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Garlic Dijion Rosemary Crusted Pork Loin

July 1, 2012

It is that time of year when we head out to picnics, summer parties, and outdoor eating. Here are some of my favorite things to make and bring.

Garlic Dijion Rosemary Crusted Pork Loin


Even though this is a fall/winter type dish, I find I make it in the summer often.  Recently I had a picnic to go to and the night before, I threw this in the oven then into the fridge.  It was so easy to grab the next day, put into a plastic bag with a baguette and some dijion mustard.  

1 pork tenderloin, 1-2 lbs.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T. rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 c. dijion mustard
salt & pepper (about 1 t. salt, 1/2 pepper)

Toss all ingredients after pork together, then coat over tenderloin.  Cook at 425 for 20-25 min, testing for doneness as thicknesses vary. 


Speaking of picnics, has anyone seen this at a summer party?

Watermelon Baskets:  Is it summer without one of these??

If you have never made one they are very easy, just draw with a knife where you want the base and the handle to be, then cut and carve with a big spoon.  You need a big bowl to catch all the watermelon remnants, then you make a fruit salad with cubes of some of the watermelon and your favorite summer fruit like strawberries, grapes, blueberries, etc.. Then dump it back in. Mint is a nice garnish as well. 


Pomegranate Juice with Seltzer:

Super refreshing, and if you want to add tequila or vodka, be my guest! If not, it feels like a special drink even when you don’t want to drink.

Happy Summer!

Lobster Mac & Cheese

May 25, 2012

If you are anything like me, you are drawn to this menu item in restaurants like a moth to a flame.  And you also believe that the chef who put these two luxurious ideas together deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.  So it was a delight to discover how easy it was to make this dish at home.  


It all started when I visited a friend off of an island in Maine, and fell in love for my brief stay with all things related to island life.  The ferry, the harbor bell, the bike riding, and of course, the lobster buoys.

We picked seashells and blew bubbles on the most beautiful beach I have ever seen (the water was too cold to swim so we needed some activity on the beach!).  Little kids are just cute in Maine. They wear sweatshirts and Keenes and run all over the ferry.  And they believe Mermaids are in the water, which keeps everything a little bit magical. 

We had lobster races while the water boiled…I consider this a science experiment if someone thinks it is heartless.

We ate until our bellies were full, and still had a lot of this left over: 


So I brought some home.  It was my son’s graduation from Kindergarten (****sniff****), and I wanted to make a special dinner.  So I ran into a convenience store (that is how easy this recipe is) to buy elbow macaroni, and the rest is a delicious, glorious history. 

You start with a roux (1/4 c. butter, 1/4 c. flour), then add 4 c. milk.


Then you add CHEESE….mmmm……

I literally used what I had in the fridge, a combo of cheddar, Monterey jack, and aged gouda. 


You cook elbow macaroni, mix with delicious cheese sauce, until you are left with….



Can anyone else hear the Hallelujia chorus right now??? How could you ever improve on this loveliness? Who ever thought to improve on this?  As already noted, they deserve an award.


Popped them in little pots since it was a special dinner.


Added bread crumbs with butter, baked at 375 for 30 min until they were bubbly and delicious. 



Below is the recipe I followed, which is from Ina Garten.  I looked at other recipe’s and in the end hers had more sauce (i.e. more butter, flour and milk) which, unlike plain Mac & Cheese recipes helped coat the lobster too. 


  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 c. milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Chicken

May 23, 2012



Like most home cooks, I am always looking for new ideas for chicken. This one is super fast, super easy and so delicious you will thank me for telling you about it.  

I’ll show you how I made this step by step because it is really a template for any ingredients.  

I started with 2 organic chicken breasts, which are a little smaller then the cheaper gigantic ones.  If yours are big, add a few minutes of cooking time to my recipe.


First, prepare the spinach by microwaving it for 5 minutes or until warm, draining out all the water. Then add a little salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to taste, plus a drizzle of olive oil for moisture.
Then add the secret ingredient: Garlic Chile Sauce.  

This is made by the same company that makes Sirrachi hot sauce and it is bursting with delicious garlicy spicy flavor.  Note how empty this bottle is and I have only had it for a few weeks.  I love this sauce.  If you don’t have it, just use what ever hot sauce you like, or just add 1 teaspoon chili flakes. If you don’t like heat, substitute sun-dried tomatoes instead.

Next, butterfly the chicken breast, which is just splitting it down the middle, making sure one side stays attached. Then you pound them with the meat mallot (a very therapeutic activity), which will flatten and tenderize the meat, giving you more surface area for stuffing. Plus it cooks faster too.

When you are finished it should look like this:


Then layer the spinach and brie on the chicken.  (You can use any veggie and cheese in this recipe, but some other yummy ideas are goat cheese/sun-dried tomato/spinach or broccoli & chedder.) I love the way the brie melts and becomes so creamy, it is such a nice textural combo with the spinach and chicken.


Next, fold over the other side of the breast and secure with toothpicks. (You want the ingredients to stay inside when you cook the chicken. Don’t stress too much, you can see I put them in two ways and both cooked just fine.)




Next, warm 2 T. olive oil in a oven proof pan, and set your oven to 425. Cook chicken until browned on each side, 3-4 min, then put in the oven for 5-8 min, depending on how big your chicken breasts are.  (Ha ha. for some reason typing this is making me laugh).  They will come out golden and delicious.  Seriously, my husband and I couldn’t believe how good these were with the Garlic Chile Sauce in the spinach giving it a nice kick.  Yum!  (Let me know if you come up with any delicious stuffing combos).  Happy Stuffing!

Chicken Pot Pie & Make Your Own Chicken Stock

November 21, 2011

Yesterday, I had 3 kids sleeping and hadn’t gotten to the grocery store. I looked at the contents of my fridge, and this is what I found:

A 5 day old rotisserie chicken,3 packages of mushrooms intended for another purpose, and heavy cream.  What to do?

First, I made a stock out of said rotisserie chicken which also used up my veggie drawer carrots and celery.


For Stock:

1 chicken carcass

1 Onion, cut in half

2 Carrots, cut in half

2 celery stalks (or use the center with the leaves, has flavor)

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 t. peppercorns

1/2 T. salt

4-6 c. water (fill until it covers chicken)

a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs) that included parsley, rosemary, and thyme…

Then I put it on high until it came to a boil. (Julia Child says to skim the the surface 2 or 3 times at this stage, there is sometimes a foamy matter that rises up.)


Once it comes to just a boil, lower the heat to simmer, (Julia again comes to mind, since she says leave the heat low enough so that a few bubbles surface every so often. She is so specific! And that is exactly what happens when my burner is on its lowest option.) Cover half the pot, simmer for 2 hours, taste to season with more salt. Let cool, strain, store in fridge for 3-4 days or store in freezer.  Once you do this a few times, you don’t need a recipe and you can use up whatever you have: leeks, scallions, sage, parsnips, turnips. They all flavor stock beautifully.

After I made stock, I assessed the freezer.  My tendency to stuff my freezer with possible meal options pays off yet again. I made Chicken Pot Pie with some frozen veggies (mostly peas, carrots & corn), frozen all natural chicken breasts, and frozen puff pastry shells. If you haven’t heard of these before, they are fantastic:

I like this product because unlike puff pastry, which needs time to thaw, this can go strait from freezer to oven and in 30 min you have a little bowl your kids love. For a chicken pot pie recipe, I like Ina Gartens which can work substituting puff shell pastry for her recipe below.  As for the mushrooms in my fridge, check out the stuffed mushroom appetizer recipe that follows:

Chicken Pot Pie

(From Ina Garten)

Prep Time:30 min
Cook Time:55 min
Serves:4 individual pot pies

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

If you want to make your own pastry, Ina offers this recipe:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

The Mushrooms? Why stuffed mushrooms for a Thanksgiving Appetizer, of course. So easy and SO good.
Stuffed Mushrooms: 

1/2 c. Italian Bread Crumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
1T. Parsley
2 T. Olive Oil
Add any additional ingredients you like: capers, sauteed meat & onions, fennel, mint, rosemary etc.

Stuff 12-24 mushroom caps such as cremini or button mushrooms with 1 tsp- 1Tbsp of stuffing. Bake on a
greased baking sheet for 20 min. at 400 degrees.

Love, Loyalty, Friendship and Corned Beef

October 2, 2011

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a throw back to the theme of our nuptials.  For our wedding, the Irish & Scottish theme was carried out with a Claddagh on our invitations (it symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship with hands, a heart and crown), church bulletin, etc…and is engraved on my wedding band.  My husband & the groomsmen also wore kilts, bag pipers played, and of course our large Irish families and all our friends drank a lot (you mean that happens at all weddings?).

When we wanted to have a simple and relaxed celebration with little ones running around, we carried some Irish through the weekend.  (We even painted our family room green. Not to be on theme, more because we finally got around to it, but it was a fun way to spend our anniversary).

For food, we started with a night out to one of our favorite restaurants, an Irish Pub that used to be a church (and reminds my husband of the Quays Bar in Galway where he went abroad). I had a Black & Blue, which is Guinness with Dead Guy Rogue mixed together, and fried calamari on steroids to start (it was tossed with banana peppers and topped with spicy mayo, garlic and parmesan shavings). My entree was Blackened Swordfish – very fresh & perfectly seasoned with in season butternut squash & garlic mash.

I continued the theme with Shepard’s Pie for dinner and Rueben’s for lunch today.  Here are my recipe’s for both.  High quality meat really makes a difference.


Shepard’s Pie (my twist on Alton Brown’s recipe):
2 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
3 garlic cloves
1 – 1 1/2 ilbs. ground beef or lamb
2 T flour
2 t. tomato paste
1 c. beef or chicken broth
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
2 t. chopped Rosemary
2 t. chopped thyme
1 cup frozen peas (can do 1/2 corn, 1/2 peas)
For Mashed Potatoes: Peel and Boil 5-6 large potatoes  (Russet or Yukon Gold), diced small, for 10-12 min. When soft, mash and add 1/2 c. milk + 2 T. butter, 1 egg yolk, 1 t. salt & 1/2 t. pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm olive oil in large sautee pan,  then add the onion and carrots and saute approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and stir, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste,broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

Add the peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly into baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Rubens (a reminder of how good & simple these are):

Rye Bread, buttered
Good Corned Beef
Swiss Cheese (I used Gruyere)
Thousand Island Dressing (I mixed ketchup, mayo, and pickle juice + chopped pickles it was great!)

Assemble and cook like a grilled cheese. Yum!