon and Kale Strata

Breakfast Stratas are essentially a savory bread pudding. It’s the perfect way to use up all of your stale bread and any other fixings you may have tucked away in the corner of your fridge. And since the custard base needs time to soak up in all the nooks and crannies of the bread, it’s the ideal thing to prep the night before only to be thrown in the oven while you’re getting ready in the morning.

This time around, I chose to use sauteed kale and combination of cheeses to flavor the strata and of course– bacon. Because the smell of bacon is the sure fire trick to motivate people out of bed in the morning! I also tossed in some leftover diced potatoes because I like the texture and body it gives to the dish. But if you prefer to use bread only, feel free to leave it out.

Added bonus? This Kale, Bacon and Cheese Strata is such a stunner, you can definitely serve it up at a brunch gathering alongside fresh fruit, juices, coffee and mimosas. Guaranteed hit!

Head on over to Safest Choice® Eggs  to read my Strata post this month and while you’re at it, click here for the recipe.

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Pastas/Noodles

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Earlier this morning, I ran around town knocking out some errands. Nothing out of the usual….stopping by at the dry cleaners, making my bi-daily homage to Target and picking up some groceries.

I came a cross a beautiful bunch of organic Lacinato Kale for only a $1! Smoking Deal!

This particular variety originates from Italy–Tuscany to be specific. Since I couldn’t pass up the bargain, I grabbed a few bunches for the week.

Fresh Kale

As I was finishing my last errand, I had that moment. That brink when you know things may take a quick turn for the worst.

Yeah…I was about to get h’angry.

Hide yo’ kids! Hide yo’ wives!

It’s not a pretty picture ….and I needing something quick to make to save the world from the Namzilla.

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As soon as I got into the kitchen, I quickly got a pot of water boiling and threw in some bucatini. At first glance, bucatini looks like a thick spaghetti noodle. But it actually is hollow inside and has a great texture and “toothiness” because of it.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

While the noodles boiled, I minced up a pile of garlic and chopped up the kale into thin, long strips–a chiffonade. After quickly sauteing the garlic in olive oil, I added a generous amount of red pepper flakes and a huge dollop of anchovy paste.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Don’t freak out. The anchovy paste does not taste “fishy” at all but adds a rich, salty depth of flavor that you just can’t replicate. And if you don’t have anchovy paste, feel free to use 2-3 anchovy fillets.

Once the oil is infused with the garlic and anchovies, I added the kale and cooked them until they were tender but still had a bite to them.

Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale

Toss in the cooked bucatini, chopped tomatoes, parmesan–and that’s it!!! Super quick, super savory, and totally satisfying. The whole thing took about 15 minutes to whip up and is perfect for a fast weekday meal.

Phew…Crisis Averted.

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Bucatini with Anchovies and Kale
Serves 3

Ingredients:

kosher salt
½ pound dried bucatini pasta (or other long strand pasta of your choice)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to finish)
1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste or 2-3 anchovy fillets
½ bunch kale, chiffonade
1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (more to finish)
black pepper

Boil the pasta for approximately 7-8 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes to infuse the oil. Add in the anchovies and stir until it melts into the oil. Toss in the kale and cook for 2 minutes until the leaves have wilted.

Toss in the cooked bucatini, tomatoes and cheese — coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based “sauce”, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Plate the pasta and cover each dish with additional parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Poultry

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

I adore “one-pot” meals.

Not only do you cut down on the extra dirty dishes (I detest washing dishes!) but it also gives me a great excuse to use some of my fab dutch ovens, braisers, and other pots that can go straight from the stove/oven and directly to the serving table.

These types of cooking gear are fantastic to braise proteins in as they allow for an even, slow cooking process. And since I happened to catch a great deal on chicken thighs and drumsticks at the grocery store the other week, I decided to throw them into one of my fav Le Creuset Braisers for an easy Sunday night meal.

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

After browning the chicken for a few minutes, I cooked down some onions, garlic and chopped sage–an herb that pairs wonderfully with poultry. A bit of white wine and a few cups of chicken stock go into the braiser. And then the chicken goes back into the liquids for a slow, bubbling bath in the oven.

Finally, with just a few minutes left of braising, I throw in fresh kale leaves and chickpeas for that extra level of earthiness.

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

The chicken is super tender, flavorful and plays off well with the kale and chickpeas. The final touch of fresh lemon juice adds a bit of brightness to round out the hearty dish.

All in all, a winning one-pot meal that’s easy to pull together and totally satisfying.

I’m all about it.

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Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

3-4 pounds bone-in chicken (I prefer thighs and drumsticks)
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
8 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 heaping cups chopped kale leaves
juice ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven (or other oven proof pot with a lid), heat olive oil to medium. In batches, brown the chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the leftover grease.

Add the onions and cook until they have softened and are translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes, sage and sauté for an additional minute.  Pour in the wine and with a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pot with the skin side up. Place the lid on and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes and remove from the oven. Carefully remove the lid and use a spoon to skim off and discard any excess fat and grease. Add the kale and chickpeas to the pot, cover with the lid, and place it back into the oven. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until the meat is tender and pulls away from the bone.

Remove the pot from the oven. Taste the broth and adjust for seasonings as needed. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the dish and serve warm.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Side Dish

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Who would have ever thought that this Dorito-lovin’, Chips-feening gal would turn to Kale Chips?! Nope, not me!

Well….that was until I stepped into my friend J’s kitchen a few years ago and my whole world was flipped upside down. While we were sipping on one of her new cocktail creations, J pulled out a freshly baked tray of chips……oh yes, Kale Chips. Whaaa????? And before judgey-wudgey could set in, I grabbed a crispy leaf and took a bite.

Holy Cow! It was wonderful!!!

Crispy, light and full of salty goodness. And since then, I’ve been a Kale Chips believer!!! The recipe below is more of an introduction to a method versus exact measurements as you can add and omit as you see fit. I, myself, like a really kicked up version and throw in several pinches of cayenne and chili flakes. But if you prefer a milder approach, just add a pinch or so.

These are particularly delish on game days when you can wash it down with a nice icy cold beer or alongside a great sammy. Either way, these Kale Chips are wonderfully delish! And the perk? You can feel good about eating a big ol’ bowl of these.

And with that Friends, HAPPY ALOHA FRIDAY!

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Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 Large Bunch of Kale, washed and dried
Cayenne Pepper
Red Chili Flakes
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat oven 275 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear the kale leaves into pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss the kale with olive oil and sprinkle the spices over the leaves, coating evenly. Arrange the kale in a single, even layer on the baking sheet. Bake the kale for 20-25 minutes until crispy, flipping the leaves halfway. Enjoy immediately.