Friday, September 30, 2011

October is Coming! Fall Greens Soup

  I really can not believe that September is almost over!  Tomorrow begins October!  Seriously though, where is the time going?  When I go to the stores and see the Christmas decorations out it strikes fear in my very soul.  Don't get me wrong, I love early decorating for the holidays far more than the average person, but here I am planning a wedding and so many other things that are happening before Christmas, that when I see the Christmas decorations it just reminds me of how much I have to get done...and soon!

     Every person has things that they do to relax or for stress relief, me I love to bake.  For me baking is therapeutic and stress relieving.  Just spending time in the kitchen helps me to calm down and put the world into perspective.  I might be a dork, but I love to put on Frank Sinatra, or Andrea Bocelli, or lately Michael Buble and create away, and let the stress melt away.  I also dance in the kitchen, so does my little dog Chloe, we have a blast, it is such a great way to spend the afternoon.  My dear friend however is stressed by the mere thought of cooking and the idea of cooking a meal from scratch gives her a cold sweat.  I have never understood the fear of cooking, I wish I did, so I could help my non-cooking friends, but then again if I did they probably would not visit me anywhere near as much.

     When the cold weather comes I love my soups and chilis, basically anything nice and toasty warm.  Last week I was definitely on a risotto kick, this week I have been doing a ton of baking and have been in love with soups.  Sometimes the soups of the fall get well how can I put this mildly...fattening!  I am always on the lookout for ways to lighten up a traditionally fattening soup, some work better than others that is for sure.  This recipe is one of my favorites for really anytime of year. but right now is a great time for it, especially with fennel being so cheap right now in my grocery store.  Now I realize that some are hesitant to try fennel, several people think that it will be too strong of a flavor, quite the opposite is actually true.  With cooking it mellows out to a rich, mellow creamy flavor.  Since I am a definite expert of leftovers I can attest that this is a soup that gets even better the the day after serving, plus this definitely makes sure that you get your veggies in for the day.  I have this sometimes for lunch with a side of crusty french bread, total bliss I tell you, total bliss.

Fall Greens Soup


2 red bell peppers
2 large fennel bulbs with stalks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup peas
2 cups chopped leeks
1 cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
4 ounces fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
red pepper flakes to taste


Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop; set aside.

Trim tough outer leaves from fennel. Mince feathery fronds to measure 2 tablespoons; set aside. Remove and discard stalks. Cut bulbs in half lengthwise; discard core. Chop bulbs to measure about 4 cups.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add fennel bulb, leek, and next 3 ingredients (through salt); cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, water, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in spinach, peas and black pepper. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes at room temperature.

Pour half of fennel mixture into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining fennel mixture. Return pureed soup to pan; heat over medium heat 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Combine roasted bell peppers, yogurt, lemon rind, lemon juice, and ground red pepper in a food processor; process until smooth, top each serving with 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture. Garnish with fennel fronds and fresh peas.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meatless Monday...Butternut Risotto

  I am in love with the fall and I love making risotto in the fall, it is truly one of the best fall dishes out there.  I know that last week for Meatless Monday it was a risotto, but I really couldn't resist doing another.  One of my readers mentioned a butternut risotto that they usually make in the fall, and it made me think of my own butternut risotto.  It is so rich and creamy, and just plain delicious! 

     I also love that this is a pretty economical meal to make, sometimes mushrooms can get pricey, but in the fall squash is usually pretty inexpensive and accessible.  This is usually a main dish risotto when I make it, just because I usually find it to be so rich that I am good with just the risotto alone for a meal.  I would love to hear what your traditional fall dishes are, I am always looking for amazing new recipes!  Let me know what you think!

Butternut Risotto


7 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 4 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and finely diced
2 cups aborio rice
 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat broth in medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan; add onion and butternut squash. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice to onion and squash. Cook 1 to 2 minutes.  Add a few ladles of broth, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook over medium heat until broth has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add remaining tablespoon of butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan, and chives.  Add salt to taste. Serve with remaining grated Parmesan.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Love From Scratch Wild Mushroom Risotto

With the weather turning cold in the evenings now, and the fall fast upon us I find myself reaching for comforting satisfying dishes for dinner.  This is a great meal to have as a nice entree, or you could also have as a side dish as well. 

Risotto I love for many reasons, once you have learned the process it is easy to recreate with many different combinations.  You can make a risotto vegetarian as well if you want to incorporate a risotto into your "Meatless Mondays" recipes.  I know that some newer cooks, are intimidated by a risotto, but really its a pretty simple recipe, but I can't stress how important patience is with a risotto.  If you try to cut corners and save time you will destroy your risotto.  Just be patient and stand at the stove with your risotto, the other way newer chefs destroy their risotto is by not stirring constantly through the process, a risotto is easy, but labor intensive.

Try this recipe for yourself, let me know how it goes.  I love this recipe and it is the perfect way to introduce yourself to a risotto, it is an easy recipe but gets amazing reviews every time I make it.  I love a great risotto and a glass of sparkling apple cider and good company, for me that is a great evening.

Love From Scratch Wild Mushroom Risotto

6 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 pound assorted wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound portabello or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (no substitutions please)
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Mitzhra cheese (Parmesan is fine)


Warm the broth and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir in mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove and set aside
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes, add in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.               
Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meatless Monday, Tomato Basil Spinach Bisque

There is something so satisfying and comforting about about soup, it always makes me stop and calm down and enjoy the day.  Tomato soup and grilled cheese has always been a favorite of mine, but as I have grown up I have put a more sophisticated flair on things.  The tomato soup has morphed into tomato basil soup, and grilled Swiss on sourdough, so good, and so amazing.  Granted its totally simple but it always brightens my day, and on the chilly fall days that are coming up this has to be a staple!  This is also especially good this time of year with the tomatoes left over from the garden.  It is so delicious with fresh garden spinach and basil and tomatoes and can be both the perfect comfort meal, or can be a great first course to a nice dinner for company.  Sometimes when we have company we try to so all of these crazy things that no one has ever tried, and forget to use the tried and true staples that everyone already loves.  When I have company I want people to feel comfortable and welcome in my home, this sets a great mood for the meal.

Love From Scratch Tomato Basil Soup


2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups milk
6 cups tomatoes, seeded
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups fresh spinach, torn
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Stir in milk and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes  and sugar. Mix well, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40-45 minutes. Add spinach, basil, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese, or basil.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baking Nostalgia

I love baking, there is something so relaxing and rewarding about mixing all of these separate ingredients together, and coming up with a masterpiece.  I love also the waiting and watching, the anticipation of the rising of the scones, and watching them turn golden brown as the aroma fills the home.  I find great satisfaction in cooking, maybe that is why I love it so much.  I always feel like I can express myself in the kitchen, sometimes I feel sassy so I make spicy food, other times, like today I feel nostalgic, and it seems like whenever I feel nostalgic I bake.

My mother is an excellent baker, being the only daughter, and sister to very hungry brothers my mother had lots of reasons to bake.  Most days when I would come home from school my mother had some sort of treat fresh from the oven out waiting for us.  Even though I haven't been living at home for a long time whenever I smell baked goods, I remember those days coming home from school with my backpack on seeing mom waiting for us.  My mom taught me so much about baking and cooking with love, it was always her number one ingredient.  Whoever you make these scones for, they will make them feel special I can guarantee, today I am making these for a dear friend of mine recovering from a surgery.  I hope they brighten her day, I think I am going to make some soup to go with them as well.  Soup and scones brighten up every one's day though, don't they?

Cranberry Orange Scones

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chilled buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl. Mix in orange peel. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in dried cranberries. Gradually add buttermilk, turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly to bind dough, and form dough into 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops of scones are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Apple Goodness

I know I keep blogging about how much I love the fall, but as it is my favorite time of year I just can not help myself.  There is something so wonderful with changing colors and fresh apples baking in the oven.  It is a time of change and transition.  There is something also so comforting and relaxing about a baked apple, it just makes you smile with all of its cinnamony spicy goodness.
I am a big fan of traditions, and I try to have traditions for every season. Fall is the season for tailgating, football games, jumping in leaf piles (yes I still do that), a season for cleaning and organizing the house and decorating.  However my favorite tradition might have to be me kicking back with a baked apple and watching the entire series of Anne of Green Gables, I watch that every fall at least once and it always brings back so many memories, course I have also used this recipe while watching Pride & Prejudice (BBC Version) and so many other movies, it just it nice to sit back and savor a moment.  These are super easy to make, and also a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen, and definitely a lighter dessert than some of the others out there, plus your home will smell amazing!

Love From Scratch Baked Apples


2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
6 apples, ( I use grannys or golden & red delicious usually)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup apple cider, juice is fine too though
1/4 cup toasted oatmeal
1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal, nuts and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Core apples, making sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples. Remove skin from 1/2-inch around top of apples at the opening.

Fill each cavity with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top each apple with a teaspoon of butter.  Place apples in glass dish and pour apple juice around them. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat and serve.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatless Monday Tackles Comfort Food

As I have mentioned several times before I love mushrooms, I love their earthiness and meatiness, and I love how you can use them to replace beef and make a recipe vegetarian.  My fiancee hates mushrooms, which I just don't understand, but I am cooking as much as I can with mushrooms up until the wedding, when I won't be able to use them as much as always.

The fall has always been my favorite season, its a season to get out the cardigan sweaters, and start making the "Snugly Recipes" as I call them.  Comfort food for so many seem to be something horribly fattening and bad for you.  For me comfort food has always been about the whole experience of food.  I love the all of the 5 senses having an involvement with food, cooking really should be more than just the sense of taste.  This is one of my favorite recipes to cook, just because I love the smell as it cooks and wafts through the air, and I love the different textures of the mushrooms.  Its such an enjoyable experience to see, taste, smell, touch and hear as you cook.  This particular ragout can stand on its own over pasta or polenta or you can also serve it over a nice steak as well.   Cook this dish and your home will smell amazing!

Mushroom Ragout


1/2 ounce dried porcini or morel mushrooms
2 cups hot water
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped sweet yellow onions
8 ounces fresh portabello mushrooms, chopped
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 tablespoons all flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup freshly grated Asagio or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
12 ounces penne pasta


Place porcini/morels in small bowl. Add 2 cups hot water and let soften 20-30 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove porcini/morels. Reserve liquid. Coarsely chop porcini/morels.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add portabellos and shiitake mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes. Mix in porcini/morels and reserved soaking liquid, simmer over medium-high heat 10 minutes.           

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Stir until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Stir into mushroom mixture. Simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup Asagio cheese and chives. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Ragout can be served over pasta or polenta as desired.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tailgating Food- Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I love this time of year, I wish it was always fall with the crisp air, the changing colors, and the COLLEGE FOOTBALL!  When I was in college I loved to dress up and go to the games, now that I am miles and miles aways from there I make sure I dress up on game day and cheer on my team. 

There are so many different tailgating foods, and I LOVE all of them, bit I especially love these poppers, they are completely addictive!  I could eat the whole batch all by myself I am afraid, once you start eating these you will keep going back for more. 

These are really simple to make, the only advice that I give on this recipe is to use gloves when making these.  I suppose it isn't really necessary, but I find my eyes never water make this recipe if I have gloves on my hands, crazy I know, but it works.  Bring these to any tailgating party and it will be a complete hit!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers


8 ounces cream cheese softened
6 oz shredded Monterrey Jack
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 large jalapenos
12 slices of bacon


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet (for cleaning up melted cheese).

Mix together cheeses, garlic, salt, and pepper. Unless you have the super strength or some exceptionally soft cream cheese, you will probably need to use a hand mixer for this.  Cut each jalapeno in half from stem to tip forming a long, shallow container. Use a small paring knife or a small spoon to scrape out seeds and membranes without breaking through the flesh of the jalapeno.  Use gloves if needed.

Use a spoon to fill each jalapeno half with cheese mixture, mounding slightly.  Cut bacon slices in half and wrap one half slice around each jalapeno, securing with a tooth pick.

Place jalapenos, cheese side up, on the rack over the baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes or until the bacon is fully cooked.

Remove the tray from the oven and let the jalapenos cool to room temperature before serving.

Alternately, you can grill the jalapenos about 10 minutes or until the underside bacon is crisp, then finish them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops are crisped and browned.
Depending on the size of your jalapenos you will have some filling leftover, so it is always good to have few extra jalapenos on hand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Food Adventure....Korean Melon

I am always looking for new foods to try and new techniques to use in my cooking, so I was very excited to see these little beauties at the grocery store.  I had never seen these before, they are Korean melons they actually fit in the palm of my hand. Be warned though that these are very expensive melons for their size.

So after bringing home my melon I looked on google to see what they had to say about these melons.  Apparently you can eat it with or without the rind, so I actually decided to try it both ways.  Inside there are very small seeds that I scooped out, and a light yellow firm flesh.  It had an almost floral perfumey scent to it once it was cut open. 

It was sweet and juicy with a hint of a floral taste, I had it plain and then also with a honey vanilla custard sauce I had made and it was delicious both ways.  I definitely enjoyed it, but this will probably be a fruit reserved for special occasions and company.  If you do see it in your grocery store give it a try I think you will definitely enjoy it!

In love with Macaroons!

I am completely in love with macaroons, it seems like they have become the new "it" dessert.  They have been on all the cooking shows, all the magazines, it seems like everywhere you look there they are.  Macaroons are actually surprisingly easy to make, you just need to make sure that you do the steps in the order stated and you will be fine. 

These are great to make for luncheons, book clubs, dinner parties, baby and bridal showers, really they are great for anything.  I have been seeing a lot of people using these little beauties used as favors at weddings as well.  I like to make a big batch, and they do keep in an airtight container for a week, they are great with hot chocolate and a good book, also they make great gifts.

Raspberry Chocolate Macaroons


For Macaroons:

2 cups blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
 Pink food coloring

For Filling:

3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon raspberry extract

Make Macaroons

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Grind almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.
Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely combined.

Spoon batter into bag, press out excess air and pipe out meringues the size of a Hershey's kiss.  Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F.
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.

For Filling:
Melt chocolate with cream in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Bowl should not touch water.) Remove bowl from heat, then add butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.

Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.           

Me Time Salad

Do you ever have those days when you want to curl up with a good book and a nice salad, a glass of Martinellis and just enjoy some "me time"?  It seems like its been such a crazy and hectic week, I at times I feel like the chicken with it's head cut off.  Sometimes its just nice to stop and recharge, I know it makes me so much more productive when I do. 

This is a great end of summer salad, and I love the juicy farmers market peaches with the creamy cheese and tart pomegranate seeds, with the peppery arugula, it is a delicious salad just for your self, or a beautiful salad for company.  Give yourself permission to relax this afternoon and enjoy!  I personally am putting my feet up and cuddling with my dog and reading yet another amazing book!

Love From Scratch "Me Time Salad"

1/2 cup plus balsamic vinegar
2 firm, ripe peaches
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups arugula
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds


In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the 1/2 cup vinegar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vinegar is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Let cool.

Cut the peaches in slices and place in glass dish and sprinkle with the brown sugar and drizzle with  with vinegar.
Prepare a medium-hot skillet and grill peaches till starting to caramelize.

In a large serving bowl, combine the arugula and oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the grilled peaches on top of the arugula. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with the goat cheese, and finish with a few grindings of pepper & pomegranate seeds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From my Southern Kitchen

As I have mentioned several times before, I do like to think of myself as a Southern girl, and I love the Southern Belle lifestyle, especially the hospitality and entertaining and cooking.  As well all know there has certainly been interest lately in all things Southern, a lot due to the current book and movie, The Help

I will actually be reviewing the book later this week, but for now I will just say that it is an amazing book that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  A dear friend of mine has also read the book and asked me about a recipe that they mention in the book, Corn Pone.  Being a northern girl aka. "Yankee" she knew nothing of corn pone and johnny cakes, two staples of Southern cuisine.  These are my personal recipes for corn pone and johnny cakes, they are not the healthiest dishes ever, but they do taste amazing, I especially love to have them with fresh butter and local honey, delicious!

Love From Scratch Corn Pone

1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bakng soda
2 tbsp butter, butter or bacon fat
1/3 - 1/2 cup water or milk

Mix cornmeal, baking powder and soda. Rub in margarine, until it is crumb-like. Mix in milk until it is at a dropping consistency. Fry in a hot frying pan by spoonfuls in margarine, butter or bacon grease until golden brown.

*healthier variation: instead of frying place the mixture in cornbread molds and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Love From Scratch Johnny Cakes

1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot water or milk
1 tablespoon shortening

Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the rest. Drop or pour on the hot, greased griddle or iron skillet and fry to a golden brown on both sides.

Watermelon Feta Greek Salad

I love salads, I love how refreshing they are after a long day and how bright they are.  Whenever I think of Summer I tend to think of watermelon, salad, and corn on the cob.  Lately it seems wherever I look there are different watermelon salad recipes being featured.  I especially love to make these salad with the end of the season watermelons which sometimes I find to be the sweetest and the meatiest. 

I especially recommend using a farmers market or local watermelon for this recipe, you will definitely taste the difference.  This makes a great recipe for the backyard BBQs, or the church potlucks.  I personally love this just made up in the fridge so I can snack on it throughout the day, its a healthy snack and always hists the spot, it also tastes better as it marinates in the fridge.

Watermelon Feta Greek Salad


1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
10 cups seedless watermelon, (I usually use a melon baller for a nice presentation)
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
1 1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 small purple onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 english cucumber diced
5 cups arugula


In a large bowl combine all ingredients and let chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Meatless Monday...Grilled Tofu Steaks

It is another Monday!  Can you believe its Labor Day and the summer is gone already?  Where did the time go?  I am always on the lookout for healthier main
dishes, and I have to admit I have never been a huge tofu fan.  In my town there is a restaurant that cooks nothing but tofu, so I decided to give it a shot and see what I would like to try for myself.

I tried a few different variations, but the one that really hit the spot was a grilled tofu steak.  I haven't done too much cooking with tofu so it took some practicing in the kitchen to come up with this recipe, but I love it!  Definitely will please all of your friends vegetarian or not.

Grilled Tofu Steaks

1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon natural hickory seasoning liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Dash Tabasco Sauce
2 pounds (1 kg) extra firm tofu cut into 12 slabs

To make the marinade, combine the lemon juice, water, olive oil, tomato paste, liquid smoke, soy sauce, salt, and Tabasco Sauce in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and stir well to distribute the seasonings evenly.

Place the tofu steaks into the marinade and turn to coat them on both sides. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days, turning once or twice each day.
Place the tofu steaks in a grill basket and grill over hot coals 4 to 7 minutes on each side, brushing with the marinade each time you turn the basket.   Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Autumn is Here!

It is September already, can you believe it?  I love the fall, its my favorite time of year, the football games, the falling leaves, the crisp air, the orange pumpkins lining the front porches, the caramel apples.  What a magical time of year.  I love to curl up on my couch with a good book and a nice quilt, for me Autumn is the only season.  For me I have always associated this time of year with great memories, which always leaves me with a profound sense of gratitude.

September also happens to be mushroom appreciation month.  I love the earthiness of mushrooms, and how they can just melt in your mouth, I love the aroma as you cook them in your kitchen.  Indeed I will eat anything with mushrooms, my fiancee however will not eat anything with mushrooms.  I am trying to turn him into a mushroom convert, I am sure he will see the light...I hope.  Mushrooms make anything taste better, I have tons of recipes on how to use these little delectables, but this recipe is one of my staples.  It is just a basic mushroom sauce, but you can use it on everything.  This is one of my favorite sauce recipes.

Love From Scratch Mushroom Sauce
Recommended mushrooms: Black trumpets, chanterelle mushrooms, or anything flavorful and delicate.  Morels or porcini are also a great choice. Portabellos and button mushrooms work as well.


1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
3 Tbsp Butter
1 cup broth
1 shallot minced
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup white wine 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have started to brown, around 3 - 5 minutes.
Transfer the mushrooms and garlic & shallot mixture from the skillet to a plate or a dish and begin making the roux. Melt the remaining butter or oil over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour, allowing it to cook for a minute or two.
Slowly whisk in the broth, wine, lemon juice, and cream. Do it thoroughly, as you want the whole mixture to be smooth, not lumpy.
Add the mushroom/shallot mixture to the roux. Stir and simmer until the final result has the desired gravy consistency, about 5 minutes.