Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scallop Roll

Beach shacks that serve seafood are great but the closest shack is a little ways away. And this warm weather has me craving creamy lobster rolls and blue claw crabs encrusted with Old Bay Seasoning. So I came up with this scallop roll that uses the spicy seasoning and it came out really good. Just put on the fan, close your eyes and feel the breeze right off the ocean as you take your first bite. ;)

  • 4-5 jumbo sea scallops, cut width wise
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, or more to taste
  • flour for dredging
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • canola oil
  • 2 onion rolls, split and toasted lightly under a broiler
  • 1/4 head Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, cut length wise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red onion
  • pale part of 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet relish, or more to taste

In a bowl combine the Napa cabbage, celery, red onion, scallion, cubanelle pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise and sweet relish. Add salt and pepper as needed and set aside. Lightly toast your onion rolls, if you are not crazy about onion rolls you can use whatever rolls you like. Combine the plain bread crumbs and the Old Bay Seasoning. Dry your scallops and dredge them in flour, then into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Heat your oil on medium heat until hot. Fry your scallops until lightly brown and then flip onto the other side. It doesn't take long, only a few minutes as they are really fragile, so be careful when flipping them. Let them drain on paper towels. On your toasted bun, pile on a little of the slaw, top with 4 or 5 scallop rounds. This recipe makes 2 rolls with a little extra slaw on the side. This is great served with baked sweet potato fries. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Love with Lupine

This is my first spring in love with Lupine. I'm not sure yet if it's going to be a fling or a long trusting relationship. Every year I fall in love with a different flower or plant. Not knowing how we will grow together. Will it bloom, die out quickly like bright poppies or linger for a long sweet time like hostas, growing ever so slowly. I feel secure with them, I can count on them, they come back every year faithfully. My first love that has lasted year after year is Sweet Kate Spiderwort. Bright lime green leaves with violet blue flowers, that open up at different intervals. Having a few Sweet Kates in the garden already, I wanted to add more and I caught the last plant of the season at the nursery. I asked the nice lady if she could hold if for me. I had some errands to run, afraid beautiful Kate would die in the hot steamy car. The nice lady said, "I'm sorry...I really can't hold any plants..." I think the look of fear in my eyes changed her mind. "But I guess if I put it...back here, it's not really...on hold and...if you come back quickly..." I assured her, "I will, I will!" Anything for Kate. Her leaves were already badly sun burned, I wanted to take care of her as she takes care of me, making me happy most of the summer. I was ready to leave and so there stood Lupine, proud and tall. I have never seen her before. She was stunning. I had to have her in my garden. Checking to see if we were compatible, yes we were. She accepted the only condition that I had: part-shade and I would be cautious with her being that some varieties are potentially poisonous. It was a match. We are still getting to know each other. She's very passionate, growing quickly. Her blue spike unfolding beautifully, and the small buds following. She brings such a beauty to my little patch of flowers, I can't get enough of her. So we'll see where this goes, only time will tell. I try to impress Lupine, sweet talking her, telling her how gorgeous she is, how happy I am that she is here, tending to her leaves and picking off any faded flowers. I hope Lupine has a long growing season so I can enjoy her in the garden but I will accept however she grows and do whatever I can so she sticks around longer.

Lupine, Lupinus x hybrid 'The Governor'
 According to her marker, lupines are perennials that like sun or part-shade. They bloom late spring to summer. Plant Lupines 18" apart and they grow 24-36" tall. Water weekly during dry spells. Hardiness zones are zone 4 to zone 8.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Wearing charms has a long history that sits deep in protection, magic, power and spirituality. I love charms and over the years have collected a few that I mix and match depending on what's going on in my life. A favorite is my little lady bug, being bearers of good luck. Being a little girl, seeing a lady bug made my day, especially if she landed on me. I would tell her my wish and she would fly away, leaving a little sprinkling of good luck behind. In my mind, she went around collecting wishes from little boys and girls to fly up to heaven to whisper into God's ear. Then she came back down to munch on some leaves and go to sleep under a BIG leaf to repeat the same mission tomorrow. Since she has super powers, she could do it, no space ship required. Everyone likes to believe in something, anything that gives us comfort, and that's what charms really are, a comfort of sorts. Religious symbols, semi-precious stones, four-leaf clovers, a loved ones' initial, all a protective shield. I've lost my favorite pair of earrings at least four times, yesterday being one of them. I had given them up for lost, forever. We went to the lake yesterday and coming out of the water, I realized my left earring was gone. When the area we were in emptyed out a little, I actually went back into the water, doing a two-step. I probably looked so silly. I didn't care that I was waltzing solo, as I hoped to step on my lost earring, that I imagined was laying on the bottom of the lake, waiting for me. After my sad dance time in the water, I came out, empty-handed. Sitting with disappointment, in my beach chair, I said a prayer to St. Anthony, "St. Anthony, St. Anthony please come around something has been lost and can't be found." Packing up a little later on, I was getting over it, "It's just a thing" I told myself. Later on that night, I sat on the couch reading and my husband came over to me with a smile on his face, "Is this what you were looking for?" My lost earring!!! I was in disbelief, and so the charm that I wear at times, its' symbolism connected to the patron saint of lost things, worked! He heard my prayer! :)

Here is my little collection of protective amulets, I love mixing and matching them! I've found most of  these in jewelry shops or street fairs, I'm still looking for a really small cross.
Going down:
 Row 1: the Holy Spirit over the Holy family medallion, a key with a peace dove, a chunk of amethyst, a stone  that bring a calm and serenity.
 Row 2: a ladybug, Hamsa hand, a hand of protection.
 Row 3:  St. Anthony medallion (thank you for my earring!) an hour glass, a reminder of precious time and a branch, that is a tradition from Norway, as one girl explained to me, when one went into the forest, you would break off a branch of a tree for protection, to guard you against a storm, when it came along. Translated beautifully into a sterling silver branch worn as protection during a personal storm.
Hope this inspired you to start a collection of your own that makes you feel good. :)


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baileys & Cream Soda with Espresso

I have to start off by saying, I'm not having this drink this early, lol. I made this last night and it kept me up, on and off throughout the night. At 3:30, I got up to look up the dream meaning of sand. I was pushing a lot of sand in a red wheel barrel. I was maneuvering it carefully, afraid I would spill it. Ahh...dreams are great. But I did wake up feeling refreshed. The effects of late night espresso. I really like my coffee and combining the Baileys, cream soda and espresso makes a nice drink to end an evening. You get a little sweet from the cookie crumbs but the drink isn't overly sugary because of the bitter espresso. I hope this weekend you get a chance to try it, in between creating memories with family and friends and remembering our fallen heroes. Wishing everyone a nice relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.
  • 12 oz. cream soda
  • 2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 oz. of espresso (2 shots)
  • 1 shortbread cookie
Using a box grater, grate your shortbread cookie, so you have some fine crumbs. Dip your finger in a little vodka and run it outside the upper rim of a martini glass, that holds 8.oz. Dip your glass into the shortbread cookie crumbs. Press firmly so the crumbs stick. Using a little more vodka as needed, and repeating until you have a nice cookie crust on the outer edge of the glasses. This recipe makes 2 drinks. Combine your Baileys and espresso. Divide between the 2 glasses. Top off with the cream soda, and give it a light stir and enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Creamy Tortellini Salad

Nothing says a barbecue like a creamy pasta salad. This salad is nice because it has tortellini in it and it's combined with corn, green peppers, bacon and basil. It would be great to complement spicy grilled chicken or ribs. This salad is very easy to make, so if you were invited to a barbecue this weekend and were asked to make something, this will please the crowd, without you spending too much time in the kitchen!
  • 13 oz bag of meat tortellini
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium red onion, minced
  • red wine vinegar
  • 7 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Vegeta or an all-purpose seasoning
Cook your tortellini according to the directions, run under cold water and set aside. Cook your corn in boiling water for ten minutes, once done run the corn under cold water and once cool enough to handle, run your knife along the length of the corn to remove the kernels. Be very careful, and big chunks of kernel sections are ok, if you like. Cook the bacon until crisp and dry on paper towels and set aside. In a small bowl, pour your red wine vinegar over your red onion, this is so it takes the edge of the onion. Leave it in the vinegar for 5 minutes then drain. Into a large bowl combine your cooled tortellini, corn, bacon, red onion, basil, tomato, green pepper, mayonnaise, sour cream and your Vegeta or all-purpose seasoning, to taste. Top with some extra basil leaves for decoration and enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Short Ribs with Cola BBQ Sauce

It's not always roses and sunshine when it comes to warm weather, especially this past week, it's been rain, rain and more rain on the east coast and it's really dampening grill time. Unofficial start of summer is almost here and the Memorial Day celebrations must go on! So if the raindrops do fall this weekend, you're prepared. For a barbecue feeling indoors, this is great to make served with a red potato salad and corn on the cob. All you need is a red and white checker table cloth and you won't even miss the sunshine ;)
  • 1 pound beef short ribs, on the leaner side
  • 1/2 a medium red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7.5 oz. cola
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz. coffee
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta, or a good all-purpose seasoning
  • 6 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • a few dried mushrooms
  • 3 dried apricots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and pepper your short ribs and brown them in the oil on medium heat, until they are brown and crisp. It doesn't take long at all, and turn to brown on the other side. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Lower the heat and add your red onion and garlic, stirring to lightly brown them, add in the water and bring up the brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot. Add in your cola, coffee, tomato paste, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves, Vegeta, dark brown sugar, honey, mushrooms and minced apricots. Stir well. Add your short ribs back into the pot. Bring to a boil, once the boil is reached drop the heat down to low and cover your pot and simmer for 11/2 hours. Carefully remove the ribs and set aside. Discard the bay leaf, cloves and any woody mushrooms, any other ones can stay in the sauce. With great care, use an immersion hand blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Put the ribs back into the pot, and simmer for another 30 minutes. By this point, the will be falling off the bone and tender. If your ribs aren't on the lean side you can let the sauce sit till room temperature to skim off the fat, and then reheat when ready to serve. This recipe makes about 1-2 servings, so depending on everyones' appetite you can double or triple this recipe as needed. Enjoy!

 I tried to photograph the ribs and make them look good and I don't think it's possible, but I promise these are delicious! Really delicious!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spicy Green Sauce

This started out with hopes of being a cilantro pesto...but it didn't quite work out, lol. After I realized the pesto was a failure, I was a little frustrated but after pulling in a do-over, it transitioned into this spicy green sauce and it come out really tasty! This would be great along side a grilled steak or roasted chicken. I'm sure it would give breaded pork chops a kick, and would be great to dip poached shrimp in or topped on a piece of salmon! Adding it to mayonnaise would make it a great sandwich spread! Great to have alongside your barbecue spread this up coming weekend! :)
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, just leaves, squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon raw walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 a roll, crusts removed, cut into pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 20 capers, rinsed
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a little lime zest
  • 1/2 an avocado, roughly chopped
  • 5 inch piece of scallion, bottom part, chopped
  • 1/2 cubanelle pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1 mint leaf
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Combine the cilantro, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and olive oil in a bowl, I used a immersion hand blender and combine well. Then blend in your bread cubes. Followed by the rest of the ingredients a little at a time and season accordingly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ricotta Cheese Platter

Shared messy appetizers are great, piling different flavor combinations on every inch of bread is the best part! But my favorite is ricotta cheese, buttered corn and basil, just delicious! I've been obsessed with corn lately! Grilling the corn in their husks till burnt to later reveal steamy creamy yellow kernels of sweetness has been my thing! Eating the corn row by row as a kid, finding odd satisfaction in a clean bare cob.( I still do it now lol) It comes out perfectly clean. I wish I brought that same precision to house cleaning. lol So at first glance the corn looks a little out of place, but when combined with smooth cool ricotta cheese it becomes truly craveable!

  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • a half a cup of fresh "cherry size" mozzarella (ciliegine), halved
  • 6 good small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus more for drizzling.
  • 4-6 slices good sliced bread
  • a few slices prosciutto, each slice cut in half and rolled up
  • 1 ear of corn
  • a pat of unsalted butter
  • a few basil leaves
  • a little lemon zest
  • fresh ground pepper

In a non-stick pan heat the olive oil and garlic on low heat until beginning to brown. Add into the pan your tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, increase the heat to medium and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring often until the liquid evaporates and you end up with a thick tomato sauce, set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add your ear of corn and simmer for 10 minutes, once cooled, with care, take a sharp knife and slowly run it down the length of the corn removing the kernels. In another non-stick pan heat the butter until sizzling and add the corn, a little sea salt and a minced basil leaf. Saute until lightly browned and set aside. Take your bread slices and drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and throw them on the grill, flipping after a few minutes. Combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and ground pepper. Begin assembling your platter! Spread your ricotta cheese in the center and surround with the tomato sauce, corn, halved mozzarella, grilled bread slices, prosciutto, a few chopped basil leaves and finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil and  fresh ground pepper on the cheeses. Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shrimp Toast

 Lately my Saturday morning ritual usually looks like this, I get up and run down to get a coffee and get the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal, and I dive into the "Off Duty" section. I can't manage to read it fast enough. This past weekends' edition had an article on shrimp toast, how cool it's becoming, cropping up in the chicest restaurants. And did it have me craving shrimp toast in the early hours of the morning! lol I'm not sure if everyone is a fan but the first time I ordered it, I did it out of pure curiosity. Crispy bread, creamy shrimp and a hint of onion, it was interesting, I liked it. The second time, I don't even know how it was physically possible, but I bit into the crispiness of the shrimp toast and had a mouthful of oil. (growl and grumble) So the article inspired me to make it at home, here's my spin at it. I think it came out really good and I'm so excited to share this recipe!
  • 1/2 pound of shrimp, quickly poached, cooled off and finely minced
  • a 4 inch piece of a celery stalk, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced red onion
  • 2 pale sections of scallions, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • a dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce
  • Sriracha sauce *optional
  • a pinch of 2 of Vegeta, or any good all-purpose seasoning
  • 10 slices of potato bread
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • panko bread crumbs
  • canola oil
Combine the shrimp, celery, scallions, red onion, cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings. Taste and add more seasonings if needed. Take 2 slices of potato bread at a time and cut the crusts off with a sharp knife. Set the crusts aside for bread crumbs, or the birds. Daisy had some treats that day. ;) Spread a heaping tablespoon on one side of the slice of bread, top with the second slice and repeat with the rest of the bread and shrimp spread. Take a sharp knife and cut diagonally across the "sandwiches." creating triangles. If any filling falls out, stuff it back in. Set up a breading station for yourself. A dish for the eggs, one for the panko bread crumbs, one for the toasts that are ready for the oil, and one lined with paper towels. Carefully dip your shrimp triangles in the beaten egg and then into the panko bread crumbs, packing on the breadcrumbs so it sticks. They are so delicate, especially when dipped in the egg, so you have to work quickly. Fill a large non-stick pan with about a 1/4 inch of oil on the bottom. Heat your oil on medium heat, and throw in a bread crumb or 2 until it sizzles, once it does, you are ready to put in your shrimp triangles. Fry them until light brown and then flip them over, grab some tongs and stand them up on the sides, so they fry up also. Just be careful, this is why I had only 2 in the pan at most. Once browned on all sides, drain on paper towels. I served this with an avocado topped with peanut sauce and it was really good when eaten together! This makes 10 shrimp toasts.

Here is the recipe for the peanut sauce if anyone is a peanut sauce fan...
  • 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of low sodium room temperature chicken broth
  • 2 soy sauce packets or 2 teaspoons
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • a dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce
  • a sprinkle of ground ginger
  • a sprinkle of 5-spice powder
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves finely chopped and some leaves saved for garnish
  • an avocado or 2, sliced
Combine all of the ingredients, taste and add seasoning as needed, spoon over the avocado slices and top with cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cauliflower & Poppy Seed Ravioli with Roasted Asparagus

The first time I made this, was years ago, thinking the cauliflower would be a good filler for the ricotta cheese. I was trying to save some calories and it was pretty good! But it looked like it needed something and I threw in the poppy seeds and it really made this dish fun. This is great for a hearty vegetarian main course. Serve with crusty bread and fresh butter and a garden salad, and I think everyone will be happy.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed so you only use the florets, boiled until soft, drained well and mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 5 roasted garlic cloves (minced), from an olive bar, (only if you have on hand, I was craving olives the other day and threw these guys in the mix and they were left over, ate the good stuff first, lol)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta seasoning
  • 1 big bunch young and tender asparagus drizzled with olive oil and salt, roasted at 450 for 20 minutes
  • some unsalted butter, for sauteing the ravioli
  • 1 jar good Vodka sauce
  • some mint leaves, (optional)
Combine the cauliflower, ricotta cheese, garlic cloves, Vegeta seasoning (if none on hand, that's okay just use a good all-purpose seasoning that you like) and the poppy seeds. Stir well incorporating everything. Start making your raviolis! Take a won ton wrapper, add a tablespoon of filling in the center, dip your finger in water and draw a line around the edges and top with another won ton wrapper and seal closed.

Set up your ravioli station with a few large plates, one for the just made ravioli, one for the cooked ravioli. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Throw in about 2 at a time into the boiling water. They cook very quickly, they are done when they rise to the top. Scoop them out with a drainer spoon. Make sure they don't touch each other, because they do stick. On medium heat, melt your butter and saute your raviolis, a few at a time. Top with asparagus, vodka sauce and some chopped mint leaves. I loved it with the mint, a fun little surprise! This serves 6 with about 4 raviolis each. Enjoy & Happy Weekend! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gnome Invasion III

All the rain we got must have brought the gnomes! So happy they have come! Awww...his little boots are muddy from all the rain we got in the past few days! All the raindrops brought not only the gnomes but a pet toad for them too! I wonder what they are gonna name him. And they decorated their little house already! I love these guys! Curtains in the windows, so cute! They must have been worried that the rain wouldn't stop though, thinking there might be a flood, they have built little steps bringing the door above ground level! This is incredible, so proactive! And a lantern hanging outside too, they must have a plan B, like an S.O.S system in place. And it looks like they have planted themselves in the jungle, hidden away from danger. Good thinking! These gnomes are awesome! I bet they have some extra flashlights on hand, good thing, just in case I need to borrow one, when the lights go out! Bed Bath & Beyond coupon is missing. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Well anyways, love those blue curtains!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Greek Yogurt with Blackberry Sauce

Greek yogurt is a great substitute for ice cream. I know, it's a bit of a stretch, especially because my favorite part of a perfectly swirled soft serve ice cream cone are the rainbow sprinkles. It's just not the same on Greek yogurt, trust me, I've tried. lol But when topped with a blackberry sauce and pistachio nuts, it really does becomes a sweet treat!
  • (2) 7oz. containers of Greek yogurt
  • 6oz. of blackberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 pinches cinnamon
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a few mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons pistachios, chopped 
In a saucepan, combine the blackberries, water, agave syrup, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and bring to a boil. Add in the lemon juice and a mint leaf chopped. Keep at a simmer on medium heat, uncovered until it reduces into a sauce, about 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on it, because it can burn easily. This makes 2 servings. In each bowl, place a heaping teaspoon of the hot blackberry sauce (it's a nice little surprise on the bottom), top with the Greek yogurt, smooth the surface and make a small well and add another heaping teaspoon of blackberry sauce. Garnish with the pistachio nuts, a few mint leaves and enjoy!

So yummy, the sprinkles won't even be missed ;)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gemelli with Wilted Spring Greens

With effort to eat more salads, I have one of those great big tubs of salad greens in the fridge, and I had a salad or two, but it still felt like a bottomless bowl of greens, that I would never finish. I even tried to reward Daisy with lettuce leaves instead of her usual biscuits, but she gave me a look of disgust as if she was thinking, "What's next? The shelter?" So...I still had them in my fridge, still edible, but too limp and tired for a fresh salad but when combined with pasta, beans and Parmesan cheese, it became a really nice meal.
  • 1 pound box of gemelli pasta
  • 1 can small white beans, rinsed
  • 8 oz. of 50/50 spring mix salad greens
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 small good tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pat unsalted butter
  • good Parmesan cheese
Cook your pasta till al dente, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. In a large saute pan, heat your olive oil and garlic, and saute until soft. Add your tomatoes and beans and heat through, until the tomatoes are soft. Now add your salad greens, a little at a time, stirring until they are wilted, adding more and repeating the process, they wilt quickly. Season the greens with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Add your cooked pasta and butter and stir. Add the reserved pasta water, if needed. Pass around the Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Floral Bouquet

I love making my own floral arrangements. And with it being Mother's Day, this is perfect for mom. My mom  loves carnations, so I wanted to make her a bouquet that would make her smile.

In this bouquet are mini carnations, mini roses, wax flowers and a few irises. I take an empty vase with a three inch opening and begin cutting the flowers down to size, removing any tired looking petals and removing the bottom leaves on the rose stems, as I go along. I keep the flowers at different lengths and trim as I need to, arranging them where they fit, very organically, trimming again, if needed. I used the wax flower as a filler, so I did trim them shorter, and arranged them around the carnations, roses and then I stuck in a few irises, where there were gaps. When done, pull your bouquet out, and wrap with a rubber band to keep it together, and then pick your ribbon, and tie a knot around your bouquet, leaving a three-four inch tail. Begin wrapping your bouquet, covering the rubber band, finally tying a bow on your just-picked-from-the-meadow-looking-bouquet. Mom can use a teaspoon of sugar to keep her bouquet around a little longer. I hope all the moms out there enjoy their day, and feel so special today, as you all truly are.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Raspberry Wine Truffles

Mother's Day is this Sunday, a day to celebrate the moms in our lives, and make them feel extra special. And the one thing that comes to mind, when making someone feel special besides lots of hugs and kisses are truffles. Truffles are just decadent little balls of pure bliss, I love a good truffle. This recipe makes about 2 dozen. Enough for mom and you. ;)

  • 1 pound of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 oz. of heavy cream
  • 2 oz. of raspberry wine, I used Tomasello
  • 3 pinches of ground cinnamon *optional
  • 10 grinds of the black pepper mill *optional
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

In a double-boiler, melt your chocolate, mixing with a spatula occasionally, on high heat. Once melted, slowly add your heavy cream, incorporating it into the melted chocolate, (still over high heat). Add your wine in and mix it in thoroughly. At this point, you can mix in your cinnamon and ground pepper. Take it off the heat slowly, and pour it into a bowl, cover it and put it into the fridge to set. (I left it in overnight). Keep in mind, once you are ready to make your truffles, you want to bring the chocolate up to room temperature (an hour or two is good). And set up a little station for yourself, the bowl of chocolate, a plate with your unsweetened cocoa, and a plate for the ready made ones. I used a 1-1/4 inch cookie dough scoop to form the truffles, forming them and setting them aside. You get a little arm work-out in, lol  Then between your hands, roll your scooped chocolate into a tight ball, it's a messy process, but a delicious one. Then roll your truffles, a few at a time into the unsweetened cocoa, shaking off the excess cocoa powder. And now the most important step, enjoying them...

My Dirty Cookbook

I know it looks pretty clean on the outside, the only reason being that I lovingly covered it in craft paper when I got it, to protect it. But on the inside, you'll find some food stained pages. The edges of the book also stained in some evidence, of recipe creation. It's okay if your cookbooks are dirty, it means they've been enjoyed. I remember making a prime rib roast (pg.649), reading through the precision of it, so excited when it came out just right for the holidays. And making Sauerbraten (pg.668) reading, and re-reading the steps. Wrinkling the pages with my sweaty palms of excitement and anticipation, making sure I was following it right, while nibbling on a ginger snap cookie. Wow, that is a great recipe! Salmon Fillets Roasted in Butter (pg. 551) was another classic recipe I made, no matter how many times I made it, I would forget the temperature, having to look in the cookbook once more, probably spreading some butter on that page in the process somehow, lol. Artichokes (pgs. 339-40) fascinated me. But I didn't know how to trim them, following step by step, gave me my first cooked artichoke, and my love for them. Flan (pg.1015) I can't forget the flan, it made so many people smile! And so, many years later, the brown cover has been removed, it doesn't need to be protected anymore. It needs to be revealed, knowing that if it gets a little dirtier, it's okay. It's telling a few more stories of meals and memories shared. What's your dirty cookbook?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Breakfast for Breakfast or for Dinner

I was never a breakfast loving person, except for the one Sunday morning, I convinced my mom to put bacon in the pancake mix. Then, I loved breakfast, but it was short lived, going back to cereal pretty quickly. But I tried to avoid it like the plague. lol Little by little, I began to enjoy breakfast on early Sunday mornings. Then going to a small breakfast spot in San Francisco going years back, changed everything. It was a savory, honey butter on homemade buttermilk biscuits, chicken sausages with grits, rosemary was somewhere on the menu, type of breakfast place. It was a meal-meal. Eggs were celebrated in a way, I have never experienced before. I wish I knew the name of the place, so I could share it, but to my dismay, I don't remember, just knowing it was in the Tenderloin area. OK! So I called the hotel I stayed at years ago and after a little research, I found out it's Dottie's True Blue Cafe just outside the Tenderloin area. They did end up moving, they are located at 28 Sixth St. between Market and Mission. Plan B was going to be like a good basset hound wondering around, letting my nose lead the way to delicious breakfast aromas, hoping I would find it again, lol. Plan A is much easier! That breakfast I had that day could have been a meal, and that's when eggs have made their way into my dinnertime meals. So this dish could be enjoyed for breakfast or dinner.

  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices bacon, (for a healthier version, you can use turkey bacon)
  • 2 slices of polenta, (the ready made type found in the Italian section or in the produce department, looks like a tube)
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes, cut into eighths,
  • 4 leaves of basil, chopped
  • Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • mayonnaise, about a tablespoon or so

Cut your bacon slices in half and fry them up in a non-stick pan. Drain them on a paper towel. Fry your polenta slices in the same pan, till crispy. Set it aside. Fry your egg the way you like, I like it over-easy, so the yolk becomes a sauce once it blends with the sauteed tomatoes, basil and Sriacha mayo. In a separate pan, saute your tomatoes in a little olive oil and once they are soft, stir in your basil. In a small bowl, stir your mayo with as much Sriracha sauce as you like, add more if needed. Now you are ready to assemble your dish. Place your polenta slices down, arrange the bacon around them, top with your egg, tomato basil sauce and drizzle with the Sriracha mayo. Enjoy!

I took an already enjoyed Sriracha sauce container and added mayo & more sauce, for convenience, when needing it on a sandwich. The one on the right, is in its' most purest form, my current condiment obsession.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hot Stove

I like to accessorize my stove. lol I compare my black stove to the little black dress, needing the right accessories to make it look just right. Sometimes the kitchen towels I get are new, sometimes old. Kind of like accessories for your black dress, you can go out an get a new necklace or an find a vintage ring you love, or both, making your black dress complete. Like the little black stove, needing a little help to make it shine.

star burst towel-West Elm, orange towel-Target

Monday, May 7, 2012

Grilled Belgian Endive Salad with Cilantro

After the bacon & margarita, a girl needs a salad, lol. And I love Belgian endive, I think they are just beautiful. But they can be a little bitter, so I decided to grill them. Dowsing them with olive oil cuts the bitterness, and grilling it mellows them out, transforming them into layers of smoky, oily deliciousness on a plate. Enjoy! :)

  • 4 heads of Belgian endive, heavy for their size, leaves tightly packed
  • 4 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • olive oil, and 1/3 cup reserved for dressing
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime

Cut your endive heads in half lengthwise, and drizzle with olive oil and top with salt. Grill cut side down for about 5 minutes, so there are some nice grill marks, I had the heat on high. When your endive is done, remove from the grill, and make your dressing. Combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave syrup, lime juice and a little salt (I was tempted to add tequila, lol). Stir in your cilantro. It will be very thick dressing. Arrange your endive lettuces on a plate and top with your radish slices. Drizzle your salad with the dressing, and additional olive oil. This serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course. It is complete with some poached shrimp, adding some sweetness to the salad.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Faithful Margarita

It's Cinco de Mayo! A celebration of victory! According to Wikipedia, this battle "was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years." Despite the odds, Mexico won!  Today tortilla chips, salsa and margaritas are polished off and downed, in this days' observance. I'm enjoying a margarita in honor of Mexico's victorious history while taking in some positive thoughts for the future. The faith that the Mexican army had, was greater than they were in number, and I think that is what bought them to victory. I'm taking this night to ponder on great faith and miraculous outcomes. Cheers to that!

  • 2 oz. Tequila
  • 2oz. Pear Liqueur
  • 4 oz. ginger ale
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 3 raspberries, smashed with a fork
  • salt flakes

Combine all the ingredients, except for the salt. Sometimes I like my drinks "chunky" lol, but if you don't, you can omit the raspberries. Run the rim of the margarita glass with the lime and dip in the salt flakes. Pour your drink into the glass, and let the deep thoughts of faith and victory flow.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bacon with Chocolate & Wasabi Peas

I know, it feels wrong but tastes right, in a wrong sort of way, lol. But that's bacon for you. It's Friday night and this is perfect for a little indulgence. Hoping you have all the ingredients in your kitchen. :)

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon
  • about 4 ounces of milk chocolate
  • 1/4 cup wasabi peas, crushed
  • lightly salted peanuts, chopped

Cut your bacon slices in half and fry them up so they are crisp or to your liking. Drain them on paper towels, so they are dry. In a double broiler melt your chocolate. Now the dipping begins! Dip your bacon slices into the chocolate, and sprinkle with the crushed wasabi peas and some with the chopped peanuts. Put your little bacon bites in the fridge so they set, but serve at room temperature for the best flavor. The peanuts were an afterthought, so I only did a few, but it's a relief for anyone that isn't crazy about wasabi peas. Enjoy and happy weekend! :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Praying while Washing the Dishes

I love this pair of (I think) men, praying. I know they are praying because it is the way I would hold my hands together in prayer when I was a little girl. I was drawn to the smiles on their faces, I had to bring them home with me. Growing up with the belief that prayer was a very serious matter, there were no smiles. You prayed for forgiveness, or for a loved ones' health to improve, for a blessing. It was a solemn act, to show your pearly whites was an issue. I will never forget the giggle fit, I had with my friend in church, while praying. (I think I was ten at the time and I don't even know what started it) We could not stop, it was the type of giggle fit that you stopped breathing, and when you did find your breath it was a loud inhale of relief (that everyone heard, and gave you a dirty look for lol). My mom silent, although her lips turned up a little, like she was gonna laugh, the priest didn't. And so the association of smiling with prayer was non-existent. My belly hurt, along with my cheeks, I was happy. I felt connected to God, why was it bad? And so, as I've grown older, I have prayed formally, the way I was taught, (no giggling, serious introspection). And slowly evolving to conversations, less formal, more often, connected meditations to God. And that is what prayer truly is, the connection you have with God. And with today being National Prayer Day, I wanted to share my little hook that hangs rosaries off of it, that lives in the kitchen. A reminder that God is everywhere and every connection is meaningful, even if it is just a few words of gratitude while washing the dishes. That every act that makes you a better person for this world, is an act of prayer, a connection to God.

Salty Garlic Clams

I had dinner plans tonight, but they got cancelled. (deflated sigh) I had my meal planned already, lol An appetizer of Mussels Josephine as my entree with a seltzer and lemon, no bread. I saved my calorie intake for the day to really enjoy my mussels. And so my taste buds were anticipating a salty shellfish dish, and they didn't let up, so I made a salty clam dish to substitute. I've made this before, and I feel I need to put a disclaimer out there. This is a supreme trinity of salt, clams and garlic. I used cherrystone clams which are saltier vs. littleneck, which are sweeter, so if you prefer littleneck, use 2 dozen. The dish, not shy with any of its' flavors, all of them bold and representing themselves equally. The briny saltiness of the clams marries beautifully with the sweet tomato wine sauce. So if you are craving a salty, slightly sweet garlicky clam dish, this one is for you.

  • 1 dozen cherrystone clams, scrubbed clean
  • 9 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Moscato wine
  • 1/3 cup good marinara sauce, I used Victoria's

On low heat combine the olive oil and garlic. The secret to cooking garlic so it doesn't burn, is low heat, and lots of stirring. Cook the garlic for 10 minutes. Add your wine and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Bring the heat up to medium/high and add your butter and clams till they pop open, about 15 minutes. Serve with some crusty bread, to soak up all the salty clam broth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gnome Invasion II

Another gnome has moved in, and a really stylish one too! He must be of a more modern generation of gnomes though, no red cap? And really brightly dressed! How did he know turquoise is is in? I almost love his outfit, such bold colors on such a dreary sorts of day, cloudy and rainy. It must have been a long journey for him, he's sleeping already. I hope he gets up soon, I have to ask him where he got his cool boots! ;)

I love the slate steps!

What a cool gnome, he matched his cap to his mushroom!