Appetizer Tray Using Grandma’s Silver

I’ve been thinking about rebranding my blog. A lot of thinking and rethinking. Then Kim at Curtain Queen Creates commented on the name of one of my former blogs and I went back to look at my posts there. It was like going through a closet full of old but beloved clothing. I really don’t want to throw out the old posts, so I decided to repost them here for the time being. Don’t be surprised by the various names on the photos — those are some of my older blog names.

And if there’s a name you really like, let me know. Maybe I’ll rebrand by using an old name — isn’t that the prerogative of a woman of a certain age?

Reblogged from February 20, 2013

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.IMG_7218B

Slap some baby carrots and whatever veggies you have in the house in some bowls or ramekins and add some purchased guacamole. Put them on Grandma’s silver platter (or your thrift shop treasure) and Voila! You have a healthy appetizer for the family as they wait for dinner to be ready. Or a snack if a friend drops by. There is no end to what you can do to make a party with a piece of silver.

There’s no reason not to use your silver. Every day.

GotMyReservations Coffee Thank You Sign Off

Getting Back My Blogging Mojo and Spring in My Step

I spent the morning wandering around Pier One, Pottery Barn, and Crate and Barrel. I figured that if anything could perk up my dormant writing mojo, it would be Easter bunnies and pastel dishes.

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

Maybe I have some sort of seasonal affective disorder. Or maybe I’m just sick of Chicago’s whiplash weather. One minute it is 60 degrees and my tulips are coming up and the next minute there’s seven inches of heavy snow to be shoveled. Welcome to winters in the Midwest, I hear you saying. Get over it. Continue reading

Roasted Chicken – the Awesome Budget Stretching Food

Every time I roast a chicken, I am reminded that there’s a reason chickens are awesome.

I had seven people over for dinner last Friday, and chose two plump roasters at my butcher shop. Out the door, less than ten dollars.

Click into photo for recipe and source

Click into photo for recipe and source

Continue reading

Pesto Presto

How does your basil grow this summer? Mine’s pretty much gone to seed and I’m not very good about watering it. Although I like to garden and I love the flowers and fresh produce, I don’t have much patience for the constant caretaking. I know, I’m a bad gardener.

plantkiller

Earlier this summer when it was raining every day, I took advantage of my basil bumper crop and whipped up a bunch of fresh basil pesto. Fast forward a month or so and it’s almost gone, but I had some kale that needed to be used. (Isn’t there always kale left over in the fridge?) I added more olive oil, four more cloves of garlic, some lime juice and the limpish kale and threw it all into the food processor. Voila! A new pesto was born. Continue reading

Roasted Beets with Lemon and Garlic

We had a half-naked lemon, left over from the bread-making frenzy on Friday night. She’s hiding her zesty side.

GotMyReservations Lemon and Depression Glass Juicer

We had some aging beets from the Farmers’ Market. Upon peeling, some of them turned out to have a little surprise of their own. Continue reading

French Peasant Beets Recipe

Fresh beets from a friend’s garden. Organically grown. Just picked. Priceless.

GotMyReservations French Peasant Beets 2

We love fresh beets here at GMR, and I spent a little time looking for a recipe that included both the beets and some greens — we had a big bunch of kale that needed to be cooked. I found a recipe for French Peasant Beets and just a quick browse through the Food 52 site gives me a lot more food for thought. 🙂 Continue reading

Broccoli-Cauliflower Swiss Cheese Soup: On the Menu Monday

I didn’t set out to make this beautiful cheese soup. It just kind of happened.

GotMyReservations -- Broccoli-Cauliflower Swiss Cheese Soup

I had a lovely small piece of steak thawing, and I thought about making beef stroganoff. I love everything about beef stroganoff, from the tender seared beef to the sweet sauce with a touch of sherry and cream. With perfectly browned mushrooms added to the mix, this recipe has been one of my staples for years.

Sounds fabulous, right?

But there’s a catch. We’ve been trying to do meat on the side and include lots of veggies on our plates. We’re not eating much white food either, and our list of no white food such as potatoes, bread, and rice includes the obvious noodles that would complement the beef stroganoff. Even if they’re whole wheat, they are still a healthy dose of carbohydrates that we are trying to avoid in our diets.

What is meat on the side?

If you are watching Food Network Star, you know that bright and bubbly Nikki Dinki was eliminated. I’m sad to see her go, but at least I have the consolation of being able to follow her lovely blog, Nikki Dinki Cooking. Her prospective show for Food Network would have focused on using meat as a side dish rather than as the main dish, and her recipes are creative and yummy. When I ran across her recipe for Cheddar Cauliflower + Squash Soup, I knew I had a winner for our meal.

Of course, I had to remix the recipe. To contrast with the beef, I wanted a lighter cheese, so I bought Trader Joe’s mix of Swiss and Gruyere. TJ’s didn’t have the cut-up squash that they sometimes carry, so I grabbed a bag of mixed broccoli and cauliflower. With a box of baby bella mushrooms to saute and serve with the beef, we were all set to go. At the last minute I realized that the milder Swiss cheese would need sherry and nutmeg rather than the spicy mix in Nikki’s soup, so I also grabbed a bottle of dry sherry and practically ran to the checkout.

GotMyReservations -- Broccoli-Cauliflower Swiss Cheese Soup Title

Nikki’s recipe is really easy to make and with the substitutions, it was perfect with the beef. I highly recommend this recipe, whether you make it Nikki’s way or mine.

I’m linking up to Metamorphasis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and Martha Mondays Link Up Party at Watch Out, Martha! Be sure to visit some creative and inspiring bloggers to get more ideas!

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford. 
Like a child in wild anticipation, 
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

Market Fresh: Dilled Cucumbers

We’ve been haunting the local farmers’ market getting market-fresh fruits and veggies. I picked up some gorgeous cucumbers and a wonderfully pungent batch of fresh dill and there was no question what to make — dilled cucumbers!

I find that sometimes I forget the simple pleasures of summer veggies in my zeal to try something new. Dilled Cucumbers is an oldie-but-goodie that should be in every cook’s summer menu plans! Try this favorite recipe to cool down your summer table.

Dilled Cucumbers

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings

Dilled Cucumbers

Low calorie and delicious, dilled cucumbers just hit the spot for an easy summer meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (sour cream works well, too, if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon flavored white balsamic vinegar (try Honey Ginger Balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup dill, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt

Instructions

Prepare the cucumbers. I peeled mine this time, but I don't always. Sometimes I make stripes with the peeler. It totally depends on your mood. Some people cut out the seeds, but I don't always do that either.

Cut the cucumbers into 1/8 inch slices and put them into a colander. Toss the pieces with the salt and let them drain into the sink or a bowl. The salt dries out the moisture and makes them extra crisp. Let the cucumbers sit while you make the dressing.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, vinegar, and dill. Blend the dressing together with a wire whisk or a fork.

Pat the cucumbers dry with a towel and add them to the dressing bowl. Toss to coat the cucumber pieces with dressing.

Chill and serve, or serve immediately.

http://gotmyreservations.com/2013/07/01/market-fresh-dilled-cucumbers/

 

Market Fresh: Creamed Swiss Chard

 

A bunch of fresh rainbow swiss chard, straight from the Farmers’ Market, is a rare thing of beauty (even if the photo is a little out of focus — sorry).

My new trainer told me that I had to eat even more veggies and much less fruit than I have been, so off to the Farmers’ Market I went, ready to try new greens.

I grabbed this bunch of beautiful rainbow swiss chard and a huge bunch of kale and stuffed them into my oh-s0-green-unbleached canvas market bags. When I got them home, they practically engulfed my kitchen island.

So what’s to do with rainbow swiss chard? After searching my extensive recipe files 🙂 the internet I found a nice recipe from Martha Stewart. I rarely cook from Martha’s recipes anymore after I read the tell-all book, Martha Stewart: Just Desserts, and learned that her recipes often have missing or incorrect ingredients. But maybe that was before she became an internet maven…

The first thing that I did was clean the chard; I trimmed the bad ends from the stalks and washed the leaves thoroughly. Then, following directions from the recipe, I cut all the stalks into small pieces and started sauteeing them with the onions and garlic.

Then I cut the leaves into strips, which was really fun. When you roll up a chard leaf, it’s easy to make clean strips of beautiful green. My huge bunch of chard filled a colander to overflowing, but when you cook it down, it becomes just enough for four servings of creamy deliciousness.

I made the white sauce — VERY EASY, ladies — and grated in lots of fresh nutmeg. Since I was only using one bunch of chard, I altered the white sauce recipe to serve four rather than twelve, and I used skim milk. No problem with the sauce thickening up, and it tastes just fine.

I am cooking for the empty nest, so I poured the finished product into four ramekins and topped them with a few pinenuts for crunch. I never met a pinenut I didn’t like, by the way.

Served with a sliced tomato and a white cheddar cheese log, also fresh from the market, we had an easy and delicious light lunch on a busy Saturday.

I have no reservations about recommending Martha Stewart’s recipe for Creamed Swiss Chard!

I’m linking up today to On the Menu Monday at Stonegable — be sure to stop by to see what other bloggers have to share today.

 

 

Bookin’ and Cookin’ — Mr. Darcy’s Secret and Spinach Herb Quiche

Jane Odiwe’s Jane Austen sequels have been sitting on my Goodreads list for a while. I haven’t had much success with Austen sequels; most writers have tried to match Austen’s witty prose and failed and then replaced the wittiness with sex. They were boring and an insult to my beloved Jane’s memory. Some even added zombies and sea monsters to the mix. This one was different and deserves the 4 out of 5 star ratings it receives on both amazon.com and Goodreads.

Click the book cover to read Chapter One of Mr. Darcy’s Secret from Jane Odiwe’s website.

Elizabeth and Darcy arrive at Pemberley after their marriage, ready to begin a new chapter in their lives. Lizzy is learning to be the mistress of a great estate and in order to encourage Georgiana to be more outgoing, a great ball for her society debut is held at Pemberley. Of course, there is the usual Austen drama involving class struggles, and Elizabeth also tries to reconcile Lady Catherine with Darcy after their falling out over the marriage.

While its suggestive title may lead one to believe otherwise, Mr. Darcy’s Secret is primarily about Georgiana’s love story. She struggles with accepting a marriage proposal from an eligible but indifferent  suitor but wants to be dutiful and obey her strong-minded and well-meaning brother. All the while,  she is indulging in innocent flirtation with an entirely unsuitable prospect, the landscape architect hired to do some design work on Pemberley’s gardens. As in Jane Austen’s stories, how Georgiana resolves her dilemma is the main story line — and of course, it resolves in a fully Janeite way.

The title refers to a skeleton from Pemberley’s past that the Darcys have in their closet. Trust Caroline Bingley and the local gossip Mrs. Eaton to try to destroy Elizabeth and Darcy’s happy new marriage with hints of secret affairs and illegitimate children, requiring a stiff upper lip and a lot of standing by her man by Elizabeth.

Jane Odiwe uses Austen’s voice effectively, especially when she mimics Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourge, and she continues the characterization created by Austen in her books. All of your favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice show up for their cameos, including the Bingleys, the Bennetts, the Wickhams, the Collinses, the Gardiners and of course Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

While thinking about what I would match up with Mr. Darcy’s Secret for my Bookin’ and Cookin’ series, I stumbled across a wonderful resource. Created by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, the website has many interesting bits and bobs about Jane. Here also, Janeites can find Regency recipes that Austen’s characters might have been eating, with modern remixes for modern cooks. Spinach Herb Quiche has an interesting history; it is originally a torta recipe from the Renaissance cookbook written by Platina in 1465 and then collected and republished as Cariodoc’s Miscellany by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook.

Spinach Herb Quiche

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: 1/4 of pie

A modern remix of an ancient recipe from Renaissance cookbook author, Platina, a Regency version of Spinach Herb Quiche might easily have appeared on the table at Pemberley.

Ingredients

  • 9" frozen unbaked pie crust
  • 3/4 lb cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 t marjoram (dry or fresh)
  • 1/2 t sage (dry or fresh)
  • 1 t fresh mint
  • 1/2 c fresh parsley, stems off
  • 1/4 c spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk

Instructions

Chop all herbs and spinach in food processor. Place in the pie shell.

Grate cheese or chop in food processor. Layer on top of herbs and spinach mixture in pie shell.

Beat egg whites lightly.

Mix milk and eggs together. Pour over greens and cheese mixture in pie shell.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes; then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for about another 40 minutes.

Let rest before cutting into wedges for serving.

Notes

While this recipe was fun to make and we enjoyed the unique taste of the herbs, you might prefer my all-time favorite from Julia Child -- Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère, Hambon et Brocoli

Source of original recipe: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/spinach-herb-quiche/

http://gotmyreservations.com/2013/06/23/bookin-and-cookin-mr-darcys-secret-and-spinach-herb-quiche/

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