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I am so happy to be back in my kitchen again!  I missed cooking and making my husband wash all my dirty dishes that I am making up for lost time.  And there is no time to waste as I have a ton of Thanksgiving dishes to crank out.  First up is this super easy, no-cook cranberry relish that tastes A-mazing!  I got the recipe from Simply Recipes and tweaked it just a little.  For the cranberry sauce lovers, this is a fresh (literally) take on the condiment and it really is tasty.  If I had smell-o-vision, I’d be able to convey just how great a scent the mixture is when you take the top off the food processor.  But I don’t.  So you’ll just have to make it yourself.

The original recipe calls for churing the ingredients through a meat grinder.  I didn’t want to risk serving up a side of E. coli, though, with my relish so I opted for the food processor and it worked perfectly.  If you have an old school grinder that you dedicate for non-meat items, then by all means, go for it.

Cranberry Relish

Makes 4 to 5 cups

3 cups fresh cranberries (1 12-ounce package)

2 apples, peeled and cored

1 whole navel orange, quartered

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Zsweet

1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

  1. Place cranberries, apples and orange in food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped but not pureed.
  2. Transfer to mixing bowl and add honey, Zsweet and Grand Marnier.
  3. Let relish sit for at least one hour before serving.
  4. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

The relish tastes great right out of the bowl but gets better the longer it sits.  I made this to go with Thanksgiving turkey and the sandwiches that will come the day after but I cannot help taking spoonfuls of it now.  Good thing it can be whipped up in minutes.

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We use to frequent a little local Vietnamese restaurant that, sadly, is no longer in business.  It was a favorite of ours because we really enjoy pho and banh mi and it was the only Vietnamese restaurant around us that didn’t use MSG.  The ingredients were always fresh, everything was prepared to order and they served some things that were unique.  One of those items was a chicken and apple salad that the owner created just for their menu.  Now that the restaurant is closed, I tried to recreate the tangy, sweet salad with this recipe.  It’s crunchy from the fried shallots and the crisp apples.  I especially like the dressing that goes with it.  It can be used for salads or as a dipping sauce for veggies and rolls. 

Chicken and Matchstick Apple Salad

Makes 2 servings

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

2 medium sized apples

4 shallots

Coconut oil for frying

  1. Preheat pan or skillet with oil.
  2. Thinly slice the shallots.  I leave them in rings and separate them.
  3. Fry shallots until crispy and browned.  Don’t do what I did and leave them in there for too long.
  4. Core and julienne the apples.  I used a mandoline.
  5. Combine shredded chicken, apples and dressing (recipe below) and toss well.
  6. Top with fried shallots.
  7. Extra shallots can be refrigerated for about a week and reheated in the oven.

The restaurant served the salad with just the chicken and apples but I usually put my homemade version on top a bed of greens.  Either way, it’s delicious. 

Vietnamese Style Dressing (adapted from this one)

Makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/2 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 – 3 tablespoons water

1 – 2 shallots, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Combine everything and mix well.
  2. Left over dressing can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Fish sauce is quite salty and I found I had to reduce the amount from the original recipe.  You can always use a little less fish sauce and a bit more water.

Steak makes a regular appearance at our dinner table.  It requires little preparation and with my husband doing the cooking on the grill, I am spared to do other leisurely things – enjoy a glass of wine, flip through a glossy magazine or, most likely, pick up the toys and sippy cups strewn about the floor for the nth time. 

In choosing a cut, I usually favor rib eye for the flavor and the fat but we also like flat iron as it’s quite tender.  Last night, I made a chimichurri sauce to go with our steaks.  The sauce is zingy and fresh and pairs really well with not only grilled beef but chicken as well.  An authentic Argentinian recipe calls for parsley to be used in chimichurri but I have used cilantro with fantastic results.  If you like garlic, this is the sauce for you.

Chimichurri with Grilled Rib Eye

2 rib eye steaks

1/4 cup worcestershire sauce

salt & pepper

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh orgeno, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Marinate steaks in worcestershire and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let sit for 30 minutes then grill to your liking (medium rare for me).
  2. Whisk together all ingredients for sauce and serve along side steaks.
  3. Store any unused sauce in the refrigerator.

The sauce is best prepared by chopping the garlic and herbs by hand.  A blender can be used but be sure not to blitz it for too long otherwise it will all look like green soup.