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Kitchen Zen

Moules Marinieres

2.25# fresh, live mussels
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 finely chopped white onion
5 oz dry white wine
2 TB butter
handful of fresh oregano & tarragon
4TB cream or creme fraiche

Scrub & debeard mussels.  Fry onions & garlic in big pan.  Add 1/2 of the herbs.  Season with black pepper.  Add wine & mussels.  Turn up heat to high and steam about 5 minutes.  Shake pan to coat mussels a few times.  Remove from heat & add cream & remaining herbs.  Eat with salad & crusty bread.

(Note:  The sauce is DIVINE, and we’d’ve loved more.  I might up the liquids next time I make this, just so we have more dipping sauce.  Good, quick, easy.)

Chicken Pot Pie

White wine
8TB salted butter
1/2# portobello mushrooms, diced 1/2″
S&P to taste

1 large yellow onion
2 carrots, diced or sliced
1 1/2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1TB chopped fresh rosemary or thyme or tarragon (I usually use 1TB EACH rosemary & thyme)
1/4C flour
1C Chicken stock
1C light cream
1C frozen peas (or fresh if you’re going all out.)
2tsp sherry or madeira wine (I like to use a good balsamic vinegar here.)
one pie crust

Marinate chicken in white wine for a few hours.  It definitely adds flavor, but can be omitted if you have to.  400*  Saute 2TB butter with mushrooms til they give up all their liquid ~5-7 minutes.  Set aside mushroom mixture.  Add 2 TB butter and add onions and carrots. Cook til onions are golden & carrots soften.   Add chicken, garlic, hers & cook til chicken is cooked through.  Add to mushrooms.  Add 4 TB butter & whisk in flour for 1 minute.  Whisk in stock and cream and simmer til thick sauce forms.  Add sauce and frozen peas to chicken.  Add sherry & season with S&P.  Spoon into 2 qt baking dish.  Roll out pie crust 1 1/2″ larger than top of dish & drape over.   Fold under edge and seal.  Brush with cream and cut 5 steam vents.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake til crust is well browned ~ 40 minutes.  Let sit 10 minutes.

Lamb (or Beef, but lamb is better) & Winter Veggie Stew

1# Stew meat, cut in chunks
2TB oil
2C Beef Broth
1C Red Wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1TB fresh thyme or 1tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
2 C cubed squash
1 C 1/2″ sliced parsnips
1 C chopped sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 C sour cream
3 TB flour

Brown meat.  Stir in broth, wine, garlic, thyme, S&P, and bay leaf.  Boil, reduce heat & simmer 20 minutes.  Stir in veggies, boil, reduce heat & simmer til veggies are cooked ~ 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine sour cream and flour.  Stir 1/2 C hot broth in, add to stew, cook til thick.


Chicken Tikka Masala

1 1/2 # boneless, skinless chicken

1 C yogurt
2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1″ ginger, minced.

1 TB butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz tomato sauce
1 C whipping cream

soak skewers in water.  Thread chicken onto skewers, then marinate at least 1 hour (preferably more) in fridge.  Make sauce by melting butter in saucepan.  Add garlic & jalapeno,  cook one minute. Stir in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt.  Stir in tomato sauce.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in cream.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Remove chicken from marinade (it will be goopy.  Don’t worry.)  Discard marinade.  Broil (or grill) chicken about 8 minutes.  Remove from skewers, add to sauce.

Serve with rice or naan.


Lamb – no recipe
Guacamole & chips – recipe (sort of) below
Chinese Green Beans – recipe turned out blech.  Wouldn’t recommend
Strawberry shortcake – recipe below


2 perfectly ripe avocados
a few TB of a nice salsa
a few dashes of lime juice

Squish them all up together til it tastes perfect.  Must eat with salted corn chips, since there’s no salt in my recipe.


Biscuits of any sort.  I prefer unsweetened, the boy prefers sweet.  Whatever.  Biscuits or cake, your choice.

1 qt (or more) of strawberries, quartered & hulled
1/3 C sugar (more if you have a sweet tooth, or the strawberries aren’t so ripe,less if they’re perfect.)
Teeny bit of vanilla

Heavy/whipping cream
1/2C sugar
yogurt, or sour cream or something vaguely sour – dried buttermilk would probably work, too, though I’ve never tried it.

Mash the strawberries & sugar together. Let chill in fridge at least an hour.

Using a mixer, whip the cream & sugar til soft peaks form, add souring agent.  Beat til hard peaks form.



Quinoa salad
Grilled lamb
Blueberry pie

Tomato juice (Sacramento brand, if possible) 46 oz
1/2 C Olive oil
1/2 C Red wine vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 large tomatoes, peeled & cut up
2 large cucumbers, peeled & cut up
1 green pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic

Blend.  Using as many trips through the blender to get everything nicely mixed.  In my small blender, it takes about 1/5 of the mix.  Put in a big bowl to stir together.  Serve chilled.

1C quinoa, rinsed
2 C water
2 C cooked, drained black beans (or canned)
2 C corn
2 plum tomatoes, chopped small
1 small red onion, chopped small
1 C packed cilantro
1 avocado, chopped small
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB lime juice
2 cloves minced garlic
2 TB nutritional yeast
2 tsp cumin
S&P to taste

Cook quinoa for about 20 minutes uncovered, till all water is absorbed.  Mix beans, corn, onion, tomato & cilantro.  Mix dressing.  Stir quinoa til cool.  Let sit 15 minutes.  Add veggies & dressing.  Let sit at room temp for 1 hour.


5 C fresh blueberries
1 TB lemon juice
2 pie crusts
1 C sugar
1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom
2 TB butter
1 lg egg, beaten
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle berries with juice.  Roll out bottom pie crust into pie pan.  Add sugar, flour, spices to berries.  Pour into shell.  Dot with butter.  Cover with second crust, either as a lattice or a solid crust. If solid, cut slits for steam to escape.  Crimp & seal crusts.  Brush with egg.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 35 minutes, or til golden.


Roast Chicken Breasts with Fennel, Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Olives (From Gourmet’s New – and last – book of recipes, pg. 393)

2 medium fennel bulbs
1 1/2# small (2″) red boiling potatoes cut into 8 wedges each.
6 TB extra-virgin olive oil
14 garlic cloves
4 tsp lemon juice
4 chicken breast halves (with skin & bones, about 3# rinsed & patted dry
8 plum tomatoes, cored & cut lengthwise into quarters
1 C Kalamata olives
1 1/2 TB finely chopped fresh rosemary

Put a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat roasting pan at 450*  Cut off fennel stalks & discard.  Quarter bulbs.  Trim cores, leaving enough to keep layers intact and cut fennel lengthwise into 1/4″ slices.

Toss fennel & potatoes with 2TB oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl until well coated.  Spread evenly in the hot pan & roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mince 4 cloves garlic and mash to past with 1/2 tsp salt.  Transfer past to a small bowl and whisk with lemon juice, 1/4C oil, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Brush chicken with about 2TB of mixture & set aside.

Thinly slice remaining 10 garlic cloves lengthwise.  Transfer to a bowl and toss with tomatoes, olives, rosemary and 2 TB garlic mixture.

Remove roasting pan from oven.  Add tomato mixture and stir to combine.  Put chicken skin-side up on top of veggies and roast for 15 minutes.

Brush chicken with remaining garlic mixture and continue roasting til chicken is just cooked through – about 20 minutes more.

(Sprogblogger’s note:  I made this with two big boneless, skinless chicken breasts & it was still delicious.  I also forgot the olives and, on reflection, probably the rosemary.  Still tasty.)