Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

September 25, 2011

Weekly Menu September 25-October 1

First off, I cannot believe October is in the title of this post! Really?! the holidays are about to begin?!

Okay, now, Weekly Menus! Now that this Summer-thing is out of the way and moving and unpacking are almost complete, I want to start up the weekly menu share again. So here it is…


Pot Roast (my grandma Kamon’s recipe – tweaked)


– Chicken Noodle Soup (my daughter’s favorite and she’s sick this week so we are busting this favorite out)


– Turkey Tetrazzini (my good friend Linda brought me some of her Tetrazzini…Mmm can’t wait to eat it!)


– Roasted Cauliflower and white bean pasta


– Balsamic and brown sugar slow cooked pork roast  (New recipe!) with roasted Brussels sprouts (if I can find any…no luck yet!)


– Pasta Puttanesca with a simple salad and  vinaigrette

This is our usual “eat out” night, but since we have done that so much while packing and moving I’ll save it for another week.


– Grilled Marinated Chicken with grilled zucchini

August 16, 2011

Entertaining with Spanish Tapas


Yes, I have super slacked this summer on my blog. While writing this post I can’t even come up with a good title. I am stumped or something. Maybe the lazy days of summer have got me, maybe our hectic schedule lately has tripped me. But one thing is certain, I have just plain not wanted to cook much. The heat has made me not want to be around any household appliance that produces heat.   Yes, severely lacking motivation has not helped. Whatever this “down” period is, it can just go back to where it came from, from under a rock somewhere. I suppose everyone goes through periods where they are unmotivated, and the summer is probably the biggest killer for cooking activities.  Hot weather and it seems your daily activities get longer with the daylight so by the time you get home, you’re extra worn out.  With this post I am trying to kick it in gear and get back on track. I might be moving soon (again, yes) and my daughter is starting Kindergarten, so there are lots of big events ahead.  Lots of exciting events on the horizon. Instead of being emotional about my baby beginning school, I am actually really excited. Spending time helping out in her classroom, doing homework, hearing about her days making new friends and learning new things and making lunches—fun stuff. I’m that nerd who loved school – organizing my binders and pencils, excited for what I was going to learn the next year. And is it just me or did everyone love elementary school?  The signs of summer coming to an end are bittersweet. Meaning the start of my favorite cooking season – autumn/fall, meaning I can break out my beautiful Le Creuset  to stew and braise, and bake warm comforting foods.  Those traditional fall flavors for baking, such as: apple—cinnamon, cinnamon—pecan, cranberry—orange, pumpkin, and maple, make my eyes sparkle.  Don’t get me wrong I love summer and it did start late this year, but by the end of summer I am ready for the fall. The transitional seasons are really my favorite. It is like we get a fresh start on a new journey.   

This past weekend I had a little party (one of those hosted candle parties—let me know if you want to order anything…ha ha ha) and I made some Spanish Tapas to go along. Here are a few of my favorite things!


Feta Stuffed Mushrooms

Clean Mushrooms and remove stems. Toss with garlic and olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven add Feta (there will be some liquid in the caps just dump it) Sprinkle some crumbled feta. Cook for another 10-minutes.

Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil


Shrimp Pil Pil

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1T olive oil and 1tsp. red pepper flakes. Once the oil is hot add 1 T minced garlic stirring fast add 1lb raw peeled shrimp and 1/4 cup white wine. Stir shrimp until they are opaque – not completely cooked through (they will cook while they sit). You don’t want rubbery shrimp!



Roasted Tomato Tapenade

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse…Farm to Fork)

1 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes (I used heirlooms fresh from the Farmer’s Market)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 springs thyme

3 springs fresh marjoram

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1 tablespoon capers

Preheat 450 degrees

Slice tomatoes in half. Mix the tomatoes, olive oil, minced garlic, and oil in a bowl. Lay cut side of tomatoes down on a nonreactive sheet pan with the herb sprigs. Roast for 20 minutes. Set aside until tomatoes are cool enough to handle.

Place tomatoes with garlic and any juice in a food processor or blender.  (discard the whole herb sprigs). Add vinegar, olives, and capers and blend, but leave it a bit chunky. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Will keep for up to one week).

This tapenade was the hit of all of it. It is really good with a sliced roasted pepper or some marinated olives and a little soft ripened cheese! Yum!



July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

As we celebrate the USA’s birthday I’m sure you are all cooking up a storm (or grilling up a storm). I sure am!

Ribs were the centerpiece to my meal. My favorite grilled meat! This recipe is posted on my site earlier so I won’t re-post it but will direct you to the recipe for Smoked Ribs.

With a simple side salad and baked beans….MMMMMMMM.


(Aren’t these carrots crazy? Purple on the outside and orange on the inside – there are a few white carrots too – they taste the same as a regular carrot. They came in my CSA basket this week – yum…along with some chopped mixed baby greens, cucumber and broccoli)

Oh and not to forget my favorite new cocktail! I am working on the name but for now we call it Watermelon Vodka Juice…puree watermelon in a blender and strain (leave a little pulp if you’d like). Add the juice of 2 lemons or 3 limes, 3/4 cup pineapple juice and 2T simple syrup, you can add a 1/2 vodka here or I keep the juice separate so my daughter can have a watermelon drink too. In a glass with ice (I used lemon ice cubes) pour 2oz of your favorite vodka, pour the watermelon juice 3/4 of the way up your glass then top it off with something fizzy like 7up/Sprite, ginger ale, or club soda…stick a straw in it you’re done!


Hope everyone out there enjoyed their 4th of July!

June 27, 2011

Red White and Blue Potato Salad

At the beginning of June, my daughter and I went on vacation to California to visit family who were out visiting from the East Coast. We hit the beach, Disneyland and Yosemite. Quite a week and a half, I must say, but it was well worth the fun. To top it off when we returned it was finally summer in Nevada. Now, with summer setting in nicely and the Nation’s birthday coming up, I am making my staple potato salad which is both a perfect recipe for the season and the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Just a little different from the rest my Red, White and Blue potato salad packs great flavor and creaminess, your guests won’t know what hit them. Red potatoes, which are more “waxy,” some say, hold their shape well without becoming too mashed up. While white creamy dressing balances out the sharp blue cheese and crispy salty bacon fuses all the flavors together. If you think you do not like blue cheese, don’t count this recipe out just yet. I served this potato salad to guests at a summer BBQ party, and even those who do not like blue cheese appreciated this salad and went back for seconds. The combination of bacon and blue cheese is one of my favorites so when I thought of changing up my potato salad, I had no problems figuring out a flavor combination that would satisfy.

The trick, with any potato salad, is to season the potatoes while they are still warm so the potatoes are flavorful all the way through. In this recipe we season the potatoes with white wine vinegar. However, if you like your potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing instead of a creamy dressing, put the dressing on while the potatoes are still warm and the potatoes will soak up all the flavor.

Potato salad is a great summer dish at pot lucks or just to make on Sunday for quick side dishes throughout the week.  Saves some time and keeps you out of the kitchen every evening, as the days get warmer.

At the Farmer’s Market: Potatoes are abundant at local farmers’ markets right now as are herbs.

Danielle (1 of 1)

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

3lbs small red potatoes (skin on)
2T kosher salt
1T white wine vinegar
12oz pkg bacon
5-6 chopped green onions (green and white parts)
3/4 cup mayo
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2oz crumbled blue cheese
1 sage leaf, chopped finely (or 2 teaspoons dried)
Salt and pepper

2T chopped chives(garnish)

Place whole potatoes in a pan cover with water and add 2T salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle. Cube potatoes (or crumble the potatoes with your hands) while still warm and add vinegar.

Chop and cook bacon until very crisp (it will soften in the salad so be sure you cook very crisp so the bacon doesn’t become too chewy). Stir in bacon and green onions (set aside a little for garnish) with the potatoes.

Mix mayo, sour cream, blue cheese, sage, salt and pepper, to make the dressing. Toss dressing and potatoes, cover and chill for a few hours to mix flavors.

Top with rest of chopped bacon and green onions (or chives) before serving.

April 18, 2011

Open-faced Bruschetta Grilled Cheese

Since I watched the movie Julie and Julia I have been wanting to know what it is Julie made at the beginning of the movie. It was one of the first scenes and she was making dinner for her and her husband. It was fried bread and then some tomato-type topping that looked so good! I could almost taste whatever it was, while watching the movie, and then every day dream about it since. My expectations were somewhere between salty and crunchy fried bread and fresh vibrant vegetables.

What I came up with next fulfilled that “taste” and then some. A cross between bruschetta made with salty briney capers, fresh tangy tomatoes, melty cheese and crispy toasty bread. (I don’t think I ended enough words with “y”).

4 slices of your favorite artisan bread (sliced thick)
Fontina, cheddar or parmesan (I used Dubliner Irish Cheese, a cross between cheddar and parmesan)
1 Tablespoon of butter
2 tomatoes
2 Tablespoons capers (with the brine)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 2 fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cloves garlic
salt and pepper

Dice the tomatoes into small even pieces (think what you would want to eat in one bite). If using fresh basil, cut the basil into thin ribbons.

(TIP: stack the basil leaves on top of one another fold in half, then fold in half again and run your knife through the leaves to create thin strips.)

Mince the garlic. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Slice 4 slices of bread, sliced on the thicker side. In a pan melt the butter. Add the bread and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Top each piece of bread with a thin slice of cheese immediately off the grill so it will melt.

Top with bruschetta mixture and Enjoy~

(SIDE NOTE: I made this later on and had some extra bruschetta left over and some extra pasta in my fridge. I tossed together the bruschetta, pasta, with some red onion and toasted pine nuts and it made an excellent pasta salad for my lunch!)

April 11, 2011

Zebra Cheesecake

Sometime ago while surfing the web I ran across a zebra cake (regular yellow/chocolate cake). I filed that idea away in my mind for future cake making use. You may have seen the checkered cakes and other fancy type cakes that appear to require super-baking skills and talent, but this is a very simple technique with a very impressive result. When you finally see how these cakes are created, you realize it is definitely do-able and may only require practicing a few times to really have it down. 

Since, I don’t usually make a cake, I make cupcakes (yes I know this is a fad, but I do it for other reasons – cupcakes are easier to share, travel well, are more versatile and fun to decorate). This weekend I am have created what I am calling “Appetizer and Wine Extravaganza!” as a (belated) birthday dinner for Shawnee, and this idea was perfect for her – my zebra-print loving friend (note my daughter recently chose zebra-print and hot pink to decorate her room, so I will please the masses with this one). As I write this I have a half hour left on the clock for the cake and I’m on pins and needles waiting to see if it works…it will be several hours before I can cut into this baby and I am very anxious to see it! (Note: as you can see above it came out looking cool and stripey, BUT I am going to do another take on this because it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Keep ya posted!)

The rest of the menu goes like this:
Spicy Seared Ahi on greens with soy sauce and Shriacha

Spicy Avocado Eggrolls

Empanadas (a true authentic Argentina family recipe) – thanks Lucy!

and WINE!

Shawnee and I recently decided that once a month we would try a new wine together (this could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E)…but for the Extravaganza! We added a new wine to try – Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon (Diamond Collection) was a great smooth red. Not too dry (I don’t like too dry). Definitely to-buy again!

Now let’s begin backwards and start with dessert!


3- 8oz. pkgs cream cheese (softened)

3/4c granulated sugar

1T vanilla

5 eggs

1/8 cup heavy whipping cream

1tsp lemon zest (optional)

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until combined.


Add eggs one at a time and make sure incorporated.

Beat in whipping cream and zest.


Split the batter in half and sift in 1/4 cup of good quality powdered coco. (NOTE: there is no crust in this cake, I didn’t think that the batter would spread well with a crust – let me know if you try it out and how it works).

Now is the toughest part (and it’s not even that tough) – place 3 tablespoons of the vanilla cheesecake in the middle of the pan.


Place 3 tablespoons of the chocolate cheesecake on top of the vanilla…the batter will spread as you go, let it spread on it’s own.


Now place 3 tablespoons of the vanilla…


Here is what it looks like at three layers.


Now it’s ready to bake!

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. In a pan large enough to set the cheesecake pan inside of it. Fill the pan with 2” inches of water and set in the oven to preheat.  I wrap the spring-form pan in two layers of foil to make sure the water doesn’t seep into the cake (made a cake once and only used one layer and my crust was soggy from the water getting into it).

Reduce the oven to 300-degrees, bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 5 min (or until the middle is set).

April 3, 2011

April 4-10: This Week in Dinner

Can I just tell you how much I love my iPhone! This is probably the first phone that I have ever purchased that I have committed to buying again, once it breaks! Those guys at Apple are genius! I want an iPad now too! I am not partial to Apple and I know plenty other brands have great products – I’m just so used to my iPhone and iTunes and getting Apps that I’m afraid to use another brand and being disappointed at the availability of Apps and ease of use. Plus, I have an iPod and a lot of money invested in my iTunes library – see how the companies get you “stuck.” Okay well enough of my iPhone rant! (I don’t know what I did without my iPhone…just sayin’).

There was a point for my rant, I just purchased the “How to Cook Everything” App on my iPhone this week. It is FANTASTIC! You pay a one-time $5 for the App – you get a daily featured recipe, 2,000 recipes, 400 how-to illustrations, conversion tool for measurements, Mark Bittman’s cooking guidance – and more! The book is $35 and this App is only $5! THAT’s a steal (not that you get the entire book in the app, but man you sure do get a lot)! (I will still buy the book, I know it’s silly) I highly recommend this App. This was one of iTunes top ‘foodie’ recommended Apps so I had to get it.  There is a free version if you want to try it out first.

This week in dinner, I have chosen two of Mark Bittman’s recipes from this App – one featured recipe and one “quick meals” recipe. If you don’t know Mark Bittman, he is a NY Times columnist – just ended his food column of many years, the Minimalist, and now he will have a column in the Opinion section. Bittman wrote How to Cook Everything and Food Matters. He is a health conscious foodie.  Close to my heart, he is a writer and has never had formal training as a chef, but he is very well known and respected in the food world. Check out his blog here.

This week in Dinner: 


– Chunky Vegetable Soup (featured recipe on How to Cook Everything App)

(Lunch: left overs)


-Sausage Kale Stew (this came from a Dinner: A Love Story blog reader)

(Lunch: work meeting lunch)


– Tomato and Cheese Frittata (How to Cook Everything App – quick meals section)

(Lunch: work meeting lunch)


– Left over Vegetable Soup

(Lunch: Ham and Cheese Croissant w/light Caesar salad)


– Eat Out!

(Lunch: left over Sausage and Kale Stew)


– To Be Decided


Dinner w/friends: Asian Mexican fusion (kind-a)

Spicy Avocado Eggrolls, Seared Ahi and Margaritas.

March 26, 2011

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Leek Stew

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. Jamie’s Food Revolution is one of the greatest ideas to come to America. There is no question in my mind that our country needs to eat better and I love that Jamie has brought his ideas and influence to the US. It’s a harsh reality, and at the same time I think so many people are just unaware of the reality of our country’s Industrial Food Industry (yes if you read my blog you hear this from me often). Jamie’s Food Revolution is just very inspiring to me. Knowledge is power, and I definitely want to educate everyone I can.

Here is a great, healthy weeknight recipe.

(recipe by Jamie Oliver via Food and Wine Mag)

2 chicken breasts
2 medium sized leeks, green parts only
8oz package of mushrooms, thinly sliced
All-purpose flour for dusting
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Clean the leeks: thinly slice the leeks and place them in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water and stir leeks around to release the dirt and allow it to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Using a slotted spoon remove the leeks to the skillet.


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet, add leeks and cook over moderate heat until leeks are softened, about 7 minutes.

Add mushrooms, cover and cook until tender, 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and leeks to a plate.


Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour, shaking off the excess. Heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides.

Add the chicken stock and thyme and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the pan with the vegetables.


Simmer the stock until reduced by half. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan and simmer until heated through.


Mix sour cream and Dijon mustard together, then stir the mixture into the stew. Remove the stew from heat and add salt and pepper. Serve over rice, or on it’s own.


So easy and so good. I love Jamie Oliver he is such an awesome chef, great views on food and eating and his recipes are easy, fantastic and fresh! I will be posting his Sizzling Beef with scallions and black bean sauce recipe (as seen on Food Revolution).

March 16, 2011

Who Owns Organic (Big Brands)




This is a great chart to show you the sources of “Organic” products you see in grocery stores – see why buying local is SO much better? I am going to join the Great Basin Community Co-op in Reno I’m excited and my first CSA basket in a few weeks…this will be a much greener and healthier year for us! I’m excited!

March 13, 2011

Asian Beef Bowl


I have been meaning to post this easy Asian recipe for weeks. Then today Miss Katie asked me for a stir fry type recipe that is easy, so it was the perfect time for me to finally get to this recipe.

For the life of me I cannot remember where this recipe came from or even where to begin to remember. I have used it enough from memory and changed it enough to call it my own, so there you go!

My daughter will eat this and it is pretty darn healthy – not too many bad things in it. You can change a lot of the regular ingredients out for healthier versions too, so I will note those for you as I go.

2 Pkgs ramen noodles (or 1/2 box whole wheat pasta, broken in half)

2 tsp cooking oil + 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper (or more to taste – or use chili oil)

12 oz steak, thinly sliced (or 1 lb thinly sliced chicken breast)

½ tsp fresh or ground ginger (1/4 tsp if using ground)

1 T. minced garlic

1 cup beef broth

4 Tbsp of soy sauce (use reduced sodium)

1 tsp sesame oil (optional this is one of my additions the dish comes out good without even)

2+ cups of Spinach

1 cup julienne carrots (matchstick)

3 scallions

¼ cup cilantro

Heat water until boiling, add ramen for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. (Or cook your whole wheat pasta to be just a bit undercooked).

Place oil and cayenne pepper in pan until hot, add garlic and stir 1 min. Add ginger and stir. Add steak and 2 T soy sauce and sautee’ until browned well. Add broth remaining 2T soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add carrots, spinach, and scallions until tender and wilted. Add noodles and cilantro and let noodles soak up some of the liquid. Garnish with raw green onion

(I also used broccoli and just boil the broccoli until tender in the ramen water then add it with the carrots to cook further. I also add more soy sauce and garlic to taste. Mushrooms are good too!)

I think this is a great dish you have a little of everything – Veggies, whole grains (if you use whole wheat pasta), and lean protein!

Lemme know what you think!