Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dulse Caesar Salad

Sometimes it’s the simplest food that’s the best, which is why I tend to favor the delicious simplicity of the Caesar salad. If you are a vegan, this may not be a salad that you are able to fully enjoy…until now. Today Abrams Books released Nicole Berrie’s new book Body Harmony, Nourishing Plant-based Recipes for Intuitive Eating, and amongst those recipes is the Dulse Caesar Salad.

Dulse, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is the vegan substitute for anchovies. It is a briny algae packed with trace minerals and antioxidants. As someone who is definitely not vegetarian, least of all vegan, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

Dulse Caesar Salad
Serves two

2 heads Romaine lettuce
½ c. Dulse Caesar dressing (recipe follows)
1 t.
nutritional yeast
1 t. chopped fresh parsley
Freshly cracked black pepper

Rinse the Romaine and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap the leaves in a dishtowel and refrigerate until ready to use; you want them to be ice cold and crisp. Once the dressing is made, roughly chop the chilled lettuce; I like 1-inch bite-size pieces. Place the Romaine in a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the leaves and toss with tongs until well coated. Sprinkle with the yeast and parsley and toss again. Generously crack pepper over the salad. Serve immediately.

Dulse Caesar
Makes 1 ¼ cups

4 large cloves garlic
½ c. packed
dulse leaves, or two large sheets toasted nori
2 T. nutritional yeast
¼ c. fresh parsley leaves
2 T.
tamari or coconut aminos
Juice of three lemons or ¼ c. lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard
½ t. sea salt, or more to taste
¼ t. ground black pepper
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. cold filtered water
Freshly cracked black pepper

In a food processor or blender, blend the garlic, dulse, yeast, parsley, tamari, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil, and water until creamy. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. The dressing is best if it’s super peppery, in my humble opinion. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days.

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 Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Body Harmony, Nourishing Plant-based Recipes for Intuitive Eating from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Southern Hurricane

I found a recipe for a cocktail called a Hurricane in Wine Enthusiast magazine. From what I could tell, it was non-traditional, so I decided to take their recipe, run with it, and rename it as a Southern Hurricane. Let me tell you, this thing is good! If you are frustrated with life at the moment, family, friends, or even yourself, one glass of this and you simply won’t care anymore. I think this is going to be my signature summer cocktail. You might consider doing the same.

Southern Hurricane

Adapted from Wine Enthusiast

2 oz. light rum
2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. pineapple rum
2 oz.
passion fruit juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. orange juice
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz.
An orange slice and a cherry for garnish
Not to mention a
fancy straw

Combine all ingredients (except for the garnish) in a
cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into a hurricane glass, that failing, a large brandy snifter will do. Add chipped ice and garnish, and serve. Serves 1 to 2. Frankly, I drank this myself.

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Creamy Corn Salsa

The beauty of salsa, any type, is its many uses. Not only can it be used as a dip, to be scooped up by tortilla or corn chips, but it can also be used as a condiment alongside pork or fish, as well as a tasty side salad when spooned on top of a soft lettuce leaf like Boston lettuce. Me? I could eat it with a spoon.

 This is really tasty, and a wonderful way to get picky kids to eat some vegetables. It’s important to thoroughly drain the corn so as not to make the dip too runny. When fresh corn becomes available in the summer, I’m going to make this again with one can of fiesta corn, and one cup of grilled corn. My guess is that it will be wonderful, and a great backyard barbecue or picnic food.

Creamy Corn Salad

Adapted from SouthYourMouth.com 

1 c. sour cream

½ c. Duke’s mayonnaise

1 t. cumin

¼ t. chili powder

½ t. garlic powder

¼ t. fresh lime zest

½ t. kosher salt

2 c. finely shredded Jack cheese

1 c. diced red onion

½ c. chopped cilantro

2 11-oz. cans Mexicorn, well drained

 Drain corn very well. In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, lime zest, and salt.

 Add cheese, red onion, cilantro, and corn, folding until combined.

Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Serve with corn chips or tortilla chips, or any way else that you can imagine.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

KFC Coleslaw

I’m going to say something a bit controversial here, and I’m sure that I’m in the minority, but I like coleslaw. It’s a great picnic food, it’s wonderful with breaded shrimp, it makes a great topping for sloppy joes or barbecued beef, it’s inexpensive, fairly nutritious, no trouble to put together, and generally makes a LOT! Occasionally I’ll rummage around looking for new recipes and recently when I did I came upon this one, supposedly a clone of coleslaw from KFC. I haven’t been to KFC in more than a decade, so I honestly can’t say if this is like their coleslaw or not, but with my changes, it is very good. It also keeps in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, becoming more flavorful as each day passes. Be sure to give it a stir daily to keep things fresh.

 KFC Coleslaw

Adapted from the original


½ Melissa’s organic cabbage, finely chopped (about 3 c.)

1 large carrot, grated

1 small Melissa’s shallot, minced


 ¼ c. Duke’s mayonnaise

3 T. granulated sugar

2 T. whole milk

2 T. buttermilk

1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 T. apple cider vinegar

¼ t. salt

1/8 t. ground pepper

Pinch cayenne

Pinch dry mustard

Rather than use a grater, the way that I like to chop cabbage is with a sharp knife. I will slice it in half from top to core, cut out the half core that remains in the slice, put the cut side down on a cutting board, and start at one end and make thin slices. Then I will chop through those slices top to bottom, bottom to top, right to left, and left to right until everything is chopped fine. I do the same thing with the shallot. After all of your vegetables are chopped (or grated as in the case of the carrot, and you might want to run a knife through it to keep everything even) place it into a medium/large bowl.

 Whisk the dressing ingredients thoroughly until combined. Pour over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring once or twice. Stir again before serving.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Decorating for Spring!

While I am most definitely NOT a fan of summer, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I am a fan of spring. It is the season of hope — hoping that I’ll find the right fruits, vegetables, and herbs for my garden, hoping they won’t succumb to insects or disease, hoping that I’ll break even in what I harvest versus what I’ve spent trying to grow them.

I find that my table settings and decor tend to reflect my gardening interests at this time of the year. If you feel the same, then you may enjoy seeing the lazy Susan that I have on my dining table. It’s a new acquisition, thanks to Pottery Barn rewards points. This is the first time, believe it or not, that I have ever owned a Lazy Susan, and I have to say that I am really enjoying it.

It pleases me every time I look at it because it is whimsical and fun. The bespectacled bunny poking his head out of the plant pot is from local favorite home decor store, The White Hare. The “Nibble” plates are Rae Dunn (Available on Amazon, but cheaper elsewhere.), the leafy-handled ladle and upright cabbage plate are by Fitz and Floyd, and serve as the base and serving ladle for a bunny gravy boat that I inherited from my mother. Seeds, that will no doubt be viable this year despite their purchase last year, are only a portion of what I expect to plant this year and are from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

The cylinder vase holds two leaves from two different varieties of sansevieria that have finally rooted after two months in water – yay!

The green salt and pepper shakers once adorned the dinner table of my mom and dad and now adorn mine.

 How do you celebrate spring in your decor?

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Monday, May 9, 2022

Asparagus Lasagna

 I spotted a recipe for asparagus lasagna on the food.com website. What turns me off about lasagna is having to boil the noodles. I think that’s a pain in the neck and I’m too old, at this point, to be irritated. That’s why, I no longer boil lasagna noodles, I buy the oven ready noodles. Oven ready noodles work wonderfully well when your lasagna is going to be baked for an hour or longer. They do NOT work when your lasagna is only to be baked 30 minutes or less. That’s why, any lasagna that is going to be baked for a short period of time, and makes use of oven ready noodles, needs to be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. That way the noodles will soak up the sauce and turn out perfectly when you bake them the next day. If you are a noodle boiler, feel free to use boiled noodles for this recipe, eliminate the refrigeration step, and just head to the whipped cream/Parmesan topping and bake. This goes together easily and it's really delicious.

Asparagus Lasagna
Adapted from food.com

2 lbs. fresh asparagus, pencil thin, trimmed*
1-2 T. olive oil
Kosher salt
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese
1 T. finely grated lemon zest (Don’t skimp here)
Few gratings
fresh nutmeg
Oven ready lasagna noodles
1 2/3 c. grated Parmesan
1 c. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 500° F.

Place asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat, and spread out in a thin layer. Roast 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt, cut into bite-size pieces, and let cool.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, and whisk for about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add chicken broth to flour/butter mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Add mozzarella, Gruyere, and lemon zest, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Spray a 9“ x 9“ baking pan. Place a layer of noodles in the pan, then half of the sauce, then half of the asparagus pieces, and then 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat this layer (noodles/sauce/asparagus/parmesan) and then put on a final top layer of noodles.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a small bowl combine cream and a dash of salt. Whip until soft peaks form and then spoon over noodles, spreading to the edges. Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese . Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes before slicing.

*Trimming asparagus is easy because asparagus tells you where it would like to be trimmed. Simply grab one and in your left hand, the other end in your right hand, and bend. It will snap at the perfect point so that you will never have woody asparagus stems again.


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Sunday, May 8, 2022

Good Eats 4, The Final Years, Reviewed

 There is no doubt that Alton Brown is accomplished. If you are among the few who are unfamiliar with him, he is a chef, author, actor, musician, and creator and host of the popular Food Network television show Good Eats that ran for 14 seasons. He subsequently appeared in Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen; he has an impressive list of publications.

Brown is unique in that he teaches the science of cooking along with teaching how to cook. This scientific approach to cooking makes his cookbooks unique from all others. His latest, a new release from Abrams Books, is called Good Eats 4, The Final Years. A weighty tome, it is 432 pages, so is certainly value for money.

As with many of Brown‘s books there are loads of recipes, a wide variety of cooking methods, along with a plethora of equipment. This allows people who enjoy sous vide cooking to get a taste (if you’ll pardon the pun) of Brown’s recipes as well as those who don’t. The book includes comfort food recipes along with those that are company worthy in, I think, equal measure.

One of the recipes that I tried was Cacio de Pepe because it is one of my favorite pasta dishes being both quick and easy. His approach is unique, and not quite as quick as my own version. You add the pasta to the water and then bring them together to a boil. Personally, I like this idea. With no waiting for the water to boil before adding pasta, you can immediately go to work on other things. I enjoyed his recipe, although truth be told, I like mine better. With fewer steps and the addition of freshly grated lemon zest I believe mine tastes fresher. Still, if you are a fan of Alton, you may just want to give this a try.

There are plenty of things to like about this book. First of all, if you are familiar with any of his other books, let me tell you this one has way more photographs than the others and I like that in a cookbook. Secondly, each dish has a list of “tactical hardware,“ so that you know in advance exactly what you are going to need for preparation. Those of you who, like me, enjoy back stories, will also appreciate the fact that there is a history behind the recipes. I find that fascinating.

There are savory and sweet recipes and equal measure. The chicken piccata is restaurant quality, the tips on buttercream invaluable, sweet corn pudding is going to show up on my Thanksgiving table this year. Those who enjoy pressure cooker cooking well find the vichyssoise to be a must make.

I highly recommend this book for fans of Brown, and for those just getting to know him. His personality shines through in every word, every step, every recipe, and every tasty result.

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 Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Good Eats 4; The Final Years from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.


Friday, May 6, 2022

Green Soup

Leafy greens are very important to a healthy diet, eye health (as my optometrist always tells me) in particular. I happen to love leafy greens, but not everyone does. In cases like this, perhaps the answer is to drink them. This recipe for Green Soup comes from Abrams' new book by Erin Gleason, The Forest Feast Road Trip. The soup is light and delicate with a pleasant taste, and is a quite engaging shade of green.

Green Soup
From The Forest Feast Road Trip

3 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 T. butter
Salt and pepper
4 c. vegetable broth
2 russet potatoes, cubed (no need to peel)
3 handfuls fresh greens*

In a large pot over medium heat melt butter; sauté onions and garlic with salt and pepper to taste. Add vegetable broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Add greens. Turn off the heat and stir to wilt, and then blend in the pot using an immersion blender. Add more broth if needed to reach desired consistency.

Garnish with chopped scallions, yogurt or sour cream, a few greens pan-fried in butter or olive oil, salt and pepper.

*Feel free to use up whatever greens you have on hand. The author likes a mix of spinach, arugula, and lettuce. I used kale, baby spinach, and chard.

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 Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Forest Feast Road Trip from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Cinco de Mayo Tablescape

Whether you’re going out to a festive gathering, staying in and hosting your own party, or spending the evening on your own, there is no excuse to not have a colorful and inviting table for Cinco de Mayo. I always consider it as the harbinger of summer, so I like to go all out and include as much color as possible.
This place setting is wonderfully fun. The base consists of two placemats, the striped one with the fringe is from Pier One, the round lime green one from World Market.
It is topped with a geranium leaf charger from Bordallo Pinheiro, on which I placed a red plate from Pier One’s spice Island collection, as well as a chili pepper plate by Hausen Ware, an eBay purchase. The salt and pepper shakers add a whimsical touch.
 Deep yellow chalices along with yellow Noritake flatware brighten the setting. Heavy margarita glasses with a cactus stem from Pottery Barn, years ago, await refilling. The napkin was made by me from Alexander Henry fabric.

Two carved wooden eggs, one on top of the other hold fresh limes, well a pair of avocados I’ll wait being turned into guacamole.

Happy Cinco de Mayo no matter how you celebrate!


This post is linked to: Tablescape Thursday


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Greek Salsa

 I know that there are cilantro people and non-cilantro people, I happen to fall into the former category. For me, if I’m making salsa or pico de gallo, it has to have cilantro and lots of it. For those of you who don’t care for it, here is a great option, a Greek version of the traditional Mexican salsa that is cilantro free. Still, it is loaded with flavor thanks to the seasonings and feta cheese, and can be used as a side dish, a topper for various foods, or as you would a Mexican variety, scooped up with tortilla chips. 

Greek Salsa

Adapted from 12 Tomatoes

 1¼ c. diced cucumber

1 c. diced tomatoes

½ c. diced red onion

¼ c. sliced black olives

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. sherry vinegar

1 T. olive oil

¼ t. dried oregano

1 T. fresh chopped dill weed

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. crumbled feta cheese

 Combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and black olives in a large bowl.

 In a smaller bowl whisk together lemon juice, sherry vinegar, olive oil, oregano, dill, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Fold in feta cheese just before serving. Use as a dip with pitas, chips, or as a side dish with fish or chicken.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Raggedy Jean Cookies

Occasionally I will get out my mother’s recipe box and rummage through. So many memories always come back as I mentally revisit parties, delicious desserts, and recipes contributed by friends, all written out in their own, unique handwriting. Recently I found a recipe that I hadn’t paid much attention to before. It appeared as though it had come from a box or bag of C&H sugar, but unlike many recipes retrieved from packaging, this one had actually been written out by hand. That told me that this one had been tried and kept, ergo was a good one. I gave it a try, wondering if I would live to regret my purchase of maple flavoring. As it turned out, no I did not. These are delicious; far better than I expected them to be. Flavorful, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with the coconut giving them their delightful raggedy edges.

Raggedy Jean Cookies
Adapted from Jean Porter, C&H Sugar

1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c.
butter flavor Crisco shortening
1 large egg
1 t.
maple flavoring
2 ¼ c. flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. kosher salt
1 c. shredded coconut
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the work bowl of your stand mixer beat together brown sugar, shortening, egg, and maple flavoring until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix to combine. Stir in coconut. Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop in mounds 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet or Silpat. Dip bottom of greased small glass into granulated sugar, and press cookie flat leaving edges ragged. Bake 15 to 16 minutes. Cool on rack.

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Monday, May 2, 2022

Walnut Enchiladas

 I have been spending a good bit of time with Abrams new release, The Forest Feast Road Trip cookbook. I find the recipes in this book to be quite intriguing. I was looking for something unique to fix for Cinco de Mayo when I came across this one for walnut enchiladas. Truthfully, I could not imagine how these would be any good. Also truthfully, they are amazing! I topped mine with sour cream and salsa verde. Next time when I make them, and there will be a next time, I’m going to stir a little cumin and cilantro into the walnut mixture.  I think I’m also going to try this with portobello mushrooms to give it a meatier taste rather than the more subtle button mushrooms that I did use. That said, these were very good as written.

Walnut Enchiladas
From The Forest Feast Road Trip

1-2 T. olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 c. mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, diced
¾ c.
unsalted walnuts, chopped
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
8 corn tortillas
1 16-oz. jar
enchilada sauce
1 c. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium skillet over medium low heat, sauté mushrooms and onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for 8-10 minutes. Stir in walnuts and beans, heating through.

Spray a
12” x 7” casserole dish with PAM. Pour half of the can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Warm the tortillas in a skillet or over a low flame, and immediately begin filling each with the mixture (I used a cookie scoop for this), roll them, and place them seem side down into the dish. Pour any leftover filling over the top, along with the remaining enchilada sauce. Scatter cheddar cheese overall, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Forest Feast Road Trip from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.