Friday, April 5, 2013


Looking for a delicious new side dish for spring? Try this one...
It is a great combination of 'things and stuff' that blend really well for a fresh new take on asparagus. I put less vinegar and added the fresh stone ground mustard for more flavor, less tartness...


2 lbs. trimmed* fresh asparagus
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 TBSP stone ground mustard
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt
2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled
3 strips crumbled bacon

Grill asparagus on a medium grill until tender crisp. DO NOT overcook.
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, cheese and salt in a small bowl. Toss the asparagus in the vinaigrette. Arrange the asparagus on a plate and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and egg.
Serve immediately.

*Trim asparagus by snapping the stems where they naturally break.

Inspired by Anne Burrell 


 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session, 6 October 2012

 "...we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."    -President Monson

We just happened to have tickets for that morning session when this announcement was made. Amazing, touching, emotional! Sami knew immediately that she was going and had an appointment with the Bishop before the session ended. Who would have thought that she would be in the MTC on the six month anniversary of the announcement.
So proud of Sami and what she is doing!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


(Inspired by the Pioneer Woman)

Sometimes you just can't  stand the thought of smashed or baked potatoes again. Actually, that's not true... I love smashed or baked potatoes; sometimes you just have to have a little variety in life. I was browsing the other day for some of that variety and came across this recipe from the Pioneer Woman. Nice new take on potatoes, however with a little twist of 'things and stuff' from me.

 Tender and flavorful, with a nice crispy, crunchy kick! Perfect new side dish for meat on the grill! Check out the recipe below... it is almost too easy to be so good...

 Also good with just a dollop of sour cream!


for six servings you will need:
12 whole small new red potatoes
olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme or chives or scallions) finely chopped

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the tender potatoes on the cookie sheet and lightly ‘crush’ each potato with a masher. Rotate the masher 90 degrees and ‘crush’ again. Generously brush the tops of each potato with more olive oil and sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Top each potato with cheese and fresh herbs and bake in a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown around the edges.

My addition of 'things and stuff' was a little cheese. It does not add much to the calorie count, but it adds a lot to the flavor! You can also add a little crumbled bacon to up the flavor!  I served my crushed potatoes with Flank Steak (What's for Dinner #2). I also served them on St. Patrick's Day with Corned Beef for those who would not eat the cabbage!

Friday, March 22, 2013

AMORE'-- My new favorite thing #5

I have seen Rachel Ray and several other cooking show hosts using tomato paste from a tube for years but have never really given it much thought. However, the other day I was at thegrocery picking up some 'things and stuff' for dinner when I happened to notice tube paste on the top shelf above the canned tomatoes. Itwas the first time I had noticed it so I threw a tube in the cart. It is a little pricierthan canned tomato paste but the depth of flavor is amazing andit is so much easier to use. I used it in the La-Zag-na Soup.
I am hooked.

Amore' also does pastes in other flavors-- Garlic, Pesto, Hot Pepper, 
Anchovy and Sun Dried Tomato.


'La-ZAG-na' Soup
(say it with a thick Bronx accent like we do...)

 A friend of mine posted this soup on facebook a couple of weeks ago (thanks Joy) and I thought it looked so incredibly good that I couldn't wait to try it... then it started to warm up outside and you can't really make good hearty soup when the weather is nice. Imagine my happiness when the temperature dropped again, and then it snowed! Perfect soup weather!
Although my daughter, Erin, says that "soup is not a meal", this recipe really is a meal in a pot and it only takes an hour or so to make from start to finish. I changed some 'things and stuff' from the original recipe to make it mine but it still only has about 350 calories per serving.

‘La-ZAG-na’ Soup

For the soup:
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground sausage
1 lb ground turkey
3 cups diced onion
4 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 TBSP tomato paste
3 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken stock
1 12 oz bag mafalda (mini lasagna) or bow tie pasta
½ cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves

For the cheesy filling:
1 15 oz container skim Ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
pinch of salt and a good grind of fresh pepper

The process:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften. Add the meat, breaking up into bite size chunks and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute. Add the tomato paste stirring well to coat the browned meat and cook for two to three minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If the broth is too thin, dissolve 2 tbsp of cornstarch in a quarter cup of water and add to the soup to give it a little more body. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente; do not overcook or the pasta will be mushy.
While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese filling. In a bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella, along with the salt and pepper.

To serve:
Ladle a serving of soup into a bowl. Drop a couple dabs of cheese filling on top and then sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella, parmesan and sliced fresh basil. Serve with a slice of crispy baguette or a chunk of fresh artisan bread for dipping.

 The cheese topping is delicious but go easy... 
too much of a good thing is still too much.

Hurry and make a pot of  soup before the weather gets warm again... Your family will love it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


We had a really big snow storm the last week of November that was really hard on the trees in our neighborhood. We came home to find the top of our weeping birch laying in the front yard. Sad.... tree down. It was sad to think that this beautiful tree was going to go to waste... there must be something cool to do with it, right?  I let it sit there for a few days waiting for the snow to melt, and thinking, before I hauled it away.  While it was laying there the inspiration struck!

Here is the result of the inspiration.... a magical, not so traditional Christmas tree! A weeping birch that is dripping with crystals and sparkles and glass. Things and stuff like you might find in a winter-wonder land!

 Just because it is not an evergreen doesn't mean it shouldn't have a star on the top... or at least hanging near the top!

 Lanterns help you find your way in the snow... and the candles make the crystals sparkle!

Oh, Christmas Tree......


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 We do some crazy 'things and stuff' at our house... like make up our own holidays! Really...

The Sunday following Thanksgiving is always 'GARLAND DAY' at our house.  We have been collecting Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments for a long time and it became obvious that we had far too many ornaments to hang on a tree. Each ornament has a story and hanging them on a garland is the perfect way to display them.

 The garland started in the opening between the kitchen and the great room but it has grown to the french doors and windows.
 The kids each have themes that they add to each year. Scott has 'Transportation and Sports', Erin has 'Angels and Tinkerbell', Deni has 'Art and Years', and Sami has 'Pooh Bear and Dancers'. There are also spinning Barbies, Mr. and Mrs. Clause, Superman, Candy Villages, and Snowmen.
There are also commemorative ornaments from the Olympics, toy making Santa's, flying elves... the list goes on and on!  I am not even sure how many ornaments we have... perhaps we should do an inventory before we put them away this year...

 This was the first ornament I bought in 1976, so I really have been collecting Hallmark ornaments for thirty five years. The Santa in the snowflake is from 1979.

 It has become such a fun tradition for the family. Each year we add to the collections and the kids have a great time looking at the ornaments as we hang them up. They talk about their favorites and how the ornaments bring back great memories... Traditions are important and really help keep families together. Garland Day is a great time and a good way to kick off the Holiday season....

And... the food is important!  The menu is always the same... Surf and Turf!  Steak and King Crab legs on the grill.... There may be snow but the grill still gets hot!