Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

I am back from an amazing week at the beach and despite a hit & run incident that claimed the driver’s side mirror of my NEW car, it was enjoyable, relaxing and, most of all, rejuvenating.

I like to shop at the neighborhood whole foods market, the Co-Op. They carry an amazing variety of pre-prepared and ready to make foods, many of which are not available at the local mega- food markets. One such line is a group of specialty products made by Stonewall Kitchens. Friends Jonathan King and Jim Scott started the company back in 1991 with a jar of jam, selling their concoctions at the local Massachusetts farmers' market. The name “Stonewall Kitchen” was inspired by the historic New England stone walls outside their kitchen window.  Today, Stonewall Kitchen offers a variety of products including jams, chutneys, aiolis, condiments, glazes, and baking mixes. Before I left for the beach, I bought the Blueberry Sour Cream Scone Mix….I was lured by the promise to “Make Mornings Memorable”(I like a challenge) and the enticing photo of a scone sitting along side of a cup of tea and some creamy butter. I don’t mind cooking while I am at the beach, in fact, I prefer it, but I don’t often bake and I thought this would be an easy way to start a mini-tradition.

So on a lazy Sunday morning, I got up, followed the directions on the back of the package and in about 15 minutes I was enjoying a freshly baked scone along with a cup of freshly brewed French Roast coffee. These scones are really delicious and were devoured quite quickly. Next time, I’ll mix in some lemon zest to add a welcome tanginess and maybe some fresh blueberries to produce a plumper, juicer scone. morning was somewhat more memorable but I think it had more to do with being at the beach (one of my favorite places) than the scone. Sorry Stonewall Kitchen dudes.

The morning we left Dewey Beach, we got up extra early to watch the sun rise. Spectacular! A memory indeed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rigatoni With Asparagus, Ricotta and Lemon

I am leaving for the shore tomorrow (really it’s the beach because we are going to Rehoboth, which is in Delaware; if it were Jersey, it’d be the Shore) and I wanted to make something quick to post.  I  have one word to say: Oh. My. Goodness.

Ok, that’s three words, but if you make this, you’ll know what I mean.  Creamy, lemony and nutty goodness on a plate! Serve with a nice Italian red wine.  See you in a week!

Penne With Asparagus, Ricotta and Lemon

1/2 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (freshly, divided)
2 tbsps fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tsps lemon zest (freshly grated)
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (taste)
Black pepper to taste(fresh ground)
2 cups whole wheat penne (I used whole wheat rigatoni)
1 lb asparagus (stem ends snapped off cut into 1 12 inch lengths 2 cups)
A handful of pine nuts

1.  Bring a large pot of light salted water to a boil for cooking the penne.

2.  Stir together the ricotta, parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until smooth.

3.  Add the penne to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until the penne is al dente (Do not overcook penne) and the asparagus is tender, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and asparagus and place in a large bowl.

4.  Add 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture, whisking until smooth. Toss the pasta with the ricotta sauce and pine nuts.
Please try this…it is soooooo good and quite satisfying

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons Learned From the Wild Ones

Recently the vet diagnosed my Boston Terrier, Stella, with advanced heart disease. She collapsed one day doing what dogs do….protecting her house and humans from intruders – the trash collectors. She was indoors and the interlopers were never in any real danger because of the structural barriers but, nonetheless, Stella was going to make her presence known and bark her disapproval.

I wonder if Stella has any clue about what's happening in her little body. All she knows is that now she gets a peanut butter-smothered pill two times a day and Mommy is feeding toast each morning…it doesn’t matter to her that the toast is meant to fill her tummy so the medicine doesn’t make her sick. Her unconscious resilience and ability to go about her day – happy and unfettered by the consequences of the diagnosis (despite her labored breathing) – has reminded me to embrace and enjoy her each day.

She still wags her tail (which is really a stump) when she sees people that – to her – could have been gone for five years, five months, five weeks, five days, or five minutes…it doesn’t matter, she is still happy to see them, regardless of why she hasn’t in a while. People come in and out of our lives for various reasons and circumstances so when you see them again, make like a dog, wag your tail and blissfully greet them. Stella still chases squirrels and birds that she will never catch, undeterred, moving merrily on to the next potential conquest. This is a reminder to never give up chasing a dream.   Stella stretches every morning before she gets out of bed and even though my yoga teacher has preached for years the value of a morning stretch ritual, it took my canine companion to finally help the nickel drop for me.  

The lessons we can learn from our pets are endless and enduring and go way beyond the love and loyalty that our beastly companions offer each day. Observe them and my suspicion is that life will quickly become a little less complicated and way more gratifying.

May 18, 2013

Today, Stella would have been 13.  Stella died on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  I came home from work and found her lying peacefully, just like she was sleeping.  The vet told me that she likely felt a little strange, fell asleep then passed away.  She is my forever Boston angel and I know she continues to protect and watch over me from the big playground in the sky.  As she did in life, she puts a smile on my face everyday. 

Rest peacefully my little love....a star -- the meaning of your name in Italian -- is shining a bit brighter because of you.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Felted Clutch

Ok, so I’ve wanted to felt something for a long time.  Felting seemed like an insurmountable challenge for a deliberate and slow me.

Felting is the process of knitting something normally and bigger than you actually need and machine washing it to shrink and “meld” the wool yarn fibers together. 

I’ve been an accidental felter but I never felted on purpose.

In case you haven’t observed, I get bored with my knitting projects easily – perhaps because I am a  dawdler careful crafter.  Also, sometimes the codes are difficult for me to decipher… k2tog, ssk, k1p1, wyib, and so on.   I am a visual learner and I have recently found illumination in the handy knitting tutorials on YouTube (Foodie told me about these). 

Anyway one day, I saw this pattern for a simple, little felted clutch in my Best of Knit It book.

Land sakes!  Even I can make that!  So I casted on the required 24 stitches on size 13 needles, carrying two yarns of wool along the way, and stockinet-stitched my way to a LBC (little black clutch).  As added incentive, I bought a beautiful rhinestone broach to bedazzle the finished creation.

I wanted to make it thinner (more like an old pencil case) than the pattern…yikes!  So, I decided to knit to 15” instead of the required pre-felted length of 18”. 

So here it is...

Bound off….

Sides single crocheted together….

...and ready to felt.  The instructions suggest to wash it in a "delicates" bags....

Felting instructions....

I used Delicare....

While drying, shaped using a book..."Tuesdays with Morrie"....

Bedazzled and (almost) perfect! 

Not bad for a first attempt!  I am not happy with the little fabric balls that appeared on the finished felted piece so I will be very careful to wash with only cotton tee-shirts the next time I felt an item.  Other than that, it felted beautifully!  I think I'll line it with a pink satin fabric too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Every now and then I see a recipe that intrigues me so much that I just have to try it.

Such was the case one day as I’m scrolling through my facebook page and I see this:

The first thing that occurred to me was….YUM.  Then I thought…what on earth is the crust made from?

Oh I found out alright…and let me tell you, it may sound odd, but this recipe is pure pleasure on a plate.

The crust of these delightful little discs is a concoction of finely chopped cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, egg, and spices.  They are easy to make….I, of course, made a few modifications.

I love pizza and this is an easy and low carb way to enjoy a favorite without feeling guilty or stuffed!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Modified from the blog via

1 large head cauliflower (about 4 cups shredded)
2 large eggs (I used egg white substitute)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used an Italian cheese blend – use any cheese you’d like!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pint of grape tomatoes, chopped
Mozzarella balls, cut in quarters (one ball quartered for each pizza)
12 fresh basil leaves, sliced
Parmesan Cheese, to sprinkle
Note:  Please ignore the beer in the background.

1. Using a box grater or a food processor, shred cauliflower into crumbles. You need 4 cups.  I had some left over that I sautéed and tossed in some brown rice the next day.

2. Cook cauliflower in microwave in a large microwave-safe bowl for 8 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes.

3. Add eggs (or egg substitute), 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, oregano, basil and garlic and stir to combine. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

4.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets (or pizza pans); divide mixture into 10-12 balls. I used my trusty Pampered Chef pizza stone.  Place balls on sheets and pat each into a thin round about 4 inches wide. Bake in oven 15 minutes until golden brown.  The edges might burn a bit brown but to be honest, that added a nicely caramelized flavor.

5.  Remove sheets from oven and top each mini crust with the diced tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil.

6.  Place back in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheeses melt.  Let them rest for a minute or two before taking them off the pan…it will take a little coaxing to remove them!

What I would do differently (besides the changes I already noted):  Next time, I will add the chopped basil when the pizzas come out of the oven….it dried out and lost some flavor and color.

Absolutely delicious..and, bonus, a great way to camouflage vegetables for your finicky eaters.

Considering all the calories and carbs you saved, you can enjoy with a beer...just a suggestion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

I typically eat very healthily, despite the conclusions you may have drawn from reading my blog posts. I exercise every day – except Sunday since it is a mandatory day of rest…it’s a fact, look it up -- and chart my calories in (best app ever).

Every now and then, it's a girl's prerogative to be a little naughty (in a culinary sense that is) so I decided to modify one of my favorite muffin recipes to a more waist-line friendly version.

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s nothing more colorful than fresh fruits and vegetables (maybe flowers, but for purposes of this post, let’s say fruits and vegetables). When I saw pesticide free raspberries from New Jersey in the Co-op, I immediately knew what recipe I was going to reinvent!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from:

1/3 cup of egg whites
1 cup non-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar (I cut it down since I was adding raspberries)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup canola oil
1 pint of fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position rack in center of oven. Butter, or line with paper liners, 12 - 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups. In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg whites, milk, and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients, along with the canola oil, into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Add the raspberries. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter using an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18 - 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.  Makes 12 delicious muffins, only 230 calories each!

I am enjoying one with my coffee (that and wine are my guilty pleasures) as I write this post and, you know what, I don’t miss the extra sugar, butter, cream, white flour or whole eggs at all.   The flavors of the deep, dark chocolate and the luciousness of the sweet raspberries just burst in your mouth.... YUM!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red, White & Blue Sangria

Happy 4th of July!

We are having a cookout today at Architect’s house and I agreed to bring a festive cocktail.  

So I searched Pinterest for a patriotic potion and I found a Red, White & Blue Sangria courtesy of    Younger daughter pointed out that there is no juice involved…there is berry-flavored vodka but there’s enough fruit to take care of the fruit detail.  

Red, White & Blue Sangria

2 bottles dry white wine.  I used Yellow Tail Sauvignon Blanc.
1 cup triple sec
1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup (I used Stirrings)
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks or stars punched out of mini cookie cutters.  I used the star in my Pampered Chef mini cookie cutter kit.

Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink, or serve over ice.