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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Don’t let it fool you.  This pasta has heat.  It’s reminiscent of spaghetti aglia e olio but with a lot of veggies and minus a bunch of olive oil. Sounds healthy right?? It’s great with whole grain pasta, and  if you minus the cheese it would be a good diet alternative.  I’m not getting rid of the cheese though.  Go Me!

To cut down on the heat, reduce or remove the red pepper flake.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, separated
  • 1/3 pound spaghetti noodles (about a quarter sized bunch)
  • 6-8 ounces of sliced mushroom
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma)
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2/3 cup canned artichoke quarters
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

In a medium pot, bring your water to a boil. Once boiling, add in your pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, heat up two tbsp of olive oil and saute the mushrooms.

When the mushrooms have browned slightly, pour in the onion slices, separating the rings while stirring. Cook for 4-6 minutes, to soften the onion.

Add in the chopped tomato, and the last tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until the tomatoes begin to break up, about 5 minutes. Add in the spices and garlic and stir.

Once the garlic is cooked (about a minute) add in the spinach.

Toss until wilted. Add in artichoke hearts and set aside.

Once the pasta is finished, pour 1 cup of pasta water into the vegetables. Drain the rest of the water from the pasta.  Toss the pasta and vegetable mixture together.

Now comes the big choice…  to stir in the cheese before, or to serve sprinkled on top.  Umm yeah, I do both.

Enjoy!!!

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This is a marinade that cold be used for kabobs but I like it just as much on a full chicken breast or breast cut into large strips for a salad. Or serve with grilled veggies. The garlic and lemon highlight this Mediterranean-style dish perfectly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1 6-8 ounce cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary or 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried sage, or 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional, but I LOVE garlic!!!!)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested

In a gallon sized plastic bag or a container with a lid, pour in all ingredients but the chicken.

Mix the marinade,  mashing the feta cheese while blending.

Looking good and smelling better!!!

Drop in your chicken and completely coat in the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can marinade overnight though.

Grill grill chicken until the juices run clear or the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees (or however you normally cook it).  My favorite way to serve is over a bed of spinach with grilled onion and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

What’s yours???

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I’m posting a basic recipe since it’s so easy to modify.  Add some mayonnaise, peas, and bacon, you have a creamy pasta salad. Egg crumbles, spinach, sliced red onion, and bacon and you’ve got a spinach pasta salad.  Add green onion, brown sugar, and ginger to the basic recipe and you have an Asian style salad. Add peanut butter, and red bell pepper to the Asian style and you have Thai. The list goes on.  Experiment for yourself, or just leave it basic. Perfect for a potluck or on a hot summer day.

This recipe serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • t tbsp of spicy brown or dijon mustard
  • 1 carrot, finely shredded
  • 1/2 lemon, for juice
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of canola or olive oil or blend of the two
  • 1 cup of broccoli, cut small and steamed for about two minutes
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 6-8 oz of rotelle, bow-tie, or mini penne pasta

Optional add ins:

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup garbonzo and/or kidney beans
  • 1 small can of sliced olives
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, asiago or romano cheese

Start by getting your pasta ready.  Boil according to the manufacturer’s direction for al dente pasta.

While your pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl whisk the water, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, garlic salt, onion powder, and red pepper flake.

Whisk in the mustard,

then stir in the carrot.

After stirring in your carrot, VIOLA! You have mustard-carrot vinegrette! You can store it and use it on a lettuce salad if you’d like. OR…

Stir in your broccoli, onion, and any other add-ins.  Then set aside.

When the pasta is finished cooking, rinse thoroughly under cold water to stop it from cooking further.  Drain,and add to the veggie-vinegrette mix. Stir, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Stir once again before serving.

Asian style salad: Add additional 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger, 3 sliced green onions and substitute salt for 1 tsp soy sauce.  Mix into the vinegrette before adding the pasta

Thai: Whisk 1/4 cup of peanut butter into the asian style vinegrette, and 1/2 or a red bell pepper diced

Southwestern style: Add 1 packet of  taco seasoning to the vinegrette, omit broccoli, add corn and olives.  Top with cheese.

Greek: Whisk 2 tsp oregano into vinegrette. Stir in 1/3 cup chopped peppercini, 1/2 chopped cucumber, a handful of kalamata olives, 1 cup of chopped salami, and 1/2  cup of crumbled feta cheese.

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Yes, I am a cookie monster.  They are another one of my weaknesses. Needless to say, I do have many. Don’t rub it in. These cookies are fast, easy, and my family loves them. Coconut, pecans, and chocolate… what’s not to love????

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of German chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of flaked coconut (sweetened is fine)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs brown sugar,vanilla and milk.

It won’t look pretty.

But don’t worry. It all comes together!  With a spoon or spatula, stir in the cake mix, coconut and pecans

until just blended.

Drop spoonfuls (2 tablespoons each will equal 24 cookies) into the powdered sugar and flip to coat.

Arrange on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Be careful! The dough is sticky but the powdered sugar will make it easier to handle.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, until the centers are cooked, but the cookies will still be soft.

YUM!

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I went through my garden to harvest what was ready or needed to be thinned. After a quick run through,  I took a look at my pickings.

Swiss chard, baby gray zucchini, and green beans.  Hmmmmm.  Since it was overcast, soup pops into mind.  And minestrone fits the bill.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of tomato based soups, but I can make an exception if the veggies are from my garden, or if it is this particular minestrone soup.  And since I can have both, well there you go!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced in 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds
  • 3-4 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 4 large swiss chard or bok choy stalks,  separate the stalks from the leaves,and then chop all of it (you can substitute 3 cups of fresh spinach as well!)
  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (optional, but yummy!)
  • 1 14oz can of cannellini or kidney beans (I used light red in this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I’ve even used a tablespoon of basil pesto as a substitution!)
  • 2 zucchini, halved and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups of slightly undercooked pasta (I would recommend a mini penne, mini elbow, or something unique. No flat noodles!  I used a campanelle for this batch)
  • Shredded parmesan or Italian cheese blend for topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium high, heat the olive oil until it’s shimmering.  Stir in the carrots, onion, and celery and sautee until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about another minute.

Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (juice included), green beans and chard stems, and give a good stir.

Next add in the kidney beans, beef broth, and wine if you’re using it.

Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir in the chard leaves (or spinach), oregano and basil

then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Next,  stir in your semi-cooked pasta and zucchini.

Again cover with a lid and simmer for another 15-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked to “al dente” or still has a little tooth to it.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with shredded parmesan. Yet another recipe that gets even better the next day!!!!!

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I feel like I should enlarge this picture so that you can see the yumminess of this burrito better.  You can actually see it.  Really. I’ve even used the potatoes as a side dish. No tortilla needed. Brings back memories of my sister and I standing around the kitchen with our bowls of cheesy potatoes, too busy chowing down to say a word.

To my vegetarian friends, you can omit the bacon completely, or use tofu bacon, which works great too!!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 burrito sized flour tortillas
  • 1/2 lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 potatoes diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 cups) I used a mix of russet and yellow rose
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2  tsp garlic salt
  • 1  8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 1-1/2-2 cups of shredded cheddar (I try to use extra sharp)
  • pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • sliced green onions
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • sour cream

Start by heating your oil on high heat in a nonstick pan until shimmering.

Stir in the potatoes and fry until they are starting to brown a bit,  about 10 minutes. Stir in you onion.

Cook the onion for 4-7 minutes or until the onion has softened but hasn’t browned, then stir in the garlic.

Cook for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant but hasn’t browned. Lower heat to medium and toss in the garlic salt, tomato sauce and water ( If you’re adding hot sauce, put it in now) and cook stirring occasionally for 6 -8 minutes until the water has been absorbed.

Turn off the heat. Immediately sprinkle on bacon crumbles, and the shredded cheese.

Aww yeah!

I’m subconsciously hearing Barry White right now. That’s what these burritos do to me.

Put a lid or plate over your pan to help the cheese melt.

It shouldn’t take long.  Just 4-5 minutes. And…

You can see the yumminess! You could stop now and serve this as a side dish.  Or you could make a burrito.

Heat up a flour tortilla until softened.  I have gas burners so I cook the tortillas directly on the burner flipping them until they are hot. Using a pan is fine too. Whatever is easiest.

Notice the burn spots on the tortilla?? That’s flavor!!!  Top your tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the potatoes, and add whatever extras you like.  I’m putting on some more cheese ( you know me!!) and some sliced green onions.

And if you don’t know how to roll a burrito…

Ready to eat!!!!

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Brownish green on top and bright light green in the center.  Actually the center is pretty. Half of the veggies are pureed into the eggs which is what gives it it’s unusual colors. I tried making the same type of quiche with solid veggies.  There is no mistaking the flavor difference. The ugly one wins, hands down.  I might have to throw a green quiche and ham party soon!

Basic Quiche Ingredients:

  • 1 rolled refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/8 heaping tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 oz (about 1-1/2 cups) shredded Gruyere cheese or Swiss cheese or whatever cheese you like!

Veggies:

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 4-5  mushrooms sliced
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke quarters

I’ve made the basic quiche recipe with all sorts of different add-ins. Asparagus and bacon, Onion and ham, tomato, broccoli and cheddar, and roasted veggie medley (mmmmm!) to name a few. And I don’t puree the veggies into those quiche.  But I do for the ugly quiche. It’s worth it!!!

Heat  your oven to 450 degrees or whatever is recommended by the pie dough maker in order to pre-cook your crust.

Bring you pie crust dough to room temperature, and unroll over you pie pan pressing firmly to the sides to get rid of any air bubbles an wrinkles. Yes I could make my own pie dough, but that just doesn’t sound fun right now. Or ever. Pre made pie dough ROCKS!!!

Once the pie dough is rolled out, make sure to take a fork and poke the heck out of it. It helps to keep any bubbles caused by the steam released when cooking from forming.

Bake according to the manufacturer’s directions. then set aside. Turn down your oven to 375 degrees for cooking the quiche.

While the pie dough is cooking, in a medium bowl beat the eggs, half and half, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg together until fully combined.

Place the egg mixture and half of the spinach, half of the mushrooms, and half of the artichokes in a blender and puree for 30 seconds to a minute. What you end up with is one strange color!!! Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of your cooked pie crust.

It kind of looks like broccoli soup at this point. Sprinkle on half of your cheese,

and then the rest of your sliced mushrooms, spinach, and finally your artichoke quarters.  I break the artichoke up with my fingers as I’m spreading them on the quiche.

Top with the remaining cheese. Then pour The rest of your egg mixture over the top to cover completely. You may need to pour and jiggle the pan a little in order to get all the air bubbles up and settle the filling.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until the center is just set. It will com out looking puffy. And Ugly.

I told you!!!!  It will flatten as it cools down which is totally normal.

Wait for it to cool down before you cut into it.  You can serve it warm but make sure to cool it down fully and then reheat. I like to serve at room temperature or just slightly warmer than room temperature.

I also made this asparagus bacon one on the same day using the basic quiche recipe. Soooo good!!! Remember, when using salty meats to cut back the amount of your salt accordingly!

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Carrot cake is all about the spice, and I love  spices. That and the cream cheese frosting, of course.  So when my step-dad mentioned his love of carrot cake, I was excited to make one to split with him.  Not fair for him to get the whole thing.  PS- Thanks for washing my car!

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 packet vanilla pudding mix
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/4 granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3-1/2 cups shredded  carrots (about 7-8 medium)

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cream cheese (1-8oz package) softened
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp butter flavored shortening (you could leave this out, but it makes a difference!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar

You’re going to need two mixing bowls, one medium and one large and an electric hand mixer for the frosting. You’ll also need either 2 round cake pans or 1  9X13 inch pan to bake it in.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In the medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla pudding mix, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, cloves and salt. Also known as the first 9 ingredients on the list!

Set it aside.

In the large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and milk.

After that is thoroughly mixed, whisk in your butter until combined, and then whisk in the oil.  Make sure both the butter and oil are completely blended. You’re not done whisking if it looks like this-

Whisk until it looks like this-

Time to stir in the shredded carrot.

Then a cupful at a time, incorporate your flour mixture into the carrot mixture.

DO NOT over mix.  Stir until just combined. Then pour into the baking pan/s of your choice.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool before frosting.  Be patient. This can take up to 3 hours!!! Wash out one of your bowls to use for making the frosting while you’re waiting. Or make this when you’re ready to frost the cake since it doesn’t take very long.

As for the frosting…

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat your cream cheese, butter, shortening, sour cream, and vanilla.

Once it’s smooth, scrape down the sides and add in your powdered sugar.

Beat until smooth, AGAIN.

Refrigerate while waiting for the cake to cool.

Then it’s time to frost!!!

The right side is MINE!!!!!  Well maybe the left too… ugh, I may have to make another cake.

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I found a few green onions ready to harvest from the garden today (yea, yea!!), and since we hadn’t had it in a while, decided to make a vegetarian verde version of the standard beef southwestern lasagna. It can easily be made with meat by adding 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken or pork to the sauce while it’s simmering, but I like the tangy, cheesy, veggie version just as much. Go figure!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz container of cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts sliced
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 jar verde salsa, or small (15oz) can of verde enchilada sauce
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 small can of diced green chilies or 3 roasted and peeled Anaheim chilies, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 1/2 cups cheddar and Monterey jack cheese

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat the egg then stir in your cottage cheese and green onions

Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil.  Once it starts to shimmer, add in the onion and cook until it’s softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Then add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, until aromatic. Don’t brown your garlic!!!

Once the garlic starts to smell good (heh), add in your verde sauce, diced tomatoes, chilies, cumin, and salt.  If you’re using meat, this is when it would be added as well.

Stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly and the flavors to combine.

Get out a 9×13 inch pan and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Scoop and spread out about 1 cup of  the sauce.

Top with 6 corn tortillas,

then layer on half of the cottage cheese mixture.  It’s easiest to dollop a spoonful onto each tortilla, and then spread.

Next, sprinkle on 1/3 of the shredded cheese…

and then half of the corn.

Looking GOOD!!!

Repeat layers starting with the sauce again. Put it right on top of the corn…

Once you get to the sauce for the last time, top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum and bake for another 25 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving to allow the layers and cheese to settle. IF YOU DARE!

BWWWAAAAHHHAAAHHHH!!!

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My amazing friend Danella introduced me to this chowder, and it was love at first taste. I had it for breakfast the next day. That kind of good. Enough said.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs pork sausage (This can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the sausage, and adding 2 tbsp butter to cook the veggies)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (feel free to mix it up with different colors)
  • 2-3 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup of milk
  • 1-1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1 can of creamed corn
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 1 4oz jar of diced pimentos
  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley or 1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Optional ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups diced cooked potato
  • 1 tsp chives

Start by browning the sausage in a non-stick pot, on medium heat, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks.

Once the sausage is mostly browned, add in the onion, bell pepper, and jalapenos.

Sorry, I had to add the last pic since the colors were so pretty!

Moving on-  Cook until the veggies have softened, about 8 minutes. Not all of the liquid will have evaporated. Pour in the garlic and flour,


stir to thoroughly combine, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk/half and half mixture to avoid curdling. Bringing the mixture close to room temperature before pouring in helps.

Now add in the creamed and kernel corn, pimentos, and potatoes if you’re using them. Stir it up.

Mix in the parsley, salt, pepper and chives. Bring to a bubbling simmer and cook for about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.  The first picture shows the chowder pre- 15 minutes.

And after it’s had some time to thicken a bit:

It’s what makes the difference between a soup and a chowder.  Enjoy!  I know I am.

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Pesto Bread

This was one of  the things I made for my friends after starting my first job at a bread store.   We were all young and didn’t have a bunch of money, but this was cheap, filling, yummy, and requested a lot!

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of french bread, and it doesn’t have to be the artisan type! (I prefer a non-sourdough)
  • 1-1/4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup prepared pesto (see Basil “Pesto” recipe)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Turn your oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese with the ricotta.

Set it aside. Cut french loaf in half lengthwise. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on each half of the bread loaf. It should be around 1/8 of an inch thick.

Pour 1/3 cup to 1/2 a cup (depending on how big your loaf is) of pesto over the ricotta cheese mixture and spread to the edges of the bread.

Then sprinkle on the mozzarella,and place on an aluminum lined cookie sheet.

Bake  until the top is brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve!!!

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This is one of my Mom’s famous recipes.  It’s always made when there’s a bunch of family around for dinner since it’s quick, easy and inexpensive to make.  Did I mention it’s also really good?

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sirloin or london broil thinly sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic minced or squished through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4-6 sandwich rolls

Optional ingredients:

  • sauteed garlic mushrooms (2 tbsp butter, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 cups slices mushrooms)
  • cheese (OF COURSE!!!)
  • sauteed spinach
  • caramelized onions

So I’m making this sandwich with both the mushrooms and the cheese because it’s so good, but it doesn’t need it. Really. It’s really good with just the roll and steak. And for my vegetarian friends, it’s actually great with just mushrooms and cheese!

To get started, mix your meat strips with garlic salt and 3 minced or squished cloves of garlic. Set aside.

Then squish 2 cloves of garlic into the mayonnaise and mix.

In a nonstick pan, melt two tablespoons of butter.  Toss in your sliced mushrooms and sautee.

After approximately 6-8 minutes, when the mushrooms are almost fully cooked, add in 1-2 mince or squished cloves of garlic, and sautee until the garlic is cooked, another 1-2 minutes. Put into  bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, start cooking your beef strips…

Brown the strips, and I don’t mean lightly brown.  You want them to have a little color like this-

Set your beef aside in a bowl and wipe down the pan, since you’ll be using it one more time.

Now for the rolls…

Make sure your pan is hot (medium high heat), then spread the garlic mayonnaise thinly on the split rolls.

Grill the roll split side down, pressing on the crust of the roll with a spatula to make sure the mayonnaise make full contact.

Looks good doesn’t it!

Now lay on a layer of meat…

Now, you could stop here. It’s so good with just the steak and the roll.  But being the person I am…

of course I add mushrooms…

and cheese.

Type to you later people.  It’s lunchtime!

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Nothing celebrates spring like a bright plate of pasta chock full of veggies.  I find myself craving this every year as the fields turn bright green with new foliage. It always makes me think of my friend Trina, and trips to Alexander Valley for wine tasting. Oh, the days when I didn’t have kids…    OK,  enough with the daydreaming.  At least there’s still the primavera. PS:  T- I miss your little water-tower house!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice (Fettuccine is the norm, but I didn’t have any so I used farfalle in this recipe)
  • 16 stems of asparagus, woody end snapped off
  • 2 small zucchini (6-7 inches long)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp butter, separated into tbsp sized pats
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably Roma or Plum but whatever is on hand will work
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press (which is my personal favorite way!)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, chopped
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 large bowl of ice water

This will make enough for 6-8 entrée sized servings, so beware! You can always cut the recipe in half.

Put two pots on the stove with 3-4 quarts of water and 1 tbsp of salt in each. Start prep work while bringing the water to a boil.

I cut up the vegetables in a specific way to speed up the cooking process. Be sure to keep them separated since they are initially cooked separately. Start with the asparagus. I cut two inches of the tips off, then slice in half lengthwise along the remaining stalk, and in half again as shown in the picture below.

As for the zucchini and carrots, take a peeler and press down a little while making your peeling motion in order to get a slightly thicker peel.

Then stack up the peeled strips and cut them in half lengthwise.

If you buy whole mushrooms, slice them!!!

Once your water is boiling, drop in the asparagus and boil for 45-60 seconds.

Then remove using a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Ta-dow. Once it’s cooled down (about a minute) remove from the cold water with a slotted spoon (you’ll need the water for cooling down the other cooked veggies) and put into a colander to finish draining.

Next cook the zucchini for 30-40 seconds

then plunge into the ice water, repeating the cooling down and then draining process. Next are the peas for 30 seconds, remove, cool-down and drain, and then the carrots for  1-1/2 to 2 minutes. I bet you can guess how you cool these down.  Once all veggies are cooled and drained, you should end up with a big and beautiful bowl of color. Take a look!

Purty!

Cut an “x” into the tips of your tomatoes like so –

and put into the boiling water.  Cook until the “x” on the end just starts to peel back or split, then plunge into your ice bath to stop the cooking process.  They should look something like this –

The skins should slide off pretty easily. Use the peeler on any stubborn pieces of tomato skin.  Now cut out the stem and chop them up.

Now is the time to cook your pasta. Pour it into the second pot of boiling water and stir to prevent sticking.

You can finally dump out that boiling veggie water from your first pot, and rinse it out since we’re going to use it to make the sauce while the pasta is boiling. Yep, we’re only using two pots to make primavera. How great is that!

Put 3 tbsp of butter into the dry pan and saute your mushrooms until lightly browned. Add in the chopped tomatoes.

Cook until the tomatoes start to break up about 8-10 minutes.

Check you pasta. If it’s done, drain and set it aside. If not quite done, continue to boil.

Add in the last tbsp of butter and your garlic to the mushroom mixture.

Cook until the garlic has mellowed, approximately 3 minutes. Turn down the heat to low, then add in the cream and half of the parmesan cheese (Save the rest of your cheese for sprinkling on top!) and stir until the cheese has melted and blended in with the sauce.  Simmer for an additional 3 minutes stirring until the sauce has slightly thickened. Set aside off of the heat until your pasta is done.

Pour drained pasta and veggies into the sauce and stir until completely combined.

Stir in basil and lemon juice and serve! Of course I sprinkle mine with more cheese due to my dairy addiction.

Join me.

I’m a dairy pusher.

Cut to 3 minutes later.

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I love the creepy feeling I get from an old, chipped, squeeky carousel.   Insert evil laugh here.

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Not that sweet generic taste, not watered down, not just blue cheese and mayonnaise. This is so easy to make and so much better than what pre-made dressing you can buy in a store. I’m always asked to make this for family gatherings. Or thickened as a dip for functions. If you’re a blue cheese dressing fanatic, TRY THIS!!!

Ingredients:

  • 4-6oz block of blue cheese (you can use crumbles, but the block tends to have more flavor)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot or minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put buttermilk and 3/4 of the blue cheese in a blender or food processor

and blend until smooth, or you can put the buttermilk and blue cheese into a bowl and mash with a fork until it’s mixed well. It will still be chunky.

Pour blended cheese into a bowl, then add in the sour cream and mayonnaise.

and then whisk until smooth.   Pour in the worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, shallot, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk thoroughly again.

Mash the remaining blue cheese with a fork,

and stir.

Now all you need to do is enjoy!

You can use this dressing immediately, although it gets better as the flavors meld. Overnight in the fridge makes a huge difference.  To make it a dip, use only 1/2 cup of buttermilk.

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