"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!


Lentil Lemon & Tuna Salad: French Fridays with Dorie

Lentil Tuna Salad with Ciabatta Rolls and Olive Tapenade

I really need to read through Dorie's recipes more thoroughly beforehand... this little tuna salad required making three dishes. 

It would have been a great use of leftovers if I had on hand the French Lentils and the Black Olive Tapenade.  I whipped these up without much difficulty... and I really liked their individual tastes. 

When I returned to the Lentil Lemon & Tuna Salad recipe I was hesitate to mix everything together. So, instead I made a small batch of the tuna salad and served the lentils and the tapenade with Ciabatta rolls and European butter. Last minute I sautéed up some spicy sausage just in case the kids didn't go for the tuna as dinner.

I was worrying about the kids not liking the tuna when in fact it was me who was not crazy about it. I even used Tonno tuna instead of chunk light tuna, but the dish just left me flat.

I have a really great lentil salad recipe in which you roast beets and fry goat cheese - now that is an exciting lentil salad. It has sweetness, creaminess, and savory lentils.(I'll post it soon.) 

This salad did have the brightness of lemons. I used juice and zest not preserved lemons. The lentil dish mixed with the tapenade just didn't work for me. I felt that the saltiness of the tapenades cancelled out the interesting note of cognac in the lentils.

As part of a meal it was tasty, and it is probably very nice for lunch on a hot afternoon - most especially it is a terrific use of left over French Lentils and Black Olive Tapenade, but it is these individual recipes that are really the more interesting dishes.

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta


"Orchids and Ice" Simplified Watering: Simple Living in Practice

orchid and ice
Orchid and Ice

When I bought this orchid it said to put 3 ice cubes in the pot once a week instead of watering it. At first I thought the instructions were odd, but then I noticed that the ice melted slowly and didn't flood through the plant removing soil and leaving a puddle in the catch pan. 
I started watering all of my house plants by placing ice cubes in them. Now, I never over water any of my plants, and I don't spill any water on my furniture... hate water spots on tables!
When it gets hot outside I fill my dog's outside water bowl with ice cubes and let them slowly melt. She really appreciates the cooler water, and I appreciate how much easier it is to carry a bowl of ice instead of a bowl of water. No spills!
Ice cubes are the answer to all of my watering needs. How about you? Give it a try. If you know any cool ice cube tips post them in the comments area so we can all learn about them.


Sicilian Tuna Pasta: Foodie Friday


tuna pasta
Sicilian Tuna Pasta

This is a great pantry dish. You can keep on hand all of the ingredients for this meal in your cabinet. It is also a very flexible dish, add or omit what you want. You can even change the fish and use any leftovers you might have on hand.
We make this dish camping and if we go with friends they are always surprised how delicious a pasta dish made totally out of cans and jars can be.
So Mangia!

Sicilian Tuna Pasta
by Diane Balch
Prep: 10 minutes          Serves: 4-6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 chopped cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste or crushed anchovy fillet
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of  jarred capers with some juice
1 cup of green Spanish Manzanilla Olives or pitted in oil black olives
2 cans drained tuna (in oil is best)
1 jar Fra Diavolo Sauce (I use Rao's Arrabbitata)
* Can use Schar's gluten-free pasta

1) Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil, put at least a tablespoon of salt in the water.

2) Put the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat and sauté the onions. Add garlic and anchovy to the oil and incorporate it. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

3) Add tuna, capers, olives, and sauce to skillet and heat through.

4) When pasta is al dente add it to the skillet. Mix it in and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

5) Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve with a side green salad.
TunaItalian CookingPastaOlives,AnchovyTomato Sauce 

Spotlight Recipes from Last Week's Party:

From: I Thee Cook

Rina transforms the humble potato salad into an elegant side dish with her fantastic use of seasoning.

Anne is truly an intuitive cook she created the flavorful rub and the Mango Salsa from ingredients she had on hand in her fridge. 

From: God's Growing Garden

We have all been hearing how it is best to substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes because they are so much healthier... well, this dish is not only healthy - it has incredible Indian seasoning and it is a complete vegetarian, gluten-free meal.

Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:


1) Copy the Foodie Friday Button's html from this website's sidebar.

2) Paste this html to the html page of the recipe you want to link to Foodie Friday. You can also make a word link or post our button on your sidebar. Please link back.
3) Copy the link to the recipes you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage. You can post up to 3 recipes that you have not shared before.

4) Click on "your next" on this page.

5) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe, not your name.

6) Choose how you want to download the photo.

Dear Party Participates,

I apologize now if I don't respond to your comments or thank you for attending the party until Tuesday. I will be unplugging at some time on Friday for the holiday weekend.

Enjoy your Memorial Day,
Diane Balch

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta


Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese: French Fridays with Dorie


Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese with Fougasse

I live in a pretty sophisticated area... we are only an hour 1/2 outside of New York City, but I could not find fromage blanc anywhere... and there was no way I was substituting ricotta cheese for it. I find ricotta flavorless and the thought of eating it raw just turned me off. I decide instead to try three different cheeses with the herbs and see which one was the tastiest mixture. I bought: organic sour cream, creme fraiche, and chèvre (goat cheese) for this experiment. 

I really planned to make this cheese dip myself, but my daughter got bored and begged to make it. So, I had her mix all the ingredients, other than the cheese in our mini-food processor. Then she divided up the seasoning between the three cheeses and incorporated them with a spatula.

We had froze a loaf of the olive fougasse. I thawed that out in the oven, and we cut up some vegetables for dipping. I was most curious about the radishes Dorie recommended to dip. I have never used radishes for dipping and they were a big hit. The sharpness of their flavor really complemented the herb mixture. 

My entire family, plus my 19 year old nephew, who has been staying with us on and off since he got out of school this semester, tried all three dips with bread and vegetables. My nephew liked the sour cream mixture the best primarily because of it's smooth texture and tangy after taste. The rest of us preferred the taste of the goat cheese spread. It reminded us more of Boursin. Though we had to agree with my nephew that the smooth texture of the sour cream dip was nicer on the palate. The creme fraiche was too buttery, these herbs really needed a sour or sharp flavored cheese to bring out their taste. I would not recommend using creme fraiche.

Lyonnaise Garlic & Herb Cheese is very nice spread that most people would probably enjoy at a party... it would be eaten, but not commented on... the flavors just didn't stand out as anything terribly special. 

Make Your Own Cheese at Home

Enhanced by Zemanta


Simplify Your Recipe Collection: Simple Organizing

Recipes in Binders

I enjoy collecting recipes and cookbooks probably more than the average person.

  I can sit on a Sunday afternoon and read a cookbook like it was a novel. 

So it is very hard for me to keep my recipe collection pared down to what really interests me, and what I am really using to cook with on a daily basis.

My first line of defense is Pinterest. 

On this site I collect all the images of recipes I want to try. When I try them and like them, I move the recipe to a new board called, "Tried and liked." If I didn't like a recipe I just delete it from the "To Try" board.

I know there are a lot of on line site to keep recipes stored and organized, but I like using Pinterest because I am not limited to just the recipes on a particular directory. 

I also like to print out recipes. 

I am not going to bring my laptop into the kitchen and risk getting something spilled on it, or having it getting sticky keys from my cooking fingers.

When I print a recipe out, I put it in a plastic sleeve. I only pull the recipe out of the sleeve to make notes about any changes I've made to the recipe (which I can't resist doing, I have a need to personalize)

If I cooked a recipe I like it then I will file it in a binder which I have divided into: Vegetarian, Meat, Fish, Desserts, etc... sections for easy access.

As far as cookbooks are concerned I've really reduced the number I own because they take up so much space. 

If I only like a few recipes in a book I just photocopy them and put them in my binder. Only cookbooks that I use 10 or more recipes out of do I keep.
Enhanced by Zemanta


The Cuisine of Greece: Mediterranean Diet Month: Healthy Eating


We can't explore Mediterranean Cuisine with out a look at Greece. My first experience with the food of this country was in high school. I had a girlfriend from Greece and when you went to her house for lunch you didn't get peanut butter and jelly... you got caviar spread, goat cheese and olives. Coming from an Italian background everything her family cooked was familiar but just a little different. Her mom used to always say about Mediterraneans because we all kinda of look a like, "one face, one race." and I would add, "one appetite."

The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is frequently used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine (eggplant), potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly honey from the nectar of fruit trees and citrus trees: lemon, orange, bigarade (bitter orange) trees, thyme honey, and pine honey from conifer trees. Mastic (aromatic, ivory coloured resin) is grown on the Aegean island of Chios.

Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Persillade is also used as a garnish on some dishes. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews.

The climate and terrain has tended to favour the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes are uncommon. Fish dishes are common in coastal regions and on the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone and Mizithra.*
Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta


Shepherd's Pie: Foodie Friday


shepherd's pie
Shepherd's Pie with Salad

This is a recipe I have been winging for years. It is the perfect thing to do with leftover potatoes, especially if you happen to have some ground beef on hand.  Thanks to this blog I finally had an excuse to write it down. Now maybe my children will be able to make it too.

Shepherd’s Pie
By Diane Balch

prep: 20 minutes Serves: 4-6


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion chopped 
2 carrots chopped 
2 celery sticks chopped 
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-1.5 pounds of ground beef or lamb
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 garlic clove chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Left over mashed potatoes thinned with milk ( more or less the equivalent of 4 potatoes)
1/4 cup or more of shredded cheddar cheese *optional
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium high heat.
3) Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic and add peas near the end. Salt and pepper. Put vegetables aside in a bowl.
4) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high heat add meat, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Break up meat and cook until it is no longer pink. Then add tomato paste to the meat and mix it in well so it covers all of the meat.
5) With a slotted spoon, add vegetables to the meat and put mixture into a 8x8 inch pyrex pan or deep dish pie pan. 
6) Heat mashed potatoes in microwave for 1 minute and add enough milk to make them spreadable.
7) Cover the meat/vegetable mixture with the mashed potatoes. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes. Sprinkle cheese on top and cook for about 10 minutes or until top browns.
8) Let Sheperd’s Pie sit for 15 minutes before you serve it.

Please check out the great food that this recipe is shared with on: The Newly Weds Wed Recipe LinkySlightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ SS& GS and click on: Food Parties.

Shepherd's PieLambbeefmashed potatoesEnglish cookingcasserole 

Spotlight Recipes from Last Week's Party:

From: A Flock in the City

This is a glazed bread that is filled with almond paste and chocolate that tastes as amazing as it looks.

From: Whole Intentions

This is simple recipe but the Indian season gives a new twist on stuffed peppers.

From:  Everyday Vegan Girl

Talk about a healthy tasty dish. This is truly a collision of two super foods.

Instructions for Foodie Friday linky:


1) Copy the Foodie Friday Button's html from this website's sidebar.

2) Paste this html to the html page of the recipe you want to link to Foodie Friday. You can also make a word link or post our button on your sidebar. Please link back.
3) Copy the link to the recipes you want to add to Foodie Friday, not your homepage. You can post up to 3 recipes that you have not shared before.

4) Click on "your next" on this page.

5) Past your link and type in the name of the recipe, not your name.

6) Choose how you want to download the photo.

Enhanced by Zemanta