It’s Fast, Easy, and What’s for Dinner!

In the midst of all the snow days, I hoped for more time to write. Alas, “Life got in the way!” However, after listening to friends and family discuss home food delivery services and the time constraints to prepare weekly dinners, I decided to share this older post from 2013. Hopefully, this quick and easy recipe will become a tradition and time saver in your weeknight repertoire:

While I enjoy cooking, the weeknight rush is a challenge for me. Here is a quick meal that is among my kids’ favorites. Special thanks to “The Godfather” for sharing!

Baked Chicken in Cranberry Sauce

1-2 lbs. chicken (legs, breasts, thighs, boneless or bone-in, pretty much whatever is in the freezer)
1 bottle Catalina salad dressing (8 oz)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together cranberry sauce, dressing and onion soup mix
Cover 9×13 pan with some of the mix
Lay chicken pieces in pan and cover with remaining mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 min (less if boneless, cooking times based on thawed chicken)

I usually serve this with a salad and either baked sweet potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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What’s a Galette?

Paul, my Farmers’ Market neighbor, is quite the adventurous curmudgeon. A retired house painter, turned baker, he often shares stories about fly-fishing in the western US or sailing our Great Lakes. Paul also has a side-gig in retirement, baking delicious breads and cookies prepared in his homemade, outdoor, wood-fired oven. Last year, he started offering peach galettes, a rustic French pastry. After trying one, Chad and I added this tasty treat to our baking regimen. Here’s our version:

This Peach Galette can quickly be prepared with minimal effort:

  • Place a prepared pie crust on a baking sheet
  • Mix 1/2 tablespoon of flour, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon in a bowl
  • Gently toss peach slices (approx 2-3 large, fresh peaches, peeled and sliced) in mixture and spread in middle of pie crust (allow a 2-3 inch circle of pie crust around the outside)
  • Begin folding the pie crust around the edge, until completing the circle
  • Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before eating, pairs well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream

Looking for other recipe ideas? Try apples or a savory spinach and feta galette…we’re going to try a tourtiere galette this winter.

Note: Unused portions should be covered, refrigerated, and enjoyed within 3 days.

Thanks for reading!

Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

Food, Family, and Heirloom Recipes

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Food traditions abound in our family. Both the Murphy and Roche Families gifted a love of food with celebrations. Whether the Timinski Family pickle recipe or the Roche Family sausage stuffing recipe, food remains a strong connection to happy memories.

Many years ago when I was having a bad day, my mom, in her unique, upbeat manner, offered some words of wisdom, “You should get in touch with your happy, French Canadian roots!” Mom shared stories of our ancestors, settling in Quebec in the mid-1600s. In fact, she mentioned one particularly obnoxious youth who was sent to be raised among a local Indian tribe (Is that the equivalent of boarding school on the frontier?). I also came across a lovely song book by Ann Arbor based songwriter, Kitty Donahoe, celebrating both Michigan and Canadian history through songs and stories. I even had the opportunity to see her in concert, hearing even more stories.

I was particularly drawn to her tales of the first fur trappers and their survival during the long, northern winters. Apparently, when all the food ran out and the weather was too rough to hunt wild game, many survived on beaver fat and sawdust (Yuck!). In later research, I came across another unique dish, the tourtière.

The tourtière is a meat pie, a French Canadian Christmas tradition. Scholars think the dish, dating back to Quebec in the 1600s, is named after passenger pigeons, or “tourtes,” probably the meat used in the original recipe. The tourtière can also be prepared with any meat, even fish. We have prepared the pie with venison and sweet potatoes, but our favorite remains ground pork with potatoes.

Many versions of this dish can be found on-line. In fact, regional areas across Quebec each offer an individual recipe, some shared and some secret (This reminds me of the many versions of stuffing across the United States at Thanksgiving). Each recipe is a piece of history, offering a glimpse into which ingredients were available or affordable in the various regions. More important, these recipes, handed down to each generation, contain more than food; they contain family memories from long ago, ready for the next generation.

What are some food traditions in your family? Are there any recipes worth preserving for future use? What a fabulous conversation to have with loved ones this holiday season. Thanks for reading!

Calling All Foodies!

Attention fellow foodies and connoisseurs of fine dining! I have a new restaurant for your dining bucket list: The Heritage Restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI. Run by the culinary arts students at Grand Rapids Community College, diners can enjoy lunch or dinner on Tuesdays-Fridays.

Heritage miso

Chad and I visited for dinner this past weekend. The first dish was a small taste of vegan miso soup, complements of the chef. The broth included slices of shiitake mushrooms, tofu noodles, and edamame, enjoyed with homemade french champagne bread and herb butter.

Heritage Mock Eel

Next came a difficult decision: Appetizers. Chad selected the Mock Eel, a house specialty, a sweet and crispy plate of uniquely cut shiitake mushrooms (also voted Best Vegan Dish by Grand Rapids Magazine). I am not a big fan of mushrooms but was surprised to discover they didn’t taste or have the texture of a mushroom! Chad enjoyed the dish but found it too sweet for his palate.

Heritage Rock

My choice of appetizer was The Rock. If you enjoy entertainment with a meal, order this dish! Servers brought out a basalt stone on a bed of rock salt, heated in a 500 degree oven joined with another plate of thin sliced filet mignon in a ponzu sauce. The server coated the rock with sesame oil and instructed me to begin cooking the filet on the rock, right at the table! Delicious and fun!

Heritage Rock 2

For the main course, Chad chose the Osso Bucco, a marsala wine braised veal shank with baby arugula, butternut squash with walnuts, and homemade Pappardelle pasta in cream sauce. The dish included a sizable helping of marrow, considered a delicacy. The veal was tender, the marrow rich (delicious on French bread), and homemade pasta is always a treat. I ordered the house special, duck breast on a bed of Heritage rice served with carrots surrounded by a black garlic sauce. The duck was delicious, medium rare served skin on. The rice, carrots, and sauce complimented the main dish.

Heritage OB

Heritage Duck

On our way out, the server boxed up a molten lava cake, another complement of the chef. I can’t comment on that dish as our daughter ate the entire thing. She highly recommends the dessert!

I look forward to a future visit to try duck confit with waffles and the bacon wrapped sirloin. Beer and wine are also available. In fact, the school developed a beer brewing program and will soon offer a certificate through their newly hired brewmaster. The Heritage also offers many vegan dishes.

So fellow foodies, educators, and supporters of the culinary arts, enjoy an afternoon or evening out tasting delicious food and helping students develop their trade. Be patient and understanding if the service isn’t perfect. Get to know your servers, too. We enjoyed learning about our server’s upcoming graduation, future plans, and dreams, and feel proud to be a small part of his journey.

http://www.opentable.com/the-heritage-restaurant

Storm the Castle!! Stay for Dinner…

Henderson Castle

At the beginning of summer, Chad and I purchased a Groupon for an eleven course dinner for two at Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo, MI. We were so impressed with the quality of the French cuisine that we documented our favorites throughout the evening, so we could share our experience. At first glance, we were impressed by the beauty of this historic landmark, built by Frank Henderson in 1895. The grounds included a brick walkway, surrounded by late season flowers, and glimpses of the many marble statues that adorn the house. Guests could dine on the large covered porch or sit inside. We were placed inside where Chad particularly enjoyed our close neighbor, a large, marble statue of a topless woman.

Our first course was the Amuse Bouche, or Chef’s choice, a small taste of something special to start the night, a spinach and tomato quiche, delicious! Another memorable course was the Lobster Bisque, rich, creamy, mixed with the flaky texture of real lobster. My only suggestion would be to add more lobster! Quality French food must also include authentic French baguettes. The baker created a crusty on the outside, soft of the inside piece of magic!

In a later course, we had a choice of several appetizers. Chad chose escargot while I sampled steamed crawfish. Unsure how to eat crawfish, we had fun tasting something new. Unfortunately, the escargot was prepared in a puffed pastry, which presented an overcooked dish. I would encourage Henderson Castle to serve this dish in another way as the portions are so small, diners can expand their food boundaries without fear of ordering such a dish as an entree.

crawfish

For the main course, Chad chose Cornish game hen, which came with a delicious crispy skin and juicy meat. I ordered the beef tenderloin with a Bearnaise sauce, a tender, melt in your mouth treat. Surprisingly, the veggies were the star of this dish. We were amazed by the perfectly cooked mix of carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, beet greens, and garlic. After dinner, we enjoyed a palette cleansing cherry sorbet, and for dessert, we sipped black coffee while enjoying bites of creamy, rich, authentic chocolate mousse.

Our only complaint from the entire evening was added gratuity on the check. While we understand the need for this service for large parties, we were surprised that all customers, regardless of party number, have an 18% gratuity added. This is a personal preference for Chad and me.

I would recommend Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for any fellow foodies. While an expensive meal, they also offer a more economically priced luncheon. What Chad and I enjoyed most were the two hours needed to complete eleven courses. This gift of time allowed us a window to visit, sample small portions slowly, actually taste our food, and enjoy a slow, steady and memorable evening.

Chad and me Henderson

Thanks for reading!