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Pear And Fennel Salad

January 13, 2015
Fennel and pear are wonderful partners and combine beautifully to create this winter-time salad. The paper-thin fennel with a subtle, slightly sweet anise flavor, the bright peppery arugula and the crisp pear make this a perfect side for your comfy entree (braised beef shank?). The immune boosting fennel is a great source of vitamin A, potassium, iron and aids in digestion. Pears are an excellent source of fiber and plenty of vitamin C. Add the nutritional power house, baby spinach, and you have a healthy and delicious salad!
Pear And Fennel Salad
Serves 4-6
2 ripe pears, sliced about ⅛ inch thick
1 small fennel bulb, if you are prepping with a knife try your best to slice very thin (I used a mandolin)
Lemon, a squeeze
Arugula or baby spinach (I used both)
¼ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
Mint leaves, a few to garnish
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
Thinly slice fennel into a small bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil, a small squeeze of lemon, and some salt. Toss and set aside. (this process tenderizes the fennel a bit).
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, toss together the pears, arugula, fennel, most of the blue cheese, and most of the walnuts. Dress the salad, be careful not to overdress! Taste and adjust seasonings again. Assemble on a platter and top with the remaining cheese, walnuts, and mint leaves. Serve.
Adapted from: Love And Lemons


French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

January 4, 2015


Grilled cheese is perfect anytime, but with our first measurable snowfall and a lazy Sunday, grilled cheese seems like a perfect meal. There are so many creative combinations for this ultimate comfort food. With grilled cheese being soup’s best friend …let’s combine the two with this French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich. The nutty, sweet Gruyere pairs perfectly with the caramelized onion. I promise this gooey, savory sandwich will be one of your favorites. Other clever ideas….brie, pear and prosciuttobacon jam, tomato and cheddar…goat cheese and roasted red pepper.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Makes 2
1 large yellow onion- thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sherry or beef stock
4 slices hearty Bread ( I used French)
2 tablespoons butter ( or 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon oil)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

In a large skillet,  heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring to coat. Turn heat down to medium low. Stir occasionally and continue sauteing for about 30 minutes, until the onions caramelize and turn golden brown. Add a pinch of salt, sherry or stock and let the liquid cook off. Remove from pan onions from the pan. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread outer  slices of  bread with softened butter. On two slices, divide and layer shredded Gruyere, top with caramelized onions, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then add the rest of the cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, press together.
Heat 2 butter (or a combination of butter and oil) in the same skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches in the pan and toast, carefully flipping when golden brown and cheese begins to melt. Place in oven to fully melt the cheese.

Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

December 29, 2014















It’s hard for me to believe this was the first time I’ve made spaghetti squash. I’m a lover of the butternut and I’m a lover of the acorn and now you can add spaghetti to the list. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to create a tasty, simple weeknight meal. This little recipe has a sweet Italian flavor with a bit of a kick. Add your favorite chicken, turkey or Italian sausage. For another healthy alternative, toss with shredded kale, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a splash of lemon juice.

Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

Serves 4
1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hot Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.

When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the sausages, turning, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Toss in the squash and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the sausages and sprinkle with parmesan.

Adapted from:  Food Network



Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

December 21, 2014














I’m in planning mode for Christmas Eve dinner. I love the idea of a rich chocolate dessert to put that exclamation point on the evening. On past Eve’s we’ve closed with Creme Brulee, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Chocolate Almond Torte, Chocolate Lava Cake…BUT this finale will take the cake. Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse. Very few ingredients, so make sure all steps are ready to go…. and smooth sailing. Watch carefully as the sugar melts and transforms itself into a smokey, amber caramel (it can go from slightly smokey to burnt quickly). Then just add butter, chocolate, let cool and finish the recipe. The result…a rich, fluffy, decadent dessert. The remainder of the menu is shaping up like this: shrimp cocktail, marinated, seared tuna bites as appetizers (thank you Diamond Seafood), Shredded Sprout and Kale Salad and Lobster Risotto. After reading this to Randy….he fainted!

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4 (large) -6

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Garnish: shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee.

Evenly place the sugar in a wide saucepan. Heat over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently drag the liquefied sugar toward the center. Careful here….sugar will caramelize quickly….don’t let it burn.  Continue cooking, stirring gently, until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep amber color and has a slight burnt smell.

Remove the caramel from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring until caramel and creme are blended.

Once smooth, stir in the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture is cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate, adding in the flaky salt. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites until no white streaks remain. Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a decorative serving bowl, and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of unsweetened whipped creme. The creme cuts the richness of the mousse beautifully.

Garnish with shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee (as shown).

Adapted from: WhiteonRiceCouple   Originally from David Lebovitz ” My Paris Kitchen”




Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere, Baked Eggs, Spinach and Bacon

December 13, 2014



I’m sooo over “the putting a fried egg” on everything!!!  However, eggs on a breakfast pizza makes sense. The original recipe did not include spinach…I like the idea of adding this veggie with Gruyere. Although a successful dish, with my next attempt I will roll the dough free form on a baking sheet with edges slightly turned up to capture all the yummy toppings. The eggs seem to become somewhat free form as they settle into the crevices. Ohhhh…. and the doughy crust is the perfect way to sop up all the delicious cheese and egg.

Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere Cheese, Baked Eggs, Spinach, And Bacon

Serves 4

Crust  (or store-bought)

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon chopped chives


¼ cup Crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup spinach, (chopped, frozen) thaw and squeeze out all liquid

7 bacon slices, cooked until almost crisp (they will continue to cook in the oven)

4 eggs

fresh chives

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer until the a soft dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a tart pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Or buy pre-made pizza dough. (and bake for 10 minutes)

Mix the Crème fraîche, Gruyère and spinach in a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the baked tart shell and then layer the bacon on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Bake the tart for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese, then remove it and carefully crack the eggs on top.

Return it to the oven and bake it for another 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft. If you prefer more well-done yolks, leave the tart in the oven for 2-3 minutes more. The whites will look slightly underdone due to the oils from the cheese, but they will be set.

Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Adapted from: Against All Grain






Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

December 8, 2014
MAKE AHEAD The chicken soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.
Adapted from: Food and Wine/Amanda Johnson



“ShreddedSprout” and Kale Salad

December 3, 2014



This salad may become your go-to during the winter months. It is mine. Hearty, healthy greens in their natural state are the base for this delicious simple meal or side dish. The raw, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts add a nice crunch and stand up well to the bright, citrusy dressing. Add pomegranates to dress it up for the holidays. You can prepare this salad about 30 minutes prior to serving as the kale will soften a bit. DO NOT skip the sauteed almonds…they make the salad!!

 ShreddedSprout and Kale Salad
Serves 6-8
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely shredded with a knife or mandolin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (I used slivered with skins on)
1 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
Pomegranate seeds
Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds and pomegranates.

Adapted from Epicurious








Creamy Parsnip Soup

November 21, 2014



It’s the season of tubers and root vegetables. Parsnips, with their unique rustic flavor, tend to be an under appreciated vegetable. Combining this ivory-colored root veggie with celery, onion, and garlic creates a savory, creamy and slightly sweet soup. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phyto-nutrients, this soup delivers added health benefits as we head into the chilly months ahead.

Creamy Parsnip Soup 

Serves 8-10

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons thyme, minced

2 1/2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 chunks

4 cups  low-sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup milk (if needed)

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, garlic and parsnips cook for about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the parsnips are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Or alternatively, place on a baking sheet and broil for approximately 2 minute until slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a  saucepan. Stir in the cream (and milk, if needed), bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve. Garnish with the prosciutto and thyme leaves.

Adapted from: Food and Wine




White Chicken Chili

November 15, 2014



A Hearty White Chicken Chili with a spicy kick! You can never have too many chili recipes in your arsenal when the temps start to drop. This comforting one-pot meal cooks in under an hour and you have a chili that tastes like it’s been cooking all day. The beauty of a chili, soup or stew is that you can improvise with whatever you have in your pantry. Corn, chopped green chilies and avocados are just a few extras you can add to make it your own.

White Chicken Chili

Serves 4-6

2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Sour cream, for topping
Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping

Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky. Reserve.

Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning. (I added more cumin and chili powder for more of a kick). Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

Adapted from The Neelys





Pumpkin Creme Brulee

November 10, 2014



Do not let this elegant seasonal dessert intimidate you…….it’s easy! Amazing how just a few ingredients can create a dessert that will be your show stopper this holiday. It has the earthiness of the pumpkin, warm notes from the cinnamon and a crunch from the rustic burnt topping. Make it the day before and caramelize the top before serving.

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Serves 8

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups on a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Or preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) DO NOT refrigerate after the tops have been caramelized. Garnish with spiced walnuts or whip creme.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse






Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms

November 1, 2014


This hearty vegetarian dish pairs rich, creamy polenta with a luscious topping of sautéed mushrooms. The Taleggio cheese adds a nutty layer of flavor that marries the earthiness of the mushrooms perfectly. For an entrée, we paired this with a crisp green salad, some crusty bread and an earthy red wine.

 Polenta with Sauteed Mushroom
2 servings  or 4 small sides
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups mixed mushrooms, large ones halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon truffle oil (optional)
Salt and black pepper
2-1/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup polenta (instant or traditional)
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
2-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
4 ounces Taleggio (rind removed), cut into 3/8-inch slices (soft, Italian cheese)
Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add half of the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, or until just cooked; try not to move them much so you get golden brown patches on their surface. Remove from the pan, and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms and oil.
Off the heat, return all the mushrooms to the pan and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil and some salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, then reduce the heat to the minimum and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta is ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny. If you are using instant polenta this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes; with traditional polenta it could take up to 50 minutes (if it seems to dry out, add some more stock or water but just enough to keep it at a thick porridge consistency).
Preheat broiler. When the polenta is ready, stir in the Parmesan, butter, rosemary and half the chervil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the polenta over a heatproof dish and top with the Taleggio. Place under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Remove, top with the mushrooms and their juices, and return to the broiler for a minute to warm.*This makes a nice side dish to accompany grilled meats.
Adapted from  Yotam Ottolenghi: Plenty  IMG_0126IMG_0128IMG_0137


Wilted Greens With Bacon Jam

October 27, 2014


Bacon jam. Sweet, savory, slightly smokey and a bit crunchy. This condiment is a game changer for a multitude of dishes. While I’m posting this to accompany greens (  Thanksgiving??) think of the possibilities…..ultimate grilled cheese, hamburgers, over brie, rosemary focaccia crostini, stuffed dates, quesadillas and on and on and on. While there are lots of versions of this jam out there, I chose this recipe for ease of ingredients. Other additions include coffee, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, etc…This version is quick and easy.

Holly Hill Inn’s Bacon Jam
Makes about 2 cups

1 lb. good-quality bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1/8 cup bourbon
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

Cook bacon in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a good amount of fat has rendered and bacon just starts to turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove bacon, set aside and leave only about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. Add diced onion, turn the heat down to low, and cook together until onion is tender. Add the bacon, bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Simmer until thick, (stirring occasionally) about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until liquid is evaporated. (You may choose to use a food processor at this point…pulse only a few times)  Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze.

Recipe from Ouita Michel

Wilted Greens with Bacon Jam

Serves 4-6

2 lbs. mixed young greens, such as mustard, chard, kale, and spinach
1/4 cup bacon jam 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: red onion, sliced boiled egg

Submerge greens in standing water, remove any large stems, and rip leaves into bite-size pieces if necessary. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high, add bacon jam, and melt. Add greens, turn heat to high, and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

Recipe from Ouita Michel





Orange Olives

October 19, 2014


Eat like a Mediterranean and live longer. OR…I would just like to live longer IN the Mediterranean!! After returning from a visit to Italy, it is clear that the Mediterranean diet is working on those people!! The diet is varied containing nuts, legumes, olives, olive oil, fish, whole grains and red wine. Most of the diet came out of necessity… eating what’s in your backyard and the unaffordability of meat and cheese. The classic diet includes eating olives…..every day!! The benefits of consuming olives or olive oil everyday are huge… they contain valuable amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflamatory nutrients benefiting high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis. Randy and I consumed our fair share of olives over the last few weeks…from olive oil, marinated olives… ohhh and perhaps a martini or two. So….. upon my re-entry I am starting out slowly and while we still have visions of olive and lemon groves on the mind, here is an easy and healthy appetizer to share. Add some fresh parmesan cheese drizzled with aged balsamic and of course a glass of red wine! Godere!!

Orange Olives

Makes 1 pint jar

2 cups brine-cured olives

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated *orange zest

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

Drain olive and tumble into a bowl. Pour in warm water to cover. Soak 15 minutes. Drain. Pat dry.

Roll olives into a medium skillet along with oil, thyme, zest, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic turns fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar. Serve warm or cold.

* I originally made these with lemon zest….in keeping with the lemon groves we visited.  While tasty, I found the orange zest flavor was a better marriage.

Adapted from Bon Appetit







“La Dolce Vita”

October 12, 2014



While I’m gathering my thoughts, unpacking our bags and getting my camera repaired (ughhh) enjoy these pictures taken on a trip to beautiful Italy. A country known to the world as a “living art gallery” filled with art and architectural masterpieces, it’s a visit that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Ahh…but let’s talk Italian cuisine; it’s simple, vibrant, subtle, delicious and diverse. There are many regional variations of cooking throughout Italy, but in general grain foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat. AND the wine…..with vineyards dotting the Tuscan landscape, we enjoyed Chianti Classico, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and many other varietals in a region where Chianti was born. Days filled with touring and ending with a beautiful meal will be forever etched in our memories of traveling to this breathtaking country.

As I get back into the swing of cooking, I will be mindful of my experience and hope to share a few culinary highlights on Shreddedsprout.




























Chicken Cacciatore

September 19, 2014

DSC_0851 Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian comfort food. Cooking this rustic style, hearty dish makes for a perfect meal transitioning into the cooler months. Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Hunt for your favorite version of this dish by adding cremini mushrooms, olives, red wine or other tasty ingredients. I am following the Northern Italian style by adding red pepper, onion, capers and white wine. This recipe is a simple combinations of flavors and perfect for casual entertaining. Serve over polenta or your favorite pasta. Godetevi questo gustoso pasto!

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

*This recipe freezes well…think of doubling and storing in freezer bags.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with basil and serve.

Adapted from Giada Laurentiis





Sweet Corn Soup With Toasted Corn Guacamole

September 11, 2014


Make this soup! A simple, delicious, fresh corn soup with a touch of southwest flavors. The Avocado Salsa has the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with the poblano’s giving it a nice kick. This comfy soup has a creamy texture and is loaded with fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Thanks to Barb, my Canadian girlfriend for the inspiration!

Sweet Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Guacamole
Serves 4
8 ears fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, chopped  (2 medium)
1 poblano pepper, roasted, skin removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lime peel
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse pepper
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco cheese, crumble
Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cobs (should have about 4 cups). Set aside 3/4 cup of the corn for the guacamole. Set aside three of the corn cobs; discard remaining cobs.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the shallots, half of the poblano pepper, and half of the garlic. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and reserved corn cobs to the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove corn cobs and discard, reserve broth in skillet.
Add the 3 1/4 cups corn kernels to the broth in the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Cool slightly. In a blender or food processor combine cooked corn and shallot mixture. Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. Return pureed mixture to the skillet. Slowly whisk in enough remaining broth to reach desired consistency,  heat through. Keep soup warm while preparing guacamole.
For guacamole, in a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the 3/4 cup reserved corn kernels. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until kernels are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
In a medium bowl combine toasted corn, the remaining garlic, the remaining shallot, the remaining poblano pepper, the cilantro, lime peel, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Add the avocado. Lightly toss to combine.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with guacamole and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco cheese.
Adapted from    Better Homes And Gardens

The Original Plum Torte

September 3, 2014
The New York Times published Marian Burros’s recipe for this Plum Torte every September from 1983 until 1995…the most famous recipe ever printed in the NYT. It’s perfect in its simplicity. Only eight ingredients, all of which, except the Italian plums, are most likely in your kitchen. When this torte cooks with the bittersweet plums, the fruit softens and creates a jammy consistency. These plums, also referred to as prune plums or quetche (in France), only appear for a very short time…September and October. While these egg-shaped, purple skinned plums can be eaten raw they are best cooked. Wait (if you can) til the next day to serve….the torte sets up with all the juices creating a beautifully moist, custard-like cake. This iconic cake freezes well so you may want to think…holidays.

The Original Plum Torte
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat over to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar (mix together). Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool.
Once cool, leave it covered at room temperature overnight as this cake really is even better on the second day. Or maybe you can’t wait….that’s OK too.
**This was my second attempt making the torte. Unable to find the small Italian plums, I used 6 large. The result was tasty but the size of the plums did not create as moist of a cake as those little jewels.
Adapted from    The New York Times

Honey-Ginger Chicken With Lime

August 28, 2014


What a perfect entree for a beautiful Farm to Table dinner. This lovely evening started with fresh vegetable bruschetta, a puffed prosciutto appetizer and a few raw vegetables with green goddess dressing for dipping. The dinner began with a  Thomas Keller gazpacho topped with kernels of sweet caramelized corn, followed by a beautifully presented spinach and caprese salad. The main event was this Ginger Lime Chicken (thanks Marsha) over a bed of roasted garden vegetables and orzo. There’s an awful lot of flavor in this dish…the tangy lime, the kick of ginger and the aromatic combination of spices. The sauce was delicious with its sweet, tangy notes and was drizzled over the caramelized thighs. The dish pulls together in only 45 minutes (as noted in Quick and Easy Menus, Food and Wine /July 2014) which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner but impressive for entertaining. The evening ended with Peach Cobbler topped with Bourbon Vanilla ice cream. Magical!












Honey-Ginger Chicken with Lime

Servings 4
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
4 chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs  (I used just thighs)
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, ginger, jalapeño, garam masala, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and 3 teaspoons of the lime zest. Prick the chicken with a fork, add it to the bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the remaining lime zest. In a large *ovenproof skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the oil over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until golden, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the lime sugar and roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked (and caramelized). Add the lime juice and the remaining butter to the skillet. Serve the chicken with the pan juices and lime wedges.
*I transferred the chicken to casserole pan and baked (due to the quantity I made). Then de-glaze the pan to create the sauce.
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Summer Cucumber Drink

August 23, 2014




This is a  light and refreshingly cool summer drink. The clean, crisp flavor of garden fresh cucumbers standout, while the mint adds a sweet herbal note and the lime adds just enough zing.  Add Vodka or Gin and you’ve got yourself a summer stunner.

The Cuke

Serves 6

6 limes
1 cup packed mint leaves, just the leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
3 unwaxed cucumbers
½ cup sugar
2 cups vodka or gin, preferably Hendrick’s gin
Sparkling water

Adapted from The Kitchn

Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest of the limes and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Add two sliced cucumbers, then sugar. Muddle ingredients. Add vodka or gin. Place in refrigerator to steep 30 minutes or longer. Peel remaining cucumber and cut lengthwise into 6 spears.

Fill 6 large glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each glass. Top with a splash of sparkling water, garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.





Grilled Veggie Sandwich

August 15, 2014



What to do with all the goodies from your local Farmer’s Market? Try this grilled veggie sandwich. Combine all your favorite produce…slice, grill, add a savory spread, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a soft, whole wheat bakery roll and you have yourself a delicious meal. Satisfying and healthy!!!

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Ricotta Spread
Makes 2 Sandwiches
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon each of fresh basil, chives and parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Portobello mushroom
Zucchini, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Eggplant, sliced into rounds
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in half or quarters
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 loaf ciabatta bread or other soft bread sliced into 6-inch sections and cut in half
1/2 cup arugula leaves or spinach
Balsamic glaze
These vegetables are a suggestion, be creative.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, garlic clove, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Oil the grill. Preheat the grill on medium high for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and season with dried oregano and kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle some additional olive oil on the cut side of roll.
Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. (Keep a close watch , depending on the veggie…they cook at different times) Flip veggies when they start to soften and grill marks develop. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes. Toast the roll. Spread the herbed ricotta mixture on the roll slices. Top the bottom roll with layers of grilled vegetables and arugula or spinach, then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from  Foodiecrush


Peach Cobbler

August 9, 2014

DSC_0451 A cobbler is simple. A homey, comfortable ending that typically shows up at a summer BBQ. In the height of your local farmer’s market harvest, peaches and our favorite berries are bountiful…perfect for this seasonal favorite. Top the sweet filling with a crisp, yet tender biscuit. As a perfect companion add a scoop of vanilla bourbon ice cream.

Peach Cobbler            Adapted from  Allrecipes

Peach Filling

8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges, 8-10 cups

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup boiling water

Cinnamon Sugar Topping  

1/3 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the peach filling. Stir to combine and then pour into a large 9×13 baking dish. Bake the peach mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While the peaches are baking, combine the  dry topping ingredients and whisk to combine. Blend in the chilled butter, using a pastry blender or your fingertips. Stir in the boiling water, just until combined.

Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the topping over them in spoonfuls. (I like to use my smallest cookie scoop to do this.) Sprinkle the cobbler topping with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS: The peach filling can be prepared and frozen in advance. Combine the peach filling ingredients in a large ziplock bag. When you are ready to bake the cobbler, thaw in the refrigerator and then pour into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.

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Roasted Green Beans

August 2, 2014


What’s your favorite way to eat freshly picked green beans? Mine is raw….. until now. Roasting these summer farm stand faves highlight their sweet flavor. The result turns these beans to a nutty, caramelized, crispy side dish.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves 4-6
2 lbs green beans
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (use only enough to lightly coat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Pistachio nuts, chopped
Orange zest (garnish) and a squeeze of juice to finish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean, trim, and dry beans. Place beans in a bowl and toss with olive oil (lightly coat). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer. Roast 20-25 minutes, turn after 15 minutes. Cook til brown and desired crispness. Sprinkle with pistachios and squeeze a bit of fresh orange juice. Garnish with orange zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The beans really shrivel up so plan on eating more than you might think!!!


Zucchini Bread

July 28, 2014
Zucchini bread probably conjures up the memories. Gram’s cooking or picking zucchini in your family garden or even …well I have no zucchini bread flashbacks and this is the first time I’ve ever made it. It will not be the last!!. This bread has a soft and moist texture….thanks to all the shredded zucchini. It also has just the right amount of sweetness and the perfect touch of cinnamon. This recipe pulls together in about 15 minutes and is your cup of coffee’s best friend.
Zucchini Bread     Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and completely cool.

Huevos Rancheros

July 21, 2014

DSC_0418The British Open and a festive breakfast was the start to a Funday Sunday. We decided to invite friends over early to watch golf, enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Bloodies…..and then play a round!!! (O.K. so this meal may have been more successful than my golf game!) Mexican fare is my go-to order for breakfast out, so I wanted to find an easy and delicious recipe for my fav…here it is!! The black bean and salsa components are as simple as adding a few ingredients into a processor. Lightly toast the corn tortillas, fry up your eggs and assemble. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, avocado and a few cilantro sprigs. A platter of watermelon lightly salted, a few lime wedges and cilantro, rounds out your meal.

Huevos Rancheros

Makes 4

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 corn tortillas

1 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)

2 clove garlic

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 cup salsa (store-bought or home-made)

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons sour cream or more

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Avocado, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a teaspoon of oil (or until desired consistency), salt and pepper. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Heat through. Remove from heat.

Put a skillet over the burner and add a bit of oil. Lightly fry each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. (or toast over gas flame) Transfer to a plate.

Add a teaspoon of oil and a little butter to the skillet and crack your eggs. Continue to fry the eggs (medium-low heat) until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, salt and pepper.

Make ahead: You can make the salsa and bean mixture the day before. Warm up before assembling.

Adapted from  Bev Wiedner





Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing

July 13, 2014



Dinner in 15 minutes! I think you will find the combination of fresh greens and a hearty flavorful steak spiced with an earthy dressing, the perfect weeknight meal. While the steak is cooking, assemble your salad and whip up this easy topping. Make it your own by adding additional ingredients….radishes and cherry tomatoes.

Steak Salad       Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 (10-12 ounce) boneless strip steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite size pieces

1 beet, trimmed, peeled and grated      (while this is a quick option, I will cook and cube the beets next time I make this…..or pick up a few from the salad bar at my local market!  They have more flavor.)

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Start your grill or heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add steaks to the skillet and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (medium- rare) 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk sour cream, lemon juice, chives and horseradish together in large bowl.

Slice steaks thin. Add lettuce, beet, and walnuts and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad and slice of steak evenly among plates and serve.



Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Relish

July 6, 2014


In anticipation of a bumper crop of red peppers, I have been searching for recipes….and this is a beauty! The Mediterranean overtones of this simple relish pair perfectly with a hearty white fish or grilled chicken. Serve over a bed of nutrient packed micro-greens simply dressed with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Pepper Relish            (Adapted from Fine Cooking)

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped

2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, minced

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper

Prepare grill. Place whole peppers on grill or cut the tops and bottoms from the peppers and cut the peppers into 3 or 4 flat pieces. Grill the pepper sides and bottoms skin side down until blistered and charred all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin and discard. Cut the peppers into bite-size pieces or wide strips.

Put the pepper pieces in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well and seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

The relish keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for at least a week. It’s best to make it a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop.










Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

June 28, 2014
One of my most popular posts to date is the Marinated Mozzarella appetizer, inspired by my favorite blog Lottie and Doof. I returned to this award-winning site in an anticipation of a bumper crop of carrots, (fingers crossed Sil and Courtney). For this recipe I par boiled carrots earlier in the day which made for a quick side to a grilled pork tenderloin. Not only is this dish a show stopper, the flavor profile of cumin, thyme, garlic and a hint of citrus work well with the carrots. The dollop of sour cream will surprise you and there are lots of alternatives for this tasty topper.   Check out the Lottie and Doof site where they highlight this recipe (and the beautiful Public House Hotel) that appears on the Pump Room Menu.
Roast Carrot and Avocado Salad 
Serves 4                                                                       
Adapted from Lottie and Doof, and ABC Kitchen
1.5 pounds medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-1 teaspoon red chile flakes, to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 orange, halved
2 lemons, halved
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup sour cream  (or Greek yogurt)
micro greens
¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
¼ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until just barely tender, about 10 minutes.
With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, cumin, thyme, chili, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper until crushed and pasty or in a blender.
Add the vinegar and ¼ c. of the olive oil and continue pounding until well-mixed. (Or a food processor until pasty.)
Drain carrots and arrange in a single layer in a medium roasting pan. Spoon the cumin mixture over, toss to coat. Cut the whole orange in half. Arrange the 2 orange halves and 2 of the lemon halves over the carrots, cut-side down. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots are golden brown.
Carefully transfer the carrots to a platter. When cool enough to handle, squeeze 2 tablespoons  juice each from the roasted orange and lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze in 3 tablespoons juice from the remaining uncooked lemon halves. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the carrots to your liking, reserving some for the next step. Arrange the carrots on a serving platter. Arrange the avocado and sprouts on top. Drizzle with reserved sauce. Dollop sour cream or yogurt over the top, then sprinkle with toasted seeds. Serve.DSC_0293

Lobster Mac N Cheese

June 19, 2014


A very special side dish or a decadent entree…you choose. I’m pairing this rich, indulgent dish with BBQ’d Ribs. The tender chunks of fresh lobster are king here mixing well with the combination of Gruyere and cheddar cheese. Like I said, this is a very special meal for the MVP of our family…Dad! We can talk healthy food tomorrow!! Today I feel we should spoil the man with comfort food…after all he has kept us all comfortable for years.

Lobster Mac N Cheese

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil water in a large pot and generously salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Adapted from Food Network/Ina Garten





Strawberry And Rhubarb Compote with Pork Tenderloin

June 14, 2014




A match made in heaven. Strawberries and Rhubarb. Typically, this combination is seen on the dessert table. I like the idea of a savory dish and am pairing this seasonal side with pan seared pork tenderloin. The flavor components work well with pork (or chicken) and kumquats add a punch of citrus. This recipe yields about 2 plus cups of compote……leftovers…always a nice topping for vanilla ice cream.


Serves 6

2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 sprig of rosemary (optional)

1 cup kumquats (about 10), cut in half OR 1 Tablespoon orange zest

2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (about 2 tenderloins)

Mix all ingredients (first 11) together in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 15 minutes until thick. (Remove rosemary sprig) Using a “smasher”…smash away!

For the pork, cover with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, turning pork occasionally, about 8 minutes longer for medium tenderloins and 10 minutes for large.

Transfer pork to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with Compote.

Adapted from Bon Apetit


Squash Blossoms Stuffed With Ricotta And Goat Cheese

June 9, 2014

 photo (1)Squash blossoms are the beautiful, yellow edible flowers that grow with zucchini and a variety of summer squash. They have a subtle flavor and make the perfect vessel for delicious fillings. Squash blossoms are a seasonal treat and sadly, hard to find in traditional grocery stores due to how incredibly perishable they are. Search for these blossoms at your farmers markets. These beauties came from my garden (yep, I have a garden!!!) that I’m sharing with friends, Sil and Courtney (@alifefromscratch). Courtney researched how to harvest the flowers and discovered you only pick the male flower as the female flower produces the fruit. (Who knew??) Once picked, they are best used within a few hours to a day or so. These delicacies not only make a pretty appetizer they are also high in calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. I filled the flowers with a combination of ricotta and goat cheese and paired them with a tomato dipping sauce. YUM!

Squash Blossoms

Tomato Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pound plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over medium heat, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, simmer until thickened, about 25 minutes.
 Squash Blossoms
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Squash Blossoms

Stir together ricotta, goat cheese, egg yolk, basil 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Carefully open each blossom and fill with about 2 rounded teaspoon ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling.

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.

Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt. Serve with tomato sauce.

Adapted from Epicurious