Thursday, July 28, 2016

Salad Days

Can you believe it - next Monday will be August. A step closer to my favorite months and jackets and boots and fires in the yard. But until such a time arrives....... we have cool lunches for hot days.

A Greek salad where I ditched the pepperoncinis but loved the extra black olives. This was enjoyed with a few slices of pizza while we had movie night. We watched London has Fallen. Lots of action and if you are a fan of Gerard Butler, he owns the screen time.

The salad keeps me from eating too much pizza - good idea, yes?

Greek salad

Bad ass......lots of explosions, gun battles and action. Perfect for movie night - if you like those things.


Here we have a salad Nicoise purchased from Hopkins Eatery in Tallahassee. Instead of fresh tuna, as I use at home, they added a scoop of tuna salad. It was very good and a cold salad loaded with lots of veggies and a bit of protein hits the spot. You can't see the potato slices very well but it had plenty of seasoned red potato slices.


I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. Click HERE for this week's link up.

Join in! You don't have to post on Sundays.


I love soup year round but this particular summer had me avoiding it. When it's cooler I will be bringing some soups from Nigel Slater and Curtis Stone. Looking forward to that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bow Tie Pasta with Corn, Thyme and Parmesan
{Potluck with Curtis Stone}

It's Potluck time at I ♥ Cooking Club and I think I will stick with Curtis Stone. If you know me you'll know I love Nigella and Nigel .....but Curtis is fast working his way up the ranks as a favorite.

Corn Pasta 2

Pasta is making a limited appearance on our table as we are cutting back on the carbs a bit.
Noooo, not avoiding carbs completely - how I love them - but cutting back is essential right now.

For this week's indulgence we are trying a bucket load of farfalle pasta loaded with fresh corn, onions and gently coated in a lighter version of the called for cream sauce. I cut back on the cream and loaded up on the veggies. Oh yeah......this is going to be a repeat.

This is the amount leftover after one meal. Yikes! Despite me reducing the amount of pasta and sauce it still made a hearty quantity. We had it for dinner two nights and took for lunch during the workweek.


In my opinion, fresh ingredients are essential to the taste of this meal. You could use frozen corn but this dish popped with fresh favors so I will opt for carving the corn fresh for this dish. Next time I am adding cherry tomatoes. Bet that would be good, add some color too.

Corn Pasta 1

Bow Tie Pasta with Corn, Thyme and Parmesan
Curtis Stone's cookbook What's For Dinner

1 pound farfalle pasta, but you coukd use any small pasta. I did not use a pound - too much!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (from about 2 medium shallots)
6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
4 large thyme sprigs
2 cups corn kernels
1 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
1/4 cup finely chopped chives


Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil then add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Easy. Now you can start the sauce.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper....stir so they don't burn. This will take approximately 3 minutes. Now add the wine and thyme sprigs, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has reduced by about three-quarters. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain, and return the pasta to the pot; set aside.

Ok, back to the sauce. Get the frying pan again and add corn, cream and pepper. Stir gently to combine.
Place the reserved pot of pasta over low heat and pour in the cream-corn mixture. Now douse with cheese, chives and some of the reserved pasta water. Mix it all up.

If you want to add shredded chicken you can change the vegetarian feature of the meal. It's a win if you have a household of meat eaters and vegetarians.

Corn Pasta 3

Check out I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others served up. Also linking up to Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Curtis Stone Badge Resized

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Listening, Reading, Riding, Watching…

Life is going along in the same pattern for us. We are trying to stay cool and avoid the hot afternoon temps. Listening to music in the evenings or watching a movie. Got back into wines again but I have to say I have enjoyed trying new bourbons, listening to music and giving Aja treats.

Watching: Ray Donovan and loving it. We just finished season three and now have to wait for season 4 to go on DVD. The show is packed with action and Liev Schreiber isn’t hard on the eyes either. If you are a fan, wouldn’t you agree the episode Walk this Way from season two was the best one ever! I want to watch it again. We have also watched The 33, a true story about the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days.


: I read Not Working (it was ok) and attempted The Secret Place. Right now I am captivated by The Twelve by Justin Cronin. It’s been a while since I read The Passage but the beginning of The Twelve catches you up quickly. Doug finished the last book in the series, City of Mirrors, so I can start on that next. Then we can compare notes.


Listening: Can’t get enough of Mark Knopfler, James McMurtry or David Gilmore. We’ve listened to some Big Band era music recently too.


Riding: We rode to St Marks one day and had lunch with our son. It wasn’t planned, we happened to take a day off to get our car windshield repaired and he was also off so….that worked out.

Sadly, The Riverfront Café wasn’t great. It was expensive and we waited forever for warm oysters and warm beer. Horribly hot day too. We are done with The Riverside – last time we had grouper there is was actually Swai. That’s just wrong.


Gardeningnothing going on. It’s dead. Very dead.

Souper Sunday
I have been enjoying participating in Souper Sunday at Deb’s Kahakai Kitchen.

For this week I want to share a simple throw together grilled sandwich. It’s avocado, tomato, bacon and cheese grilled and melty. When it’s a few days before payday and you don’t want to hit savings, look in your fridge and pantry and see what you can put together.


This isn’t an elegant sandwich, but it is a tasty sandwich and it was way better than anything we could have gone out and spent money on. We tend to eat lunch out on the weekend but bring a good lunch every day to work. Usually leftovers from dinner. It’s healthier and more economical. We decided to forage in the fridge and pantry for lunch instead of getting lunch in restaurant.

Here is this week’s link up. You don't have to post on Sunday.

That's it for me. Just a quick snapshot of what is going on. I hope it's all good in your world!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Landlocked Paella

Short and sweet – here is another winner from Curtis Stone. Honestly, I don’t think I have had this much good fortune with winning recipes from any other Guest Chef on I ♥ Cooking Club. With one exception, every single recipe from Stone’s cookbooks or website has been fantastic.

This week I am participating with quite a few events and this Chicken and Sausage Paella fits the theme for I ♥ Cooking Club and Cook the Books. I do try and keep my book reviews and posts separate on my book blog so – let’s just talk recipes and food now.


Curtis has two different Paella recipes in two different cookbooks. When I think of paella my thoughts turn naturally to seafood. In his book What’s For Dinner there is a meaty version using chicken and sausage. If we hadn’t had fish so much these past two weeks, I would have made the seafood version. Didn’t think we could tire of fish. Ok, it was all salmon, not a mixture of seafoods but still…….needed a break and went with the landlocked version of paella.

It was wonderful. Not difficult to prepare and it was on the table fairly quickly. I put it in the oven then we drove Aja to the park while it cooked. Nothing like coming home and being met with aromas of dinner simmering. The only change I would make to this one is to add more tomatoes next time.

We served this with Maduras and it was a great marriage of flavors. A+ again to you, Curtis!


The featured book at Cook the Books is Scarlett Feather by Maeve Binchy. My link for that club feature may be found at Novel Meals.

Linking up to I ♥ Cooking Club

Recipe below.........

Curtis Stone Badge Resized

Chicken and Chorizo Paella
What's For Dinner cookbook


4 cups water (I used 3 3/4 cups chicken broth)
1 small pinch saffron threads
4 chicken drumsticks (I used legs and thighs)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 Spanish chorizo sausage, cut into julienne strips
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups medium-grain white rice
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded, cut into small dice
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 375°F.

In a large saucepan, bring the water to simmer over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the saffron. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan, then add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or until brown on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate and reduce the heat to medium-high.

Add the chorizo to the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until browned. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and paprika and cook for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, or until the pan is dry and the rice is coated with oil. Stir in the warm saffron water. (I used 3 and 3/4 cups chicken broth)

Transfer the rice mixture to a paella pan. Nestle the chicken into the rice mixture, spacing evenly, and pour any accumulated chicken juices over. Sprinkle with the tomato and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the paella to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and crisp around the sides of the pan and the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the paella from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with the scallion and serve.

Monday, July 18, 2016

We saw our first Pokemon Go player, just wandering around a local park......oblivious to his surroundings.

The things I have been reading in the news lately about Pokemon Go are astounding. It's gotten dangerous for some players as they are oblivious to their surroundings. Be careful out there, folks!

We were walking Aja at a local park when this guy heads down the path towards us. He stops short of approaching us, almost as if he is waiting on us to move on. I know he can't be scared of our dog - I mean, have you seen her? She's not large or threatening. She's friendly to a fault and would love to accept an ear rub if one was so inclined.


All of a sudden this guy is moving his phone around, looking across the lake, looking back at his phone and starts walking without looking up. I ask you, what could possibly go wrong here?

poke hunter

I posted the photo below on Instagram - this is a massive Cottonmouth we saw just last month.

In this park.

And this guy is walking without looking at his surroundings. Should we have warned him? Nah....let him get a Darwin Award. It should be noted several people have reported this snake sunning here and they are trying to relocate it, get it away from the playground area.


So....I thought it was interesting to see one of the players and wanted to share. All the crazy things I have been reading in the news about Pokemon activities astound me. There have been accidents and deaths and rude behavior. Why would you walk through a funeral at Arlington Cemetery? Try and get inside someone's residence at 3 a.m. or drive while playing?

If you are a fan of this game please pay attention to your surroundings - For your sake and those of us who are innocently driving down the road.

Here are a few stories that made news:

Teen killed while trespassing, Trying to get into residence

Florida teens shot at while playing Pokemon Go. They were mistaken for burglers because of their behavior.

This guy hit tree!
7/11-Traffic accident: Illegally parked car struck from behind (*Airbags deployed in 2nd car). 1st driver had exited to catch a Pokémon.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Chicken Salad with Couscous ....... minus oranges

Everyone is tired of hearing about the heat of summer. So I am not going to mention it, other than to say I have sought out cooler meals to put on the table in effort to keep the kitchen from heating up. Nigel Slater has a good recipe for using up leftover chicken, making a healthy salad type meal that's easy on the prep. That's a winner in my book.


Looking over this recipe earlier in the week I decided to make it, knowing there is always leftover chicken in our home. Pity I didn't write down the ingredients in my ever present pink notebook. Thinking I could remember it, I neglected to buy pea shoots and small oranges. That's fine as I usually take a recipe more like a guideline and omit or add as I think fit for our personal tastes.


Substituting skinny asparagus spears (roasted in the oven) gave this the green veg needed. Almost like the photo on BBC Recipes page. Almost.

I was able to make a dressing of orange and lemon as we had orange juice in the fridge. Served with a yellow squash casserole, the two lone leftover wings and Sugar Kiss Melon rounded out the meal. This was satisfying and after a lunch of salad, I was fairly ravenous.

chick salad

The recipe may be found at BBC under the Food and Recipes link. HERE is the direct link for this meal. Since Nigel calls this a salad I will link up to Deb's Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday event. {It seems cheating in a way as this is chopped chicken over couscous, but salad it is named so there it is!}


If anyone else made soup, sandwiches or salads don't forget Deb in Hawaii has a linkup for her Souper Sunday. HERE is this week's link, you don't have to post on Sunday.

Also linking up to I ♥ Cooking Club.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

♥ ♥ Nigel Slater's Asparagus Risotto ♥ ♥

This is going to be a great week at I ♥ Cooking Club. Nigel Slater is headlining this week and there will be all sorts of wonderful Slater creations to drool over. I had to narrow down my many choices for something from The Kitchen Diaries - it was finally decided to prepare Asparagus Risotto.


If my attention is on a risotto then the rest of the meal needs to be fuss free. We had a honey-soy glazed salmon with green onions and smashed fresh avocado.

Stirring the short grained Arborio rice is very calming. You can't rush the risotto process. I can stand and drift, slowly stirring with no other obligations pressing me except to turn the mixture slowly, stirring the rice as it swells and engorges with hot broth. That's my only "job" for a good 25 minutes. Totally relaxing.


Nigel's cookbooks are both diary and recipe combined. Recently I bought Tender just to read it, the recipes are a bonus in this book. But I think The Kitchen Diaries will always be my favorite.

The recipe may be found HERE as it was printed in The Guardian. Nigel calls for lemon and that may have made it's appearance but, the lemon I had on hand was kinda...squelchy. If that's a word. But that's what this lemon felt like in hand, not fresh at all.


Check out I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others served up. Also linking up to Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Curtis Stone Badge Resized

Monday, July 11, 2016

Photos from a ride down Highway 98

To our great disappointment we were unable to ride this past weekend. The temperatures were too steamy. Here is a snap of our car thermometer after we'd left it for only a half hour to shop for groceries.

Yep, that's 6:30 in the late afternoon. Lovely.


It's not the ride to our destination - it's the ride back home that's killer. By mid afternoon the heat is bad enough that if you catch a few traffic lights, you just sit and bake over that hot asphalt, willing the light to change so you can get moving.

So, here are some snaps from 2 weeks ago when we rode down 98 a ways. It's always nice to see the water.

bridge road

We ate at the Blue Parrot and stared at the Gulf water.

blue parrot

I saw some birds approaching as we rode towards home.
birds blue sky

And here they are a bit closer. Sometimes it's hard getting decent shots from the back of a motorcycle.


This is headed home. More of the same, I guess, but it's much prettier in person. Hoping next weekend we can go somewhere.

coastal road

This is the time of year we think about moving north, maybe to Tennessee. We also talk about having a pool put in but right now that is cost prohibitive. We'll see. anyway, hoping to ride and share an outing next week.

Stay cool, stay hydrated!