Thursday, December 29, 2011


 Do you like celery? If you do, you'll love celeriac. Some call it celery root or celery knob it also has a long botanical name but I find it too  difficult to pronounce or spell. Anyhow, its bulbous, not so hard, unassuming and visiually not very attractive vegetable. Despite its hard apperance it is easy to cut and it smells a little stronger than celery.  A lot people are put off by its looks.
With their tentacles and gnarly look, they look like they're out of a sci-fi movie.  I can understand the reason why these little gems may not be so popular, but like anything else you can't judge a book by its cover.  They are filled with vitamins and are very healthy (check  Wikipedia for more health information).
When I cook this dish for my company, I wait for them to take the first bite, then when they smack their lips and enjoy what they're eating,  I tell them what it is and they're surprised by its sweet taste. 

Celeriac is  very versatile, it can be cooked to be eaten  chilled or warm. It's a good addition for soups or stewes.  It can be grated into salads, or mixed with yogurt or mayonnaise or thinly sliced and fried.  I like the chilled version and  prefer it with lots of lemon.

4 medium size celeriac
1 large onion chopped
1/3 cups of olive oil
2 medium size carrots cleaned and cut into rounds
1 Cup of water
1-2 twigs of fresh dill chopped
2 tbsp of lemon juice
*salt & pepper

Wash celeriac and cut any shoots from the root,  peel the outer skin and discard. Cut the vegetable in to quarters or cubes and set aside. Saute onion in oil, until translucent in a large pot, add carrots, celeriac and water. Cover and cook for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Place in a platter, sprinkle with lemon juice and dill. Place in the refrigerator until chilled. Enjoy the experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2011




                     This past summer when I was preparing the pesto sauce I said to myself -"self ! make  a lot of this sauce, it will come in handy on busy evenings". Yesterday was that day.   I planned on making a light dinner... I opened the refrigerator door and "ta..daa.."   my green gem was right there..  I planned my menu around the pesto sauce! Imagine that!. We had  spiral pasta, pepper chicken and avocado salad. 

My recipe for Pesto Sauce is easy:
 2 cups of basil washed and gently chopped;
 1/2 cup of pignoli nuts,
2-3 cloves of garlic,
1/2 cup of parmasen cheese
1/2 cup of olive oil (little more if needed) 

Put everything in the blender, blend until thick and smooth. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


I never thought my husband would be a Brussel Sprouts fan. Most man aren't.  Take my father for instance. If he sees any vegetable on the table he makes sure that he helps himself to other dishes and claims that his plate is too full to add another thing. Should you press him on this, he says that he is not a rabbit. Anyway, last Saturday I went to the local green  grocer and found these gems on a stalk. (I forgot to  take a picture of the stalk!!!!!) .

1 1/2 Lbs of Brussels Sprouts washed & trimmed
2-3  pieces of bacon cut into small pieces               
1 medium size shallot chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
2 Tbsp of soy sauce
2 Tbsp of white wine
1/3 Cup of water

Place the bacon in the large frying pan and cook until crisp. Add to this shallots and garlic; stir until translucent. Add soy sauce, wine, water  and the sprouts. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until sprouts are bright green. Remove from heat and serve.

For the Cornish hen, I cleaned and halved it (it is just right size for the two of us). I then brushed both halves with a mixture of soy sauce, sage and olive oil. Baked them at 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. They were succulent.  (Check out my chef brush next to them)

I made a healthy salad with all the trimmings/ Iceberg lettuce, Radicchio, tomatoes, chopped dill and parsley with oil and lemon juice dressing.

Of course I had to make a starchy something to go with all this delicious food ! For that, I made "Uncle Ben's"  wild rice (which cooked in merely ten minutes)- time saver and delicious. Thank you "Uncle Ben"..

We concluded our meal with a nice cup of coffee and the Stollen that I had baked  a week ago. I had a yen for it for whole week,  but I waited for its flavors to blend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I like cauliflower. I make soup with it, I pickle it I use it in salads and dips. Some people like broccoli but not cauliflower. I wonder why? Anyway this is an easy way to prepare this nutritious vegetable. I usually use the fresh ones but this time I used frozen to save time and steps.  If I'm cooking with fresh cauliflower, first  I cut the stem  part and put the whole vegetable in a pot and boil it  for 15-20 minutes. After cooling I split it in half to carve out the core, brake the flowers apart and proceed with my recipe. Frozen cauliflower is already separated into fleurettes, so its no brainer ......
1 bag of frozen cauliflower (don't thaw)
2 Tbsp of butter
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups of Milk
1 Tsp nutmeg
1/2 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 Cup sharp Cheddar cheese mixed with Mozzarella

Place frozen cauliflower on a baking dish (if some are clumped separate them by pulling apart under running tap water).
Melt butter in a medium size sauce pan and add  flour. Stir until butter is absorbed into flour. Add nutmeg. Using a whisk slowly add milk to the mixture and keep whisking until there are no clumps. It has to be in the consistency of a light pudding. Add Mozzarella cheese, stir and pour over the frozen vegetable. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese mix. Bake in 350 degrees oven for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, December 12, 2011


 I've always wanted to bake Stollen, a cake tradiationally baked during Christmas time in Germany. Years ago my German friend gave me her recipe but I never attempted to make it. She used to bake this for her family every Christmas. Remembering the old days, I decided to give it a try last Saturday evening.  I didn't realize that it was going to be too involved. The dough had more rest  then I did. I was exhausted at the end. I followed her recipe with a little variation,  I've added few ingredients of my own.  The preparation process is very long, but its worth it at the end.  My hubby tasted it and declared that it was the Gutt!!!

4 to 4 1/2cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom
1 1/4 cups milk (lukewarm)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Cup raisins
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1/4 cup candied citrus peel
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Rum
To be used later:

1 cup  powdered sugar
1 package of sweetened vanilla powder
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon hot water

Combine raisins & candied fruits with rum. Soak for 1 hour.. Combine yeast, milk, sugar & cardamom in a large bowl & place in a warm place for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the yeast mixture and kneed into a dough. Drain liquid from fruit mixture and kneed it into the dough. Transfer dough into a large and clean bowl and cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for one (1) hour.
 Place dough onto floured surface gently flatten and divide into thirds.
Flatten each half into oval about 10x6 and 1 1/2 inches thick. Fold one long side  of the oval within the dough 1/2 inch to the other side. Do this for all pieces.
Transfer dough on parchment lined baking sheets and allow to rise again 30 minutes (in the mean time preheat the oven to 350 degrees).
Place dough in the middle of the oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden color. Remove from oven. 
Sift together the powdered sugar and vanilla powder. Add hot water to make a thick paste. Brush butter over hot Stollen once butter is absorbed,  brush the sugar mixture on all sides.
Wrap and store in a cool place. Do not refrigerate.


My hubby decided to take advantage of the warmer sunny days before the really cold days arrived. He braved the evening cold and grilled our meal. Thankfully I had marinated the steak a day before. He grilled tomatoes, red and green peppers which I had also prepared a day before with  sprinkle of curry, garlic powder and drizzle of olive oil.  While he was out in the back with his flash light grilling away, I made jasmine wild rice. He wanted me to memorialize this day and took this photo and asked me to publish it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Last night we came home early from work ate early and guess what? I was bored. My hubby knows that my boredom means trouble for him so he was hiding in the TV room pretending to be grossly involved in a political forum or something.   What to do????? I decided to bake a cake. That always takes my boredom away. "What to bake?" was the question..... There are so many cookie and cake recipes to make for the holidays,  its mind boggling. I like anything with ginger in it. So I decided to bake a spice cake. The alchemist in me decided to mix all my favorite spices together since this was going to be an experiment. I took  all the spices out of the cupboard. I mixed them in a small jar with my cute measuring spoons (look at the last three, labeled, "dash", "pinch" and "smidgen")

*Spice mixture:
 1 tbsp cinnamon
 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
 1 tsp nutmeg
 1 dash (1/2 tsp) powdered anise 
 1 dash cardamom
 1 dash allspice

They are all in that little jar on the left. I wanted to bake  a very light and easy cake. A second look in my refrigerator indicated that I didn't have molasses which is a must for spice cake. What to do???? I found my apricot sauce which I had made this spring when apricots were abundant (same recipe as apple sauce).
Take my word for it,  the sauce made the difference, the cake turned out to be very moist (I think applesauce would do the same thing).

Ingredients for my version of this Ginger Pound Cake:

1 1/2 Cups of flour
1 Cup of Sugar
1 whole egg
 1/2 tsp of *spice mixture 
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1 pinch of salt
1 Cup apricot sauce mixed with 1/2 cup of water (total of 1 1/2 cups)

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add shortening, egg and apricot sauce. Mix everything with your mixer's high speed for 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl. Pour into a well greased and floured pan and  bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. (I did the tooth pick method to test for donnes). The aromas wafting from the kitchen persuaded my husband to come in  and ask me if I wanted to have cup of coffee with this deliciously aromatic cake. When I sliced it,  it was amazingly moist and with each bite we were marveling at the taste of all the spices. Needles to say my house was starting to smell like Christmas...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


 I could eat fish everyday as long as it is from the ocean. I inherited my love of fish from my uncle who was an avid fisherman. He taught me everything he knew about fish and fishing when I was very young. I learned how to catch,  scale and carve. I love to eat the whole fish,  head and everything. Some people can't stand the sight of a whole fish. I can't understand why. Some people can't stand the smell of the fish. I love that smell of the ocean/sea that a fresh fish has. I can't help but remember an experience at a dinner given by one of our friends who  is an  avid fisherman. He was serving the catch of the day when  I overheard one of the guests say to her husband that " I can't eat this fish it has a fishy smell and has a head ". Excuse me but should the fish smell like beef????  the flesh of the fish head is very tasty. I recommend for everyone to taste it at least once.
Well,  to each is own as they say.. I'm a whole fish girl, in fact I'll eat anything that comes from the ocean/sea. However, today I bought this filleted flounder (on my way back from work) and picked up crab meat while I was at it.  I also bought some fresh spinach and mushrooms. My menu was completed. Here is the recipe for my own version of stuffed flounder:

 4 Flounder fillets
2/3 Cup crab meat
1/2 Onion finely chopped
1 Clove of garlic minced
2-3 Twigs of finely chopped celery leaves
1/3 Cup of white wine
1 Tablespoon of butter
1Tablespoon of olive oil
* S & P

Rinse and pat dry the flounder fillets and place them on a plate white sides up. In a small frying pan sautee onions and garlic in oil for few minutes, add the celery leaves, crab meat, wine and stir gently. Turn off heat. Spoon the mixture on the largest end of the fillet and roll. Gently place the rolled stuffed fillets seam side down  in an oven proof dish side by side and dot with butter cover with aluminium foil and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes or until done.  (* Salt and Pepper to taste for those who aren't on any special diet).

I made my spinach salad with mushrooms and orange segments. It is a little different than the classic version but it is very refreshing especially with fish. I used my own concoction of  equal parts of lemon juice, prepared mustard and olive oil as dressing for it. My hubby made mashed potatoes as our side dish.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Getting home late after work and preparing a meal is not a hassle for me. I  just pick up whatever is in the fridge or pantry and throw them together. Last night I found ready made pizza dough (I'm sorry if I offend those who make their pizza dough from scratch),  tomatoes and some hot dogs in the fridge. I have to use short cuts when I'm pressed for time. After stretching the dough unto pizza plate, I spread the tomato sauce, and sprinkled garlic powder, oregano and basil, then I placed the  sliced tomatoes on one half  and topped them with mozzarella cheese and placed the uncooked hot dogs on the other half (my husband's side!!). Popped it in the preheated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.  While we were waiting for our pizza to cook, we had the vegetable soup that I had made with turkey broth after Thanksgiving and froze for a late evening like this. We enjoyed our crispy crusted pizza with a glass of red wine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite soups of the season. It's easy to make and it tastes delicious.

2 Medium Size butternut squash (cut lengthwise and seeded)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 Stalks of celery
1 medium size onion, chopped
2 ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears (or apples) diced
1 Tsp. ground cumin 
1/2 Tsp. ground cloves
1/2 Tsp.  dried crushed rosemary leaves
3 Cups of chicken broth
2 Cups of water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a tray with foil. Rub 1 tbsp oil on the squash and place on foil face down in lined tray. Roast for 45-50 minutes or until very tender. Cool until easy to handle and scoop squash from  skins and place in a large bowl. Discard skins.  Sautee onions and celeryin a pot  for 10 minutes, stir in spices,  add  diced pears, squash, broth and water. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using hand held infuser blend squash mixture  until pureed.   Enjoy.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I didn't feel like cooking last night and we decided to have  one of our favorite meals we call "Nightbreak" or breakfast in the evening. Why have breakfast only in the morning, right..??.  My husband and I enjoy breakfast at any time of the day. To me  "Nightbreak"  also translates into taking a break from cooking.
  In this plate I have freshly baked  biscuit,  a dog in blanket (biscuit dough wrapped around a hot dog and baked), soft boiled egg, string cheese, Gruyere cheese, fig jam, orange marmalade. We had freshly brewed tea to go with this meal.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


While my parents were staying with us I had to cook  fast and nutritious meals for all of us.  Having octogenarian parents I thought I'd make comfort foods that they've enjoyed in their earlier years. This is a simple recipe and all the ingredients are right from the pantry.

 1 Box uncooked pasta /penne, elbow or bow tie  will work
 1 container cottage cheese (12 oz.)
 12 ounce  finely shredded cheeses (Monterey Jack, Colby, Cheddar & Mozzarella) * (can be substituted with cheese of your own choice)
 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs (plain or flavored)
 1 Tbsp. Olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside in a bowl.
Combine all cheeses in a large bowl and using an infusion blender process them until smooth.  Add this mixture to pasta and stir well. Pour this mixture into a well greased baking dish. Combine Parmesan cheese with bread crumbs and oil in a small bowl and spread evenly over pasta mixture. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or heated through and the top is browned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


After a prolonged absence from blogging I'm finally getting back into the groove to resume writing, cooking and taking photos. I've missed my dialogues with my fellow bloggers and Internet friends. No, I was not on vacation; I just  had a very dark cloud over my head for a while. My survivor instinct in me pushed me to test the limits of my ability to cope with everything that was thrown my way and I never let anything get me down. We lost my mother-in-law and her sister-in-law (my husband's aunt) on consecutive days in July. Two weeks after that,  my mom collapsed in my arms and was in the hospital in critical care. Soon after she came home,  her house  along with four other houses on the block  was flooded by hurricane Irene. I went to rescue my elderly father and and mom in the eye of the storm to bring them to my house. I went under lose electric wires and around fallen trees in a rain storm so severe that I couldn't see the hand  in front of me but I made it safely back home with them. The next day I had to take my mom back to the hospital because she had brisued ribs as a result of the her rescue by the fire department and she was in excruciating pain. We spend six hours at the emergency room. The next day I had to roll-up my sleeves and start the clean-up process at their home. Below are the pictures I took the day I entered their house and this was the mess I encountered in their kitchen and their living room.  The black muck you see in the picture is what the flood water left in the house, pure mudd and a horrible smell!!! I was able to hire an environmental clean-up company who worked five days to clean-up and dry out their house. After demolishing the walls and the floors for two days,  they brought in 12 huge dryers and 2 huge dehumidifiers to dry for three more days. The sound of those machines operating at the same time was deafining...
While the house was being dried we were not allowed to go in, but that didn't stop me from sneaking in to get something for my mom or dad for whatever they needed. Running between my house, their house, work and stores I had no time for anything else except to get a wink of sleep. In between all this, we had to make another trip to the hospital emergency room in the middle of the night for my dad this time. Thank God,  his was just an indigestion but surely gave us enough scare to call an ambulance. Being a regular at the ER has its advantages like getting to know the emergency doctors and nurses by their first names bases and they get to know you. They offer you a chair to sit down or a cup of coffee to drink  in the middle of the night.
Later in October after what I had hoped would be the last ER visit my mom collapsed in my arms again necessitating another trip to the ER. When the ambulance arrived we were  ready to answer all the questions about her medication. This time we spent ten hours at the emergency room and my mom was admitted to critical care yet again.
Lets not forget that I had to go to work in between these episodes of emergency hospital visits, house renovations.  I also had to cook for five people when I got home, all while continuing to suffer neck pain, headaches and ear aches from a previous car accident. Oh, I forgot to mention that during mom's illness we had to hire a home health aide for her and my father. Later we realized that she was lazy as a daisy and had a lot of demands,  not to mention that she didn't cook. We had to let her go few days after mom & dad moved to their home. Now we have a lovely lady attending them who is also quite a good cook.
The light green apparatus is the dehumidifier

              As you can imagine, all their furniture, appliances, rugs,  floors, utilities even the small appliances had to be replaced. Anyone who has had a similar experience will understand what it is like to start a new ...
I don't want to bore you with all the little details of my experience but I could say that I learned a lot during these 72 days. First I learned about myself, I learned  who my true friends are and those who are not.

             The pictures below should give you an idea of what I accomplished by the end of this journey. I lost 17 pounds and  I'm tired but I'm also very happy that I was able to do all this for my parents. This experience has enabled me to re-connect and spend quality time with them, which is very precious to me when they are at this stage of their life.  I tried to do what was best for them in their new-old home to spend the rest of their lives comfortably and happy.

 As they say "Now you know the rest of the story".

Monday, November 14, 2011


No,  this is not a corny deer statute that we planted in our back yard. He is  part of  a deer family who is visiting our back yard veryday and eating everything in sight.

Here is the rest of its family watching me taking their pictures from the house. They are adorable animals with their white tails and huge eyes. However, they love my flowers and plants and they eat them ferociously. They come from the woods across the street from where we live. Last  Christmas evening my husband and I started to believe in Santa Clause again when we saw a small herd of deer across the street in the nearby church parking lot. We thought that Santa had parked his sled there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011




PS. You can read my story of June 9, 2008 under  "Celebration"

Thursday, September 29, 2011


One of the best things in life are the nature's unassuming promptness. When the time is right  the flowers will blossom the leaves will foliate and the sun will rise. My husband says that this is very reassuring and I guess on this issue we agree. Despite the bad weather my Shasta Daisies blossomed and apparently attracted the honey bee.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Due to the recent hurricane Irene, my parents house was flooded now they are living with me. Thank God that my parents are safe. It was very unfortunate that my mom was just  out of the hospital and recuperating from blood clots in her lungs. My faith in God has been never so strong and I know in my heart that these days are going to pass soon and I shall start my blogging again.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hello everyone!! I've given myself a break from cooking and posting for a very short time. Right now my cooking consists of salads and BBQ's, so there is no excitement there.  I shall start posting again soon. In the mean time enjoy the rest of the summer, don't work so hard, life is too short.