Thursday, June 28, 2012

She's Fast and Easy

Most everyone likes a salad....

Do you do this?

I know it looks like a restaurant assembly line, but it's quick and easy once the prep work is complete.  I like to do lots of work all at one time, then putting my salads together for several days is a snap.

The past couple of days I've been using these ingredients on top of my greens: red sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, beets, potatoes, radishes, and blue cheese.  I have carrots and cukes in the fridge but I haven't sliced them just yet.

I really love the cheese, Fourme d'Ambert, which is a wonderful French cheese from the Auvergne region of southwestern France.  If you like blue cheese, try to get some of this particular cheese. 

***Click here for the interesting history of Fourme d'Ambert.  Really worth reading IMHO.***

If I want to top the salad with more protein, I have roasted chicken and tuna ready to go.  Sometimes, I have beans and rice, too.

I guess I'm an orderly person when it comes to eating....or at least making salads.  It sure is fast after the initial prep work. A simple oil and vinegar dressing completes it, along with freshly cracked pepper and a dash of sea salt.

The finished product is really just what I wanted....and oh so tasty!  I usually have it with sparkling water or a glass of white zinfandel.  We continue to enjoy hot summer days and evenings in the 80's and 90's...


Monday, June 25, 2012

The challenge

A fellow blogger, Nicola, @ Growing Berries, put the "challenge" to me .....

"try making Macarons with the extra egg whites."

Never being one to pass up a good challenge, or good suggestion, I said, "Yes, bring it on."

For those of you who don't read food blogs, making macarons isn't the same as turning out a batch of cookies.  There are hundreds of recipes with each one containing its own set of rules to follow for being successful.  One wrong turn, et voilà, try, try again.

This was my first attempt, would I whip the whites correctly?  Could I fold in the almond flour and powdered sugar without deflating the mixture?  What about all the other "rules",  would I pipe the rounds just so, or let them sit just so long to form a crust?  The list goes on, and on, and on.  Chef Nini even says to put the baking sheet in the fridge (without the macrarons) while the oven is heating, it's suppose to facilitate the rise...give them a thermal shock, no less!

I located a blog, Chef Nini, who detailed her version of the right way to proceed in making a successful macaron, plus she had a video to watch.  It's all in French, so those of you without that language skill, you can read David Lebovitz's directions.

For a first try, I think mine turned out "ok"....well, maybe better than just myself a pat on the back.

I did some things wrong, but I did succeed in getting the "pieds" on some of the rounds.  They were all crusty on the tops and soft inside, too.  Several of them cracked as they cooled...that's a bad thing!
Perhaps my oven was a bit too hot, I'll have to read up on how to correct that for my next batch.

One of the reasons I chose Chef Nini's recipe was that it made just 8 macarons....not too much to discard if I failed completely.

I didn't have to throw any away,  yay!  I made chocolate macarons (David says these are the most difficult to make, but I always have chocolate in the pantry), and filled them with a wonderful chocolate caramel ganache.  Basically, I heated some cream, poured it over the chocolate pieces, then stirred in a little of my homemade caramel already available in my fridge. 

I ate one today...after eating a healthy breakfast, of was very good.  In fact, I just ate a second one now, as writing about them got my defenses down!  It, too, was good ---lots of calories--- but nonetheless, good.  I suppose I'll have to skip the bowl of ice cream I was thinking about, on this, another one of our beautiful, hot, summer days.

These are aprox. 4 cm. in diameter., before going in the oven....I waited 40 minutes for them to dry on top.

Two of my favorite friends, now frolicking in doggy heaven, but not forgotten... Casey and Marzipan.

This is a good example of the "pieds".  

What do you think?   Not bad for a first attempt?

No matter how they appear,  they sure taste rich and decadent.

Now, I'll have to try some other flavors....hmmm, pistachio sounds good.

Thanks for dropping by!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Highs and Lows

I'm still trying to use the egg whites!

My inspiration for the cheese soufflé came from reading another blogger's post.  Once again, it's been ages since I've made this dish...but, I had egg whites galore........ so why not.

Here's where I got the recipe.

These individual ramekins hardly ever get a workout in my kitchen,  but this time they really looked marvelous, encasing all the puffed up, browned egg and cheese fluff.

I'm not sure why this one in front rose so much higher than the other three....more competitive perhaps?  A show-off?

Of course, I ate one quickly before it fell.  Aaaah, delicious!


Thursday, June 21, 2012


Sometimes, whether we want to, or not, we end up with more than planned.  This can be a good thing, or not, depending on our goal or state of mind. 

Definitely a reflecting pool.   (Do you know where?)

I loved this creative display...but I got way more than I wanted.

Yep, I was there, there's no doubt about it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Frisky Frittata

As you may remember, I've been making homemade ice cream for the past several months.  Each time I make it, I have 5 egg whites leftover since I only use the yolks for the ice cream.  I keep them in my freezer until I can think of something to make with them.

This week I decided get busy and use them up.

I first created a large kinda frittata, using only whites, no yolks.

It went like this:

I poured about 6 egg whites in a well buttered 8" teflon pan.

As they were setting up, I added one chopped tomato. I did not stir any of it.

Then, I added all of my seasonings.  salt & pepper, onion powder, chopped fresh dill, basil, and parsley.

Topped it off with shredded cheese.

Last, I finished it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese had turned brown and crusty.

It was fantastic, if I do say so myself...and I do!

When done, it was about an inch thick.  I ate it with a salad of fresh greens from my garden. 

I added more herbs and tomato for garnish after it came out of the oven.

What a quick meal!  It took about 15 minutes from start to finish.  This turned out to be a light, refreshing choice for using up my abundance of egg whites.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Peaches or Nectarines à la Provence

Not so long ago, a fellow blogger, Aidan, posted a yummy dessert on her blog conjugating irregular verbs.  It sounded so good, I just had to make it for myself. 

I've made poached pears before, but never poached nectarines.  I am not a great fan of pears, I don't like the graininess against my tongue...but peaches or nectarines I really do like.

The ingredient in Aidan's recipe which spurred me on was the use of Herbes de Provence.  I have been employing this mixture of herbs in my cooking ever since I first had them while living in Europe.  I recall vividly looking for them after returning to the U.S. to have on hand for my own cooking needs.  That was about 29 years ago...I can't believe it has been that long ago...but time goes by so quickly.  I continue, to this day, to have a large bottle of Herbes de Provence in my cupboard.

I followed the recipe provided by Aidan on her blog,  click here for the recipe.

The results were as good as she first described.  In fact,  it smelled so wonderful I had to taste one immediately even though I had just finished eating breakfast.  They are probably good without the whipped cream, but I can tell you for sure that the one I ate with whipped cream was supremely yummy. I also thought that I couldn't eat a whole nectarine, but as I spooned the very last bite and was scraping the bottom of the plate for the flavorful juice, I knew I was absolutely wrong!

That's topped with whipped cream, a sprig of mint, and a sprig of thyme.

I ate mine at room temperature, I think a colder temp would mask the subtle flavor of the herbs.  Don't add too much vanilla either, go with less than 1/2 a teaspoon, so the herbs aren't overpowered.  Since the sauce is sweet, I didn't add any sugar to the whipping cream...but if you prefer lots of sweetness, go ahead and add more sugar to the cream.

This is a lovely dessert to have for dinner guests.  Everything can be made way in advance and assembled just before serving.  As you can see by the photos, it is quite elegant and will impress your dinner (or lunch) companions.

Oh, another hint, it must be served with a spoon and a knife.  The knife helped to cut through the skin as I chose not to peel the fruit.

Thanks, Aidan, for showing me another way to cook with Herbes de Provence.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Time to show some reality.

I'm always posting beautiful flowers or yummy plates of food, but icky and downright ugly has its day in the sun, too.

Remember those gorgeous peonies...

Now, those same peonies, turned to the 'dark side'...

And, when I'm least expecting it...doo-doo happens.
There must be a VERY large bird using my patio.  Maybe a Condor...?

 So much for those 'not so welcome' realities.  I think you've seen enough.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Second Time Around

Okay...I know the title sounds provocative, like I'm going to go into any personal details....nope...not gonna happen.

The "second time around" this post is referring to is about my lovely potted plant....boring? Perhaps.

I have this plant... a Clivia ...which I bought about 10 years ago.  It didn't bloom for the first 4-5 years, then it put forth a great explosion of orange.  I was thrilled.  Nothing had changed that year, I had done nothing different to it, just watered it once a week.  In fact, it was in the same small plastic container all those years.  I can only believe that the plant enjoys being root bound...crowded.  It probably has more 'city' in it than 'country'. 

I can't believe I saved this plant label for all these years!

So, I, being happy now with this plant's true spirit finally breaking through, decided to reward it with a little fertilizer...plant food.  If it was going to 'put forth more effort', then surely I could do the same.

Then, much to my amazement, six months later it put forth another fabulous bloom!  WOW-WEE

Holy Toledo, was it suppose to have a second flowering?

Every year since, I do exactly the same thing.  Every year since, the plant does the same thing.

So here is the "second time around" :          (the first bloom this year was in February)

I love that it blooms twice, and the blooms stay for a long time.

My dilemma is growing larger each year:  the plant appears to be outgrowing the small container.

Should I leave it alone,  or,   should I re-pot it into a larger container?

I'm thinking I should leave it just as it is until it cracks the plastic pot.

What do you "green thumbers" think I should do?


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

That Time of Year


.... so lovely.


         my heart





Monday, June 4, 2012

Forever a Favorite

There are some things I never tire of........

I'm sure you can think of your own favorites......

Does this item belong on your list?

Yes!  My very first BLT this year. 

Well, I did have that left-over tomato sitting on the counter staring at me.  Plus, in my freezer sat some thick sliced bacon.  The fresh greens from the garden were waiting to be picked.  Bread and mayo are usually a staple in my let's have a BLT for lunch.

I don't know about you, but I prefer my sandwiches to be loaded with so much that it's difficult to eat.  I also like to have an abundance of mayo so it squishes out onto my hands.  This one was exceedingly moist with the juicy tomato slices.

I like my bacon to be cooked until it's totally crisp.

So what do you say?  Are you a BLT lover?


Saturday, June 2, 2012


Inspiration can come from anywhere.

When I saw this big, red, luscious orb, I knew exactly what I would do...make a tomato pie.

I bought 3 very large tomatoes but only needed two...this is the unused one.

A month or so ago, while I was reading another blogger's post, I was intrigued by the recipe for a tomato pie.  Now, I've made many a fruit pie, and lots of quiches,  but never a tomato pie.  I felt sure I would like it right from the get-go.

As fate would have it, I tried but failed at finding the blogger who posted the recipe.  So, I turned to others for help.  Most of the recipes were similar, and very easy to put together.  And, I'm not one to bother following a recipe...I often just throw things together and hope for the best. 

It went something like this:

Made pie dough and pre-baked it for 20 minutes.
Added chopped fresh basil, salt,  and pepper to Ricotta cheese in a bowl.
Mixed shredded Parmesan cheese with mayo in a second bowl.

After pie crust cooled,
put Ricotta in the bottom of the crust.
Layered large chunks of seeded and drained tomatoes on top of the Ricotta.
Sprinkled tomatoes with salt and pepper, and onion powder.
Spread the mayo /cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes.

Baked the pie for 55 minutes at 350˚

As the pie cooled some liquid formed in the bottom, I just poured it off. 

This pie is very fresh tasting.  It can be reheated for a few seconds in the microwave or oven, if you want it warm the next day.  It's also good cold.  It tastes much like a quiche, but I think it's not as heavy because there aren't any eggs or cream in it. 

Pie before baking.

Pie after baking.  The green bits on top are a few small basil leaves.

The first slice after the pie cooled for awhile.

My dinner the following day.

Still ever so pretty to behold and ever so yummy to eat.  The salad greens all come from the small Earth Boxes on my deck.

This tomato pie is my variation on it.  You can leave out the Ricotta, you can use a different kind of cheese, you can add whatever you want to make it your own...Have Fun!