Monday, December 26, 2011

Chalkboard for Christmas

My daughter made a chalk signboard for me! I'm having fun playing with chalk.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Knife Set is Beautiful

I wonder if the knives work well or are just beautiful.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Play with your Food!

The kids came over tonight and we made gingerbread (graham cracker) houses.
Jon - Caps ice rink (C-A-P-S, CAPS, CAPS, CAPS!)
Christine - Winter wonderland
Elise and Natalie - Beach scene with cabanas, surfing, and limbo
Maya - Underwater paradise
Matt - Occupy Gingerbread
Mark - Snakes 'n things
MP - Gingerbread crack house.

Now there's family values for ya!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Radish Dip

This is a recipe adapted from the newsletter from my CSA, Spiral Path.

Greek yogurt
Sour cream
Parsley (dried or fresh)
Onion - diced
Radishes - diced

If I had to put proportions to this ... 2/3 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup sour cream, 2-3 t parsley, 1/2 cup minced onion, 1 cup minced radishes, and salt & pepper to taste.

The original recipe calls for 8 oz cream cheese instead of the yogurt and sour cream. I didn't have cream cheese. I'll try it with that next time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Did It!

This past week, I resigned my day job as of April 30, 2012. I'm not sure what I'll do come May 1st, but surely it will involve food!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food is Always Better with Friends

Helen joined us for dinner tonight. I always produce a yummier meal when I prepare for others.

Kofta Kabobs with grilled tomatoes, onions, and pita, topped with tzatziki.

Palak Chawal

Pumpkin Kaddo

For dessert, I put out some won ton wrappers, topped some with fig and some with apricot preserves and I added goat cheese to a few. I brushed egg around the edges and topped with another won ton. I used some cookie cutters to make cute shapes then fried for a few minutes on each side. After they cooled a little on paper towels, I sprinkled them with confectioner's sugar and served with ice cream. Yum!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Calling All Friends and Followers

This is my birthday month and I am asking my friends to comment on this post and provide one, two, or ten of your favorite recipes. Tell me if it's a recipe that is comfort food, a special occasion, inspired by another recipe, one of your own ... whatever! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Team Ravioli! My sister and I celebrate fall with pumpkin ravioli.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

OBX not Burning Man

I decided to spend the week in the Outer Banks of NC instead of joining Mark at Burning Man. I'm happy with my decision but had a few pangs of sadness/regret during the week. I cured one of those pangs with Seared Sea Bass topped with a yogurt dill sauce, sauteed spinach and garlic, and homemade rice-a-roni. 

Oh yeah -- added a great glass of wine (Biale Zinfandel) and a good book (One Thousand White Women)!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Figs, figs, figs, figs ...


I stumbled on this by way of Chowhound. It's in the oven now and smells fantastic!

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

Update: August 2012. This is heavenly. I just made it again this year and it was as wonderful as I remembered.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Confetti Muffins

The abundance of summer veggies has me racing for creative uses before they go bad. These muffins were inspired by the mountain of zucchini and yellow squash in the CSA basket today.

Fruit/veggie mix:
In a medium bowl, shred one medium zucchini and one medium yellow squash. Add a handful of shredded carrots. Toss in 1/3 can crushed pineapple, one peach, some golden raisins, and dried cranberries.

Wet ingredients:
In a large bowl combine a stick of butter, 1/4 cup veg oil, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Beat well.

Dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 3/4 T baking powder, 3/4 T baking soda, 1 t salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time.

Fold in fruit/veggie mix.

Pour into greased or lined muffin tins and/or loaf pans. I made 12 muffins and 1 loaf from this.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Squash Blossoms, part two ... and three ...

Yum. This time, I stuffed the blossoms with ricotta, parmesean, an egg, a little flour, and salt and pepper.

I poached them in 1/2 water and 1/2 chicken broth for about 6 minutes. Water only is fine.

While they are poaching, heat butter in a small pan and add fresh sage leaves.

When the blossoms are done, remove to a plate and top with sage butter.

part three ...

Made these again but this time before topping with sage butter, I fried them quickly to a crispy, golden brown. Then topped with sage butter ... heaven.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Emergency Comfort Food

I took a few pictures of this but they didn't look great. I weighed my options ...

A) keep styling food in order to get a good pic for the blog,

B) eat the food to fulfill the purpose for which it was made.

D'uh. No contest. No pics.

Exotic Grilled Cheese

White bread (I know, I know) is one of my requirements for grilled cheese. With no white bread on hand, I trimmed the "crust" off of a hot dog roll and slathered the outsides with butter.

Inside, I put down a layer each of gouda, brie, and cheddar cheese.

Warm a small fry pan at medium heat.

Place sandwich cheddar-side down and cover with a lid. Don't mess with it!

When the bottom is a crusty, medium brown, flip it over.

Top with lid again and let the now bottom side reach the same golden crunchiness.

Put on a plate and slice diagonally.

ENJOY. Then go to bed and sleep soundly without a care in the world.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ratatouille as Made in Ratatouille

1 small can San Marzano tomatoes
yellow squash

fresh thymes
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325.

Pour tomatoes into bottom of a round baking dish and gently squish them up with your hands. Watch out for shooting tomato juice!

Add some fresh thyme, oregano and salt and pepper to the tomatoes.
Cut the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. Cut one end off the onion and peel back first layer.

I used a mandoline to slice the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and onion into very thin slices. You can use a knife but be prepared to spend a lot of time cutting. The mandoline also ensures the slices are the same width.

Alternate overlapping slices of eggplant, zucchini, and squash along the outer rim. Every so often slip in an onion slice.

Make another circle inside and then fill in the middle with a few veggies.
Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and season again with salt and pepper. Top with more thyme.

Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. I just placed the dish on top of the parchment paper and drew around the dish. Makes it easy to cut to fit the inside of the dish.

I wanted to save this and reheat the next day so I only baked it for 40 minutes. If you want to serve immediately, bake for about 55 minutes. You want the veggies tender, not mushy.

I had a bunch of veggies left over and just threw them in a pot with a small can of diced tomatoes. Cooked for a bout 15 minutes and then let it cool.

I put that in a container and decided to freeze it for use later in minestrone soup or a pasta sauce.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Cow!

I planted cowhorn peppers this summer. The guide said that they were 'medium hot'. I LOVE hot food and was afraid I would be disappointed by the milder cowhorns. Oh man, was I wrong! The best hot sauce I've made:

8-10 pineapple sage leaves
¼ cup diced red onion

1 clove garlic
¾ cup diced tomatoes
2 cowhorn peppers
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¾ t salt
¾ t white sugar

1. In a saucepan, heat EVOO. Add red onion, cowhorn peppers, and garlic. Let it go for about 3 or 4 minutes.
2. Reduce heat. Add vinegar, tomatoes, salt and sugar. Let that simmer for about 5 more minutes.
3. Add pineapple sage leaves and simmer another minute or two.
4. Put it all in a blender and whir until pureed.
5. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
6. Let cool and then pour into a small glass container.
7. Taste it and comment that it's not too hot.
8. Wait 20 seconds.
9. Comment on how it's got a little zing.
10. Wait 15 seconds.
11. Say, "Oh man, that's a nice burn!"
12. Cover and refrigerate.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Bread

Thanks to Elise at Simply Recipes for this fantastic twist on zucchini bread!

It's delicious!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Laura's Craving - Filet Mignon with Cherry Vanilla Sauce

I talked to my neice, Laura, on the way home from work today. She's about 32 weeks pregnant and was telling me about her food cravings. She said up until now, they were the typical ... REALLY want a steak, or REALLY want cherry pie filling ...

Now, however, she said she REALLY wants steak WITH cherry pie filling.

I did a little research and here's what I'm making for dinner. Wish you could be here, Laura!

Filet Mignon with Cherry Vanilla Sauce

Fire up the grill and crank some freshly ground pepper over filets.

For the sauce:

In a saucepan, combine just over a cup of Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon (I used the Noir) with:

A couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Half of a vanilla bean (that your co-worker brought you directly from Madagascar - or some other vanilla bean you can scrape up)
A couple whole cloves

A couple whole peppercorns
A bay leaf
About 20 cherries

A squirt of honey
Salt and pepper

Gorgonzola butter:

Mash together about 2 tablespoons of gorgonzola with a tablespoon of butter. Set aside.
Simmer until the liquid is reduced to a light syrupy consistency. Grill steaks, top with blue cheese butter, and let rest for 5 minutes.

Strain sauce through a seive. Put gorgonzola butter on the steak and drizzle over the steaks.

I also sauteed spinach and garlic in some EVOO, fried up some potato slices and made a radish, onion, cucumber salad (not shown).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spicy Eggplant

Don't go to the grocery store hungry! Do go to the local farm hungry!

I stopped by Spicknall's on the way home and loaded up my canvas bags with a bounty of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Here's what I did with a few of them ... (note that while it is contrary to my typical style, I will try to be more exact with ingredients as I have a sense that it matters in this dish).

(Mini Eggplant)

Roast 3 small eggplants with EVOO and S&P at 375 until soft. Scoop out innards and set aside.

Boil one small potato and set aside. I used a potato left over from another meal.

Heat about 2 TBL ghee in a saucepan.
Add about 6 peppercorns and about 6 corriander seeds.
After about four minutes, crush them with a heavy spoon or pestle.


(Cowhorn Pepper)

Add a medium piece of galangal and about an inch of cowhorn pepper.

Add one small onion and three small cloves of garlic - both diced.

Add three good shakes of fenugreek, five shakes of garam masala, and one shake of turmeric.

Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute,

Dice half of a green tomato and add to the saucepan. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Run a knife through the eggplant and add to the saucepan.

Dice potato and add to saucepan.

Remove cowhorn pepper and galanga.

Add a little water if it looks dry.

Add a few shakes of salt - I used a very fine grey sea salt.

Heat through and enjoy alone or with rice or naan.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Final Category

Make a pesto of: Pineapple sage, walnuts, basil, garlic, S&P, and EVOO.

Roast: (in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes) Cherry tomatoes (green and red), zucchini (peeled, seeded, and chopped), garlic, S&P, and EVOO.

Boil: Bowtie pasta.

Combine: Ingredients above and toss in some capers. Top with grated parmesean.

Fight: Over the Final Category question on Kids Week Jeopardy.

The Answer: Of the 4 states that begin & end with the same vowel, the one that doesn’t begin & end with the same letter as the other 3 states.

The Question: What is ...

When the biggest problem in my day is the final category question on Kids Week Jeopardy ... life is good.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

I would not have come up with this on my own...

Thanks to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration. Once again, I've taken an existing recipe and made it my own. This was one of the tastiest things I've eaten in ages!

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Spring mix of greens
Chili peppers
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Salt and Pepper
Red wine vinegar
An orange and a lemon 

Cut carrots to even sizes and par boil until barely tender.

While carrots are boiling, pull out your mortar and pestle (or whatever is around that you can mush things up in).

Grind 2 chili peppers, about six cumin seeds, salt, pepper, a couple stems of thyme, and about five coriander seeds. Then add a clove of garlic and mash more. Add enough EVOO to cover and a splash of red wine vinegar. Grind some more.

Drain carrots and coat with marinade. Spread them out on a roasting pan. Cut an orange and a lemon, and place each, cut side down, on top of the carrots. Roast in oven at 325 for about 25 minutes.

Dressing:  Remove the orange and lemon and carefully squeeze them into a bowl. I used tongs to hold them and a strainer to catch the seeds. To the orange/lemon juice, add any leftover drippings from the roasting pan. Whisk in EVOO and a splash of red wine vinegar. 

Cut avocado into slices.

Load plate with a mix of spring greens. Top with carrots and avocado. Drizzle dressing over it all.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Whole Foods Salad

I combined several things I found on the salad/food bar at Whole Foods, then added some EVOO, lime juice, and S&P, at home. The result was delish!

Shelled edamame
Grapefruit, fennel, and red onion salad
Green onions

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cooking Therapy

I've had several cooking therapy sessions lately. They solidified for me that preparing comfort food (with a twist) satisfies not only my basic need for yummy food, but also my need to be creative and need to nurture.

I find as much joy in creating as I do in seeing someone enjoy something I prepared. It's a win-win!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cheese Glorious Cheese

I made a grilled cheese sandwich like none I've ever made before ...

Two slices Parmesan foccacia


Cheese between the slices of bread - butter the bread - grill until crispy on the outside.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Easy Tuscan Soup

As always, I started with an existing recipe and then made it my own. Thanks to Giada for the start on this Bean and Garlic Soup.

Add a turn of olive oil and a couple pats of butter to a heavy bottomed pot.
Dice two shallots and add to pot. Saute until soft.
Add 2 sage leaves and 2 large cans of Cannelloni beans - drained and rinsed - stir.
Add 6 cups chicken stock and 4 cloves of garlic.

This is where it starts to vary - Giada uses only four cups but simmers for only ten more minutes. I like to let it simmer for an hour or so.

I also saute about 10 sage leaves in butter until crisp. Remove to paper towels and crumble for topping on soup.

When you are about 10 minutes from serving, turn heat down to low, break out the immersion blender and blend the soup.

Add about a cup of half and half, some ground black pepper, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes.

Ladle soup into shallow bowls and top with crumbled sage leaves.

Monday, January 24, 2011


MP’s Version of Feijoada

It’s long and involved, so bear with me. This will feed about six people, so double or triple as needed.

NOTE: This meal is a labor of love. Don’t even think about making this for people who will not appreciate what you put into it.

MP’s Feijoada has six required parts:


And if it is served any time after 1:00 p.m., it must be accompanied by caipirinha.

Preparing Feijoada goes much easier if the cook begins with a caipirinha, so let’s start with that recipe.


  • ·         Cut half a lime into four or six pieces and put them in a short glass
  • ·         Add two teaspoons of sugar
  • ·         Mash with a wooden spoon or muddler
  • ·         Fill glass with ice
  • ·         Add Cachaça (I buy PITU but I think 51 is another good brand)


Traditional Brazilian Feijoada calls for all sorts of crazy pig parts like tongue, ears, and other odd things that we don’t normally eat. There are many versions of Feijoada and it is a dish that most cooks adapt to their own style. Here is mine:

·         Four beef short ribs
·         One meat dept. sized pork shank
·         One meat dept. sized ham hock
·         One package smoked sausage

·         I have also used chorizo, pork shoulder, thick cut bacon … any meat is fine, but it should include several types and one of them should be some sort of salted pork.

Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with vegetable oil.
Coat ribs with flour, salt & pepper.
Ribs should sizzle when you put them in the pan – don’t put too many in at a time or they will steam instead of getting brown and crispy.

Brown all sides then remove to a large plate.

Without the flour coating, brown the remaining meats one at a time and move them to the holding plate. The smoked sausage should be sliced before browning.

Remove excess oil from the pot – leave only a couple tablespoons in there.

Add ½ of a medium onion - chopped, 2-3 cloves diced garlic, and 2 bay leaves. Sauté until onions are soft.

Deglaze pan with a little of a 26 oz. container of Swanson beef stock.

Put all meats back in and add remaining beef stock.

Add enough water to cover meat. Add salt & pepper.

Cover pot and simmer on low for at least 3 hours.

Regularly skim ‘scum’ that rises to the top. Add water as needed to keep the beef submerged.

As meat starts to fall off the bone, remove bones from pot. Cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces and remove excess fat.


If you want to go to the effort, you can soak and simmer dried beans. I just open two large cans of black beans – drain and rinse them. When meat has simmered for several hours and meat is cut off the bone, add beans.

Also add one small can of diced tomatoes. I like Giant brand organic. If you don’t use those, try to get tomatoes that don’t have a ton of crazy additives.

I add the beans and tomatoes to the meat. Some people like to serve the meat and beans in separate bowls. If you do this, add the tomatoes to the meat and add some garlic and onion to the beans.


·         Melt two tablespoons butter in a saucepan.
·         Add about ¼ of a medium onion - diced. Sauté until tender and add 1 cup of rice. Stir to coat.
·         Add 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and return to a boil.
·         Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it go for 17 minutes.
·         Remove from heat. Do NOT open lid until time to serve.


·         Collard greens are traditional but I used kale because I like it better.
·         Heat a large frying pan to medium or medium high and melt three tablespoons butter – I also add a little olive oil.
·         Chop two cloves garlic and add to hot oil.
·         Add a 16 oz package of Glory Foods pre-cut and washed kale (or equivalent).
·         Salt & pepper to taste.
·         Toss until it starts to wilt.
·         Add a ¼ cup of water (or more if needed) to help steam and wilt kale.
·         DO NOT OVERCOOK.


·         Brown about six slices of thick cut bacon until very crispy. Set aside.
·         In a medium sized frying pan, melt three tablespoons butter.
·         Add ¼ of a small onion – diced. Sauté until translucent.
·         Crumble bacon and add to butter and onion.
·         Stir in about 1 ½ cups of manioc flour (can be found in Brazilian food stores or online).
·         Coat manioc with butter and let it brown. Stir occasionally.
·         Take off heat and set aside.


Whew. This is the easy part.
Slice oranges. That’s all. I sliced two for the four of us and there was some left over.

It’s a meal that takes a lot of love and stamina to produce. I think it’s worth it.