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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

What should I write about first?  That I have a terrific recipe for strawberries?  Or how excited I was last week when my blog passed the 1000 visitors mark, so I decided to do a giveaway in true blogland fashion?

The giveaway is closed.  The winners have been drawn--congratulations to Maureen and Anne!

Okay, let's do the giveaway first.  My followers are automatically entered into the giveaway.

If YOU would like to be entered into the giveaway, all you have to do is a). become a follower or b). leave a comment to this post.  If you are a follower and you leave a comment, you will be entered twice!  And since I have TWO items that I am giving away, if you win twice, you get two prizes!

Anyone can enter.......and since I have had recent visitor(s) from India, let it be known that I will post world-wide.

I will draw the winners on Wednesday.

Wanna know whatchur playin' for? (that was my best impersonation of the host of Survivor.)

Two of my favorite cutting boards.  You may have noticed them in previous posts....the tomato made its first appearance in the pasta with creamy tomato sauce recipe and the lemon made its first appearance in the recipe for BLT/Grilled chicken salad .

I like them so much, I bought two for you.

 The thing I like most about these cutting boards is the green rim, which has a rubbery texture so the cutting board does not slip and slide around.  I also like that they are sooooo cute!

If you would like to win one of these cutting boards, don't forget to a.) become a follower of this blog or b.)leave a comment to this post by Wednesday.  And if you do both a. and b., you will be entered twice.

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated or connected to the company, Dexas, which makes these cutting boards.  Not only do they have no idea who I am, I would venture further and say that they do not even care who I am.

Okay, now on to the next part.  I promised you a strawberry recipe.  This is a recipe for a strawberry salad with a honey balsamic vinaigrette. 

The supermarkets are finally selling sweet, juicy strawberries (at very reasonable prices), as opposed to the hard, tasteless strawberries they sell in the winter (at outrageous prices). 

Of course, the best strawberries here in New England are the ones you pick yourself or buy at your local farmers' markets.  It won't be strawberry picking season here for a few more weeks, but do yourself a favor when that time comes and buy some local strawberries......yum.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From the Archives: Lemon-Marinated Chicken Sandwiches

Still not home, still not cooking, still blogging from the hospital.

It's 4 a.m., I can't sleep so I decide to come up with a blogpost.  I went through the oodles of photos that are on this computer. 

There are lots of photos from meals that I haven't posted. In many cases, because the photos are uninspiring, too light,  too dark,  God-awful,  really bad. 

I deleted those.  They will never be blog-worthy.

Then there were some photos that weren't so bad, but I never blogged the recipe because I got so caught up in cooking I forgot to snap photos along the way.  You may remember me mentioning my photo-lapse problems in this previous post .

I took a look at my blog stats and I'm still amazed at the number of hits that I get and where they come from (hello! to the recent visitors from Germany and Russia).  So I decided to post a recipe that is so worth making, despite only having two pictures--"before" and "after."   

You'll have to use your imagination for all the pictures in between.  If I can remember, I will take more photos next time I make these sandwiches and add them in.

Finally edited on 9/30/11 with more pictures.  Thank you for your patience!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Brother's Recipes

My culinary exploits have been very limited this week.  I have been caring for a family member in the hospital, so I have been spending minimal time at home, and my kitchen endeavors have been limited to whatever I can throw together quickly and keep my kids happy.  Things like pasta and meatballs, tacos and that old favorite standby, bacon-and-eggs-on-a-bagel.

None of which are exciting enough for blogging.

So I'm going to kick the excitement waaaaay up (at least for me).  And blog about my brother.

He used to own a lobster restaurant.  It was an adorable little bistro that was just perfect for him to showcase his extraordinary cooking skills.  It was very successful and garnered outstanding reviews.  Bobby Flay used to have a cooking show called "FoodNation" and my brother and his restaurant were featured in a segment on Connecticut restaurants.

If you go to and search the site for "lobster bisque," the #1 rated recipe for this dish is my brother's recipe, the one that he cooked for Bobby Flay.

Click here to be taken to the recipe.  It's not for novices, due to the time involved, but it is not difficult to prepare.   Since it makes 20 servings you might want to prepare only 1/4 of the recipe the first time you make it.  It's a very smooth, flavorful bisque with chunks of sweet lobster meat. 
Here is a photo of the bisque he prepared on the show.

He also prepared "Citrus Lobster" on the show........of all the dishes he had on his menu, this was my favorite.  Totally yummy.  Click here to be taken to the Citrus Lobster recipe.

He no longer owns this restaurant because the building which housed the restaurant was taken by eminent domain during an urban renewal project.  He considered simply re-opening in another location, but the restaurant was named after the street it was on, so unless he was able to find another spot on that street, he would have had to come up with a new's hard enough to alert your customers that you're relocating; changing the name would have been another hurdle.  He was unable to find a suitable location and decided to return to his "real job"--psychology.

But the desire to own another restaurant just wouldn't go away, so he kept an eye out for the right opportunity.  Which presented itself last year in the shape of a teeny-tiny little pizza joint whose owner was looking for someone to buy out her remaining 11-year lease.

He had plans to change things right from the start, but wisely held off until he got a feel for what shouldn't be changed and what needed to change.  And then he made the changes slowly.  Like a name change, from Greek to Italian.

And menu changes to reflect his love of lobster.  His lobster bisque sells quite well!  My kids and I took a road trip to the restaurant last month and met one of his "regular" customers, who just that day learned that my brother was also the owner of the now-defunct lobster restaurant.  He proceeded to tell us how he has refused to eat lobster bisque for the last five years because nobody could come close to his favorite (from the lobster restaurant).  A friend of his was telling him how good the lobster bisque was at the new pizza restaurant, and that the owner of the lobster restaurant and the pizza restaurant were one and the same. 

But the biggest change has been the addition of Italian cookies and pastries.

Like Cannoli Cake.

Neapolitan cookies.......a perfect blend of cherry, almond and chocolate.

And Venetian 7-layer bars.

My brother, his 7-layer bars and his recipe for Italian Cold Melon Star Burst soup were recently featured (along with Roslyn Kind) in a short clip on ConnecticutStyle promoting the Garde theater.

You can watch him here. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spectacular Side Dishes, Part II

I'm so sorry for the long absence.  Apparently, I have a knack for bad timing...the last couple of times I logged on to blog, the site was down for "maintenance."  I could view, but I couldn't post.

During my blogger-induced hiatus, there were two side dishes that I prepared and feel are worthy filing in the "spectacular side dish" category.

The first is from Rachael Ray's "365: No Repeats" cookbook.  It's a warm salad that is heavenly.  Roasted tomatoes and wilted spinach may not sound too exciting but when Mr. Terrific (who cringes every time he hears the word "spinach") is filling his plate with seconds while my 15-year-old is proclaiming "the salad is superb," I know that this is a keeper.

The second is my version of potato skins.  They're very easy to prepare and a nice departure from the mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes I usually serve.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.......

Conjures up thoughts of Simon and Garfunkel, doesn't it?

What if the next line were "........ when you use these herbs to season your steaks,
don't forget the garlic and lime."

Well, if they had thought of those lyrics instead, then you would already have the grilled steak recipe that I'm about to give you!

Ahhhh, forgive my terrible songwriting skills/poor attempt at humor/silliness.  I can't help it.

This is just the very quick, easy way I seasoned the last batch of steaks that I grilled.

I used fresh herbs, and the measurements for the herbs are the amounts I used before they were chopped.

Because there's quite a difference between "1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped" (which means measure first, then chop)  and  "1/4 cup chopped parsley" (which means chop first, then measure). 

So for this recipe, measure first.

Then, chop-chop!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Raspberry Brownies

I have found a lot of recipes that are printed on packages are really worth making.

And you've probably figured out that I love to bake from scratch and use fresh ingredients whenever possible.

This brownie recipe is from Baker's Chocolate--of that I am sure--but I don't even remember which product I found this printed on.   I have been making these brownies for over 20 years so let's just say it's been awhile.  This recipe is totally worth your time and effort.  Brownies couldn't possibly be any fudgier and brownier than this.

And my habit of trying to combine chocolate with raspberries led me to spread raspberry jam on top of the brownies...topped with ganache to hold it all together, of course.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thanks to the Weather, We're Back to Comfort Food

Rainy, chilly weather.  Grilling season is on hold.

Back to comfort food.  Is it called comfort food because of the way it makes us feel or because I'm so comfortable making it?

If you omit the broccoli and basil, and swap in heavy cream for light and fettucine for the penne, the following recipe would be classic Fettucine Alfredo.

I just can't bring myself to use a stick of butter and two cups of heavy cream in the same recipe. 

I add some broccoli for psychological reasons.  It makes me feel healthy.

I add lots of basil because........well, if you've read this post , you know why.

Penne pasta was requested, so I obliged. 

It may not be the classic recipe but it's still smooth, creamy and oh-so-easy to prepare.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

A slab of beef cooking on the there any better smell at dinnertime?  Especially after the snowy, cold, snowy, long, snowy and snowy (did I say snowy?) winter that we just had.

I prep this steak in advance.  It needs at least 2 hours to marinate, but it's very forgiving, so work around your schedule and prep it at your convenience.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Not Me, It's My Camera!

Lately, I've become obsessed with learning how to take a good picture.  A clear, crisp, focused picture.  Not blurry, fuzzy or hazy.  Or too dark.  Or too bright and washed out.  You may have noticed, I'm having trouble.

It didn't help that when I was recently going through my photo files, I found a folder of pictures that my daughter took last year, with her camera.  Amazing photos, every last one of them. 

There were dozens and dozens of shots of my dogs.  In color, black and white, sepia.  At rest and at play.  Full-body shots and head shots.
Paw shots.
Eye shots.
Nostril shots!  Tee-hee.
It was nice to see the pictures of Gracie.  Oh, how I miss her.
Gus misses her, too.
I'm clicking through the folder and then (gasp) I see this.  This is the food photo I've been trying to take, where the focus is on the food and so unbelievably clear and sharp and the background is just a blur because it's not food and it doesn't matter.

So I eagerly asked my wonderful daughter:  how do I set my camera to take a picture like this?  She took a look at my camera settings and my sweet, precious camera-goddess angel of a daughter rolled her eyes and said, "you can't do that with this camera." 

My imagination added "you imbecile!" to make her transformation into Cruella DeVille complete.

Oh, well. 

Here's another fab recipe accompanied by the usual ho-hum photos.  It makes 4 servings, if you can find large, 8-ounce-ish boneless chicken breasts you will only need 3 (one roll-up will satisfy most appetites at this size); if you are using smaller breasts then you will need 4.