Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living Ratatouille - serves 4

Picture of Ratatouille Recipe

"Getting a blog post from me is almost like receiving a monthly Birchbox.  Only it's been nearly a year since you delivered."  This is from a friend of mine who shared with me over the Christmas holiday that I never blog anymore.  Well, things have been somewhat, how can I say it, CRAZY.  Also, I felt that I needed to get a really good story in to tie in a recipe and I just wasn't feeling it.  Until today.  So to give you a little background and to put it simply, my husband is the MASTER OF PROCRASTINATION. If you don't need something done, call my husband.  If he could make money at it, I'd be living in my dream house, in my dream country, driving my dream car, with Juan Pablo from the Bachelor.

The siding of our house has been rather, altered to the point that "critters" have been making a home for themselves in our attic.  This has been going on for over a year.  Now, mind you, over a year ago I have asked (which now it has officially become nagging) if we could get this fixed.  Not exaggerating, we've had woodpeckers that peck themselves silly on our pipes, squirrels, mice, birds and rats.  They have scratched, clawed, chirped, given birth, had parties and I think have even played a game of toss in our attic.  Now, fast forward to last week.  Thursday, my cleaning lady screams,  "Errreeen, Errreen", to which I come running downstairs.  What?  A bird?  In my house?  IN MY HOUSE.  Cleaning lady is screaming, kids are running around and I'm thinking, "please don't s*&t" on my couch".  We open all doors and finally the little bird flies out. You would think that husband would get a clue.  Saturday comes up and I, with my cup of coffee and off to the gym, open the door to not be greeted by Juan Pablo, but non other than a (cuss word ending in "ing") possum.  I screamed, splashing coffee everywhere all the while the possum (ugly creatures) screams.  I open the garage and the thing runs out.  Of course, who would have it that my soon to be ex-husband is out of town fishing.  After my threats of leaving him, he FINALLY calls an exterminator, which happens to be his cousin.

Now it's today, Thursday and cousin, the exterminator, has just left my house.  I now have an idea for a recipe.  In his words, and I quote, "INFESTED".  He even took pictures.  He showed me a tree LIMB, pecans, nests and an ancient rat trap (like over 50 years) with the CARCASS of a rat still attached, and so much poo I can't even describe without grossing you out even more.  I am grossed out beyond measure at this point as I'm sure you are too. (Kind of makes you hungry, doesn't it :) )  Cousin then proceeds to tell be that not only is the siding the cause, but the screening, that goes behind the siding, is completely gone.  "We're looking at about $180 to get rid of all this, the cousin special."  Wow! Awesome!  Oh wait…. he goes on…. "we worked out a little deal that I can get some landscaping (husband is  landscaper) for trade.  And, he's buying my kayak." "Buying?", I say.  He thought it was going to be like $400-$500…. so $180? Hmmmm…. well, to end this rather quickly, I did the math, as I'm sure you have as well.  So, in honor of my husband, cousin exterminator is not only getting rid of the rats, but he's fixing the screening AND trimming all of our trees to help keep this from happening again.  Cousin exterminator will have the best yard in his neighborhood and  I'm his new best friend, ever.  Because not only is my husband a good landscaper,  I want my husband to think about vermin's every time he puts that kayak in the water.


1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini squash
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blackeyed Peas with Cornmeal Dumplings - Serves 4 and they'll want more

The only thing I can say is, "I'm sorry".  Life has been busy, busy with my job and it's going great.  I take all these pictures of food that I plan to post yet I can't seem to find enough time to sit and write up a story to go with them.  Last night, I had dinner with a dear friend whom I haven't had dinner with since last year.  As we were catching up and going over all that's been going on in our lives, she proceeded to tell me of a wonderful dinner she prepared for great friends.  Preempting with "you've probably already done this" (which, like, I may have but when people say that to me it takes the " I'm so proud of you" moment away from me, that I think of you and your accomplishment, when you say that you've prepared a meal. So STOP already!), she went into all the detail of this pretty incredible dinner she masterminded all by herself.  It took her all day and once she served the meal, she wasn't to impressed with her meal.  Well, she may not have been happy with the outcome, but, it was her guests responses that made those feelings disappear, which, is why I cook.  I may not like what I present sometimes but, if someone who eats my food literally moans and groans as if they were with their favorite movie star, then that makes all the work and preparation worth it my friends.  And, that's why YOU should spend more time in the kitchen.  I mean really, who doesn't want to relish in that kind of moment?  At my age, those moments are what make moments and that's worth slaving over the stove.


2 slices hickory-smoked bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen black-eyed peas (about 2 3/4 cups)
3.4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
Hot sauce (optional)


1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; finely chop. Remove 1 tablespoon drippings from pan; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 cup onion to remaining drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock, 1 1/2 cups water, salt, pepper, and peas to pan; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally. 
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, green onions, cornmeal, and baking soda, stirring with a whisk. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bacon, reserved 1 tablespoon drippings, and buttermilk; stir until a moist dough forms. 
3. With moist hands, gently divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Drop dumplings, 1 at a time, into pan; cover and cook 8 minutes or until dumplings are done, stirring occasionally. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Truffled Lentils - serves 4

 As a sigh casts over me, I am relieved and ready for 2013.  As each day went by during the break, I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to get a recipe out however, time got the best of me.  When most were excited to have school start again, I was relishing in spending time with the kids and cooking all the way.  I even mastered two Call of Duty games with my son.  I'm quite the renegade when it comes to a remote control and my son thinks I'm pretty cool to boot.  I also took the time to watch Season 2 of Downton Abbey, which, if you haven't taken the time to watch, give yourself the gift of watching because it is by far the best show on TV.  My daughter taught me how to strum the basic cords on a guitar and as I played, horribly, she danced.  And, a good friend twisted my arm and had me hooked, for 3 (or more?) hours of "Dance Moms".  (That show is crazy.) 

All in all, it was kind of sad to see the kids go back to school.  But, as I watch them grow and as I grow older, these times together are few and far between.  Whether it's shooting at targets in the backyard, taking long bike rides, snuggling in bed to watch a movie or even making a pie without my help (like I could have saved it), before I know it, they will be off again and attending college or wanting to spend their time with someone other than me. So, 2013 will be that of togetherness and possibly, just possibly, I will play a whole song on the guitar by next Christmas.

2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup cubes (¼ inch in size) of slab bacon, about 3 oz.
1 tsp. sherry vinegar, plus more to season
1 carrot, peeled
1 celery rib, cut in half
1 onion, quartered
1 cup Pardina lentils
1 herb sachet containing 1 to 2 sprigs sage, 3 sprigs thyme, ½ tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. dried guindilla pepper (or substitute red pepper flakes), tied in a cheesecloth bundle
1½ cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. white truffle oil
½ cup finely grated Idiazabal, a Basque sheep’s milk cheese (or use manchego or pecorino), about 1½ oz.
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
4 eggs
4 slices pata negra ham (or substitute Serrano)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over mediumhigh heat. Add diced bacon and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add sherry vinegar to deglaze pan and allow it to reduce for about 1 minute.
Add carrot, celery, onion and lentils. Add herb sachet and cover with 1½ cups water and the chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until lentils are tender and cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove carrot, onion, celery and herb sachet and discard. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar.
Over medium heat, stir in truffle oil, add cheese and stir until completely incorporated. Remove from heat and gently fold in the butter.
Meanwhile heat 4 cups of water with the white wine vinegar over high heat. Use a whisk to create a whirlpool in the water, then crack the eggs into a cup and slip them into the water one at a time. Poach until set, about 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the lentils between four bowls, top each with a slice of ham and a poached egg.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberries Sauce with Rules for Thanksgiving

I realize it's two days before Thanksgiving however, I wanted to post a recipe for those that may be waiting until the last minute to bring something to the Thanksgiving table.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  Not only does it allow the healthiest of persons splurge it brings a plethora of family stories and memories.  Mine, well, for those that know me, it's right out of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas to the Family".  Not kidding.  I not only prepare for other families during Thanksgiving, but I have now been handed the crown to prepare for my husband's side of the family, going on 3 years.  No longer using Ocean Spray's canned cranberry sauce (which, don't get me wrong, Thanksgiving isn't the same without and who doesn't like the imprint of a can?) I prepare this recipe, originally given to me by a former co-worker.  I think she found it from "she has too much time on her hands" Martha Stewart.  Nonetheless, it's really, really, good and the recipe I have is on the same post-it note I wrote it down on over 5 years ago.  A few Thanksgiving rules (by Sam Sifton, formally of the New York Times) that should be adhered to, unless you're going to be at my in-laws, which after 20 years I'm still bitter about because they do not follow.  At all.  Except for the butter and pie part.  And now that I'm cooking the dinner, it really gets under my skin.  1) Do NOT prepare appetizers before the big meal.  This is really upsetting particularly when I've been cooking all day and you stuff yourself with god knows what so that you can not get seconds.  If I wanted to serve pickled okra for Thanksgiving for you to fill up on, my week would have been less stressful.  2) Do NOT have a salad.  Thanksgiving is for turkey, gravy, dressing, maybe 1 or 2 vegetables and potatoes.  This is not a healthy meal.  3) There will be butter.  If you're my father-in-law, it will be one pat per club cracker. (excuse me while I grab the trash can)  4) You will eat pie.  I hate pie.  But, I will partake in one bite just so I can make the Thanksgiving day meal complete.  Don't bring cookies.  The Pilgrims didn't so neither should you. 5) There will be snoring.  Enough said, but it won't be by me.  I would have left by then.  All in all, it is comical yet celebratory occasion.  Being truly thankful is what it boils down to.  Thankful for family, friends and the blessing that God has so generously given us.  And that, my friends, is how the cookie crumbles.  Be blessed in all things, including your in-laws.


3 1/2 cups of cranberries
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tbs red wine vinegar
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tsp grated ginger
3/4 c light brown sugar


Combine in large saucepan over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop.  Reduce to low, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes.  If too thick, add water.  Chill.  Bring to room temperature until ready to serve.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Capanelle Pasta with Carmelized Onions, Peas & Mint - serves 4 with leftovers

I just looked at my blog to see what everyone else is writing, i.e., Jaime Oliver, who posted a recipe starting with "Sticky Squid Balls with Grilled Prawns".  Just so you know, I will never post something like that on this site, let alone something with that kind of tag line.  Immediately sets the tone, don't you think?  Kind of like some of the acts of my husband.  It's been awhile since I've mentioned him and his time is due.  He's is in the landscaping business and, sometimes, in return for his services, some of his clients feel the need to give him odd items that they either don't want, or, don't really need. Reminds me of my old cat, AC, who brought an array of dead animals to show his love an affection even though I had no idea what to do with it. Take this past weekend for example.  He comes through the door with what appears to be a sack of grain stuffed in a pillow case hunched over his shoulder.  To my surprise, one of his clients, who happens to own a mattress company here in Dallas, gave him the new luxury item for anyone who cherishes a good night sleep and has the money to spend for it.  A pillow made entirely of buckwheat.  You heard me, buckwheat.  Now, I'm not sure about you but I only know of one thing to do with such a grain and that is to eat it, not sleep on it, unless you're a farmer or a monk who lives in the 1700's.  It weighed more that my son.  The fact that he carried it over his shoulder should tell you how heavy it was.  The kids and I used it to do sit-ups.  We all took turns laying on it and, we might as well had pulled up and rested our heads on a boulder.  Are you supposed to sleep with your chin to your belly?  Because that's about where mine landed.  Maybe this was Jaime's inspiration for his recipe.  It ended up being a door jamb for the closet door that my husband never closes.  I may use it to drop on my son when he refuses to wake up in the morning.  One thing we won't be using it for is sleeping, unless of course we have sticky squid balls for dinner.  It too, could be all the craze, if you're willing to pay for it.


4 large yellow onions
1/2 cup olive oil
16 oz dried campanelle or farfalle pasta
1 cup frozen peas
3 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Thai fish sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped mint
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for shaving


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to package instructions.  Cut the onions in half and thinly slice lengthwise.  Heat the oil in a very large skillet.  Add the onions and cook over high heat, stirring, until dark brown, about 15 minutes. Add the peas to the pasta for the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Drain well, saving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Add the vinegar and fish sauce to the onions; cook 2 minutes.  Add the drained pasta, peas, reserved cooking water, mint and grated cheese.  Cook 2 minutes, until hot.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls; use a vegetable peeler to shave shards of cheese on top.

Inspired by Radically Simple

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finally, Family Dinner at the Table Opposed to On the Run Tomato & Mozzarella Risotto with Shrimp

An hour and 18 minutes ago a friend just texted me stating that she needs her "fill" of my blog. Feeling the pressure,  I now write as I've heard from many of you.  So, here goes. Not sure about your lives but if they are as busy as mine, who has time for family dinner.  Last night marked the first time in at least 3-4 weeks that the four of us (that would mean my family, not someone else's), joyfully, sat around our dinner table for dinner.  These types of moments make my heart sing and leave a permanent smile on face, at least until my chi of reading in bed gets disturbed by noises coming from one of my child's body. My catering business is doing fabulous and I have been blessed beyond measure, recently accepting a position with Jen-Air as their executive chef for the metroplex.  This just adds to my already crazy schedule not to mention just being a wife and mom.  The kids are temporarily on a holding pattern with sports, which was last night, all to begin again today.  So, I ask that you take heed in these types of moments.  They are the best times to talk, laugh, catch-up, play the initial game, feed the cat at the table and, most importantly, relish in the beauty of the best gifts that God has given you, no matter how busy your schedule.  Family. Dinner. At home.  At the table.


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 1/4 cups organic vegetable broth 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice 
3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 ounces chopped fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup) 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 cups torn fresh baby spinach 
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for shrimp

In a medium skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering.  Meanwhile, season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add shrimp to pan and saute until pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add rice to pan; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup broth to rice mixture; cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/3 cup broth. Add remaining broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Stir in tomatoes; cook for 1 minute.  Add shrimp, stirring to incorporate.  Add cheese, pepper, and salt to rice mixture, stirring constantly until cheese melts. Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/3 cup broth, spinach, and basil. Place 1 cup risotto in each of 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over each serving.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

We're Not in Texas Anymore Trout - serves 4

We are finally enjoying what Texas weather should be.  California.  Today, we awakened to a crisp breeze of 65 and are now hovering at 82.  Going to the farmers market this morning was not only great because of what was offered, but it was apparently obvious that everyone attending was in good spirits.  I attended alone however, there were couples who appeared to actually love each other.  No sad faces or looks of disgust.  Venders weren't huffing along, half-haphazardly throwing sacks of goods to buyers.  People were nice to one another, complimenting each other, even offering a pleasant "good morning" to one another.  It's amazing to me that weather affects each of us in different ways.  I get grumpy.  I sweat.  I get agitated and don't want to talk to anyone.  Not even my kids, my husband or anyone for that matter.  Before this wonderful cool air hit, a girlfriend and I literally stood in our friends wine refrigerator until we cooled off after sitting at a miserably hot football game last night.  Who does that?  I'm just lucky to have a friend that has a cooler to stand in so I can cool off.  So, with the probably brief weekend "ah" weather, it's a great time to fire up the grill (or oven) and make use of some up and coming fall vegetables.  Pair with steak, chicken or fish and I promise you will get another "ah' moment before this cool air leaves and makes us all irritated with one another again.  Catch me before it does.


4, 6 oz filet of favorite fish (I used trout that we caught) seasoned with sea salt and pepper
1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/4')
Really good olive oil
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Sea or Kosher salt
Fresh pepper


Preheat oven to 400.  Meanwhile, line baking sheet with foil, spraying with Pam or olive oil.  Place sweet potato slices in single rows.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
On another baking sheet, lined with foil, sprayed with Pam or olive oil, place fish on top.  Add to oven when potatoes are 10 minutes from being done.
Once fish is in oven, heat a large skillet and add 1-1/2 tbs olive oil.  Add garlic and onions, sauteing for about 4 minutes.  Add spinach, in batches as it wilts, stirring to incorporate.  Once all has mostly wilted, add red pepper to taste as well as salt and pepper.
Remove potatoes and fish from oven.  Stack potatoes in a line on plate, top with spinach and add fish.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve.  (I use homemade pesto to top off dish.)