Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Try this. You will love it. I promise! Even if you are not a huge watermelon fan (like me) you will love this salad. I made it twice last week, and I think I will make it again this week, it is that good.

It is light and refreshing, great on these wonderful summer days. The blueberries and watermelon are dressed with a  bright citrus and mint dressing. Make plenty so you have some for breakfast the next day.

                                                      WATERMELON SALAD

Bring 1/4 cup each, sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add 3 mint springs and steep 10 minutes. Discard the mint.
Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of salt.

Toss with 2 cups blueberries and 3 cups cubed watermelon.

Let stand 15 minutes. Top with chopped mint.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


When you go on vacation for close to three weeks and you ask a 10 year old to water your plants and to PLEASE "pick any vegetables you want and take them home to your mother" guess what? You return to every vegetable you left....DUH!!! I forgot....most kids really don't like vegetables. I think he took great pleasure in watch my zucchinis grow an inch a day. So, I returned to GIANT zucchinis.

I decided they would be best grated into something, so I made a crust of grated zucchini (4 cups) some cornmeal, eggs, and cheese. I baked it in the oven until it was, uh, crusty!

It made a nice, firm, cheesy crust. I had to refrain myself from eating the crust by itself.  I think I'll make some crust squares this week just for munchin' on.

The next step was to brown some meat and onions, and add a can of tomato sauce. The recipe called for ground beef but I thought that was boring so I used a spicy Italian turkey sausage. When the meat is cooked you put it on the crust, top with cheese and some bell peppers. Bell pepper and ground beef = boring, so I roasted some poblano peppers and topped the meat with slices.

Baked in the oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese melted and served with a salad. It was quite tasty and even better the day after.

Only 10 more GIANT zucchinis to go.

                                                             ITALIAN SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

4 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
2 TBSP. cornmeal or polenta
1 pound ground Italian sausage (I like a good quality turkey sausage)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 TBSP. olive oil (if using turkey sausage)
1 can (15 ounces) Italian tomato sauce
2 poblano chili peppers, roasted, peeled, and sliced

Place zucchini in strainer. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze out moisture. Be sure to squeeze all the moisture out so the crust will not be soggy.

Combine zucchini with the eggs, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, half of the mozzarella and half of the cheddar cheese. Mix well and press into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

Bake uncovered at 400~ for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the sausage and onions in olive oil, over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Add tomato sauce and mix together. Spoon over zucchini crust.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with the roasted pepper. Bake 20 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted and the meat is heated through.

Serves 6-8

Monday, July 25, 2011


Some great food memories from our trip to Spain.

Afternoon tapas at our condo.

Gazpacho at a favorite restaurant we found in Fuengirola, Spain. I liked the way they served the toppings on the side.

Shrimp Pil-Pil. This was our favorite tapa that we had on the trip. We will be making this in our kitchen soon.

Croquettes. First picture is shark and the second picture is cheese and Iberico ham.

Slow cooked beef cheek with garlic and a pumpkin sauce. This was delicious.

Barely cooked vegetables with a praline sauce.

Breakfast at our hotel in Jerez.

Tapas at the Sandemans Sherry winery in Jerez. We tasted some really dry sherries that go well with tapas. We brought a couple of bottles home for tapas night in Santa Barbara.

There was a nice restaurant at our resort. Ron had the duck and I had pork medallions with an asparagus sauce.

Tapas in Ronda.

I had a salad with goat cheese. It was served with a round of goat cheese that had been drizzled with honey, walnuts and raisins.

And...of course, paella.

Great food in Spain!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


We had dinner at our hotel in Jerez. We had read that the restaurant was really good. WOW...great meal, everything was fantastic. We ordered a starter (tapa) of Payoyo goat cheese with fig conserves. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I instantly fell in love with this cheese. It was a cheese I have never had before. It was slightly tart like goat cheese yet there was a sweetness to it. The fig conserve that was served on the side made this dish one of those dishes that one can only dream about......uh, not anymore :)

I left the restaurant and googled Payoyo cheese. It is a blend of goat's milk and sheep's milk. Payoyo is a breed of mountain goats native to Andalusia in Southern Spain. Grazalema is the name of the village and the name of the Andalusian Nature Preserve where the goats live and the  dairy resides. Payoyo goat cheese is made in this remote area by a 14 member cooperative begun in 1997. The cheese is hand crafted into 3 1/2 pound wheels that resemble Manchego cheese. It is semi firm and not quite as dry as Manchego.

Being the dedicated foodie that I am, I decided to go straight to the source and see those goats that made me so happy and meet the artisans that produce this delight.  I love the turns out that Grazalema is only 1/2 hour from Ronda, where we were planning on spending the night. Woo Hoo! Luckily Ron was happy to take me on my adventure.

We headed out to Grazalema in search of special goats and great cheese.

It was a small village in a National Preserve. I fell in love with this village. It was so quaint. We drove around town on cobble stone streets.

Up in the hills we spotted the Payoyo goats.

After some exploring we found the co-op building where they have their office. Not far from the office we saw an old building where they make the cheese and finally we found the cheese store.

Mission accomplished! I had hoped to see the cheese makers in action but we were short on time and the language barrier was a challenge.

I bought a small chunk for the road. We had a long flight to Germany later in the day so we didn't think a wheel would travel well. I loved this adventure and we were happy explorers as we headed down the mountain for a three hour drive to the airport.

I'm trying to find some of this cheese here in the states. The fig conserve that was served with the cheese at the restaurant was an English green fig preserve made by Wilkin and Sons. It was the perfect compliment along with a nice crusty baguette.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We returned last night from an unbelievable vacation. We have pictures galore, ate awesome food, had a lot of fun, met some new and special family members, and I spent 3 days cooking with my Mother-in-law. It was a blast. 

What we didn't expect to bring home was the worst cold both of us have ever had. After spending a week in the sun in Spain, I was so excited to come home with a sun kissed Mediterranean tan, stress furrows on my forehead gone and ready to cook some wonderful food we tasted on our trip. Well, I may not look exactly like him but I feel like I look like him.....

Think W.C. Fields meets Rudolph, that would be me, and yes the picture is fuzzy, that would be me too.

 This morning we didn't have any food in the house and we didn't have the energy to shop. I cooked a frozen Lime Chili Chicken burger to share with Ron and he said it tasted like eating a bland sponge. I agreed.

I brought some wonderful ingredients home from Spain and Germany. So, in a day or so we should be back to normal and ready to try some new recipes and share our food experiences.

Gesundheit....I hope I never hear that word again!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Well, I haven't been able to upload any pictures yet but I can tell you that the food and weather in Spain has been incredible. So far Ron and I have been very excited about Pil-Pil sauce. It is an olive oil, garlic, chili pepper and paprika mixture that they heat until hot and then drop in some prawns. It is served bubbling hot with some French bread.

We had this a couple of times down on the beach near Malaga, close to our condo. Today we drove to Jerez. Very nice hotel here. We had beef cheeks for dinner. It was the speciality tonight. They were slow cooked until the meat melted in our mouths. This was wonderful.

Tomorrow we will go Sherry tasting, shopping, check out the Andalusian horse show and then 3 hours back to our condo. I checked my e-mail today and we are invited to a Fiesta party at the end of July. Fiesta attire perfect is that? A few miles from the condo is Fiesta attire central. We will be muy authentico!

We go out for dinner when the restaurants start to open, around 9pm. It seems like we eat around 10 pm every night, just like the locals. Tonight after dinner and a walk, we went to the roof of our hotel and listened to live music. It must be close to 1am and I'm still up. Something has happened to that person who is usually in bed by 9pm :)

More later.

Friday, July 1, 2011


We are off on our European adventure. If all goes as planned I'll be blogging during our trip, sharing our adventures and great food experiences. Haley plans on joining us and Kahlua is just going to miss us terribly (between naps.)

See everybody soon!


It's been kind of crazy the last couple of weeks. Taking care of someone special for a week, camera broke, camera got fixed, camera broke again! Bought a new camera, packing for our trip to Europe and purchased an I Pad so I could blog during our trip. WHEW....time to stop and smell the flowers.

Zucchini flowers, growing in our back yard. No more excuses, I need to make them now! Something I have wanted to do for a very long time.

I have learned a lot about these lovely blossoms. Each zucchini plant has male and female blossoms. The male blossoms grow from a stem on the plant and the female blossoms grow on the end of the zucchini. If you pick the male blossoms you cut  the end of the stem and then you have an easy way to dip them in the batter. Another lesson....they open early in the morning and close during the day and evening. I went out in the afternoon to pick my beautiful flowers and this is what I found.

Closed blossoms. What the ?!? Well, now that I am a flower child veteran, I can tell you that stuffing and cleaning the closed blossoms is a real pain. It's hard not to tear them, and the bugs hide inside. It took a while but I got them cleaned (bug free) and ready to cook. The males have a stamen inside that is bitter so be sure to pull that out. The females have pistils so pull that off too.

I made the batter, letting it sit for an hour before adding the egg. Carefully stuffed them with some cream cheese, goat cheese, and fresh herbs. I used this mixture of cheese because I already had it in the fridge. Next time I will use ricotta cheese. Then I dipped them in the batter and fried in some olive oil.

I try to avoid fried food, but this was pan fried, not deep fried, so I felt better about that. :)

Oh yum! The batter was light and crispy and the herby melted cheese was delish. I think I like the flowers better than the zucchini itself. I can't wait to try them again with different fillings.


16 zucchini flowers


1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 large egg


1 cup cheese, ricotta or cream cheese and goat cheese
3 TBSP. finely chopped herbs (parsley, sage, oregano, basil and thyme)
sea salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil for pan frying.

For the batter, mix flour, salt and warm water in a large bowl. Set aside and let stand for 1 hour. Just before dipping the flowers into the batter, whisk in the egg.

For the stuffing, mix together cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper and set aside.

To stuff the flowers, remove the stamen or pistils, carefully open the flowers. Use a dessert spoon to spoon in a small amount of the stuffing into the base of each flower.. Twist the petals so the the stuffing is held inside. Place on a baking sheet.

Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet to high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, dip each flower in the batter and add them to the pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes until golden. Flip the flowers and continue to saute for 1-2 minutes until golden. Repeat until all the flowers have been used, reducing the pan to medium high heat when the pan is very hot so the oil does not burn.

To serve, overlap 4-6 flowers in the center of each plate and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.