Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

If you’re like me, and addicted to watching Bing Crosby movies every year at Christmas, you just read Happy Holidaaaaays in the song version from the movie Holiday Inn.

We’ve been on a little unplanned hiatus here at Idiot’s Kitchen. Life got busy and stressful and although I didn’t intend to take a break, it looks like that’s what happened.

But Christmas and Hanukkah are here (on the same weekend, which I think is really cool), my family has been here to visit, the tree is up, the house is decorated, and the cats are feeling festive so it’s all good.

I’ll be back after the holidays with new recipes. I also have the idea to do a fun cookbook sampling/review project starting in January as a way to deal with the ever growing collection/addiction.

Oh…and my crazy husband made us this jib jab video…I love the roles the cats play.

Here’s the link.

Many thanks to those of you who have continued to come here over the years. I value your friendship and send warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and happy new year.  xo – Claudia

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I’m getting in right under the Thanksgiving wire with a suggestion for those of you who don’t have the full meal already all planned out or need just one more item for your feast. 

Apple Cranberry Crisp!

Actually, even if you have the meal planned, I think you should add this because it’s quick, easy, and ridiculously good.

Plus, as a bonus, this can easily be converted to be gluten free. Hooray for good GF desserts!

Here’s what you need:

Apples, Cranberries, Flour (GF optional), Maple Syrup, Oats (GF optional), Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, and Allspice

Also, you might want vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Not pictured, but recommended for serving.

Click here for an Apple Cranberry Crisp Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the inside of a 9×13 inch baking pan. You can also use cooking spray but butter is better.

Choose 6-7  nice firm apples like Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Jonathans, etc. Any good baking apples that you have will do the trick.

Peel and thinly slice the apples and place them in the buttered dish with ½-¾ cups of whole fresh cranberries.

I LOVE cranberries so I used ¾ cup.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, I have a gadget that you need to know about…

How to Use a Potato Ricer!

I am something of a kitchen gadget queen, although with my limited storage, (no basement, very few upper cabinets) I’ve been trying to wean myself off of gadgets that have only one purpose.

I happily BREAK that rule for the trusty Potato Ricer. It is the ultimate tool for smooth, creamy, lump free mashed potatoes. 

In the past I’ve been a hand masher or stand mixer whipper of potatoes but NO MORE! The potato ricer is inexpensive, quick and easy to use, and the texture of the potatoes can’t be beat.

The potato ricer looks like a giant garlic press. Mine is an OXO Good Grips and you can find them at amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond,  kitchen stores, or even some well stocked grocery stores.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Honey Roasted Acorn Squash!

We have less than two weeks until Thanksgiving and something happened overnight with our weather and it’s finally fall in Florida. It always feels pretty weird to heat up the oven and cook fall foods when it’s still 85° out so I’ll take any cooler weather I can get.

Fall brings us one of my favorite foods – hard squash like acorn, sweet dumpling, and delicata – any of which will work for this simple recipe.

I’ll admit, the most difficult part is often cutting the squash but I have some tips for that. Once the cutting is out of the way, the squash gets a quick sweet and smoky glaze and then into the oven.

Perfect for any fall meal – I served mine with pork chops, Honey Roasted Acorn Squash might also get a turn at the table this Thanksgiving.

Here’s what you need:

Squash, Honey, Olive Oil, Smoked Paprika, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Honey Roasted Acorn Squash Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you’re cooking something else at the same time, this can cook at any temp from 350-400°.

I have a sweet dumpling squash but also have made this with acorn or delicata squash. As I mentioned cutting the squash is often the most difficult and frustrating part. These smaller squash aren’t nearly the chore that a big old butternut squash is but there are a few things that make it a little easier…

First, if your squash has a stem, use the handle of your knife or even a pair of pliers from the tool box to knock it off. Then turn your squash over and cut off the tiny little nub end at the very bottom. That way you’re not trying to cut through something super woody and tough.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then using the ridges of the squash as a guide, cut the squash into segments. This is easiest to do if you turn the squash cut side down on the board and just follow the ridges with your knife.

Note that this method works best for acorn type squash. If you have a delicata squash, the best way to cut them is into rings.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Hi! Remember me, your long lost recipe posting friend?

Sorry things have been rather light around here lately. The orchestra season started with a bang and everything seems to be happening all at once.

But we’re still here and I’ll be back soon with new recipes, Thanksgiving ideas (because yes, that’s coming too), peanut butter fudge (because I want Jim to love me and hello, fudge and peanut butter), and a new cookbook sampling/review idea.

Meanwhile, since it’s Thursday, we can Throw Back all the way to 2011 for the recipe I’m making us for dinner tonight – Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce

Definitely one of my favorites and now I make it Gluten Free by simply swapping out the all purpose flour for GF flour. 

I still follow the same steps as the original recipe but sometimes I double the sauce and make a little extra chicken so we have lunch leftovers for the week. I’m notoriously bad at meal planning so making a bigger batch of something tasty like Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce at least buys me a few days without having to think of lunches.

Tonight I’m serving this with rice and a big green salad. Oh, and probably a glass or two of wine.

Click HERE for the original post with the step by step instructions.

Here’s the printable recipe:  Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce

Henry & Lulu say hi!

Henry & Lulu also say, “Hey Lady, how about some dinner?”

Hope everyone is having a fabulous fall. Back soon with new, good things!   – C

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Quick Shrimp Scampi!

Definitely a Weeknight Wonder but why should Monday through Friday get all the buttery, garlic-y goodness?

This is a super fast, super simple recipe – BIG flavors that you can have on the table in about 20 minutes.

The shrimp will taste even better if you have time to plan ahead and allow them to marinate in the garlic. However, I barely did that and my shrimp were still fantastic and flavorful.

Here’s what you need:

Shrimp, Butter, Garlic, Lemon, Parsley, White Wine, Olive Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper

You also need something to serve it with like pasta, rice, or crusty French bread. (not pictured)

Click here for a Quick Shrimp Scampi Shopping List

For all of you who hate chopping, this recipe is for you!

All you have to chop is 3 large cloves of garlic and a 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley. Cut a lemon in half while you’re at it.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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It’s cocktail time and I’ve made you something unusual and delicious…

Meet “The Greet” – a White Port Cocktail!

I’d never had white port before going to my friend Roz’s house for a holiday party last year. She discovered this cocktail at a port tasting event and told me that they called it “The Greet” because it was the cocktail they provided during the greeting hour while everyone was filing in and milling about.

I love the idea of a Greeting Drink!

Our White Port Cocktail “The Greet” is very light and refreshing. With just a hint of citrus, it’s almost like a super fancy spritzer except that the white port lends a deeper and distinct flavor that’s not overtly sweet.

Here’s what you need:

White Port, Tonic Water (or Club Soda), Lemon and/or Lime, and Ice

Henry say’s “Cocktail time? Sweet!

But you say not for cats? How can that be fair?”

How’s that for a serious look?

Click here, there’s more!

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I’ll be honest here….lunch is not my favorite meal of the day. I’m often running here and there during lunch time and end up throwing some leftovers together, making a salad, or eating the oh so healthy cheese, crackers, and apple lunch. 

Hey, at least I add the apple. 

BUT when I actually plan ahead, with very minimal effort, I can have an awesome lunch of Rosemary Chicken Salad.

Why don’t I do this more often? It’s so good!

I’m a big fan of pretty much any kind of chicken salad you’d care to offer me but this one, flavored with fresh rosemary and pecans  has quickly become my new favorite.

To make life easier, I often bake the chicken in advance and make extra. That way I can use chicken for dinner one night and pop the rest in the fridge for chicken salad later in the week.

Here’s what you need:

Chicken, Celery, Green Onions, Red Grapes, Fresh Rosemary, Pecans, Mayonnaise, Olive Oil (for cooking the chicken, not pictured), and Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Rosemary Chicken Salad Shopping List

As I said earlier, whenever I’m cooking chicken, I usually make extra so I can have some leftovers and  options. It’s great to slice up on a green salad, toss in a quick quinoa salad, make a quesadilla, or just eat as is.

Preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees. Either temp works so if you have something else in the oven, throw the chicken in there with it and save yourself time & energy.

Feel free to use bone in, with skin on or boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I use whatever is on sale or in my freezer.

Place three chicken breast halves on a foil lined tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt & pepper and bake at 350° (or 375°) for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown, the juices run clear, and the temp reads 160° on an instant read thermometer.

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your chicken and whether it has bones or not. The boneless, skinless breasts usually cook in about 35 minutes.

Let the chicken cool and then pop it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your salad.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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I can’t believe I’ve never posted the recipe for Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes!

This has long been one of my favorite dishes to make but I often fiddle around with the recipe adding mushrooms, white wine, some kind of cheesy goodness, and I forget just how good the original recipe is.

Pure and simple, quick and easy too…and totally beholden to good, ripe, summer tomatoes. This is a recipe that can easily be on the table in under 30 minutes.

Since we just passed the Labor Day Weekend, which is something of a second Ground Hog Day for those of us in Florida – Three More Months of Summer (gah!), most of you with gardens are swimming in tomatoes. I think that’s a great problem to have and Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes is the answer!

Here’s what you need:

Shrimp, Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, Heavy Cream, Pasta (Spaghetti or Linguine), Salt & Pepper.

Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese for serving is optional and not pictured.

Click here for a Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes Shopping List

Pick 2 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes for this dish. I have about 8 Romas because that’s the only thing that looked decent in my store. I’m afflicted with incredible garden and tomato envy this time of year. It’s not even funny the sad state of tomatoes in Florida. I have a whole rant on the subject but I’ll spare you.

We want to scald the tomatoes with boiling water to remove their skins. You can do this a couple of ways…first I cut an X into the bottom of the tomato just to make peeling easier.

Then I like to fill my tea kettle with water and once it comes to a boil, pour the water all over the tomatoes while they’re in the sink. Stop part of the way through and turn the tomatoes over so you scald both sides.

Let them hang out in the sink for 5-10 minutes and then start at the X and remove the peel.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp – Perfect for hot summer weather!

This is an incredibly versatile salad. It can be made ahead and refrigerated or made when you’re ready to eat and served at room temperature. Add whatever veggies you like, have on hand, or have growing in the garden!

Because it’s made with rice noodles or glass noodles (bean thread noodles), it cooks up in only minutes. Perfect for weeknights, great for potlucks or tailgate parties, and really, really good leftover.

Here’s what you need:

Rice Noodles, Shrimp, Green Onions, Celery, Jalapeño Pepper (or Thai Chili), Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mint, Fresh Basil, Fresh Cilantro, Limes, and Fish Sauce, and Sugar (not pictured)

(Ignore that rice vinegar up there…we don’t need it. Imposter!)

Click here for an Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp Shopping List

Let’s talk about these noodles…

I have a couple of kinds of Asian noodles that I can easily find in my regular grocery store. You can either get rice noodles (on the left) or bean thread noodles (on the right). Both are naturally gluten free. Yay!

The thickness of the noodle is up to you but I prefer a slightly thicker noodle similar in size to spaghetti or linguini. The pink packaged “vermicelli” noodles on the right were suggested in the original recipe but are a little too thin for my taste and tend to clump all together in the bowl. However, not to fear, they’re perfect for my favorite Spring Rolls so I’ll have no problem using them up.

If you have the bean thread noodles, they are sometimes also called Glass Noodles because they will be almost transparent when you cook them whereas the rice noodles remain more whitish in color. Both are good for this recipe.

If you have an Asian market, look around and you’ll find many, many varieties to try. Just like pasta, you can easily swap out noodle sizes and shapes in this salad so don’t worry if your store doesn’t have exactly the same thing.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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