Monday, May 30, 2022

Two Hearts Salad


Here is a simple salad for Memorial Day Monday. There really isn’t much to this considering how delicious and elegant it can be; it can also be dressed down for an every day meal. You can serve it as a side dish in a custard cup or in an ornate bowl. You can serve it over lettuce leaves as I have done here, or chopped mixed greens. You can also serve it in individual leaves of Boston lettuce for easy pickings on a buffet. If you have any of this salad left over (not likely), rinse it and use it in a quiche. I am not kidding! SO GOOD!

Two Hearts Salad

1 14.8-oz. jar
Melissa’s Hearts of Palm
1 14.75-oz. jar marinated artichokes, drained, reserve juice
½ c. thinly sliced red onion
1 T.
Dijon mustard
1 t. red wine vinegar

Slice hearts of palm on the diagonal in bite-size pieces, approximately ½ to ¾ inches. Cut artichoke hearts in halves or quarters, depending upon the initial size. Thinly slice red onion (I use a mandolin). Put all vegetables into a medium bowl.

Measure out ½ cup of the reserved juice from the marinated artichokes. Into that stir in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar. Whisk together until fully emulsified. Pour over vegetables and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Friday, May 27, 2022

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese seems so simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Some people like it creamy, others not. Some people like it topped with breadcrumbs, others just a simple topping of grated cheese. Some add an egg to the mix, others aren’t having it. Me? I want mine rich and full of creamy deliciousness; I am not a person who likes mac and cheese to be dry. I’m also not a fan of crumb topping because I think that tends to dry things out even further. If you are the creamy macaroni and cheese lover that I am, brace yourself, because this recipe is absolutely IT! Look no further, this one’s for you.

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

12 oz.
cavatappi no. 87 pasta*

¼ c. butter

¼ c. flour

1 c. whole milk

1 c. heavy cream

1 c. water

½ t. dry mustard

1 t. onion powder

Pinch garlic powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 10.75 oz. can condensed cheddar soup**

1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese

3 c. shredded cheddar, divided

½ c. freshly grated Parmesan

 Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a 9” x 13” casserole dish with PAM; set aside.

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook cavatappi until al dente (see box for correct time, I cooked for six minutes). Drain pasta and run under cold water to stop cooking.

 Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and continue to cook two minutes, whisking occasionally. Slowly whisk in milk, cream, water, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste (I tend to have a heavy hand with the pepper). Cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken.

 Remove from heat and stir in Gruyere, 2 cups of the cheddar, Parmesan, and condensed soup.

 Toss noodles and sauce together, and pour into prepared dish. Top with the remaining cup of cheddar cheese, and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the sides are bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

*I consider cavatappi to be the adult version of elbow macaroni. If you’re cooking for a family of young traditionalists, feel free to use an equal amount of elbow macaroni.

 **Yes, you need this.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Antipasto Salad

 If you like antipasto as much as I do, then you will really like this antipasto salad. It is super simple to put together and is, essentially, just a gathering of all of the ingredients that you would find on an antipasto plate combined in a bowl and drizzled with a wonderful black currant balsamic vinaigrette. I found this recipe on the 7Barrels website. If you’re not familiar with 7Barrels, they make excellent olive oils and vinegars. I’m not affiliated in any way, I just love their products.

Antipasto Salad

Slightly adapted from 7Barrels

 1 10-oz. pkg. Melissa’s baby heirloom tomatoes, halved

1 c. mixed olives

½ c. sliced pepperoncinis

½ c. marinated artichoke hearts, halved

4 oz. thinly sliced salami, quartered

1 c. shredded mozzarella


¼ c. Tuscan Herb Extra Virgin Olive Oil*

2 T. Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar*

1 T. dried Italian seasoning

1 T. Melissa’s minced garlic

Handful Fresh Parsley - chopped

Salt/Pepper - to taste

 Combine all prepared salad ingredients in large bowl.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together until fully emulsified. Pour dressing over salad; toss until evenly coated.

Salt and pepper to taste. Add more Black Currant Balsamic, if desired, by drizzling over plated salad.


 *Or of your choice

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Cauliflower Salad

You may recall my mentioning a couple of weeks ago how I tend to over buy on vegetables. Yep, still doing it. I have a particular liking for cruciferous vegetables, and when I see a sale on broccoli or cauliflower, I simply cannot resist. On the plus side, it gives me a chance to revisit some favorites like these Cauliflower Butter Bowls. Other times it gives me the opportunity to try recipes that I’ve never attempted before, like this one.

 I was amazed at how good this is. I did not miss the potatoes at all, and could have eaten this entire bowlful as a meal. (As an aside, I will tell you that I cut this recipe in half so as not to be overwhelmed.) My guess is that you can customize it any way that you like. I generally add celery to potato salad but I didn’t here. I think I may just do that the next time. I may also add a pinch of paprika for color. Try this out and let me know what you think.

Cauliflower Salad

As seen on

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
¾ c.
Duke's mayonnaise
1 T. mustard
1 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
¾ c. frozen green peas, thawed
¼ c.
dill pickles, chopped
3 slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled

Place cauliflower in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the cauliflower, eggs, onion, peas, dill pickles, and bacon to the dressing and stir until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. The longer the cauliflower salad chills, the better the flavor.

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Friday, May 20, 2022

Extreme Makeover Chicken Salad Sandwich

Who doesn’t like a chicken salad sandwich? And who hasn’t made one every which way? Grapes, nuts, hard boiled eggs, hot, cold, you name it, we’ve probably all tried it. That’s why this recipe that I spotted on stopped me in my tracks. Not only does it contain big juicy chunks of chicken as well as super sweet grapes, and crunchy nuts, it also contains copious amounts of dill along with thinly sliced radishes. Using the sprouted seed bread that they suggest (Aldi has a marvelous one called Simply Nature Seedtastic Organic Bread) this is more than a sandwich, it is a meal!

Extreme Makeover Chicken Salad Sandwich
Slightly adapted from

8 oz. chicken breast
½ c. red grapes, quartered (I used
2 T. walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 T. fresh dill, roughly chopped
¼ c. finely chopped scallion
½ c. plain Greek yogurt
¼ t. kosher salt
A generous grating of freshly ground black pepper
8 slices multigrain bread
2 c. Romaine lettuce or spring mixed greens
1 c. thinly sliced radishes

 To cook the chicken, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken and simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from water and cool completely. When cool, cut into ½” dice. Place in a bowl with the grapes, walnuts, dill, scallions, yogurt, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.

 To assemble the sandwiches, place 4 slices of bread on a work surface. For each sandwich, top with ½ cup greens, ½  cup chicken salad, ¼ cup sliced radishes and another piece of bread.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tulip Time at the Table


When I bought the Lazy Susan that I introduced you to last week, I honestly had no idea that I would have so much fun with it. I have yet to use it at dinner as a way to serve seasonings, condiments, or various Indian or Chinese dishes, but I have been having a delightful time decorating it.

I love to set a beautiful table, and I equally love those three tier stands, but sometimes dealing with either of those seems a bit daunting. This little gem, on the other hand, requires only a handful of items in order to look inviting.

 I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I will buy one or two plates or cups because I happen to like them, but then wonder about their use. With this Lazy Susan, I can display such items, and enjoy them every day.

The day after Mother’s Day I got a heck of a deal on tulips. Aldi was selling 10 stems of tulips for $2.49. Naturally, I had to buy two. I put them into one of my favorite pitchers, and that was the start of a new arrangement on the Lazy Susan.

I complemented the color of the tulips with
organic baby heirloom tomatoes from Melissa’s produce. I also decided to add faux garlic and a bunch of faux scallions to signify spring. Soon enough, I will be bringing in fresh ones of my own.

The plaid napkins are favorites of mine, as well as the little wooden scoop, part of a trio that I picked up last year at Target.

My hope is to change up the arrangement twice a month if not every week, to reflect the changing seasons, and display some of my favorite things.


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 

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 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

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.