Summer Strawberries…Sweet And Savory

Sweet, succulent berries are one of the pleasures of summer. In New England, blueberries are probably the most popular summer berry but my personal favorite is strawberries. Strawberries have been in the market for months now but with white tops and no sweet smell, it is easy to see that they have been shipped in from across the country. I’ve been patiently waiting for some local, just picked deep red berries…their sweet aroma making them irresistible.

Sweet Summer Strawberries

Sweet Summer Strawberries

We all know that strawberries are great in desserts such as strawberry shortcake, ice cream and pies but their sweet juicy flavors are also perfect in savory dishes. I made two savory recipes using strawberries as part of our evening meal…both quick and easy. The first is a fresh strawberry salsa but if you have family or friends who don’t care for peppers and cilantro, you can serve them the other dish, a green salad with balsamic marinated strawberries and candied pecans. They both go very with chicken, pork or even a mild fish like the pan sautéed sole that I served them with. If you happen to find strawberries like the beauties we discovered at a farm stand, please do try one of the recipes I’m sharing with you.

Filet of Sole With Strawberry Salsa And A Strawberry Salad

Filet of Sole With Strawberry Salsa And A Balsamic Strawberry Salad With Candied Pecans

Strawberry Salsa

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and finely diced
  • half of a small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
  • a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and toss gently. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If the salsa isn’t spicy enough, add a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce, I like Tabasco Jalapeño. Serve as a side with chicken, pork, fish or with a big bowl of crispy chips.

Marinated Balsamic Strawberry Salad With Candied Pecans

Serves 2 to 4

  • 1 pint sliced hulled strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 c. of salad greens
  • a large handful of candied pecans

Add the first three ingredients to a bowl and gently toss. Let stand at room temperature until there is lots of juice, at least an hour. The berries can be used “as is” to top ice cream or pound cake. If making a salad, strain the juice into a small bowl, drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Drizzle the vinaigrette, as much as needed for the amount of greens you use and top with the marinated strawberries and candied nuts. If you want to serve the salad as a main course, you might want to add some crumbled goat cheese for a more substantial dish.

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Both of these accompaniments were so simple to prepare that I almost hesitated sharing them with you but the sweet and savory flavors of the summer berries were too good not to let you know how much I enjoyed them. If you are lucky enough to come across really ripe strawberries, I believe you will enjoy these quick and easy recipes.

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I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all your kind words concerning my broken foot, which happened eight weeks ago. I can’t tell you how very much they have meant to me. I’m slowly returning to a somewhat normal routine and making a presence back in our kitchen. Even though my bones are just now starting to show signs of new bone growth, I no longer need crutches and have traded the big air cast in for a smaller shoe cast.I am now happy to say that I can share grocery shopping duties with my husband, using an electric riding grocery cart when needed. I have quite a way to go but life is a lot easier but very hectic. We have a closing on our home in New Hampshire scheduled in two weeks and are very busy with packing up our household. I appreciate your patience concerning my blog. I’ve read your comments but unfortunately have not had the time to answer all of them or visit all my blogging friends. Life will get back to normal soon, I promise.

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“It’s Just Steak” – Not If It’s A Bacon Wrapped Filet

You might think “It’s Just Steak”, But Not If It’s A Filet. This meal is all about a well seasoned filet mignon that is wrapped in applewood smoked bacon that adds both flavor and moisture, then pan seared for a nice crust on the exterior and finished in the oven to achieve a perfect pink and tender center.

Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon With A Baked Sweet Potato And Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon With A Baked Sweet Potato And Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

Served with baked sweet potatoes, parmesan crusted roasted asparagus and a side of what my husband calls “melted steakhouse onions”, this meal should please almost every steak lover. It is a wonderful restaurant style dinner that can be prepared at a fraction of the cost of eating at a steakhouse.

I’m still recuperating from my broken foot so my husband continues to do all the cooking for us. While shopping at our local grocery store, he got two steaks that our favorite butcher hand cut for him from the center of a certified Angus Beef tenderloin. Later that evening when I saw what he had prepared for us, I told him that I wanted to take a photo of his meal. His comment was, “why, it’s just steak”. I thought otherwise. The filet, which is my favorite steak. was cooked to perfection, nicely plated and the steak was delicious.

Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon

In this recipe, the steaks are started on the stove in a heavy oven safe skillet and then finished in the oven. When you start cooking the steaks, the meat needs to be brought to room temperature, so you will want to take them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook them.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it’s just starting to brown but still pliable. You can also microwave the bacon between paper towels until it is partially cooked. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap 1 or 2 strips (depending on the size of the filet) around each steak and secure with tooth picks. Then season the steak very well with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. *My husband calls this mixture SPOG.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. When the oven comes to temperature, heat an oven safe  skillet over high heat until the pan is hot. Add about 1 or 2 Tbsp. of peanut oil and when oil is hot, add the steaks and cook without moving for about 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Turn the steaks and cook an additional 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Place the steaks in the oven for about 5 to 6 minutes (depending on thickness). Make sure to use a timer, you wouldn’t want to overcook these wonderful steaks.

Check the steaks with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. If you like your steaks rare, they should register 120°F and be deep red. If medium-rare is more to your liking, wait until they register 125°F or are deep pink or 130°F for medium. If the steaks aren’t ready, put them back in the oven for 1 or 2 more minutes and then test again. Let them rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving (the temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after they are removed from the oven).

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Sliced Filet Mignon Drizzled With Extra Virgin Olive Oil Served Room Temperature With Sautéed Baby Eggplant And A Basil And Tomato Salad

Sliced Filet Mignon Served Room Temperature With Sautéed Baby Eggplant And A Tomato And Basil Salad

The steaks were large and we ended up having enough meat left over for a second meal from this delicious (although expensive) cut of meat. It was a simple dinner of sliced steak drizzled with extra virgin olive oil served at room temperature with sautéed baby eggplant and a tomato and basil salad. Simple but oh so good!

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While this isn’t something you’ll be cooking on a weekly or monthly basis, it is a wonderful meal to show someone just how much you care. While my husband could have cooked rib eye steaks which are his favorites, he treated me to these great tasting bacon wrapped filets which I love. They took me back to my early life in Texas where a good filet mignon was never thought of as “just steak”.

 

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Arroz Con Pollo “His Way”

Arroz Con Pollo is one of the most popular chicken dishes in Cuba, Latin America and Spain. The flavorful rice is the star ingredient and is allowed to take prominence over the chicken in this traditional meal. While there are many very good versions of arroz con pollo prepared at home, if ordered in a restaurant it can often be bland and boring with gummy rice, overcooked chicken and dried up peas. Not so…the way my husband cooks arroz con pollo, “his way”.

Arroz Con Pollo, Delicious Rice With Chicken

Arroz Con Pollo, Delicious Rice With Chicken

“His way” of cooking is not to measure anything…he just adds a pinch of this and a little of that. I love his version of arroz con pollo because it has more kick than what I’ve tasted in many of the Cuban restaurants in South Florida where we once lived. He has made this meal for me for years and it is a real favorite of mine.  I asked him if he could pass along how he prepares his quick and easy version of arroz con pollo.

Arroz Con Pollo

This recipe serves two, adjust accordingly.

  • One (3.5 oz.) bag of Success Boil-in-a bag rice *, which makes 2 cups of cooked rice

*Success Rice is a boil-in-a bag rice that can be prepared either on the stove or in the microwave. Cooking times and the amount of water you need to use can vary slightly, depending on the brand. Using less water and reducing your cooking time will result in a firmer rice. If you want a soft rice, add more water and increase the cooking time.

  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces (1 large breast cut into pieces may be substituted)
  • garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste for seasoning the chicken
  • 2 Tbsp. more or less of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. more or less of chicken broth
  • 1/4 C. or to taste of Goya Mojo Criollo (You can find my recipe for mojo here)
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • a couple of shakes of Tabasco or to taste
  • approximately 1/4 tsp. each of garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 packet of Goya Sazón Azafrán Seasoning
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas

Prepare rice according to package directions except cook it for only 6 minutes. While the rice is cooking, season the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat, and cook the chicken pieces until brown and almost done, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to not overcook at this point as the chicken will be cooked more later on. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and peppers and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, mojo, lime juice, and Tabasco. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly reduced then remove pan from heat. Once the rice is ready, return the pan with the vegetable mixture to the heat, add the chicken back to the pan and cook for about a minute. Add the rice, sprinkle with the Sazón seasoning and frozen peas,  mix well and cook a few minutes more. If it looks a little dry add more broth, if it looks soupy, cook for a few minutes more. Taste and adjust for seasoning, if necessary. When serving, you can garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve with lime wedges on the side.

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My husband says this is a quick and easy recipe and wishes you good luck if you try it. Since he doesn’t measure, he wanted to let you know that he gave me this recipe from memory and the ingredient amounts are approximate. He is sure that if you taste your dishes as you are cooking, you should be able to prepare a good version of arroz con pollo or a reasonable facsimile thereof. :D

I’ve always considered it a special treat when my husband says he would like to prepare our evening meal. With my broken foot, I can no longer cook so he is now in charge of cooking all our meals. While I’m not happy about being in a cast and on crutches, I have to say that I’m very happy to be eating the delicious meals he has been putting on our table each night. If you get a chance to prepare arroz con pollo his way, I believe you will agree with me that I’m a lucky woman to have a sweet husband who is also a good cook.

**This is not a sponsored post and I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning specific products in this recipe. They are just products my husband likes and finds convenient for many recipes.

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Coping With Crutches And A Broken Foot

It couldn’t have happened at a worse time…a slight twist of my foot and I’ve ended up with two broken (the 4th & 5th) metatarsal bones in my left foot, my leg is now in a cast and I’m coping with crutches. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, Charles Dickens famous opening line from A Tale Of Two Cities could easily describe my life now. For weeks to come, I’m not allowed to put any weight on my broken foot. The injury to my foot means that everything I need to be doing must now be accomplished on one leg and two wobbly crutches. I should call them “devil sticks” and if you’ve ever been in a cast and on crutches for a non weight-bearing problem, I believe you will understand. If not, you might think I’m just being a baby about my predicament.

Coping With Crutches And A Broken Foot

Coping With Crutches And A Broken Foot

While crutches have been used for hundreds of years as a way to aid in walking, my wobbly, cold aluminum devices don’t seem to help me get around a lot better than when they were made from carved wooden branches hundreds of years ago. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little but crutches definitely affect your ability to function in your day-to-day life.

Maneuvering around with these things takes a lot of upper body strength and requires good coordination and balance. If you are young and fit, this might not be much of a problem but I don’t seem to have any of those attributes. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have broken my foot in the first place.  Using the crutches for even small distances has resulted in aching shoulders, arms, hands, hips, back and a sore knee on my good leg and this is just the first week.

The simplest of tasks have now become difficult or next to impossible because both of my hands are occupied holding myself up on the crutches when trying to walk on one leg. I’m a very active person and don’t like to rely on others but I’m now dependent on my husband helping me with most everything. The food shopping, cooking (thank goodness he is a very good cook) and keeping the house in order have now become his tasks. Mowing the orchard and taking care of my vegetable and flower gardens will have to be done by others as well.

Just trying to get around the house has its own problems as there are steps throughout our home. As far as I’m concerned, stairs and crutches can be a dangerous combination. Any misstep I might make could lead to another accident so for safety’s sake, I’m “butt scooting” up and down our main staircase each morning and evening. Needless to say, I’ll need to buy a couple of new pairs of jeans when I can once more go shopping.

Keeping my crutches within arm’s reach can create a problem as they easily slide and fall, knocking over anything in their vicinity. Within the first 24 hours of using them, they have knocked over a large glass of water and a cup of tea which I couldn’t reach and wipe up. Thank goodness,  my husband was nearby to dry up the spills. Life is not going to be a piece of cake for him either over the weeks to come and we are both learning to adapt.

You might be wondering about my reference to the best and worst of times. The “best” is that I’m very grateful that I have the help of my husband and friends, many people who live alone are not that fortunate. I’m also grateful that I’ve got an Aircast walking boot instead of a plaster cast which I’ve experienced on previous breaks. It certainly makes life easier as I can remove it and carefully sit on a shower stool to bathe. Once my foot has progressed in its healing process in a few weeks, the hard plastic cast with its rubber sole will allow me to put some weight on my foot and walk with the aid of my crutches. After the bones get stronger, I’ll be able to get rid of the crutches. At the end of 6 to 8 weeks, I should be able to eliminate the boot.

Another positive note has been the good response of people looking at our home that is now for sale. One couple in particular seems to like our home as much as we do. If we can all reach an agreement in the next few days, we will then have to be packed up and moved out of our house by the end of August.

Now you can understand the “worst of times”. This seemingly small injury to my foot is going to create real difficulties getting ready for our move to Florida. What we are taking with us has to be packed up and ready for the movers in a matter of weeks. Everything we are not taking with us has to be moved over to the barn, priced and sold over the course of a few weekends. I’m supposed to keep my foot elevated so accomplishing all of this while slowly shuffling around in a cast and on my crutches will be a real challenge.

The limitations placed on my life are annoying at the very least and problematic when considering the move ahead of us. I’m learning to cope having my leg in a cast, using the crutches and I’m grateful that this is not a permanent situation. They are all small things compared to what millions of people have to endure for long periods of time or perhaps the rest of their lives. I’m looking forward to the day when the doctor tells me that my foot is healed and I can put away the cast and crutches, hopefully not to be used again.

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NH Colonial Farmhouse For Sale – Orchard Hill Farm

Orchard Hill Farm is situated on one of the highest points in Rockingham County. Its beautiful yellow Georgian colonial farmhouse was built in 1730 but has been meticulously restored to museum quality by some of the finest craftsmen in New England. With a newer addition, the home is the best of both worlds, preserving the past but with all the modern amenities for entertaining family and friends.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The home sits nicely back from the road on a little over 8 acres of land surrounded by 240 heirloom apple trees and a dozen pear trees. There is a large (64 x 30) cedar shake barn with an attached apple store,  a roadside fruit stand, a heated potting shed, a large vegetable garden enclosed by a picket fence, and a pond. Beautiful mature trees and old rock walls border the property.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

A stone walk leads to a large (32 x 9) mahogany decked farmer’s porch before entering the foyer. Straight ahead is a great room with wall to wall and floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the orchard. The (31 x 18 1/2) room has a marvelous wood and beamed ceiling, wainscoting and plaster walls. There is a built-in TV hidden behind raised paneled doors above the wood burning fireplace.

Off the right side of the foyer is a (14 x 12 1/2) bedroom with a slider onto the front porch. The room has wide pine floors, wainscoting and a beautiful beamed ceiling. The en suite bathroom has a glass enclosed shower and pedestal sink.

Off the left of the foyer, you enter the original “keeping room” now a (35 x 13 1/2) eat in kitchen. The focal point of the kitchen is the antique brick hearth with working fireplace, beehive oven and a rare “set kettle”.  On the far wall, a 48-inch professional gas range with double ovens, a grill and griddle is the only modern appliance you notice in the kitchen. The Subzero refrigerator and the Bosch dishwasher are paneled to look like pieces of furniture. Black granite covers the counter tops and large 8 foot island.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The largest cabinet in the kitchen, built to look like a step back cupboard, serves as the pantry with deep pullout drawers. A marble topped baker’s cabinet is built low for easy kneading and rolling of dough. It also has deep pullout drawers. A tall, narrow cabinet holds a TV that can be swiveled and seen from anywhere in the room. From the dining table you can look out french doors onto the orchard. The kitchen was featured in the December 2014 issue of Country Woman magazine.

Woodwork and cabinetry throughout the home has been hand-planed. The cabinets are put together with mortise and tenon and dovetail joints and secured with wooden pegs. Hand-forged hinges held in place with handmade nails were used on the cabinets. Some cabinets have antique glass doors.

Off the original front hall is the (14 1/2 x 13 1/2) formal living room. It features wonderful handcrafted woodwork surrounding a working fireplace, a parson’s cabinet and a lighted display hutch.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Across the hall is the (14 1/2 x 13) formal dining room with murals painted by a well-known Maine artist that feature scenes of historic Danville. The working fireplace is surrounded by two lighted glass door china hutches with deep pullout drawers for additional storage.

The original staircase leads to two large (15 x 13 1/2) & (13 1/2 x 13 1/2)  bedrooms, a (9 x 13 1/2) sitting room which can be used as an additional bedroom, a large bathroom with a glass enclosed shower and a white marble topped custom vanity and a separate toilet and sink.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

A (14 1/2 x 10 1/2) laundry room can be accessed off the hall. The room has wall to wall cedar lined closets and a Fisher and Paykel washer and dryer. There is also access to the laundry room from the master suite.

In the downstairs foyer, the main staircase leads to second floor landing were you enter the (20 x 18) master suite with beautiful crown moldings and large windows that overlook the orchard and have views of the mountains in the distance.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The suite also has a (11 x 9 1/2) study, a (9 x 6 1/2) walk in closet and a his and hers bathroom. Her side has an acrylic claw foot slipper tub and pedestal sink, his side has a glass enclosed shower with two shower heads and a marble topped custom vanity.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The home has been decorated with style and has top of the line fittings and fixtures throughout the house. Many original features such as 20 inch wide pumpkin pine floors, gunstock corners and beams have been preserved. Modern amenities include up to date electrical and plumbing, four zoned central heating and air conditioning  and an automatic whole house backup generator fueled by a 500 gallon in ground propane tank.

Head down to the large (2,234 sq. ft.) basement with high ceilings where there is a brick and wood paneled wine cellar (17 1/2 x 11 1/2) with wine racks for storing 338 plus bottles. There is also a large (7 foot) storage closet in the cellar. Across from the cellar is a (16 x 14) brick and wood paneled man’s hobby room with a custom crafted 12 foot work bench and a (7 x 4) cedar closet. The basement also has a half bath, a (7 1/2 x 6) root cellar for winter fruit and vegetable storage, an upright freezer and an additional refrigerator/freezer. There is also a water filtration system and a 50 gallon hot water storage tank. Double metal doors lead directly out of the basement to the orchard.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The home has an (27 x 23) attached heated double car garage with a finished storage loft above, accessed by an interior staircase. Outside of the garage is a (44 x 25) fenced vegetable garden with a (8 x 6) cedar garden shed. On the opposite side of the house is an attached heated (8 1/2 x 7 1/2) potting shed with double stainless steel sinks used for starting plants and washing fruits and vegetables.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

This home is lovely no matter the season. Just imagine yourself sitting in front of a crackling fire in one of the four wood burning fireplaces this fall eating a piece of apple pie made from just picked apples right outside your door.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Offered at $849,900

For more information, contact:

Carol Linehan, Broker
Coco, Early & Associates-Bridge Division                                                                                 268 East Main Street, P.O. Box 247 East Hampstead, NH 03826                                   Office: 603.382.2121 x29
Cell: 603.494.8376
Fax: 603.382.8580
E-mail: carol_linehan@comcast.net

 

 

 

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Short Rib Marmalade Crostini, A Moxy Inspired Tapas

If you visit Portsmouth, New Hampshire and walk into Moxy for the first time, you might not guess that this casual restaurant’s chef, Matt Louis, has been nominated for Best Chef in the Northeast region by the James Beard Foundation…that is until you sit down and try his food. Before opening this small hip restaurant on Penhallow street in the historic part of the city, chef Matt once worked for the award winning chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon, the French Laundry and Per Se.

The chef prepares what he calls modern American tapas in the open kitchen of a two storied restaurant with walls painted in primary colors of red, yellow and green and an exposed brick wall behind a large blue bar with bright green stools. Wooden plaques in the bar area list the regional farms where Chef Matt sources ingredients for his tapas that have a definite New England twist.

Knowing that the tapas are made with the freshest ingredients and that the menu changes with the seasons, this is a restaurant that my husband and I thoroughly enjoy. It’s also fun going with friends so that we can share little bites from the varied menu. On our last visit we started off with chili kale chips with pumpkin and sunflower seed granola bites. Next we ordered the Johnny cakes, which are a thin scallion cornmeal pancake. They came with pork shoulder, crispy onions, a choice of two sauces , and pickled cucumbers which you then wrap in a leaf of bibb lettuce and enjoy. Our final two tapas were apple cider lacquered pork belly and the short rib marmalade on grilled toast with pickled onions and Great hill blue cheese.

After our last visit to Moxy, I thought I would try to recreate chef Matt’s short rib marmalade tapas at home. While I wouldn’t call the beef really a marmalade, it is a very tender braised beef that is complimented by savory blue cheese and sweet pickled onions. I served the crostini with a marinated asparagus tips and carrot ribbon salad that was also inspired by another tapas dish that we enjoyed at Moxy a couple of years ago.

Short Rib Marmalade Crostoni With Marinated  Asparagus Tip And Carrot Ribbon Salad

Short Rib Marmalade Crostini With Marinated Asparagus Tips And Carrot Ribbon Salad

Short Rib Marmalade Crostini

Short Rib Marmalade

  • 1 lb. boneless beef short ribs
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into several pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar

Season the short ribs with the garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat until hot and add the short ribs and brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and sauté until the onions start to get soft. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the red wine and scrape up the brown bits and let cook until reduced by half. Add in the beef broth, thyme and return the short ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the short ribs and strain the broth. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces. Return the meat to the pot, add some of the reserved broth and the vinegar and cook the liquid until it has almost evaporated but the meat is still very moist. Taste for additional seasoning.

Pickled Onions

  • 1/4 c. sherry or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 red or sweet Vidalia onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly

Place the onions in a small bowl. Heat the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pot, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the mixture over the onions and let sit for 1 hour. Onions can be made a day or two before and kept refrigerated. Drain before using.

To Assemble The Crostini

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • short rib marmalade
  • blue cheese crumbles

Slice the baguette on the bias about 1/4 inch thick and brush with olive oil. Grill the bread until brown on both sides. Top the bread with a large spoonful of the short ribs, a little of the pickled onions and sprinkle with some of the crumbled blue cheese and serve.

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Each crostini is a couple of bites of savory deliciousness and would make a wonderful appetizer for a party. I like serving a dish such as the short ribs that can be prepared ahead of time, the meat reheated and kept warm until ready to assemble. The pickled onions can be kept refrigerated in their brine and can also be used on sandwiches and tacos as well as grilled meats.

I can’t wait to return to Moxy to see what new tapas have been added to the summer menu. Who knows, perhaps I will be inspired to try to make another of the chef’s creative tapas plates. Tell me, are you like me and do you try to recreate a dish or meal that you have enjoyed while dining at a restaurant?

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Does It Stay Or Does It Go

Does It Stay Or Does It Go, that is a question I’ve asked myself lately. No, I’m not cleaning my closets of last year’s fashions for something new and trendy. I’m deciding which items to keep as my husband and I start the process of downsizing from a large colonial home in New Hampshire to a smaller open concept house in Florida that is less than half the size of our present one and doesn’t have a basement.

Moving is something most of us have done at least once in our lifetime, some of us multiple times, and we know it can be stressful. While it is feasible to pack up and move an entire household, it is not necessarily a wise choice. If you want to take everything you own to your new address, each item will have to be carefully wrapped and boxed for shipping. That can be expensive, as moving costs are determined by the total weight as well as the distance of where they will be delivered.

Everything Must Be Carefully Wrapped And Packed For Shipping

Everything Must Be Carefully Wrapped And Packed For Shipping, China In Newsprint And Bubble Wrap

If you are about to make a move and are freaking out about all the stuff you have accumulated over the years, you are not alone. You too have probably been asking yourself, “does it stay or does it go”. With limited space in our new house, I’ve had to ask myself lots of hard questions and thought that I might share how I’ve decided on what will be moved into our new house and what will be going into someone else’s home.

Does the style of my furniture go in my new home and will it fit in the new rooms? In my case, while most of my furniture looks very appropriate in my 1730’s farm house it would look out of place in tropical Florida. I have decided to reuse and adapt our 8 foot long pine dining table and hutch as they will blend in with the new style but we’ve bought upholstered chairs to replace the painted rush seat ones we have used in the past.

The Pine Table And Hutch Will Go To Our New Home But The Green Rush Seated Chairs Will Be Sold

The Pine Table And Hutch Will Go To Our New Home But The Green Rush Seated Chairs Will Be Sold

Can I buy new items instead of moving what I have? Old mattresses are bulky as well as heavy and it doesn’t pay to move them. The same can be said for large sofas, ours is not only too big for our new house, the style is also wrong. A smaller, lighter colored sofa and new mattresses have been bought and delivered to our new home.

The New Hampshire Family Room Furniture Is Large And The Wrong Style For Florida

The New Hampshire Family Room Furniture Is Large And The Wrong Style For Florida

A Smaller and Lighter Colored Sofa Is More Appropriate For Our Florida Home

A Smaller and Lighter Colored Sofa Is More Appropriate For Our Florida Home

Have I used it in the past year and will I need it in my new home? When it came to my dishes, this was a hard decision. While Florida living is considered a casual lifestyle, I’m taking all my china and crystal to our new house. Even though some dishes might get used only once a year, our family and lots of friends live in Florida so I think I may be entertaining more often. Besides, I reasoned that someone who blogs about food needs to set a pretty table when having guests over for a meal.

Villeroy And Boch Chine Ready To Be Packed

Villeroy And Boch China Ready To Be Packed And Shipped To Florida While The Mahogany Sideboard Will Be Sold

Do I have a place to the showcase the collectibles and personal mementos I’ve accumulated over the years? I’m sentimental and have boxes in my basement of things I couldn’t bring myself to part with in previous moves…old newspaper clippings of past achievements, mementos from travels and photos taken with people who don’t even look familiar now. Remembering that this is the first time in ten years that I’ve opened the boxes, I’m looking at each item once more and then tossing out most of them. Antique collections that can not be displayed properly will be sold.

Collection Of Antique Blue And White Plates

Collection Of Antique Blue And White Plates

Is this item of use to someone else? I’ve taken loads of clothing to the charity,  Goodwill. Some pieces that I had saved for a special occasion but didn’t wear still had their price tags on them, others were just a “smidgen too tight” and will now be worn by a woman they fit perfectly. A few designer items and suits will be going to a local consignment shop where someone may love their stylish good looks as well as I did. Finally, barn and yard sales are a very popular way to get rid of furniture and other items. I’ve been successful with the ones I’ve held and you can read how to organize your own here.  I advertise on Craigslist for all the items I have put in my barn to sell. I think it is a good way to have people see your furnishings without having them into your home.

Clothing Will Be Sent To Consignment Store

Some Of My Clothing Will Be Sent To Consignment Stores

We decided to do what you might call a pre-move. I packed boxes with dishes, cooking utensils, linens, etc. that we didn’t need at our present home. We arranged to have two containers delivered to New Hampshire and loaded them with the packed boxes and small pieces of furniture.

Two 6x7x8 Foot Cubes Packed And Ready To Be Moved To Florida

Two 6 x 7 x 8 Foot Cubes Packed And Ready To Be Moved To Florida

The containers were then picked up and shipped to the company’s warehouse in Florida. Once we had the closing on our new home, the containers were delivered to the house and we hired a moving service to unload everything. In less than two hours, all the boxes were in the proper rooms waiting to be unpacked. I’m happy to say that by careful packing, everything made the move in perfect condition.

Our Florida Home

Our New Home In Vero Beach, Florida

A Sneak Peak At The Partially Furnished Florida Great Room

A Sneak Peak At The Partially Furnished Great Room

With a few new pieces of furniture, dishes and linens, we can now stay at our new house when we go down to Florida for a visit while we wait for our farm to be sold. In the meantime, I’m focusing on getting our New Hampshire home ready to go on the market. Household and personal items are being carefully scrutinized and only what we absolutely love and think we will use often will be moved south. What keeps me going with so much to do…I know that by decluttering, hopefully our house make a good impression with prospective buyers.

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Will it stay or will it go? In the end, some of what I love will be staying in the homes of others around New England, while I will be starting a new life with just a few of my treasured possessions going with us to our new home in Florida.

 

 

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Spring Green

As I left for the airport in the early morning hours of late April, the cold morning air and leafless trees made me wonder if it would ever feel or look like spring here in New Hampshire. Returning home from Florida, after almost a month’s absence, it was a delight to see the trees all leafed out in Spring Green and the apple trees loaded with blossoms. Spring at our home in New Hampshire is such a welcomed season as buds burst into tender light yellow-green vegetation and the sweet smell of lilacs and apple blossoms fill the air.

Apple Blossoms Greet Us As We Return To Our New Hampshire Home And Orchard

Apple Blossoms Greet Us As We Return To Our New Hampshire Home And Orchard

Apple Trees Surrounded By A Carpet Of Grass And Dandelions

Apple Trees Surrounded By A Carpet Of Dandelions And Green Grass

Lilacs In Bloom Around The Old Rock Foundation

Lilacs In Bloom Around The Old Rock Foundation

During this beloved season, New Englanders try to search out and eat wild edibles such as ramps (a species of wild onion), fiddleheads (young, curled, edible fronds of certain types of ferns), morel mushrooms, and thin wild asparagus. While all these gourmet treats can be found by knowledgeable foragers, I’ve had no luck at all in my futile searches.

Green Ferns Line The Rock Walls That Surround Our Property

Green Ferns Line The Rock Walls That Surround Our Property

Wild asparagus does a good job of hiding itself from me among the wild flowers on our property and I don’t usually see their spears until after they have started to show their feathery fronds…would you believe there was one hiding right outside my front door. Over the years, I have searched in vain for ramps in the wetland areas around the perimeter of our orchard but to no avail. Ferns border the wonderful old rock walls that surround our property but they are not the ones that produce edible fronds. As to mushrooms, I’ll leave those to others to decide if they are edible or if they are poisonous.

To celebrate spring, one of the first meals I decided to create upon returning home was a Wild Garlic Pasta with Asparagus in a Lemon Cream Sauce. This simple to prepare pasta dish had a lovely spring green color and the earthy flavors were delicious. I had found a wild garlic pasta at a specialty market and it worked perfect in this recipe. Wild garlic, wild onions, or ramps, as they as they are called in New England, are reminiscent of very strong chives and if you can find them, you could certainly make your own fresh pasta for this dish and it would be extra special.

Wild Garlic Pasta In A Lemon Cream Sauce With Asparagus

Wild Garlic Pasta In A Lemon Cream Sauce With Asparagus

Wild Garlic Pasta In A Lemon Cream Sauce With Asparagus

Recipe serves 4, adjust accordingly

  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 oz. wild garlic pasta, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. cream, half and half, or milk*
  • 1 Tbsp. flour, I used Wondra*
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice or according to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese, additional served alongside

*You can use heavy cream and eliminate the flour from the recipe. If you use half and half or milk, the flour will help keep the sauce from splitting when adding the lemon juice. When I prepared this dish, I used 1/2 c. half and half, 1/2 c.  of 1% milk, and 1 Tbsp. Wondra as that is what I had available.

Steam or microwave the asparagus pieces for about 2 to 3 minutes until they are tender crisp, drain and toss with a tablespoon of butter.

In a deep sauté pan, cook the shallots in the olive oil over moderate heat until softened, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the wine and let cook until reduced by about half. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and when melted sprinkle the Wondra over the mixture, whisk until well blended. Stir in the half and half, zest, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, remove the sauté pan from heat, cover and keep the sauce warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente. Ladle out a cup of pasta water, reserve, then drain the pasta into a colander. Add the drained pasta and asparagus to the sauce and toss over moderate heat until heated through. Add the reserved pasta water, if needed a little at a time, to create a proper sauce like consistency. Sprinkle the pasta with cheese, serving more on the side at the table.

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This flavorful pasta is simple to prepare and will definitely remind you of all the wonderful little treasures that nature provides us during the spring. The fresh asparagus added a subtle crunch to this hearty spring pasta but it would also be great made with tender spring peas or tiny green beans. Fresh mushrooms would also add a delicious earthy flavor to the dish.  I hope this recipe inspires you to create a meal with ingredients that are fresh and only available during each short growing season.

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Chicken Avocado Suiza

Chicken Avocado Suiza is a delicious pan seared chicken breast topped with melted cheese,  creamy avocado and a fragrant roasted tomatillo sauce. This recipe was inspired by the flavors of one of my favorite Mexican comfort meals, chicken enchiladas Suizas. I love them so much that I’ve been known to eat them for breakfast while on vacation in the Yucatán. The enchiladas are a good meal anytime of the day but very filling.

I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds and wanted something lighter in calories and carbs but with similar flavors. I eliminated the tortillas, pan seared the chicken breasts and topped them with cheese, avocados and tomatillo sauce. I was pleased with the healthier result and thought I would share my recipe for Chicken Avocado Suiza.

Chicken With Avocado

Chicken With Avocado Chicken Avocado Suiza

Chicken Avocado Suiza

Recipe serves two, adjust accordingly

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • juice of half a lime
  • flour for dusting (I use Wondra)
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 1/4 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. tomatillo salsa* (Recipe found below)
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese, swiss, Monterey jack or other good melting cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

*If you don’t want to take the time to make the salsa verde, there are some good jarred versions in the salsa or Mexican food section of your grocery store. Santa Clara or Rick Bayless roasted tomatillo sauces are both very good.

Season chicken with salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil and lime juice, turn to coat the chicken and let marinate for thirty minutes. Pat breasts dry with paper towel and sprinkle each side with flour, dusting off any excess.

Heat 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil in a ovenproof sauté pan, add the chicken breasts and cook on medium high heat until golden, about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Top each breast with shredded cheese and place in the oven for 3 or 4 minutes for the cheese to melt. Remove from the oven, place on a plate and keep warm.

Add the wine to the sauté pan and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until starting to reduce, add chicken stock and salsa. Cook until reduced to a sauce like consistency. Taste for additional seasoning, if necessary. To serve, top the chicken breasts with sliced avocado, drizzle with tomatillo sauce, garnish with cilantro.

Roasted Salsa Verde

Roasted Salsa Verde

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa/Charred Salsa Verde

  • 4 tomatillos, papery skin removed, and halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 Serrano chilies, halved and seeded
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • a handful of cilantro, thick stems removed
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Place onions, chilies and garlic cloves on a foil lined baking sheet and place 4 inches under the broiler and cook until softened and starting to get a few black spots, about 5 minutes, stir and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. When cooked, place in a food processor with the water and oil, blend until a salsa consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

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If you visit Mexico, you will notice that almost every meal is accompanied by avocado in some form or the other. Instead of using it as a side, I decided to feature this healthy, creamy fruit as one of the main ingredients with the chicken. The dish I created was flavorful and much lighter in calories and carbs than enchiladas Suiza which are typically made of corn tortillas wrapped around a chicken filling, topped with salsa verde, and covered with swiss cheese and baked, then sprinkled with queso fresco. I served the chicken with a lettuce and tomato salad but if you are not watching calories like I am, you could also serve it with sour cream, rice and refried beans on the side.  This meal would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo at the beginning of May.

 

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Spring Is Late, Mud Season Has Arrived

After enduring New England’s harsh winters, I believe springtime is one of the most beautiful and must longed for seasons that comes our way but spring is late this year. Usually in April, the green floor of our orchard is interspersed with pastel colors of wild strawberry and viola blossoms and large swatches of brilliant yellow dandelions. Around the base of our colonial home, daffodils nod their yellow heads in the warm spring breeze. Neighboring homes have colorful trees in bloom while we await the fragrant blossoms of pear and apple trees which will start to bloom in late April or the early part of May.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet

Unfortunately this year, spring isn’t giving us the usual beautiful blossoms that gladden our hearts. After one of the coldest and snowiest winters ever, springlike weather has been slow to arrive in New Hampshire. With chilly daytime temperatures and nights below freezing, there is snow still on the ground in our area. I am growing ever so impatient for warmer days that will finish melting the snow and bring green back to our world. In the meantime, we are experiencing the ugly side of spring.

More Than A Foot Of Snow Still Covers The Orchard The First Week Of April

More Than A Foot Of Snow Still Covers The Orchard The First Week Of April

If you live in a temperate climate, you might not know about spring’s ugly side. It is the squishy, messy time of the year when rising temperatures melt the snow and mud abounds. New Englanders and others that live in snow country call it “mud season”. Let me explain how we manage during this annual early spring event.

On the fashion front, dressing is a mixed bag. I no longer have to wear my winter down coat that is so puffy it made me look like the “Michelin man” and that is a huge improvement.  Instead, I now wear a light down jacket that can be folded into a package about the size of a well stuffed sandwich when not in use.  Wool slacks have been traded for jeans…the better to hide dirty water stains that splash up on pants legs as you go about your daily outside activities.

To ensure that my feet stay nice and dry, I wear Clarks “Muckers”. Certainly not stylish, the lower half of the leather shoes are encased in rubber. They are very practical though when it comes to removing accumulated mud. If going out to dinner or to a friend’s home, I carry a second pair of shoes in a plastic bag. I can look nice after changing into pretty shoes and the muddy ones are stored in their “mud room” until I’m ready to leave.

My Car Is Coated In Winter "Salt Grime White"

My Car Is Coated In Winter “Salt Grime White”

When driving during this season, you must make sure your car has a full supply of windshield washing fluid. This is to insure that you can see where you are driving after a passing motorist sprays your car with the accumulated water from snow runoff on the roads. The water is quite dirty from the salt and sand mixture that was spread on the roads during all the winter snowstorms. At the end of a day of driving, my car goes from a shiny silver to “salt grime white”. When loading or unloading packages from the back of my car, I have to remember to stay a good distance away or my clothes will become filthy.

Pruning The Apple Trees Is Postponed This Year Because Of The Snow

Pruning The Apple Trees Is Postponed This Year Because Of The Snow

The apple trees would normally be pruned by now but that job has been postponed because of the snow still on the ground. As for the trees themselves, they will more than likely bloom late. Our magnificent stand of rhododendrons were hard hit by the record-breaking cold winter weather and I’ll be amazed if they make a comeback. I’ll prune off all the dead wood as soon as possible but that also means loosing this year’s buds.

Rhododendrons Damaged By Crushing Snow And Harsh Temperatures Below Zero

Rhododendrons Damaged By Crushing Snow And Harsh Temperatures Below Zero

Since we are putting our home and orchard up for sale, I’m not planting tomatoes this year. Instead, I’ll plant flower seeds in place of vegetables in our garden when the snow melts, the ground thaws and the soil dries up. With snow from plowing our drive piled so high by the garden gate, I’ll have to wait until the snow is gone to see how the herbs in the raised garden bed did. They had lots of snow insulating them against the below freezing weather so they should come back.

Snow Blocks The Garden Gate, No Planting Any Time Soon

Snow Blocks The Garden Gate, No Planting Any Time Soon

As the old saying goes, hope springs eternal, so I know that this messy mud season will soon be replaced by natures beauty just waiting to sprout and unfurl. In the meantime, I’m in the midst of “spring cleaning” and packing up part of our household goods for the move to Florida. I hope all my readers will understand why I have not visited lately and my posts have been further apart. Let’s all make the most of each passing day, no matter the weather or season.

Soon Spring Warmth And Sunshine

Soon Spring Warmth And Sunshine Will Give Birth To Nature’s Beauty

 

 

 

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