Fun Halloween Party

So Halloween is not my favorite holiday but I have two kids and the energy can be contagious!  So we always open our house to our friends as  gathering place to mingle and eat before we hit the streets.  Here are some of the creative snacks that made the night so fun!

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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Fall is Approaching Fast

Mondays and Tuesdays are my busiest days in the kitchen menu planning.  Here is what I was working on today…I am tired!  But I love fall!!

I love all that fall has to offer! Think figs, mushrooms, apples, pears, quince, caramel, pumpkins, squashes, and more!

 

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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Palisade Peaches – Why do I always buy so many?

Palisade Peaches – Why do I always buy so many?

A peach is a peach, or is it? A Palisade Peach is not just a peach.  Ask anyone from Western Colorado or anyone who has ever tasted a fresh Palisade Peach and they will tell you tales of plump, juicy, colorful tree ripened peaches that you can not resist.  I moved to Colorado 20 years ago, tasted my first Palisade Peach and quickly decided I had never tasted a peach so supreme.  I always look forward to peach season and fall victim to the temptations of the peach stands on every street corner.  I can not just buy one peach or two or a even bag.  No, I have to buy a box because they all are so beautiful I don’t want to leave any behind.  Then I get home and quickly realize I’d better get to work or my peaches will suffer.  Of course, canning is a great way to preserve peaches however after canning 60 plus quarts of amazing peaches my family told me they really didn’t like canned peaches.  What?  I guess I should be relieved to not have to endure the laborious process of canning peaches but now I feel the pressure to get creative with my fresh peaches and savor the peach season as long as I can.  If you also want to explore the diversity of peaches here are some ideas to spark your creativity.

As with any ingredient think sweet and savory.  Peaches are a great example of a fruit that works wonderfully in both.  Peaches pair well with so many other ingredients it would be a long list to name them all but here are the most popular:  almonds, pistachios, walnuts, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, lemon, chilies, jalapeños, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, honey, cream, crème fraiche, yogurt, ice cream, balsamic vinegar, ginger, lavender,  mint, cilantro, basil, bourbon, brandy, champagne, cognac, Cointreau, rum.  Peaches also pair well with chicken, pork, some beef, and light fish.

Experiment with peaches in cakes, muffins, breads, tarts, cobblers, pies, cold soups, grilled for dessert and if you want to get real creative surprise your family with the famous Peach Melba for dessert with a quick history lesson.  Peach Melba is a French dessert created in the late 1800’s by the world famous French Chef Auguste Escoffier. Simply delicious, a poached peach served with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.  Need I say more?

Taking peaches in a savory direction, think sauces, salsas, pork, ham, chicken, and fish.  Jalapeno peach jam, fresh peach salsa and pureed peaches are great accompaniments to any summer meal.  Think of other applications where other fruits and vegetables are used, for example bruschetta.  Replace tomatoes with diced peaches, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and put a fresh peach spin on it!  You will not be disappointed!

For a traditional Bellini, originating in Venice, Italy,  puree peaches and serve in a glass with Prosecco sparkling wine.  For a non-alcoholic version I like to pour about one tablespoon simple ginger syrup in a wine glass, add a peach slice and fill with sparkling water.  Yum!

Just be sure that if you fall victim to the temptations of the local fruit stand that you are prepared to get sticky!

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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My Garden Fresh Tomato Favorites

My Garden Fresh Tomato Favorites

We wait all year long for fresh ripened tomatoes as they taste unlike any you purchase at the store. Why is that? Well I am sure there are lots of reasons but the store bought tomatoes simply just don’t compare. So now that garden fresh tomatoes have arrived, what do we do with them all? Or should I ask, what do we do with the ones that actually make it into the kitchen as I know many don’t travel that far. Here are my favorites:

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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Seasonal Eating and Winter Foods

Seasonal Eating and Winter Foods

I believe that nature’s cycle of growing produce is designed perfectly to meet our health and nutritional needs. If this is not true, they why do we get so excited about asparagus in the spring and crave vine ripened tomatoes in the summer?

Seasonal eating not only benefits our bodies but supports our environment and our economy. There is a natural rhythm that draws us towards seasonal foods as comforting and satisfying and this is for a reason. First, flavor and nutrition are at their peak when produce is grown in its natural environment.  We have all been told to eat a “variety” of foods in order to ensure that we meet all our nutritional needs.  Well, nature had that figured out for us a long time ago; some of us just need scientific evidence for convincing.  Second, eating seasonally helps our local communities as well as encourages more home cooking.  Seasonal foods are fresh and forces home cooks to get creative.  And third, foods grown outside of their natural season require more maintenance, hence the cost, and can be exposed to more pesticides and genetic alterations to ensure their success.

We are in the heart of winter here in Colorado and winter fare is at its peak. This is the time for baking, braising, glazing, roasting, simmering, stewing, making soups, and dusting off your slow cookers.

Here is my winter list!

Beans, beef, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, caramel (yes!), chocolate, citrus fruits, wild game, heavy grains, grapefruit, winter greens, lemons, lentils, limes, lobster, maple syrup, mushrooms, mussels, passion fruit, pears, pork, potatoes, root vegetables, squashes, sweet potatoes, turnips, water chestnuts and yams.

Heavy herbs like rosemary and sage go well with winter fare as well as warm spices like cinnamon and allspice.

 

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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Gift Ideas for the Home Chef in Your Life

So…yes again it is that time of year already! As much as I love this time of year, due to the overindulgence of food and gatherings, I find it can be stressful when it comes to selecting the perfect gift for that perfect someone. Over the years, I have tried to select gifts that are more personal and useful than gifts that will be stuffed in a closet (remember those silly lounger robes that were all the rage…) or gifts that will be re-gifted due to lack of need (a signing fish that hangs on the wall…sorry to who ever I re-gifted that to!)As I may not be able to assist with all of your shopping needs this holiday season, one category I can assist with is shopping for the Home Chef in your life. I can honestly say that I own EVERY item on this list and that I am NOT a gadget person. These ideas are not only personal to the Home Chef but are in fact practical and necessary to some extent in the kitchen. I have categorized them in groups of estimated cost.  I hope this list helps ease some of the anguish so many of us experience during this time of year.

Gift Ideas for the Home Chef in Your Life.  Cheers!!

$
Wooden spoons (assorted)
Microplane / rasp zester
Flour sacks
Sheet pans (jelly roll)
Bench scraper (aka bench knife)
Fine mesh strainer
Vegetable peeler
Salt crock
Timer(s)
Salad spinner (a must!)
Kitchen twine
Rolling pin
Good Olive Oil (I use Olio Santo)
Tellicherry Peppercorns (I like Penzeys)

$$
Cutting boars (ones that can go right into the dishwasher)
Chefs knife 8″ (bigger is not better here…high carbon steel, make sure its returnable)
Digital thermometer
Pepper Grinder (I like Peugeot brand with metal components)
Stainless mixing bowls of graduating sizes
Cast iron skillet (12″)
Stock pot
Digital kitchen scale
Mortar and Pestle
Food Lovers Companion Book (Barron’s)

$$$
All Clad pans – or similar construction
Cuisinart Food Processor (4 cup / 12 cup capacity)
Immersion blender
High Quality Dutch Oven – enamel
Blender
Whiteware dishes

 

CHEERS!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

Foodie | Home Chef | Author

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