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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Bright and lively - this yummy Salmon Salad is also quick and effortless to put together.


2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 whole star anise
4 cups cold water
4 pieces of salmon
2 oranges
4 cups very thinly sliced fennel (about 2 medium bulbs)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place sugar, water, vinegar, star anise and cold water in a large deep skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add salmon pieces, cover skillet and remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, turn salmon over, cover and let stand until salmon is just opaque in the center, about 5 to 6 minutes longer.
Remove salmon from the liquid and cool. Coarsely flake the salmon, set aside.
Cut top and bottom 1/4 inch off each orange. Stand 1 orange on 1 flat end. Using a small sharp knife cut off peel and white pith. Working over a large bowl, cut between the membranes, releasing the segments into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining orange. Add salmon, fennel, mint and olive oil. Gently toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE: you could add salad greens to this too!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2010‎

Monday, April 28, 2014


Our school offers Family Connection Nights during the year, which are a fabulous and fun idea, but for one reason or another, our family hasn't ever been able to attend. We were all super excited about the strawberry shortcake making evening, but because of after school activities the timing didn't work for us.

I placated the kids by offering to make strawberry shortcakes at home, and found this yummy recipe - amazing, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and the wonderful adult twist of adding balsamic and black pepper to the strawberries, although I left them plain for the kids. Also, the strawberries were delicious on Greek yogurt the next morning, with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of pecans.


2 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chilled cream
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, and quartered
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, process to blend. Add butter, cut in using on/off turns until the butter resembles large peas, about five 1-second intervals. Add cream, using on/off turns, process until moist clumps form. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into an 8 by 4 inch rectangle, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 4 equal strips, forming 8 square biscuits.
Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes.
Brush the top of the biscuits with egg glaze, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester inserted comes out clean, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
Mix strawberries, 5 tablespoons sugar, vinegar and black pepper in a medium bowl. Let macerate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another medium bowl until peaks form.
Cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place bottom half of each biscuit, cut side up on plate. Using slotted spoon, divide strawberries among biscuits. Spoon dollop of whipped cream atop strawberries. Cover each with top half of biscuit. Drizzle some of the juices from the strawberries around the shortcakes.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010

Sunday, April 27, 2014


My husband was out of town this weekend, turkey hunting, and my days were filled with kids activities, laundry and reading on the back porch, and my evenings with friends, food, wine and lots of laughter and great conversation. It was a wonderful weekend, and, wonderful to welcome my husband back.
I cooked a lovely meal, and we began the evening with cocktail hour. I even shared my precious solitary spot with him out on the porch.


Muddle 2 teaspoons of fig preserves, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 2 lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker to release flavors. Fill shaker with ice cubes, and add 1/4 cup Bourbon. Cover with lid and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a cocktail glass.

Recipe adpated from Southern Living, September 2013‎

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I randomly saw a friend while out and about one day, walking around the Fayetteville Square, and we started talking about food.
She told me about the Maine blueberries for sale at Ozark Natural Foods - and how amazing they are, small and flavorful. I promptly bought myself a package to experience them for myself,  and now I keep them in stock in the freezer - and always think of my friend when I use them.


3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups blueberries
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened

Heat oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the flour. Add sour cream, eggs and almond extract. Mix well. Stir in blueberries. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Combine flour, brown sugar and butter, mix well. Sprinkle evenly over filling.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 2002‎

Friday, April 25, 2014


Commemorating ANZAC day.


2 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup

Heat oven to 350F.
Whisk oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Stir water and baking soda in another bowl. Melt butter and syrup in a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat, add baking soda mixture. Stir wet ingredients into dry to make a thick dough. Drop cookies onto parchment paper lined baking sheets by the tablespoonfuls. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Saveur, Number 162‎ 

Thursday, April 24, 2014


We love the classic "kiwi takeaways" Fish and Chips, wrapped in newspaper and most delicious when eaten right by the beach.
The kids especially, ordered them every chance they had while we were on vacation in New Zealand, so I thought I would try a home made version, served with oven baked sweet potato and kumara fries. Even though we are miles and miles from the beach here in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Oven Fried Fish Sticks still tasted wonderful.


1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 pounds cod fillets
salt to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 375F.
To prepare fish sticks, place flour in a shallow dish or bowl. Place bread crumbs in a second shallow bowl. Combine water and egg in a third shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
Cut fish into strips. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Dip fish in egg mixture and dredge in bread crumbs. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat fish with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp (I turned the grill on at the end of cooking time for about 2 minutes).
To prepare tartar sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve tartar sauce with fish.

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, November 2013‎

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THAI STYLE CHICKEN IN LETTUCE LEAVES - Fayetteville Pilates and Barre - recipedoodle Wednesday

My family and I loved these Chicken Lettuce "wraps".
Fresh tasting, with a delicious burst of mint, spicy ginger and cool cucumber. The flavors blended beautifully.
Placing everything out in the bowls, made it fun for the kids to put together, and even the adults enjoyed playing with their food.


3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
1 head of butter lettuce
2 tablespoons water

In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar with the sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 teaspoon of the garlic and the crushed red pepper and let cool.
In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the sweet seasoned vinegar with the remaining 3 teaspoons of garlic and the soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil. Set aside 2 tablespoons of this soy marinade. Add the chicken and the remaining marinade in the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
Heat the broiler. Remove the chicken from the marinade and let it drain, slice thinly, then broil for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with the remaining sweet seasoned vinegar. Put the red pepper, mint, cilantro and peanuts in separate bowls. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a basket.
Add the water to the reserved 2 tablespoons of soy marinade.
Wrap the chicken and garnishes in lettuce leaves, and pass the soy marinade and cucumber salad separately.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I always love arriving back in New Zealand - swooping down over the beautiful blue ocean, hearing the kiwi accent, and seeing the familiar products and packaging of the candy in the airport kiosk.
After clearing immigration and gathering our bags, we made our way through customs, out into the beautiful, fresh morning, picked up our rental car and navigated to downtown Auckland and the passport office.
I was thrilled when I discovered I would be able to renew my New Zealand passport - I had let it expire, with life being busy, the belief that NZ wasn't recognizing dual citizenship, and being able to travel on my American passport, meant I hadn't paid it much attention. But, reluctant to renounce my New Zealand citizenship permanently, I called to see about my options before leaving America, and consequently we found ourselves searching for 99 Albert St and the official New Zealand passport renewal forms.
Eager to have our first taste of "kiwi tucker", we walked down to the Viaduct Harbour for lunch, settling on Sierra, as the kids were hungry and grumpy and had no patience for me inspecting each and every item on each and every menu to choose the absolute best place to dine. After our first glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and taste of Fish and Chips, we did the bare minimum of sightseeing - Sky City. It was an incredible panoramic view of Auckland, the sky walkers, sky jumpers and straight down through the glass in the floor, to the street below.
Then it was time to make the 1 1/2 hour drive to visit family.

We also enjoyed a brief taste of Auckland on our way out of the country, two weeks later.  Safran, a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant, located in the Newmarket area, offered a lovely selection of Tapas, a final glass of delicious New Zealand Pinot Noir, and a small park out front, where the kids ran and played before boarding the long flight home. It was difficult to choose a favorite from our tapas selection, the Pan Fried Mussels, Chilli Prawns, Scotch Fillet, Meatballs, Quabapa (beef sausages), Paprika Chicken, or Beetroot and Goat Cheese Salad - each was delicious.

Chili Prawns at Safran 

Monday, April 21, 2014


Easter has made its appearance, and Spring is in the air, with all its possibilities of new growth and fresh produce.
Although this Ricotta and Radish Crostini could be made with any type of radish, I thought the watermelon radishes looked especially lovely and seasonal.


18 1/4-inch-thick baguette slices
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 pinch of pepper
24 thin slices of radish
grated lemon peel, for serving

Drizzle baguette slices with a little olive oil, and toast in a 350F oven.
Stir together the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Spread the ricotta mixture onto each toast and top with slices of radish, a sprinkle of salt and grated lemon peel.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray › Recipes‎

Sunday, April 20, 2014

post for Motherlode - Easter 2014 - Truffle Eggs

Happy Easter - make sure and take a few minutes to check out the FABULOUS Motherlode site
Always full of fabulous information and wonderful people - you can also find these fun eggs and many more delicious recipes.

Mealtime Mama: Truffle eggs for Easter brunch

By nwamamas - Last updated: Friday, April 18, 2014
ceri's recipe for easter
Our foodie friend, Ceri Wilkin (who blogs at Recipe Doodle) sent us this awesome recipe for truffle eggs. Aren’t they beautiful?
Ceri said these adorable eggs are fun (and easy) to make — plus they taste delicious!

truffle eggs

1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons nutella
1/2 pound white candy coating disks
5 to 6 drops of blue food coloring
1/2 to 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Directions: In a saucepan, bring the cream, butter and corn syrup to a boil. Add chocolate and nutella and remove from the heat (do not stir). Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until combined.
Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for 45 to 60 minutes or until thickened, stirring every 15 minutes.
Shape 1 tablespoon of chocolate mixture into an egg. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Refrigerate until firm, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating, stir until smooth. Stir in food coloring. Dip eggs into cane coating, allow excess to drip off. Return to baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with coffee granules. Let stand until set.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home, Easter Recipe Cards, April 2012
- See more at:

Saturday, April 19, 2014


A sweet Easter treat - and fun for the kids!


8 ounces of chocolate
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup chow mein noodles
miniature candy-coated chocolate eggs

Line two baking sheets with waxed paper.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and shortening. Microwave on medium, stirring at 1-minute intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.
Gently stir rice cereal and chow mein noodles into chocolate mixture until thoroughly blended.
Drop chocolate mixture by heaping tablespoons 1 inch apart onto prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon, make an indentation in each spoonful of chocolate mixture to form a nest. Place 3 eggs in each indentation.
Place chocolate nests on baking sheets in the refrigerator, chill until set, about 1 hour.

Recipe adapted from the Great American Home Baking, cookie collection

Friday, April 18, 2014


Basic bread for Good Friday.


25 grams of butter, melted
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup currants
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup icing sugar
25 grams butter, melted

Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners. Heat oven to 200C.
Combine butter, milk and eggs.
Place the dried fruit in a large mixing bowl and sift in the spices, baking powder and flour. Stir in the sugar. Mix well. Add the liquid ingredients, stirring until just moistened.
Three-quarters fill the muffin pans. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
To make the crosses, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the butter. Add a tablespoon of milk if too thick. Pipe icing crosses on top of the muffins.

Recipe adapted from Foodtown Living Today‎

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Lamb was a staple in our diet growing up in New Zealand, but it can be hard to come by on a regular basis in the supermarkets here in Arkansas. So when I see it at the store, I always pick up a pack and keep it in the freezer until I need it. I was thrilled to come across this ground lamb, and then a delicious recipe to use it in.


salt and pepper
1 pound of pasta of your choice
1 pound of ground lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 serrano chile, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
parsley and grated cheese for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, pat the lamb dry with paper towels. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, brewing up the meat, until browned, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the carrot, shallot, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme and orange zest. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then the chicken stock and wine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve sauce over the pasta, with a sprinkle of parsley and cheese.

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, November 2011‎

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Always love a little sweetness!


2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided use
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the cardamom and the salt in a large bowl. Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the eggs, one at a time, add the vanilla extract.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Repeat 2 more times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats. Combine the sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon of cardamom in a medium bowl.
Scoop tablespoons of dough into the sugar-cardamom mixture. Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on each baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are crackled and the edges are just barely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2012‎


1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Heat oven to 375F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and chocolate morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand 1 minute, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Best Loved Cookies, 1999‎

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



We spent a very brief time in the Dallas area recently, arriving just in time for dinner, we found Kimchi Stylish Korean Kitchen, which was modern and fresh and fabulous.

Kimchi Stylish Korean Kitchen
Everything was beautifully presented, and the staff there were absolutely amazing - one sweet server even showed my daughter and I how to cast on a row of knitting when she noticed we were having difficulty following the written instructions.
We sampled many different dishes, Mussel Soup, Spicy Pork Belly, Organic Salad, Cool Smoked Beef, Fried Shrimp, and several varieties of Kimchi - my favorite being the radish Kimchi. The Spicy Pork Belly was delectable, the sauces with the Fried Shrimp were wonderful and the Cool Smoked Beef had a delicious and delicate flavor.

Cool Smoked Beef
The Kitchen didn't have a liquor license, but my husband walked a very short distance to H Mart and bought rice wine and sake to accompany our meal and adding an extra element of fun to the evening.

After dinner, we ALL went to H Mart, where we wandered the aisles of the Oriental market, choosing a package of interesting walnut cookies for dessert, and perusing the seafood and produce and imagining the dinner parties we would have if we lived locally.

The next morning we had planned to visit the Sea Life Aquarium in Grapevine, but the line was so incredibly long, we decided to forgo the fishes and find a place to eat instead.
We explored - which on this particular morning simply meant, "drove down the main street of" - the historical downtown of Grapevine, and discovered a lovely little cluster of restaurants - Mi Dia, Bobs Steak and Chop house, Fireside Pies, ultimately settling on Winewood for our last meal in the country. The adults enjoyed Bellinis and Bloody Marys, and along with the kids, ate smoked gouda macaroni and cheese, chicken fried rib-eye, ruby red trout and grilled cheese with tomato bisque.
Then we returned to the hotel to pick up our bags and leave our car, and begin the next part of our journey.

The ruby red trout with white wine lemon caper butter sauce and roasted corn bean salad, from Winewood

Monday, April 14, 2014


My husband was out of town overnight, for the Arkansas Hospitality Association meeting, while
I enjoyed and appreciated the change in our weeknight routine, and took the opportunity to cook as little as possible, and to use up what was in the refrigerator.
I made this yummy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, slathered it on a sandwich with goat cheese, then piled on chicken, avocado, pan fried Prosciutto and arugula. My daughter took one bite, and suddenly half of my sandwich was gone.


1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup tahini
juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon juice. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add roasted peppers and basil and pulse until the peppers are finely chopped. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer hummus to a bowl, cover and chill until you are ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes‎

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I made these "yogurt and blueberry pancakes" in minutes for a busy Saturday morning - I was off to an exercise class and the kids all had friends sleeping over. Once I had worked out, kids were all returned to their respective homes, my daughter at horse riding, and my oldest at karate, it was time for Max and Mummy time. We found our way to the nearest coffee shop, excitedly placed our order, and then had to leave immediately because I had left my wallet at home! We finally made it back for our treats, although our "special time" was a little briefer than we had expected.

Max and Mama time!!

Put 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1 egg and 1 1/2 cups Greek Yogurt, and whisk until smooth. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls into the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, then drop blueberries onto each pancake. Flip and cook for a further 1 minute or until light brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
Top pancakes with extra yogurt, a drizzle of honey and extra blueberries.

Recipe adapted from Australian Better Homes and Gardens, April 2014‎

Saturday, April 12, 2014


My husband picked up a dozen duck eggs for a dinner party, for the duck egg creme brûlée I planned to make for dessert, and two duck balut while he was at the Asian Market.
We had become intrigued by duck balut since talking with a friend who remembers her father eating the snack, and reading a book that introduced us to the popular Philippino street food. Although we still haven't been able to bring ourselves to cook and eat the fertilized and developing embryo, the man at the store where my husband purchased the balut, said he sells at least a dozen of them a week.
However, it took no act of bravery at all to use some of the duck eggs in this delicious, quick salad. I loved how all the components came together to form a delectable, absolutely wonderful meal.


1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 beets, tops removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 strips bacon
salad greens
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
4 duck eggs

Whisk together mustard, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Continue whisking while drizzling in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 350F.
Wash beets and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle beets with olive oil and fold foil up and around beets to make a sealed package. Roast for 45 minutes, or until beets are completely tender all the way through when pierced with a skewer.
Let beets sit until cool enough to handle, then peel. Cut beets into wedges.
Stack bacon and cut cross-wise into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Gently separate the pieces and place in a heavy pan set over medium heat. Cook the bacon until brown and crispy, stirring frequently. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and allow to drain.
Just before serving, toss together diced beets, bacon, salad greens and walnut pieces. Add enough dressing to lightly coat all the salad ingredients and divide salads equally between four plates. Divide the beets, bacon and walnuts evenly as well.
Heat pan over high heat, add enough cooking spray, butter or olive oil, to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the duck eggs until the whites are very crispy and the bottom of the yolk is just starting to firm up. Flip the eggs and cook briefly on the other side.
Top each salad with a fried duck egg, sprinkle each duck egg lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from PCC Natural Markets › Cook › Recipes‎

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


A recent conversation with a friend was focussed on meals for the kids when the adults are going out to eat.
I don't want to cook a full dinner before I go out to dine -  I usually don't have the time and chances are I will snack (extensively) on what I am making, so I have tended to choose the quick, easy and often more expensive option of picking up fast food.
However, my friend and I discussed some healthy, reasonable (time and money) options - putting a pre-seasoned pork loin in the crock pot, freezing extra portions from previous dinners to have on hand for busy nights, my husband just last week, picked up a fully cooked rotisserie chicken for the kids when I was out with a friend one night, and what I tend to do when I really don't want to make a trip for fast food - prepare a vegetable side dish to accompany a quick and easy protein - pan fried chicken breast, or ham steak, the aforementioned pork loin, even a poached egg, deli turkey or grilled cheese sandwich.


1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat oven to 375F.
Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for about 40 minutes, until tender, adding the raisins in the last 5 to 6 minutes of cooking.
Transfer cauliflower and raisins to a bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and the parsley before serving.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, February 2011‎


1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds of carrots, sliced diagonally into 1 inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup water with honey, rice vinegar and salt until well combined, set aside.
Add butter to medium saucepan and heat over medium high. Add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until just slightly tender. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds more. Add honey mixture to saucepan and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove lid, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost gone. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, November 2013‎


1/3 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 mini bell peppers

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine cream cheese, cilantro, sour cream, green onions, shallots and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Halve bell peppers lengthwise, discard seeds. Divide cheese mixture evenly among pepper halves. Place peppers on baking sheet, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Grill under high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until peppers and cheese are lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced pitted Medjool dates
5 rosemary sprigs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground sumac

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large skillet, heat 3/4 cup olive oil. Add half the parsnips to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until golden and barely tender, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the parsnips to a roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining parsnips, adding the garlic.
Scrape the parsnips and any oil into the roasting pan. Add the dates and rosemary sprigs, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 8 to 10 minutes, just until the parsnips are tender and the dates are slightly caramelized. Transfer the parsnips and dates to a platter.
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the lemon juice, sumac and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt. Serve the roasted parsnips and dates, passing the spiced yogurt at the table.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2011‎


1/8 cup olive oil
12 ounces of thinly sliced red cabbage
3 minced garlic cloves
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
1 green onion, chopped

Heat oil in a skillet. Add cabbage, garlic, pepper and onion and stir fry for 5 minutes.
Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and mirin, and cook for a couple more minutes.
Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

Recipe adapted from


Cook 2 pounds of broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Add 8 ounces of swiss chard and a cup of peas.
Simmer for 4 minutes, drain. Cook 1 thinly sliced lemon in butter in a skillet utnil browned.
Add the vegetables, 1/4 cup chicken broth, and a heavy sprinkle of crushed red pepper to the pan and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, April 7, 2014


All of the kids recently had their well check-up at the Doctors office. The appointments were scheduled around the middle of the morning, so we were able to be a little more leisurely than usual for the first part of the day.
I made these Blueberry Muffins for breakfast, and even though they aren't terribly time consuming, it was lovely to have the extra time to put them together, and we all loved the generous amount of crumb topping sprinkled on top.


3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups blueberries

Heat the oven to 375F. Line 18 muffin cups with liners, or spray 2 muffin tins with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the brown sugar, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted butter, then pinch the mixture until it forms pea-size clumps.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and canola oil and beat with an electric mixer at low speed until combined. Beat in the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat at low speed until the batter is smooth. Stir in the blueberries.
Spoon the batter into 18 of the cups, filling them about three-quarters full. Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of each one and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the blueberry muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, February 2007

Sunday, April 6, 2014


While Mum was visiting last summer, she spoiled her Grandchildren with lovely breakfasts each morning. Made from scratch pancakes and sausage, delivered on a tray to their room, while they enjoyed their morning in bed.
I thought I had better make more of an effort to provide interesting and delicious meals in the morning - although my kids have to come out to the kitchen to serve themselves.


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, set aside.
In an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, mix to combine. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour into prepared pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.


1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Heat oven ot 325F.
Prepare a 9 by 5 inch pan, greasing the inside with butter, or baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, ricotta and sugar, on high speed for 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed for one minute, after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions, until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Stir in the blueberries.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Place on a baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Run a dull knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it is separated from the pan. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: I added 1/2 cup more blueberries than the recipe indicated - I like a lot of fruit! But it was too much batter for the loaf pan, so I made muffins with the extra.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes‎


3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 tablespoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

In a small bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Drizzle the melted butter over the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. The streusel should feel clumpy, not sandy. If it seems dry, add more melted butter.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square metal cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and butter the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out any excess.
In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, vanilla and almond extract.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolk with a wooden spoon utnil blended, about 20 seconds. Using a whisk, whisk in the whole egg and salt and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the sour cream mixture. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda directly onto the batter. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter, squeezing it with your fingertips to form small clumps. Bake until puffed and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it, 28 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes.
Run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto the rack and remove the parchment. Invert again onto a serving plate, so the streusel is on top. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. This cake is best served warm.

Recipe adpated from Fine Cooking‎

Friday, April 4, 2014


Great for cakes, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, or a "shot" on its own, for a pop of sweetness.


1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated.
Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate and beat on medium speed until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.

Recipe adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes‎

Thursday, April 3, 2014


We decided not to cook, but to enjoy our evening meal out. We were having friends over for dinner the next night, and had been busy in the kitchen for most of the day, preparing for the multiple courses we were planning to serve. We walked down to a local restaurant, had a lovely dinner, and once home, put the kids to bed and mixed up this "Orange Whip" cocktail. Although it looked a little curdled, the orange juice gave it the appearance of being healthy, and the flavors came together deliciously.


1 ounce Irish Cream
1 ounce amaretto
1 ounce Cointreau
4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

Pour the Irish Cream, amaretto, Cointreau and orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake well. Add orange juice and shake well. Strain into a glass.

Recipe adapted from About Cocktails

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


We had several ripe bananas, and I wanted to make the most of them before the fruit flies finished them off. I made a batch of cupcakes and a batch of muffins for a snack one afternoon, and the kids absolutely loved them.


2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350F for 20 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home Fun Food, August 2010


1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup mashed banana (I put in 6 bananas - a bit more than 1 cup)
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 425F.
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. Make a well in the center.
In a separate bowl, combine the mashed banana, oats, milk, butter and egg. Pour mixture into the well and stir until combined and dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2012

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I tried to fool my kids after school by offering tasty "meatballs" as a healthy snack. Then I tried to pass them off as an appetizer to my husband before we sat down to dinner - apparently my family can sense chocolate a mile off, because they were clearly devouring no-bake cookies, and not the meatball of my imagination.
Happy April Fools Day!


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups uncooked oats
strawberry preserves
grated white chocolate

Mix the butter, milk, sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan over medium heat, until the mixture comes to a boil. Let it cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and oats.
Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. Let cookies cool for a few minutes, then shape into balls with your hands.
Thin the preserves with a little water and drizzle on the plate to look like spaghetti sauce, top with the "meatballs", and sprinkle with the "cheese".

Recipe adapted from Spoonful