Tuesday, January 18

{companions} Kale Kale Rock N ROll

What can I say .... he says it all!

OK this connection is weak ... I grant you that.
But the words rhymed and hey - its Chuck Berry.
Classic - basic - always good for you!

Today I give you a Braised Kale with Cream ... I think Chuck would approve!

I have been intrigued with Kale and all of the hearty winter greens for some time now. You see them everywhere ... you know they are good for you. I mean its a superfood - antioxidant, vit A, beta carotene, calcium, iron... so time to dive in to all that goodness!

Braised Kale with Cream by ann west

2 big bunches of washed kale (or any other hearty green would do)
3 cloves garlic - crushed and chopped
chopped onion if you have it
splash of sherry vinegar
salt & pepper
2-3 table spoons of cream
olive oil

Really it is that simple. Cut your greens up. Ours weren't quite cut enough. The stems stay quite crunchy. Heat up some olive oil and add your garlic and get the smells - a - smelling. (onion too if you are using it). Toss in your kale stir and cover. You want your heat at least at medium. Now every two minutes or so give it a stir. It will take 10 - 15 minutes to start the real wilting process.

Oh Oh wait it is time to give hail! Now put on your Chuck Berry and be inspired!

It is time for that yummy brown braising to happen. When you see a few stems start to brown you are almost done. Keep stirring, covering and browning until you are there. Then add a splash of the vinegar a healthy pinch or two of salt and pepper to taste. When that is mixed in then add your cream and let heat. Now you are done and ready to enjoy. (my kids ate this too! They were so fascinated when we told them that is was a super food - go figure)

If you want to be healthier - leave the cream out. The kale was delicious right before I added it!

Hail the Kale!

Tuesday, January 4

{the dish} BBQ Sweet Potato


I can't say this was an original idea of mine ... but I really can't remember where I saw it. Perhaps a cooking show ... Any who ... it's inspired!

Why not take the delicious and sweet, sweet potato and bake it. Then top it with some good ole sweet and tangy BBQ, perhaps some caramelized onions and peppers some slaw and call it a whip-dinger of a meal. And this is the kind of meal my kids will love and I mean LOVE.

You see what I am getting at!

SO here's the plan....

bbq sweet potato by ann west and inspired by others

Wash you sweet potatoes, pierce them with a fork, wrap them in foil and bake them until done. Oh 400 degrees for 45 minutes or so.

In the mean time ... You know those bbq left overs you have from New Years Eve or that brisket taco meat.... wwweellll perfect. Slap some of your favorite bbq sauce on it and heat it up.

Next you might want to make some yummy slaw or just toss a nice salad. Either way a little tart is good with all that rich savory sweet headed your way.

If you like the idea of some caramelized onions & peppers great. Slice you onions and peppers thin and sautee them in a skillet with about 2-3 tbls of olive oil. Start them on high and then turn them down to a med - low temp and let them cook and cook (really 30 minutes or more). Season with a little salt and pepper. You will love them.

Now top your sweet spud and serve. enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14

{in the glass} claire's candy cane cocoa

Did you think I was gone?????? Nope not so fast. I have had to give myself a break from blogging to take care of the home base - so to speak. All is good ... I mean when you have your daughter whipping up some candy cane cocoa as a little treat - life is good!

Sometimes it is just the little things that make the holidays come alive. Like cranking up the music after dinner and everyone having to show their moves. The kids are so embarrassed when I try to do the "stanky leg" I just don't know why. Really I keep telling them that I have the moves ... that they should be impressed, take note, cherish that their mother still has the moves.

Its a hard sell!

Although the temps have been mild I long for a winter wonderland. Where the cold on your fingers and toes remind me of how crisp and clean nature is. And the warmth of the indoors just feels like home!

and the smiles that come with sledding - can't be replaced!

and when you are done .. you are done!

And you are ready for a little cocoa ... Ooops almost forgot the recipe!

claire's candy cane cocoa by claire

4 cups milk - whole is best
4 candy canes crushed

heat milk and candy canes until the candy is dissolved
pour heated candy cane milk into cups.

Mix in your favorite hot cocoa mix (or make some real stuff)
Add a drop of vanilla.

top with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.

enjoy with your family & friends!

Monday, November 15

{delightful} Pie Pie adorable PIE!

Pie Contest 2010!
This was not my pie but its so pretty!

Our local and very cool - White Rock Local Market & the Green Spot - housed what is sure to be an annual fun event for us pie lovers! A pie contest!

There were more than 35 pies! Berry, chocolate, coconut, pumpkin, praline, chess, pecan, meringue, whipped cream, crumb, apple.
I would like a slice of each please!
All homemade with love and pride!

This is my pie - pumpkin meringue pie with ginger macademia crust : )

So I toiled a little trying to decide what pie to make .. how could I choose for one is no more better than the other... there are oodles of them. They each have their own personality and are supreme in their own way.

So here is a short list of the pies I want to make and why:

fresh cherry pie because the taste of tart and sweet is never better than in this pie
creamy pumpkin creamy and traditional - my moms is the best
apple - you can't beat it - always cheers you up
chocolate cream - it takes me back to being a kid - it is what I always picked at the Queen Ann Cafateria
pecan - rich rich rich - the toasted nut flavor - ahhhh
mixed berry - when the berries are in season it ushers me into summer
peach with ice cream - i could lick the bottom of the plate - no , really!
coconut - its my brothers favorite
chocolate with blackberries - doesn't that sound sexy?
banana cream - its my husbands favorite

NO NO ... I must stop ... but you know I could go on.

You see that's the deal ... there are just so many pies out there each one that tells a little story of who likes it or why it is special.

... Perhaps I AM the PIE WHISPERER ....

How fun is pie, made by hand with a little of this and a little of that which makes it uniquely yours. If you have been scared to try and make a pie the time has come. Join us pie lovers. You won't regret it. Click on the link and it will take you to a recipe... enjoy!


Thursday, November 4

{grabbing greens} roasted beet and potato salad

This week has been busy. Here is an archived recipe that is great! Next week something new I promise!

Every once in a while you eat something while you are out and it just stays with you. I had a knock-out, fabulous salad last week with my girl friends and my mom. Maybe it was that we were having so much darn fun, maybe it was that I was actually relaxed and didn't need to push that day, maybe it was the glass of white wine I had. Hmmmm a little of all three I would say. Food always is better when you enjoy the people you are eating with. We had a blast and the salad I had I could eat every week!

So I immediately set forth to recreate this salad. Did I do it? Well, no, but I liked what I came up with so I am going to share it with you....

Roasted Beet and Potato salad by ann west

This salad has many wonderful little things in it. In fact when serving this as a side it takes care of your starch and your greens - how great is that? I didn't try to make everything at once. I used leftovers and prepped ahead to make it more manageable.

roasted beets - chunked (roast beets whole with olive oil in a 375 degree oven until tender. remove skin. I made these the day before.)

roasted new potatoes - cut potatoes in half (roast potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper in a 375 degree oven. These were leftovers from the night before.)

pickled onions - see recipe from dollop here!

blood or regular oranges - sliced

then add:
avocado chunks and mixed greens. Arugula is a great choice too and I think I would add a hard boiled egg if I had it. Toss with shallot-sherry vinegarette - see below. Serve as a side or a meal all on its own. enjoy!

shallot-sherry vinegarette by ann west

shallots chopped very fine
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp dijon style mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c sherry vinegar
salt & pepper
squeeze of lemon

Monday, October 25

{the dish} shrimp stew & JAWS

I stumbled upon the movie JAWS just the other day. I really had no business kicking back and watching a movie. I mean who do I think I am? It was a week day there was homework being finished, dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, emails sent, dogs fed ... but there it was.

Dunnna .... Dunna ...... Dunna, dunna, dunnna .... duntdata daaaaaa!

Well something like that.

The music, the story - old ... yet familiar - was still a draw and so intense! I was still on the edge of my seat. Every time the music would build slowly, the light would dim and you could feel it coming.

Dunnna .... dunnna And then BAMMM.
Heart stop, quick breath, muscles tense
( a shot of pure terror )

All hail Steven Spielburg ... the ultimate story teller!
(and can you believe only 1 nude scene - how can that be????)

Some of the lines are just classic. Like when Roy Scheider who plays chief Brody catches his first glimps of the 30 ft shark. He retreats slowly into the cabin of the ship and utters with petrified fear in his eyes, "we are going to need a bigger boat."

Who cares that the shark doesn't look real. It is the feeling, the music and our minds that make it real. It is that vicious circle of being drawn in and wanting to be scared but fearing it just the same. We know it is coming and it still gets us.

And the theme so simple: Man vs beast. Classic conflict but done so well.

Really I couldn't take my eyes off of it. Robert Shaw plays the gruff, sea worn captain of the ship. He throws everything to the wind when he pounds the radio leaving them stranded - no radio in a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean with the ultimate predator upon them.

He is salty and weathered ... Yup he seems like a stew guy to me...

shrimp stew by ann west

1 onion chopped
2 shallots chopped fine
2 thick slices of pancetta chopped (or bacon)
3 leeks - washed and sliced white parts only
2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
2-3 lbs shrimp - peeled and deveined
2 cups white wine
2 cup chicken broth
r 3 cans of white beans (if you want to add fresh cook them first in broth- delicious)
1 can whole tomatoes chopped or 1 pt of grape tomatoes
thyme & rosemary
salt & pepper

Saute your shrimp in oil and set aside. Saute your onion, shallot and pancetta in olive oil. Until done. Add your leeks and sweet potato. Once soft add the shrimp and give it a good toss. Add some salt and pepper and perhaps a dash of cayenne. Add your thyme and rosemary. Add your wine and reduce a little. Add you beans and slowly add your stock to the desired consistency. Let this simmer for 20 minutes and adjust your seasonings. Serve with crusty bread and top with a squeeze of lemon and some parsley.

enjoy and go watch JAWS!