Friday, October 22, 2021

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

420.  So let's talk about biscuits; hot, flakey, buttery.  But, add cheese and garlic and you have elevated them to a brand new flavor profile.  If you have a favorite recipe, simply add a cup of shredded cheddar and garlic salt.  Or you may add chives, parsley, Parmesan Cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, or any dried spice you desire.  A simple cheese biscuit is perfectly paired with a hot bowl of soup.

Here is my recipe:

Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits are similar and there are so many knock-off recipes.  But making your own biscuits is so very simple and you know what the ingredients are.  And that makes them even better.

"Baking is Life.  So when you describe what you're making, you must describe life.  Do you see?  It's not just recipes."
~ J Colgan

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Summer Salad Bowls

419.  When it is hot outside and you have worked a long day, the last thing I am looking for is a heavy carbohydrate meal with red meat.  The thought of a cool, crisp salad with yummy toppings fills me up and satisfies my hunger.

I am enjoying the packaged salad mixes that you can find in stores.  They range from iceberg lettuce for a Caesar salad to a ZaTara salad mix from Trader Joes.  I elevate the salad and make it into a meal by adding proteins, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits and cheeses.

In this salad pictured, I broiled a breast of chicken that I butterflied and seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic salt.  While that was roasting I lined up my bowls, emptied a bag of Sweet Kale salad mix with cabbage. I added sliced cucumbers, red cabbage shredded, spring onions, and Monterey Jack shredded cheese.  In a separate bowl I steamed a cup of green beans, drained them and added olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  I sprinkled salt and ground black pepper over the salad then drizzled it with olive oil.
Once my chicken was roasted, I sliced it and laid it across the top onto the cheese so it would melt.  The finishing touch was to add a scoop of the cool seasoned green beans and empty the packets that accompany the salad.  This particular salad comes with a poppy seed dressing, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.  Perfection!  So cool, crisp, warm chicken and melty cheese with the sweet and savory toppings.
This second Salad Bowl takes on a Southwest flavor.    I started with a piece of fresh salmon, sprinkling it with salt, ground pepper, garlic salt and olive oil.  Broiling salmon is tricky because you can over do the fish easily.  So, I place the pan in a cold oven and turn it on to bake at 400 degrees to be able to monitor the process closer.  The bottom skin will crisp up nicely.
I line up my bowls and add the Southwest salad mix into each bowl, spinach, spring green onions sliced and chopped cilantro. Sprinkle shredded Cheddar Cheese over the salad, salt, ground pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
 I make a batch of guacamole or purchased guacamole and several jalapeños sliced with seeds and all.  On this particular salad I had found broccoli bites in the freezer section so I popped those in the oven with the salmon.  
Once the salmon is to your liking, remove from the oven, gently remove the skin from the bottom of the fish and place hot onto the cheese.  Place a dollop of guacamole to one side and a dollop of Daisy Sour Cream to the other side.  Toss on the jalapeños hot broccoli bites and the crispy fish skin to the side.  Finally, drizzle the packet of Southwest salad dressing over the fish and onto the salad.  You do not need to mix the salad.  The individual portion will be mixed as you eat.
Now it is your turn.  What combinations will you create?  You could create an Asian salad with dumplings or a Steak Salad with fries.  Use your imagination and see what works.  It's a challenge but so enjoyable.

"Too many simple green salads suffer from a lack of imagination."
~ James Beard

"Many people eat salad dutifully because they feel it is good for them, but more enlightened types eat it happily because it is good!"
~Laurie Colwin

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tortellini Pasta Salad


418.  For a light refreshing evening meal simply make a pasta salad which incorporates veggies, pasta and light vinaigrette dressing.  But to elevate the salad, why not use tortellini instead?  Why do we only eat pasta salad when we are going to a picnic?  

I coated and baked chicken thighs to accompany the pasta salad.  While the chicken baked, I worked on my salad.  Of course making homemade tortellini would be the ultimate!  But I used the fresh pasta in the refrigerated section of Trader Joes.  It was a three-cheese filling and the regular sized tortellini.  I then chopped white onion, red radishes julienned, yellow bell pepper, cherry tomatoes halved, fresh green peas (also from Trader Joes), celery and celery tops chopped, fresh parsley and basil.  Seasoned with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic salt.  

I do not like to add radishes if my salad will be resting in the refrigerator.  They have a tendency to bleed onto the pasta.  Once my tortellini was perfectly boiled, I rinsed it in cold running water.  Placed it in the bowl with my chopped items then add olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Stir around till everything is evenly distributed and coated with the dressing.  If you think the salad will need more oil or vinegar, simply drizzle over, stir and taste for seasoning.  
What a simple and lovely pairing this meal proved to be.  And so refreshing on a hot summer day.
Trust me, tortellini is a great substitute in pasta salad.  And the filling could be any flavor you choose.  You only need to edit what you would mix with the pasta.  Now wouldn't pesto be a great addition?...hmmmm.
"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
~Frederico Fellini

Friday, April 23, 2021

Apricot Bars by Grammy Fitzgerald

417.  It was 1980, my college roommate had long beautiful hair and wore hand knit woolen sweaters.  We munched on homemade granola and other fine treats smuggled into our room made expertly by maternal family members.  One of those treats will forever be a delightful memory and truly a gift during those long, hungry stretches of time between breaks and money in the mail.
In my memory lingers the taste of "Grammy Fitzgerald's Apricot Bars"!  Perfection of sweetness, crunchiness, tartness, and dessert satisfaction, they were.  We would cut each into tiny pieces and portion out a small bite daily savoring every bite.  When the tin would grow lighter, it was washed and set aside to send back home for the next batch of delights.  And, I was so grateful to my roommate for sharing her trove.  It helped bring delight to those college famine days. 
It is hard to recollect my thinking for having the presence of mind to ask Grammy Fitzgerald for the recipe.  One of my hobbies over the years has been to collect recipes and recipe books.  I'm pleased to say after sending Grammy a note, she mailed the recipe to me in her own handwriting.  What a treasure!
This recipe was on my dessert menu for Easter and is a recipe to categorize under "Special".
This dessert brought many compliments.  

Here are a few pictures of my process.

"Did I offer peace today?  Did I bring a smile to someone's face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I let go of my anger and resentment?  Did I forgive?  Did I love?  These are the real questions.  I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come."

~ Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 9, 2021

Pork Loin Roast

416.  Our Easter Dinner was delightful with memorable flavors and feels.  I decided to roast a top loin of pork for our 8 guests.  

Pork is always a challenge when you use the top loin portion due to the small amount of marbled fat.  But, my process did produce a beautifully flavorful result.

The herbs I chose were Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (sounds like a song;-) with 8 garlic cloves.
The butcher butterflied the piece for me and did a perfect job.
I chopped the herbs together and set them aside in a bowl.  Next I rubbed Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
into the meat and then the finely chopped garlic followed by the 2 /3rds of the herbs, salt and pepper.
Then rolling up and tying the roast, sprinkling the rest of the chopped herbs.   I cut it in half to fit into my roasting pan coated with oil.
I roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then turned down the heat to 325 degrees till the meat registered 140 degrees, approximately an hour.
Once roasted, I saved the pan drippings and made a brown gravy with Kitchen Bouquet and cornstarch mixed with water.  The meat was a bit tough but the gravy added moisture to each bite.  
Notes to self would be to:  Pound meat with a tenderizer before adding flavorings.  This would help with the tenderness once roasted. And, to remove the covering from the roasting pan so the meat would brown or not cover at all.  
We all enjoyed ourselves and the meal was delicious
Simply put, it was a masterpiece!
"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter Dinner

415.  Sharing a few photos from our Easter Dinner Celebration.  Enjoy!

Roasted top pork loin roll with herbs and mustard marinade.
Handmade Pierogi filled with potato, cheese and onion.  Homemade Dinner Rolls.
Appetizer of Crudités
Desserts included Plum Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Cream Pie,
and Apricot Coconut Squares.
We sat and enjoyed each other's company and ate till we were bursting. 
"The dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.
~ Julia Child

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Shrimp & Grits

414. I have a confession to make, and that is never making homemade grits!   Although, tasting grits in a restaurant several times was enjoyable but being raised in the Northeast, we were not exposed to grits.  

"The Magnolia Table" Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines is a beautiful cookbook and so practical.  It is a great basics cookbook and a brilliant cookbook to have for every day meals and treats.  We have been cooking through this book and when we came across this recipe, I was game to try it.

What I loved was the rapid preparation but, OHHHHHHH, the flavors make you wish this dish would never end!  And, it has bacon.  The End.


  • prep: 10 minutes  cook: under 25 minutes 

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated, about 2 cups

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Freshly ground black pepper

4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the broth and 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour in the grits and salt, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cheddar, cream, butter, garlic powder, and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy,  about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to paper towels, reserving the drippings in the pan.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turn pink, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Divide the grits among four bowls and top with the shrimp and bacon and a sprinkling of chives and paprika.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.     Makes 4 servings
    Include this recipe on your "Must Do" list.  Trust me!
    "For me, the art of gathering isn't about appearance or aesthetics.  It's about the way people feel when they're in my home and around my table.  Whether it's my own kids or new friends, I want them to leave at the end of the night with light hearts and full stomachs.  Not just from the food we shared but from the time well spent in each other's company."
    ~Joanna Gaines, "Magnolia Table" Volume 2


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