Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anyone else think it's funny that my sisters and I all had the exact same haircut in 2002?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Potato Corn Chowder

My mother-in-law and her husband brought us some potatoes from Idaho last time they were in town. I've been wanting to try her Potato Corn Chowder but I couldn't get her on the phone tonight to get the recipe. I had a recipe for Summer Corn Soup I wanted to try but the corn cobs I bought had already started to mold. So this recipe is very loosely based on that. I really liked it! I knew this recipe was a keeper when I saw Bobby get up to go get seconds. He is not a huge soup fan.

Potato Corn Chowder

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Ground white pepper
  • 4 thick bacon slices, diced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • sour cream


  • Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes (do not let onion brown). Add potatoes, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water, herb sprigs, bay leaf, and milk. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches if necessary, puree about 2/3 of soup and add back to pot. Season soup to taste with salt and white pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


  • Cook bacon in small skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in pinch of cayenne. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over, top with a small dollop of sour cream, and serve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork

Pay no attention to the crappy pictures. I could blame my camera, but the fault really lies with me. If I don't take the time to get a decent picture, it's because I'm so ready to eat! This recipe is perfection! Enjoy.

Herb-Marinated Pork Loin
from Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics Cookbook


  • 1 lemon, zest grated
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.

When you're ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill. Brush the cooking grate with oil to prevent the pork from sticking. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Grill the tenderloins, turning a few times to brown on all sides, for 15-25 minutes (depending on the heat of the coals) until the meat registers 137 degrees (I may have let it go a little longer - 145, 150) at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2- inch thick diagonal slices. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Left, left, I had a good home and I left.

Wednesday afternoons are busy for us. Franny has theater group on a college campus and Sophie has her dance lessons. When I picked her up from dance she held up her right hand and said that Miss Melody said it was her left. Now I'm sure Melody knows her right from her left- I just think Sophie got a little confused. I set her straight by telling her to hold of her left hand and point her thumb out and her pointer finger up. "See, it looks like an L, for left!" She held up her right hand and did the same thing and said, "YEAH! And this one is a gun!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

You are going to love this. This is my new favorite way to eat spaghetti. The meatballs of course are the best thing about this dish. They are so moist and tasty. We will be making this over and over, I'm sure. Instead of buying whole peeled tomatoes in juice, I just bought the Dei Fratelli crushed tomato variety, which eliminated any need for an immersion blender. I added fresh herbs (basil, oregano, and rosemary) to the sauce. I will miss when I can't cut those fresh from my garden anymore. I made this for the missionaries last night and I was blown away by how much they can eat. The yield for this recipe was very large and I was sure we would have enough for two meals, even with the missionaries joining us. I was wrong- they each had three huge servings! Poor hungry missionaries!!

Spaghetti and Meatballs


  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved through root end
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) salt
  • fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano), optional


  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French or country-style bread
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces ground beef (15% fat)
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup finely ground (not grated) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)



  • Combine tomatoes with juice, butter, onions, and salt in large wide pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard onions. Using immersion blender, process sauce briefly to break up any large pieces of tomato (texture should be even but not completely smooth). Season sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add fresh herbs if desired. Remove from heat. (I let mine simmer, covered, until we were ready to eat.)


  • Combine breadcrumbs and milk in small bowl; stir until breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand 10 minutes.
  • Place beef and pork in large bowl and break up into small chunks. Add 1 cup ground Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Whisk eggs to blend in small bowl; whisk in garlic. Add to meat mixture.
  • Using hands, squeeze milk from breadcrumbs, reserving milk. Add breadcrumbs to meat mixture. Using hands, quickly and gently mix meat mixture just until all ingredients are evenly combined (do not overmix). Chill mixture at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Moisten hands with some of reserved milk from breadcrumbs, then roll meat mixture between palms into golf-ball-size balls, occasionally moistening hands with milk as needed and arranging meatballs in single layer in sauce in pot. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.
  • Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  • Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Divide pasta among 6 plates. Top each serving with meatballs. Sprinkle meatballs with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

So I made this really crappy cake. It looked so promising, too. The funny thing is, I was trying to prove something with this cake. I was trying to prove to Bobby that a cake made from scratch is better than a cake mix. Instead I proved his point. Although I still don't actually believe that. But this was a major flop. The frosting, however, was culinary magnificence. It was so good. It was like whoever wrote this recipe said, "Let's take a chocolate truffle and spread it all over the outside of a cake." It was amazing. So I'll tell you what I'll do next time: I'll buy the store bought dark chocolate fudge cake mix and I'll put this on top. It will be decadent and impressive, but also a snap to make!

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a boil. Remove from heat; add 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, and let stand, without stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk just until combined. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 1 hour.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pan Fried Chicken with Basil Pasta and Parmesan Cream Sauce


Anyone who knows me very well knows that I love to talk about food. If I hear you've been to a really good restaurant, I want to hear all about what you ordered- about any creative sauces, what it came with, how it tasted, how it was presented. The more details the better. Sometimes I get inspired to try something at home. Well, my mother-in-law and I were on the phone recently while I was using my new pasta machine to make basil pasta. That reminded her of something she ordered at the Cheesecake Factory that she loved called Chicken Bellagio. All she had to see was Parmesan cream sauce and she had me. Here is the recipe for what we came up with at home.

It's true- I bought a pasta maker. It was a major workout just rolling those noodles out, so I'm wondering if I need to add more water to the dough. They were so good, though!

Here is the recipe from my friend Marianne. She taught a great class on how to make your own noodles!

Homemade Pasta

2 cups flour
1 egg
1/3 cup water

Stir together; knead into a smooth ball; divide into pieces small enough to handle; roll out by hand or with a pasta machine; cut into noodles. You may either dry them at this point to cook later, or drop them into boiling salted water and cook. (Watch them though. They won't take as long to cook as store-bought noodles). For basil (or spinach): puree basil with some of the water and add to the mixture. You'll have to play with the amounts to get it right.

Pan-Fried Chicken with Basil Pasta and Parmesan Cream Sauce

4 chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded to 1/4 inch thick
olive oil
1 1/2 c flour
1 T salt
2 tsp black pepper
fettucine noodles (store bought or homemade, basil noodles would be best - I used half plain/half basil)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2 c milk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
4 oz. prosciutto
Parmesan cheese

Combine flour, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the mixture, shaking off any excess. In a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet, add 3 Tbs of olive oil - enough to coat- and saute chicken in batches over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. When finished, transfer the skillet to a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. Cook pasta. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add cream and milk and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until it thickens. For last three minutes of cooking, add a handful of Parmesan cheese and coarsely chopped basil. Chop prosciutto into small pieces. Mix pasta, cream sauce, and prosciutto together. Serve pasta with chicken.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

White Chocolate Berry Tart

I made this dessert for a party I went to the other night. I loved it and I think it will replace this recipe that I've been making for years. The raspberries are such a nice surprise as they are folded into the white chocolate mousse. I only had one basket of strawberries, so I thinly sliced them and arranged them on top of the mousse, then brushed an apricot jam glaze over the strawberries. The recipe calls for 3 oz of milk chocolate that you brush over the hot crust, but I totally forgot about that because our sweet neighbor lady came by for a visit. Isn't she cute? We love Zerada.

White Chocolate Mousse and Berry Tart

adapted from

Yield: Serves 8
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 egg yolks

3 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped - I totally left this part out on accident

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
7 ounces white chocolate

1 1/2-pint basket fresh raspberries
2 1-pint baskets strawberries, halved
2 ounces imported white chocolate for curls (optional)
For Crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl. Add butter and cut in using fingertips or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat egg yolks to blend in small bowl. Pour yolks over flour mixture and stir with fork to combine. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. (Dough can be prepared 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 14-inch round (scant 1/4 inch thick). Peel off top sheet of waxed paper. Using second sheet of paper as aid, invert dough into 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Carefully press into pan. Trim and finish edges, patching any holes with scraps. Freeze until firm about 15 minutes.

Line crust with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 23 minutes. Remove beans and foil and continue baking until crust is golden brown, piercing bottom with toothpick if crust bubbles, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle chocolate over crust. Let stand until chocolate melts, about 4 minutes. Using back of spoon, carefully spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust. Cool.

For Filling:

Measure 1 tablespoon water into heavy small saucepan; sprinkle unflavored gelatin over and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Add 3/4 cup whipping cream and stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Add 7 ounces white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to medium bowl. Refrigerate until cool but not set, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Whip remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into white chocolate mixture. Fold in raspberries. Spoon filling into crust. Refrigerate until beginning to set, about 30 minutes. Arrange strawberries atop filling, cut sides down and points toward edge. To form optional white chocolate curls, slide vegetable peeler across white chocolate. Garnish tart with chocolate curls. (Tart can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend 2010

July 3, 2010

We had so much fun with the pie and cupcake contests last year that we decided to go for it again. This year we did little tiny cherry pies. I found the idea online. We bought little tin cupcake wrappers so that they would look like pie tins. We used a white cake mix, and then the girls and I spooned a little cherry pie filling on top. The lattice crust is just fondant with a little brown food coloring mixed in. I used my "crinkle cutter" from the Pampered Chef to get the fluted edges. I mixed a couple of recipes together to make this caramel apple pie. I don't even have the recipe for it because I never wrote it down! I also didn't even taste it because I had to give one pie for judging and one for the auction. I copied the idea for the crust from the July cover of Martha Stewart Living.

The girls took first place again! I was actually surprised. I was more impressed with some of the other entries. But the girls were very excited, and we had a great time.

It was fun to have their picture in the paper with the girls' friends Corinne and Rae. My pie didn't place. Maybe another reason I didn't bother to write down the recipe. Maybe it wasn't very good!

That night we heard fireworks outside and we got to watch a very impressive display at our neighbor's from our very own deck.

July 4, 2010

On the 4th, Franny and Sophie and I got up and headed to the Farmer's market to get some fresh corn and check out the car show. It wasn't as fun without Bobby, but he and baby Claire decided to stay home and sleep in.

Later we hit the parade
and scored a ton of free candy and we got to see some friends.

Then we went home for hot dogs, watermelon, and corn and then we watched the city fireworks from the church parking lot. It was a great fourth of July!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

It's been nearly a month since I made these cookies and I'm afraid blogging about them this morning was a bad idea. Kind of dangerous. I want to eat some right now and it's only 8:07 AM!

These taste great by themselves but I spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on them, making them even more indulgent. Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day craving them. I hope you're happy! ;)

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 salt
pinch of ground cloves (I left this out.)
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely ground pecans

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don't work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to get the nuts into the dough.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipperlock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9-x-10 1/2-inch rectangle that's 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn't cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale- they shouldn't take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
If you'd like, dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Frost with a cream cheese frosting if desired.
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