Thursday, March 31, 2011

Simple and Healthy Asparagus Spinach Soup


Technically I'm still grounded (through the weekend) but I managed to sneak in this post for a Simple and Healthy Asparagus Spinach Soup.

If you're looking for a rich soup loaded with cream and butter...JUMP this is not the recipe for you!

While I did add 1/4 cup of cream at the very end of the cooking... I mostly relied on garlic, onion and good ol' fashion salt and pepper to enhance the soup's natural flavors...


Served with crusty garlic toasts topped with a spreadable goat cheese...

This Asparagus Spinach Soup makes the perfect starter to any spring inspired menu!


Simple and Healthy Asparagus Spinach Soup

2 1/2 to 3 cups, chopped fresh asparagus
1 large onion, diced
2 very large garlic cloves, chopped
2 good handfuls baby spinach
4 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Olive Oil for sauteing (about 1/4 cup) or butter for a richer soup
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

In a large soup pot with lid, add olive oil and saute up the onion and the garlic over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes.

Add the asparagus and spinach and stir well. Continue cooking about 4 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a boil.

Turn down heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, allow soup to cool slightly and blend soup in batches in a blender.

Stir in cream, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with garlic toasts brushed with goat cheese...
Do you recall Tiffany from my childhood? Well, she placed the Asparagus Spinach Soup in dainty little tea cups. While it's cold outside and rainy here today...isn't it nice to imagine you're lunching in the garden?!

if you have no idea who Tiffany is...believe's just as well!   ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta with Fennel, Onion, Orange and Olives


So after my last blog post...riddled with some very minor typos ...OK FINE...FULL-FLEDGED BLATANT MISTAKES (one.... after another....after another...)

It was agreed upon by all those "who care about me"...I was officially...

GROUNDED from MY BLOG!  (**effective immediately)


Sent to my camera, certainly no computer, no snacks, no flat screen TV wine.

No ultra messy toy room... noise.

No bills sitting dirty pots to scrub... no diapers to change....

Did I say no children????


Just "POOR, POOR" me in exile from her kitchen and family ....left all alone...

...with a bed, a pillow and the latest edition of, "bon appetit!"

A pen and some paper (for which I was instructed to write on the words, "offense" and "weigh" 100x each) .....instead gave way to thoughts, ideas, bubbly doodles....

Solo brainstorming at its finest!


HOLY COW!  I could get used to this grounded thing!

I'm going to misspell the crap out of words and write grammatically incorrect blog posts WAAAAY more often!  In fact, I HOPE...NO...I PRAY... I am butchering this one... AS. WE. SPEAK!

So go ahead and "ground me" again you, "people who care..."  I dare you. 

Someone. Just. Might. Like it.



Angel Hair with Fennel, Onion, Orange and Olives
~ my own recipe as a result of some alone time


8oz. Angel Hair Pasta, cooked Al dente - some cooking water reserved!

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
3 orange circle slices, peel removed (about 1/4 inch thick)
1 large or 2 smaller cloves of garlic, cut in half
Olive oil, enough for coating a large pan
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup cream Sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chopped olives (to taste but about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
Fennel fronds for garnish
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste


In a large pan coated with olive oil, cook down the fennel, red onion, orange slices and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes.

Add a nice pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (I think it is important in most recipes to add salt and pepper in layers) then the butter, sherry and capers and continue cooking down about 5 more minutes, deglazing the pan.

Remove from heat and let cool (it should look similar to the picture above with the wooden spoon).

When you're ready, add the mixture to a food processor then add cream, mix until it turns into a paste. (It will be a thick paste - not pretty looking) but could salt and pepper to taste again and then stop right here and serve it with BREAD! YUM!)



Drain pasta - DON'T RINSE!

Place pasta back into its pot, add the fennel puree and some of the (to desired consistency about 1/2 cup but do it little by little) reserved cooking pasta water and mix together well. (This will take a few minutes to get it well incorprated)

Stir in some chopped olives and fresh chopped flat leaf parsley. Salt and Pepper (AGAIN) to taste!

Garnish with fennel fronds and serve with crusty bread!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon "Orange Velvet" ...and a Confession

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon "Orange Velvet" ...and a Confession

The first time I tried Carrot Ginger Soupdid not want to like it.

We were dining at a French Thai restaurant and the soup arrived as part of my meal...

"The only way I enjoy cooked carrots are when they're stuffed into a cake and slathered with cream cheese frosting!" ...a direct quote from "yours truly" some 15 years ago...and one I am not proud of!

Today... I pride myself on my "open-mindedness" towards all things food. There's not much I don't like (nor am unwilling to try) but here comes the confession.......


I have a slight (TOP SECRET) prejudice towards those who claim to dislike things...for example... cilantro, garlic, lamb...etc...

There I said it!  Please don't be mad! I once got into a heated discussion (on one of the popular food boards) with a woman who took great offence to my admissions!

I recall she went so far as to wish me ill will/DEATH the next time I eat a fresh herb...

I don't think she reads my blog. (Or if she does's with an "adorable" blond voodoo doll in hot pink tank...with cilantro smeared all over her face and rusty needles protruding through her neck...)

soup before passed thru a CHINOISE

Ouch! prove I do not take my food prejudices too own father claims to hate mom doesn't like lamb...and I have two best friends who won't eat garlic!

(With the friends...I had to seriously weigh the pros and cons of the relationship before ultimately accepting them as the..."garlic disliking freaks" that they are.  Yet ones I still enjoy spending time with ...I guess.)

My Mom and Dad...well...they get a pass with all the, "birthing" "raising" and "paying for four years of college stuff...." ...but I still don't believe they've EVER had lamb OR cilantro prepared the right way! 

So the next time my parents are over for dinner, I'm thinking Cilantro Encrusted Lamb Chops...with garlic mashed potatoes I might invite over some friends...  ;)


Getting back to that Carrot Ginger Soup some 15 years ago (good God I know I am getting old as I JUST WAS half a lifetime some....) ...and that beautiful bowl of "Orange Velvet"  I so desperately wanted to DESPISE.... 

INSTEAD I loved ...every ...last ...bite!  I compare ALL Carrot Ginger Soups to that one that infamous night.

I am certain the soup at the French Thai restaurant was passed through a CHINOISE  (here I did so with half of it)... and while the restaurant served their Carrot Ginger Soup with a beautiful drizzle of stark white cream...I opted for homemade Parmesan crisps...


(simply grated Parmesan cheese thrown into a hot cast iron skillet in thin clump layers...cooked on one side...then flipped to the other....about 8 minutes total..)

Here's the recipe photographed in this post, Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon via

The only difference (as already mentioned) passing half the completed soup thru a CHINOISE .....then mixing it all back together!  (A step that is completely optional!) 

The "paste" leftover inside the chinoise, will be turned into a cream sauce and appear in a separate post!  ORANGE VELVET.  ENJOY!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb ~ I Can't Wait to Make it Again!


(I will preface this post with the fact that I believe the lamb was suppose to be trimmed off the bone.  I cooked it as seen in these photos. Everything about this dish was wonderful...I just wished for MORE MEAT...exactly what the attached recipe intended! If you like these flavors...YOU MUST give this Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb a try!)

I've been craving lamb - but NOT its hefty price tag! So when I came across choice lamb stew meat, behind the butcher's counter the other day (at $2.29 a pound) I thought why not give it a shot?!

I returned home and scoured the web for recipes!


In general I love my lamb BOLD...usually in "chop form" and grilled on a charcoal grill.

Any kind of recipe that "strayed" away from my norm ...HAD to be full of flavor!


They call this lamb dish "slow-cooked" ...but it's not like it takes all day.

It's a one pot meal with just a few simple steps, whose total cooking time is under two hours...

...most of which you're sitting back...reveling in its aroma!


The recipe for this Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb can be found here on

The lamb's 4 fork rating...multiple stellar reviews...and fact that it's even better when prepared a day in advance... initially drew me to the dish....

The enjoying of the lamb with my husband...served atop couscous with pita bread and an Oregon Pinot Noir...elevated the recipe to the status of, "must have family favorites!"

Note: I substituted the dried apricots with one cup regular raisins (as they were all I had on hand). Other than that, I followed the recipe to a tee (aside from previously mentioned up top!) Seriously out of this world!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shepherd's Pie wrapped in Bacon ~ Breathing New Life into Leftovers


First, let me assure anyone who's reading... when we ate this Shepherd's Pie for dinner last was spooned out of its casserole dish (in heaping portions) directly into shallow porcelain bowls and served along side a HUGE loaf of buttered crispy bread!

A classic Shepherd's Pie dinner...comfort food at its finest!


Now...that being said...let me explain all the "presentation and plating" I have been doing on my blog...because honestly...even I got to wondering what I was doing???

It makes sense. When I was a little girl - my make believe game of choice was - restaurant. "Tiffany's by the Bay" was the name of my establishment and I (you guessed it) was Tiffany.

Tiffany would write up menus, set tables and force her friends to play along. The windows running the perimeter of her parent's house served as the, "drive-thru" where "patrons" could ride their bikes up to the glass and order any one of Tiffany's gourmet delights!

Crab Cakes, Grilled Ham and Cheese and Cold Lobster Salad were just a few of the menu items "Tiffany's by the Bay" had to offer...


Today...I am all grown up...but still..."playing restaurant."

I continue to dream of "Tiffany"...the beautiful and ultra successful seaside cafe owner/restaurateur ~ who experiments with her food and whose specialty is redefining and breathing new life into leftovers!

Like Tiffany....I believe whether it's Shepherd's Pie piled onto a plate with nothing more than a fork and a beer...or ...leftover Shepherd's Pie cut into contrived circles and snugly wrapped with par cooked bacon then reheated 'til it's warm...

...the food we eat and serve our family...should not only taste delicious ...but LOOK delicious too!


I threw this Shepherd's Pie together using - 2 lbs. ground beef, tomato sauce, frozen corn and peas and leftover mashed potatoes. I also felt the need (last minute) to cover the Shepherd's Pie with cheese. Here's a recipe for Shepherd's Pie I found on that looks wonderful and receives outstanding reviews!

Below, are the steps I took to reinvent Shepherd's Pie Day Two - enjoy!

Leftover Shepherd's Pie wrapped in Bacon

Cut the Shepherd's Pie (while cold) into circles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Par cook long bacon slices until cooked - but not crispy.

Wrap the bacon slices (about 3-4 per circle) around the Shepherd's Pie circles and secure the bacon with a few wooden toothpicks.

Heat Shepherd's Pie circles up about 12 minutes or until hot.

Remove the toothpicks and serve!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Panko-Crusted Salmon with Leek and Lemon Cream, Mashed Potatoes and Shaved Asparagus


Don't let the plating of this Panko-Crusted Salmon with Leek and Lemon Cream deceive you... it's a simple dish for a weeknight meal... that's beautiful enough for your finest entertaining!

A fillet of salmon like this one is all you'll need to be inspired!


The sauce can be made a day ahead and reheated right before serving!

(Here I'm trying to show consistency...)


Make your favorite mashed potatoes earlier in the day and warm them up when ready to eat! (If you're short on time, omit the potatoes and/or serve with a quick and easy rice!)


Take raw asparagus spears and simply peel into long, curly ribbons...


The original recipe that completely inspired the dish can be found on Almond-Crusted Salmon with Leek and Lemon Cream

Below, I noted the simple changes/additions I made. The original recipe gets overwhelmingly positive reviews so either way (or with your own twist)...I'm guessing you can't go wrong!

1.)  I replaced the almond coating with a panko, touch of lemon zest and fresh parsley coating. I DID NOT DREDGE THE SALMON IN FLOUR.   Instead, I simply brushed one side of the salmon with egg, pressed egg side down into the panko crumbs and seared (panko side down) in the pan until crisp about (3-4 minutes).  Next I flipped (panko side up) and finished cooking in a 350 degree oven (about 8-10 minutes.)

2.) I made the sauce exactly as written except even easier! After blending - the sauce was so smooth - I saw no reason to strain!

3.) I served the salmon atop basic homemade mashed potatoes (just pick your favorite recipe)

4.) I topped with fresh shaved asparagus...I thought the refreshing crunch would successfully cut into the natural richness of the dish!  So Wonderful!!! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Grilled Chicken Pitas with Yogurt, Cucumber and Dill ~ Saturday's Lunch


For today's post (for the most part) I'll let the photos tell the story.

Saturday's Lunch...

We marinated sliced chicken breast in a bit of olive oil, 2 cloves diced garlic, salt, pepper and dill. (Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are delicious in this too, but not always easy to find...)

We grilled the chicken until cooked through - slightly blackened - but juicy...(about 10 minutes)


OK, side note...these tulips are ten days old! Still so beautiful...  Someone once told me putting a shiny penny in their water makes them last longer and keeps them from wilting...I do it every time!


A regular cucumber...peeled... and then seeds scooped out of its center. Dice.


Fresh, crisp Iceberg lettuce...


While everyone here gets acquainted, go help yourself to a nice glass of wine...


Then chop some fresh dill...


Assemble on a plate so people can help themselves...


A freshly cut Meyer Lemon...glistens like gold...


Greek yogurt with cucumber, dill, Meyer lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper...


All mixed together...


Some grilled pita bread, olive tapenade and perhaps a few friends...

and lunch is served...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fish 'n' Chips ~ Have you Heard?

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Just in case I didn't comment on your blog already with my... "Sorry my computer's down" message ...nor are you one of my blog's Facebook fans who had the pleasure of seeing the cryptic messages I posted on my wall last night... I'll say it here too...

My computer (that I've owned for just over two years now) has died.

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I swear the computer companies place chips on their machines that register the exact second a computer's warranty expires. Such chips instruct the computers to do the following:

"Begin acting temperamental.  Start with minor annoyances like sticky keys...fade to blue fuzzy screens ...and last...turn on and off whenever you damn well please.  Such actions will ensure the owner frustrated to the point where a new computer/upgrade is necessary. Once you have successfully accomplished your mission - may you rest in peace - you have served us well."

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So yes...I need a new computer.

I just assume walk into a Best Buy, find the geekiest looking kid I can and tell him what I want...nothing too pricey yet not a piece of junk... perhaps a model that can handle a bit of splattered food and some wine from time to time?    Easy, right?

Well...I would be home from Best Buy with new computer in hand - if it weren't for my meddling husband!  I love the man - but he seems to think such a purchase warrants, "a bit of research."

Words like, "price comparing, gigobites, technobites and blah, blah, blah...!" Words that (besides their already annoying meanings) push off the purchase of a new machine to - gulp - this weekend!

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So...what's a self diagnosed Food Blogger Addict/Twitter Aholic/Facebook Junkie to do without a computer?  

I'll tell you...sneak onto her husband's work computer while he's attending a sales call where his good old BlackBerry was all he needed! (Turns out there IS room in my heart for that CrackBerry afterall!)

He just called to say he's on his way back (I told him not to rush) but I guess it's time I wrap this post up...

Remember those fries I posted's the fish we ate with them thus, Fish n' Chips!  Replace the beer in the picture with a Guinness ...and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Fish 'n' Chips

Here are the fries

1 lb. Cod, try to find a thick fillet
cornmeal (about 1 cup, add more if necessary)
1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin powder
1/2 tsp. Parsley Flakes
Salt and Pepper
AP Flour (about 1 cup)
1 egg lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the cod into 2-3 inch chunks. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the fish.

Take 3 bowls. Place some flour in one. The beaten egg in the second. Cornmeal and spices in the third.

Place cod in the flour, coat and shake of excess flour. Dip into the egg bath, then coat with the cornmeal mixture.

When ready, deep fry in 360 degree oil about 3-4 minutes or until the outside is crispy.

Keep fish warm (and ensure it's cooked through) by placing the fish on a pan in the oven - 300 degrees until ready to eat (not too long though as you do not want to dry it out!)

Serve with chips, fresh lemon, tarter sauce and ketchup!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Homemade French Fries with Sea Salt ~ How Many Times?

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How many times have you been asked the question, "Would you like fries or a salad with that?"

How many times has your body screamed, "SALAD" only to have your mouth reply, "fries."

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How many times...when you opted for the salad...did you sit there and pick fries off your dining companion's plate ~ even squirting some ketchup right along side those greens?

How many times has is been YOUR plate that was being, "picked from" leaving you agitated...annoyed... and yearning to scream, "STEP OFF........MY FRIES!"

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How many times have you received a side of fries and thought... "Ugh, they're too crispy" or "Ugh, they're too soft"...only to sit there and finish every stinkin one?

How many times have you, "SUPER SIZED" ......when no one else was around?

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How many times has an old french fry ...sitting half under the floor mat of your car...conjured up memories of both ...good times ...and guilt?

How many times while eating your fries...did you wish you were drinking a beer?

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I'm positive YOU can come up with some more! many honest!

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Homemade French Fries with Sea Salt


Scrub your potatoes clean.

Slice potatoes into desired shape...strips, wedges....whatever.

Get your potatoes as DRY as possible. I used paper towels and NO LIE took a hair dryer to these babies to extract some of their moisture.

Get your oil to 400 degrees (super HOT) because the second you carefully place your fries in the pot - the temperature of the oil will DROP.

Fry your potatoes to desired doneness (we like ours crispy) these batches each took about 8-10 minutes which was longer than I thought.

Sprinkle with sea salt the instant they come out of the fryer!

Ketchup and White Distilled Vinegar make nice sides...