Friday, June 29, 2012

Gnome in the House!

I had a dream that there was a gnome in the house! He was running around the living room, giggling. I didn't know what it meant, until now, he just wanted to come in! So I had to make him a home and I knew exactly what would make him happy. I walked into a west elm store the other day and did I leave inspired! I always do though, it's such a cool place! And among all the coolness, they had air plants. "Tillandsia" was just hanging out and I had to know more about her. One of the nice and knowledgeable people that work there, explained to me that they don't have root systems and are actually parasites! They need a little mist, here and there. Sounds good to me, a plant that can take care of itself! lol. There was also a great book about these awesome little terrarium worlds by twigterrariums, great book to have on your coffee table. You can check out them out at for some great inspiration! West elm also has a great how to guide for terrariums along with cool glass terraium containers that you can check out at I thought it would be fun to combine the the two worlds, the mossiness of the terrarium and the air plant just hanging out. The curls of the leaves rest on the edge of the glass securely. To happy terrarium making! :)

 This is what you need to get this gnome house:
  • 1 clear glass cylinder, 6x6
  • 2 pounds of decorative sand, I used terra cotta color
  • about an inch of terrarium potting mix or sterilized potting mix
  • moss top layer
  • 1 Tillandsia air plant
  • 1 happy gnome
  • 1 mushroom
Start layering your cylinder with the sand or you can use decorative rocks or both. Followed by the potting mix on top of the sand or rocks. Lastly by the moss on top of the potting mix. I just went into the yard and scooped up some moss from the lawn but they do sell little mossy pots at garden nurseries, meant to creep between stone paths. Drape your air plant over the side of the cylinder, the bottom doesn't have to touch the moss, it can just hang out and invite your little gnome in! ;)

He's napping already! :) Tillandsia needs bright light but not direct sunlight. Mist to water twice weekly. Protect from frost.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flowering Artichoke

Nature makes me happy and I try to bring it indoors as much as I can. I love having flowers in our bedroom but keeping up with a fresh bouquet can get a little pricey. I've tried potted plants and they just don't get enough sunshine. So I found a great solution, filler greens! For the amazing price of $5. And they last such a long time, as long as you change the water daily. It's not so much a traditional bouquet of flowers but the greenery is refreshing. The bright green of the leaves and the twisting of the curly willow enlivens our space of rest and relaxation. I usually just have them by themselves but I stopped by the florist and I was in the mood for something exciting and trilling. And she brought out these beauties, flowering artichoke. I thought they were so gorgeous and a huge plus, they last a long time! Grab a vase, fill it with water and let the leaves loose, as they relax in the vase, while you do the same in your bed. To happy bedrooms! :)

Grilled Chicken & Carrots with Sweet Parsley Sauce

In the winter, when there is a chill in the air that I can't quite shake, I make a roasted chicken. The oven heats up the house, making it warm and toasty and a good meal always soothes the soul. But putting the oven on didn't seem like a good idea, as the sun was hot, the birds were singing and the grass was greener than ever but I was still in the mood for a nice chicken. Cooking the chicken on the stove and later grilling it is a great substitute for roasted chicken in the summertime, it comes out nice and juicy. Over the weekend, we went to a farmers' market and we found the most beautiful bunch of parsley and carrots. I knew right away that I wanted to make a parsley sauce and grill the carrots along with the chicken. Nice enough for company or great for leftovers!

  • 1 4-5 pound chicken, cut into quarters
  • 1 bunch of carrots, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Vegeta or any all-purpose seasoning you like
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 6 Kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive juice from the jar
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 peppadew, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fig marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh ground pepper

Cut up your chicken into quarters and place into a Dutch oven and cover with water. Salt it and bring it to a boil. Cook your chicken for 1 hour on low heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top of the pot. Combine all of the ingredients for the parsley sauce and let it sit so the flavors mingle while the chicken is cooking. Once your chicken is done, carefully remove it from the broth. You can add some veggies and make a nice broth that you can enjoy or freeze for later use. Heat your grill to 500 degrees and drizzle olive oil on your chicken and carrots and season with Vegeta or all-purpose seasoning. Place your chicken on the grill, so you get some nice grill marks, it doesn't take long at all, about 5 minutes per side. Same with the carrots. Once your chicken and carrots are done, take them off the grill and serve with the parsley sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Knock Knock

Old doors and fun doorknockers put a smile on my face. The chipping paint, giving the door a two-tone color. No matter what paint technique you give it, it can't compete with the years that pass by, perfecting it. We have one by default, as the house hasn't been painted in years and it needs it. And we finally started. It's a slow process, as part of me loved the chipping paint. But as the fresh coat sets in and I'm getting used to it, the old door, that I love, needs a new coat too. Part of me is excited and I'm deciding between a few fun colors. Life is short, sometimes you need to live out loud, and the door is going to be part of it. In time, it will age itself and the paint will chip away, as hopefully, wonderful memories are made inside.

This door knocker is available in a rust color at, along with other cool door knockers and other fun stuff

Monday, June 25, 2012

String Beans & Pennoni

There was about a month that my mom went through a string bean phase. She made them every possible way that she could with tomatoes. Sometimes she put extra onions and garlic, other times lots of dill or parsley. She left them whole, other times she trimmed them short. Sometimes fresh tomatoes were used instead of jarred marinara sauce. I would barely finished the first batch and there was already a call that the next batch was ready. And she always said they were better than the last. lol. I ate alot of string beans, lol. And would remix the recipe sometimes, including a not so tasty string bean salad but mixing it with pasta was the best. And I found myself craving it the other day, and I think once you try it, you may too!

  • 1 pound string beans, trimmed to the size of the pennoni, cut at an angle
  • 1/2 pound pennoni, if you can't find pennoni, ziti is a great substitute
  • 1/2 a small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups good jarred marinara sauce
  • 1 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese *optional
  • chopped fresh dill, parsley or basil to garnish, whatever you are in the mood for. *optional

Bring enough water to a boil for the pasta and string beans. This is great to make if you are busy and want a quick home cooked meal. Once your water comes to a boil, add your pasta, string beans, a little olive oil and salt. What's great is they cook at the same time. In a separate pan, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil on low heat. Once they are transparent, add the mariana sauce and bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Once your pasta is al dente, drain and toss with your marinara sauce. Divide among your plates. This makes about 4 generous servings. Top with about 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese and some fresh chopped herb. I used parsley because I found a beautiful bunch at the farmers' market that I couldn't resist. ;) Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grilled Porgy with Mustard Cream

What caught my attention was $2.49 a pound. Wild Caught!?! What year am I in? That was the price in 1999! I wasn't asking any questions, it looked fresh, I was buying with excitement. Porgy isn't a stranger to me but a long lost friend. I haven't had it in over ten years, at least. And it's such a tasty fish too! It's been way too long but it does require patience. There are many bones but it is well worth the effort. So plan to make this on a lazy Saturday or Sunday evening, where you can sip wine, dip some good bread in the fishy butter sauce while you ever so slowly pick the delicate fish off the bone. Happy lazy weekend! ;)

  • 2 whole porgies, cleaned
  • 2 pats of unsalted butter
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • pinch of mustard powder
  • pinch of curry powder
  • a few splashes of Maggi seasoning, if you don't have Maggi don't worry, soy sauce is a great substitute
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • a few capers
  • a few leaves of fresh parsley

Take a flat cast iron pan and line it with a few sheets of aluminum foil and cup it at the ends so it catches the juices. This is only for an easy clean up, all of your effort will go towards picking the fish and drinking wine. ;) Drizzle a little olive oil on the foil along with salt and pepper. Place your fish down and each fish gets a pat of butter. Break up your butter putting a little inside the fish some outside, top with salt and pepper. Heat your grill up to about 550 degrees. Place your pan on the grill and close the grill cover. Ten minutes and your fish is done. In the meantime, combine the sour cream, heavy cream, mustard, mustard powder, curry powder, Maggi and ground pepper. Taste and season accordingly. Once your fish is done, top with capers. I used the ones that are packed in salt. So good with the butter! Top with a little parsley and serve with good bread. This serves 2. *Be careful when eating your fish, there are a lot of bones.* Enjoy!

This mustard cream is delcious, spread a little on your bread, top with  flakes of fish and a caper or two, almost heaven.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Lime juice drenched fish topped with lots of cilantro cools you down, on a hot summer day. Temperatures are sweltering and the idea of putting the stove or grill on is making me sweat. The first time I had this, I fell in love, it's so refreshing. And it's so simple to make too. My best friend from high school is from Peru and I was obsessed with how to make this, I had to know. She explained to me that the fish gets "cooked" by the lime juice. I couldn't believe it, so simple and delicious. And ever since I had that first bite of ceviche, it became a favorite of mine at Peruvian restaurants, especially when topped with a spicy green sauce and washed down with a blue corn drink. Craveable! Stay cool and enjoy!

  • 1 pound tilapia
  • 2 cooked ears of corn, trimmed and cut into fourths
  • a few cooked potatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 7 limes
  • sea salt
  • cilantro
Cut your tilapia down the middle of each fillet, and then at a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick. I just follow the lines on the fish, a natural ruler, lol. Put your fish in a glass pan or bowl and salt it. I like to use a flat pan to ensure every piece of fish gets lime juice coverage. :) Juice your limes, make sure that you pick juicy limes, that "give" a little when you squeeze them. Cover your fish with the lime juice. Put your sliced onion in a small bowl and cover with hot water, let it sit five minutes, rinse with cold water and add to your fish. Refrigerate for about 3 hours, once the thickest piece is opaque, your fish is ready to eat. While your fish is "cooking" you can cook your corn and potatoes and let them cool. Assemble your ceviche, topping with lots of cilantro.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cream of Pickle Soup

Happy first day of summer! I know! I know! Soup? First day of summer? "Shouldn't you be posting about ice cream or something?" I know what you're thinking. But I promise you, this soup is so refreshing on a hot summer day. My mom usually made this on Fridays in the summer, I loved it! Did I love coming home to a pickle jar in the fridge and potatoes in the sink, ready to be peeled! I knew we were having pickle soup for dinner. It was such a treat. I changed the recipe a little, she keeps pieces of pickle and potato and used sour cream to thicken the soup. And we ate it hot! But I always managed to have some the next day, straight from the fridge, nice and cold. It always tasted better the next day! To cool thoughts and a happy summer! :)

  • 32 oz. organic chicken broth
  • 1 pat of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1 cup tightly packed grated baby dill pickles
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice from the jar
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped creamy type of potato like Yukon Gold
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 oz  heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill plus more for the garnish

In a Dutch oven, on low heat, melt your butter and add your shallot. You want to stir often so it doesn't brown. You want your shallot translucent. Add your chicken stock, pickles, pickle juice, potato and bay leaf to your pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once you have a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until your potatoes are soft. Once your potatoes are soft, remove the bay leaf. Carefully move your pot off the stove and blend your soup with a hand blender. Once your soup is smooth, heat on low heat and whisk in your heavy cream. Add in your chopped dill and heat for about five minutes, until warmed through. Garnish with chopped dill and pickles slices. You can enjoy your soup hot, but room temperature is best, either way it's delicious! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mango Cucumber Cocktail

Nighttime summer drinks are the best. A cool drink in hand, as you look up at the stars, making a wish on the first one you lay your eyes on. The cool breeze brushing against your bare arms, a mosquito passing through takes a bite, ahhh...summertime. I will take the summer over the winter any day, those pesky bugs included. Good laughs and something simple being grilled. A lightening bug passing through to illuminate the darkness.The simpleness of summer is beautiful. I think this is a nice drink to enjoy on a summer night. Cheers!

  • 8 oz. mango juice, or smoothie type juice
  • 2 oz. cucumber vodka
  • 4 oz. seltzer
  • a slice of cucumber for decoration
  • mint leaf, ripped into small pieces

In a glass, combine the mango juice, cucumber vodka and the seltzer. Cut a slit in your cucumber slice and put it on your glass. Now run the outer rim of the glass with a little seltzer and "paste" your ripped mint leaves on the glass. If you aren't a mint fan, you can always leave it out. This makes enough for one. You can also multiply this for a pitcher. It would be great with some chopped cucumber and mint leaves floating around in it! Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Avocado Egg Breakfast

Ohhh...this is great if you want a hearty breakfast and you love avocados. It's really good together. The yolk of the egg swimming in the hollow of the avocado. Perfect combined with little bites of breakfast sausage and mushrooms covered in a thick tomato sauce. And I don't know about you but English muffins make me happy, lol. The nooks and crannies filled with eggy avocado goodness is a good start to the day. I know it's only Monday, lol but this is great on an easy Sunday morning. Something really yummy to look forward to. :)

  • 1 avocado, halved with the pit removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 breakfast sausages, casings removed
  • 4 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 English muffins, toasted
  • 2 pats of unsalted butter
  • fresh ground pepper

Add your sausages to your pan, breaking them up. Once they cooked through for the most part, add in your mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they are lightly browned. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook on low heat until the liquids of the tomato release. Once they do, increase the heat to medium and let the liquids evaporate and thicken. Once it's thickened, you can set it aside. Next, remove your avocado half in one piece, gently run a big spoon in between the skin and the avocado. Once it's loose you can scoop it out in one piece and place your avocado halves on your plates. Heat up your pat of unsalted butter until it's sizzling. Break your egg into the butter until it's set. I always salt it. Maybe it's my imagination but the yolk always breaks when I try to flip it, without salting the egg yolk. Then flip your egg until it's set on the other side and it's done over easy. Take a spatula and remove the egg and place it over the avocado half, with the yolk part sitting in the hollow of the avocado. Repeat with your second egg. Toast your English muffins and place them on your plate, add the sausage and mushroom saute and top with fresh ground pepper. This makes 2 servings. Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bolognese Pasta Bake

This is perfect if you are making a nice dinner at home to celebrate the special men in your life on Father's Day, whether they be your own dad, father to your babies, hubby or just an awesome guy. This dish takes some time to make but it is well worth the effort. Give the guys a day off from the grill, not that the gals can't grill! That reminds me of the time my husband told his whole family how great my steaks are! We piled the steaks on the grill and of course, I was so happy to be surrounded by my family, I kinda forgot about the steaks. Oh yeah, you guessed it. They were as burnt as toast! We all scraped at our burnt steaks making a special music together, the scraping done in unison, lol. The steaks were tough, similar to beef jerky, extra burnt flavor added, lol. So...if you are a looking for that comfort food to comfort the special men in your lives, this is a great dish to make minus heating up the charcoal! ;)

  • 1 pound good ground pork
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots. finely grated
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 28 oz. can crushed peeled Italian plum tomatoes, if the tomatoes pieces are too big you can crush by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • a few grates of fresh cinnamon
  • about 3 small dried mushrooms
  • 1 allspice ball
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta, or any all-purpose seasoning that you like
  • 1 pound of fun pasta, I used dischi, shells and rotini are great, any pasta that will "hug" your sauce and cheese
  • 2 pound container part skim ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, heat your oil on low heat, add in your shallots and garlic. You want to watch this, don't neglect it, the way I neglected the grill, lol. Stir often, you don't want this to burn. And if any piece does burn discard it, it ruins the sauce. Low and slow is the secret to sweating the shallots and garlic. Once the shallots and garlic are translucent add your ground pork, breaking it up. You don't want to brown the pork just cook it through. Add in your can of tomatoes, bay leaf, a little nutmeg and cinnamon (just a touch), dried mushrooms and the allspice ball. Cook covered for one hour and fifteen minutes on low heat. Stir often so it doesn't burn. Remove the bay leaf, allspice, mushrooms and discard and add in 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Taste your sauce and add seasoning if you need to. Cook your pasta, on the slightly under done side, it will continue cooking in the oven. Add a tablespoon of unsalted butter to your pasta. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Take half the sauce and spread evenly in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Spread half the pasta (3 cups) evenly on top. Spoon half the ricotta cheese (2 cups) on top of the pasta. The trick to good cheese coverage is using a small spoon. And then using a spatula to spread it out evenly. Follow by layers of the remaining sauce, the rest of the pasta and the cheese. On top of your ricotta cheese you want to grate the Parmesan cheese. Grate it fine and cover every inch of the pan, the best part, crunchy cheesy topping. Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, keep an eye on it and add more time if it isn't as brown as you like. Pair this up with a green salad and dinner is served. Enjoy!

What a beautiful carb!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bloody Mary Clams

It's been hot lately! And a light dinner is all you need sometimes. If you are a raw clam enthusiast, I think you will really like this! This is such a fun dish! Open some clams up and start this party! Enjoy and have fun getting messy! :)

  • about 6 cherrystone clams per person but get some extra, they are delicious! Scrub them clean. You can also use little neck clams.
  • celery leaves
  • 2 small tomatoes or more
  • lime wedges
  • lemon wedges
  • grated horseradish
  • a good hot sauce that you like
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • some peppadews, cut up
  • pimento stuffed olives, sliced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Old Bay Seasoning or any spicy seafood seasoning that you like

Open up your clams! I usually try opening them up, straight on, if that doesn't work I aim towards the belly. If it's your first time, do it with someone that can show you. If the clam shell breaks, don't worry about it, practice makes perfect. Hold your knife blade in between the clam lips securely. You will feel it locked into that tiny wedge. Cup your hand around the clam with the tips of your fingers hugging the knife. Your fingertips and palm will push together forcing the knife into the clam. Once your knife is in the clam, you are almost there. Run your knife to the right, to unlock the clam, it will release and your clam is now open! Just run your knife under the clam releasing all of the meat, including the muscles. Try not to lose any clam juice as it's part of this dishes' deliciousness!

You can also use a towel to hold your clam in place and to protect your hand.

Arrange your clams and place a celery leaf on each one. Take your tomatoes and halve them. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and liquid and place a little on each clam. You can set aside the rest of the tomato and use for another purpose. (Great sauteed in a little olive oil and garlic, topping pasta with it. Or used in a salad or in your morning eggs.) Top each clam with a little Worcestershire sauce. Around your clams, arrange some chopped peppadews, olives, the wedges of lime and lemon, all the sauces and seasonings. Putting the hot sauces and horseradish into shot glasses or mini wine glasses adds to the fun. Vodka is optional! ;)

Mmmm...topped with lots of lime juice and fresh ground pepper and a little Sriracha sauce.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chickpea Patties with Red Pepper Yogurt Sauce

I love brown rice farina! And thought how delicious would it be as a pattie? So I combined it with chickpeas and it became a really tasty little meatless pattie. They look just like chicken nuggets and if you have kids, I think they will really like them, especially if you make the red pepper "fancy" sauce to go with them. This would be great for lunch or if you are in the mood to try something new. Enjoy!
  • 1 can 15.5 oz. chickpeas, rinsed and the outer skin of chickpea removed.
  • 1/2 cup brown rice farina, (Bob's Red Mill makes it or if you go to a health food store they may carry it loose)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • paprika
  • celery seed
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vegeta, or any all-purpose seasoning you like
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, cooled and peeled
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 5 capers, rinsed
  • fresh ground pepper
  • raw walnut halves
  • cucumber slices
  • kalamata olives
  • canola oil
Cook the brown rice farina according to the package and set it aside so it cools a little. Mash your chickpeas, removing the outer skin sounds time consuming but it's not that bad, kind of meditative, lol. Add your brown rice cereal, panko bread crumbs, Vegeta, paprika, celery seed, and nutmeg to taste. I used a lot of paprika and a sprinkling of celery seed and a grating of fresh nutmeg. Add in your egg and combine well. With a hand blender, combine the yogurt, roasted red pepper, capers and fresh pepper and set aside. In a skillet, heat up your canola oil. Make sure the oil is hot before you drop in your chickpea mixture. Keep the oil at medium heat and drop in your chickpea mixture, a teaspoon at a time. They brown quickly, once brown, flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels. This recipe makes about 16 patties and best served hot. Arrange your little platter adding in the cucumber slices, walnuts and olives. They are great if you pile your little patties with the yogurt sauce and then top with walnuts and olives. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pantry Potato Salad

I usually have some goodies stocked in the cupboard like olives, anchovies, marinated artichoke hearts, lots of beans, pasta, salty capers and olive oil. It's great to have it on hand because in a pinch you can throw together a quick bean salad or a nice, salty anchovy pasta dish. This rustic potato salad is nice to serve with buttery grilled fish and crusty bread to soak up all of the olive oil dressing and any juices from the fish.

  • 2 cups of cooked fingerling potatoes, about 10, assorted sizes.
  • 1 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup halved black olives
  • 1 2 oz. can anchovies rolled with capers, roughly chopped, feel for any bones and remove
  • 2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper

Cut your potatoes at a diagonal, about an inch wide and add them to a bowl. Feel free to use any kind of potatoes you have on hand. Add your drained artichoke hearts, a little of the liquid, olives, anchovies, onion and parsley. Mix your olive oil, apple cider vinegar and ground black pepper. Mix your salad with the dressing and let it sit at room temperature for a while so the flavors intermingle together. Enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Bunch of Necklaces

I found this cool cardboard mannequin at a garage sale for 50 cents. I couldn't believe it! I handed over my two quarters and wedged her under my arm. I may have done a little skip on the way to the car, I was excited! She sat on my dresser, (unstably) for a while, little by little collecting my necklaces. She has some bruises on her. She has fallen over so many times ending with a bunch of necklaces on the floor, at times, sadly tangled. It may have been the umpteenth time that she fell over, when I saw another solution. Hanging her up from the ceiling! With the help of my hubby, we rigged together a coat rack and the mannequin! And I think it looks great! I've always let design reign over function but with a little effort, you can have both! Happy Decorating!

We first pulled the coat rack through the center of the mannequin, she already had a center so it was easier. Then we drilled into her back so the coat rack and Nellie would be secure. Then we screwed in an eye screw with ring to the top of the coat rack. We then attached a flat hook (the two screws really makes a difference in holding its' weight) to the ceiling. Make sure that it can handle the weight. We then used brass snap hooks to link the two together and the necklaces are easier that ever to get to, without falling over.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Turkey Soup With a Side of Wings

A summer cold has found me. And this means one thing, it's soup making time. As odd as it sounds, I loved the days when my mom made soup especially late in a summer day. Walking into the kitchen, my bare feet hitting the cool linoleum floor while the apartment was sweltering from the hot stove. Asking if it's done yet, lol. I actually made this last weekend because I wanted to try making grilled turkey wings and it came out great! So with this recipe you get two for the price of one, a delicious soup and grilled turkey wings which I'm sure once you try, will become a favorite at your barbecue.

  • 2 turkey wings, cut at the joints
  • 3 celery stalks, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces and then cut in half again
  • 6 scallions, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Vegeta or any all-purpose seasoning that you like

In a large Dutch oven, place your wings, bay leaf and cover with water, leaving about an inch and a half to the top of the lid. Separating the wings at the joints becomes easier with practice, usually I feel where the joints meet and wedge my knife, a sharp knife is key and carefully cut in between the joints, feeling as I go along. If you are apprehensive ask the butcher and I'm pretty sure they will do it for you with no problem. Cover and bring to a boil occasionally skimming the surface of the stock. Reduce the heat and cook for an hour. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the turkey wings and set aside to grill. To your stock add the celery, carrots, scallions, garlic and Vegeta. Let this simmer for 20 minutes. Add your chopped parsley, stir and you are ready to enjoy your soup. If you want to skim the extra fat from your soup just let it come to room temperature and then put it in the fridge. The next morning you can see all of the fat come to the surface and remove it. On the side you can make any kind of starch to add to your soup, macaroni, rice or potatoes. Last weekend we added couscous. My mom would usually make macaroni the first night and the second night would make rice or potatoes. But this veggie filled broth is great on it's own.

 To make your grilled wings, brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce or  sprinkle with an all-purpose seasoning. Heat up your grill up to 400 degrees and place your wings on the grill and leave them on for a few minutes per each side so they get some nice grill marks on them. These are really fun and messy to eat so save it for a crowd that isn't afraid to get dirty, lol.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creeping Jenny Isn't So Creepy

The first summer planting my little garden I was so giddy with excitement. I bought all types of seeds, flowers and plants. Growing up in a city, I had a concrete front yard that I would roller skate in. I found roller skates with wooden wheels at a garage sale for $5. That's right, you guessed it. I skated my hearts' content until there was no wood left on those wheels to glide on. Next to the concrete, there were lily of the valley growing in a long dirt patch along side of the house. I would pluck them and inhale their intense aroma, hoping I would have a little garden of my own one day. I don't remember who gave me this wise advice but it's so very true, "Never do anything in the garden the first year you move in". I didn't know that this is more of a shade loving garden, maybe it was common sense because of all the tall trees and the moss on the roof. But I fell in love with daisies, cone flowers and all sorts of gorgeous sun loving plants that unfortunately never made it. The daisies turned ashy as if they were cremating themselves. And so it's been a slow learning process in the garden and I'm still learning. But here are some tips that I can pass along. To save time, money and hope, figure out how much sun you get and then go from there. Ask lots of questions at the garden center that are based on your hopes for your garden and the amount of time you want to spend. The beauty of the garden is the rhythm of it, there is a time for everything and then it passes. I personally like it to be a long growing season. See if your needs match with their needs. I love my flowers to bloom for a long time and for them to almost take care of themselves and that's why Lupine (May 30th's post) makes me a little nervous, I'm not sure how she will behave. My salvia comes back every year bigger and bigger and more beautiful. I love her boldness, taking over, I had to move some plants over this year to make room for her. The hostas never disappoint. I like trusty annuals, dusty millers are one of them. They are great, lasting till the fall, their silvery leaves almost promising the iciness of winter to come. And at last creeping Jenny, how I love thee. And she isn't creepy at all. Her almost chartreuse leaves winding and reaching into the crevices of the rocks, making an intrigue design in itself. She is a beauty to add to your garden!

Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia also known as Goldilocks and Moneywort

 Creeping Jenny is a perennial in zones 3-10. She is a fast grower, tolerating sun to part-shade. (If you have sun she grows little yellow flowers for you). I have her growing around some plants and I do have to tend to them, making sure she doesn't suffocate them, she has a very short root system, very easy to pull up if you need to. And in my experience you don't have to worry about bugs or slugs getting to her. I planted her last year from a 4 inch pot! And she has spread out over about 3 feet and I'm sure she will spread further. Creeping Jenny can creep down tall containers and be used as a ground cover, which I am finding out first hand, lol

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Island Turkey Burger with Plantain Chips

It's summertime and I need an island inspired meal! And this meal transported me to sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and scents of coconut. And it was great, I even felt the hot sun until Daisy started pawing at my leg, she wanted a taste too. My tropical daydream was over as I gave her a little of the sweet Hawaiian bun. She was happy and I was too. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I multiplied it so it's easy to make for a family of four. May happy tropical thoughts be with you!

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup minced Vidalia onion
  • a little zest of lime
  • 4 "Hawaiian" sweet hamburger buns, regular buns will work just fine
  • a few lettuce leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons Island flavored ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • bottled hot sauce
  • 4 green plantains, peeled and cut diagonally about 1/2 inch thick
  • canola oil
  • salt & ground pepper

Combine the turkey, onion, lime zest, a little salt and pepper. Heat your grill and lightly coat your turkey burgers with a little canola oil. Once your grill is hot, about 400 degrees, throw your burgers on and let them grill for about 5 minutes per each side, until they are cooked through. Once done, pull them off the grill and keep them warm. Grill your "Hawaiian" buns until toasty, keep an eye on them as they toast quickly. Heat a nice amount of canola oil on medium heat until hot. Add your plaintain slices and fry them for about 5 minutes on the first side, until lightly brown. Flip them over and fry them for a few more minutes. Drain them on paper towels. On a wood board, one at a time, smash the plaintain until it is thin, about a quarter of an inch. I used the flat side of a meat mallet. I used to make these with my neighbor when we were teenagers. She called these "tostones" and I give her credit for teaching me how to make them. It was so much fun and she even had a cool wooden plaintain smasher to make them. I need to find one, but for now the meat mallet works great! Once all are smashed thin, place them back in the hot oil until they are light brown. Turn them so the other side browns also. Once done, drain them on paper towels, and quickly season them with sea salt. You might want to make a few more, they are addictive, especially when piping hot and freshly salted. Make your island sauce by combining the ketchup and the mayonnaise. You can now assemble your turkey burger. Spread a little sauce on both sides of the buns. Layer your lettuce leaf, turkey burger and avocado. Serve with your plaintain chips. Any extra island sauce is great on the side to dip your plantains in and hot sauce is great on the turkey burger if you are looking for a little extra heat. Grilled pineapple would be a great dessert to end this meal. Enjoy!

Going clockwise starting at the top is plantain no.1 just out of the oil, plaintain no. 2 is just smashed and no.3  is the re-fried plantain freshly salted. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Purple Potato & Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

I LOVE purple potatoes! They are so strikingly beautiful! I'm amazed by nature every time I see them! If you love potatoes, beets, goat cheese and sweet glazed pecans, you'll really enjoy this salad. I made a small simple green salad to go with it, and it is a nice contrast in color and in flavor. Roasted chicken would be great with this also. Enjoy the colors and flavors!

  • 2 beets, cooked and cooled 1 medium and 1 small
  • 2 fingerling potatoes, cooked and cooled, 1 of them purple
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon glazed pecans, crushed
  • salt & ground pepper
  • 1/2 head Boston lettuce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon
Chop the medium sized beet and blend with sour cream and heavy cream. (I used a hand blender.) Season with salt and pepper. Spread on your plate. Roughly chop the small beet and the potatoes and arrange them over the beet dressing. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and the crushed glazed pecans. (I used to make my own using pancake syrup but the ready-made glazed nuts are great and convenient.) Combine the chopped greens, (you don't have to use Boston lettuce, any mild lettuce will do) the dill, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This makes one serving, so you can double, or triple it as you need.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rib Eye Steak with Roquefort Cheese

I feel a little guilty expressing how much I like a grilled rib eye steak especially because I was a vegetarian for three years. It was a great experience because it taught me discipline. I stuck to it 100%, no matter what.  And as far as cooking goes, it teaches you to be open and creative. I have an appreciation for eggplant that I may have not had if I wasn't a vegetarian for some time. It enabled me to create new dishes out of old inspirations. Portabella mushrooms became steaks. Grilled eggplant sandwiches with hummus became a staple and beans were glorified and made delicious. So I don't mind meatless Mondays or Fridays. But nevertheless, I ended my vegetarian days. And enjoy a steak now and then especially when it's paired up with buttery avocado, tart fig sauce and pungent blue cheese. Serve with a mixed greens salad tossed with an olive oil vinaigrette and it's a perfect dinner to share with someone special.

  • 1 or 2 bone-in rib eye steak
  • 1 ripe room temperature avocado, cut into sections
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup fig marmalade
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Roquefort cheese, room temperature

In a sauce pan combine the fig marmalade and the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often. It will begin to thicken and once done, set aside. Heat the grill until it is 500 degrees. Make sure your steak is seasoned with sea salt and pepper and allowed to rest at room temperature. Spread a little olive oil on your steak before you throw it on the grill. Cook your steak however you like it, rare, medium or well-done. This came out medium-rare, about 5 minutes each side. While your steak is resting, assemble your plate. Drizzle olive oil on your avocado and season with salt and pepper. Add your cheese, fig sauce, steak and enjoy! Have a happy weekend everyone! :)