Homemade Irish cream

Oh my gosh this is so good, and once again, I have my friend Robert to thank (the man behind the Rhubarb Tequila Cocktail). He made Blake and I homemade Irish cream last weekend, and I just had to share the recipe with you.  Such a perfect gift, I’m planning on giving a bottle or two for Christmas this year.  No need for store bought Irish cream as this is so easy to make and even more delicious.  Just be careful: it goes down really easily, and before you know it you’ll be decking the halls wearing underpants hats and fa-la-la-la-lalling down the stairs…Perfectly acceptable in this house.  Happy Holidays!

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Two one dish dishes: Pesto lasagna and Tamale pie

These two recipes are total crowd pleasers and perfect for serving at holiday gatherings…

Pesto Lasagne: This photo was taken by my friend Robert, who came over for dinner Saturday night.  We ate this vegetarian lasagna with salad and garlicky crostini and washed it down with lots of wine.  This recipe is so satisfying and can be made a day ahead, then baked when you’re ready to serve.  The no bake noodles require minimum effort and the whole dish is ready in 30 minutes.  You’ll have lots of time to hang with friends and you won’t be slaving over the stove, missing your party.

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Tamale Pie:  My Aunt Margaret gets complete credit for this one.  We all gathered at her house last Friday night and so enjoyed this dish.  She is such an amazing cook, and always chooses the perfect food to serve.  It was a cold and rainy night, and the tamale pie was so comforting.  Everyone served themselves, and there was plenty for the eight of us.  Sour cream is great with this; guacamole would be wonderful too.  I’m thinking tamale pie might become my New Year’s Eve stand by.  And I love it’s Mad Men, kind of retro vibe: Very 1960’s cool.

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Honeycomb candy

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Honeycomb candy is super easy to make and one of my very favorites. I love Toblerone, but I think these crispy, chewy candies are even better. And dipped in chocolate? Too good… Make this candy for your family and friends and they will love you forever. A fantastic holiday gift!

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Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
3-4 tblsp honey
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
4 teaspoons baking soda, sifted

Directions:
*In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, water, honey and corn syrup.
*On high heat, boil the sugar until caramel colored. If you are using a candy thermometer, the temperature will be approximately 300 degrees. Be patient and do not stir the sugar mixture, only swirl the pot while cooking the sugar.
*When the caramel syrup is ready, turn off the heat and using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The sugar mixture will foam up a lot, so don’t worry if you think you did something wrong.
*Carefully pour the caramel onto a silpat or parchment paper and let cool.
*Break into pieces and eat!

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Tasty tip: I tempered a bit of Valrhona chocolate(70%) and dipped the honeycomb pieces. The chocolate provides a barrier for the honeycomb, preventing stickiness and giving the candy a longer shelf life.  Make sure to store these candies in an air tight container if you are not eating them right away.

Turkey and vegetable meatloaf

I have a confession to make.  First, let me start by writing this: Last night I had every intention of serving this meatloaf to my handsome Blake, accompanied by creme fraiche mashed potatoes and a lovely salad.   Maybe even a bottle of wine to share.   Then I got a call he’d be late for dinner.  So I waited for him.  I did not make the potatoes, thinking I should wait and make them a la minute. A couple of hours passed…  I was starving…  He ended up coming home even later than originally thought…  Here’s the confession: Instead of making the mashed potatoes and salad and drinking the wine, I ate two slices dipped in ketchup as quickly as possible and washed them down with a Coors Light…  Blake ate the meatloaf between two slices of bread, with a side of potato chips.  And another Coors Light.  Enjoy your loaf however you choose!

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Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey, white or dark meat
1 yellow onion, pureed( grated is fine too)
1 cup broccoli, ground in food processor or VERY finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, ” ” ” = ground or VERY finely chopped
1 cup kale, ” ” “
1 stalk celery, ” ” “
1 carrot, ” ” “
3 cloves garlic, ” ” “
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
lots of cracks of freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional  topping before baking:
2-3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
*In a food processor(thats what I used, but if you do not have one, chop the vegetables as finely as possible), grind the onions until completely pureed.
*Transfer the onions to a large bowl, then in the food processor, combine the broccoli, mushrooms, kale, carrot, celery, and garlic and pulse until completely ground. Transfer the veggies to the onion bowl.
*Now add the oats, egg whites, tomato paste(or ketchup), worchestershire sauce, grated cheese, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper to the vegetable bowl. Stir until completely combined.
*Crumble in the ground turkey, and using clean hands, mix everything together.
*Transfer the turkey and vegetable mixture to the loaf pan.  Don’t be afraid of it’s green hue.  It will bake brown.
*If you’d like(and I do like), mix together the ketchup and mustard, and smooth evenly over the loaf before baking.
*Bake the meatloaf for one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
*Let the meatloaf cool slightly before lifting out of the loaf pan and transferring to a cutting board.
*Slice and serve with creme fraiche mashed potatoes.  Or chips.  Or beer.
A little tip: I like to heat a skillet over medium/high heat, cut about a 1 1/2 inch piece of meatloaf, and pan fry it in a little olive oil before serving. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside!
Another little tip: I just ate this meatloaf cold, in sandwich form, with arugula, tomato, and Vegenaise, open faced on toasted sourdough.  Even better the next day.

Winter vegetable soup

Good day friends! I am so excited about today’s recipe. I have been craving soup since the weather’s changed, and last night’s craving was especially strong. I had a few vegetables on hand, some homemade chicken stock, as well as the ever present can of beans in my pantry, resulting in a rich and very hearty soup. So comforting. My favorite trick lately has been to finish a dish with a few hits of good vinegar. I just love the sweet, acidic hint the vinegar brings to this soup.
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I hope you’re all having a good week!

Ingredients:
1 medium to small-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
8 oz mushrooms, chopped (I used cremini, but use what you like)
1 15 oz can great northern or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups kale, chopped
4 cups chicken stock(homemade preferably-if not homemade, use low sodium chicken stock)
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt
pepper
1 two inch piece parmigiano reggiano rind
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Directions:
*Rinse and drain beans, set aside.
*In a bowl, pour out the tomatoes, and crush them with your hands. Set aside.
*Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
*In about one tablespoon of olive oil, saute the mushrooms until brown. Remove the mushrooms from the pot, and onto a plate for later.
*Now add another tablespoon of oil, and saute the onions(with a pinch or two of salt and a few cracks of pepper) until soft, about ten minutes.
*To the onions, add the garlic, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaf and saute another five minutes. If the pot seems too hot, reduce heat to medium.
*Once the garlic has softened a bit, throw in the butternut squash and let it cook with the onions and garlic for another five minutes.
*Deglaze the pot with the soy sauce, scraping up the bottom bits with a wooden spoon for about a minute.
*Now stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock, and bring to a bubbling simmer. Check for salt.
*Once the soup is simmering, add in the beans, mushrooms, chopped kale, and parmigiano rind.
*Cover the soup, and allow to simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally.
*When the soup is finished, carefully remove the parmigiano rind, herbs, and bay leaf.
*Turn off the heat, and stir in the vinegar. It adds such a lovely brightness to the rich soup.
*Shave a little parm on the soup, and serve with crusty bread and butter and a glass of your favorite red wine.

Supernatural bran muffins

This recipe comes from my mom’s 1976 edition of the California Heritage Cookbook, and these recipes really do live up to their name.  We devoured them Thanksgiving morning, smothered with soft, salted butter.  Such a treat and so amazing with coffee.  Allow yourself a day or so before you bake them, as the batter needs to rest a bit.

I just love the look and feel of this old book…

Ingredients…

Directions…

Todd’s marinated sardines

My friend Todd, an amazing cook with fantastic food ideas, was making marinated sardines for dinner last night, so Blake and I decided to make them too.  Todd tweaked Alton Brown’s recipe, adding red pepper flakes to the marinade.  Blake and I did the following…

Ingredients:
1 3.75 oz can Brisling sardines in olive oil
the zest and juice of one lemon, plus 1/2 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
2 tsp freshly chopped parsley
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
a few pinches of salt
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 sourdough baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
olive oil
1 garlic clove

Directions:

*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
*Drain the sardines of most of their oil, and transfer them to a small bowl.
*Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp of parsley, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt to the sardines.
*Let the sardines marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes

*In the meantime, mash the avocado in another bowl, and season with a pinch of salt.
*Slice the baguette, and place on a large sheet tray.
*Drizzle the top of the bread with olive oil, and toast in the oven for approximately 7 minutes until golden brown.
*Once the toasts (or crostini) are out of the oven, immediately rub the garlic on top.
*Blake and I made a little platter with the sardines, avocado, lemon wedges, crostini, and the remaining parsley and assembled them as we ate. If you’re having guests over, you can assemble the sardine toasts ahead of time and serve them on a pretty platter to pass.

*A little note: Blake and I decided to grill a couple of chorizo sausages to eat with our sardines…we pretended we were in Spain.

The Haley Way is in business!

Friends, I am proud to announce the haley way is up and running! We are now cooking and delivering meals to clients in the Los Angeles area!  So if you like the food you see on this blog, you can have it delivered to your house or business or backyard or car or wherever you like to eat.  Just email me at haley.simonds@gmail for more information…

Delivering coq au vin since 2012

Grilled radicchio wedge

Such an elegant version of a wedge salad, I am absolutely in love with this recipe.  I wish I could take complete credit for this one, but it comes from Goop, and it is incredibly good. A perfect way to start your Thanksgiving meal!

…And i have to toot my own horn a little because I love this pretty photo!

Roasted acorn squash

Searching for a new Thanksgiving side dish? Look no further…

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder(more if you’d like)
a few cracks of black pepper
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Drizzle the squash with olive oil, then sprinkle the spices onto each half.
*Now pour on the honey, and season with salt and pepper.
*Bake for 40-45 minutes and serve!