Happy New Year!

My goodness, 2017 was one for the record books.  I had no intention of taking a break from writing this blog, work kinda consumed my life.  Well – NO MORE!  I truly enjoy writing this blog and I refuse to allow my work life to be my only priority.  Anyway, enough about work – we need to be talking about FOOD.

2017 ended with both the hubby and I feeling under the weather.  I decided we needed delicious and healthy food to get us back on track.  Since that didn’t work, I tried bacon and guess what – it WORKED!

NYE Breakfast

After that hearty breakfast, we had a light lunch of leftover soup (you know the thing that was supposed to cure what ails me….)

chicken barley soup

I took a picture while I was cooking.  I love the colors in this photo and man did it taste amazing.  I joke that it didn’t cure me, but it certainly made me feel better, what more can you ask for when your head feels like it is stuffed with cotton?

Anyway, I was originally going to cook veal chops on the grill for our New Year’s Eve dinner, but the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees and I was afraid the grill wouldn’t get hot enough.  I decided to stuff chicken breasts with spinach and cheese and bake them in the oven.  Good choice – if I do say so myself!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

They turned out better than I expected.  I used a 10 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained.  To that I added a container of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese.  I cut a pocket in the chicken and stuffed them with the spinach mixture.   I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  After browning them in a cast iron skillet, I slide them in the oven to finish cooking.   Dinner was a simple affair – French Onion Soup, Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Baked Potatoes.  For dessert, I whipped up a Maple Pear Upside Down Cake – it was amazing!  I found the recipe in the New York Times https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012862-maple-pear-upside-down-cake 

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake

I highly recommend making it if you have the time. Well, that was our New Year’s Eve – I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.  Happy 2018!

Sour Dough Starter

Isn’t just for making sour dough bread!  I have been trying to find new and different ways to use my sour dough starter.   I feed the darn thing each week, but I only use it a few times of year when I make bread.  I decided this fall, that was going to change.


We had some banana’s that were getting a bit too ripe so I googled to find a recipe that used sour dough starter to make banana bread.  I found a recipe on this site, Cultures for Health.  It was really simple, I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I threw caution to the wind and tried it.

The bread rose higher than any other sweet bread I had ever made, it wasn’t overly sweet, and the hubby and I really enjoyed it.  I did add a handful of chopped walnuts to the bread before baking, because  we love banana nut  bread.   The recipe is definitely a keeper and it used up some of my sour dough starter, DOUBLE WIN!


Apple Crisp

After I made the maple apple jam, I had seven apples leftover.  I just didn’t feel like making a pie crust, so I took the easy way out and made a quick apple crisp to have with dinner on Sunday night.


I didn’t follow a recipe, I just cut the apples, tossed them in a bit of sugar and cinnamon and poured them into a baking dish.  I topped that with a combination of old fashioned oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, and diced walnuts.

I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, until the apples were done and the top was lightly brown.   The little girls from next door came over and were very disappointed that we were having apple crisp without vanilla ice cream.  They were kind enough to inform me that it just wasn’t done – apple crisp should ALWAYS be served with ice cream.  Goodness, I guess I have learned my lesson and will be picking up a container of vanilla ice cream to serve with the rest of the apple crisp!

Zucchini Bread

You know you are a sucker when the little girls next door come over to tell you that they signed you up to make dessert for them.  Heck, I was even given instructions as to what I was making and how much…..yup, SUCKER, right across the fore head, in big red letters.

Anyway,what they wanted to zucchini bread, two loaves, for church on Sunday.  I had zucchini from the garden on the counter, but I knew I would have to make the bread on Saturday morning, before I left for work.

Thankfully, I was able to make the bread and leave it cooling on the counter.  I texted their Mom to let them know it was ready and they could pick it up anytime. Then I went upstairs to get ready and I headed out to the Jersey Shore for our annual Alumni Happy Hour down the shore.

zucchini bread

It wasn’t until the next afternoon that I saw the girls and they told me the bread was a big hit.  To thank me, and ensure a never ending supply of zucchini bread, they brought me over a HUGE zucchini from their Dad’s garden.  Hopefully he knows that they gave it to me….!


Baby Shower

A dear friend of mine is due to have a lovely baby girl in August.   I was thrilled to be able to throw her a baby shower at my house on Saturday afternoon.   It wouldn’t be a party at my house if we didn’t have enough food to feed an army.  Since the event didn’t start until 2pm, I decided to make mini sandwiches, for those that hadn’t had lunch, snacks, for those that DID have lunch, and desserts, because seriously, everyone needs sugar to get through the opening of that many gifts!


I ordered three dozen dinner rolls from the local Italian bakery.  I used them to make mini sandwiches.  I  made a curried chicken salad with pistachio’s

A recipe I used to make at the restaurant where I worked as a line cook.  I started by poaching several boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and after they cooled, I diced the meat.  I added finely diced red onion, celery, and carrots before adding in a generous handful of pistachio nuts.  I toasted Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder in a dry saute pan to intensify the flavor then mixed that into some store bought mayo.  I would have made my own, but since my friend is pregnant, I didn’t want to risk it. I added the mayo to the meat and vegetables for a delicious chicken salad.

curry chx salad sammie

Next up, I made Caprese Sandwiches for the vegetarians in the group.  I sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.  I made a small batch of homemade pesto, which I spread on the roll, then topped it with the cheese and tomato. Easy peasy and so YUMMY!

The third sandwich was a simple smoked ham with swiss cheese and a spicy grainy mustard.  I was surprised, there wasn’t a clear favorite among the sandwiches!

For dessert, I made a pound cake with fresh sliced strawberries, a big batch of rice pudding, and chocolate crinkle cookies.  I know, a bit of a mish mosh, but I had very good reasons for each.  The rice pudding is one of Catherine’s favorites, the cookies are one of her mother’s favorites, and pound cake is one of my favorites….

rice pudding

Snacks were simple – a cheese display with marcona almonds, veggies with hummus, and chips with dip.

I swear I should have been a housewife from the 1950’s – I LOVE making (and drinking) punch.  I made two for the party.  A pink baby shower punch (cranberry juice, gingerale, and pink lemonade) and a whiskey lemonade punch.   The recipe for the whiskey lemonade punch called for a herb infused honey simple syrup.   I used thyme because I thought the earthy flavor would pair well with the whiskey and honey.   It was delicious and deceptively easy to drink.  All I had to do was infuse some water with lemon and we were all set.   I used my grandmother Irene’s punch bowl for the pink punch, I know she would have been thrilled!


We all had a wonderful time.  Cat received some amazing gifts, and everyone walked away full.  I would say it was a total success!  The hubby was thrilled that we had some rice pudding left over for him to eat when he got home from entertaining the father to be.  A win/win situation if you ask me.  Now all we have to do is wait for their bundle of joy to grace us with her presence.


Baked Ziti

The weather has cooled down a bit and we have been having quite a bit of rain.  I wasn’t in the mood to grill anything and I have seriously been craving pasta.  Thankfully, the hubby is a HUGE fan of baked ziti so it is never a hardship to get him to plow through a pan of ziti.

I didn’t feel like grinding up a batch of hamburger and my butcher shop is closed for vacation, so I used two different kinds of sausage in the ziti. Turned out to be an awesome change, I love how the sweet and hot sausage combined to make this one tasty dish.

baked ziti

Heck, my schedule has been so easy this week, I have been able to actually only work 8 hours a day.  I got home, made dinner, and still had enough time and energy to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Not too shabby, dinner and dessert, heck maybe next week I will add a movie for a full trifecta of fun.

choc chip cookies

Lamb…It’s Whats for Easter

I finally had an entire weekend off!  I almost didn’t know what to do with myself, I quickly recovered from the shock and took it easy for a few days.   I didn’t want a big crowd on Easter so I invited my friend Cat and her hubby for dinner.  It was a lovely, relaxing, fun dinner. I couldn’t have pictured a better meal with better company.

I took a risk and cooked lamb.  Cat and her hubby had only ever had lamb from the Halal truck at work, never a grilled rack of lamb, but I figured they needed to expand their horizons and we LOVE lamb in our house.

Because I know no one can resist a potato gratin, I made that and roasted asparagus along with some home made sour dough bread.   I hedged my bets by making Cat’s favorite for dessert – rice pudding!

The  bread takes three days to prepare, first you “feed” the starter, then you make the poolash, then you make the dough…but it is totally worth it, goodness it was delicious!  I kept  the lamb recipe simple. I diced up garlic and rosemary, then added some stone ground mustard, some dijon mustard, and a bit of olive oil.   All it needed was a healthy dose of freshly cracked black pepper and we were all set.  I slathered it on the meat and my hubby grilled it for me.

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minced garlic and rosemary

I made two loaves of blueberry lemon ricotta bread, which only uses the rind of the lemon, so in an effort to use the whole lemon, I made a batch of lemonade to see us through the afternoon.

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It was so tart and sweet, a lovely hint of summer days to come.  The night ended with big bowls of rice pudding, lightly sprinkled with cinnamon.  I am not sure who enjoyed the lamb more, the humans or Cat’s puppy Abby – she LOVED eating a few scraps when we were done with dinner.

We had such a lovely day and I am so grateful to have spent it with such good friends.  I hope that all of you who celebrate had as special a day as we did!