Spiced Peaches

I am sure you all have a family favorite that your mom, dad. grandmother or other family member made every Thanksgiving Day.  Spiced Peaches is the one side dish what I remember on Thanksgiving.  Surprising, Spiced Peaches my husband also remembers his mom making every Thanksgiving when he was growing up.  Interesting since they lived on opposite coasts and entirely different regions of the country. However, they were the same generation and that might be the clue as to why Spiced Peaches were so popular when we were growing up.  Anyway, I have always made Spiced Peaches on Thanksgiving carrying on my mom’s tradition and now my family requests them each year.  This is the recipe that my mom always used for her Spiced Peaches. So easy to prepare in advance and great to serve along side your Thanksgiving favorites.  I can guarantee you they will be on our dinner table this Thanksgiving!

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Spiced Peaches

Ingredients

  • 2 -29 oz. cans peach halves in syrup
  • 3-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling, simmer for five minutes..  Remove of heat.  Let cool in the spiced syrup.  Refrigerate until serving.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

It’s November and one week before Thanksgiving; time to pull out those pumpkin recipes.  This recipe is one of our favorites.  The best thing about muffins is they are easy to prepare, quick to bake and a great treat on a cool fall day.  These muffins are perfect to serve on Thanksgiving morning while watching the Thanksgiving Day parades.  

 

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Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup assorted chopped dried fruit (you can use one dried fruit or a combination of raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and/or dried apples
  • Streusel Topping
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoon finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line 12 muffins cups with liners.

    In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In another medium bowl combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, brown sugar, butter and dried fruit.  Mix well.  Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture and mix just until all of the dry mixture is incorporated. Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups. Combine streusel ingredients - sugar, nuts and cinnamon, sprinkle over muffins.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack, cool slightly. Serve warm, makes 12 muffins

Interesting Event – Junior League of Northern Virginia’s Enchanted Forest

 

THE ENCHANTED FOREST

New TEF JPG logo

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s 17th Annual The Enchanted Forest will take place November 18-19, 2017, at the Westin Tysons Corner. The event will feature live entertainment, Kids in the Kitchen holiday activities, visits from Santa, a model train display, kids’ crafts, gifts for purchase, premium events for adults and kids, and a silent auction of more than 80 lavishly decorated themed trees and wreaths.

The Enchanted Forest is your first opportunity to take photos with Santa, get a head start on your holiday shopping, and kick off your holiday season.

Proceeds benefit the JLNV’s community initiatives, including our Kids in the Kitchen programming. By supporting The Enchanted Forest you are helping the JLNV empower families to make healthy eating and active living a priority, and supporting the development of women who will build better communities for years to come.

                                 

If you are looking for a wonderful holiday event for you and your family, check out The Enchanted Forest sponsored by the Junior League of Northern Virginia.  I was an active member of the Junior League for many years and I know that all of their events are ones not to miss, including the Enchanted Forest.

Interesting Find – Virginia’s River Realm

There are just some experiences that you will remember and talk about for a long time.  This past weekend, we traveled to Virginia’s Oyster Country and it was truly memorable.  It also coincided with the famous Urbanna Oyster Festival.   From the minute we arrived at the Tides Inn in Irvington, VA to our last oyster at Byrd’s Seafood Co., we were met with genuine hospitality that you cannot experience in many areas.  From a food aspect, this is a foodie paradise.  Our trip began at the idyllic resort, the Tides Inn. We definitely had a room with a view!

What was the first thing I ordered?  Oysters of course!   I cannot count how many oysters we consumed over the weekend, and I might add, all were incredible.  There is just something about eating an oyster that was in the water in the morning and on your plate within hours. 

  

My husband and I were graciously welcomed by Michelle Brown, Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator for Middlesex County, Virginia and Susan Cockrell, Deputy Town Manager and Community Development director for the Town of Kilmarnock Virginia.  Both are associated with Virginia’s River Realm.   Virginia’s River Realm is comprised of 465 miles of shoreline, eight great small towns and many unique attractions in the local area.  However, my mission for this weekend focused on oysters.  Since it was Urbanna’s Oyster Festival, our first stop was downtown Urbanna, VA.  This small town hosts thousands of visitors during this two day celebration of everything oyster.  Included in this event is their annual oyster shucking contest.  The Urbanna Oyster Shucking Contest has become an annual event in the Historic Port Town Urbanna since 1982, and the winner is declared Virginia State Champion and advances to compete in the National Oyster Shucking Contest in St. Mary’s, Maryland. The National Champion then travels to Galway, Ireland to participate in the World Championship. This is serious oyster shucking and when you mention the name, Deborah Pratt, her name is famous in the area.  Deborah is the former National Shucking Champion and has competed many times in Galway, Ireland. Although the emphasis is on speed, other factors on which the contestants are judged include the amount of shell fragments, clean separation of the oyster from the shell and damage to the meat of the oyster.  You have to see it to believe it, a competition like no other. 

Here I am with Deborah Pratt, former National Oyster Shucking Champion 

The Oyster Festival is one that tantalizes all of you senses, the smell of oysters roasting, the sight of hundreds of booths selling everything oyster related, the sound of bands playing, the touch of those oyster shells while consuming those small gems and the taste of raw oysters, roasted oysters, oyster stuffing, oyster chowder, oyster shooters…… I think you get the idea. 

                                 

Our morning stop included visiting Something Different Restaurant.  A unique restaurant that years ago was once a grocery store that now houses a popular restaurant featuring a variety of delicious dishes. They take pride in serving quality foods all made from scratch. From homemade buns and subs, to in-house roasted peanuts, all are prepared daily and made to order. The Beignets (photo above) are hard to pass by, a great place to start your day in downtown Urbanna. Oh, did I mention they roast their own coffee beans and the walls are a testimony to the many varietals served by looking at the burlap coffee bags they display.  I am pictured above with Sarah Gill-Kimble, who is the proprietor with her husband, Anthony Kimble.  A definite must stop.  During the Oyster Festival, Something Different is alive with activity and they feature a live band in-house.

Below are some photos that I think capture the essence of the festival.

The judges checking each oyster at the oyster shucking contest.

A local community group selling oysters.

Rappahannock Oyster Co. at the festival

Dennis Ridings, festival volunteer, who made the best oyster shooters!

Here I am with Ms. Oyster

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s bike patrol.  I just could not pass up this photo.

Our day concluded at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Merrior in Topping, VA.  I previously visited Rappahannock Oyster Company but this time is was dinner with Travis Croxton, one of Rappahannock’s co-owners.  We had a lively discussion on oysters while tasting almost all of their menu.  Travis ordered and we just enjoyed everything that was served.  This is one restaurant that I can’t wait to return to.  Their story and how they are now one of the key leaders in the oyster industry is fascinating.  They are also instrumental in training and developing the oyster workforce along the Rappahannock River.  In the food world, it is inspirational to hear their story.  

Here are just a few of the wonderful dishes served at Merrior.

Raw oyster selection

Angels on Horseback – baked oysters, herb butter, Edwards ham

Crabcake, grilled bread, creole remoulade 

We woke up Sunday morning and departed the Tides Inn dock by boat for an eco-tour with Capt. Gene Edmonds.  Seeing this aspect of the river gives you a whole new experience and further exemplifies the importance of this river to the oyster industry and the entire region.  

 At the Tides Inn Marina with Capt. Edmonds and Susan Cockrell

Then one last stop before heading home.  After a tour of Kilmarnock, Virginia a quaint town with a delightful main street, we headed to The Dog and Oyster Vineyard in Irvington, VA to have lunch at Byrd’s Seafood Company.  Bryan Byrd is an enterprising newcomer to the food scene in the area and works out of a food truck and under a covered tent at the vineyard.  They serve fresh local oysters harvested daily.  His champagne vinegar mignonette is sensational with the raw oysters.  He also served us roasted on the half shell oysters with jalapeno pesto and other specialty toppings.  I have to say I just loved their Fried Oyster Taco with Sriracha Key Lime Slaw.  That was all served with a glass of The Dog and Oysters blush wine.  What a great combination to end our trip.  

         

       This area is definitely a must see and a fantastic weekend getaway. 

 1 hour from Richmond

2 hours from Hampton Roads

3 hours from DC

It’s time to plan your getaway to Virginia’s River Realm and follow the Virginia Oyster Trail, I know I am, I cannot wait to return!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Empanadas

Looking for an easy dessert for your next tailgate or wine picnic?  Empanadas are easy to make and a great make and take treat. I was thinking of making fried apple pies but I really would prefer to bake than fry.  I had a few empanada wrappers left over from making my lamb stew empanadas and decided to make apple empanadas.   These are so easy to make when you use prepared wrappers.  I received a tip from a dear friend of mine about La Salenta empanada wrappers for baking (read the wrapper, some are for frying and some for baking).  They are flaky and delicious and made for convenience.  This brand is under the General Mills umbrella of products and should be easy to find in most locations.  I purchased mine at the local mart specializing in international foods.   These would be equally delicious with any filling you select, I must admit the apple filling is one of my favorites.

                                        

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Apple Empanadas

Ingredients

  • 10 empanadas wrappers
  • 2 apples, small diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • milk, to brush on tops
  • sugar, to sprinkle on tops

Instructions

  1. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt.   Cook 20 - 25 minutes or until the apples are soft and the sauce has reduced.  Stir frequently. Stir in cranberries.  Cool filling.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take each empanada wrapper and brush sides with beaten egg.  Place approx. 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each wrapper.  Fold in half and pinch to seal.  Crimp edges with a fork. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat until you have filled all of the wrappers.  Make two small slices in the top of each empanada.  Brush the top of each with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Mexican Corn Soup

Typically, recipes for Mexican style soups use prepared taco seasoning mixes.   This recipe is based on a corn based broth and easy to find ingredients that make this soup, in my opinion, one of the tastiest soups you can make in very little time.  The fresh chips are so good you will want to make them as a snack, even when you are not making the soup.  If you have leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken, you can simplify this recipe by simply shredding the chicken and adding that to the broth.

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Mexican Corn Soup

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 - 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • canola oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • condiments salsa, sour cream, diced avocado

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree corn in chicken broth.  In a large dutch oven, melt butter, add corn puree and cook over medium heat for 4 - 5 minutes.  Add milk, cumin, tomatoes, green chilies, Tabasco sauce, and a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil,  add chicken breasts, reduce heat to medium low and cover.  Cook 25 minutes, stirring frequently  Remove chicken breasts, shred chicken and return to soup.  Simmer an additional 25 minutes.  

    Stack tortillas and cut into 8 wedges.  Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet and fry tortillas until golden.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinke with salt.  Serve soup with desired condiments and top with tortilla chips.

Interesting Find – Sushi Hachi – Washington, DC

The life of a food blogger is so fun and interesting, and delicious!   I just never know where my next Interesting Find will surface.  This time, I can thank Facebook for this connection.   Sushi Hachi was opening in DC and they put out a Facebook note that they were looking for local food bloggers.  A friend of mine just happened to read their post and forwarded the note to me.  I replied back to their request and a few weeks later I was sitting in their beautiful restaurant trying their delicacies.  If you are a sushi fan, this is a must stop. For this post, I have a guest writer who volunteered to write about our experience at Sushi Hachi.   Below is what our good friend Barry Landew, who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sushi, wrote about our experience.  I could not have said it any better.   

Nestled in the Eastern Market area of DC – home to Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury – is the newest entry in the burgeoning Japanese restaurant scene.  But unlike neighborhood sushi joints and overpriced ultra-contemporary Asian fusion concepts, Sushi Hachi combines unpretentious style with simple, authentic, and spectacularly fresh food.  And while the Wagyu beef, elegantly cooked at the table on a 700° stone, is as tender as it is delicious, make no mistake – Sushi Hachi is all about the fish.  And for good reason.

The 7-course $65 Omakase menu is a sushi lover’s delight.  Four of the seven courses featured sushi or sashimi – primarily nigiri style except for uni and ikura which were appropriately served gunkan.  Rather than go the route of clever sounding and overstuffed sushi rolls, Sushi Hachi’s selection, preparation, and presentation focuses on the fish. Our 5pc sashimi course featured chu toro (fatty tuna/scallion/daikon), sake (salmon/salmon roe), uni (sea urchin/cucumber), anago (sea water eel/nitsume), red snapper (tai), and tamago (sweet egg omelet).  (Note: The $75 Premium Tasting Menu offers the same sashimi and nigiri courses but adds the Wagyu beef course and omits the cold noodle dish.)

Sushi Hachi takes the opposite approach, emphasizing simplicity and letting the quality of the food and its natural aromatics and flavor speak for itself. Even the selection of anago (saltwater eel) is a study in contrast, as the vast majority of American sushi restaurants prefer to serve unagi (sea eel) drenched in a sweet sauce which appeals to the American palette.  In contrast, anago is naturally tender and sweet, with more subtle flavors and a texture that leaves the consumer wanting more.  Kudos for being different…without being trendy.

While many sushi restaurants include toro on their menus, seldom is it available, and when it is, lovers of this tuna delicacy are usually forced to order it ala carte for an additional cost.  When was the last time a sushi restaurant served chu-toro – the melt-in-your-mouth belly area of the tuna between the akami and the otoro – as part of a 5 or 7- piece selection?  No one does…well, there’s now at least one that does.  Sushi Hachi sneaks in this quintessential nigiri as part of the 5 piece premium nigiri course, without pretense – letting the perfectly cut chu toro speak for itself.  It is a memorable highlight that underscores Executive Chef Munehiro Mori and Owner/Restauranteur Steve Yoon’s commitment to serve the freshest fish, all sourced fresh from around the globe. The menu also features a number of temaki sushi (handrolls), but the Omakase left us perfectly satiated and we’ll have to wait until our next visit to try them.

Great food and attentive service combine for a fun meal that offers spectacular value for Japanese foodies and those who need their sushi fix alike.   We’re eager to see what the fish selections are the next time we visit, and with this team at the helm, we know that classic Japanese gems – from ankimo (monkfish liver) to engawa (flounder fin) – are not just on deck, they will be front-and-center for all to enjoy on the Omakase menu.  We can’t wait.

   

                                5 piece Sashimi Plate                                                                        Smoked Sashimi 2 piece

 

                                                                                   Chu Toro – Fatty Tuna/Scallion/Daikon

                                                                         With Steve Yoon, Owner/Chef at Sushi Hachi

 

 

Maple Popcorn

Since my childhood I always associate Halloween with popcorn, apple cider and powdered sugar donuts.  I think the reason might be one of our neighbor’s when I was growing up always made the neighborhood children popcorn balls for Halloween.   Apple cider and donuts is an easy one, my elementary school always had a Harvest Festival and always served apple cider and powdered sugar donuts.  Isn’t it always fascinating how we associate certain foods with holidays and traditions.  To stick with my memories, I wanted to share this favorite recipe for popcorn.  It is a bit different from typical caramel popcorn since the identifying ingredient is maple syrup.  After this popcorn bakes, it is like eating maple sugar coated popcorn.  Always a hit no matter where I take it.  

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Maple Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 3 bags `microwave popcorn/plain, with added sea salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pop corn as directed on package, pour into extra large bowl or roasting pan.  Combine butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla and immediately pour over popcorn.  Stir quickly, mixture will be extremely hot.  Stir until all of the popcorn is coated or almost coated. Pour onto foil lined baking sheets and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stir every 15 minutes.  Cool and serve

Sticky Shrimp

I am always playing around with new recipes and this time I had a pound of shrimp and I wanted to make a quick to prepare dinner.  I mixed together a honey soy bourbon marinade.  This is the perfect under 30 minute dish and absolutely sensational.  I served this along side vegetable fried rice.  Keep this recipe handy when time is short and you are hungry!

5 from 1 vote
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Sticky Shrimp

Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • green onions, minced
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, I left the tails on

Instructions

  1. Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, bourbon and red pepper flakes.  Mix well and pour 1/2 of the marinade over the shrimp, marinate for 20 minutes.  Reserve the remaining sauce.   In a large skillet, melt butter.  Drain shrimp and add to the melted butter.  Pour over the remaining 1/2 of marinade.  Cook over medium high heat stirring frequently until the shrimp have turned pink.  Remove shrimp from the skillet, turn heat to high and reduce the sauce until thick.  Pour over cooked shrimp, serve.

Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Biscotti

I think I could write a cookbook just on biscotti.  This is my fifth post featuring various biscotti recipes.  I think biscotti are the perfect cookie, great for breakfast with a cup of coffee, afternoon with a cup of tea, or a delightful dessert or late evening treat with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.   Make an assortment and package as gifts, sure to be a hit with all on your list. 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, mix well.  In a large mixing bowl, combine puree, egg, vanilla, and butter.  Mix at medium speed until combined, slowly add dry mixture, combine until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated.  Stir in pecans and cranberries.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface knead slighty, divide into two pieces.  Form each piece into a log approx. 12 inches by 2 inches.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake logs for 25 minutes, remove and let cool for 15 minutes.  Slice the logs diagonally in 1/2 inch slices and return to baking sheet cut side up.  Return to oven and bake at 325 an additional 15 minutes - flip pieces after 7 minutes.  Cool