Back to Reality...
I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day weekend <3! Incredible food, a magnificent concert... and those couldn't hold a candle to the exquisite company Thank you so much, love.

But then I drove through a snowstorm to a slushy mess and neurotic dog – so comfort food was once again on the menu. I hate repeating myself, but the ingredients were on hand and I really just felt like basking in the glow that remained...

SO – as I said – back to reality. That night 6 or 7 large white onions (softball size), sliced, went into my crockpot with a stick of butter and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Set the temp to “lo”, and let that do it's thing until morning.

The top photo is about 5 hours in - yes, I woke up enough to give them a stir...

And the bottom is the beauty found about 12 hours in! As the recipe for French Onion soup (didn't I tell you? Yeah, that's what we're making!) only needed about half that, I scooped out two bags of about a cup each and popped those in the freezer – caramelized onions at your fingertips?!?! Just THINK of the possibilities!!!!

So now you just add some stock (I've used both beef and chicken – it's really up to you), worcestershire, thyme, a bay leaf or two... and some sherry or dry white wine. Let it go another 6 hours or so...

And now you start your French Bread. Honest, it's easy. A ton of starts and stops (I'll grant you that) but with only flour, yeast, and salt, TIME is a necessary element to develop that great flavor. It's worth it!!!


I'd made this kale and apple salad for Christmas Day, and it wasn't that popular at the time. Playing with the left overs I realized I hadn't added nearly enough salt and pepper (or any?)?!? Sweet and sour poppy seed dressing over kale and tart apple... Guess I was a little hectic that morning... A little adjustment and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I used the food processor to puree the onion and whisk the dressing – and this time I TASTED!!!


Soup's done, bread's done, salad's ready... The first time I made this soup I used Gruyere and Emmental cheeses – small blocks of each – and while delightful, the cheese alone cost almost $4 per serving?!? This time I used pre-grated Swiss and Moz – just as stringy, almost as flavorful... Your choice of course.


Dinner is served!


Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 15 February 2017 - 08:20:26
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Super Duper SuperBowl Sunday!
Still not sure what to make for SuperBowl Sunday? Go gather these ingredients as well as some good bread...


You got this part, right? Don't use the entire head of lettuce - half to 3/4?


You're gonna need a bigger bowl


Now, this is the important part!! My BFF shared a recipe that he found online for one of the ultimate tastes of our youth - Jrecks! That's one heckuva lot of oregano, but oh my, it tastes SO VERY GOOD!!! Here's the link if y'all want some of this goodness


Couldn't wait until the game Every bite a little different, each better than the last!


Posted by Linda :
Sunday 05 February 2017 - 13:32:05
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Sweet AND Savory
I made this one for Christmas Day and thought it might be nice for Valentine's day, but for the life of me I can't find the link!!! After way too many searches in the last few days, I'm going to offer my apologies to whatever source it was and just tell you about it. Fortunately for all of us, I remember it well! Well, it IS kinda simple... but GOOD.


We are going to stuff filo cups with a sweet and sour sauce and top with brie and pecans – sound good? You really can't get much simpler. Filo cups are readily available in your freezer section (usually by the pie crusts and such), but since I had filo sheets in my freezer, I opted to make my own.

Filo is an incredibly thin and delicate dough, and when layered with melted butter produces an extremely flaky result. Five layers felt about right – and as you can see, I had some difficulty being gentle enough to separate full sheets intact...



No worries! Just keep overlapping and brush liberally with butter to hold it all together. I used my ravioli cutter to create 2” squares, which were eased into a (sprayed) mini muffin tin.



Bake at 375F for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Gently loosen from the tin, set aside. Of course if you used the frozen version, follow the package instructions.


Meanwhile, make your “spread”. Now the original recipe (again, thank you, whoever you are) when doubled called for a cup of cherry preserves, 4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Two days before Christmas I did NOT feel like fighting the crowds just to get cherry preserves, so I did some research and ended up using (wait for it) - cherry pie filling. Yes, the stuff that comes in a can - which I could get at the corner deli, for Pete's sake! Surprisingly, pie filling is much lower in sugar than preserves, so I used 1 cup of the filling and reduced the Balsamic to 2 Tbsp (tasting, of course). A little chopping from an immersion blender and I had a somewhat chunky texture that I liked.


This shows the process – the upper left is a generous teaspoon of the cherry “sauce”. Next row shows the addition of a cube of brie (an 8oz wheel, trimmed of rind was perfect for my 2 dozen cups), and finally a sprinkling of coarsely chopped pecans. As I was transporting to my parents' home I stopped prep there and popped into their oven for maybe 5 minutes, just to melt the brie.


Now, here's the verdict - Sis-in-Law enjoyed them so much that she made a brie round that she topped with a purchased balsamic cherry spread just a week later for another get-together! Easy peasy

NOTE: it turned out that my version of the sauce was more tart than the store bought – both were good, so use your own taste buds to adjust. It's your kitchen!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 24 January 2017 - 12:03:07
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This one made me HAPPY!
For the first time in several years I was able to attend the family gathering on Christmas Eve! If you haven't read my whole story, I've worked retail for a while... This year I was fortunate enough to have the store CLOSE two weeks before Christmas!!! Yeah, ok – not exactly celebratory, but I DID get to spend time with my family?!?

I'd been wanting to try this recipe for Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, and this was a good time to do it. It was at one of these gatherings years ago when I first had Aunt Pat's Salad, and well, that's one heckuva keeper!! So I slipped my pasta salad onto the buffet table and waited.

First, let me show you the competition:




Oh – and yeah, there were desserts galore (as usual).

So I'd doubled the recipe and brought about three quarters to the party – heck, I wanted some for myself! A pound of shells and a 16oz jar of “stackables” worked quite well for this – stackables were easy to dice, and provided just the right amount of pickle “juice”, which is essential!!! I used shallots instead of onions because a couple family members have an adverse reactions to onion, but can tolerate shallots (which are in the garlic family). I measured out the ingredients for the “dressing” and whipped them all together in the food processor.


Here's the best part! My eldest younger brother (who is a “pretty good” cook in his own right ) had THREE helpings before he knew I had made it! In fact, he encouraged his son to try “the best pasta salad he's ever had”!!?!

Like I said – that makes me happy!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 12 January 2017 - 17:18:21
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Windy afternoon Warm Up
Too much to do, too cold to go out... A pot of soup and some fresh bread sounded just about perfect. Checking the fridge and pantry there was no doubt that minestrone would be the soup du jour, and why not some breadsticks a la Olive Garden? Yeah, I thought so.


I used this recipe for minestrone as a guideline, but as I had a few projects underway, altered it for the crock pot. Basically, I added the ingredients in the same order, just let them “simmer” on high for an hour or so instead of the minutes of constant stirring if I had sauteed. I wish I had taken a picture of just the onions – they were starting to caramelize beautifully! Then in go the garlic, celery, a little while later carrots, green beans... Finally tomatoes, beans (from the freezer), beef stock and pasta... BIG TIP: I boiled the pasta in the broth but only added the stock to the pot. That way I could add the pasta to each bowl without it getting mushy!

I started the breadsticks once the onions were ready - they're really quite easy. I didn't have bread flour, so I used AP – it needed about a half cup more than stated, but that's an expected difference (but use bread flour if you have it - even better final result). Blend/knead, rise. Shape, rise. Bake, brush, sprinkle. Yeah, a little TOO easy, if you know what I mean – just might make these too often!


That wind is still whipping around, but I made a nice comfy cozy dinner and still got my tasks done. Now for a good book...

Posted by Linda :
Friday 30 December 2016 - 19:38:58
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Yeah, it's been a while...
Seems the company I work for decided to close our store – you can NOT imagine the chaos, frustration, emotions, exhaustion (and so much more) unless you've lived through it! I hope you never have to.

So since early September when they made the announcement, life has been not much more than work and sleep. But occasionally I found the energy to create some comfort food.


Chinese Chili sounded like a great change on a classic, and truly was quite enjoyable. You start with the basics – beef, onions, sweet and hot peppers – but then the seasonings take a decidedly eastern turn. Soy sauce and hoisin instead of chili powder, ginger and 5 spice replace cumin and coriander...

I started with a chuck roast, as the briskets were HUGE! Ended up delectably tender, so no issue there.


Doubling the tomato and adding a couple cans of black beans assured me more than a couple meals, so that was a plus. While the recipe said it should be fairly liquid, I enjoyed the texture the starch from the beans added and felt no need for additional liquid.

This one I'm giving mixed reviews. Thanks to my ”chinese pantry”, I didn't have to buy anything special, which made the experiment worthwhile. The fried chinese noodles made a great topper!


I'd omit the habenaro (and not because of the heat) and cut the 5 spice in half – those were definitely the dominant flavors, and I would have enjoyed being able to note the others, especially the ginger.

Here's the thing – it was different, and good, but not so much so to warrant the investment in all the ingredients unless you want to start your own collection. But then again, that's not a bad choice

Posted by Linda :
Monday 26 December 2016 - 15:37:15
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Happy Anniversary, Taz!
My beloved rescue and I have been together for five years now. While we’ve had some “getting to know you” issues and sometimes feed off of each other’s mood, I feel blessed to have Taz in my life. He is SUCH a smart dog as well as an excellent judge of character!


And that face – who wouldn’t love that face <3

I recently baked him some “cookies” to celebrate, and he is quite happy with Mommy’s results. Don’t tell him, but I shared a few with the St Bernard "LaLa" down the street, and her Daddy asked me for the recipe.

I’d found several recipes, but this one suited my pantry the best. The cookie cutters I had purchased a while back for just such an occasion Remembering my research on kibble I added a palmful of dried parsley and some powdered egg shell for nominal health benefits.


This dough gets extremely stiff – while it is possible to stir by hand, I used the dough hook on my stand mixer. It worked fine as long as I kept scraping down the sides. If you want a smoother appearance, you should knead the dough for a bit - but Taz was already nagging, so I just rolled it "as is".

SERIOUS WARING!!! Read your peanut butter label carefully!!! The popular sugar substitute Xylitol is used in so many products AND IS LETHAL TO DOGS.!!! Make sure it is not in your brand, at least for this application.


Taz is one very happy little boy! And as these can be done in no time at all (mix, cut, bake), he’ll be getting them fairly regularly. Gotta give some of that love back, ya know.

P.S. Practice make perfect! Lala's dad recently told me "they look like REAL dog biscuits!!" Uh, yeah


Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 04 October 2016 - 11:27:55
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A Wednesday Night Dinner – elegance in a flash
In re-arranging the freezer I pulled some chicken thighs out to thaw. Didn't have a clue what I was going to do with them, but I'd figure something out I had a ton of various noodles on hand so searching 'chicken and pasta' led me to several recipes – the ones that I liked the best included white wine, but it appeared all I had was red. Next search - Chicken with red wine? Yep, that worked!


How about a beautiful dinner – in about 40 minutes? Yes, that's all it took! Starting with this recipe from Taste of Home, you pan sear the thighs and then finish on the stove. The photo and comments suggested mashed potatoes (not on hand), pasta didn't seem right, so I sauteed some onion and toasted some brown rice together, adding chicken stock to simmer away for simple yet slightly enhanced brown rice. Once the chicken is cooked through – use a meat thermometer to check this! - it rests on the side while you make the wine sauce in the same pan. I chose to double this as there is absolutely nothing wrong with leftover rice and gravy (or in this case, sauce).

I admit right here and now that I started off with the wrong pan – for some reason I thought that a ridged grilling pan was the best choice. It started off great, hotter than I would normally allow my saute pans, but the ridges didn't allow uniform browning. Even MORE important, it did not allow enough fond to develop!!! [Fond: those brown bits that accumulate on the bottom of a pan that add SO much flavor to the balance of the dish, especially when you are deglazing with wine]. Red wine and white cream, yes I was expecting pink – but a deeper, browner shade would have been more to my liking, lol!


The flavor was outstanding though! Who knew that just reducing some red wine and adding cream and rosemary (chop finely, please) would produce such a rich and different flavor – well, WE do, now! (IMO this would be great on a steak as well).

I rounded out the plate by sauteing some sliced mushrooms, and then tossing in peas just until they heated through... Salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg seasoned them beautifully.


Not bad, huh? The chicken was incredibly juicy, tender with a richness of flavor, and my sides were not only good on their own, the simplicity of the entire meal somehow added to the decadence. You really can't go wrong with this one.

Oh, and for dessert? Some good vanilla ice cream sprinkled with sea salt. Perfect.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 03 September 2016 - 09:35:02
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Supper for a Heat Wave
It's too hot for pretty much ANYTHING, and I needed something cool and refreshing. Tomatoes and cucumbers fit the bill perfectly!


Ok, I added some onion slices – red onion would have been a little better, shallots or scallions perfect – but a trip to the store was NOT in my plans

I could have gone with just a simple oil and vinegar, but this sweet and sour Olive Garden copy cat recipe seemed worth a try. It had mixed reviews which made it even more interesting to me.


I enjoyed it, but I can't say that it reminded me of the Olive Garden – you be the judge! It has vinegar and lemon juice, mayo and just a touch of oil... The corn syrup threw me, so I omitted that and used the optional sugar instead. Let it sit a while for all the flavors to meld – it gets better with time. Still not the flavor I remember, tho...


A few croutons (just because I felt like it), and this was a mighty fine treat Simple is good.

Posted by Linda :
Monday 18 July 2016 - 15:42:49
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Your new Best Friend for the Summer
I live near a community center, and this past week a group showed up offering some beautiful produce at excellent prices – you KNOW I had to take advantage! In addition to the ingredients for my perfect pickles I couldn't resist the first big beautiful sun ripened tomatoes of the season – and wouldn't you know it? I caught the news as I walked back into my house and Mr. Food was presenting just the right way to use them!!

That's right – Mr. Food! I miss Art Ginsberg, the one and only, but Howard does a decent job in keeping the tradition alive – simple, straightforward weeknight cooking. Today's entry was Summer's Best Tomato Pie – and it was a hit for Father's Day.

You don't have to, but I made my own pie crust. And using Ree Drummond's Thyme Pastry recipe (dried basil instead of thyme) I did it all in the food processor! Cube your butter and freeze it for at least half an hour- I chill my water and vinegar as well. Flour, salt, and herb in the food processor with butter on top, pulse about 20 times. Then with it running on low add the egg and then spoon in your vinegar and water as needed. Done! You pre-bake that slightly


and fill with thin slices of big juicy tomato – I ended up using three. IMPORTANT: use a scoop, the SAME scoop, to measure your three creamy ingredients! A half cup of mayo is a lot less than you might think, and adding too much will ruin this!!! It's the balance that keeps this creamy with just a touch of of that tang. Okay, I added a little more pepper than it asked for... I mean, a quarter teaspoon is nothing


Mix well and pour it on and smooth the top. I added that little slice on top just so our guests would know what was inside Honestly, I forgot to sprinkle with the parm until after it was in the oven, so I didn't add it until it was almost done. Didn't add much flavor but it did add a little texture and color.


We served it room temp and between the time I set it on the table and reached for my camera...


THIS happened! This will DEFINITELY be made a few times this summer – as an appetizer, a side, or even a light meal in itself.

Posted by Linda :
Monday 20 June 2016 - 11:01:28
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