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.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Flash Noodle Bowl - serves 4

Summer has been fun, crazy and gone in a flash.  The latter part of the previous sentence has basically been my husband, who after Memorial Day, finally decided that all my nagging would likely stop if he would just start working out and eating better.  After being together for nearly 20 years, the nagging has paid off.  Not only did he start eating better, he has become Mr. Extreme Makeover of the neighborhood.  He's also managed to beat records at Crossfit.  He is a machine.  He drinks protein shakes in the morning (no more 7-11 tacos), packs his own lunch (no more Home Depot Hot Dogs) and drinks a trough of water everyday (no more liters of Diet Coke, kegs of beer or barrels of wine).  He's even cut down on the coffee (down from 8 cups a day with 3 heaping tbs of turbinado sugar) to 2 cups/1 regular spoon full of turbinado and, no more raiding refrigerators after all have gone to sleep (no more pints of ice cream or Debbie Snack Cakes).  Now, he leaves apple cores all over the house.  He came in this morning as I was dressing for the day, eyes all "hey, honey, we still have some time before the kids get up" (like 1 minute before) then tells me that he's 1 pound off his 30 pound goal.  30 POUNDS.  Crazy, gone in a flash, all of my husband's terrible habits (well, that might be pushing it, but I'll take what I can get).  He's that fit, spunky man I married way back when and I have him back.  Healthy and all.  And no, we didn't have time.

Ingredients (inspired by Cooking Light)

4 shiitake mushroom
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
4 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce 
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced 
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced 
1 quart water 
2 cups buckwheat noodles, cooked to package direction 
1 pound chicken cutlets 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds 
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise 
1/2 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices red bell pepper
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges


Remove mushroom stems. Thinly slice caps; set caps aside. Bring stems, broth, and next 6 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Remove pan from heat. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper. Place seeds in a dish. Press seeds into both sides of chicken. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Add bok choy, cut sides down; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Add reserved mushroom slices and bell pepper. Strain broth mixture through a sieve into pan; cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon.Thinly slice chicken. Place 1/2 cup noodles, about 1/4 cup vegetables, and 4 ounces chicken into 4 shallow bowls. Spoon 1/4 cup broth mixture over each. Garnish each with two lime wedges.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My "Sick" California Vacation Pasta with Salmon - serves 4

Oh how I love California.  Not sure what makes it so wonderful.... hmmmm, maybe the scenery, the hills, the insanely blue skies, the amazing, makes me realize, "how I hate Texas heat" weather, no mosquito's, no humidity, wearing a sweater in July, 60 degree morning runs, the beaches, Irish coffee, eating crab for breakfast, having dinner every night with family and friends or, most of all, hanging with some of the best cousins on the planet.  Mostly my first cousin because in both of our busy worlds, we oddly enough try to take a deep breath and play catch-up with each other every summer.  For me, it's like eating a truffle.  I rarely get to eat them and when I do, it's intoxicating to the last bite.  That's like my time with my cousin.  We rarely get to see each other and when we do, I savor every minute of it. And each year, we say goodbye wondering when the next time will be.  Our trips to San Fransisco are not only fun, but full, joyously full, of good, family fun.  Hanging out with high school girls and getting acting lessons from another, all the while getting in our "ready position" for an evening of badminton. And what a better way to watch the Olympics until midnight, outside, fire burning, all snuggled up cheering for Team USA.  It's a vacation made in heaven and in return, cook to my hearts content all the while sipping wine with my closest friend as the the smaller cousins run about outside, in 75 degree weather, knowing that possibly, quite possibly, they too can have the same kind of relationship with each other as I do with mine.


Corn pasta or regular pasta, cooked to package instructions, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water
1 pound Atlantic salmon, skin removed (have butcher remove pin bones as well)
2 zucchini, shaved (shave with potato peeler)
1 pint tomatoes, halved
(combine the next 4 ingredients together, mixing well to combine)
3 tbs finely chopped oregano
5 tbs garlic, minced
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp Kosher salt 
Additional olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam.   Arrange salmon on backing sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes or until center is cooked through.  Meanwhile, heat large pan with olive oil.  Add tomatoes and shaved zucchini, tossing to coat.  Saute for about 3 minutes then add oregano/garlic mixture to pan. Add reserved pasta water, toss to coat and saute for an additional 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Remove salmon from oven.  Chop salmon and set aside.  In a large serving bowl, add pasta, vegetables and chopped salmon.  Mix well incorporating all ingredients.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pasta Cravings - serves 4 with leftovers

I just returned from the yearly trip to Galveston with the in-laws.  For those of you who have been watching the weather,  it flooded all but one day of our trip, leaving us trapped in the house with nothing to do but watch our beach tent fold under pressure, read, play hours of gin, not to mention things that can not be mentioned.  Did I tell you I was with the in-laws? I longed for home, especially a break from seafood which we did get plenty of.  Since the end of May, I've gradually started omitting gluten as well as cow dairy from my diet.  Not only do I feel better, but that little pooch that you ladies know what I'm talking about, has disappeared.  I won't turn down a great piece of cheese or good 'ole crusty bread, but the results are amazing and a splurge goes a long way.  However, after returning to the luxury of my home and kitchen, I made this dish using gluten free, rice pasta.  Let me tell you, this was as good, if not better, than regular pasta.  So good in fact, that my husband couldn't even tell the difference.  Top that off with fresh, home grown cherry tomatoes and Texas onions, and you have a wonderful dinner (or leftovers) right before you.  Soak up these gems before they are gone.  If only Galveston could have had the same rewards.

Ingredients ( I use all home-grown veggies or local produce)

1 pkg of brown rice pasta (I used the Jovial brand) or regular pasta, cooked to package instructions
2 tbs really good olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pint of assorted cherry tomatoes, slice in half lengthwise
2 tbs chopped basil
1 tbs chopped oregano
Kosher salt  (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Add'l olive olive oil for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions have started to brown, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes and mix with onions.  As tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes, use a wooden spoon and break up tomatoes, extracting their juices.  Simmer for about 10 minutes and add herbs, salt and pepper.  Mix well and top to cooked pasta.  Drizzle with olive oil and a little Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Peach and Tomato Mozzarella Salad - serves 4

The heat is here in Texas along with mosquitoes.  They are so thick that I think that one day I might see one of them take off with our cat.  There is no amount of MosquitoNix or OFF! that will deter them from pouncing and sucking so we are left to either walking around consistently to keep them from landing or staying inside.  Last night, as my kids swam in the neighbors pool, I literally walked around their outdoor  dining table 500 times while reading a book to keep them from sucking me dry.  And, for those that know me well, that does not settle well with my easily, get queasy, stomach.  But, a mother will do what she has to do in order to keep her children entertained and her husband on the couch.  In case you haven't taken the time to notice, peaches are in abundance due to our mild winter and tomatoes are ripening as we speak.  Lucky for us, those are one of many amazing factors of summer that keep us plugging along and temporarily takes my mind off the persistent itch from wherever the mosquito has bitten me.  Mixing tomatoes and peaches together with mozzarella (only from the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, http://www.mozzco.com/ ) and homemade pesto will not only take you out of the heat, if only temporary, and send you to that " I Can't Believe it's Not Butter" setting with Fabio.  Or, in my case, George Clooney.  But then again, Fabio is better than a hoard of mosquitoes chasing you around a table.


4 homegrown tomatoes, sliced (not all the way through) in 4ths
1 pound fresh tomatoes
4 peaches, seeded and diced
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tbs fresh lavender or basil, finely chopped
Really good olive oil for drizzling
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
Pre-made Pesto or Homemade (optional)


(The pic above shows how I displayed for my last Backyard Dinner, but you can prepare how you like)

Set tomatoes on plate, already sliced as specified.  Slice the mozzarella, about 1/4 inch thick, and slide in between each cut on the tomato.  Mix peaches with vinegar and herb of your choice.  Drizzle olive oil over tomato and season both tomato and peaches with salt and pepper.  Add pesto to the side.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Onion's Bounty Pie - 6 servings

I can't believe the school year is almost over.  Part of me is excited because I will be able to breathe a small breath of air and part of me is really having a hard time giving up a quiet household.  I think I'm leaning towards the latter.  In fact, which I may have written about before (but who can remember anything these days), a woman's "chi" is very special if not highly valued.  How many of you are completely thrown out of whack when you come home during the day to find your husband home or he just appears?  I have yet to find a mom who has told me, "I love it when he comes home!  Just makes my day!"  In fact, if I bring it up, 9 times out of 10 I get an immediate glare and a story of how irritating it is to have such a thing happen.  And that 1 person is either crazy, bored or not liked.  And, the men are clueless.  My husband is still miffed as to why I get all upset when he comes home at 1pm.  He did it yesterday, around 2, and I had to leave.  I told him that I would be back in 20 minutes and he'd better be gone.  And, what makes it worse is if he stays and knows that I'm either working, washing clothes (mostly his) or doing whatever and he's playing solitaire, watching TV/movies, reading blogs, etc all the while I'm doing these things.  I get extremely irritated because when I have 1-30 minute(s) to spare, I want to catch up on Revenge or The Bachelorette.  And who wants to do that with a husband lurking around?  I could go on and on about this but I know the ladies out there agree.  The only way I would remotely think about letting my husband come home during the day is if, like, he were coming home to whisk me away on the same trip the Bachelor or Bachelorette get to take.  Now that would be worth having him come home to, but not everyday.  So, if you need to "get away", head to the farmers market (or if you're like me, your backyard) and grab some spring onions.  They are FABULOUS right now and are great in this pie, thrown on the grill or just about anywhere.  The trip will take about an hour, which should give your husbands plenty of time to get out of the house.

Spring Onion Pie (inspired by Southern Living)

10 thin spring onions
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, cubed 

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in oven. Trim roots from onions; discard roots. Chop half of onions.
2. Whisk together eggs and milk. Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, whisking rapidly 20 to 30 seconds or just until blended and smooth. (There should be no lumps.) Stir in chopped onions. Let stand 5 minutes.
3. Carefully remove hot skillet from oven. Add butter, and let stand until butter is melted. Place skillet over medium-high heat, and pour batter into skillet. Arrange cheese and remaining whole onions over top of batter, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until edges begin to set.
4. Transfer skillet to top oven rack, and bake at 400° for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. (Outside edges should be crispy, and inside texture should resemble a custard popover. Pie will deflate quickly.) Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Make Me Giggle Grilled Everything - serves 4 and your neighbor

My favorite season is upon us, now that so many vegetables are in full bloom.  Farmers markets have started showing off their their fair share of what seeding, sowing and mothering can harvest.  I've got to tell you, I've given my back a few pats in what I've produced in my own garden, just as I have in thanking the good Lord above for my sweet neighbors.  Just like taking care of a garden, so does nuturing a neighbor.  We are very blessed to have such a great neighborhood... It's kind off like "Cheers" because everybody knows your name.  And, when I've prepared enough food to feed them, I rarely get turned down.  In this case, a farmers market bounty.  Everything came from local farmers and a fisherman (except the mango and avocado).  And, thanking God again for the food He has so graciously given us, he has given me this food to share with thy neighbor.  So, fire up the grill, throw it all in there, and enjoy what's next door or, across your alley.  Good neighbors are few and far between.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Your Fridge is Overloaded with Veggies, Make Soup - Serves 4 plus more for freezing

Aside from vegetables growing in my own garden, I have become a fan of Greenling, which delivers local, organic vegetables to your front door.  Before they really got geared up in Dallas, I was their guinea pig, helping out by sampling certain in season vegetables from local farmers.  Lucky me!  So within a few months, they are thriving and the goods are too.  That being said, we've eaten our share of turnips and rutabagas,  adding them to everything like salads (great roasted), pizzas, soups and potatoes.  I've had so many vegetables on hand that I needed to get rid of them so I could make room for more.  Therefore, I came up with this fabulous soup that literally had my entire produce drawer/some of my garden in it.  What you see in the pic above is everything, including the kitchen sink (ha!). The only thing I didn't throw in there were the beets.  I just used their leaves (beet pizza later with goat cheese and arugula!).  Seriously, this is the BEST way to clean out your vegetable drawer.  Throw everything into water , add garlic, salt, herbs... bring to a boil then simmer for about 45 minutes. Now, you have a fabulous vegetable broth and a terrific vegetable soup.  You can freeze the leftovers and whip it out on a later date and be proud of yourself all over again.

Garden Vegetable Soup


Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Everything in your vegetable drawer (except lettuce, which is saved for last), washed and diced, cubed, chopped if necessary
Herbs of your choice (I like Herbs de Provence, thyme, oregano)
Sea or Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper
4-8 cups water (or more depending on how many veggies)

Add about 2-3 tbs olive oil to large pot.  Heat until shimmering and add garlic.  Saute for about 30 seconds and add chopped veggies (not lettuce, yet).  Add herbs, salt and pepper, mixing well to coat.  Saute veggies for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add water and stir to mix.  Bring to boil, cover then simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are soft (especially potatoes).  Add lettuce, cover, letting lettuce wilt for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using either a hand puree or pureeing in batches, puree vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve either warm or cold with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Udon Noodle Soup with Vegetables - serves 4

In case you haven't noticed, I love food.  One of my favorite things to do, other than cook, is to visit ethnic grocery stores, maybe meet some people that speak English and learn how to cook different types of foods.  A couple of weeks ago, we dined at Jeng Chi (jengchirestaurant.com), located in Richardson, on Greenville Ave., between Spring Valley and Beltline.  People, let me tell you... if you love Chinese food without all the MSG and soy sauce, you have to eat here.  As my husband would say, "it's like being a cowboy in Indian country" when I tell you it is an Asian hotspot.  We often have to go with my Taiwanese girlfriend just so she can order for us.  That and the fact my kids love to mimic her and try to take on the language themselves.  There's nothing there that isn't good and it's as fresh as you can get as well as BYOB.  The strip center is lined with restaurants as well as an ice cream shop and grocery store.  Have you ever been to an Asian grocery store?  I was warned the first time I entered that I would encounter a stiff fist of fish slamming into my face.  After about 10 paces into the store, it hit.  I might as well been slapped by the tail of a red fish it was so strong.  This store is a foodie's dream.  Fresh vegetables, handmade noodles and fish swimming in tanks for customers to pick out, have butchered and take home.  Now there are rather odd things in the store as well, not something I would like to take home and put on the dinner table, but if you're someone who likes chicken hearts, feet and sea cucumbers, this place is for you.  My kids have grown to love this place as it's taught them to embrace the different cultures within our city.  I highly recommend a trip here, if not Jeng Chi to test out your inner Confucius.


1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
8oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 small head of bok choy, washed and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (get the authentic, thick kind)
1 pound fresh, Udon noodles


In a large sauce pot, heat sesame oil until shimmering.  Add garlic, stirring for 30 seconds, then add meat and brown until cooked through, crumbling as you cook.  Remove meat from pan and set aside.  Add a drizzle of oil and add vegetables, stirring to coat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and teriyaki sauce, stirring to incorporate.  Bring to a simmer then add Udon noodles, cooking according to package directions. Add meat to soup, stirring to mix.  Ladle into bowls and serve.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Southern Living's Strawberry Mousse Cake - serves, well, I wouldn't know....

It's official.  I will never attempt to bake again.  The picture you see above is what the cake should have looked like.  What I concocted was something different.  Oh, what plans I had to bake this wonderful cake for Easter!  I even traveled with a friend to a dilapidated farmhouse outside of Dallas looking for only the freshest ingredients.  We arrived only to my friend being scolded by the lady farmer/owner for not knowing how hard it was to get organic farmers to come sell at her farm. (We knew the reason, but obviously she did not.  The place was pretty scary.)  Not to be discouraged, we headed for the Farmers Market where my sweet Anna, who never lets me down, sold me some goods.  I then went and purchased organic strawberries, 3 pints worth, per the recipe directions along with organic eggs.  Arriving home, I began my quest for the Southern Living look-a-like Strawberry Mousse Cake.  I would not fail.  Well, that's exactly what I did.  After 3 LONG hours of mixing, chilling, stirring, waiting, chilling, stirring, waiting, I did EXACTLY what the recipe called for.  I layered each tier, adding mousse in between each, then applying the icing.  What happened you ask?  The (cuss word) tiers started sliding out from the cake plate.  My fingers where dripping with icing all the while I'm trying to slide the (cuss word) cakes back into place.  My daughter is looking at me (she was supposed to help) asking "Mom, why are you gritting your teeth?".  This is one of those moments where I could be a good mom or a bad mom.  "Go outside".  My next thought was to quickly put the (cuss word) cake into the fridge where hopefully the (cuss word) icing and mousse would harden enough to stay put.  Good idea, right?  This is a four tiered cake, just to give you an idea that has about 4-5 cups of strawberry mousse and icing.  After 30 minutes, I stand before the fridge hoping that my idea was in fact genius, when I opened the door.  Not only did my idea not work, but one of the tiers had completely rocketed itself to the other side of my fridge splattering about 2-3 cups of mousse and (cuss word) icing ALL OVER THE INSIDE OF THE FRIDGE.  I sat there stunned.  A few tears came.  It was then that I made the realization that although I can prepare an amazing meal, baking cakes is not something I can do.  I said it.  I can not do it.  So instead of throwing a tantrum like the last time, I called my daughter and 4 of her friends to the fridge, handed them forks and told them to dig in.  Yes, in the fridge.  One kid thought I was the coolest mom ever for letting him do it. My daughter thought I was high.  They all commented on how good it was, which it should have been for all that went in it. And if it wasn't, they weren't going to tell me if they knew what was good for them. My husband later came home with me waiting on the porch, bees hovering above as they likened to the smell of sugar that coated me head to toe, beer in hand.  "Honey, next time I get the novel idea to bake, please (cuss word) tell me I can't."  End of story.  If you you'd like the recipe, let me know because I'd like to to see the finished result.  In fact, I'll hire you to bake for me.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Freezer is Full of Venison, Sauteed Corn - serves 4 with Leftovers

I know what some of you are thinking as I've already been asked several times, "are you still doing your blog", "when are you going to post another recipe?", "are you cooking anymore?".  And the answers were, "been busy", "been busy", "been busy cooking".  I'm sorry to those I left hanging after my last post opting to challenge myself to clean out and cook everything in my freezer so that I could hope for some venison.  Well, it came, all 135 pounds of it after it had been field dressed by my husband.  He didn't want my readers to think he couldn't fulfill the dream so he delivered.  The only thing that instead of taking it to Kuby's to have them butcher it, he brought it home to me, legs practically coming out of the cooler she came home in.  This deer was so big, especially her behind.  She definitely had "junk in her trunk" if you know what I mean and it actually made me feel a lot better about mine.  My poor neighbors must have thought I was someone out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre the way I was slaying away, white apron covered in deer goo.  It was back-breaking labor that I have just now been able to sit up straight.  But, with that came about 65+ pounds of deer meat, vacuum sealed and put in the freezer. Some women watch sports and that makes men crazy.  I butcher deer and watch sports and my husband just beams from ear to ear.  At any rate, I was so sick of looking at all this meat I opted to go vegetarian.  At least for this post.


2 tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbs ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
4 Italian zucchini, sliced 1/4' thick
2 bags frozen corn (fresh in the summer!)
1/2 tbs fresh, chopped oregano
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Cilantro, chopped (optional)
Queso Fresco (optional)


Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sized pan.  Add onions and saute until translucent, almost turning brown.  Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.  Add cumin, chili powder and stir to incorporate.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Add zucchini, stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add corn and mix well, cooking 3-4 minutes.  Stir in oregano, salt and pepper and simmer additional 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cilantro and sprinkle with queso fresco and serve.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chili Rubbed Mahi Mahi with Brown Rice and Beans - serves 4

My husband says he's a hunter.  Well, I've been waiting for him to get invited to go deer hunting (he's been asked a couple of times but due to work, he's unable to go.  Which this is an official "shout-out" to all my friends to please continue to ask their husbands to call Tim.  If it gets him out of the house for 1 - however many days, I'm just a happier person.) so that I can restock my freezer.  This weekend, I decided to go through both my freezer and pantry, challenging myself to use everything before I went to the store.  If I can clean out the freezer, then I will have more room for venison.  At least that's my hope.  I realized one thing...  I have only 2 pounds of venison left but ample amounts of rice and  dried beans.  Good grief. I could feed a third world country. I'm either losing my memory or I've become obsessive over both.  So, last night I fixed dinner using both, plus some Mahi Mahi I had recently frozen.  Everything turned out great except I had leftover beans.  To freeze or not to freeze?  Next recipe forthcoming.


4 6oz filets Mahi Mahi
1 tsp (each) Kosher salt, pepper, chili powder
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 jalapeno, slit cut down length of pepper
1/2 cup water
2 cups brown rice, cooked to package directions
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup queso fresco
Lime for garnish


Season Mahi Mahi with spice mix, coating both sides.  Heat a medium skillet for about 1 minute.  Place fish in pan and sear, about 3 minutes, then flip.  Sear for additional 2-3 minutes and remove from skillet.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place beans in medium saucepan.  Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, cumin and jalapeno.  Add 1/2 cup water and mix well over medium heat.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Spoon rice on plate and top with beans and fish.  Garnish with avocado, queso fresco and a squeeze of lime.

*I used dried beans, soaked/brined over night, then slow cooked using the ingredients above.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nana's Koogle - serves 4 with leftovers

Today marks the anniversary that my beloved grandmother, Nana, passed away.  I thought about posting a Christmas or New Year's recipe, but figured January 5th would be a good way to start off the year.  Nana was my best friend.  A day doesn't go by that I don't think of her.  Each day that I cook I wonder what she would think of my final product.  I can only imagine what she would have thought over my cheesecakes that nearly burned down my house.  I have such fond memories of her.  She is one of the reasons I began to have a passion for cooking as well as learning to drive sitting on phone books.  She was, without a doubt, one of the best cooks on the planet.  I only wish I could bake like she did.  As a little girl, I would help in the kitchen, any way I could, just to be near her.  We cried over onions and coughed over pillows of powdered sugar all the while making every moment together count. I spent endless summers working at her grocery store learning to make cheese balls, packaging meat and playing in the freezer.  She would work for hours on end and then come home and prepare an amazing meal.  Just being outside with the smells of wonderful Jewish cooking would permeate the neighborhood.  I can remember when I prepared my first Cornish game hens, which she loved, using an elaborate recipe.  I cooked all day and once we sat down for dinner, she couldn't stop with the compliments.  She even did so after pulling out the plastic bag in the carcass that was filled with the neck, liver and gizzards.  That's a true grandmother.  That was my Nana.  With every chop of my knife and every meal that I serve, she's there.  Always. And I never forget to remove that plastic bag.


1 12 oz package of extra wide noodles, cooked to package instructions
2 tbs butter
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease, with Pam, a 9x13 baking dish.  Add 2 tbs butter and place in oven to melt.  Meanwhile, mix cottage cheese, eggs, milk, pepper and salt in a medium bowl.  Add prepared noodles combine, mixing well.  Remove baking dish from oven (with gloves!) and add noodle mixture.  Place back into oven, uncovered, and bake for 45 minutes.  Serve hot.  Great with a salad, pot roast or roasted chicken.