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Who let the dogs out?
I have two small dogs – an older Pomeranian (Shadow), and a not quite 3 year old Brussels Griffon (Tazwell) – and they are the joys of my life. I have a nice-sized fenced in yard, and always spend the time out with them.
Boyz1
Taz has a fixation with the area on the side of the house – just out of my sight. The other day, he did not come when I called, and sure enough – someone had left the gate open?!?!?! NOT a fun situation. Fortunately, he DOES know enough to come when Mommy says something like “You get your butt back here...” Once I get his attention, that is. I tell you all this because while I was out tracking my dog, my neighbors gave me a huge box of tomatoes. Real “homegrown”, so they weren't very pretty, but perfectly ripe and ready for use. Way too many for salads or fresh salsa – so I compromised – Cooked Salsa! Yeah, it goes against normal thinking – taking all those wonderfully fresh flavors and adding heat? But the truth is, it will last longer! Couldn't find the recipe I've used for years (it wasn't in the book I was SURE it was?), but this one is really close. I added some cumin and coriander when sauteing the onion and peppers, and used lime juice at the end instead of vinegar.
Salsa1
I ended up with two full quarts after this generous snack bowl... But I gotta admit – it's STILL not gonna last very long wink

Posted by Linda :
Friday 10 August 2012 - 16:21:20
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Lots of fresh fruit?
Make a pizza! Roughly following the idea of a deep dish style pizza, this DESSERT pizza from Rachel and Buddy Valastro can be done in no time, especially when you buy pre-made pizza dough. I’d make the crust the night before (when it’s cooler and you won’t mind your oven on, well, as much wink ) and do the rest of the prep just before serving. The recipe uses raspberries, but seriously, any berry of your choice would do… And the touch of chocolate and hazelnut is inspired! Pizza for dessert? Why not…

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 12 July 2012 - 19:45:21
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A sandwich to feed a bunch…
While I have some Scandinavian heritage (Lithuanian and Swedish on my Mom’s side), I had never HEARD of this before! How about you – any idea what a smorgastorta is? I’ve learned that it is a layered sandwich which is usually filled with somewhat creamy fillings and then FROSTED with a cream cheese and sour cream/crème fraiche blend. Decorations include veggies and solid version of whatever the filling is made of. I came across this authentic version first… I LOVE the idea that the recipe from Saveur shows you how to bake a round of whole wheat bread – so your sandwich can actually be presented as a cake! Love the idea, but the “fishy” fillings would not be appreciated by half my family – in their blood or not, an entire generation does NOT like seafood, with the possible exceptions of shrimp and tuna fish… frown So this vegetarian version offers some more neutral offerings, using artichokes, cheeses, and spinach spread... Of course, you could make it ‘American’ and go with one layer of ham salad, another of egg salad, then chicken salad… probably what I’ll end up going for [sigh]. Personally, I think any of these would be a great ‘tada’ for any gathering!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 06 July 2012 - 16:04:51
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A twist on Tacos
They’re as easy or as complicated as you want to make them. Here’s an example of just how elaborate you can make your buffet… But they’re messy! So if you’re looking for all the great flavors and a unique way to serve them, here are two great ideas: Taco Cupcakes! You use wonton wrappers instead of tortilla shells, and layer your ingredients in a cupcake pan. Bake and serve! If you keep the salsas ‘mild’, I think these would be great for a kids’ party – or as an appetizer for ANY party. I’d make two batches for an adult affair – one with moderate to low ‘heat’, one with all the ‘fire’ you’d like. Or, you could try the one I opted for - Taco Pizza. I was all set to make the “cupcakes”, but this one caught my eye because it used fresher, fewer processed ingredients. I DID add a sprinkle of dried jalapeno to the ground beef mixture to give it a little ‘kick’ wink
Tacop1
Goes together very quickly – and yes, it’s as yummy as it looks.
Tacop2
And my own personal hint? Add a dollop of sour cream on whichever you choose – the “icing”, so to speak…

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 06 June 2012 - 19:55:07
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For my gluten-free friends
I keep meaning to try this one, but tapioca starch keeps getting left off my shopping list?! No excuse. But in the meantime, this is too good not to share. Ironically, I first heard about these cheese and garlic buns on a site talking about Brazilian cuisine – the fact that they are gluten-free I didn’t discover until I found the recipe.
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(Picture from the King Arthur blog site linked below)
Now, wouldn’t you want to make these extraordinary light and airy puffs of delicious flavor? I thought so… Tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch, cassava flour, manioc flour; all the same thing) isn’t hard to find. Whether you are trying to limit your carbs, or have a physical need to eliminate gluten, this is sure to be a tasty treat. Enjoy!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 13 May 2012 - 15:50:12
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"Peas and Bacon – a match made in Heaven"
When I was an early teen, my girlfriend Cindy spent the night. Mom was working, so we decided to make dinner. I have no recollection of what the main course was – but we did something absolutely amazing with a bag of frozen peas! We started off with bacon, and added who knows how many spices and seasonings… To this day, they were truly the best peas I’ve ever had. We each tried to replicate it a couple times, with no luck. Years later I had a bag of split peas I had bought on a whim. I had the ingredients it called for on the bag’s recipe, including the ham hock… but it was kind of bland. I dug around, looking for a solution. No bacon, surprisingly! But I did have a jar of ‘dried beef strips’ – beef jerky. I chopped those up, let them simmer for a while to soften… It was better, but still not what I craved. Next time I tried it with bacon – AWESOME! So when I saw Michael Symon’s recipe for Split Pea Soup with his signature amounts of pork, it was kind of like a homecoming. It’s no secret to anyone who has visited this site before that I think of bacon as a food group unto itself wink Split Pea soup is a great comfort food, so why not enjoy the passion of pork as well? Puts a smile on MY face… Next time you simply nuke or boil a bag of peas, why not toss with some bacon bits and just a touch of bacon fat? Even the pickiest of eaters will ask for more.

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 10 May 2012 - 17:35:44
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I missed this for Valentine’s Day…
But I think it’s a fun idea for Mother’s Day as well. And the kids can help! How about an edible bouquet? No, I’m not talking about fruit, although those are beautiful and delicious – let’s make a bouquet full of one of my obsessions – BACON wink Yup, Bacon Roses are a real thing, and not at all difficult to make. Using both thin and thick sliced bacon, you roll them up into a bud shape; plop them in muffin tins, bake, and then gently insert the stems you picked up at a dollar store. While you’re at the store, pick up an appropriately sized vase as well? Now, the original instructions say to drill holes in the bottom of your muffin pan – not my idea of frugal for a “novelty” gift. The purpose of the hole is to let the fat drain, but in reading the comments, I found a much better proposal. Using muffin tin LINERS, preferably the metallic kind, you poke a large hole in the bottom (a chopstick would be a good tool for this!). Place a cooling rack inside a baking pan with sides to contain the drippings, and then just make sure that you place your filled liners close enough together that they support each other. If you don’t quite fill the pan, use another oven-safe object to hold them in place. Fragrant, fun, unique, and delicious – sure to bring a smile to Mom’s face!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 25 April 2012 - 20:31:01
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Tis Spring!
The crocus have come and gone, the daffodils are in bloom, the tulips have shot out their green… ah yes, and hay fever is in full swing wink A little (or a lot of) sniffling is a minor curse to bear with so much beauty around us. And along with the delightful blossoms, another plant is in the peak of its season – asparagus! Yes, thanks to modern technology and mass transit we can get them all year round – but they are never as delicious as they are at this time. Delightful on their own just lightly blanched, or decked out with sauces, another classic use is in soups. If you are lucky enough to find white asparagus, this Cream of Asparagus blend is shear elegance. Mary Ann Esposito uses potatoes and evaporated milk to get a richness of texture in keeping with a white palate. Simple and straightforward, the asparagus flavor is fairly pure. Now Nick Stellino takes a slightly different route. Adding additional veggies, garlic, and sherry this has a more robust flavor, especially when garnished with his recommended asparagus tip and bell pepper confit. Two different approaches, both leading to exceptional results. Which are you going to make?

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 31 March 2012 - 15:55:24
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Eggs can be cooked so many ways...
A while back (gosh, almost two years ago?) I wrote to you about cooking eggs in the rings of bell peppers. Now, here are eggs cooked in Onion Rings! I still like the “old fashioned” egg-in-a-hole, cooked in a slice of bread. But hey, enjoy what you like!

Posted by Linda :
Monday 19 March 2012 - 23:16:48
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For Adults ONLY…
Couldn’t NOT share this with you! While there tends to be way too much indulgence on this particular holiday, this idea’s got some class. Beautifully rich chocolate cupcakes enhanced with Guinness Stout (you really don’t taste the beer, but it DOES make the chocolate so much "more"), Irish Whiskey in a chocolate cream filling, topped with a frosting made with Baileys – oh yeah, the Brown Eyed Baker really went there wink
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(picture from the recipe's site)
What more can I say – other than Erin Go Bragh! EDIT: Well now there's more - Sis-in-Law Anita made these (she's about as Irish as you can get wink ) "I made mini cupcakes - so rich you don't need much..."
Paddycake
Not so fussy, but totally enjoyable!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 17 March 2012 - 15:04:57
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