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Sara and me

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Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast. There are characters galore in this book, and it sometimes takes a bit to figure out which decade you’re reading about (few clues) or which person. Oh yes, her, current day. Oh, that’s him, during the war. Max, oh, I thought he died. No, that’s his son. I think. The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem. There is family dysfunction. Relationship dysfunction. There is quite a bit of adultery going on, yet I found myself understanding why. The book relays a true story (names changed) about an architect and a woman who is trying to write a book about him. Drawings and paintings of this village play a big part. There is some mental dis-health too. And throughout, it’s about the land, the sea, and this remarkable house. I wondered if in the hardback edition there were any photo plates of the drawings. One character is driven to draw the rooms he’s in, the house he’s in, or the house he conjures in his mind. There are lots of beach walks, and there is a huge tidal flood too. Despite having some difficulty keeping track of the characters, it was a good read.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. She struggles to keep her poverty at bay, and like many women of her time and the day, wished themselves on men of means. There is love. There is loss. And through it all, the thread that holds it all together is the mores – the rules of civility – required of most everyone. To keep up the face. To swing. To survive. Really well developed drama and a very real sense of place. I’m reviewing the book in one of my book clubs; fortunately there is a lot online about this book.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl. She’s a biologist, was working at Cal Tech and someone brought in a tiny abandoned barn owl. She took him home, and he became her “mate” (that happens at year two). Everything about this book is interesting, from how she nurtures him in his tiny habitat, to how she transforms her living space to accommodate a full grown owl. He couldn’t be habilitated to the wild because of a wing injury (likely when he fell out of the nest). It’s a heartwarming story.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends). The supposition is that all the women are ladies of the night, and it’s their ticket to a better life. He holds to his principles until he meets lovely Livia, who begins cooking for a group of soldiers (it was a real job). Food plays a starring role in this book, as well as Vesuvius’ eruption. It’s a very interesting story – I don’t know if it’s true there were such positions in the British military, but it sounds like it. Gould has to find his way through the miasma of politics, corruption, provisioning in a war-torn country and the warfront. But all of it is laced with the very sweet love story.

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio. She needs a job, and agrees to the commute, rain, shine or snow. The “library” is limited. The inmates her “staff.” She weaves her way through the pitfalls of limited funds, theft, perversion, jerks, rules, and every myriad of inmate problems. Very interesting read.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II. Franco is a weary Italian soldier. He stumbles into a vineyard and is hired. It’s hard work (nothing he’s ever done before) but he’s a very diligent worker. He didn’t stop there to find love, but it found him. There’s a lot of sinister Fascist activity throughout the book, plenty of local history, and of course, a bit about the walls of Lucca.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars. A British family buys a very dilapidated house, and a local man (the handyman) begins helping them fix it up. Two children play a part, with the British husband merely peeking in now and then. There is local dissension, town secrets, some violence as the town tries to heal from years of war. And the handyman just keeps working, pondering his own demons as well. Very riveting story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition. Some of that is hard to read, but Follett writes sagas, and I was really “into it.” Have always loved his writing, and if you haven’t ever read this sidebar before, or my section on books, his book, The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel  is my#1 favorite book I’ve ever read. In this Fire book, though, there are numerous characters, families really, in France, London and the (fictitious I think) town of Kingsbridge. Riveting reading, as are all of his books.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way. Anger is there, but deep down you know, reading this, that they care about each other. The one that left is a successful but lonely attorney in Seattle. The other is a single mother who owns a small seasonal cabin rental facility near Seattle. It’s a very sweet story – takes awhile to “get there” but you know they’re going to reconcile and find their sister-groove again. Good book. Worth reading.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital. You ride the wave of his first, painful days when he questions if he was ever meant to be a doctor, to the end of the year when he recognized his true passion for infectious disease diagnostics. I really enjoyed the book, and commend him for being so brutally honest about his own vulnerabilities and what he saw as complete inexperience. If you enjoy this genre of book, this is a good one.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children. She was hired as an under-nurse, but soon became the prime caregiver of the youngest children. She became “Lala” to the children, and they loved her dearly. And she them. This is a serious below-stairs look at that part of the royal family, their foibles, idiosyncrasies, and even the proclivities of the children themselves. It was a great read. Loved it from the first page.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam. It’s an eye-opener. Over the last many years I’ve marveled at authors who have found a niche of some part of that awful war and it was enough to write a great story. Simon is the hero, here. He was a Jew and miraculously survived Auschwitz and returned to his home, hoping to find his mother and sister (who were also at Auschwitz, but he knew not their fates). He knew his father had died in the camp. The family home had been taken over by others. He was destitute. He befriended two young women (one had worked for his father in his clock-making business). There is a “box” in the story – an important element. Simon finds a job, income, friends, and love. Finds some caring people, but also encounters some very shady characters as well. The story is told very well. There is mystery, poignant love and redemption. Well worth reading.

Camille De Maio wrote Before the Rain Falls. Very interesting story about a young doctor who returns to her border town in Texas for a very short vacation. And about a young down-on-his-luck journalist who goes to the same town to get a story. There’s a death/murder long ago, the sharp shards of emotions that remain in the town. The survivors. The grandmother who spent 7 decades in prison. And a love story. Very sweet book about family. Love. Loss. As I write this, it’s $.99 on Kindle.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career. There was always “talk” about him. He never married. He was querulous. He got high-handed too frequently. He was a tee-totaler, and always had a dog named Psyche. He was a brilliant diagnostician and was appalled at the condition of prisons and even ordinary Army barracks. When he died it came out – Dr. James Barry was really a woman. And a woman who had borne a child. Facts that were suspected by many, but never corroborated. S/he did so because a woman wasn’t allowed to go to college, let alone medical school. When you read it in context, it’s logical what her mentors suggested she do. I can’t say that this book is all that well written – some of it uses the stilted language of the time, even though it’s current in its publication. But it’s a fascinating read nonetheless. So I’ve read, there is going to be a documentary made about her life.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with distant heritage. She hopes to gain inspiration for her next book. As she investigates, she discovers she’s related to a family that lived in the early 1700s at Slains Castle on the east coast of Scotland near Aberdeen. This was the time of the Jacobite rebellion (the exiled King James and his hoped-for return to England). When I say this woman gets inspiration . . .well, it’s more than that. She questions whether she could possibly have genes that contain memory (what an idea, huh?), because she begins to know how events took place, who the people were, what they said, exactly where they stood, the layout of the castle, even the furniture in the rooms. She wasn’t channeling, actually, but I suppose it could be interpreted so. The book is full of the Jacobite history (more than I’d ever known before, but then I love English/Scottish history). There’s a romance back then, and a romance in the today time. Both lovely. Great book. An historical novel of the first order.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. Six months ago I attended an author’s talk at the Bowers Museum. Lisa See was the speaker and shared her story about this book. I’ve heard her speak several times before (she lives near me) and have read several of her books. This one, though, is very different. She was sitting in a doctor’s office reading some magazine and spotted a tiny snippet of data about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real. And what happened during WWII on this island is horrific – makes me feel ashamed that our military had a hand in what happened to many people. But everyone should read this book. It’s a novel, about 2 girls who are divers and how their lives diverge for a variety of cultural reasons and because of the war.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London. This book takes place in the 1920s and tells not only the general history of the early days of radio, but also the role women played (a vital one). Initially it was in the background, because women weren’t considered intelligent enough. Maisie, the heroine in the book, works her way up the ranks. It’s a fascinating read from beginning to end. Many famous characters (real) flow through the studios. Early voting rights play a part in the story line also. And some wartime intrigue. You’ll find yourself cheering from the bleachers when women make a tiny inroad into the male-dominated field.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. My friend Ann, from Idaho, brought it with her as we spent a week in Palm Desert in February. She handed it to me and said I’d really like it. Oh, did I! Loved the book. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt. There is lots of dialogue in the book which is made up, but I’m guessing the author probably read many diary entries of Alva (and the family) to create a very intriguing and readable story. A life of unbelievable privilege. Several children, including one who marries into a titled family in England. You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals – men were nearly expected to have mistresses or affairs. This was the Victorian Age when sex between husbands and wives was not necessarily, and usually not, passionate. I loved this book from page one until the end.  Alva was a suffragette of the first order. Having read the book, I have a lot of admiration for her, even though she lived in the highest echelons of society.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love. The book  gives you a vivid picture of the state of nursing in WWI, but the story is quite mesmerizing. And there’s a twist almost at the end. Highly recommend.

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas. But events intervene, as history tells us. That was 1914. Cut to 2016 when a young woman inherits an ancient cabin in upper New York State and she discovers a jeweled pendant. The two times weave together to make a really riveting story. Lots of Russian history; well written; as I said, couldn’t put it down.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania. The warring native Americans play large in this book. There is a romance, yes, but this book is not “a romance.” It’s more than that – about the hardships of living on the land, away from protection, Tessa and her family struggle to make a living and avoid the angered natives who take revenge when their people are murdered. Clay Tygart is a respected officer/soldier and commands a fort near where Tessa lives. Clay was captured by Lanape Indians when he was a young man, so he straddles both sides of the equation – first hand, he knows how the natives feel, but also his role in the lure of American exploration of the west. The natives wish to preserve their hunting grounds from the encroaching settlers. This book takes place in the mid-1700s I think. Loved it. Not only the history that is brilliantly detailed, even to the summer heat they experience. The crops they raise, the constant fear of attack. And the sweet love that weaves through it. Not a speck of sex in it.

Reading mysteries has never loomed large in my reading life. Occasionally, yes. And some espionage type books. But light mysteries have not intrigued me much. But one of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The member actually handed out a cheat sheet of the characters in the book (many) and posed several questions of us as we read through it. The cheat sheet really helped. She asked us when (or if) we caught the foreshadowing of the murder culprit (I never did). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs. None of the characters escape the C.I.’s scrutiny. Lois, our book club member, led us through a very thorough and lively discussion of the book. Usually, my complaint about murder mysteries is that they don’t make for good discussion at a book club – but this book was an exception, for sure. Many of my learned book club friends rave about Louise Penny. One told me I should read Still Life next, and probably should have read it before I read this one.

Rachel Hauck is an author I’ve enjoyed reading over the years. Just finished reading The Memory House. It’s about relationships. Love. About family. About secrets. Doesn’t that just describe about 90% of every novel out there these days? Beck is a cop in NYC; a series of events occur and she is forced to take leave. Just then she inherits a house in Florida. She barely remembers the woman who bequeathed the house to her. Then you meet Bruno, a sports agent who will figure large in Beck’s life. Then the book jumps back in time to Everleigh, the woman who owned the house and you learn her story. Really stories of her two husbands. And how do those stories connect to present day. Very sweet book. Not a speck of sex in this one, either.

The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and, just as importantly, a compassionate human connection.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep, although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.


Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Chicken, easy, Healthy, on June 2nd, 2019.

One of my go-to quick, easy and healthy weekday meals. 

This post is from Sara:  I found the original recipe on which is a favorite healthy recipe website for me.  I mostly plan my week’s meals out on Sunday and shop accordingly so that I don’t have to make several trips to the grocery store after work.  However, there are those days that I am not in the mood for my plan or life happens and dinner plans change.  This is one of the fast, easy and healthy recipes I love to make.  It’s a one-pan dish and I usually have everything on hand as it’s fairly common ingredients, at least in my household.  If I don’t have fresh basil, I almost always have pesto sauce that can be substituted.

I serve it with a salad and some balsamic vinaigrette that I add a tsp of pesto sauce to bring up the flavor.  You could also add pasta if you don’t have an aversion to carbs.  Or, like me, you have teenagers that need more calories.  I love this dish because of the fresh ingredients.  I always have grape tomatoes in my fridge as I eat them as a snack daily.  I used fresh mozzarella because I prefer it but regular mozzarella or provolone would work.

Having made this a few times, I found that I prefer to slice the chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner slices.  This keeps my portion size down and gives me leftovers for lunch the next day!  Another bonus of this recipe is to make enough for leftovers so I add the cold chicken cut up to a salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bits and the pesto balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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Chicken Caprese

Recipe By: adapted from
Serving Size : 4

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves — cut horizontally into 4 pieces
Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves Garlic — Minced
1 pint grape tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil — freshly torn
4 slices mozzarella cheese — use fresh if possible or substitute pesto sauce
12 basil leaves — for garnish

1. In a large skillet over medium/high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden and cooked through, approximately 6 mins per side depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 mins. Stir in basil.
3. return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt.
4. Spoon tomatoes over chicken and sprinkle more fresh basil if desired.
Per Serving: 537 Calories; 33g Fat (55.5% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 167mg Cholesterol; 552mg Sodium.

Posted in Brunch, Healthy, on December 13th, 2013.


You might think you don’t need a recipe for a fruit salad, right? But if you’d like to serve a fruit salad that’s just a bit different, you could try this one. You just have to plan ahead a few hours or overnight (to make the flavorful syrup) to serve this with a brunch. It’s well worth making.

Ginger seems to be on my radar lately. And if I were to just add a vanilla bean to the stem ginger in syrup that I made last week, I’d have had half of this recipe already done! In this case you make a simple syrup with fresh ginger, a vanilla bean and a bunch of lemon peel. That does need to be made ahead as it provides a ton of flavor to the fruit once you mix it all together.

Once that mixture has cooled and the solid stuff (ginger, vanilla bean and lemon peels) strained out, you’re left with this delicious ginger/vanilla essence syrup. You could just slurp it with a spoon. Trust me on that one! (If you have leftovers of the syrup, it would be lovely added to a cup of hot tea.) But we’re making a fruit salad, so all you do is add in all the fruit. You could change what YOU like to have in the way of fruit – at the class Phillis Carey used Navel oranges, mangoes, bananas, kiwis, grapes and pomegranate seeds. It was a beautiful and very tasty combination. You could add apples, pears or pineapple too. Your choice.

What’s GOOD: the flavoring in the syrup is what makes this. The ginger gives the syrup just a teeny tiny bit of heat and the vanilla adds a depth to it – perhaps not distinguishable, but it makes for one very tasty bowl of fruit. The pomegranate seeds add a lovely color to the presentation too.

What’s NOT: really nothing except that you do have to plan ahead one day or at least half a day to make this.

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Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to add to MC – 14 includes photo)

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Winter Fresh Fruit Salad with Vanilla Syrup

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, Nov. 2013
Serving Size: 10 (or more)

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 piece ginger — about 1 inch long, peeled and thinly sliced
1 vanilla bean — split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 lemon — peel only (reserve lemon for other use)
1 whole navel orange — peel only (use fruit for the salad)
3 large navel oranges — or blood oranges
2 whole mangoes — peeled and diced
5 whole kiwi fruit — peeled and diced
1 cup red grapes — seedless
1 cup pomegranate — seeds only (from 1 large one)
2 whole bananas — ripe but firm, peeled and diced

1. Combine the sugar, water, the ginger and vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan. Use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of zest from the lemon and 1 orange, add to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Refrigerate until cold.
2. Meanwhile, peel the remaining oranges with a paring knife, cutting along the natural curve of the fruit. Hold an orange over a large bowl and cut along both sides of each membrane to free the segments, letting them fall into the bowl. Also segment the orange used in the syrup that’s already peeled. Squeeze each empty membrane to release the juices. Repeat with the remaining oranges. Add the mangoes, kiwis  and pomegranate seeds and gently toss. Pour the syrup over the fruit and chill overnight.
3. Before serving, remove the citrus zest, ginger and vanilla pod. Add the fresh banana at this point. Pour into a large serving bowl or spoon the fruit and syrup into individual bowls.
4. POMEGRANATES: To remove pomegranate seeds, cut the fruit into quarters, then break apart in a bowl of water. Skim off the pith that floats to the top and drain the seeds.
Per Serving: 158 Calories; 1g Fat (2.9% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Healthy, on November 7th, 2013.


Remember, I told you we’d be fixing that chicken dish – the one that my hubby made for me on about our 3rd or 4th date, way back 32 years ago? Here it is . . . you make it all in one pan (except for a carb if you choose to make one). It’s incredibly easy.

If you didn’t read my post a few days ago about my hubby Dave’s favorites, you won’t have the back story on this dish. Go read that if you care to. Here’s a bit more of the background. In 1981, Dave and his son lived about a block or two from our local fairgrounds, and often on Saturdays they’d go over to the weekly swap meet there (that still goes on at that location). Dave remembers vividly one Saturday as they walked up and down the rows, that he could smell something wonderful. Finally they came to a stand where a couple of Aussie guys were making chicken. It was only about 9:30 in the morning, and both Dave and his son gobbled down a sample of this dish, and Dave promptly bought a set of seasonings from this company, Benson’s Gourmet Seasonings.

The company is still in business, and this recipe – the same one they were fixing at the swap meet in 1981, is still the one they demonstrate, and is their #1 selling mixture. It uses their Supreme Garlic and Herb Salt Free Seasoning 2 oz Bottle – the link here is to Amazon, and they carry the whole line, if you’re interested.

Dave made this dish for me, back in 1981 right after I met him, and he made it at least one other time, and the bottles of seasoning mixes have sat dormant on my pantry shelf ever since. Not in the regular place, but Dave didn’t want to throw them away – when we moved to this house 10 years ago I was going to toss them out. You know, herb and spice mixtures lose all their potency after a few weeks or at most a month. But Dave said, no, don’t throw them out. So they sat in an obscure and out of the way space. I generally don’t use those pre-packed seasoning mixes just because I know they don’t retain flavor well. I like to make my own combos at the moment when I need them. The only one I’ve been known to make in quantity is the North African Grilled Corn on the Cob spice mix. I make up a batch at the beginning of corn season and try to use it up by the time corn season has passed.

dave_kitchenHaving laughed over the chicken dinner story the other day, I dug out the bottle (that is 32 years old), went online, not expecting to find anything, and found the company’s website and their recipe easily enough. And decided that Dave needed to renew his acquaintance with this dish.

Here he is at our kitchen island. I cut up a whole chicken for him (next time we will make it with just chicken thighs, I think – much easier). I set him there at the cutting board with all of the vegetables he needed to chop. A lot. First you must have half a chopped onion and half a bell pepper. chicken supreme_collageThis dish takes 60 minutes to make, hence you want to start with medium-low heat. The herb mixture is added in at 3 junctures in the process.

The pictures here show the progression of the dish. First you put the raw chicken pieces in there (no seasonings, no oil, nothing) in a big honkin’ pan (we used a 12-inch nonstick pan with 4” high sides) skin side down with the heat at medium-low. The first set of veggies are added on top and down in any crevices you can find.

In the 2nd picture, after 20 minutes, you turn the chicken over. See, nicely browned chicken pieces.

Then after another 20 minutes of browning you add all the vegetables (more onion, peppers, zucchini, carrots, celery and mushrooms). The veggies kind of sit there on top and you wonder if they’ll ever cook through.

Ten minutes later  you stir it all up (you do that several times so the veggies will get done). You never add a lid. But you do add 1/2 cup of white wine (we used vermouth) during the last 10 minutes and continue cooking until the chicken is done and the veggies are cooked.

Actually, we removed the chicken pieces to a hot plate and very briefly cooked the veggies for about 2 minutes – there were a few pieces of carrot and zucchini that weren’t quite done.

Meanwhile, make some rice. We made pasta (Dave’s choice), but I really think it would be easier to eat and more tasty with rice. Your choice, of course. I made linguine and thought it was too difficult to handle.

There is NO SALT in this dish. There is NO FAT added to this dish. And it’s delicious. Because the spice mixture was SO old, I measured out double the amount of it (so 2 T. rather than just 1). I think I need to order a new bottle, although the seasoning did have some smell and taste.

What’s GOOD: it’s a make-in-one-pot kind of dinner (except for a carb if you choose to make one). There’s lots of good flavor in it. It’s easy, really, but you do need to do a bunch of veggie chopping and prepping. Makes a big batch – I think it might feed more than 4 if you have a larger chicken. We had a 4-pound one and will likely get 3 meals out of it. It’s a pretty dish – lots of color. We don’t like green bell pepper, but it would have added even more color to the pan. The wine makes a kind of juicy sauce (unthickened, of course) – scoop some of it out with each serving onto the carb. Love that this has not one speck of added salt or added oil. You won’t miss it – really.
What’s NOT: just the time you need to spend tending to this – not hard – but you don’t want to go off and leave this as it requires a lot of chopping at first, then mixing around during the last 20 minutes. The chicken breasts were a little overdone, we thought, so I’d probably add them later or remove them early.

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Chicken Supreme

Recipe By: Benson’s Gourmet seasonings website
Serving Size: 4

2 1/2 pounds whole chicken — cut-up (2 1/2 to 3 lbs)
1 tablespoon Benson’s Supreme Salt-Free Seasoning
2 medium onions — 1 yellow, 1 red, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper — seeded and sliced [we omitted]
1 medium red bell pepper — seeded and sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper — seeded and sliced
2 medium zucchini — trimmed and sliced
1 stalk celery — sliced
1 medium carrot — peeled and thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms — sliced (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine — chicken broth or water [we used vermouth]
Serve with hot rice on the side (also can use pasta or potatoes)

1. Preheat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Place chicken skin side down. Use no oil.
2. Put about 1/2 of a chopped onion & 1/2 of a bell pepper sliced, in spaces. Sprinkle all with 1 tsp. seasoning. and brown over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.
3. Turn chicken pieces over and sprinkle with 1 tsp. seasoning. Brown another 20 minutes.
4. Add all remaining vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. seasoning. Stir occasionally so vegetables cook evenly. Cook about 20 minutes longer. Do not cover. Add wine (liquid) the last 10 minutes. Serve with or over rice, noodles or pasta, or just as it is. (If by chance the vegetables aren’t quite done, remove the chicken to a hot serving plate, cover with foil and turn up the heat under the vegetables and cook until they’re all cooked through.) The nutrition count on this assumes you eat all the skin.
Per Serving (this assumes you eat all the skin): 519 Calories; 30g Fat (53.4% calories from fat); 40g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 176mg Cholesterol; 162mg Sodium.

Posted in easy, Healthy, Soups, on September 29th, 2013.


Hearty, comforting and healthy soup. There’s no cream in it – the broccoli provides the creamy texture. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Read on . . .

Rarely do I watch The Chew. The show is so fast-paced (frantic almost, like The View which I refuse to watch at all because they all talk over each other) and loud that I will only watch it on occasion and rarely do I ever try one of the recipes. A few over the years . . . but I know the show is well liked by many. When we were on our trip I happened to turn on TV and I tuned in to the program and Stacy London [a TV fashionista and co-host of the show What Not to Wear, another show I don’t watch] was making a soup. She had someone come to her home to cook for her and this recipe was borne of that professional relationship, as I understood it. Apparently, she had leftovers of both a healthy pureed broccoli soup and one with white beans and sausage and Stacy decided to combine the two. She loves it so much that she learned to make it herself and eats it by the gallon.

It’s no secret around here that I love soups. Not only for their ease (a meal in one pot) but soups are comforting and provide infinite variety. And often I add a little jot of cream to soups. This soup looked like it had cream in it, but it doesn’t. Nary a bit of cream or dairy at all. Basically you make 2 soups – a broccoli soup in one pot (which gets pureed and becomes the liquid in the other soup) and the spicy sausage and cannellini bean soup in the other. Once the broccoli soup is cooked through (takes no time at all) it’s whizzed up in the blender and then that’s added to the other. Because I had some mushrooms on hand, I added them, and I think I added some zucchini too, though neither of those were in the recipe.

The only fat in the entire soup is a tablespoon or two of olive oil to sauté the onions, the same for the chicken sausage soup plus whatever intrinsic fat is in chicken broth and the chicken sausage (not much, in other words).

Adapting the recipe a little, I added some fresh mushrooms and zucchini to the soup. Why not, I said? I wanted more veggies and texture since the broccoli is completely pureed. The recipes serves 8, and that’s about right – we had 2 dinners and 2 or 3 lunches out of the one preparation. I’m sure it would freeze well also.

What’s GOOD: I like that it’s a very healthy soup. I really had to work at it to taste the broccoli (and I like broccoli) since it’s pureed. You honestly think it’s a cream soup! My DH liked it a lot and told me each time I served it that it was really good. I felt the same way. A keeper. It’s not gourmet. It’s not over-the-top with flavor, but it’s just wholesome and good. It’s thick – you can see that from the photo. If you wanted a lighter soup, add more chicken broth and thin it some.
What’s NOT: nothing at all that I can think of.

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Stacy London’s Broccoli, White Bean & Sausage Soup

Recipe By: Adapted slightly From “The Chew”, Sept. 2013
Serving Size: 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion — (chopped)
2 large heads broccoli — (florets chopped; stems peeled and chopped)
5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy chicken sausage — (removed from casing and crumbled)
1 bunch kale — (cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and chopped)
6 ounces button mushrooms — sliced [my addition]
2 small zucchini — chopped [my addition]
2 15.5 ounce cannelini beans, cooked — (drained and rinsed)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Italian parsley — chopped (garnish)

1. Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then add onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just translucent. Add the broccoli and again season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour the chicken stock over the broccoli and bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.
3. Let cool slightly and then transfer, working in batches, to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splatter, and puree until VERY smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Place another heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes.
5. When almost completely cooked, add the kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the veggies are all cooked sufficiently. Add the beans and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Pour the broccoli soup in the sausage and kale and stir to combine. Let cook for one to two more minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve while hot. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Per Serving: 401 Calories; 12g Fat (25.3% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 1450mg Sodium.

Posted in Healthy, Salad Dressings, Salads, on February 4th, 2013.


A luscious salad – different – healthy, really – because it doesn’t have all that much oil in it – hard to believe it could taste so good! Dried figs give it a base, and you do add some crumbled bacon.

Having been asked to bring a salad to dinner at friends recently, I ransacked my to-try file, to find something that would complement Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken and Vegetables, which my friend Donna was going to make. Donna reads my blog (thank you, Donna!) and is always so kind to tell me how much she likes it. Music to any blogger’s ears, I’ll tell ya!

It didn’t really take much to make this dressing – it’s an interesting one – it uses dried figs, balsamic vinegar (I used a fruit-flavored one, but you can use plain too), water, chicken broth (yes, really, chicken broth), honey, shallots and fresh thyme. All things I had on hand. The figs are simmered for green_salad_bacon_cotija_pinenuts

just a minute in the balsamic vinegar and allowed to “steep” or sit while you pull together the rest of the ingredients. Then it’s all whizzed up in the blender. Meanwhile, I chopped up and fried a bunch of bacon. I made this salad twice, on consecutive nights, and used different greens. I couldn’t find arugula the first day, so I substituted Romaine, leaf lettuce and microgreens. I actually think the salad needs some bitter greens to offset the fig-sweetened dressing, so the second time my DH was able to find arugula and I used Feta cheese  that time, rather than the cotija I’d tried the first time. The original recipe (from Cooking Light) called for goat cheese, but I didn’t have any. Nor did I really want to buy a log of goat cheese when I only needed a little bit for the salad. I almost always have Feta on hand, which keeps soaking in brine for many, many weeks. I did have cotija (it’s a dry, salty Mexican cheese that’s used mostly for garnish), so I used that one time.

arugula_salad_feta_fig_dressingThe second night (pictured above) I had arugula, but not quite enough dressing, so I just added more EVOO and another little jot of balsamic vinegar to what I had left from the previous night, and it was plenty for a salad for 4.

What’s good: the low-calorie, low-fat aspect of the dressing. Of course, bacon kind of puts it over the top, but once you divide it among several people, no one has all that much bacon. I added pine nuts one night just because I thought the salad needed some kind of crunch to it. Since it doesn’t have any added vegetables, I really did think it needed some added texture.

What’s not: nothing at all – just know this isn’t any standard kind of vinaigrette – it’s sweet from the figs, but will complement lots of meals – pork for sure – often pork is accompanied by fruit.

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Arugula Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Fig Dressing

Recipe By: Adapted from Cooking Light, Nov. 2008
Serving Size: 6
NOTES: Use other lettuces if preferred, but use sturdy ones like Romaine, not tender leaf lettuces which won’t stay firm with the dressing.

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar — (use fruit flavored, if available)
3 whole dried figs — chopped (stem trimmed off)
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 ounces arugula — (about 8 cups), lightly chopped
1/4 cup red onion — thinly sliced, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 pieces bacon — cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese — or Feta, or Mexican Cotija
1 tablespoon pine nuts — toasted (optional)

1. To prepare dressing, combine balsamic vinegar and figs in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes. Combine vinegar mixture, 3 tablespoons water, and next 5 ingredients (through thyme) in a blender; process until smooth. Dressing will keep for several days.
2. To prepare salad, mix arugula with onion and toss with dressing. Taste for seasonings. Divide evenly among plates. Sprinkle with bacon, cheese and nuts. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 114 Calories; 8g Fat (58.6% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 109mg Sodium.

Posted in Healthy, Pasta, Veggies/sides, on November 4th, 2012.


No, I’m not joshing you. And no, these aren’t made of cardboard, either. Cardboard would have carbs perhaps? From tree bark and fiber? Nope, these are made from tofu and some kind of
Asian yam. I’m sure I have some readers who, after just
seeing that word tofu – will not even read further. I might have been one of those some years ago. I don’t eat tofu, as tofu, but if it’s in other things, well, yes I do. These noodles have almost zero calories, nearly zero carbs, zero fat in a single serving.

It’s not news on this blog that we are a family of two try to limit carbs, what with my Type 1 diabetic husband. And certainly I can cut down on them myself. But I’ll tell you true – I miss pasta. Once in awhile – a big splurge for us – I make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce from one of my numerous recipes (my favorite one this year is Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese Sauce). I freeze some of it for other dinner splurges months hence. Well, we’re now going to be able to have all we want because of these fantastic new products.

I’d heard about them several months ago when I got an email from one of the daily deal emails I subscribe to, offering me “Miracle Noodles” for some unbelievably low cost. I knew nothing whatsoever about them. I talked to a friend of mine, a recent Type 2 diabetic, who is struggling with her revised diet, to ask if she’d like to share the box with me. It was 29 packages or some odd number. She said no. Knowing so little, I opted not to buy it, either. Then I visited a local Asian market, thinking that surely they would have them – indeed they did, although it wasn’t the “Miracle” noodle, but Tofu Shirataki (the fettucine and angel hair varieties shown here), and it took the store manager’s involvement to find them in the store. Aha! In the refrigerated area – not really near anything in particular – and they were lying flat, so you couldn’t see the package front very well. FYI: a 4-ounce serving (half of the above package) contains 20 calories, .5 grams of fat, 15 mg of sodium and 3 g of carbs. And 1 g of fiber. As I’m writing this, I haven’t had the Miracle Noodle yet – I’ll probably write up another post after that with more info.

Each package holds about 8 ounces including the fluid – and about 4 ounces of net wet noodles – enough for 2 side servings. And just maybe enough for a small serving of a pasta main dish. These packages need to be refrigerated and they’ll keep for about 6 months. They don’t ever spoil, really, but eventually, the noodle may dissolve into its primary form of glucomannen (that’s the tofu and yam product).

I threw together a side dish to serve them the first time. I had no recipe, but wanted to make it a little special for the first time we’d eat them since I wasn’t certain my DH would eat them – he did and he liked them. He loves pasta too, and encourages me to NOT make it very often since it wreaks havoc with his blood sugar. The thing you need to remember is that these noodles, like most tofu products, don’t have much taste straight out of the package, so you must add flavorful ingredients to them, so they’ll soak up the flavor. Don’t just heat them with a little oil or butter and expect them to have great flavor. They won’t.

The other thing about these noodles is that they’re packed in a rather unappetizing fluid (that you drain off). It smells something like Asian fish sauce. In case you haven’t ever taken a sniff of Asian fish sauce, well, it’s not pleasant – kind of like rotten fish, actually. Tastes great, but doesn’t smell all that nice. So, there is a process of getting the noodles ready to eat. First, drain them, then rinse well under running water. According to the package instructions, I put them on a plate and microwaved them for 60 seconds. You can also “cook” them in a nonstick pan until they make a kind of squeaky sound in the pan, but microwaving is almost easier. I rinsed them again, drained again, then they went into the skillet. They’re already cooked, you see, so they don’t really need further cooking – just heating – but they need to absorb flavor. So I stirred them around, added the dairy stuff, some herbs and cayenne, and let them sit in the pan just barely simmering. I had to add a little water as the creamy ingredients boiled away, tasted it for salt and pepper, added the grated cheese and served it piping hot.

What I liked: the fact that they’re very similar – not identical – to a wheat noodle, but have so few calories and carbs. That’s the logical answer, of course. Why would we bother to eat these unless they were giving us some kind of nutritional boon. Or if I needed to restrict gluten. Obviously these are GF also.
What I didn’t like: if you forced me to say something negative (I’m trying to be at least neutral or unbiased), the texture of these noodles aren’t the same as a wheat pasta fettuccine noodle. It doesn’t have the same kind of “chew” as a wheat noodle – more like a rice noodle to me. But if you know going into it that you’re wanting a vehicle for the SAUCE – it’s the sauce we love, right? – then these noodles absolutely work. All in all, this is a great alternative to a much higher calorie wheat noodle.

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Shirataki Fettucine with Arugula and Spinach

Recipe By: My own concoction.
Serving Size: 2

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 cup arugula — fresh, chopped
1 cup baby spinach — fresh, chopped
8 ounces tofu shirataki — fettucine style (read notes regarding preparation)
1 tablespoon light sour cream
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons goat cheese — crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
water, as needed to keep the mixture fluid

1. TOFU SHIRATAKI PREPARATION: Remove noodles from package and drain. Run under water for 30-40 seconds, lifting and separating. Place noodles on a plate and microwave for about one minute (this parboils them). Remove from microwave and wash under running water again. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (large enough to hold all of the mixture) melt the butter. Add arugula and spinach and stir over medium heat until greens are cooked. Add tofu shirataki noodles and stir to combine.
3. Add the sour cream, cream, goat cheese, herbs and cayenne. Stir to combine and continue heating over low heat. Add shredded Parm, salt and pepper to taste and add water to the pan if it’s thicker than you want. Serve immediately. Makes enough for a side dish, not a main dish.
Per Serving: 193 Calories; 16g Fat (66.2% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 432mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, Healthy, on August 5th, 2012.


The title is a little bit of a misnomer – it really should be something like Buttermilk Peach Sorbet, or Buttermilk Peach Ice or maybe Peach Sherbet. Not a name with “cream” in the title since there isn’t any cream in it. But we lump all kinds of these frozen confections under “ice cream”  whether they’re made with cream or milk or whatever.

If peaches are still in season around your home, do make an effort to go get some gorgeously ripe peaches, peel them and briefly cook them in a little water, then freeze packets of it. You can then make summery ice cream any month of the year. I just hate to take up valuable freezer space with frozen peaches. My freezer is something of a problem – it’s FULL. And I mean FULL. I could probably get a few frozen chicken breasts in there, and maybe a few very flat things. But that’s about it. I am trying, really I am – to defrost and eat things out of the freezer but then I find some new thing that has to go in there. If I had a full-on stand-alone freezer in the garage it would probably be full too. I need a 12-step program for me and my freezer problem. Want to start one?

Anyway, back to this dessert. The recipe came from Rick Rodgers. I’ve had it for several years, I think, but hadn’t gotten around to making it. But with peaches on the kitchen counter, well, this is what I did with them. I DO want you to read the nutritional info about this recipe – it’s really super low calorie and has a TRACE of fat in a serving. Is that great, or what?

If you’re expecting this to taste rich and creamy like HäagenDazs, it won’t be. It’s more like ice milk. I think you need to be “of a certain age” to remember ice milk. My mother used to buy it all the time (this would have been the 1950’s) when I was growing up, but I don’t think I’ve seen it in years. I read online that it went “out” in the 1960’s when low-fat milk was produced. My dad had a passion for ice cream in any way, shape or form. In his 80’s he had to start eating sugar-free, but he still loved it. We all kidded him because after eating a small bowl (my mother would never serve a big bowl of it) he’d systematically scrape his spoon up the sides, from the bottom center and up, all the way around, until he’d made a full circle. My dad was an engineer, so we’re not talkin’ a few scrapes, I mean maybe 20-30 per bowl. To get every single, solitary, last drop. If there’s a gene for ice cream, I’ve at least inherited some of his passion for the stuff. I try not to indulge, but I do. This recipe makes it a heck of a lot better for me/us.

Wanting to make this particular one more eating-friendly for my diabetic hubby, I made it with half Splenda. I DID use the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, though, in the mixture, because brown sugar has a unique caramel-like taste and I’d never thought about using brown sugar with peaches. It’s a match made in heaven, I’m telling you!

It’s a simple recipe to make – don’t forget to add the almond extract – that’s also a little bit different, and I loved the taste of it. It’s not overpowering but just adds another layer of flavor. The recipe indicates you can make this without an ice cream machine. I did use mine, and when it first came out it was soft in texture, but once frozen for a few hours it was almost rock hard. So my only suggestion about this recipe is: let it sit out for about 20+ minutes before trying to scoop it. That’s what I had to do to get the photo up top. If you’re willing to eat a more icy type “ice cream,” and want the low in fat and calorie type, this may be a new favorite for you. Given the choice of this and full fat, well, of course the full-fat has better flavor, but if you want to cut back, give this one a try.

What I liked: the brown sugar and almond extract add great layers of flavor in this. Just don’t expect it to be soft, scoop-able like ice cream – it’s more icy or sherbet-like. We loved it. Next time I am going to add 2 T. of Peach Pucker Schnapps to the mixture (any alcohol added to home made ice cream helps with the scooping ability), not only for the softness aspect of it, but also to add even more flavor (although it doesn’t really need it – it’s full of peachy flavor as it is).

What I didn’t like: having to let it defrost for 20+ minutes is a bit of a nuisance, that’s all. Otherwise, nothing.

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Peach-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Rick Rodgers’ website
Serving Size: 10
NOTES: Can be done without an ice cream machine – freeze a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan. An ice cream maker gives the best results, but you can make it in the freezer if you wish. (The texture will be somewhat gritty, but it will taste fine.) The Schnapps in the recipe isn’t really needed – but next time I make this I’ll put it in because it may help with the scooping – once this freezes solid it’s rock hard.

2 pounds peaches — ripe (4-6 depending on size)
1/2 cup granulated sugar — (I used Splenda)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons Peach Pucker Schnapps — (this is my suggestion – not in the original)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the peaches and cook just until the skins loosen, about 1 minute. (If the skins are stubborn, the peaches aren’t as ripe as you thought, so remove them and pare off the skin with a sharp knife.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl of iced water and let stand until cool enough to handle. Discard the skin and pits and coarsely chop the peaches. Transfer to a food processor.
2. Add the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, the almond extract and purée. (If using Peach Pucker Schnapps, add that into the bowl too.) Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the buttermilk.
3. Transfer to the container of an ice machine and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pack the ice cream into an airtight container, cover and freeze for at least 2 hours to allow the ice cream to ripen and harden before serving. Leave out at room temp for about 20+ minutes to get it soft enough to scoop, as it freezes rock hard.
Per Serving: 131 Calories; trace Fat (3.2% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 56mg Sodium.

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