Sunday, October 16, 2016


One of Brian's favorite shows is "Chopped" on the Food Network.  The goal is to create a dish in each of three rounds that uses four food items that are presented at the beginning of the challenge.   It's fun but I think daunting to anyone other than a professional chef....sometimes there are outlandish ingredients or things that just do not seem to go together!

Last year I got Brian a "Chopped" cookbook for Christmas and the couple of recipes thst we've tried were pretty good.  Tonight he made a coconut panna cotta with candied peanuts.  First, panna cotta is kind of like flan.  (Which we love!)  Second, he had every single ingredient in the house and was using up Pantry ingredients.  It was delicious...not super sweet, very creamy.  The peanut brittle topping was the best part, though.   A keeper for sure!

Friday, September 23, 2016

It's Apple Season Again!

We went apple picking this weekend, and managed not to go overboard with the number of apples that we brought home.  That's got to be a record!

The first thing I made was apple butter.  Homemade apple butter is sooooooo good.  Store-bought just cannot compete with homemade.  The apples spent ten hours in the crockpot, which seemed to me to be a really long time.  But it was definitely worth it.  A trip in the blender made the apples nice and smooth, and this batch debuted on some biscuits the next night next to some pork chops and butternut squash.  It made for a LOVELY fall dinner.  :)

This is the recipe that I used.  "Tastes of Lizzy" Apple Butter

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Strawberries in September??

I bought a strawberry plant or two for our deck this year.  The summer went by, we got a couple of small berries, but the woodsy creatures got to them first.  I'd pretty much given up on it when Brian told me last week that there was one ripe strawberry on the plant.  I promptly went outside and ate it.  It was the sweetest little strawberry that I have ever tasted!

Then more berries came.  Brian ate a couple, and I put the rest on my Cheerios yesterday.

Then I looked outside this morning and guess what?  MORE!  It's a Strawberry Miracle!

Guess I *will* try strawberry plants again next year.

As for the rest of my plants, I got a ton of cilantro, basil, parsley and oregano.  Good lord, the oregano!  Apparently basil needs to be harvested quicker than I did though, because I chopped some up for chicken soup the other day and it tasted "woody."  Which is a shame, because it's my favorite.

The green beans were a mostly-fail.  Bugs or critters got most of them, we got one handful and steamed them for dinner one night.  I had several jalapenos and anaheim chilies, so I'd try them again, too.  Nothing on the blueberry plant, but tons of cherry tomatoes.  Too bad only a few would ripen at a time, so they became a snack every day instead of in a salad.  All in all, not a bad year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"Bowl of Red"

The title is homage to the Good Eats episode of the same name.

I had originally planned on making this on a Sunday morning and having it that night for dinner.  A 14-hour power outage changed those plans, so I threw it together on a Monday night.  I hate cooking stuff that takes a while on a weeknight.  But do you know what?  Dinner on Tuesday was just a quick warm-up, and there's plenty of nice things to be said about that.

Also, I don't utilize a chili recipe.  I just throw it together, based on what I have and what sounds good!  This one started with sauteed minced pepper and onion, and then added ground beef, beef chuck, a spice blend that I make up on the fly, tomato paste, a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of drained kidney beans.  This was one of the best chilis that I ever made, allowing it to simmer for 90 minutes really breaks down the meat into soft, wonderful bits of beef chuck.  And the skillet cornbread that Brian made (with my own grown anaheim peppers!) hit the spot.

Monday, August 1, 2016

British Delicious

You know, the Brits have a bad rap when it comes to food.

Sure, they make some strange things, like beans on toast and steak and kidney pie.  (eat a kidney?  No thanks.)  However, they have some good ideas too.  Especially when it comes to pub food.  Jacket potatoes (loaded baked potatoes to us Americans), potpie, chips, pudding, etc.  Toffee.  British chocolates like Cadbury.  (OMG, real British Cadbury is out-of-this-world good!)  And don't get me started on the little slice of heaven that is warm scones and clotted cream.

In our house we have a tradition of going out for dinner after the boys (Brian included) pass their monthly "stripe test" for karate.  We were on our way to a noodle place when I was talking about the new British Beer Company.  Brian looked at the kids menu and the kids were game.  So off we went.

First of all, since it was Happy Hour we got $5 appetizers.  Soft pretzel dippers!  I know, not British but that didn't make them any less tasty, let me tell you.  Then Brian ordered a burger that actually came out cooked medium.  It doesn't happen often.  (I almost said "that's rare" but that's too big a pun, even for me)  And I ordered this thing, called a "New England Pasty."  I'd heard of pasties in reading Harry Potter and other Brit Lit, and good Lord, are they fantastic.  Basically it's like a meat pie, only this one contained hot turkey and cheddar mashed potatoes.  Excellent!!  I could only eat half, so the rest was for lunch today.  And it was every bit as good.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Livin it Up

The boys went to visit their grandparents in PA for a week before the four of us headed to Virginia for vacation.  Sadly, both parents had to work that week.  But night can be fun, especially when there's no kiddie restrictions to dinner!

We stopped at the grocery store on our way back and picked up some live lobsters and fresh corn on the cob.   So delicious, and yes, I'm convinced now that steaming is better than boiling.  The plate doesn't get all waterlogged while cracking for lobster meat.  So, so good.

On Monday,  we fixed Brian's "I've never had a margarita" problem by heading to Mezcal in Worcester.  Upon hearing that held never had a margarita, the bartender asked to make us something special off-menu.  We were not disappointed!!!  Add some tuna tostada, chicken mole and steak chimichanga, and of course, their famous homemade guacamole and it was a great night.  No "ew, what's that" or tears.  Just full bellies and happiness. 

Tuesday was some of the biggest stuffed chicken breasts that I've ever seen.  Filled with spinach and feta cheese, they were dinner for TWO nights.  Thursday brought us to pork lettuce wraps with veggies, ginger, garlic,  housing, spicy peanut sauce, along with almonds for crunch.  Oh, and the second trip for ice cream that week.  Followed by a ton of packing for the trip.

On Friday, we began the drive down. But as a last hurrah, we went back to a special place:  Paul's Pasta in Groton, CT.  We hadn't been on about six years, and some of our early dates were there 18 years ago.  Still delicious, relatively inexpensive and so tasty.

So, our week of Food Comas was complete, including a few trips for ice cream.  It was worth it.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Salad Blues

I go to Panera Bread every Wednesday to meet up with my knitting group, and if I eat dinner while there, I usually order the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad.  It's been my favorite for a long time.  Sure, I eat other things there, but keep going back to the salad.

Well.  Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago that the salad, a long-time menu item, has been discontinued!  I ate my last Asian Sesame Chicken Salad and I didn't know it.  The restaurant has switched over to "all-natural" ingredients in everything and apparently, there's something in the salad that doesn't make the cut.  (My friend Rayna is bummed about no more pepperoncini in her Greek salad, apparently they didn't make the cut either.)

I'm bummed.  I get the desire for natural ingredients but sheesh!  Let people decide for themselves.  Although, I guess they ARE letting people decide, in terms of deciding to eat at Panera or not.  Since it's still a super-convenient place to hold knit night and was tough to find a new location in the first place, we'll be staying.  And most nights, eating.

So to satisfy that craving, I vowed to make an Asian Sesame Chicken salad myself.  Sauteed chicken breast, greens, cucumber, cilantro and toasted almonds, topped with a little homemade Carrot-Ginger dressing.  (Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen's "Light Cooking" cookbook.)  It wasn't the same.  However, it was still very good.  All of those flavors worked well together and made for a filling, healthy lunch.  And homemade dressing always beats the pants off of bottled store-bought, in terms of flavor, fat AND calories.

Hmmmm.   Maybe if it had tortilla strips next time, it'll be a closer match.  Probably not, but I'll keep trying.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Nostalgic Tuesday Treat

I have a soft spot for scones.  One of my favorite memories is eating them with English clotted cream in a park in London with my friend Alexi.  I'd just finished college, gotten engaged and landed my first job out of school.  Lots of things to be happy about!  I still remember the warm sunshine, the comfort of our rented lawnchairs and this incredible feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

So when I discovered that we had a ton of blueberries in the fridge and Brian suggested scones, I was all for it!  These are from Cooking Light, so there's no sugary glaze.  I like them better that way.  Lemon would also be a good addition here.

After baking I sent Lexi a text and said "I made scones, now I want clotted cream."  She texted back a selfie of her holding a big jar of the stuff, with a huge grin on her face.  Apparently there's a British goods store not that far from her.  I know another shop besides the local yarn shop that I will be visiting the next time I'm in the area!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Care Package

I'm going to a friend's house tomorrow to see her new baby and visit for a bit!  And of course, bringing the new mom of two some goodies......chicken tortilla soup and a pan of brownies. 

The great part is, I made the soup a couple of weeks ago and froze half of it, and still have some homemade tortilla strips.  Add a sandwich bag of shredded Mexican cheese an an avocado, and that's one less meal thst they have to make.  Because really, not much cooking going on for the first month of having two kids.  Ask me how I know.  ;)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Savory Cupcakes

My neighbor and I were talking about food on the bus stop last week and he was raving about his wife's "chicken pot pie cupcakes."  Well, I couldn't stop thinking about them even a day or so afterwards so off to Pinterest I went!  Turns out they're pretty easy:  some veggies, cooked chicken, canned biscuit mix and cream of chicken soup.

They came out a little brown but were still good.

Will was a bit disappointed to look at the menu board and see cupcakes, but have them be chicken pot pie cupcakes.  He was amused at this though, so points for that!

Oh, and if you are interested, here is a link to the recipe that I used.  It's from a blog called "Cupcake Fanatic.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day!

For the last two years we've joined geeks around the world and celebrated Pi Day.  Pi Day is March 14th, or Pi 3.14.

This year's Pi Day almost didn't happen, until Brian whipped up some apple hand pies.  We had leftover phyllo dough in the fridge and it made for a pretty good crust.  They didn't last long.

To add to our celebration:  pound cake.  Will adores pound cake, and he and Brian made this one together.  It was a strange recipe--you put it in a cold oven and turn it on.  Came out nicely so I guess it's a keeper!

"two great tastes that taste great together"

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine Treats

This is how we celebrate Valentine's gifts.  No outings.  Just cards, a little candy for the boys, and food.  Awesome food.  Because, why go to a restaurant, wait in line for an hour WITH RESERVATIONS and come home completely ticked off that the food was so-so?  Making our own is so much more fun.  This year, Brian made a day of it.  The day was bitterly cold and no one wanted to leave the house.  The comfort foods made the house feel pleasant and we didn't mind being stuck inside.

Breakfast:  Homemade waffles with caramel coulis.  Homemade caramel, even.  AWESOME.

Lunch:  Squash soup and cheese toasts.  The soup was from Epicurious I think, and featured both butternut and acorn squash.  The toasts were just baguette with a little asiago on top, but it complimented the soup nicely.

Dinner was a stuffed pork loin wrapped in bacon.  I don't have any photos because it was a bit frustrating for Brian to cook.  There's reason to believe that our oven is on it's last legs, as it takes FOREVER for things to bake/roast.  It was delicious, despite the issues.

Dessert:  Chocolate Almond Mousse with fresh whipped cream.  It was supposed to be hazelnut, but you need to change gameplans when the hazelnuts are rancid.  This was good, a little heavy for any other night of the year.

So that was our day of delightfulness.  Until next year....

Friday, February 12, 2016

My New Favorite

I made this for a Friday night dinner and it was awesome!  Not surprisingly, the recipe was from America's Test Kitchen.

Pork chops breaded with panko and shredded parmesan cheese.  To die for...and certainly something I'd serve again.  Since we're trying to eat light (ish) I served them with roasted butternut squash and an arugula salad.  Delish!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chicken Tortellini Soup

My first from-scratch soup made without a recipe!  Ta-Da!

First, I boiled a whole chicken.  Yep....just threw it in a pot with some onion, carrots and celery and filled it up past the chicken.  Oh, and I added plenty of salt, a small handful.  I'm usually guilty of not seasoning enough.  I boiled that chicken for about 45 minutes, then took it out and carved it.  And by carved, I mean pulled the meat off barbarically.  :)  I threw it back in the pot with some sauteed peppers and onions and cooked tortellini.  Lastly, I tossed in fresh baby spinach leaves.  Voila!  Lunch, with a ton of leftovers.  The only thing that I thought that it could use was some mushrooms.

Can't wait to make some homemade soup again.  This weather certainly calls for it.

Monday, January 4, 2016


First nice dinner of 2016:  poached salmon with a dijon and herb vinaigrette, roast potatoes and fresh green beans.  Happy New Year to All!