Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Instead of filling your inboxes and social media feeds with another Thanksgiving recipe, I thought I would focus on one of the holiday traditions in my family....Oysters!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

There are many reasons why Fall is my favorite season in North Carolina, but oysters are definitely at the top of that list! I LOVE fresh oysters! There is nothing better than using brute force to crack open the shell and slurp up the briny, delicious prize from inside.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

I realize that last statement might not sound that appetizing to most people, but I just can't help myself. It is one of the few ocean gems that I don't mind working for to eat. As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed them, but I am sure there was a moment when I was younger where I stared an oyster in the face and truly questioned whether I should bet my life on a raw thing that looked like a booger. 

Luckily for me, that was sooooo long ago that I don't remember it, so for now, my unwavering love for oysters continues! They are coming in hot right now in NC too. The Hubby and I are always following Locals Seafood to know what is coming in fresh from the NC coast. The other night, we got several dozen Wild Harvest oysters for less than $20. The catch is that you have to clean and open them yourselves, but with the training I have from my Father, I was in good shape!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

The Hubby and I prefer to eat them raw, but most people grill, bake or steam them. I found a few good recipes for folks to peruse:

If you are brave enough to eat them raw, be prepared for a bit of a workout to get them open. Raw oysters are much harder to open, so the proper tool and technique is very important! A lot of helpful information can be found here on how to shuck oysters.

Then all you need to pull off your Oyster on the Half Shell plater is a few accouterments: lemon wedges, hot sauce, melted butter, chow chow or other pickled shallots.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

We prefer to eat the oysters by themselves because we will eat so many, but they can be served with anything, or as an appetizer.

Check out Locals Seafood for their latest Market Selection straight from the NC coast! Happy shucking!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegetarian Gumbo

Watch out everyone, the Polar Vortex is coming!! At least, according to every news and weather station. In my opinion it doesn't really seem to be heading towards NC. The weather forecast just looks like the normal late fall and early winter I missing something? 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Regardless of the Weather Man being right or wrong, cold weather is creeping in, which means I plan to make a large pot of soup, or in this case, gumbo. I threw this one together on a whim a few weeks back when we had vegetarian friends over for dinner. It then took me two more attempts to actually write the recipe down and perfect the amounts! Hate it when I do that sometimes. 

Vegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo |

Anyways, this is a great soup, or, gumbo for a large crowd with various dietary needs. You basically start with a vegetarian soup, then have the option to add grains and meat for those that want it. The Hubby and I personally love adding in spicy pork sausage (that we from Fickle Creek Farm - love those guys)! 

So, grab a blanket, light the fire and whip up a pot of my Vegetarian Gumbo! 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Great with rice, grits or cornbread.

Vegetarian Gumbo

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (use gluten free if needed)

3 Tablespoons butter (only for vegetarian version)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 carrots, cut into rounds
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 cups vegetable stock, separated
1 cup tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 cups fresh Romano beans or green beans, chopped
1 Tablespoon dry sage
Tablespoon dry thyme
Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 Tablespoon chili powder
Tablespoons soy sauce (use Tamari if gluten free)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan rind (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound Sage Hot pork sausage (optional for non-vegetarian version)
Rice or grits for serving (optional)

First step, chop all the vegetables! This is definitely a recipe where you want to have your mise en place (stuff in place).

In a large soup pot, prepare the roux:

  • Vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
  • Non-vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the sausage through. Remove the sausage and set aside, reserving the rendered fat in the pot. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
Add the onions, carrots and garlic along with a quarter cup of vegetable stock so the roux doesnt burn (the mixture will be thick and pasty). Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the broth has evaporated.

Stir in the tomato sauce, bell peppers, mushrooms and beans and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. 
Add the herbs, spices and soy sauce and mix well.

Stir in the canned beans and rest of vegetable stock and Parmesan rind and allow the gumbo to come to a boil over medium-high heat. If the gumbo is too thick, add more broth. Lower the heat to a simmer and let everything cook for another 10 minutes.

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

IT'S FALL!!! My favorite time of year!! Beautiful, earthy colors, comforting spices, blankets, sweaters, and boots! Who doesn't also love the obsession with pumpkin flavored everything. OK, well a lot of people are probably sick of it by now, but everything else about Fall is amazing.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

Butternut squash is a quintessential Fall vegetable for me. It is the closest thing to a sweet potato that the Hubby will eat, and it's truly versatile - prepared either sweet or savory. I decided to combine both flavors, and, like most recipes, add in a little green. 

Enter, Brussels sprouts, a vegetable that both the Hubby and I are fans of and have been most of our relationship. I knew the Brussels were dense enough to hold up against the squash if roasted at high temperatures. Brussels sprouts are also a flavorful vegetable that don't require a lot of spices or added flavors.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

This is an easy side dish for your Fall menus. It does require some cooking time, so be sure to allow for that. This side dish goes well with most meats or a rice pilaf. The leftovers are a perfect addition on a salad as well. Enjoy!

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |

Maple Chili Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts 

Yields: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 45 minutes

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends cut off, halved
1 pound Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

The easiest way to peel a butternut squash is to cut off both ends and use a vegetable peeler, scraping down the sides until the thick skin is peeled off. Note, this might take a few peels in the same spot. Otherwise, you can cut both ends off the squash and then cut in half width-wise and use a sharp knife to cut the skin off. Be sure to scoop out the seeds from the middle of the squash before cutting into cubes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or heavy duty foil. Mix the halved Brussels sprouts and cubed butternut squash with the maple syrup, chili powder and olive oil. Lay out the mixture evenly on the baking sheet (might have to use two if the baking sheets are small) and sprinkle evenly with about a teaspoon of salt.

Roast the vegetable mixture at 350F for 25 minutes, then increase the heat to 425F and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes (depending on oven). Once the vegetables are well browned, remove and serve with salt and pepper to taste.

Maple Chili Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts |