Friday Recipe Exchange: Soups On


Well it’s been a whirlwind of activity here and I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with the house and garden. Lots of cooking going on for friends and family because I love working in my new kitchen. It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging. But dinner is in the slow-cooker and I have a moment before it’s time to walk Bixby, so tonight there is a recipe exchange. From the food blog:


JeffreyW and I once again had a mind-meld moment and both made a batch of Beef and Barley Soup this week. His yummy photo is pictured above.  My recipe is here and JeffreyW’s recipe is here, accompanied by great photos.

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so I stocked up. I love a good pot roast and have a few recipe variations. I have a recipe for a Tangy Pot Roast here.  For a more traditional take on a yummy Slow-Cooker Pot Roast  including a full menu and recipes, click here. My new favorite ingredient is a dash of good whisky to deepen the flavors.  One of the roasts will be cut up and frozen for soup or stew.

The garden is still producing an abundance of ripe tomatoes, so I made a batch of Tomato-Spinach Soup, recipe here. For a vegetarian version, just omit ground beef. I make it both ways depending on my mood. Serve with grilled cheese sandwich on Easy Slow Rise Crusty Bread, pictured below and recipe here.


Another batch of tomatoes, along with zucchini, green peppers and eggplant (all garden fresh) went into a fresh dinner for guests this week, Garden Fresh Pasta, recipe here.

What’s on the menu tonight? Any fun plans for this first weekend of October?

Turkey Bean Soup1

Tonight’s featured recipe is what we’re having as part of a get-together tomorrow night. It’s simple, hearty soup that we can put together earlier in the day for a quick dinner. Then we’ll be heading out to the local historical farm for Wildlife Night. There will be owls.

Cranberry beans are usually easy to find, but if not, substitute cannellini white kidney beans – you can use dry or canned.

Turkey Bean Soup

  • 1 lb smoked turkey sausage, diced (or ground turkey, browned)
  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight, drained)cranberry-beans-close-up
  • 8 cups of water (or 6 cups water, 2 cups chicken broth)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve with fresh hot bread and salad for a complete dinner.


That’s it for this week. I’m heading out to buy paint…starting on the living room this weekend. Have a great weekend – TaMara

Spatchcockalypse Now!!!


(a spatchcocked chicken preparing to rest)

Actually several hours ago for dinner. Since we’ve not had a recipe post for a while (cough, no pressure TaMara, cough), I’ve broken out the frilly apron, the tiara, and got to work. For dinner tonight I roasted a chicken. Specifically I spatchcocked it. For those not up on all the hip, culinary terms to spatchcock is to butterfly a chicken, game bird, or other type of poultry by removing the backbone and then grilling or roasting it. This is done so that the bird has a more uniform shape and the white meat won’t get dried out while you’re waiting for the dark meat to cook all the way through.

I preheated the over to 500 fahrenheit and cut the backbone out. Then I rubbed it all over with olive oil, then kosher salted, freshly cracked black peppered, and paprikaed liberally. I then placed the chicken onto my broiler pan, which has very nice drainage slits over the foil wrapped bottom catch pan. I inserted my probe cooking thermometer into the meatiest portion of one of the breasts, set the thermometer to go off at 150 degrees fahrenheit, and into the oven it went. You will want to keep an eye on it in case the skin darkens too fast you can lower the oven to 400 degrees, which is what I did with about 15 minutes to go. All told you’re looking at no more than 1 hour cooking time for a 7 lbs chicken.

When the thermometer measured the internal temp at 150 I took it out, put it on the lovely platter above, tented it with foil, and let it rest for ten minutes before slicing. I then finished off preparing the mashed potatoes and the lightly sauteed veggies. After ten minutes I drained the pan drippings/au jus into a gravy cup, sliced the chicken, took some more pictures, and took everything to the table. All in all an easy and tasty Sunday supper!



Standing Up By Sitting Down To Eat: Salsa Justice Warriors Unite!

In response to Marco Gutierrez’s remarks expressing concerns about an invasion of Taco Trucks I decided to strike a blow for Salsa (Verde, also Roja and Crema and guacamole) Justice and went for Mexican food tonight. Never has standing in solidarity, by sitting and eating, tasted so good. Also, the corners of my neighborhood are still clear of taco trucks, so I’m going to keep Balloon Juice set at TacoCon 5 for the time being. So grab your forks my Salsa Justice Warriors and head for the comments – open thread!


(Guacamole Mexicano)


(Beef Tacos)


(El Paso Burrito with Salsa Roja, Crema, and Verde)

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pears and Grilling

Pears Pecorino Walnuts

Pears, Pecorino and Walnuts over pasta

I am heading out for the evening, hoping this will post okay in my absence. This was one of my favorite new recipes, I’d never heard of mixing pears and cheese over pasta, but come to find out, it’s actually a very popular ravioli. I think this recipe has all the flavor without all the work. From the recipe blog:


Sometime contributor Michael Fallai shares a lot of terrific recipes on Facebook. The only hitch is they are often in Italian. Tonight’s featured recipe was one of those. If you ever want a laugh, let Google translate a recipe for you…and don’t let dissolve cheese in a water bath, or let your wine evaporate on flame lively intimidate you.

Perusing the weekly ads, I pulled together a few recipes based on what was on sale this week and headed out to the grill.

First up, Curried Turkey Burgers, recipe here. Great served on fresh pita and grill some fresh eggplant from the garden.

Collard greens were everywhere at the farmer’s market last weekend, so Collard Greens with Bacon seems timely, click here.

The dinner menu took advantage of the abundance of pears right now, Grilled Salmon in Dill Sauce with Pear Raspberry Salad. Click here for recipes and full menu.


JeffreyW and Mrs. J made some delicious looking Cream Horns (and to this Italian girl, seems the only difference between these and Cannoli is the filling). Purty pictures and directions can be found here.

What’s on your menu this last weekend of August? What garden fresh items are you enjoying right now? What are you grilling up?

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top) became a poignant reminder of the earthquake in Italy. I had pulled it off the Italy site, translated it and put the ingredients on my shopping list just days before it hit.

Here is my version:

Pasta with Pears, Pecorino and Walnuts

  • 10 oz linguine pasta
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large pears, very ripe, cored and cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (plus extra for garnish)
  • 4 oz cream cheese or Mascarpone, cut into small cubes
  • dash of white wine (opt)
  • salt and pepper to taste

skillet, large pot

Bring water to boil in large pot, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.  Drain but do not rinse and add back to pot, off heat.

While pasta is cooking, heat skillet on medium heat, add walnuts. Stir constantly until lightly toasted, remove and set aside.

Add butter to skillet and melt before adding pears. Stir gently until well coated with butter. Cook until softened, gently stirring occasionally (you don’t want to break up the pears).

Add both cheeses and stir in completely. Let simmer on medium heat until lightly boiling. Add wine and let simmer away (about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta, pear mixture and walnuts in large pot and mix well. Serve with extra Pecorino for garnish.


That’s it for this week. I’m sorry I don’t have a new photo of Bixby for National Dog Day.  Have a great weekend, enjoy the fading days of August – TaMara

A Late Night Snack

With TaMara’s move it seems like forever since we’ve had a recipe post. So I’ve broken out the emergency tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts and we’re under way!

We’re keeping it light tonight because of the summer heat. First up is a broccoli quiche.


And here’s the recipe:


1 9 inch pie crust

5 eggs

1 ½ cups 1 % milk

2 cups of shredded cheese (officially the recipe calls for Swiss, but I like to use the six cheese Mexican blend)

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp cayenne red pepper

¼ tsp sugar

Broccoli cut into tiny florets

1/3 cup minced scallions

(This is a vegetarian quiche, but if you want to add ham or bacon or crab or shrimp just toss it on in)

Heat oven to 425 degrees, Prepare a nine inch pie crust. Grease a deep pie pan/quiche pan, place the pie crust in it, and crimp the crust.

Sprinkle cheese and broccoli and onion in pastry lined pan. First cover the bottom of the crust with a layer of cheese. Then cover that with the minced scallions. Then cover those with another layer of the shredded cheese. Cover this with the broccoli florets and then a final layer of the shredded cheese. If adding a meat or seafood product, put 1/2 of it with the scallions and 1/2 with the broccoli.

In a separate bowl beat the remaining ingredients together and pour over the quiche filling in the pie pan.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 min longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Let stand 10 min before cutting.

Next up a cool, refreshing, and simple mixed melon and pineapple salad.


This really doesn’t require much of a recipe. I balled out 1/4 of a watermelon and 1 cantaloupe. I then chunked up one fresh pineapple and mixed it all together. Then into the fridge to chill before serving. I wasn’t going for anything fancy here, but use whatever fruit combinations you like the most.

And for the dessert, something light(er) and summery: Lemon layer cake with lemon buttercream frosting.

Curd_Crumb_Coat Cake_Side Cake_Top

The first picture is of the cake crumb coated with lemon curd. An important note: I did not candy the lemon wedges; they are purely for decoration unless you’re channeling Stonewall Jackson and like sucking on lemon wedges. In which case, knock yourself out, enjoy your forced march up the Shenandoah Valley, and DUCK!!!!

This isn’t my recipe, nor one that I’ve been using for years and don’t remember where I got it. So I’m just going to link to where I got it from rather than post it. It is very, very easy to make. I did not, however, make the cream cheese lemon frosting that is at the link. Instead I just made a basic buttercream and added the zest and juice of one lemon and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to make a lemon buttercream.

Enjoy and open thread!

Friday Recipe Exchange: Cookout Favorites

Jicama Slaw Final

It sounds like many will have rain for the holiday weekend. Luckily all the recipes I pulled together work well for an indoor picnic or backyard cookout.

The first compilation I arranged was for a variety of not-your-typical Pasta Salads, click here for four very tasty recipes.


The second group of recipes (found here) I put together from the archives was for garden fresh salads. Recipes include the Jicama Slaw (pictured at top of post) that I am making for a cookout this weekend. The smallest jicama I could find was 2.5 lbs. Anyone have ideas what I can do with the 1.5 lbs I’ll have left over?

I’m also making Watermelon Granita, recipe here, but you can use the recipe to make any flavor you desire.

My new garden has quite a few ready to harvest rhubarb plants. I’ve had this recipe tucked away for just such an occasion. Click here for Rosemary-Lemon-Rhubarb Spritzers. 

Buttermilk Pie 1

Buttermilk Pie, above, is such a show stopper and foolproof to make. Click here for the recipe.

What’s on your Fourth of July menu? What food is an absolute must for your table on this holiday?

Tonight’s featured recipe takes potato salad in a different direction and I hope it inspires you to share your favorite  potato salad recipe in the comments.

Italian Potato Salad

  • 2 lbs of small red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh snipped rosemary
  • 2 tbsp fresh snipped basil
  • 1/2  tsp crushed dried oregano (or  2 tsp fresh)
  • 2 tsp stone ground mustard*
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 24 to 28 oz fire roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shaved Parmesan

Large saucepan, baking sheet, large serving bowl

In saucepan, cover potatoes with water, add salt and bring to a bowl.  Reduce heat to low boil and simmer until potatoes are just fork-tender.  You don’t want them to be soft, as for mashing, you want them to still hold their shape.

Mix together vinegar, garlic and spices.  Drain potatoes and spread over a baking sheet in one layer,  pour 1/2 of vinegar mixture over them and let cool completely.

Add mustard and oil to remaining vinegar mixture.  Add sliced peppers to potatoes, stir and then transfer to serving bowl.  Toss with remaining vinegar mixture, salt and pepper to taste and Parmesan.

*I have an aversion to Dijon mustard, but if it a favorite of yours, you can easily use it in this recipe.

That’s it for me. There will not be a recipe exchange next week. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July – TaMara

Declaration of Independence

Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up a Storm

Bixby is 2 snap

This week has been the lull between storms, so I had time to do some actual cooking and recipe blogging. It’s hot as Hades here, so cooking outside seems like the only good option (the other being opting for ice cream 3 times a day). From the recipe blog:

Bixby turned two on Thursday and I felt that justified a Bixby Diaries post. So for the pet lovers, you’ll find lots of new and old photos, plus video of the Beast here. For the rest of you, it’s a grilling themed recipe exchange.

First up, Grilled Chicken and Papaya, recipe here. I noticed in the stores that mangoes were plentiful, and I can’t imagine why you couldn’t substitute – I would add a dash of lime to it all with mangoes.

Speaking of mangoes and papayas, how about Grilled Fish with Mango and Papaya Salsa, recipe here.

A couple of nice sides to round things out. But don’t think you need a recipe, fresh veggies from the garden, tossed in olive oil and grilled in a grilling basket can’t be beat.

Grilled Vegetable Salad, click here, can be a meal in itself or a hearty side.

Greek Grilled Potatoes, recipe here, are a nice, tangy change from regular potato packets.

What’s on the menu this weekend? Anything special planned for Father’s Day? What’s your favorite food to take out of the kitchen and make on the grill?

Flank Pinwheel Prep Final

Tonight, I combined two favorite recipes. I love the pinwheels because they are so showy (and tasty). I thought it would be a great recipe for Father’s Day weekend. Then I ran across my spicy sauce and thought, yum, that would work. If you don’t want spicy, here is the original Pinwheel Recipe. And if you don’t want pinwheels, here is the original Spicy Grilled Flank Steak recipe. I got you covered.

Grilled Spicy Flank Steak Pinwheels



  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup orange juice


  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 bunch washed and dried spinach leaves
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • olive oil

ziplock bag,

You can ask the butcher to butterfly your flank steak, which  is what I did. But it’s fairly easy to butterfly. You want the grain running up and down in front of you and then you’ll slice it in half, NOT slicing all the way through. When you’re done you’ll lay it open, flat, basically making a larger, thinner steak.

Image from Serious Eats

Once you have it laid out flat in front of you with the grain running left to right, you’ll want to tenderize it, pounding it thin.

Keeping it flat, place into a ziplock bag,  add marinade and coat completely on both sides. Marinate flat in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from marinade and assemble.

Layer the spinach over the meat. You want it to be several leaves thick, because it will reduce as it cooks.

Next layer the provolone cheese slices, two to three slices thick, over the meat.

Now it’s time to roll.  Roll tightly in the direction of the grain. Add a skewer every 2 inches and then slice between the skewers, so you have 2-inch thick pinwheels.

Heat grill and oil grates well – alternately you can cook in a cast iron skillet (heat 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil in it) on the grill. If using a gas grill – heat one side to high for searing, turn the other side to about medium to finish cooking. For coals – place coals toward center of the grill, leaving the edges cool for finishing cooking.

Add pinwheels to the grill, flat side down. After a minute, using the skewer (you may also need a metal spatula to get all the cheesy goodness) flip over, sear additional minute.  The usual method of waiting until the meat moves easily to flip will not work with this because the cheese is sticky. So just do one minute each side, it will be fine.

After the second side is done, move steaks off of high heat to the cooler grates  and let the steak finish for about 10 to 15 minutes for medium rare. These are thin and don’t need a lot of cooking time and you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes, so the cheese isn’t molten lava.

My steak made 4 large pinwheels.

That’s it for this week. I don’t know how many recipe exchanges I’ll have in me while I’m packing, but stay tuned. Have a great weekend! – TaMara