Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

We received a very cool holiday gift this year from our favorite couple (son and fiancée): Zingerman's Cheese Club! For those who don't know about Ann Arbor's world famous deli here's a link:

We received our first cheese installment just in time for Christmas Eve. I decided to put together a nice little dinner by the fire which started with Shrimp Ceviche, followed by a tasting of great cheeses and Farm Bread from Zingerman's, as well as olives, stuffed peppers with feta and prociutto, and cornichons (small french pickles). Total yum and happy holidays!

Recipes below for Shrimp Ceviche and cheese selections:

Shrimp Ceviche

Bag of large cooked shrimp, thawed, tails removed, and drained well.
Juice from 4 limes
Juice from 2 large lemons
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 serrano chili, seeds removed and finely minced
1/3 of English cucumber, chopped small
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, small chunks

Cut each shrimp in half, and place in glass or ceramic bowl, add the juices and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Then add the onion, cucumber and pepper and marinate another 1/2 hour.
Right before serving sir in cilantro and avocado

This is a tart dish. If too acidic for your tastes, drain out some the juices before serving and add a bit of olive oil to the mixture.

Cheeses that we enjoyed:

Raw Milk Cave Aged Taleggio
Fontina val d'aosta

Shrimp Ceviche in Martini Glasses


Happy Holidays!

Lazy Comfort Food!

Lately I have been thinking about the stuffed cabbage rolls my mom used to make. However, I'm just feeling a little too lazy about blanching and rolling cabbage leaves so I decided to make the "unstuffed" casserole version. It's really not the same but you do get the flavor you're after. And, to complete the whole lazy approach I've opted for a a honey cornbread mix from Archer Farms that you can get at Target. It's a pretty good cornbread actually--so easy but could be improved next time with the addition of a few chopped jalapenos--an ingredient that improves just about everything in my humble opinion!

Lazy Cabbage Casserole

1/2 large head of cabbage, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper
2 cans tomato soup
2 soup cans water
6 T brown rice

Brown the beef and onion, adding salt and pepper to taste
Add 1 can tomato soup and soup can of water and mix thoroughly
Put cabbage in well greased 9X13 casserole dish, pour beef mixture on top and mix
Mix another can of soup and water in skillet well and then pour over casserole, mixing ingredients well
Cover with foil, and bake 1 and 1/2 hours at 325

Make cornbread according to package instructions.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Southwest Flavor

When the weather gets chilly, a hearty Southwest Casserole hits the spot. You can make this dish more or less spicy to fit your preference by just using a milder salsa or plain diced tomatoes.

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes with chilis, drained
1 cup of salsa ( I use hot!)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans, black beans drained
2 t ground cumin
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Sliced black olives ( I didn't have any)
Sour cream

In a large skillet, combine the onions, peppers, tomatoes, salsa, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans. Spread a 1/3 of the mixture in a 13X 9 baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Layer with four tortillas and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers; top with remaining beans.

Cover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, bake another 5 minutes (uncovered) and let stand at least 5 minutes before cutting. Cuts better the longer it stands. Serve with toppings.

Instead of using shredded lettuce for a topping, I served with a green salad.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sage Roasted Pork Tenderloin and White Beans

This is a great no fail recipe for a dinner party. You can have it all prepped ahead of time and just pop in the oven while your guests have appetizers. It holds well and presents well with the meat sliced on top of the bean mixture. Good comfort food for chilly weather.

2 cans Northern white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
28 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
2 t grated lemon peel
2 T chopped fresh sage, oregano and rosemary (use dried if you don’t have fresh but use teaspoons instead of tablespoons)
2 cloves garlic minced
Some olive oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin (they usually come two in a pkg)


Preheat oven to 425 or wait if baking later

Combine beans, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, lemon rind, 1 T of each spice in large shallow casserole (13X9 pan works)

Rub tenderloins with olive oil and salt and pepper heavily and then add the rest of the spices—patting onto tenderloins.

Lay tenderloins on top of bean mixture—

Roast at 425 about 45 to 50 minutes turning the tenderloins over half way through cooking. Spoon bean mixture onto rimmed platter and arrange sliced pork on top.

Pictures show dish ready to go in the oven and then plated--I served with roasted sweet potato wedges and green beans.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lemon and Dill

Lemon and Dill Chicken Thighs

Marinate these thighs 2 to 4 hours before cooking

Zest and juice from one lemon
1 t minced garlic
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
¼ cup olive oil
6 chicken thighs, skin removed

Make the marinade by whisking together, lemon juice, zest, garlic, dill and olive oil. Lightly season thighs with salt and pepper and toss with marinade—marinate 2 to 4 hours.

I use my cast iron skillet for browning chicken—sauté the chicken with the marinade 10 minutes per side.

I served with a couscous medley purchased at Trader Joe’s and sautéed fresh spinach.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Caesar Salad with Blackened Salmon

For salad:

Chopped romaine
Fresh spinach
Cherry tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
Sliced sweet onion
Caesar Salad Dressing (I like Newman’s-when I can find it!)

Fresh salmon fillet
Rub fish with olive oil and sprinkle generously with Cajun seasoning and black pepper

Spray cast iron skillet with cooking spray and heat.

Cook fish about 5 minutes then turn for 4 to 5 more depending on how you like your fish cooked.

I suggest after being totally virtuous and having salad for supper, you indulge in a dark chocolate Reese's Cup!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So dear husband and I are taking Spanish and I should be studying right now but instead I’m thinking about cooking something spicy! I have decided to try Picadillo, which means “small bits and pieces” and is a sweet and savory spiced ground meat mixture from Latin America.

It is often served over rice but I decided to be different and serve it over julienned zucchini! Why, you ask? Well, I got this new tool for making really nice julienne strips and I want to use it!!

Picadillo- I made a lot so I could freeze half

2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup jalapeño slices (from jar) minced
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced green olives with pimento
2 T tomato paste
1 can beef broth
4 t chili powder
2 t oregano
1/2 cup scallions chopped
2 t ground cumin

Sauté beef onions, peppers, turnips until the meat is browned and veggies are starting to get tender. Add everything else, combine and raise heat to high and cook for five minutes, then cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. Remove lid, raise heat again and cook until it reaches desired thickness—I like it with some juice, as it was very tasty juice ☺

Zucchini Ribbons

Julienne two medium zukes and sauté in olive oil for about five minutes. Works well as a bed for the Picadillo.

New julienne peeler!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shrimp Stir Fry

I always keep a bag of cooked large shrimp in the freezer. It's so easy to pull a few out, thaw quickly and add to several easy dishes: stir fries, Spanish rice, jambalaya, creole dishes etc.

Here's an easy stir fry for 2

Thaw 12 large cooked shrimp

1 red pepper cut in large dice
1 orange pepper cut in large dice
½ white onion cut in large dice
Small pkg of sliced baby bella mushrooms
Handful of fresh spinach
Some chopped cilantro
Cooking oil (canola or peanut)

¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
¼  cup white wine vinegar
1 T sesame oil
½ t minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t red pepper flakes
2 T oyster sauce

Cooked rice (brown or white)—I used white jasmine for this dish.

Mix all the sauce ingredients and drop the thawed shrimp in to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Pour some oil in a wok and sauté the peppers, onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes or so, add the shrimp and sauce and heat through, add spinach and serve over rice.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quick Chicken Thai

Sometimes you want to get dinner on the table fast and that's when I turn to Trader Joe's delicious sauce in a bottle! I had some leftover cooked chicken breasts, a few veggies in the drawer and rice in the pantry.

1 large cooked chicken breast, cut into small chunks
¼ of an onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
some celery sliced
jasmine rice—rinse the rice and throw in a rice cooker if you have one
1 jar TJ's Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
Cilantro, chopped

Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery in some olive oil in medium size skillet, add the chicken and the sauce and warm through-top with chopped cilantro.  Serve over rice—easy peasy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pantry Challenge!

So, I decided it was time to clean out the pantry and it's amazing the things you find shoved to the back, isn't it? The person who designed the kitchen in this house was not a cook because the pantry is deep, not shallow. Anyone who knows about pantries knows they should be shallow so you can see what you've got. Ah, well, a deep pantry is better than no pantry so I'm not complaining really. However, a person does need to clean it out now and then. While sorting through the various goodies, I came across an open box of Lipton Golden Mushroom Soup Mix with one packet left. Good grief what will I do with that? Toss? OR look on the back of the box to see what delightful suggestions they have for this mixture? Sure enough, a recipe for Slow Cooker Hearty Chicken Stew caught my eye because I have all the ingredients on hand and I do indeed have a slow cooker so there you have it!

Hearty Chicken Stew in Slow Cooker

1 lb chicken skinned chicken thighs, cut in 1 inch chunks
½ lb ham cut in 1 inch chunks (I used Canadian bacon)
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen Lima beans
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies, undrained
1 packet Golden Mushroom Soup Mix (that's what started all this!)
Red pepper flakes

Mix it altogether in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

I also found a basmati rice mix in the pantry so I threw that into the rice cooker with vegetable broth.

Decided to make a sweet romaine salad to go with the stew because I saw a 1/3 of a jar of mandarin oranges in the fridge.

Romaine lettuce
Raspberry vinaigrette
mandarin orange segments
toasted pecans

Mix together!

Here's the stew and it was mighty tasty!

Search Feature

Dear Friends and Followers,

I have added a search box at the top of the blog so you can search for a particular ingredient or dish.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rosemary Chops with Chunky Applesauce

If you happen to have any apples sort of languishing about in a refrigerator drawer, I have a recipe for you. I had about 6 sort of “past their prime” Macintosh apples and I decided that they would pair well with the loin pork chops I had defrosted. Honestly, this chunky applesauce is like crack—it's good!

4 loin chops
salt and pepper
2 T fresh rosemary chopped
6 Macintosh apples or whatever you have, peeled and chopped
½ red onion chopped
olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
6 T water

Sauté onion in olive oil for about 3 minutes or so, then throw in the apples, vinegar and water and simmer for ten minutes until apples are tender. Remove from heat. In the meantime, put the salt and pepper and fresh rosemary on the chops. Sauté the chops 3 minutes per side.

I served this with a frozen vegetable from Trader Joe's called Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and it is a great side—so easy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Your Mother's Meat Loaf!

So here's the deal: I grew up eating my mom's standard issue meatloaf and I loved it but my dear husband didn't have that experience and he's not so fond of this dish. Consequently, the only way I can really interest him in a meatloaf is if it promises to be spicy. I really crave this dish sometimes cause I think it reminds me of my mom. I still miss her so and maybe the meatloaf is comfort food?

I have invented yet another go at a spicy meatloaf which I have named:

Mamacita's Wild Loaf—eat at your own risk!

1 lb grass fed ground beef ( my salute to health)
1 lb ground pork
1 envelope Lipton's Onion Soup mix
2/3 cup spicy ketchup (like Melinda's Habanero ketchup—I buy mine at TJ Maxx-I used both Chipoltle and Habanero in this cause I had just little bit of each left in the bottles!)
2 eggs
¾ cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
½ can condensed tomato soup

Mix all the above ingredients together EXCEPT a 1/3 cup of the ketchup and the half can of tomato soup. Mix these two ingredients together and heat on stove right before serving.

After ingredients are well mixed (I do this with my hands), shape into loaf and place on broiler rack of broiler pan. That way the grease can drip down and the loaf doesn't sit in the fat.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Bring it out of the oven and let it sit while you heat up the sauce.Spoon sauce over the entire meatloaf and pass extra at table.

This is total yum!

Serve with baked potatoes decked out with some Greek non-fat yogurt and cheddar cheese and a green vegetable.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Like tilapia? Try this!

I’m always looking for a different way to cook tilapia, a very mild white fish. At first blush, the ingredients may seem strange but they actually work, so have no fear and try!
I also tried a new side, Quinoa with Lime, and it’s a keeper for sure. Will use leftovers tomorrow for lunch as a side with a sandwich. Very tasty!

Tilapia Fillets with Mustard-Pecan Topping

1/3-cup mayo
1/3-cup brown mustard (I used a brown mustard with horseradish)
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 lb tilapia fillets thawed and dried well with paper towel

Preheat 350

Lightly spray a jelly pan. In a small bowl combine mustard with mayo.

Put fillets on pan and spread mayo mixture over each fillet. Sprinkle with pecans, press down gently.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Quinoa (KEEN-wah) with Lime

Juice of three limes
1 T olive oil
1 T plus one cup of vegetable broth
1 T, seeded, finely chopped jalapeño
3 T chopped cilantro
½ t sugar
½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ cup quinoa
1 t cumin
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped orange pepper
3 T chopped scallions

In medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 1 T broth, jalapeño, cilantro,
sugar, salt and pepper, set aside.

Bring one cup vegetable broth to a boil; add cumin and quinoa, simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Combine black beans, peppers, scallions, and quinoa in bowl and pour dressing over and mix well. Chill an hour.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soup's On!

Corn and Tomato Chowder

I love soup! I especially love a soup that is low fat, hearty, and tastes great!

1 t butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups, peeled, diced boiling potatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cups non-fat, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed
1 ½ cups non-fat milk
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

In a 4/5 qt pan cook the onions in the butter for about 5 minutes, add the celery and the potatoes and cook another 2 minutes.

Add bay leaf and broth and bring to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and puree 2 cups soup in processor and return to pot.

Stir in the tomatoes, corn, milk. Return to a simmer and cook for ten minutes or so until nice and hot.

Stir in fresh ground pepper and parsley.

Makes 8 servings of 1 cup each

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's a Wrap!

Here are two really good sandwich fillings for whole-wheat tortilla wraps. The first filling comes from my son who is a terrific cook! It makes me so happy to say that and I’m sure it even makes his wife-to-be even happier! He serves this in lettuce leaves but I put the filling in whole-wheat tortilla wraps because his father would say-lettuce?? Where’s the bread? I thought I was having a sandwich?

Filling # 1 Super Tasty Artichoke Avocado Filling

1 can artichokes, drained and chopped
1 can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
½ English cucumber, sliced thinly
½ small onion finely chopped
1 poblano pepper finely chopped
½ bunch cilantro coarsely chopped
1 to 2 avocados chopped
3 T of white vinegar
Salt and pepper

Mix together all the ingredients—I put the avocado in at the end so it doesn’t get all mooshed up.
This is enough for 4 l0-inch tortilla wraps with some leftover.

Filling #2 Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Ever have a hankering for Buffalo wings but don’t want the fried food? Then, these wraps are for you: Buffalo Chicken Wraps!

1 large cooked chicken breast, chopped and mixed with 2 T Frank’s Hot Sauce (or other red pepper sauce)
4 T reduced fat blue cheese dressing
2 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced cucumber
½ cup shredded carrot

Spread 2 T of dressing on each tortilla. Arrange rest of ingredients on tortillas, fold in sides and roll.

Pictures are before the wrapping!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grillin' in October!

What a gorgeous day!! It is Autumn at its best in Michigan right now. The colors are peaking and the sun is shining. It is a tad bit chilly out but the chicken breasts are going on the grill! Decided to add a little homemade salsa to perk up the grilled chicken. Sides are good old dependable roasted potatoes. (I always make extra to go with scrambled eggs in the AM) I mean, you’ve got the oven on, right? Decided to perk up regular string beans with some toasted pine nuts. Add a glass of red wine and we’ve got dinner!

Chicken breasts
Wishbone Italian Dressing

Marinate chicken in dressing for several hours.

Make Salsa

½ small box of cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 T chopped onion
½ jalapeno pepper chopped
2 T chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime

Mix all ingredients together and then add 2 T of non-fat Greek yogurt and let that sit for a while to blend.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Cut up whatever kind of potatoes you have on hand (in large chunks). Spray baking sheet with cooking spray—put potatoes on sheet and spray potatoes, add salt and pepper, dried thyme, and some Cajun spice to liven things up a bit.

Bake 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes depending on the size of your chunks

Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Cook string beans, drain and top with toasted pine nuts

Grilling Chicken

Grill 20 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your breasts (I am referring to the chicken here ☺) Meat thermometer should read 165.

Dinner in a Hurry

Quick Cook Chops
Red Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion Sauté
Roasted Asparagus

2 Boneless loin pork chops
½ red pepper sliced
½ red onion sliced
Pkg of sliced mushrooms
Bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh chopped or dry herbs of choice—I used fresh oregano
Olive oil of course!
Salt (sea salt if you have it) and cracked pepper

Set oven to 450

While preheating, slice pepper and onion

On a jelly roll pan, toss asparagus with olive oil and sea salt and cracked pepper. Put in oven for 15 minutes.

While asparagus roasts, sauté pepper, onion and mushrooms in some olive oil for five minutes or so. Remove vegetables to bowl and keep warm—drizzle with balsamic and sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Salt and pepper the chops and sauté about 3 minutes per side. Dump the bowl of vegetables back in the skillet to warm everything. By this time the asparagus should be cooked and you’re ready to eat! Quick and yummy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leftover rice? Fry it!

I always make extra rice so I have leftover rice!

Shrimp Fried Rice

3 t dark sesame oil
8 jumbo thawed frozen shrimp, cut each in half
2 t chopped garlic
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup peeled, finely chopped carrots
1 cup broccoli florets (thawed frozen)
¼ cup scallions or chives if you have them
1 cup chopped red and yellow pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 T soy sauce
Pinch cayenne
1 egg
1 egg white.

Heat 2 t oil in large skillet or wok and stir fry mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, garlic,  and peppers about 2 minutes.

Add another t of sesame oil, the rice, thawed shrimp, soy sauce,chives and cayenne and heat through.

Combine egg and egg white. Push mixture to one side and and add to skillet stirring until eggs set—then shred the egg and add to the rest of mixture. I like to do the egg this way cause then you actually get pieces of intact scrambled egg in the dish.

Sorry no picture--unless you want to see an empty bowl!

Take the chill off!

Yesterday was chilly and rainy and called for a nice cozy dinner. Chicken with wine, brown rice, and a green salad tossed with toasted pecans and goat cheese-yum!

Chicken Merlot

This is really good served over brown rice!

1 lb of chicken tenders
¼ cup flour
1 t-dried thyme
½ t salt
Some olive oil
3 cups quartered mushrooms
2 cups peeled, sliced carrots
4 pieces of Canadian bacon cut into ¼ strips
2/3 cup merlot or other dry red wine
2/3 cup chicken broth (I use low sodium)
2 heaping t of tomato paste
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Combine four, thyme and salt in plastic bag, add chicken and shake to coast.

Lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and brown chicken on both sides (about five minutes) Set chicken aside

Add a bit more oil and sauté the mushrooms, carrots, and bacon about 2 or 3 minutes, then add the wine, broth, and tomato paste and cook for about ten minutes, stirring now and then.

Return chicken to skillet and cook about five more minutes to heat everything through—sprinkle with parsley and serve over noodles or rice.

Serves: 4

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bored with Tuna Salad?

I love tuna salad but sometimes I like to switch it up a bit. This recipe uses Dijon mustard so it definitely has a little zing!

Zippy Tuna

2 T Dijon mustard
2 T reduced fat mayo
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped red pepper
½ cup chopped yellow pepper
½ cup chopped celery
1 12 oz can white tuna in water, drained
Black pepper
4 6 in whole-wheat pita pockets
½ cup chopped spinach
½ cup sliced mushrooms

1. Whisk the mayo and mustard together in a medium bowl
2. Add the onions, peppers, celery, tuna, and peppers-mix well-set aside to let flavors develop (refridge for later if not ready to make pitas)
3. Cut pitas in half crosswise and stuff each with spinach, mushrooms and tuna.

Serves four

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Delicious Fall Dinner!

I shop at Arbor Farms a lot and often peruse their website. The other day I saw this recipe for Chicken with Balsamic-Dried Plum Sauce and I said to myself this must be the sexier way to say Prune Chicken! Yep, indeed, dried plums are prunes and we all know that doesn't really conjure up the best images, eh? In other words, you might hear of a dress described as “plum” colored but surely not prune! All kidding aside, I'm here to tell you that no matter the name, this chicken is darn good!

I also had some leftover cooked barley in the fridge and used that for a delicious side for the chicken. To add some color to the meal, I tried a recipe I for Chickpea Cucumber Salad which I found on Peggy Lampman's Dinner Feed site--web link at end of entry.

Chicken with Balsamic-Dried Plum Sauce (revised a bit my me)

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried plums
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

Instructions: In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Season chicken with salt and pepper, as desired. Place chicken in skillet; cook 10 minutes or so, turning once. Transfer to serving platter; keep warm. Add shallots and garlic to same skillet; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth, dried plums, vinegar, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat slightly; cook until sauce is reduced by half, about 1 cup. Spoon over chicken.

Barley “Risotto”
1 cup cooked barley
2 T chopped carrot
2 T chopped onion
some olive oil
some chicken broth
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese

Sauté carrot and and onion in oil in saucepan, add the barley and the chicken broth, some salt and pepper. Gently heat with lid on pan. Close to serving time stir in some crumbled goat cheese.

I made the salad exactly as Peggy Lampman directed but didn't have any anchovies—would have added had I had them. Below is a picture of my salad and the recipe link to her blog with the recipe:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yummy Squash!

My dear husband is not that fond of spaghetti squash. I think maybe if it were named something else it would help because as soon as he hears the word “spaghetti” well, you know, he's thinking pasta and then he's really disappointed when it's squash! I love all varieties of squash, but know that I need to really jazz this one up for him. So, when you stuff the squash with ingredients that resemble the flavors of lasagna he's a happy camper! One thing about squash is that I have a hard time cutting them unless I nuke them for a bit first so in this recipe I put the whole squash (poked several places for steam to escape) into the microwave for about 8 minutes-then cut in half and take seeds out and then bake it)

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, nuked, then halved lengthwise and seeded
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 (14 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil or handful of chopped fresh
1 cube beef bouillon
some olive oil
black pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) can black olives, chopped
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a baking sheet with a thin layer of cooking spray. Place squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet.
2. Bake squash 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.
3. Meanwhile,in saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes, basil (if using fresh add at the end of the cooking), bouillon cube, and black pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until you have a medium thick sauce.
4. Remove squash strands with a fork, reserving the shells. Layer each half with a spoonful of the sauce, a layer of spaghetti squash strands, some ricotta, olives, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until shells are full, or until all of the ingredients are used. Top with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 30/ 40minutes in the preheated oven, or until Parmesan cheese melts and top gets a little brown.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Flavors

I love all things Autumn: the colors, the weather, and the sky. I also really love the foods of the season: apples, squash, onions, cabbages and cozy comfort casseroles. Tonight I decided to try a variation on a recipe that I found on Peggy Lampman's Dinner Feed Blog published on I made some revisions as always due to ingredients that I didn't have. This dinner is “Fall on a Plate” for me!

Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples and Shallots
Braised Cabbage in Mustard Cream
Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Pork Chops

4 boneless loin pork chops
Canola oil
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced into wedges (not too thick)
2/3 cup Trader Joe's Spiced Apple Cider
2 large shallots sliced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Sauté the apples and shallots for around 8 minutes or so in a 2 T canola oil. You want the apples to get a bit soft and sort of lightly browned.
Remove from pan—put in some more oil (1 T)
Salt and pepper chops and sauté for 3 minutes on each side (my chops were a little less than ½ inch thick)
Remove chops and pour in apple cider to deglaze pan, whisk it around on high heat for 3 minutes or so and let it reduce.
Serve each chops with a few apples, some shallots, and the sauce

Cabbage in Mustard Cream

Slice up a half a head of green cabbage
Slice half an onion
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
½ cup of heavy cream
1 T course ground mustard

Saute cabbage and onion in canola oil until softened and getting a little brown in parts. Whisk mustard into cream and pour over cabbage, salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Red Skins

Package of baby potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs, oregano, rosemary and basil

Wash potatoes and cut large ones in half. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes out on cookie sheet and roast at 400 for 40 minutes or so. When ready to serve, turn potatoes into bowl, add a bit more olive oil and fresh chopped herbs.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brine Time!

On our recent trip to Maine, the four of us dined at a wonderful small restaurant, Town Hill Bistro, on Mt. Desert Island. We all had delicious dinners there that can be viewed on an earlier post. The porterhouse pork chop that I had that night was absolutely scrumptious and when I inquired about its preparation the waiter said that the meat had been brined first. I had read about brining and it always sounded mildly complicated as well as that needing to do it hours ahead factor, too, so I’d never attempted the procedure. I decided that night that I’d give it a go when we returned home. Lo and behold, upon our return I have a gift box waiting for me from our Maine traveling companions and among other goodies in the box is…………of course, a wonderful jar of brining mix! Let the brining begin!

Here’s my mix: Victoria Gourmet Blends made in Maine

The procedure involves adding your brining mix to boiling hot water and then plunging in a lot of ice cubes to cool it right down—see pix below

Then you submerge the meat (in this case two porterhouse pork chops) in the chilled water and cover, place in fridge for 4 to 10 hours. I did five hours.

Remove the meat and pat dry and grill or pan sauté.

I made a paste of minced fresh rosemary, lemon zest, and olive oil that I spread on the chops before sautéing in a cast iron skillet and then baking briefly in the oven.

Roasted sweet potatoes and onions, green beans and fresh corn cut from the cob rounded this dinner out.

Yummy and many thanks to our most fave traveling pals for the brining mix!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trip 2010-Last NIght!

When on Route 90 crossing New York State, I can recommend Hoak's Restaurant on Lakeshore Drive in Hamburg NY. Order the fish fry with half fries and half homemade potato salad--yep-It's good!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Road Trip Day 2

Leaving Vermont and riding down route 7 south here is a major tip:  If ever in the vicinity of Vergennes, VT--run (no not walk) to 3 Squares Cafe! Brunch delights included a bacon egg, spinach, cheddar cheese panino for dear husband and absolutely the BEST and, somewhat unconventional, Huevos Rancheros for moi. My dish was incredible--the picture does not do it justice but, suffice it to say, if in Vermont DO NOT miss this spot! The vibe in this little place: the decor, the staff, and the customers--- the "gestalt" of the place really works--bravo to them!

The Panino
The Huevos
Dinner found us in Bennington, Vermont at a very cool pub on Main Street, Madison Brewery. We split the Eggplant Provencal Sandwich and if you happen upon this place be sure someone in your party orders this!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Who would have guessed that on a road trip into a Vermont that you would find great, and I mean GREAT Mexican food for lunch and great, I mean GREAT, Asian food for dinner?? I guess a person just needs to do a little homework (thanks to Mrs. Cookcat:-)

Lunch in Stowe Vermont at Frida's Taqueria where dear husband ordered a brisket burrito and I had the crisp cod burrito with black beans, cabbage and tomatillo sauce. SOOOOOOOOO good!

Foe dinner, in Burlington at A Single Pebble (Asian fusion) you'll see the best dry fried Green Beans I've ever tasted , Tangerine Peel Chicken, Ants on a Tree noodle dish, and some dim sum delicacies.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Road Trip Resumes!

If you are EVER in Skowhegan Maine (and why would you be??) I can recommend the Old Mill Pub for a mighty fine lunch. Below you'll see the Greek Chicken Wrap and the Pub Club and Hand Cut Fries! Sit on the deck and watch the waterfall---on a sunny, glorious August afternoon--no worries :-)

 Sometimes you find a restaurant or a bistro that is a destination unto itself. If you are EVER in driving distance of Gorham, New Hampshire, be sure to take a meal at Libby's Bistro or Salt pub (which is in Libby's basement). Fantastic food, great atmosphere--See Antipasto Platter below:  unbelievably tasty!