Skillet Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

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Chili was on the menu tonight and Ty suggested cornbread with it… I didn’t have a trusty cornbread recipe, so I started researching recipes and was shocked that many called for 3 or more eggs and 1.5-2 sticks of butter!! I found a few butter-less recipes and adapted my own from those – also lacking butter. I used stone ground white corn (Christmas gift from my grandparents, as it was made in Rhode Island) some homegrown pickled jalapeno’s from my garden, along with good old Cabot cheddar. Simple, spicy bliss.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

1 1/2 cups corn meal (yellow or white)

1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for topping)

2-3 canned/fresh jalapeno’s (depending on your love of spice)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

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1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a whisk. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the milk. Ensure it is mixed well.

2. Add the oil to an oven proof skillet (8-10 inch) and heat until just starting to smoke. Rotate pan to spread the oil along the edges (at least 3/4 of an inch up the sides). Remove from heat.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently. Fold in the diced jalapeno and cheddar cheese.

4. To the hot skillet, add the cornbread batter. Sprinkle extra cheese on top (and jalapeno rings, if desired). Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Green Bean Salad with Bruschetta

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My Mom found this recipe (or one like it) quite a while ago. I feel I was still in high school when she first made it, which to me, is quite a while ago. It has become a staple when fresh green and wax beans are picked daily from the garden. There is something about a fresh homegrown green bean. There is something about anything homegrown.

Speaking of homegrown – I stopped by a little farm store near us and picked out a beautiful ripe tomato (ours are soooo close to ripe!) and some 100% pure Vermont feta cheese! Chain-store feta < local whole-milk feta!

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I like to give credit when credit is due, but since I have no idea where this simple concoction came from, I will give credit to my Mom! I never really pay attention to amounts, so I am guessing below. Just go with what seems right for your palette!

Green Bean Bruschetta

Fresh green beans (about 1/4-1/2 lb)

2 tomatoes

5-8 large basil leaves

crumbled feta cheese (about a 1/4 cup)

olive oil (or any other type of tasty oil)

balsamic vinegar

s & p

1. Clean and trim green beans. In a small pan, add green beans and an inch of water and cover. Place over high heat until boiling. Let boil for about two minutes. Remove, drain, and rinse beans under cold water. (In other words, blanch your beans!).

2. Chop tomato into small cubes. Roll the basil leaves length wise and thinly chop (this will make long strips).

3. Plate the green beans. Top with tomatoes. Crumble the feta cheese over the tomatoes, sprinkle with the basil strips and season with salt and pepper. Prior to serving, drizzle with oil and vinegar.

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Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Mango Salad

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We have lettuce ready! This is the first year we have ever had lettuce (and radishes, and carrots, and beets). I guess our soil is finally happy 🙂 Composted manure must do the trick!

Mango’s were on sale a little local market, so I bought a few, but tossed them in the fridge and forgot about them. When I grabbed one today, it was perfectly ripe. After a little searching, I noticed that mango and avocado make quite the pair. Along with a slightly sweet cider vinaigrette, a trio of fresh picked lettuce, mango, and avocado, makes this salad a perfect pre-dinner treat on a triple-H day. For those of you non-New Englander’s, triple-H means Hazy, Hot, and Humid!

Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Mango Salad

A bunch of butter lettuce – cleaned and torn into bite size pieces

1 ripe mango, diced

1 ripe avocado, diced

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup (honey would work too!)

freshly ground pepper (just a dash or two)

1. Split the salad ingredients between 3-4 salad bowls. Sprinkle with some feta.

2. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well, taste. Adjust for sweetness by adding more vinegar or syrup. Drizzle on salad. Enjoy!

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Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

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Holy salad!! How have I never had this before?! And holy salad dressing!! How have I never made this before?!

Clearly, you can see that I was floored by this salad. A simple 3 ingredient salad topped off with an insanely easy vinaigrette makes for a deliciously healthy meal! And served with baked flounder… drooling…

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

2 heads of romaine

6 pieces of bacon, crumbled

1 tomato, diced

4 tbsp evoo

4 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

2 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

cooking spray (or more olive oil)

1. In a small bowl or mason jar (works great for shaking), mix all ingredients; well, minus the romaine, bacon, and tomato. Give it a good shake or whisk.

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2. Turn on grill to medium-high heat and let it heat for about 5 minutes. Cut romaine hearts down the middle lengthwise, leaving the stem on. Spray all sides of the romaine with cooking spray or lightly brush a little olive oil over each piece. Grill over direct heat for a minute or two and rotate until all sides are starting to char.

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3. Remove from heat. Top each piece evenly with bacon and tomatoes and drizzle with dressing. Enjoy warm.

Winter Vegetable Gratin

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I found this recipe in my favorite cookbook, Long Nights and Log Fires. It’s kind of fitting to cook from it on a cold winters night in a log cabin (with a wood stove!). I adapted the recipe as I was missing some ingredients, like parsnip and mustard powder, but hey it was still good enough to share.

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This was also the first time I’ve ever had celeriac. It is incredible… so incredible that I am going to hunt for seed to grow some (Boomer even begged for some! A dog? A vegetable other than carrots? Yep!) I picked up a bag of ‘winter roots’ grown at a local farm. Carrots, beets, turnip, and celeriac. I subtracted the beets, added some potatoes, tossed it with a delicious cream sauce and bam, a filling vegetarian meal (with beets to enjoy later!)

This is a great way to use up some root veggies. The recipe called for parsnip, carrot, rutabaga, celeriac, and potato, but my veggie mix was great as well… meaning another versatile meal! My favorite!

Winter Vegetable Gratin

1 large celeriac bulb, peeled and cubed

2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

1 large turnip, cubed

2 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed

1 cup light cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons chopped Parsley (dried is o.k., fresh is better)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

S & P

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add all the vegetables and par-cook for 10 minutes. Drain.

2. In a small pan over low heat, add cream, garlic, and mustard. Stir continuously for 10 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mix parsley, bread crumbs, and parmesan in a separate dish.

4. Butter a shallow oven-proof dish. Add vegetables. Pour cream sauce over the veggies and top with bread crumb mixture and some fresh pepper. Drizzle butter over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are crusted. Serve warm.

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Beet Risotto (for your Valentine!)

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Would this not be a perfect side to serve your honey on Valentine’s Day? Look at that gorgeous red color! Pictures can’t do it justice (at least mine can’t…. I need that photo class!)

Don’t be afraid of risotto – it’s not that scary! It takes about 30 minutes to make and trust me, there is no need to continually stir for 30 minutes (like I always believed!). It only takes two pots (three in the beet risotto case) and is essentially fool-proof.

Beet Risotto

3 medium-sized beets

1 small onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

evoo

1 cup arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine

2-3 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp thyme (1/2 tsp if fresh)

1/4 tsp rosemary (1/2 tsp if fresh)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

pepper to taste

1. Cut the root end and tops off of the beets. Place on a large sheet of tin foil. Drizzle with evoo and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and fresh pepper, and wrap tightly in the foil. Roast at 425°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour… or until a fork easily breaks the beets. When they are done, move on to the following.

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2. In a small saucepan, mix water and 2 cups of chicken stock and heat until warm (not boiling). Keep the last cup as backup if more liquid is needed. In a large sauce pan, heat a good dollop of evoo over a medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onions become translucent. Add rice and continue to saute for 3-4 minutes or until slighty changing in color.

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3. Here comes the fun. Add the white wine and stir well. When the wine is evaporated, add 1 cup of the stock/water mixture. Stir well for a minute. Let simmer until evaporated. Add another cup of the stock, stir for a minute, let it soak into the rice (technically it doesn’t evaporate…). While this is occurring, peel the skin off the cooked beets and coarsely mash (a potato masher works great!)

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4. When 3 of the 4 cups of stock/water have been used, add the mashed beets, butter, thyme, and rosemary. Stir. Add the remaining cup of stock, stir well, and let simmer until soaked in. I recommend tasting the risotto here. If it still needs a few more minutes, add a little more stock (the 5th cup that was reserved). Remove from heat and right before serving add the parmesan cheese and stir well. Garnish with a spring of fresh thyme or rosemary.

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The hard part of making this risotto was attempting to clean up with two pups guarding the sink…. (I think they wanted to be the dish washers!)

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Sauteed Kale- perfectly

This weekend was perfectly fall. It was cool (high of 50!) with on and off drizzles. The leaves smelled wonderful. There was a cold air rustling them around. It was also opening weekend for bow season which meant that Ty was out doing man-things in the woods all weekend. Hunting in the morning, doing some sugaring stuff all day, then hunting in the evening. All the while, I hunkered down at my brand-new homemade desk (I’ll share pictures at some point) and spent hours curled in a blanket next to the window doing work (are there any teachers our there with tips on slaughtering the portfolio?). It was the perfect weekend to toss a chicken in the oven and make a pseudo-thanksgiving meal. Along with the chicken, we had homegrown butternut squash, stuffing, and sauteed kale.

Not to brag or anything, but the kale dish was made entirely of homegrown food! Minus the olive oil, everything was grown by us. (I’m just really proud of our garden this year!) I love kale, but I was never able to successfully saute it. Sometimes, it was bitter and sometimes it was too tough. Well, I have officially learned how to saute kale perfectly- it’s sweet, it melts in your mouth, it’s full of vitamins, and it’s easy!

Sauteed Kale

1 lb kale

1 medium red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1.5-2 cups water

1. Wash, de-rib, and coarsely chop the kale. Finely dice your onion and garlic.

2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until just starting to brown then add the garlic and saute for two more minutes.

3. Add the kale. Then add water in 1/2 cup increments until fully reduced (add a 1/2 cup, wait until it reduces, add another 1/2 cup, repeat).

4. After 1.5 cups of water have been used, taste the kale. It should be very tender, if not, add another 1/2 cup of water and test again. You’ll also notice that it will turn to a bright green then slowly turn to a very dark green.

I did manage to take a break and snap a few pictures in between Ty’s deer stalking escapades. The foliage is just about over, but it was stunning this year.

Boomer is all ready for hunting season with his orange bandana.

Ty was busy putting up some more lines.

He has added a few hundred more taps this year. These maples are ready for the spring sugaring season.

Sunday night some snow fell on the mountain. I took the long way home on Monday and stopped to smell the leaves and enjoy this sight. Mount Mansfield is beautiful.