Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge for June!

Danish Braid with marscapone cheese and mixed berries!

Wow...this was a tough one on me. I think with the amount of time it took, having the girls home with me, getting ready for vacation I probably should have bowed out but that wouldn't make me a Daring Baker now would it??? I also think I probably should have stepped away from the bottle of wine before it was empty...this did not help me at all!!!

The Daring Bakers are a group of people who unite once a month over a common recipe chosen by the hosts. This month the challenge was co-hosted by Ben from What's Cooking? And Kelly from Sass & Veracity! Thanks so much Kelly and Ben!!!

The recipe that they chose for this challenge was a Danish Braid from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking.

I followed this recipe for everything but I had no apples so I modified my filling. I used marscapone cheese (8 oz mixed with 1/4 cup of sugar) and mixed berries (3 cups of raspberry, blueberry and blackberry cooked with 1/4 cup of sugar and 3 Tbsp of corn starch).


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Would I make this again? I really hate to say this but with all of the incredible bakeries and pastry shops in the world I would never again want to spend a whole day doing this! The smell was incredible and it tasted amazing but it was very time consuming. The end of the recipe also was a little fuzzy to me (not just because of the wine???!!!). It didn't really tell me to proof the dough on what I would be baking it on so I had to move it after it was filled and that was real messy. I also used the whole recipe of dough on one braid. It didn't really distinguish that it was 2 braids. Regardless as I said it was an incredible tasting treat and I am so glad that I tried it.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Is it about the pork steak or the incredible, scrumptious, fresh, early season corn???

See that huge pork steak??? Hardly got touched...but that beautiful corn didn't stand a chance!!!

This post was suppose to be about the incredible pork steaks that I found in the grocery store. They were Publix Greenwise so they contained no antibiotics or hormones. I was pretty excited by them and rushed home and made up the marinade for them: Soy sauce, fresh ginger and minced garlic cloves. Super easy and delicious tasting.

As I said thought I was real excited about them, that is, until I tasted this CORN!!! I got this corn at my local farmer's market at Cape Harbor. We sort of bought it as an after thought when we were just leaving and figured the girls would love it. We did not buy nearly enough!!! This stuff was incredible. Probably the best corn I have had in years. I don't know anything about it but I do know that my MIL loves corn and seeing as we are going up there soon I am going to grab her a bunch and take it up to her!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Banana and Chocolate Chip Cookies...Yummmmm!

A great way to use those over ripe bananas and a nice break from banana bread!!!

What with it being summer right now and always having a bunch of children running through my house I like to have something for the kids to snack on. I have been making snack like cakes and stuff but I wanted to make some cookies.

I had some bananas that were quite a bit darker then they need to be for eating so I knew I wanted to make a cookie using them. Martha Stewart's Banana-Walnut-Chocolate-Chunk Cookies did the trick. This is the recipe that I used with my changes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Martha's Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 ripe/over ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Combine flours ,salt and baking soda in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Mix butter and sugars with mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, vanilla and banana continue mixing until well blended.
  4. Then add flour mixture.
  5. Stir in oats, walnuts and chocolate chunks.
  6. Spoon out in hefty scoops onto a parchment linked baking sheet.
  7. (Or just a greased cookie sheet is fine)
  8. (Batter will be gloppy or runny not firm or packable)
  9. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.
These cookies were so delicious. The little ones had them gone in no time. At least nothing is going to waste this summer!!! Take a plate of these to the 4th of July party and you will see what I mean!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


A nice piece of Tripletail fresh off the grill!

My children are both huge fish lover's. It makes no difference what type of fish it seems. My oldest daughter's absolute favorite though is tripletail. This is a fairly common fish in our parts. It is most widely available at the fish market from April through October. To learn more click here.

To cook this really mild and moist fish we just use flat irons coated with butter. Apply a light seasoning of paprika, salt and pepper. Cook til no longer opaque. T. had his blackened and it was so good like that as well!

Speaking of blackening...

Think my toe is broken??? This was about an hour after the injury occurred and already purple!!! I think it's just jammed but it sure hurts like H***!

Now onto something completely different. I had bought a case of apricots from Costco thinking that the girls would eat them. This was not to be. After my 2 attempts at the Royal Foodie Joust this was what I had left. Instead of feeding them to Enorma I decided to pull out our food dehydrator and let them dry for a while. They were absolutely delicious and I can't wait to get some more from Costco!!!

Leftover apricots from my Royal Foodie Joust entry ready to dry on the dehydrator!

I guess you probably have noticed that my mind is a little scattered by the jumble of this post but having the girl's home this summer is cutting into my blogging time. I wouldn't trade it for the world but you are going to have to put up with me being a touch scattered. We are also preparing for vacation so that is making it a little more hectic then it should be!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust

One of the best tasting tarts I have ever made!!!

This has been a pretty challenging month for me cooking wise! I have my 2 girls home from school for the summer and it has really changed the way that I do things. I tried doing my Royal Foodie Joust entry a week or so ago and screwed it up something terrible. Since then I have tossed around numerous ideas. The ingredients this month, apricots, ginger and butter, were so good I was even tossing around doing a savory dish! Thanks for the ingredients Erin!!!

But because of time constraints and my constant company (that seems to need constant enertaining???) I decided to perfect the tart that I had messed up so bad last week. I think I did it!!!

This is the same tart recipe that I got from Nikki of the Canary Girl. Since then though I have modified it til it is almost unrecognizable! It is truly one of the most versatile tart recipes I have ever used. It is fast and simple and a great way to use up that over ripe fruit!

The apricot/ginger combo was great!!!

Apricot Ginger Tart

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
juice of 2 lemons (around 1/2 cup)
1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced
5 apricots peeled and sliced (place in boiling water and then ice water to help peel them easier)


Preheat your oven to 300ºF/150ºC.
Add the flours, powdered sugar and butter to your food processor and pulse until it comes together in a dough.
Press the dough into a tart pan, using your hands and fingers to spread the dough evenly.
Par bake the dough about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Raise oven temperature to 350ºF/175ºC.
While cooling, combine the filling ingredients.
Beat eggs first, then add remaining ingredients, except the apricots, whisking well to combine.
Pour filling into tart shell, and then arrange the apricot slices in filling.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until set.
Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

I love lazy summer weekends!

Super Berry Limoncello Cocktail

Here in Florida once the thermometer reaches the mid 90's you don't really have too much get up and go in you so you tend to have some really lazy weekends.

Our 12th year wedding anniversary was on today and all we wanted to do was to hang out by the pool. So guess what we did? Yep and created another great Limoncello recipe.

I really do need to get making my own Limoncello!!!

Super Berry Limoncello Cocktail

2 parts Limoncello
1 part sparkling water
juice of 1 lemon
Splash of Acai Berry juice (I use the Costco brand with blueberries)

Serve over ice with a fresh lemon slice.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Do You Like Your Cheese Blue?

Blue Cheese with a bit of salad and fried chicken (can you tell he loves Blue Cheese Dressing???)

My hubby sure does! So instead of going to the really expensive grocery store where they sell all organics and buying a bottle of ungodly expensive blue cheese dressing I decided to make it for him.

We have a huge wedge of it in the fridge at all times because T. and the girls like to "snack" on it???!!! I am not a cheese hater but I don't particularly enjoy such over powering tastes and I find the blues to be in that category.

Regardless I made him this:

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup non fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper

Process all of this in your food processor to your desired consistency.

about 3/4 cup Roquefort Cheese

Add this and process till chunky.

Use immediately of cover and refrigerate.

Use good quality blue cheese such as Roquefort for a really good dressing. This could be used so many different ways...even as a dip! We used this on a fried chicken salad which was a great mixture of flavors!

Click here for my fried chicken recipe!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Have you ever tried buckwheat (kasha)?

I had never tried buckwheat before but I was in my local health food/grocery market and I ended up speaking to a girl who had just moved here from the Ukraine and she was looking for a couple of things in the bulk food section and she wondered if I could help her. We were able to finding some grain that she could use for sprouting to make bread with. Then she got some some buckwheat or kasha. I asked her what she did with it and she very simply told me that "they ate it". We had a bit of a language barrier so I decided to buy about a cup of it and then look online as to how to cook it up.

Apparently is is treat like rice. 1 cup of buckwheat to 2 cups of liquid. I just cooked it in water with salt. I then let it cool and made a nice salad out of it for my lunch!

Buckwheat and Green Bean Salad


1 cup of uncooked buckwheat, see below
1 lb of beans, cut to bite sized
1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup white and red wine vinegar combined
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic minced


Boil 2 cups of water. Add salt and then add the buckwheat. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from pot and allow to cool.

Cook the beans in boiling water until tender-crisp. Once at the texture that you want for a salad place the beans in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together.

Mix the buckwheat, beans, onion and dressing together and chill.

This makes enough salad for a lunch for 4.

I loved this salad. It taste fresh and earthy all at the same time. The buckwheat has a stronger more wild taste than any other grain that I have tasted. For more information about the health benefits of buckwheat click here.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Did I ever screw that one up!!!

Thick skinned, sugar topped, burnt crusted apricot tart. Yum???

So I had a bunch of apricots sitting on my counter starting to wither up a bit. When I say a bunch I mean that I cought a whole thing of them at Costco. I really thought everyone liked them. Seems they do they just won't eat them???!!!

I decided to use some of them in a tart. Remember the tart that I made a couple of weeks ago, numerous times? This time I decided to use the apricots in it. This was going to be my entry into this months Royal Foodie Joust but I just screwed it up too badly so back to the drawing board on that one!!! I had several other ideas so this is okay!

On to the tart:

I played around with the ingredients. I added some whole wheat flour to the crust and that part was good. I made the filling and had it all poured into the crust and arranged the apricots in the tart. It looked so pretty!!!

I started cleaning up and I was washing some stuff. I grabbed a bowl that had some stuff still in it. OMG - I FORGOT THE FREAKING SUGAR???!!! Where the hell is y head???? Could it be on the pizza dough I was making for dinner, or the bread that I was baking for lunch tomorrow, or possibly on the stuff I was chopping up to put on the pizza???? Maybe I do try to do too much at once???

My solution: Pop that sucker out of the oven (5 minutes in), bump the filling out, stir in the sugar, put it back in the oven and hope it turns out. No hope in that!!!

See everyone ate it anyway!!!

It looked terrible. Funny thing is though it tasted great. I had added ginger in with the apricots and all the flavors blended nicely. The lemon, ginger, apricots.

Now onto the apricots. How can they feel so soft when they are raw but if you are too lazy to peel them and cook them in a tart they feel as thick and nasty as peach skins??? Could I have done anything worse to this tart? Oh yah burning the crust!!!

My pizza with just olive oil, fresh tomatoes, fresh and grated mozzarella and fresh basil and oregano!

For dinner we had pizza. I've posted this before so see here. I love mine simple with just some olive oil, mozzarella (fresh and shredded) and fresh tomatoes. T. has his with anything he can find or that I have cut up, the youngest one had tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni and the oldest has just cheese. Everyone was happy!

I will try this tart again but not for the joust that will be a different thing!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Limoncello Summer Cocktail

Nicely chilled bottle of Limoncello

I am always on the hunt for something that will just scream summer on the beach or by the pool...I think I found it.

My sister spent last week in Italy so I was thinking about all things Italian. With the technology now I was able to keep in touch with her the whole time. Pretty much knowing what she was eating and doing all day long! Pretty sweet huh?

It was with her in mind that I went into our liquor store the other day to buy myself a bottle of Limoncello. I had never tasted it before and thought that is was about time I did. With my bottle in hand I raced home and poured myself some to taste over ice. (very sad face) I didn't like it. But in my true determined nature I was going to find a way that this was good! And did I ever...

Here is what I came up with:

Limoncello Summer Cocktail

Pour 3 ounces of Limoncello over ice. Top with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sparkling water (Perrier or San Pellagrino) to taste.

I can't wait to serve this to my girlfriends while we waste away the afternoon around the pool watching the kids play!!! This is now my knew favorite drink...Yummmmm!!!

Onto something totally different. We are all mourning the loss of Tastespotting but some wonderful individuals have come up with some really good options! I think my favorite is Foodgawker. The set up of this one is very similar to Tastespotting. My friend Robin at Caviar and Codfish has also set one up called FPDaily. Last but not least is Recipes2Share. Thanks to all of you who are running these new sites!

Be sure to check out all of these wonderful sites!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, June 16, 2008

A great Father's Day for all of us!!!

Osso is the first dog that we have had that is not a water dog. He does seem to enjoy the floaty though!!!

Yesterday was Father's Day and we spent a nice lazy day at home. We hung around the pool all day just soaking up the sun and relaxing. Life doesn't get much better...until dinner time that is!!!
Grilled Lamb with grilled eggplant and peppers!

Last night's dinner was incredible. I have been wanting a steak for a very long time now but they are so freaking expensive (no hormones, antibiotics, free range, humanely raised and slaughtered) but yesterday I broke down and bought one. This steak was incredible. T. and the girls had lamb. We used the same marinade on both of the eats and it was great on them both. Nice and fresh tasting. We served this along side some grilled peppers and some grilled eggplant. The peppers were just salted and grilled and the eggplant was smothered in Olive Oil, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika. Yummmm!!!

Steak on the Grill with grilled eggplant and peppers!

Lamb and Beef Marinade

1 cup of Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, sliced
salt and pepper

  • Allow all the ingredients to blend together for about 1 hr. Add meat to a Ziploc bag and divide the marinade if you are doing what we did and using the marinade for 2 different meats.
  • Allow to marinade for about 15 minutes.
  • Grill until desired doneness is reached!
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!!!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there! I wish I could be with mine on Father's day but the distance is just too great. Love you Dad!

My girls got up in the middle of the night last night and cleaned out our office as a Father's Day gift to T. Isn;t that sweet??? Unfortunately seeing as they did this from 3:30 in the morning until about 5 when I heard them, they are a little tired and cranky today!

Onto something totally not food related or Father's day related...the weather!

This video was taken from my front window looking towards the street. I couldn't even open the front door to get a better shot. I was startled when I was taking it by a strike of lightening which seemed like it was right out there!!!

This was right when the storm started. See my pool is already very full. I ended up with water up to my sliders but not any higher thank goodness!

We have been having really horrendous weather. Even worse then we normally get this time of year. Friday afternoon we had s storm develop right over top of us (we are on the coast and when the seabreeze coming off the water is not strong enough to push the developing storms inland they tend to build right above us). And was it wild. The lightening and thunder where just constant. The rain was so loud it sounded like a roar. We had tornadoes from these storm several days last week.

The one Friday though was the worst. Several homes were damaged. The flooding was so bad that when we went for dinner (meeting friends) and as we were driving down the main road I saw three coconuts floating past us on the road!!! LOL. The only way you could maneuver down the streets was by driving between the mailboxes! It was a bit drier yesterday and we didn't have any rain at our house. I guess it's either feast of famine...2 weeks ago we were the driest place in the state now officially we are the wettest!

Have a great day!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, June 13, 2008

My savory potato salad screw up!

Grilled Potatoes

The other night when I was making the stuffed grape leaves I saw that I had a bunch of potatoes that were sprouting eyes. I figured that I had better get hem used up. I also new that I had some beans so I originally had been looking for some inspiration in the way of a potato and bean salad. But when I decided on a nice easy light vinaigrette and got my beans out I realized this was not to be!! Those beans stunk...Enorma got those!

I finally decided on Potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Would have been really good to but I undercooked the potatoes???!!! Too many things going on at once. It wouldn't have been so bad but I didn't even notice it until I tasted it after I had it all dressed and ready to go in the fridge!!! I figured I could microwave it and then chill it again but that still sounded like a lot of work. I was grilling the goat cheese stuffed chicken anyway so I decided to add a bit more oil to the potatoes and put them in an aluminum foil packet and finish cooking them on the grill.

They actually turned out incredible and I would not hesitate to do this again. The nest time I might just microwave them and then do the dressing and then grill them. I have other ways that I grill my potatoes but this turned out very well with the vinegar adding something else to it! Here is how the recipe will go:

Grilled Potatoes

1-1/2 lbs potatoes, cooked and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 + 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried summer savory
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp powdered mustard

  • Bake the potatoes in the microwave until done. Allow to cool until you can handle them well enough to cut them into 1 inch cubes.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the first 2 Tbsp of olive oil, vinegar, parsley, oregano, garlic, savory, pepper and mustard.
  • Add the dressing to the potato pieces and allow to soak in at room temperature.
  • Prepare aluminum foil packet and oil the bottom with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the potatoes and cook on the grill for about 10 minutes turning once during the cooking time.
These would be great served as a side dish to just about anything. I was thinking that you could even add cherry tomatoes to cook with it on the grill. This could be a very versatile dish with a bit of creativity!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vine leaves stuffed with chicken and herbed goat cheese!

Yesterday was the first day since the girls finished school for the year that we didn't have a thousand things to do and I was actually able to make a meal for us. That is not to say that I still didn't face several challenges while doing this...dogs needing to go out, kids fighting in the pool, lawn guy asking me stupid questions, phone calls and the list goes on and on!!!

I had seen this recipe a week or so ago on Val's blog - More Than Burnt Toast and I knew that I could alter it to suit my tomato hater!

Here is Val's recipe as written. I have put my changes in italics in bold.

**Barbequed Chicken with Vine Leaves & Goat Cheese**

4 chicken legs or boneless, skinless breasts, without the bones (I used thighs)
200 g goat cheese
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1- 2 tsp lemon zest
1 T snipped chives (I had no chives)
1 tsp finely chopped sun dried tomatoes (I used fresh chopped basil as we have a tomato hater)
20 vine leaves (canned in brine)
400 g tomatoes concassees (chopped or crushed)- concassees is seedless, skinless chopped tomatoes (see below for the sauce that I used)
¼ cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
aluminum foil

In a small bowl combine goat cheese. lemon juice, lemon zest, snipped chives and sun dried tomatoes.

Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the chicken fillets in half but not cutting all the way through to form a pocket for the goat cheese filling. Lay four or five vine leaves (depending on their size)overlapping on a piece of aluminum foil to create a large square and lay one of the chicken fillets on top of the leaves. Add the goat cheese filling divided into 4 equal portions inside the pocket of the chicken breast. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and proceed to wrap the grape leaves around the chicken breast like an envelope. Then tightly wrap the aluminum foil around the fillet, giving it a candy like shape like a tamale or if you are British like a Christmas cracker.

Repeat the process with the rest of the chicken fillets. If the vine leaves you are using are preserved in brine, avoid adding extra salt to the chicken. The salt from the brine will be more than adequate and it will taste better this way.

Preheat barbecue to 350 F. Place foil-wrapped chicken in barbecue. Cook for 15 minutes, flip chicken and cook for another 10. Let rest for 5 -10 minutes. Carefully remove foil by cutting foil twists off end and exposing grape leaf wrapped chicken.

Meanwhile: To prepare the sauce add the crushed tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and oregano in a pot and allow it to cook for 20 minutes once it comes to a boil.

*****Because of my tomato hater I decided to make a lemon cream sauce to go on top:

Lemon Cream Sauce

zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 C heavy cream

Combine zest and garlic in a skillet. Heat until aromatic and the flour and oil and cook the flour until just browning and add the lemon. Finish it with the heavy cream.

This was an incredible meal that everyone liked. The grape leaves added a wonderful, briny flavor to the chicken. One of the best new things I have tried!!! Thanks Val!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Goodbye to an old friend!

Today is a very sad day in our house. We have finally come to terms with the fact that we need to have our 16 year old black lab put to sleep. I am going to turn this around though and make this post a celebration of his crazy and very long life!!!

April of 2006 doing what he loved best!

This was February of this year (his eye didn't really glow like that)

This was last night as we were all saying our goodbyes...

T. and I got Beau back in 1992. He was a puffy little bundle of fur that seemed to never stop moving!!! And then he grew and ate EVERYTHING!!! Labs are chewers and this puppy was no exception. We had poison control and our emergency vet on speed dial! Here is a list of the things he ate:

a dresser
glass candle stick holders
tin cans (chewed them up until they were in tiny little pieces and his gums were bloody)
prescription drugs (toradol (sp?) a migraine drug)
huge box of liquor filled chocolates (foil and all)
double stuffed fudge covered oreos
bags upon bags of Doritos
pizzas with the box and all
shoes (mainly mine but only one of each pair)

But he turned in a beautiful and wonderful dog. He was the perfect companion and protector. Everything a Lab should be. Once we had children his role changed but he took his new job of protecting the children very seriously.

Beau has gone on every single vacation that we have ever taken. He has hiked the mountains of the Carolina's. Swam the creeks, ponds and lakes of Pennsylvania. Walked the miles and miles of parkland in Canada. He has had a blessed life and now he is telling us he needs to go.

Goodbye my friend you will always be missed!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Look at that great burger all dressed up!

Last night was another one of my crazy rushed night. The girls had an hour long skating lesson and then my oldest had Karate. Just when we had to leave the skating rink we ended up caught in the worst thunderstorm I had seen in a while...welcome to summer in Florida. Rains everyday, usually pretty heavy but not everywhere. I got caught in it at the rink but at my house we barely had a drop???!!!

When we finally did get home T. had dinner ready for us. We were just having hamburgers (made from organic, all natural, no hormones or antibiotic) but we had some leftover pico de gallo and guacamole from our tacos the night before so he piled ours high! T. had some grilled cubanelle peppers to go along with his.This was one of the best burgers I have had in a while!!!

I also received an award from Nikki at Nikki has an incredible blog which she writes from the Canary Islands, Spain. How cool is that? Check out her blog! And thanks Nikki!

To pass this on I am going to just give it to 5 of my favorite bloggers. I don't have time to check and see if they already have it as I am trying to get out the door to take the girls to the movies!

Jenn at The Leftover Queen
Danni at On the Way to Critter Farm
Robin at Caviar and Codfish
Heather at Gild the Voodoolily
and last but not least Brittany at Musings of a Barefoot Foodie

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Black Gouper and a day at the beach!

Black Grouper served with Mango Salsa!

On Saturday afternoon, after we had finished all of our other errands we were deciding what to have for dinner. I suggested some fish so we went to Andy's Island Seafood (check out this site) in the nearby village (very quaint) of Matlacha (pronounced Matlashay). This is the market that we have been getting all of the snapper (see here). I get my shrimp someplace else because these guys charge more than my other ones! We went in and the first thing that I saw was black grouper. They also had hogfish, mangrove snapper, yellow tail snapper, triple tail and red grouper. Local clams and shrimp as well. This place is always nicely stocked with very, very fresh fish caught by local fisherman!

Anyway the black grouper is one of my favorite all time fish. This time we had decided that we were just going to grill it on a flat iron (season it with salt, pepper and paprika) and then I would make some salsa to go along with it. I made a mango salsa that paired wonderfully with this firm, sweet tasting fish!

Mango Salsa (for seafood)


1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cute into 1/4" cubes
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4" cubes
1/2 half large onion, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeños, membrane and seeds removed, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least and hour to allow the flavors to blend.
The beach at Manasota Key - Crystal clear, shallow, warm water!

Yesterday we decided to have a nice leisurely day at the beach (yes Peter, I did leave the go to the beach!!! Bahhhhhhhh!!!). The water was crystal clear and nice and warm. The girls spent most of the day snorkeling and finding shark's teeth.

Not a bad weekend at all!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sunshine Citrus Chicken and Eggplant Fritters???

Eggplant Fritters with Sunshine Citrus Chicken!

Yesterday was the last day of school for this year. The girls were both super excited and so was I. I actually love the slower pace that we are able to enjoy in the ungodly hot months of June, July and August. We seem to be in our summer weather pattern already too (torrential rain and horrific thunderstorms every afternoon) which really inhibits what we can do later in the day. Of course we will still have the ice skating lesson 3 or 4 times a week and karate but at least it won't be so hectic. I also really am able to appreciate that I stay home with the girls. I love that we are able to spend a whole summer together getting to know one another!

Fresh Ginger - the skin hadn't even dried out yet!

Anyway for dinner last night I bought some boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (organic, free range, no antibiotics or hormones of course) and I marinated them in my Sunshine Citrus Marinade (I had some really old oranges and some really fresh ginger that I needed to use up).

Sunshine Citrus Chicken

Juice from half and orange
1 cup soy sauce (low-sodium if you like!)
1 tsp orange zest
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
4 chicken thighs

Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (longer is better). Grill or bake until done!

Now the real surprise came when I decided to make a new side dish using an eggplant that I had bought last week! I got the recipe (sort of a recipe) from Jenn's blog The Leftover Queen. During the week of her wedding her Mother in Law came to stay with them from Italy. Jenn's post had these really great looking meatless meatballs made with eggplant! I just had to try them. Well I must have done something wrong because they looked nothing like her MIL's did!!! I think I should have drained my eggplant after I had roasted it and scraped out all of the seeds. I had to drop them by the spoonful to fry them. They were like a fritter by the time I was done with them. But we were all really pleasantly surprised by them!

This was the consistency that I got. I was afraid to add more bread crumbs (smother the taste of the eggplant) so this was as good as it was going to get!

Here's what I did:

I poked several holes in 1 large eggplant and roasted it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Once it had cooled a bit I cut it open and removed the seeds and placed the remaining pulp in my food processor with a handful of dried parsley (I didn't have fresh), about a cup of seasoned bread crumbs and processed it all together. I kept adding bread crumbs until it was a consistency that I could drop from a spoon. Jenn's MIL were very dry looking (in a nice way) and mine sure weren't'!!! Fried up though in some hot oil they were wonderful!

Would I make these again? Oh yes definitely!!! They were delicious fried up like that!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Salmon and Pesto - a match made in heaven?

Wild Sockeye Salmon with organic basil pesto

Last night was a busy one again and further complicated by the girls being out of school earlier, 3 dogs, and T. having to work late. Usually I get the meal all ready to go and then take the girls to whatever we have going on that evening and T. can either finish the meal or just heat heat what I have made up. Until I get into some sort of routine (not very good with routines!) everything will be a little hectic. We made the most of it though and had dinner ready in under an hour so we were just about done by 7:30.

Last weekend when we on our weekly pilgrimage to Costco I saw that they had some IQF (indivifual quick frozen) wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. Yes it was expensive but seeing as I am not eating much meat now I thought it was totally worth it. I was right. This fish was delicious. I only cooked up one piece for the girls to split and I guess I should have done 2. They were done in no time! We topped ours with some basil pesto. Seeing as I have used up all of the pesto that I froze and I don't have nearly enough on my poor leggy plants outside I had to buy some. I am always so hesitant because it always tastes a little processed. This stuff was incredible though. I can't wait to use it on some pasta!

See it looks like homemade!

All I did with the fish was to place it on a foil lined baking sheet (we topped ours with pesto and the girls had olive oil and salt) and set the oven on broil in the highest setting. I left the rak about 2 places down from the top and let it cook for about 4 minutes. I then moved it to the rack closest to the elements to help toast the top up a bit. This was a really great meal served up with some quick zucchini fritters. I would have liked a salad but the kids needed to eat. Next time it is a salad!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sometimes I just have to laugh!

I had to try it again...this time with fresh cherries!

I was just outside cutting some vines that have gotten out of control and were growing in, around and through my neighbors fence and let me tell you, it is sooooo hot out there!!! I came in and checked the temp and it was 10:00 and already 84 degrees. We are suppose to get to a high of 92. I was speaking to my Mom yesterday and she said that they are suppose to have there first summer blast of heat. Tomorrow it is suppose to be a high for them of 87???!!! I guess what goes around comes around though. I bet they laugh their butts off in the winter when I complain about 60 being freezing!!!

Anyway, yesterday was sort of a fun day for us. The girls were done school at 1:30 so it was almost like having a whole day off! We got home and I really wasn't too sure what to do with myself. Until my oldest daughter came and asked me if she could bake some cookies for me. Of course I said YES!!! Someone baking for me is a real treat! She didn't want to make chocolate chip cookies and not anything that I had made before and posted on my blog. We went through a bunch of recipes that I had and found one that she wanted to do. Next time I will definitely steer her towards a recipe that will provide instant gratification. Having to wait for the 2 hours of chill time almost killed her but these were well worth the wait! She was pretty proud of herself as well!

Self Frosting Oatmeal Cookies from Allrecipes.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


  1. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, and vegetable oil until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the creamed mixture, then mix in the rolled oats. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  3. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls, roll the balls in the confectioners sugar to coat, and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
I guess you noticed too that I made another tart. I am a bit of a perfectionist and when I bake or make something that I am not 100% happy with I will try it til I get it right. Lucky for everyone in the family I think I have it fixed to my liking now. T. still will not eat chili. I think I must have made 10 batches in 2 weeks...

This recipe was taken from Nikki at The very same one from my last post. This time I decided to fill it with fresh cherries. The link above will take you to the original recipe. The one below is with my changes to it. My first one did not set as well as I would have liked it to so I added an extra bit of flour. I also wanted it more lemon so I added lemon zest to the sugar. This one turned out absolutely perfect and I think that the combinations of fruit are pretty much endless! Have fun with it!

Lemon and Cherry Tart


1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces (150 grams) butter (1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of pitted, halved cherries


Preheat your oven to 300ºF/150ºC.
Add flour, powdered sugar and butter to your food processor and pulse until it comes together in a dough.
Press the dough into a tart pan, using your hands and fingers to spread the dough evenly.
Parbake the dough about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Raise oven temperature to 350ºF/175ºC.
While cooling, combine the filling ingredients.
Combine the sugar and the zest. Using your fingers squeeze the zest into the sugar and let sit until needed.
Beat eggs first, then add remaining ingredients, except cherries, whisking well to combine.
Pour filling into tart shell, and then arrange cherries in filling.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until set.
Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mexican inspired chicken soup and a tart for dessert!

Doesn't that look amazing? All crispy and crunchy with fresh blackberries scattered around!

Well the school year is almost over and I have absolutely no idea where the time has gone. As of Friday my days are no longer my own. For the rest of this week they are on a half day schedule so I am suppose to pick them up at noon (wonder what happens if I don't???). I guess this is their subtle way of easing us into the summer. Only half days this week and nothing at all next week and for the next 10 weeks. I guess it's better than going cold turkey!!! I have my oldest daughter in for a couple of weeks of day camp but the youngest one will be with me ALL SUMMER long...10 whole weeks...2 and 1/2 months...OMG!!!

Anyway yesterday morning I was looking in my fridge trying to decide what was for dinner and about the only thing that wasn't a condiment was a chicken carcass from roast chicken the week before. I pulled the remaining meat of the bones and threw it in a pot of water. I added some onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro and let it simmer away all day. When T. got home and I was at skating and karate he strained the bones from the soup added the chopped up chicken and cooked some rice. I had made pico de gallo earlier so a nice simple dinner was born!

I had also made a Lemon Blackberry Tart that I had seen on Nikki's blog at She always has so many great recipes but this was one I had been really wanting to try. We always have berries and lemons here and it was incredibly simple to throw together! The tart crust is one I will use over and over again for the ease of preparation and the final result!

Lemon and Blackberry Tart


1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces (150 grams) butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
juice of 2 lemons (around 1/2 cup?)
1 carton frozen blackberries, drained (I should have drained mine a little better) I used fresh


First and foremost, set your blackberries in a sieve over a bowl to drain.
Now, start the crust.
Preheat your oven to 300ºF/150ºC.
Add flour, powdered sugar and butter to your food processor and pulse until it comes together in a dough.
Press the dough into a tart pan, using your hands and fingers to spread the dough evenly.
Parbake the dough about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Raise oven temperature to 350ºF/175ºC.
While cooling, combine the filling ingredients.
Beat eggs first, then add remaining ingredients, except blackberries, whisking well to combine.
Pour filling into tart shell, and then arrange blackberries in filling.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until set.
Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.

This tart was thrown together in about an hour and everyone loved it. This is one I will definitely try again...different berry combinations would be great too!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, June 2, 2008

My favorite pasta dish again...

See the chunks of olives and fresh herbs. This was a great vinaigrette for the baby herb mixture!

I have this little quirky thing about me. If I like the flavor of something I will eat it again and again and again. Just ask my family! It drives T. crazy sometimes but one of the advantages of being chief, cook and bottle washer is that they have to eat what I cook...he he he! This is one of those instances. The kids don't care they have been eating their pasta with just butter on it anyway so pretty much this is for me.

Last night though I had bought a mixed box of organic baby herbs for the salad and just made a really light dressing using olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, fresh basil, oregano and salt and pepper. At the last minute I tossed in some chopped kalamata olives. Turned out yummy!

I had some beautiful yellow tomatoes that got added to this delicious pasta dish!

I also made my regular favorite pasta:

Pasta With Fresh Tomato and Basil

1 head of garlic and 2 Tbsp olive oil
3 ripe plum tomatoes (I just use whatever is tasting good right them)
1/3 C fresh basil (chopped)
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box of long thin pasta (angel hair, linguine, spaghetti)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel of most of the paper from around the garlic head. Slice off the pointy top of the garlic. This should expose all of the cloves a bit. Place in an oven proof pan (I use a pie plate). Top with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and coarse salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool then remove the cloves and mash with a fork.
  • Dice the tomatoes (if the have a ton of seeds squeeze them out).
  • Add the garlic, basil, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
  • Cook pasta.
  • Mix sauce with pasta and serve warm or at room temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pasta with a nice slab of garlic bread...does it get much better?

T.'s contribution to all of this was a loaf of amazing garlic bread! He took an Italian baguette and split it. Made some garlic butter using paprika, fresh garlic, garlic powder, fresh parsley, fresh oregano and fresh basil. Smeared it all over the bread and used the broil setting on high in the oven and broiled it until it was nicely brown and crispy!

Perfect meal to end a perfect weekend!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!