144 posts categorized "Cooking" Feed

Italian Pumpkin Meatball Soup

Meatball soup 2

It has been cold and clear here lately, so we are enjoy a lot of soups. My family use to hate soup but suddenly they love it, thank goodness!This soup is one I post about on FB and someone requested the recipe. Really you could add any veggies to it but I like the combo of pumpkin and kale. Enjoy!!

Italian Pumpkin Meatball Soup

Cooked Meatballs*

8 cups broth, any broth will do but I love veggie broth for this.

4 minced garlic’s

½ cup white wine

2 bay leaves

2 cups of pureed pumpkin or winter squash (or 3 cups of cubed, peeled uncooked pumpkin)

3 cups chopped kale uncooked

2 cups cooked white beans, I cook big batches of cannellini beans because they are creamy and thin skinned. Then I freeze them in one cup increments for future use.

1 14oz can roasted tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


1, in a large stock pot add broth, garlic, bay leaves and wine. Then add pumpkin and simmer 10 minutes. (If using uncooked pumpkin, simmer broth until the pumpkin is tender. Pull out bay leaves and puree the pumpkin or leaved cubed, if you like.)

 2, add kale, beans and tomatoes. Simmer five minutes or so, until kale is cooked. When ready to serve add meatballs. Garnish soup with parmesan cheese.



¾ cup ground beef (or any meat)

2 eggs

½ cup bread crumbs

3 minced garlic cloves

¼ cup or more if you want it cheesy of parmesan cheese

1 TBL. salt

2 tsp. pepper

½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg. If you do not have fresh nutmeg just leave it out.


Pre-heat oven 350°F.

In a bowl mix all ingredients above. Roll the mixture into very small meatballs, about the size of a large marble. Set meatballs on a baking tray and bake 20 minutes or until cooked.

Christmas Menu


Good day, I have 3 days left until our Christmas eve and do not feel too behind!! Thought I would share our menu's. I am quite thrilled because normally we could never afford a prime rib but we bought half a cow (grass feed!!) this year. So it is quite a treat! This is the tree in our library and where I hide out!! I love to displaymy red transferwear in it. So what are you cooking this Christmas? xoxo

Christmas Eve

Grilled tuna with a Lemon Caper sauce

orange/pomegranate salad with a simple vinaigrette

french bread and brie cheese

Olive Wreath

sparking white wine

cookies and candies we have been making


Christmas Morning

Overnight Potato Sausage bake

Overnight eggnog french toast (made with almond milk)

Fresh fruit



Christmas Dinner

Mushroom soup garnished with sour cream and sherry

Prim Rib

Yorkshire pudding

Creamed spinach

Roasted fennel with onions and bacon

Peppermint chocolate filled crepes

Brandy mincemeat pie

pumpkin pie (dairy free and gluten free)


Smoked Salmon Brie Hand-Pies

Salm handpi 2

I mentioned on Facebook, I was making these hand-pies for a get-together and promised I would post the recipe. I have to say they turned out really good!!


Smoked Salmon Brie Hand-pies

makes about 2 dozen

2 pie crusts, room temp. Soft enough to cut and fold over without the dough cracking but not so soft it is mushy.

a wedge of brie, cut into ½" cubes

a piece of smoked salmon, broken into pieces about the same size as the brie


1 large lemon, zest lemon onto a plate. (You will only need the zest, not the lemon.)


Cut pie crust in circles with a glass. I used a glass with a 3 ½" circumference. Take two pieces of brie and set them in the zest to pick up some. Not lots of zest, just a little. Set brie, salmon and about 5 capers in the center of the circle. Fold circle over and press edges down firmly. You can come back with a fork and press the edges but be careful not to poke holes in the sides. Then prick the top with the fork.

Set hand-pie in fridge for at lest an hour to firm up crust. * note below

Pre-heat oven 375°F  Grease a cookie sheet and bake hand-pies 25-35 minutes, until cooked and edges are browned. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.


* They can be made a day ahead but cover with plastic wrap with the dough will not dry out.

A Breakfast Tea Menu


I have a week of parties at my home coming up this week. A soup and bread lunch with a dear friend, a afternoon appetizers and muled wine party with girlfriends and a simple breakfast tea with a sweet friend and her hubby. With a bit of planing, a simple menu and a bit of creativity, having others in your home does not have to be stressful (well at lest the cooking part does not, it is the cleaning part that is stressing me ;-) xoxo

Scotch Eggs

Maple Scones

Fresh Fruit w/ Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

Apple Spiced Tea

Picture from

My famous smoked paprika rub!!

Smoked paprika rub00 

This is one of my recipes that everyone gushes over. Everybody loves this rub and it is because of the brand of paprika I use. It is what makes the rub so amazing, plus the salty/sugary combo crunch you get when barbecuing. On pork chops or baby back ribs, amazing!! You and also add water and use it as a wet marinade or in meatloaf and many more ideas!!

Mom fall 33 

Smoked Paprika Rub

 3/4 cup smoked paprika, I really recommend El Rey paprika.

1 cup sugar

1 cup salt

½ cup dried granulated garlic

¼ cup ground pepper

You can use dried herbs such as oregano, celery seed, basil or Pat uses thyme, but I have found over time this is how my family loves it. Also add more pepper if you like. We do not like things overly peppery. Basically, as I always say tweak it to suit your palette.

 Linking this post to Free Pretty Things for You

Grilling Bock Choy Trick

Bock choy 

I am loving my new gas grill and am playing with how to grill just about everything!! Hubby loves baby bock choy, so I had to try grilling it. I wanted to add a bit of flavor, also some oil so the bock choy would not stick. I found zip-lock baggies work great for this!

Sherry Marinade

1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup of dry sherry

1 garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste


Whisk all together. Put a dozen baby bock choy in a zip lock baggie and pour marinade to the baggie, stack the choy, zip close and shake away. Covering the bock choy, getting into all the crannies. You can do this several hours ahead and keep the baggie in the fridge. Just carry the baggie to the grill. With tongs set bock choy on med/hot grill. Grill about 3 minutes on each side, until somewhat soft (I like it to have a bit of a bite, not be too soft) and has grill marks. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy whole or cut up to use in a dish.


Pub cheese

Pub cheese 

I confess, I am addicted to Trader Joes pub cheese. I want to slather it on everything. Of course when I have something I love, I have to figure out how to make it even better. I think this recipe fills the bill!!

ps. I am not a big fan of horseradish but in this recipe it really works. So even if you are not a fan either, I encourage you to give it a try!!

Pub Cheese

3 cups shredded, extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 TBL. Dijon mustard

1 TBL. horseradish

½ tsp. minced garlic

 ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp. ground pepper

 ¼ cup or more of a good rich, dark stout or ale

In a food processor add cream cheese, grated cheddar, Dijon, horseradish, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Taste and add what you think is needed. I actually use more horseradish than I posted but I want you to taste it and what you like. Then add beer. Keep pouring in bits of beer and blend, until you have a soft cheese but not so soft you could pour it. Put in fridge at least 4 hours to firm up. To serve, roll in a big ball. I rolled the cheese in chopped, toasted almonds but you could do what you like. I also stuffed chicken breasts with this and it was amazing!!


Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for Ice Cream

Two scoops 
As you know (because I keep yapping about it), I am in-love with my ice cream maker and make ice cream alllllll the time. So the latest is vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough. I was thinking how could I make the dough without having the raw egg situation. Then it hit me, cream cheese. It makesa soft dough, almost like play-dough. Easy to roll into tiny ball or smoosh into pieces, whatever floats your boat. Heck, you can eat the dough and forget the ice cream. Anyways this was a big hit.
I plan to make a batch and keep the little pieces of dough in the freezer to add to ice cream (or to nibble on ;-) I think in a tight container, they will keep for a few months. Well at lest that is the goal!!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for Ice Cream


1/2 softened butter

1/4 cup brown sugar or rapadurah

1/8 cup granulated sugar or evaporated cain

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

4 oz cream cheese

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate or chips



In a mixer cream butter and sugars. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour, salt and mix. Add cream cheese and mix until the dough comes together like play-dough. Add chocolate. Roll into small marble size balls or smooshed bits. Freeze on a tray and then add to ice cream or transfer to a freezer container, until you’re ready to use.



My No Egg Vanilla Ice Cream


1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup of sweetener, if you want it sweeter, us 3/4 cup.

a generous pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk (I use raw whole milk)

Vanilla, you can use half a pod scraped or 1 tsp. vanilla or if you have a heavy duty mixer, life a vita-mix, throw in 1/2 a pod with the cream. Blend it a minute and strain out the big pieces. This is what I do.


Mix all together and pour in ice cream maker and run for 30 minutes.



Toasted Brown Rice Salad w/ Mango Dressing

Toasted rice salad 

One of my cooking tricks (as I have written about before), is to take ordinary food and find an easy way to take it to another level. This salad is an example of that. I love brown rice and like to have extra cooked rice on-hand for things like salads. Grain salads are so healthy and filling. Perfect for lunch!

Well I have been playing with toasting my grains ;-o    It is so easy, only takes a minute or two and added more depth of flavor to the grain. This refreshing, crunchy salad with a sweet mango dressing was a big hit with my hubby. I served it witha grilled steak, a fruity zin and rosemary crackers. Really you could add any veggie or dressing you like. Try toasting your brown rice (I am not sure if this would work with white rice) before you cook it and see what you think xoxo


Toasted Brown Rice Salad w/ Mango Dressing

1 cup brown rice, uncooked

half cucumber, diced

1 ripe tomatoes, diced

1/8 cup sliced green onions or chives (I used chives, including the flowers)

6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

mango dressing*

In a heavy dry pan, toasted uncooked rice by pouring the rice in pan and setting it on a med/high heat. Wait until you start to smell the rice brown, then stir every few seconds to brown all the rice and keep it from burning. When browned, cook the rice the way you like to. (I bake it in the oven, with 2 cups of water, covered @400°F for 1 hour.)

When rice is cooked, set it off to the side for 30 minutes, leave covered. Then toss rice with 3 TBL. olive oil, to help keep it moist.

Toss cooked rice with the rest of the ingedents. Enjoy!


Mango Dressing

1 mango, cubed and purred, including the flesh of the pit. I just do this with my hands, mashing it up and squeezing the juice and flesh off the pit.

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of one lemon

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or crushed

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and then adjust to your liking.



Easy Crockpot Side Dishes

Columbine 2 

     In trying to make the most of what I have, I am wanting to use my crockpot more. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with it. I do love the ease of the crockpot but find everything I cook in it has the same texture. Stews do not have the crisp edges and deep, rich sauces like when I braise them in the oven, I find chicken can be gummy, plus so many recipes depend on canned soups and such. Still it is a useful tool, so I have been pressing forward and experimenting. I start thinking more than just a main course, there is dessert, breakfast, I have written about make chicken broth, also side dishes, etc.

     Two side dishes I have found that work really well is roasted baby potatoes and polenta. They are simple recipes, rely on pantry, are cheap.I actually perfect this method of coking polenta, to the stovetop method. It makes the creamiest (not mushy) polenta. If your family is not use to eatting polenta, try adding some good, grated cheese at the end. I add a cup or so    :- 0       It gives it flavor and richness. It is sort of like the brown rice thing, the more you eat it, the more use to get to the flavor and the less you need to bling it up xoxox

Crockpot Polenta

6 cups broth or water

2 cups polenta

2 tsp salt

½ stick of butter cup into cubes

Coat the inside liner of your crockpot with a non-stick cooking spray or oil. Add all ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on high 1 ½ -2 hours, until polenta is smooth and creamy. 

You can add cheese or fresh herbs at this point if you like. I love chopped rosemary and smoked provolone!!


Crockpot Roasted Baby Potatoes

About 20 or so small potatoes, enough to cover the bottom. I love fingerlings for this.

½ cup olive oil

1 TBL salt, or to your taste

1 tsp pepper, or to your taste

5 garlic cloves finely chopped or sliced

(you can also add some chopped fresh herbs)


Pour all ingredients in a crockpot and stir. Turn crockpot high. Cook four hours, stirring each hour, until potatoes are soft and crisp on the outside!!


Jam Ice Cream

Jam ice cream 101 
I have been meaning to post for months that I predict the new trend is going to be ice cream. Just like cup-cakes there will be tea shirts, fun ways to bling up, pretty containers, ice cream carriers (Which if I was rich I would be creating a fun carrier for a pint of homemade ice cream), pillows, who knows what else. Out with cup-cakes in with ice cream! Well we will see if I am right???

I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate at Once Upon a Plate, Mari (thank you dear friend xoxo) from Wayfair. I decided to get a new ice cream maker. One that makes 2 quarts of ice cream, since I am making it all the time. I LOVE my new machine and have a ton of ice cream ideas.

One the my latest creation that was a big hit, is jam ice cream. It started because I was craving raspberries ice cream but did not have raspberries. I did however have raspberry jam. The ice cream was splendid and easy, a favorite combination of mine. I will say you need a soft jam or jelly. Feel free to make this with any milk or non-milk combo, just make sure you have 3 cups. I think it is a brilliant way to use up leftover jam!! I am off to make mango lassi ice cream (made with homemade kifer) and maybe some cafe borgia ice cream!!!

Jam ice cream 202 

Jam Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups half and half

and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream (or the amount of liquid your ice cream maker calls for)

1/3 cup soft jam, I used raspberry

pinch of salt

2 TBL. vodka or liquor that goes with your flavor (this is optional and to keep the ice cream from being rock hard)

Whisk all together, pour in ice cream machine and run 30 minutes. Transfer to a container and set in freezer, to finishes firming up.

Serve a scoop with a bit more jam drizzled on top!!

Baked Brown Rice (even my daughter will eat!)

Tt tea 202 

Well in my attempt to keep my family eating healthier and healthier I put a kibosh on white rice, which did not make one of my daughters happy. I have been playing and playing with how to make brown rice that is not a ton of work for me but is pleasing to my picky eater. I finally came up with this baked rice recipe. I like it because it is a throw it all in a pan, set in the oven and an hour later we have rice!! The child in question (we will not name names but you know who you are ;-) likes it. Does she love it? NO! Does she wish we ate white rice instead? YES! But this seems like a win/win situation. Between you and me, I think the more she eats it, the more she will get use to it, until it is all she knows. One big trick I found is cooking it in broth. Yes, water is cheaper but for now I am will to do broth if that helps her like brown rice more. I am slowly using less and less broth, but shh, do not tell her!!!

The other thing is it is important to use a large, wide pan because you want the rice spread out. The rice will not cook as well if it is deep in a small pan. Does that make sense? You can change things up with different spices or add some saute veggies at the end but this is the basic recipe. I hope it helps your family embrace brown rice.

Tt v tea 2 

I wanted to share a picture of the amazing Tasha Tudor Valentines tea the girls and I were invited to. A small group of Tasha Tudor lovers from WA, MT and MA were lucky enough to be invited into Linda's charming home for the most perfect tea. Sadly none of my pictures turned out (I hate it when that happens). Linda put out an delicious spread of goodies, as you can see. What I loved about Linda home (besides all the amazing antiques) is she has taken a small extra bedroom and turned it into a tea room. Isn't that a perfect thing to do with an extra bedroom. I could have just moved in. Thank you Linda, you are the most gracious hostess xoxo


Baked Brown Rice

Pre-heat oven 400°F (If your oven runs hot you might want to turn your temp down to 375°F)

In a large pan with a heavy lid (or cover tight w/ foil) mix the follow ingredients. 

1 1/2 cups of brown rice

2 1/2 cups of broth

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/8 cup of dried currents (you could also golden raisins or cherries)

pepper to taste


Mix and spread out rice. Then set bits of butter dotting the top of the rice, about 2 TBL. worth. Cover with a tight cover and bake one hour. Pull out, let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.


Easy (no egg, no sugar) sour cream ice cream with chocolate bits

Cage 00 

I am sure some of you cannot think about ice cream in the middle of winter (especially with the winter some of you are having!) but we never get sick of it. Ice cream though can be fussy. You have to cook the eggs, cool it , wait, etc. I like to just be able to whisk it all together, throw it in the machine and 1/2 hour later have ice cream! Easy, peasy. I espcially love to use sour cream (you can also use cream fraiche or yoguart instead) becuse of the tang it adds. It balances the sweetness for me.

Thanks to Angie (who I am always copying) I learned  a cool way to add bits of chocolate to the ice cream, that is solid but still quickly melts in your mouth. Near the end of making the ice cream, you melt some chocolate with a little cream or coconut oil (which I prefer) then slowly drizzle the chocolate in the ice cream as it is going around in the machine. As the chocolate hits the cold ice cream it hardens. If you get big glob of chocolate, it breaks up with a spoon, when you transfer it to the container. It does soften the ice cream up a bit but I run it a few more minutes and then quickly transfer the ice cream to a container and set in the freezer. I think some instant espresso powder or at the end crumbled short bread mixed in would be heavenly!!


Easy (no egg, no sugar, although you can use sugar) sour cream ice cream with chocolate bits

1 cup sour cream

1 cup  heavy cream

1 cup half and half

½ cup sweetener (I used three drops of stevia and 1/3 of cup xylitol run through a food processor to make it powdered so it mixes in fast. You can do the same thing with sugar)

Pinch of salt

1 tsp of alcohol, this is to keep the ice cream soft. I use coffee flavored but brandy is great. You can barely taste it or leave it out. Your ice cream will be harder though.


Whisk all together and pour in ice cream machine, run ½ hour and transfer to a container and put in freezer.


To make bits,

after 20 minutes of the ice cream mixing in the machine, melt ½ cup of chocolate chips with 1 tsp of cream or coconut oil (I like the texture of the coconut oil better). The slowly drip melted chocolate with a spoon into ice cream as it goes around. Let it finishes running the 10 minutes and then freeze.


Do You Not Know What to Cook For Dinner & Need a Plan?

Winter chill3 

It is four o'clock and you do not know what for cook, you do not feel like cooking! This is one of the biggest complaints I hear (and read) about cooking. I have to confess that my life is getting fuller and I have days where I feel overwhelmed and it is hard to think about cooking. I have one day in particular I am gone all day and get home 45 minutes before I have to have dinner ready. So I have developed a plan of sorts for myself. It will not fix all your cooking problems but maybe give you a start. I think in 7 days. I mean all I need is to have dinner for 7 days, then I can repeat those 7 days every week. I can bling up those 7 days so they do not all feel the same but I only need to think in 7 days.

So here is my list.

Day 1  whole chicken

Day 2  ground beef probably, meatloaf or baked meatballs

Day 3  pasta dish

Day  4  fish dish

Day  5  vegetarian dish

Day  6  hubby barbecues, usually steaks or pork chops

Day  7  soup or stew, in the summer main dish salad


Now I do not follow this list religiously, actually on Sunday I try to make a fun, unique dish for my family. It is our splurge day with something like seafood lasagna! I get a glass of wine, put on a cooking show and cook away (I wish I could cook like this every day and am hoping  my life will slow down a bit, so I can). We actually have vegetarian dishes more like 3 times a week, but none of this matters. What I mean is as long as I know I have this list and the food for it, I am set, I can set worries aside. For those crazy days I know I have food for my 7 day plan.

Below I will list some ideas of how to bling things up but all you have to have is a something for each category. Plus do NOT wait until dinner to think of dinner, at lest think the night before. I do so I can pull meat out of the freezer. Between this and a well stocked pantry, you should be able to pull out a dinner that looks like you are soo on top of things (even if you are not!!).


Whole chicken; 4 ideas lemon garlic rub, stuff under the skin w/ herb butter, smoked paprika+granulated garlic+salt+pepper rub or marinate in buttermilk and curry. Let each of those ideas inspire a side dish, something lemony, herbs, curry or Spanish?


Ground beef; Stuffed meatloaf with cheese or hard-boiled eggs, bake meatballs and sever with hummus and raw veggies, make joes special or Greek skewers.


Oh pasta, love the stuff; well first it is a great way to use leftovers, sever with roasted veggies, baked with cheese (add a big salad and you have dinner) or no-boil lasagna.


Fish; my oven roasted parmesan shrimp, pan friend salmon, lemon/caper scallops or fish stew. There are a zillion more ideas!!


Vegetarian; main course salad, soup, stuff w/ and baked (Wren bays has a wonderful recipe ;-) or veggi sushi.


Barbecue; well my hubby does not cook but he does barbecue, so I take advantage of that. He grills year around, rain, snow, sleet, he grills. I keep my freezer full of cheap, tough steaks already in marinade (to tenderize them) in freezer baggies all ready to go. Some weekends I have him grill extra stuff for the week to come. So I say grill away, it helps me!!!


Soups and stews; another great way to use leftover or bits of meat chili, pumpkin soup, beef stewAsian wedding meat ball soup, I could go on and on!!

French Christmas Menu

Christmas menu 2010 

I thought with my French Marie Claire Idees theme, I should do a classic, elegant French dinner. This was a bit of a challenge because classic French cooking is time consuming and a bit fussy (in a good way  ;-)     but I am responsible for Christmas eve, Christmas morning and Christmas dinner, so I had to simplify. If I do not get better soon, I will have to simplify this menu even more  ;-o     I tried to capture the flavors and textures of classic French cusine. I have my trusty Mastering The French Art Of Cooking cookbooks at my side (although I am not sure if Julia would approve of my menu). C'est la vie, so what are you cooking ??  xoxo


Fish Mousse  Chive oil I plan on making this the day before.

Sorbet I will purchase at Mora

I am just making up the sauce as I go, the same w/ the endive.

My mother is making the green beans and cake

Simple salad of greens with fresh oranges and bits of brie w/ orange vinaigrette

Dessert is a simplified version of Julia Child's Los Gato's Gateau. This is am amazing dish, I made it about 26 years ago. I can still taste it but it is a lot of work. I just do not have the time w/ all the other cooking I am doing. So my plan is to layer meringue (bought from Trader Joes) with toasted hazelnuts and almonds, pastry cream and the apricot filling!!! I will let you know how it was!!

Plus on Christmas eve, I am making fish stew with lemon/garlic aioli, pasta, simple salad and bread. I am still planning Christmas breakfast. So that is my plan!!


image from graphics fairy


Party and Spiced Punch and a Winner, Oh No!


It was a wonderful


book singing party full of 






Seabold Hall


Me signing books


Wren Bay


Me signing


Fresh bay leaves for cooking for guest to take home


More signing

Wren doll 







And signing!!!

Sorry for all the pictures of me but I did not think any if my friends would want their picture on my blog. I want to thank Mary, Linda and DiXymiss for the amazing photos they took for me!! And so many friends how helped me set up and take down. And just the general love and support for Wren Bay. It helps me to hear specifically what you love about Wren and if I write more, what character you want to know more about. The party was quite surreal and overwhelming for me but such a blessing. Thank you all who came, some even from another state, it means more than I can express. I hope you got enough to eat  ;-)

Besides yummy cakes and tea, I created a wonderful punch. I wanted some kind of a spiced cider but cold. I came up with the idea of making a ginger/vanilla syrup and adding the syrup to the juices, then a bit of bubble water to cut the sweetness. It was really good enjoy!!

And now to announce the winner of Wren Bay is Tatting Chic, congratulations. I will e-mail you!! Thank you, thank you again for all your love and support. If you get Wren and deced to ever write a review, let me know and I will link it xoxo

Spiced Cider Punch

1/2 cup ginger vanilla syrup*

One 1/2 gallon jug apple cider

1 bottle of sparking cranberry cider

1 bottle bubble water



1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean cut in half

1 thick slice of fresh ginger

In a sauce pan place all ingredients in a pan and let simmer on low 10 minutes. Set aside 1/2 hour to cool. Remove vanilla bean and ginger. Cut vanilla open and scrap out the beans into the syrup and mix together. 



Mix the syrup, cider and cranberry juice. Taste and see if you like it and if it needs more syrup. Then add bubble water to your taste. I make the punch strong and sweet then add some bubble water to cut it. Enjoy

Fall Recipes I Love

Owl corner3 

Akkk, I am a little crazy getting ready for my book signing party. So here is some wonderful fall recipes (I wish I had thought of ;-) to enjoy. Remember to come back on Monday for Wren's coming out party. You can win a copy of Wren and there will be info.on how to get a signed bookplate.

I am off to ice 120 earl grey cookies {:-o        xoxox


Nutella Rice Krispie Treats 

Baked Oatmeal in a Pumpkin

Salad w/ Mulled Pears

Pumpkin-and-Feta Muffins

Apple Cider Maple Cream Tart

Pumpkin-Spiced Infused Vodka, great Christmas gift!!

Apple Caramel Peanut Butter Popcorn

Summer Lime Treat and Winners

Lime curd222

    There are certain foods that just seem to be made for each other, like strawberries and lavender or limes and blueberries. I love these combos. A couple of weeks ago was Beatrix Potter's birthday and we had an impromptu tea outside. I was scrambling for a treat to serve and came up with this simple dish. All it is, is good crusty bread, lime curd and some perfect blueberries. I have to say it is wonderful!

    I have mentioned before I like to make curd in the microwave, I find it is foolproof and straining it catches any lumps you happen to have. One thing I always do and never see in recipes, is I add the zest at the end. It keep the oils in the zest strong.

Now for the four winners of the stevia give-away

Angie   Theresa   Linda    Nadine

Email me with your address and thank you all who entered. I will see you one Saturday, Tasha Tudor day. I have a cute, easy pin to share xoxox


Quick Lime Curd

3 limes, zested (set zest aside) and juiced

3 whole eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter cut into cubes.

In a microwave-safe bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add juice and butter. Set bowl in microwave, a run on high for one minutes. Pull out bowl and whisk. Keep doing this till curd is think. I find it takes me 5-6 minutes. Push curd through a sieve into a bowl to catch any lumps. Then stir in zest. Let cool a little while and then refrigerate.

My Adventure With Lavender and Stevia

Lav panna22222 

I am always looking for ways to make what I cook, healthier. But I will NOT compromise on taste, it is just not worth it. My mother and several friends use stevia. I have tried it and found it left a bitter taste and my mouth feeling numb, uck!!! I sort of pretty much had written off stevia. But Angie (Of course, my go-to foodie friend) told me about a new stevia by NuNatrual. I tried in my tea and loved it. The same day I found out I had won a give-away on VeganFamilyStyle (Thank you Debra) from NuNatural. Well I guess it was meant to be. I expected to just get a small sample, but was surprise when I got a large box.

I was lucky to receive a bottle of vanilla stevia, a box of packets of powder stevia and baking blend. I have been playing with the products. What I love and use the most is the liquid stevia and the vanilla stevia, which taste just like vanilla but sweet. The baking blend worked well but I personally would not use it a lot. It would not be cost effective. But if my baking and sweetener choices were limited, baking blend would be a good choice.

If you have been wanting to try stevia or are like me and hated other stevia's, I encourage you to try NuNaturals. Thank you again NuNaturals again for my generous give-away box. One of my favorite things I have made is a lavender panna cotta. Panna Cotta's are easy to make and any way I can use lavender makes me happy.

By the way if you are looking into raw/vegan cooking Debra's site is great. She has a wonderful testimony and has written her own e-book and DVD. I do raw cooking for lunches and always find inspiration on Debra's site xoxox

Lav pannaaaaa

Lavender Panna Cotta w/ Stevia

Serves 4

1 cup half and half

4 fresh lavender blossoms, or 1 generous TBL, dried lavender, make sure you do not use lavender that has been sprayed with any chemicals

1 cup heavy cream

pink of salt

1 1/2 tsp. powder gelatin

2 TBL cold water

1/2 tsp. liquid stevia, taste and see if you need more or 1/3 cup honey

Infusing half/half

If you are using fresh lavender, gently rinse blossoms under cold water and pat lavender dry with a towel. Do not worry about getting the flower completely dry. Roughly cut or I just used scissors, blossoms into big pieces. It is fine if you use some of the stem, you are going to trwo all this away. Add half/half  and lavender to a small saucepan. Bring milk to a simmer. Keep an eye in it, milk can go from simmering to boiling over the pan very quickly. Do not let boil, as soon as you see bubble forming, pull pan off stove and let sit 20 minutes.

Making Panna Cotta

Grease with cooking spray 4 small ramekins.

In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit to soften for 5 minutes. Strain lavender out of milk and discard flowers. Add cream and a pinch of salt to milk and reheat, until hot but not boiling. Add stevia (If using honey, add it when you heat cream above). Whisk gelatin into cream for a lest a minute to make sure you evenly distributed the gelatin. Pour into ramekins and set in fridge at lest 4 hours.

To un mold run a knife around edge and invert panna cotta onto a plate. I served it with strawberry sauce and fresh blueberries.

Strawberry sauce

1 cup water

1 cup sugar or stevia to taste, start with 1 tsp.

1 cup berries (I  used frozen berries from berries I picked last summer)

Pul everything in a sauce pan and simmer 10 minutes until berries are collapsed and the sauce is a deep red. Cool, strain out berries and enjoy.

Salami Dip & The Beach


We had soo much fun at the ocean, Pacific Beach to be exact. I love PB because it is tiny and quite. It is like one block to the beach and one block to the like four shops. Each morning I would get up early, walk to the (new, styling) coffee shop in my nightie (which was cute pink pants with tea pots and a grey hoodie and silver tennis-shoes) get a HOT mocha and go walk across the street onto the foggy beach. There was hardly anyone else around. We just spent our days hanging out on the beach. There is not much else to do but that is why I like it. Where else can you walk down the middle of the street in you nightie and feel perfectly normal !!!

The one thing I hate about PB is there is no grocery stores, just a mini-mart. So you have to bring in everything. We rented a little cabin with it's own kitchen, I cooked ahead and hit Grocery Outlet for cheap, organic junk-food. But the big hit I made is a salami dip/spread. I served it with raw veggies and cracker. But I spread it on romain lettuce leaves and it was deli-sh. You can make a bates, keep it in the fridge and scoop out a bit as you want it. By the way the fancy houses below is Seabrook (down the hwy.) I am already to go back !!!
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Salami Dip

I block, 8oz. of cream cheese

1 cup of mayo

a generous 1/2 cup of finely chopped salami, do not use the pre-sliced salami, get one big piece.

1 garlic clove, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

one jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, you can also use 1/3 cup olives

In a food processer cream, cream cheese one minutes. Add mayo, salami, garlic, salt and pepper. Process another minute until it all comes together and the salami is chopped up a bit more. You probably will have to scrap the sides a few times. Add artichoke heats and push a few times to mix in artichokes, but keep them still a little chunky.


Parmesan-Crusted Baked Shrimp


Okay, I think I have established on this blog, I am lazy!

Yes, I love to cook but IF I can find a quicker but still amazing way to do it, I will take it.. This is my when-I-come-home-late-and-am-too-tired-to-cook-dish, well this is an improvement on that dish! It has become a families favorite. We all love the crunchy, cheesy topping and I love how simply fast it is. Actually Chloe is the one who makes it most of the time.

I buy shrimp in big bags, divvy it up and freeze. On crazy days in the morning I pull out a bag of frozen shrimp, put rice and broth in the rice cooker and toss together the dry portion of this dish. I come home turn on the oven and rice cooker then when the oven is hot I finish off the shrimp dish. This gives me time to go out in my garden pick some fresh lettuce and chive blooms. To make a quick vinaigrette just I thin down some homemade aioli with a bit more oil. (Which is soo fast and easy because of my blenderstick. I keep a batch of alioli always on-hand). Now this is my kind of fast food !!!!!

Parma shrimppppppp 

 Parmesan-Crusted Baked Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, shelled and if frozen defrosted

⅟₈ cup olive oil.

1 ½ cups dried breadcrumbs, I like panko

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt, pepper and dried, granulated garlic

¼ cup butter, ½ stick, melted


Pre-heat oven 350◦F

Toss shrimp in oil and arrange shrimp in a wide baking pan, big enough to not crowd each other. In a bowl toss together crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic. When the oven is hot mix crumbs with melted butter (do not do this ahead of time or the crumbs will become mushy). If not all crumbs are coated, add a bit more melted butter. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over shrimp and bake 25 minutes.


Kitchen Gadgets I Actually Use


LOL, I have still not had my mothers day (I am waiting for a nice weekend, so we can go hang out on the beach and have tapas, that may not be till next summer ;-) but I did get my mothers day gift. I confess I am addicted to Perri. I adore bubble water and bubbly juice. But even buying flats at Costco, was still pricey. I thought if I could just make my own, well maybe that would work. I did some research and saw that Soadstream got good reviews. I talked with the lady at the cooking shop who has had her's for 4 months and was sold. I have to say after a month, I love SS. The oxygen carriage is huge and it is easy to use. Holds the bubbles well and a littler bottle of bubble water is about  .15 cents !!!! I got the fountain jet, but we do not buy their sodas flavorings. We drink water/juice and are playing with making our own syrups (I will post what we come up with). If you are looking for a soda/bubble water replacement, I recommend Sodastream.

Now I actually rarely buy kitchen gadget's as I have said before. I find I never use them. But my mother was raving about her new blender stick. When she bragged about how she made mayo in like 3 seconds, she had me. I have always struggled making mayo and gave up, because I was wasting soo much olive oil on batches that never thickened. My mother told me she just dumped the ingredients in the cup like the recipe calls for (in the booklet), three or four pulses and wha-la. I have been adding basil leaves,Greek pitted olives, lemon peel, sun-dried tomatoes, ect (not all at once ;-) and make the most yummy mayo. Take a bit of the mayo and thin it with some vinegar and bit more oil and you have a fantastic salad dressing. If you have a Costco, check it out. They have even a better deal then Amazon.

Well I am not sure if you would call these a gadget but Angie and I were talking about how we are trying to get rid of our plastic containers. She got an amazing deal at Costco (got to love Costco). A box of 9 glasslock containers for $29.00, killer deal. I bought two boxes and am saving one for when my first set breaks.

While I am at it, two other gadgets I can not like without is my ice cream maker so I can make amazing blueberry sour cream ice cream (ANOTHER Costco deal, they should be paying me for this post) and my microplane (I do my garlic with it). I am lost without them. SO what gadget can you not live without ???????

PS. I loved this seating area Katillac Shack posted last year. You should check out the whole kitchen. Lots of fun ideas.

So What Do I Really Cook A Lot

Spring view2

This has been my view a lot lately, out my bedroom window. With me being sick for over a month now (now I have a cold with a low grade fever) I am so grateful my girls can cook. They have been such a big help, thank you girls xoxo

I have a cookbook for each of them and they need updating. I decided to look at my list of recipes (on the left side of the blog) and see what recipe we really use all the time. Those tried and true recipes, we lean on and add them to the girl's cookbooks. They are all, easy, yummy and fast. I thought I would share the list with you too xoxoxo

PS. you have asked about the picture below. That is Chloe and she is wearing a shirt, not a dress. It is black and from Target. It is really stunning with the ruffles down the front.

Coco Mix without preservatives, girls live on this in the winter.

Rose Syrup, this is my sunshine in the winter.

Mango Rum Slushy, Okay this is for me ;-)

Overnight Baked Oatmeal Cakes, I make these allllllll the time, especially when I have guests.

Chocolate Mayo Cake, you can do anything with this cake.Chloe made this for my dad the other night and served it with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.

Espresso sugar, I could sprinkle this on everything

My No Bake Cookies, I make these at lest twice a month.

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, there are no words how amazing these are.

Highland Toffee Bars, I make these at lest twice a month too.

60 Second Chocolate Mousse, I would say this is the recipe I make the most. I am forever tweaking the favorings but it is the fastest, most elegant recipe I have.

Broccoli Meatballs, I keep bags of these, unbaked in my freezer.

How I Roasted A Chicken, we have a roasted chicken every week.

Garlic Baked Shrimp, this is my "I came home, it is dinner time and I am too tired to cook dinner" recipe.

Cheesy Potatoes, Aubern'es specialty.

Salad w/ Orange Green Onion Vinaigrette

Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn, this goes without saying.

Buttermilk Biscuits, again I keep bags of these, unbaked, in my freezer. Ready to bake off and enjoy.

3 Ginger Banana Muffins, this is by far our favorite muffin recipe.

Baked Ravioli's, this is Chloe's specialty.

Roasted Tomatoes Ricotta Sauce, I roasted the tomatoes in the morning or days before and then whip it all up and pour it over pasta. Yummy and easy.

Spring Topping

Angie garden2

Am I the only one craves food with each season? In the summer I want fruit and salad, fall stews and winter soup with bread. In the spring I always crave lighter, bright food. Lemon, I can never get enough this time of year. I have been putting lemon juice and zest into everything lately. Another thing I crave this time of year is greens. I have sorrel, nettles (becareful they sting read how to harvest them first), garlic tops, kale, chard and arugula popping up in my garden. For my secret project (I know, either share or shut up about it already ;-) I have been researching wild-crafting in the spring. Nettles are rampant around here and this is the time to enjoy them. They are very good for you and a perfect spring tonic. You can read more about them and cooking here.

I have been making an assorted green topping with lots of lemon zest. I make a big batch, keep it in the fridge to fill omelets, top potatoes, make bruschettas, toss with pasta, fill tarts and so much more. I encourage you to get an assortment of greens you love and make a topping. Just remember some green cook quickly and some do not. I just separate my greens into two groups. I cook the ones that take longer first, then throw in the others at the last minute. Add a some pecorino shavings and drizzle some olive oil and you have lemon/green heaven xoxoxo

Spring Greens

8 cups assorted greens, such as nettles, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli rab, asparagus, leeks, cabbage, green onions, cress, arugula, beet greens, mustard, pack choi, mizuna, sorrel and so much more.

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

3 garlic cloves finely minced

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Remember to divide up your greens into two groups. One that cooks longer and one that cooks quickly.

In a largest pan you have heat a large splosh of oil on mead-high heat. Add the veggies that take longer. Sprinkle salt and pepper, cover and cook till done to you likeness. Then add other greens and garlic. Turn up heat and stir-fry till wilted. Take off heat and add zest and juice to suite your palette.

Will keep 5 days in fridge as a topping.  


My Mother Is Brilliant

Pillow 1
Well my mother is brilliant for so many reason but lately every time I go to her house she gives me bits of this and that to eat. She has been on a cooking and sewing storm. Which is funny because it is usually me who is on a cooking and crafting storm (not right now, my house is in shambles and I am barely cooking). Anyways, it has been such a treat to go to my mothers, because who knows what she will feed me. The last time was a almond ricotta cake and almond bread (she is experimenting with almond flour), the time before meatballs in puttanesca sauce and fresh fruit with cardamom, the time before that almond butter candies in dark chocolate. She has been telling me about these apples she caramelized and baked in cream, kill me !!!! I am kicking myself we do not still live together anymore. So if you need kitchen inspiration, check out my mothers food blog.

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Also look at these pillows she made, beautiful mom. I can not wait to see more xoxoxoxoxo


Birthday Girl

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Just a quick post to say I will be back soon. We are busy celebrating Auberne`s birthday. The girls got to go to Anthropologie for the very first time, they are ready to move in. Auberne` requested Asian dumpling soup and cupcake milkshake. Happy 19th birthday sweetie-pea, we love and adore you, you are our sunshine xoxoxo


PS Theresa is having a wonderful give-away. You should check it out !!!!

Pantry Gifts

Handmade gifts 1 

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year, was the homemade pantry items my mother made me. There is nothing like a homemade gifts. I know my mother has been very interested in herbs this year and how to use them to help stretch her budget. Everything was really good and don't you love that red jar for the tea !!!! Thank you mom, I can not wait to see what you make next year ;-)  xoxoxo

Cinnamon basil vinegar

Greek spices, I used it on a roasted chicken the other night and it was soo good.

Candy cane tea, with my candy cane syrup to sweeten it a bit more, perfect winter treat. Wouldn't the tea and the syrup be great gift.

Rosemary maple glazed nuts, which is not in the picture, becuse I was too busy eating it. Oh this is my favorite. She made it with smoked chili powder for David, but left it out for me. It is just barely sweet, with the rich browned butter and then the bight rosemary. Heaven and veryyyyy addictive !!!

Bock Choi with Sherry and Prosciutto

Christmas hats 

Hello, I hope you had a blessed and yummy Christmas, we did. No drama, just relaxing and low key. The girls got dressed up. Auberne` made the sweetest hat and Chloe even made Elisabeth (her doll) a hat from an MnM container. Good reuse Chloe !!!! 

This year's dinner was really good. My mother was afraid the chicken with cranberries and pears would be sweet, but it was not. It was rich and earthy. The dish everyone loved the most was the bock choi. But I do want to apologize because when I went to read the bock choi recipe I had posted, I realized it was not what I though and would not go with the dinner. So here is my recipe xoxoxo 

 Christmas hats 2


Bock Choi with Sherry and Prosciutto

12 baby bock choi, cut in half

1/4 cup dry sherry

3 think slices of prosciutto, chopped

Heat 3 TBL olive oil in a large pan on hight till pan is very hot. Set bock choi cut side down in hot oil. Let it brown for a few seconds. If you can not put them all in at one time, pulling them out and set the bock choi on a platter. Add oil as needed till all pieces are browned on high heat.

Then put bock choy in pan again, quick pour sherry over the bock choi, sprinkle prosciutto over bock choi and cover with lid. Turn down heat to low and let cook two minutes. Check tenderness. I like it still a bit crunchy, but cook to your liking. Add some pepper and enjoy.

Woodland Menu

Woodland menue

This is our Christmas dinner, Christmas eve we will have cheese fondue and lots of cookies. Christmas morning is gingerbread overnight orange baked french toast, scrambled eggs with whatever goodies you want in your eggs and bacon. So what are you making ??? xoxox

Chicken breast with cranberries and pears in a cream sauce is from Susan Branch Christmas book

Wild rice hazelnut pilaf

Bock Choi with Sherry and Prosciutto

Individual Bouche De Noel

Orange cream brulee

Roasted-Garlic Pumpkin Hummus


Fall treee2

Once a week Chloe and Angie's daughter have a play date. Which I love because Angie is an amazing cook and always feeds me soooo well. But I like to bring her something yummy too. I wanted to do something with the long-pie pumpkins Angie grew for me and I had roasted. I decided to make roasted garlic pumpkin hummus.

I wanted it to have the qualities of a pumpkin pie but something savory not sweet. Normally when I do hummus, it is very lemony and garlicky. So I decided to roast the garlic to give it a deeper, richer flavor. I used less lemon and instead of herbs, I used spices. Mostly cumin as this seems to go with the deep flavor of the roasted garlic. But also I added some cinnamon and ground ginger.

Also about when I make hummus, you will see I used half water/half olive oil. I do not do that for health reasons (although it is a good reason) I do it for money reasons. I am trying to stretch what I have. I discovered hummus is just as rich and yummy with half water/half oil. You can make this hummus and freeze part for future meals. I like to serve it with baked garlic meatballs and raw veggies.

Enjoy, Miss. Storybook Woods (thank you for the kind comments :-) xoxoxox 

Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus

1 whole garlic, roasted and cloves pulled out of skin, discard skin

I cup pumpkin puree

1, 15 oz can or 1 ½ cup cooked garbanzos rinsed

Juice of half a large lemon

¼ cup water

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup tahini

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground pepper, cinnamon, ground ginger


Puree add ingredients till smooth.

Image above is a view out my kitchen window of Chloe's maple tree, it is quite beautiful this year.

Now You Can Find My Recipes Easier


Well the good thing about being sick and spending all day on the couch is I finally was able to make a list of all my recipe. Mind you there are 150 of them, akkkk. I only put my recipes up, not ones I have linked. But I got sick (as I am sure you have too) of scrolling though a bunch of post trying to find a recipe. I have grouped them and will add new recipes to the list as I post them. There is a link on the left side for the recipe list. If you find any of the links are wrong, please let me know and I will fix it. I tried to check them all, but in my sick, loopy self, I am sure I missed some. It was fun for me to see all the recipes listed. My miscellaneous section is fairly big, but that is one of my cooking tricks. Take something simple like chicken breast and then spice it up with something like holiday berry salt. I hope you find it easier to find my recipes now and are inspired to cook.

I also wanted to thank Kristine at Herbal Roots Zine, I won one of her fantastic herb zine. I already have two, I bought them for Chloe but I have to say I enjoy them a lot and am learning some new things. Thank you so much Kristine.

Thank you for all the well wishes and prayers. I am starting to feel better but am still laying low and do only the basics. A shout out to my peeps (Auberne` and Chloe) they have been soo helpful and kind, thank you sweeties. The picture above is looking out my library window, down my drive way. As you can see it is a gray, foggy, fall morning. Just the kind I love xoxoxo


Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

Micro popcorn 2

I was at my uber foodie friend's house and somehow we got taking about popcorn (we always talk about food). I said I make my own microwave popcorn. She had not heard of it. Well I figured if she had not, maybe some of you have not. It is sooo easy and cheap !!!

Micro popcorn7

Here is what you need.

1/2 cup popcorn

1 paper bag

olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

a stapler

Microwave pop

In a paper-bag put the popcorn, a drizzle of oil and salt. Give the bag a shake to coat the popcorn. Fold over the top of the bag 1/2 inch and staple one staple in the center. About the staple, your microwave can handle one staple. At lest that is what I have read and I have never had a problem. BUT do learn from me, lay you bag on the side. If it touches the top, it can burn it.

Now timing takes a bit of playing with. It runs between 3 1/2 minutes- 4 minutes. Do not leave your popcorn it can burn. Listen to the popping and when it goes from constant popping to 3 second or so pause between popping, that is the time to pull it. It take a few times but then you will learn how you microwave works.

Be careful the popcorn is hot, tear open the bag and you might have to give the bag a squish to break up the popcorn. I like to drizzle a little butter with curry powder and dried granulated garlic. Then to gild the lily, I sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese over the top and set it under the broiler. Enjoy xoxoxo 

Preserving, Smartly

Plum jam2

    It is the season of bounty and in trying to make the most our money, I want to preserve it. Oh I have dreams of shelves filled with glistening jars in jewel colors, a full freezer and my pantry stuffed to the seams. I have been dreaming since spring all I want to do but then reality has hit. My garden is not putting out the bounty I was hoping. We have had no guests all summer but the next two months will be busy. Plus, quite frankly I just can not do it all. So I realize I need to be smart about all of this and how I use my time.

    I decided to make a list of all I wanted to do. Then went back over it and crossed off either what we will not really eat or what I can already buy cheap. For example I can get inexpensive frozen green beans and corn, also fresh carrots, organic at Costco. Also I have found in the past my family did not eat canned fruit and veggies. So I have let this go. Even jam, we eat it but not large quantities. We are not big peanut butter and jelly fans. So I am making a few small batches, like my favorite red-wine plum jam. I decided to freeze most of my fruit and if I need more jam, I can take that frozen fruit and make more in the winter.

    One food we eat a lot of is red sauce, so I canned that. I have also dried a lot of fruit and veggies for future cakes, muffins, dried soup mixes, etc. I plan on making Roasted Pear Sauce and pumpkin pie filling for the freezer.

    So what I am trying to say with this long post, is think about what your family likes? What you use, what is easily available to you and what is not? That way you can plan wisely how to fill your pantry. Also I encourage you to try at least one new thing. For me drying certain veggies this year is new for me. I may decide it is not worth it but I will not know unless I try. It is just as important to know what does not work, as what does!.




Chefs On The Farm


I got a very fascinating book from the library Chefs On The Farm by Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Misterly. It talks about the Quillisascut Farm School Of Domestic Arts, a working farm and dairy. The book describes each season and the work of the farm. I enjoy it and there were some inspiring recipes. There is also pantry recipes with each season. I looked around on-line a found these four recipes from the book.

Also a reminder Tasha Tudor day is Friday xoxoxo

 Cardamom–Apple Stuffed French Toast with Cider Syrup

Chicken Stew with Ricotta Chive Dumplings

Spelt Granola

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sibley Squash, Pears and Sage

Mandolin Salad

Mandoline saladd

I have discovered a trick !!!! I borrowed a mandolin slicer/Japanese slicer from my mother (Now I have to go get one for myself) and was playing around with it. I discovered my family likes salad and raw veggies better if they are thinly sliced. I do not know why but they tend to rave over salads I make where I thinly slice the veggies. Well if that is all it takes to get my family to eat more veggie, I can do that. I make cucumber salads tossed in homemade greek yogurt, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Another is mushroom and fennal bulb salad drizzled with a little hazelnut oil and shavings of romano. This salad is sliced orange and red tomatoes, raw zucchini from the garden, three kinds of basil (lemon, Thai and cinnamon), nasutrshum flowers, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. I severed it with mini fresh mozzarella balls ($2.00, from the grocery outlet, yeah !!!) on the side. 

Another trick, about the zucchini, if you use fresh, young zucchini it is wonderful raw. Also you can use the slicer on a food processor but it will not give you the thin slices like the mandolin. So consider add this tool to your Christmas wish list xoxoxo

Rocken Raw Pesto

Rocken girls 

My girls playing around, doing homeschool idol, even Simon was there !!!!


Rocken Raw Pesto

1 cup of almonds, soaked overnight in cold water. Throw away water and store in fridge till ready to use * see note at bottom

zest of one lemon

juice half a lemon

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley

1 garlic clove or more if needed, peeled

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 of a cup olive oil, plus more as needed

In a food processor add parsley (washed, steams and all) and then the rest of ingredients. Process till smooth. You will have to keep stopping and push the parsley down. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and garlic to your liking. If the pesto seems to dry add more oil a bit at a time till you get a constancy you like. Serve with lots of raw veggie and bread.


There are two reasons why you soak the almonds, one is it makes the almonds healthier and easier to digest and second soaking them makes them moister and sweeter, so the dip will have a creamier texture.


This pesto has no cheese, because it is raw (nothing cooked) enjoy xoxox

Raw Cucumber Soup

Raw cucumber soup

My hubby and daughters cook their own lunches (well hubby takes leftovers  :), so I am on my own. I have been looking into to raw cooking. I actually like most of my veggies raw anyways, so this works for me. I need to eat hormone-free protein's, beans and nuts are a good choice I can afford. This raw soup has been a favorite of mine lately. It is super easy, you could add any veggies, herbs, seasons you want. By soaking the cashews overnight, you makes them softer, but you do not have to soak them. You can also use raw almonds, walnuts, macadamias or pine nuts.

I had my mother and sister over for tea on Mother's day. I made chicken, hazelnut, grape salad and the raw cucumber soup. It was a big hit. Enjoy xoxox

Raw Cucumber Soup

servers 2 or if you love it, one big bowl

1 cucumber, peeled

1/4 avocado, peeled

5 sprigs of chives or half a green onion

10 raw cashews, soaked in cold water over night (you do not have to soak the cashews but the soup will not be as creamy)

1/2 a garlic clove

salt and pepper to taste

 water as needed

1/4 avocado, sliced for garnish

In a food processor or blender add everything, except avocado to garnish and water. Run till pureed and if too thick add a spoonful of water till you get the constancy you like.

Garnish with avocado and any herbs you love. This needs to be eaten immediately, it does not do well sitting around.


Espresso Sugar

Espresso sugar

When I was a child my favorite treat was cinnamon toast. Taking squishy bread, adding nice thick layer of softened butter and a sprinkling cinnamon sugar over the top . Then put the whole thing under the broiler and watch the sugar get all carmel'ly. I made sure to pull it out just before the bread burns, heaven!

I wanted a "grown up" version of this treat, so I came up with espresso sugar. It is just like cinnamon sugar but with espresso.


Esp sug2

Espresso sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 TBL instant espresso powder

mix together and store in ajar with a tight lid.

Take a slice of lovely boule, of course still slather it with softened butter and sprinkle a thick layer of espresso sugar. I will say you can adjust the amount of espresso powder to you liking. 1 TBL. give a light coffee flavor, 2 TBL has intense, almost bitter flavor (this is my fav.) I posted 1 1/2 TBL for a middle of the road but like I said play with the amount until you find what you love. You can also use ground coffee, just make sure it is a very fine ground.

Because the coffee can burn easier, do not let it caramelize too long under a broiler. This is soo good. I made a tag you can print it up if you want to make this as a gift  xox 

ps. make sure you check out my espressodoodle, made with the espresso sugar !!


13 And Chocolate Pancakes

Chloe 13 

My baby turns 13 today. Waaa no more little girls. I had to watch the animated Peter Rabbit movie by myself the other day {;o

For her birthday breakfast-in-bed she wanted chocolate pancakes with sliced bananas and whipped cream, fresh strawberries on the side, bacon and pink lemonade. For dinner she wants swiss cheese, bacon, mushroom pizza (from Central market), soda and Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Sounds like she turned 13.

I had to laugh because I ALWAYS make my own whipped cream (it is cheaper, not as sweet and just plain better), so I surprised Chloe and bought the canned stuff, she was soooo excited. Over the moon.

Happy birthday sweetpea, you are growing into a beautiful, giving, creative young lady. You rock xoxoxo

Chocolate Pancakes, see note below

2 cups flour

1/4 cup coco powder

1 TBL baking powder

1.2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate milk or soy milk

4 tsp. melted butter, cooled

2 eggs

1/4 cup chopped chocolate

Run flour, coco powder, baking powder thought sieve to get rid of lumps. Pour into a larger bowl and add salt and chopped chocolate. In another small bowl whisk together eggs, milk and butter. Then mix wet into dry. If batter is too thick, add a bit ore milk, till you get the consistency you like. Ladle batter into hot butter pan. Wait till edges look cooked and little bubble cover the surface. Then flip and cook other side.


you can use whole wheat pastry flour instead. I like chopped chocolate because chips just seemed to big to me and grated chocolate seemed to small. But remember please your palate, not mine !!!

Nach-Yo Salad

Noch yo salad 

For lunch lately this salad has been my favorite thing. It is easy, cheap, healthy and yummy. This is my version of nacho salad. Nacho salad is usually a whole lot of nacho and very little salad, except of a pile of shredded iceberg lettuce. I loved the idea but wanted, well, some veggies. So here is what I did.

1. Pre-heat oven 350

take a baking pan and spread some taco chips and sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Bake 5 minutes till chips are toasty and cheese is melted.

2. While the chips are in the oven, roughly chop up veggies and toss all together


green onions




3. Take toasted chips and set on a plate, pile chopped veggies in a heap on top. Squeeze some lime juice over the whole thing and garnish with half avocado.

Now you could do anything with this salad like add bean, shredded chicken, sour cream, olives. If you want more of dressing on the veggies, go for it. Change up the veggies to your liking. But I think the cool, crunchy veggies on the crips chip layer with melty cheese is soooo good.

Now go make your own salad because this is nach-yo salad xoxoxo


ps. thank you Angie for the name ;)

Breakfast Casserole

Brackfast casserole2 

    As I have said before on my blog, as much as I love to cook, I hate cooking breakfast! It takes me awhile to wake up ;-) Having guests last week I wanted to have breakfast for them without having to do too much work. I served muffins, overnight baked oatmeal, etc. but I wanted a dish that was savory, not sweet, some protein. I was looking at breakfast casserole that used potatoes (I had a bunch on-hand) most used frozen hash browns. The problem with hash browns is they are out of my budget and not as healthy as a plain old baked potato. 

    So I came up with this dish. I baked potatoes the day before and mixed all the other ingredients in a baking pan. I even set up my food processor the night before to grate the potatoes. In the morning I grated them skin and all, mixed the potatoes in the egg mixture and baked. (Now I do it all the night before and just bake it off in the morning).

    I did not "gourmet" up this dish, I thought my in-laws would like it basic better but you could do anything. I think chilies and Monterey jack cheese would be good. I would love sun dried tomatoes, grilled artichokes hearts, lemon peel and goat cheese. What I am trying to say, is use this recipe as a start point and gussy it up.


Breakfast Casserole

3 baking potatoes, grated skins on, baked and chilled overnight in the fridge (see note below)

6 eggs

1/2 small container cottage cheese

1 cup grated cheese, I used sharp cheddar

crumbled cooked sausage or bacon

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3 finely chopped garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste

Night before mix all ingredients in a baking pan, (except potatoes if they are not cold). Cover with foil. In the morning if you have not grated the potatoes, do that and add to egg mixture.

Cover again and bake 350◦F 1 hour -1 1/2 hour or until egg is cooked. This sounds like a long time, but when I checked mine at one hour it was not cooked. So check in an hour and see what it is doing. Enjoy.



It is important to grate potatoes cold, if they are not cold you will have mashed potatoes. Potatoes can be baked several days ahead and kept in the fridge. I use my food processor to grate my potatoes.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Zina book

This coming week I have my hubby's and my mother's birthday and Valentines day. So I am going to take a week break from the blog. But I wanted to leave you with a recipe to inspire you to make something yummy this week and think of me.

This wonderful image above is from Flower Fairy Tales, a old children's book on-line. Sadly it is not in English, but I love the illustrations.


Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

I head of garlic, roasted

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/8 or so of cup balsamic vinegar *

1 tsp. honey or agave

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl mash the peeled, roasted garlic. Then start mixing the oil and garlic together. Add a little at a time so the garlic gets worked into the oil, apposed to just floating around the oil. Then whisk in the rest of the ingredients. You can re-fridge what you do not use up to one week.


* the amount of vinegar is completely up to you. I do not like my vinaigrette's too vinegary. So I use a small amout of vinegar to oil but do what suites your taste. I also like my vinaigrette's fairly salty. Remember to please your palette xoxox

Candy Cane Syrup

Candy Cane syrrrrup 

I am always looking for ways to cheer up the cold days of January. In keeping with using what I already have around my house, I have been brain storming a way to use up all those candy canes I have leftover for my Christmas decorating. I came up with a candy cane syrup and am quite thrilled with it. It is simple and taste just like a candy canes. The syrup is wonderful in things like hot chocolate, over ice cream and I will share a recipe using the syrup soon. My mom asked me why I just did not use peppermint extract. But to me candy canes even though they are peperminty, have a very different taste. Maybe it is that spun sugar. The candy canes also color your syrup a pretty pinky/red color. I just love this kind of simple, fun, new ways to use what you have ideas. 

I just simply painted some swirly red strips on the cork and think it would make a lovely gift to someone who need a bit of cheering up this time of year xoxoxox

Candy Cane Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water 

3 candy canes, broken in large pieces

In a sauce pan add all three ingredients. Simmer on medium heat, till sugar and candy canes have melted. Let cool and store in fridge in a glass jar. Will keep about one month.

*Note. Do not decrease the amount of sugar or you will not have the viscosity you want. Just always remember with simple syrups, equal amount of water to sugar !!!

Chocolate Mayo Cake

18 Auberne

One of our birthday rules is you get whatever you want for breakfast in bed and dinner. This is what my sweet girl wanted. She is my foodie girl xox

From Auberne` on her 18th birthday. "Thank you for all the happy birthday's and for letting me know I am normal, for having a hard time adjusting to changes." 



brie, chocolate, basil panini


orange juice



wild mushroom, panchetta (Italian bacon, yes, more bacon), bechamel lasagna

Cesar salad

olive oil bread

chocolate mayo cake with vanilla buttercream, lots of buttercream !!!


Chocolate Mayo Cake

Makes one thick layer or two thin ones. If you end up adding more water or mayo, use two pans.

I like a very moist, dense cake. I would not say this cake is dense but very moist. What I like about this recipe is it is very easy to make. It is one of the first cakes Chloe learned to make. No creaming butter, scraping bowl, fussy ingredients. A good beginner's cake.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup coco powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 TBL. instant espresso powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup water *see note

1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven 350F.

Grease and flour a cake pan. Sift together flour, coco powder, espresso powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredient's. Mix on medium speed till batter comes together. Pour into pre-pared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes, until when toothpick inserted in cake comes clean. Gently unmold from pan and set on rack to cool. After the cake has cooled ice with buttercream.

I really like Magnolias buttercream recipe.  


Since writing this recipe, I have changed the mayo I use and have found the recipe does not work as well. I did not think change the mayo would make a blog difference but I guess it does. You batter should be pourable, if it is not you can up the water a ⅟ᴣ cup. If your batter is still very thick trying adding up to a ⅟ᴣ of mayo! Because of this your baking time may be longer than the recipe call for!





Lavender Pear Oatmeal

Lavender pear oatmeal 

I love oatmeal, it is a cheap meal. But lets face it, it is a little boring. I have been trying to kick-up my oatmeal lately. This weeks oatmeal is topped with dried pears (I dried myself, you could use fresh pears too), toasted pecans, drizzled with lavender honey and heavy cream. The lavender with the sweet pears and toasty pecan, perfect. I wondered what I will come up with next week ;-)

La-Tea-Dah has a wonderful post on how to make lavender honey. It is a little different then I do, but until I write a post, check out La-Tea-Dah's version. Remember life is too short to eat boring food xoxoxox

Raspberry Meringue Trifle

Libary tree1 

I hope you had a lovely, peaceful Christmas. Ours was, thankgoodness. I have a cold but was still able to enjoy it all. For News Years Eve, I am planning to make a raspberry meringue trifle. I love the idea of the crunchy meringues, with the creamy pastry cream and the not to sweet raspberries. Throw in a bit of chocolate and I think it will be heaven.

Yes, one more tree. I am out of control, I know. This is my library tree. I used my houses and red transfer-wear. It is very libaryish !!!!

Raspberry Meringue Trifle

meringue cookies (I like the mini vanilla ones at Trader Joe's)

pastry cream *

fresh raspberries

grated bittersweet chocolate

In  deep dish or trifle dish, lay 1/3 of meringues and 1/3 of the pastry cream. Sprinkle some raspberries and grated chocolate. Repeat two more times. Make 8 hours early, to let all the ingredients meld.

*Pastry Cream

1 quart whole milk

12 egg yokes, you could use the whites to make the meringue cookies

1 1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 TBL. Grand Marnier or orange liquor or orange juice

In a large heavy sauce pan or double boiler, but has to be big enough to hold all the milk and eggs (mine is not) or a large metal bowl over a pan.

Whisk together egg yokes and sugar. Then slowly whisk in milk. Set on med. heat (but not too high, you want to simmer, not boil) and keep whisking till cream thickens. About 4-6 minutes or so. If not thickening, then you can turn the heat up more. Just keep stiring and do not leave it. If you think the eggs ended up forming lumps, then just run the sauce through a sieve to catch them.

Pull off heat and add liquor. Pour in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, so that it sits on the surface. Refrige till cool. Best to be made the day before, so it can really cool. Can be made several days ahead.  

Christmas Menu's

Christmas eve menu

Christmas dinner menu

Most of these I do not have a recipe. But I tried to find what I could in similar recipes. Feel free to ask questions. xoxoxo

Gingerbread bread pudding Which I will assemble the night before and bake in a bain marie at 320.

Gingerbread, which I baked3 days ahead, so the bread can dry out a bit. I love a gingerbread that uses both fresh, candied and dried ginger.  

Mushroom soup, I used tarragon instead of thyme. I made this a week ahead and froze it. When I reheat it, I will then add the cream and sherry part.

Grapefruit sorbet 

Grand Marnier Semifreddo

Cider Sauce


    One of the things that makes me so happy, is to take simple ingredients in my house and use them in a new way. I do not know why but I get such joy from that. This is how I feel about this cider syrup. I have made a pear sauce leftover from the roasted pear sauce I made. But really this can be make with both pear and apple juice. With the cost of maple syrup going up and up, I have been looking for ways to replace it.

     What I really love about this, is I can make several cups, fill small jars and freeze them. Then I just pull some out as I need it. Make sure you heat it up to melt butter. We love this over pancake, oatmeal and ice cream but as you can see above, I made hazelnut stuffed pears and drizzle the sauce over them. It is a good thing xox

Cider Sauce

4 cup of cider or leftover juice from the roasted pear sauce

1/2 cup of evaporated cane, rapadura or sugar 

3 TBL butter

pinch of salt

Put ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat, until it is reduced by half. Now taste the syrup, because all juices are not the same and your palette is different then mine. If it is too sweet add a little fresh lemon juice. If it is not sweet enough, add a little more sugar and cook a few more minutes.

You could add: a vanilla bean, ginger, orange juice and zest or spices.