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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Small Plates Or Tapas, Let’s Party

In today’s restaurant scene, you can’t help but notice the growing number of restaurants that feature small plates, tapas, meze or antipasti on their menu. Bistros, wine bars, and gastropubs often suggest that you make a meal from several small, savory plates and forego an entrée altogether. If you are with another couple, your waiter may encourage your table to share several dishes…perhaps ordering two, three or four small plates per person to pass around family style.

Sampling beautifully composed, delicious little morsels of food that have bold flavors, surprising food combinations, or ingredients you might not have tried before, is a great way to judge the kitchen’s talent. Ordering a selection of small plates at a restaurant can often lead to a fun night of good food, good wine and stimulating food conversations.

Small Plate Of Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs  On A Bed Of Takziki With Warm Almonds And Olives

A Small Plate Of Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)  On A Bed Of Tzatziki With Warm Olives And Almonds

You don’t have to limit this experience to a restaurant. Why not plan a party with small plates of food shared with a few of your friends. Select a country such as Spain, China, Mexico or Greece and serve several little plates based around the country’s cuisine. It is a wonderful way to introduce your “not so adventurous” friends to new foods and flavors. Whereas they might not want a full portion of something they haven’t heard of, your friends will more than likely be willing to try a small bite or two.

If you are thinking about serving Mediterranean food at your party, you might want to consider a small plate of  keftedes, which are lamb meatballs seasoned with mint and oregano, served on a bed of tzatziki sauce alongside warm marinated olives and almonds.  It would be a wonderful introduction into Greek food that some of your guests might not have experienced.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)

These recipes, as part of a small plate will serve four, adjust the recipes accordingly.

  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb. ground lamb (beef or pork may be substituted)
  • 1/2  small onion, diced small or grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use fresh)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil for sautéing the meatballs

Mix all the ingredients (except the oil) together until combined and form into meatballs about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch in size. Heat the oil over medium high heat, add the meatballs and cook until golden. (They may also be baked in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, depending on size, or until done).

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lightly salt the diced cucumber. Let drain in a sieve for about 5 minutes, discard the liquid. Warm the olive oil and minced garlic (I do this to mellow the flavor of the garlic but it is not necessary) then let cool. Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes while the flavors meld. Taste for additional seasoning.

 Warm Marinated Olives and Almonds

Take a selection of olives (about 2 cups) such as Gaeta, Niçois, Kalamata or Picholine and rinse to remove some of the salt, then drain well. Skip this step if using oil cured olives.  Warm 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a small sauté pan, add 1 peeled garlic clove that has been flattened , 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. fennel seeds, 1 tsp. each of chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, and the zest of a lemon. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add the olives (can be prepared ahead of time up to this point, refrigerated and then brought to room temperature before continuing). Add a cup of almonds and toss well. Heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture is warm and fragrant.


The recipes above can also be served as a regular dinner. Increase the size of the meatballs and serve them with orzo, rice pilaf or couscous. Add stuffed grape leaves, baba ganoush or a salad and you will have a lovely Greek dinner. However, for a change of pace, I suggest serving them at your next party. I believe that nibbling one’s way through several small plates of food will make for a fun evening for both you and your friends.

Now tell me, do you enjoy sharing little taste bites among friends at a restaurant? Do you like to start with an appetizer, go on to a main entrée, then end the meal with a dessert? Have you ever been to a tapas party? I would love to know your thoughts.

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The Burger Bar

The Burger Bar is not your usual hamburger joint, far from it. Located in the attractive Donald Ross Village Plaza in Palm Beach Gardens, the Burger Bar is pure Florida fun…sophisticated yet funky, gourmet but casual.

The Burger Bar, Not Your Usual Hamburger Joint

The Burger Bar, Not Your Usual Hamburger Joint

Red And Black Interior Of The Burger Bar

The Striking Black And Red Interior Of The Burger Bar…Sophisticated Yet Funky

With its striking black and red interior, a wall of meat grinders used as a room divider, wood topped tables with industrial looking metal chairs, a huge retro picture of a man and woman riding an antique motorcycle leaning against one of the restaurant’s walls and lots of large screen TVs mounted above the bar, you know you are in for a good time.

Meat Grinders Make A Clever Room Divider

Meat Grinders Create A Clever Room Divider

A Large Retro Picture Of A Man And Woman On An Antique Motorcycle Leans Against One Wall Of The Burger Bar

A Large Retro Picture Of A Man And Woman On An Antique Motorcycle Leans Against One Wall Of The Burger Bar

Sitting inside would have been nice, but after recently escaping New England’s cold and snow for the warmth of Florida, my husband and I decided to have lunch outside on their pretty courtyard. I’d call it outdoor dining at its best with tables surrounding a large gurgling fountain and tropical palms. Again the decor reflects the black and red theme. You can’t help but notice the chandeliers made from wine bottles that hang over the large bar that must be a favorite place for locals to enjoy a cocktail and watch sports on four large screen TVs on a pleasant afternoon or an evening under the stars.

The Outdoor Courtyard And Bar Of The Burger Bar

The Outdoor Courtyard And Bar Of The Burger Bar

Service was prompt and friendly. We ordered drinks while we looked over the large and varied “gastropub” menu. Of course, handcrafted burgers are the main feature…you will find beef, buffalo, lamb, turkey, chicken, tuna and mahi mahi listed. Vegetarians are not left out either with choices such as black bean, Portobello and even a caesar salad burger. If you are not in the mood for a burger, don’t worry, as there is a nice choice of salads, wraps, and wings.  There is also an array of small dishes under the heading quick picks such as beer battered corn dog bites, lobster mac-n-cheese, and panko crusted pickle spears with mustard aioli which we couldn’t wait to try as the Burger Bar makes their own pickles…they were crispy and flavorful.

Panko Crusted Fried Pickle Spears

Panko Crusted Fried Pickle Spears With Mustard Aioli

For our burgers, my husband ordered the Beach Burger with applewood smoked bacon, swiss cheese, pickles and a “beach sauce” made with mustard and mayo on a pretzel bun. I enjoy spicy food and ordered the Hot Mess Burger with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar and swiss cheese, jalapeño peppers and their “blasting sauce”, which tasted of citrus and chipotle peppers on a challah bun. Both burgers were served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle chips. Once assembled, they were a huge mouthful of beefy goodness. The hamburgers both came with a side of fries. We tried their house cut white truffle oil and parmesan fries and the sweet potato fries which were served in a cute miniature deep fry basket…hot, crispy and good.

Gourmet Burgers And Fries At The Burger Bar

Gourmet Burgers And Fries At The Burger Bar

After our meal, executive chef Matt Miller, who is originally from our part of the world down in Weymouth, Mass., stopped by our table to see how we enjoyed our meal. He told us that he has been at the restaurant since its inception and approved of what we ordered, saying that the burgers were two of his favorites.

What can I say about the Burger Bar…it certainly isn’t like any hamburger joint in my rural area of New England. With prices ranging from $9.50 for their Great Burger to $19 for their “top shelf” Prime Steak Burger, I would say prices are about what you would expect for a gourmet burger that was so big, I couldn’t finish it.  Certainly more than you would pay for a frozen beef patty that has been cooked, served on a plain bun, wrapped in paper and passed to you from a drive through window but well worth it. This was a filling meal made with quality ingredients, served on dishes and presented in a cleaver way at a fun restaurant in beautiful surroundings.




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What A Winter

What A Winterfour snowstorms in less than a month! Thank goodness, that my husband and I could get away for a couple of weeks. Each February, weary of the winter cold and snow, we head south to celebrate our anniversary in the warmth of the Florida sunshine instead of the bitter cold and snow of New Hampshire. After a blizzard dumped three feet of snow on the ground at the end of January, we were very happy to be able make our annual escape to Florida.

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

Looking at the photos above, where would you like to be in February.

As usual, we had a lovely anniversary. We also got to spend time with our children and grandchildren in south Florida before heading up the coast to check on the progress of our new home being built in Vero Beach. After two weeks of warm weather and delicious food, it was time to pack our bags and fly back home.

When traveling in the winter, we always keep track of the weather up north. Just before checking out of our hotel in Vero Beach and heading to the airport in West Palm Beach on Valentine’s day, I decided to check with our airline and it is a good thing I did. The fourth snowstorm in less than a month was heading toward New England. Snow and the threat of dangerously high winds caused the airlines to cancel hundreds of flights in and out of Logan Airport, the Boston Transit Authority shut down all their trains and buses, and people were advised to stay off the snowy roads because of the impending blizzard. Our hotel in Vero could only extend our stay for one night. Luckily, we were able to get a room at one of the airport hotels in West Palm Beach for an additional three days until we could fly home. Needless to say, we didn’t get home for a romantic Valentine’s dinner but we did get to enjoy warm weather for an extra four days.

I’m sure that most of my readers have seen what Boston looks like on your local or world news. Unfortunately, it is the same here in New Hampshire. All I can say is, if every winter was like what we are having this year, all New Englanders might just call it quits and move south. After you see my photos, I think you might see why we will be doing exactly that, later this year.

Our Long Drive With High Piled Snow

Our Long Drive Lined With High Piles Of Snow

We are lucky to have wonderful friends who look after our home when we travel. After each punishing snowstorm that occurred while we were gone, our drive was plowed and our walk shoveled. Our porch roof had to be shoveled off for a second time in less than a month as snow piled so high, it entirely covered the front windows on the second floor of our home. Good friends are priceless and we are thankful for their help when needed.

Our New Hampshire Home After Four Snowstorms In Less Than One Month

Our New Hampshire Home After Four Snowstorms In Less Than One Month

The Porch Roof Has Been Shoveled Twice This Month Because The Second Story Windows Were Totally Covered

The Porch Roof Has Been Shoveled Twice This Month Because The Second Story Windows Were Totally Covered

Our Truck And Plow Waiting For The Next Snowstorm

Our Truck And Plow Waiting For The Next Snowstorm

Pretty High Snow Piles…Snow Boots, Pants, And Coat, Where Is My Shovel

Pretty High Snow Piles…Snow Boots, Pants, Coat, And Gloves, Now Where Is My Shovel

One thing that none of us knew was that while we were gone, one of our home’s thermostats stopping working because of a bad battery. The result caused a pipe in my potting shed to freeze. Wednesday, as the weather warmed above freezing, the frozen pipe melted. We were greeted by the sound of water flowing down into the basement when we arrived home. Thank goodness, we only had about an inch of water in part of our basement. The water in the basement has now been cleaned up, fans are blowing to dry everything up and life can return to normal.

Frost Obscures The Light And View Outdoors  But The Patterns Are Beautiful

Frost Obscures The Light And View Outdoors But The Patterns Are Beautiful

By normal, I mean another day of bone chilling temperatures, staring out the window at a black and white world as snow continues to fall (95 inches have already fallen this winter), plowing and shoveling snow. We are quickly running out of places to put the snow and this is only the middle of February…what a winter.

We thought of ourselves as hardy souls when we decided to leave Florida twenty years ago and move to New Hampshire. Most people who live here are but after this winter, we are so happy that we have decided to move back south. Perhaps in future years, we will come back to New Hampshire but I can guarantee it won’t be in the winter.


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Warm Lentil Salad With Merguez…A French Bistro Meal

A Warm Lentil Salad, an item found on many French bistro menus, is a simple but flavorful dish when topped with spicy lamb Merguez sausages. Old fashioned French comfort food at its best, it’s perfect for either lunch or your evening meal. If you don’t care for sausages, you could top the warm lentil salad with confit duck legs, pan seared salmon or even a runny poached egg. Enjoyed with a crisp baguette and a glass of red wine, this dish will transport you to one of the cozy, unpretentious French bistros hidden along the back streets of Paris.

Warm Lentil Salad Topped With Merguez Sausage…A French Bistro Meal

Warm Lentil Salad Topped With Lamb Merguez Sausage…A French Bistro Meal

I used dark green Lentils de Puy for my salad. These delicious little legumes, known for their exceptional flavor and texture, are from the Auvergne region of France but are also grown in Italy and North America. They cost more than other lentils and may be hard to find in some areas, but I think they are worth searching out as they hold their shape well and have a nice nutty flavor. If you can’t find the green lentils, you can substitute brown lentils but the texture and taste of the salad will be very different. If you use brown lentils, simmer very gently and don’t overcook them or you will have a mushy dish.

 Warm Lentil Salad With Merguez Sausage

Serves two, adjust the recipe accordingly


  • 2  Tbsp. of either sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • a good pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 tsp.)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced shallot
  • 2 tsp. of a good Dijon mustard (whole grain mustard can be substituted)
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegar, salt, pepper and the minced shallots. Let sit for about 5 minutes so that the shallots soften a little. Stir in the mustard and then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Taste and adjust the vinaigrette, if needed. If it’s too sharp, add some more oil. If it seems too bland, add more vinegar, mustard or salt to your own taste.


  • 2 spicy lamb Merguez sausages (Saucisse de Toulouse, Chorizo or other well seasoned  sausages of your choice can be substituted)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel, diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c. green Lentils de Puy, checked for small stones and rinsed well
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • water
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 potato (I used Yukon Gold), peeled and diced*
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced*
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped thyme or parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the sausages and cook until done and a little crispy. Remove from the pan and keep warm. In the same saucepan, add the onions, celery and fennel, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the lentils, broth, and water to cover by about 2 to 3 inches. Add the parsley and thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer the lentils until they are just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the diced potatoes and carrots with cold, salted water. Cook over moderately high heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and place in a large bowl, toss with a little of the vinaigrette. *To save time, you can simmer the potatoes and carrots along with the lentils but their color will be a little dark.

When the lentils are done, drain well, place in the bowl with the cooked potatoes and carrots. Discard the bay leaf, parsley and thyme sprigs. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and toss well. Let sit for a few minutes until the vinaigrette is absorbed, taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. If the lentils seem dry, you can drizzle with a little olive oil. To serve, transfer the lentils to individual plates or bowls and top with the sausages.

The important thing to remember when making this recipe is to add the vinaigrette while the lentils and vegetables are hot so that they can absorb all the flavors.


This classic French bistro meal is quick to prepare and very flavorful. The lentils are delicious warm but are equally good cold. They would make a nice accompaniment to a simple roast chicken packed into a picnic basket along with a baguette, some cheese, fresh fruit and a lovely bottle of wine. All that is needed is a park bench close to the Eiffel tower and you would have a memorable French inspired picnic.   Bon appétit!

A Park Bench Close To The Eiffel Tower Would Be A Great Place For A Picnic

A Park Bench Close To The Eiffel Tower Would Be A Great Place For A Picnic

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A Life Well Lived

A Life Well Lived eases the sorrow of sawing “goodbye”.  My mother has passed away and while our family will miss her, we are grateful that she had a long and happy life.

My Lovely Mother, We Will Miss You

My Lovely Mother, We Will Miss You

My mother, Juanita Hughes, passed away peacefully in her sleep this weekend. She was born in Kansas almost 95 years ago, and schooled in Oklahoma. She spent the majority of her life living in Texas after she and my father were married. She was a mother to my brother and I, I called her momma, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I believe her happiest role in life was as the wife to my father, Larry Hughes.

My mother never seemed to question my father’s ideas over the years, even when he decided to retire in his forties, move to the country and become a rancher. While growing up a city girl, she and my father started a new life on a small ranch outside of Houston, Texas.

We lived in a small four room wooden house with slopping floors, one board thick walls and a “pot belly” stove for heat until a new home could be built for us. She led a quiet life on the ranch, being a “stay at home mom” until I was in high school, when she decided to go to work to help with our family’s finances.

Even though she did not enjoy cooking, she always made a home cooked meal for our family each day when returning home from work. My favorite was her terrific fried chicken with cream gravy, it was delicious. I remember her happily picking wild grapes that lined our road with my father and I to make homemade jelly.

While being a reserved person, my mother had a fun side. When we first moved to the ranch, I remember her wearing shorts and cowboy boots to go to the local grocery store, going for moonlight horseback rides with my family and friends, and attending the famous rodeo each year in Houston.

She had a life well lived…long, happy and healthy but missed my father terribly when he passed away. It will be hard to say my last “goodbye” to her but it will be made easier knowing that two people who loved each other so much are now united once more.

May you rest in peace mother, you will be missed by your family.


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