Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cookbook Countdown #92 - Moroccan

My friend Louise hosted Cookbook Wednesday for years, but  she is not feeling so well, so it is suspended for now.
I am not taking up the weekly commitment,  I just have one of my cookbooks to 'count down' and I am going to do it on Wednesday and think of how great Louise's blog is and hope she is up to par soon!

  I am counting this as  #92 in my personal cookbook countdown.
To see the rest of them---the other 91 I've cooked from-- click here.
Go ahead--check it out--you want to see my cookbook collection, right?
If I keep on buying new ones--this will keep me busy  for the rest of my life.
And Beyond!!

The market place is at the heart of Moroccan cooking - the fragrance of fresh herbs and pungent spices, the visual thrill of intricately painted dishes and vibrantly fresh produce. 
Moroccan food is characterized by fresh, zesty and spicy flavorings.

This book has more than 120 inspiring recipes to help you create your own Moroccan feasts. Make succulent tagines, fluffy couscous covered with mouth watering stews; as well as refreshing soups and salads, tempting selections of Moroccan sweets, and conclude your feast with traditional mint tea.

A few months ago, I decided to eat healthier. That lasted for a few months and then I got derailed, but I have noticed that my portion sizes are not nearly what they used to be, and I gave up pop (soda, cokes, whatever you say) in March and now have no desire for one.
One thing I did not give up was Fireball whiskey. 
No apologies---I don't drink it often, but sometimes I do like a splash over ice.  It's sooo good.

Anyway--healthier eating--and my Moroccan cookbook.  They go hand in hand.  Moroccan food is just fresh and light, and really good. Sometimes a bit spicy, or at least spiced with unique spices, that aren't my normal.
I made a whole meal that I'm going to share with you.
We enjoyed it--even the Handyman, who is usually frightened by anything other  beef and potatoes.

My menu:
Beet Salad
Moroccan Salad
Harissa Prawns

I know that  Beets are not for everyone, but I love them.  I love to roast them and eat them warm with some butter and salt and pepper, but I also love them cold, as in this salad.
I could eat this salad all day long!

Beet  Salad
4 medium beets
water to cover and cook the beets (but I roasted them in the oven)
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t ground cumin
salt p
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro

Trim the stems off the beets and wash thoroughly. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Cooke for 1 hour or until tender.  Let set in the water to cool for 30 minutes.

OR--roast them--they taste better.

Wearing food handling gloves (to prevent staining your hands) peel the beets.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in med-sized bowl.
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and cumin in a small bowl, then pour the dressing over the beets and stir to coat. Season with salt and set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.
Sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and serve.

Fresh, fresh, fresh!  That's how I feel about this crunchy veggie salad.  It was good.

Moroccan Salad
3 tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
1 English (seedless) cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
2 green peppers, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and red onion in a medium sized bowl.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add to the vegetables and stir to combine.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

And who DOESN'T like shrimp?  Just sayin'

Harissa Prawns
2.5 pounds raw tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons cut into wedges

Harissa Marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 T ground almonds
1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 t harissa paste*
1 t paprika
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground turmeric

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the prawns and toss to coat. Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for a least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat a large non-stick pan over high heat. Cook the prawns with the marinade for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they turn pink and begin to firm.

Serve with lemon wedges.

*Harissa Paste
1 1/2 oz dried red chili peppers
boiling water to cover read chili peppers
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil, plus additional to cover

Place the red chili peppers in a medium sized bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let soak for 1 hour. Drain and coarsely chop.
Place the dried red chili peppers, garlic, coriander, cumin, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend for 10 seconds.  Continue blending and gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture forms a paste.
Place the harissa in a clean, airtight jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.
Store in refrigerator.

Harissa will keep for 2-3 months in the fridge.
Use harissa to marinate meat, poultry or fish, or add it to dressings for a spicier flavor.

It was a great meal!

Do I recommend this cookbook?
I actually really like it and I'm looking forward to making Chicken stuffed with couscous and lamb tagine.  I love chickpeas too, and there are a lot of recipes with chick peas in this cookbook.
Plus I have a lot of new spices to use, so yes, I guess I do recommend it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros!

Today is Tuesday--- which means I'll be joining up with Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea and her First Chapter, First Paragraph
Tuesday Intros.
Where,  bloggers post the first paragraph of a book they are thinking of reading --- and get everyone's opinion to see if it grabbed them from the beginning or not.

My paragraph:

When Josey woke up and saw the feathery frost on her windowpane, she smiled. Finally it was cold enough to wear long coats and tights.  It was cold enough for scarves and shirts worn in layers, like camouflage.  It was cold enough for her lucky read cardigan, which she swore had a power of its own.  She loved this time of year. Summer was tedious with the light dresses she pretended to be comfortable in while secretly sure she looked like a loaf of white bread wearing a belt. 
The cold was such a relief.

What do you think?  Keep on reading?

The book:

An Offer from a Gentlemen by Julia Quinn

From Goodreads:
Will she accept his offer before the clock strikes midnight?

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she'd be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton's famed masquerade ball—or that "Prince Charming" would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.
Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid's garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

From Me:
What can I say?  I love the Bridgerton series.  Every time I read one I think "this is my favorite so far!" 
There are eight in the series, and this is only my 3rd, so I have a bunch more favorites ahead of me.
If you are interested in historical romance at all, but don't know where to begin-- Julia Quinn's Bridgertons are the perfect place to start.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Food N' Flix--Hotel Transylvania 2-- AVOCADOS!

Food 'n Flix is a group of bloggers who get together every month to watch a movie, and then head into the kitchen and mix up something inspired by the flick. 

There is always room for another pillow in front of the tellie, and another chair around the table. So if you're a blogger who wants to join in the fun, please feel free to jump in at any moment.

 August's  Flick was chosen by Coffee and Casseroles!    She  chose  the movie Hotel Transylvania 2!  One I have watched a million times this summer  (I kid you not)
check out her announcement post here---and play along next month!

I feel it's a bit ironic that the movie was about a grandparent watching a grandchild--I did that for the whole month of July.  3 different sets of grandchildren, but I had kids for a month.  And that is why I ended up watching Hotel Transylvania a million  times--before I even knew it was a Food 'n Flix choice.

My youngest grandson Christopher is 3 and he wanted to watch this movie almost every day--for 2 whole weeks, and while it was on in the background, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it.  I knew the gist of it, but hadn't really watched it.  So on Saturday when I decided that I wanted to join in with Food 'n Flix on a more regular basis,  I put this movie on, grabbed a glass of wine and sat back to enjoy.
And I did!

Full of a star-studded cast, and funny!   You probably don't need a detailed synopsis of the movie from me, but I just want you to know that it's filled full of humor that kids laugh at and adults 'get'.  It's all family fun, but the puns and eluding to adult 'real life' situations are hilarious.

In one scene, Drac is appalled that his daughter, Mavis, feeds his grandson, Dennis, avocados.
There were so many things to choose from, why did avocados stick in my mind?
I could have made spaghetti brains or Rice Krispie treats with Count Chocula cereal, (which I was seriously thinking about )  but I was skimming thru a cooking magazine and saw this pico de gallo recipe with roasted peppers, so I thought I'd give it a try.


It's so good.   The roasted peppers gave it a bit of a smoky flavor, the avocados a tad bit of guacamole taste and then the rest was totally pico de gallo.  But all mixed together.
There wasn't much heat, so if you think you'd like a bit more, I'd put in a jalapeno.
This was really yummy -- I ate it for my dinner tonight--  Pico de Gallo and chips!  I ate a  lot of it. 

It was so good, I'd do it again.
I'm not sorry.
Just full.

Avocado-Poblano Pico de Gallo

1 fresh poblano pepper
1 yellow, red or green sweet pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 T snipped fresh cilantro
1/2 t finely shredded lime peel
1 T lime juice
salt to taste
2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled and chopped.

Preheat the broiler, place whole peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat 7-10 minutes or until skins are bubbly and blackened, turning occasionally.
Put peppers into a paper bag and enclose.  Let stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Using a sharp knife, loosen edges of skins and remove gently.  Remove stems and seeds. Chop the peppers.
In a medium bowl combine peppers, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime peel, lime juice and salt. Gently toss to combine.  Stir in avocados.
Serve with chips.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Soup--Sausage Tortellini Soup

This is what I made for my Sunday Soup.


The Handyman LOVED this soup.  I thought it pretty good too. I love spicy sausage in soup and since it didn't state spicy or mild, I, of course , went for the spice.
Spice is nice, as they say.

I'm never sure what to say about soup---soup by definition means great! 
Soup has all the best ingredients.  Soup is --- just good.
Who  doesn't like soup?  Homemade soup, that is.  It nourishes the soul....especially in the fall and winter.
Okay, sure, there is that random person out there who is totally weird, but they're rare, right?
I think people who say they don't like soup, just haven't  had the right soup. So, it is my goal to bring you the perfect soup.  How will I find the PERFECT soup?
By making every soup in my little soup notebook.
(I've been collecting for years)

Soup is just the perfect food in my humble opinion.  And I love to make them.
One pot wonders.

The broth for this soup is really dark , the beef broth plus the red wine  and tomato sauce made for a  really deep colored base.  I didn't use as much wine as the recipe called for, but it was still a deep, more burgundy colored stock than a tomato/reddish color). For some reason that threw me for a loop, but it was very tasty!!
Rounding out the pot with spicy sausage, cheese tortellini and Italian seasoning, made for a comforting meal in a pot. 

Grab your bowls and spoons!

Sausage Tortellini Soup

1 lb. Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1  14oz cans beef broth
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15oz  can cannelloni beans
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 T sugar
2 t Italian seasoning
2 small zucchini sliced*
1 9oz pkg refrigerated cheese tortellini

Brown the sausage with the onion and garlic in a skillet, stirring until crumbly; drain.  Stir in the beef broth, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, carrots, beans, sugar and Italian seasoning, bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.   Skim off fat, stir in zucchini and tortellini. Simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Serve with a green salad and garlic cheese biscuits.

*I omitted the zucchini and threw in a handful of fresh spinach.

I'm going to link up with Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts!

And Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen!
Souper Sundays is a weekly blog event that started because of her love of soup and a desire to work through the many soup and soup-like recipes in cookbooks and magazines, Deb set a goal to make a soup or "soupish" dish each week and post it each Sunday and invited others to do the same.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Big Magic

A few months ago my friend Care was reading Big Magic and mentioned how much she loved it and maybe I would enjoy it.  I thought "eh...not a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, so I don't know. Not sure"  Then others chimed in that they loved it too---and well, I can't be left out of knowing what's going on--and they all seemed to be 'in the know' about Big Magic, so I decided to give it a listen.

Here is what I thought:
I LOVED it!!

I have no idea why I thought I wasn't a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan...the only other book I've read of hers was "Eat, Pray, Love" and while not a hater, I didn't love it.  I was probably  jealous, because, to be truthful, most of us cannot run off to Europe to find ourselves, we just have to struggle thru-- BUT that was her story, not mine, so why  ?? 
I'm still unsure of what I didn't like, but  ??
(I really loved the Eat part!)

Anyway... BIG MAGIC.
Usually, I tend to shy away from self-help books as I think they are condescending a lot of the time, but this was not. 
I'm not a good enough writer to explain all the feels  (this is a new trendy word, and I'll just have to say it--I feel silly writing it. HA!) --Feelings, all the feelings this book gave me.  I listened to this on Audio, and while I absolutely loved the sound and rhythm of Elizabeth Gilbert's voice (she narrated it herself),  I was sorry not to have a hard copy to make notes and underline important passages.
(my friends tried to tell me so--but I wouldn't listen)

I so appreciated Gilbert's viewpoint of creativity. 
I have never thought of myself as creative, but guess what?
I AM!!
Her essays, her thoughts, her reasoning are inspiring.  And comforting.  And uplifting.
And yes---DAMN--I wish I had a hardcover book to keep notes in.

There is just so much good stuff in this book!
I love thinking that ideas are their own entity looking for a home--and if it's not going to be with you, it will be with someone else.
Okay, that's horribly paraphrased (I don't have the book in front of me, remember?) But you can kind of get it, right?

I am a creative being.  And so are you.


From Goodreads:
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

I Heart Cooking Clubs--Curtis Stone-What's for dinner? (and cookbook countdown #91)

Yes, I realize I'm like that weird uncle who shows up every 3 or 4 years with gifts--the kids love him, the adults tolerate him, because he's family, but pretty much a wacko on the run.

Okay, this might be a tad bit extreme, but what I'm trying to say is that while I show up to "I Heart Cooking Clubs" once or 2x a year with well meaning intentions of joining in from now on-- there is a dedicated group of ladies who are there every week!  Every time!  Every Chef!
I'm just here for a visit.
I cannot commit to every week, but I'm hoping for every other week, because
I really do
LOVE this group, this idea, this club!

This 6 month time periods's featured chef is Curtis Stone and I just happened to have a cookbook of his on my shelf, so why not join in?

Wait, wait wait! 
To understand the concept behind 
It's great, it's easy and it's fun!

This is my cookbook...

This is the assignment....

Yep--we will do just about anything to not be sweating in the kitchen any longer than we have to be this month, so this week's theme has us in-and-out quickly!

Here is what I made.....
Shrimp Rolls with Herb Aioli

The result?
They are perfect!
Perfect for a summer evening --a light dinner or lunch--not sweating in the kitchen--and oh-so-yummy!

Shrimp Rolls with Herb Aioli

1 1/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used salad shrimp)

1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T finely chopped chives
3 T finely chopped scallions
2 t finely chopped fresh tarragon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 t cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 good-quality hot dog buns, preferably top split.
2 T unsalted butter or as needed
1 1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
1 red chili pepper such as Fresno or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, for garnish.

Prepare the shrimp.  (cook in salted water until opaque, drain)
In a medium bowl whisk the mayonnaise, chives, scallions, tarragon, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne pepper together.
Toss the chilled shrimp with the aioli to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a large griddle. Open the buns and spread lightly inside and out with butter.  Grill buns on all the buttered sides, turning occasionally for about 2 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.
Fill the buns with lettuce and top with the shrimp salad. Sprinkle with the chopped chili and serve.

We really liked these simple shrimp rolls.

Since this is the first time I've used this cookbook  (I have many of these on my cookbook shelf)  I am counting this as  #91 in my personal cookbook countdown.
To see the rest of them---the other 90 I've cooked from-- click here.
Go ahead--check it out--you want to see my cookbook collection, right?
If I keep on buying new ones--this will keep me busy  for the rest of my life.
And Beyond!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cookbook Countdown #90--The Pioneer Woman Cooks

My friend Louise hosted Cookbook Wednesday for years, but  she is not feeling so well, so it is suspended for now.
I am not taking up the weekly commitment,  I just have one of my cookbooks to 'count down' and I am going to do it on Wednesday and think of how great Louise's blog is and hope she is up to par soon!

The last time I shared a cookbook was in May!  I'll never get thru  all of my cookbooks at this speed!
This is number 90!
You can see them all so far if you click here.


I love the Pioneer Woman! 
Her recipes are the simplest, yummy and made with ingredients you are apt to have in  your pantry.
I have 4 of her cookbooks and I really like them all.  Today  I'm sharing from her first cookbook:

Paula Deen meets Erma Bombeck in The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond’s spirited, homespun cookbook. Drummond colorfully traces her transition from city life to ranch wife through recipes, photos, and pithy commentary based on her popular, award-winning blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, and whips up delicious, satisfying meals for cowboys and cowgirls alike made from simple, widely available ingredients. The Pioneer Woman Cooks—and with these “Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl,” she pleases the palate and tickles the funny bone at the same time.

I made this yummy blackberry cobbler.  I'm never sure if cobbler is a dessert or a breakfast dish, but I served this one up with some vanilla ice-cream

I guess tho, however you eat it, whenever you eat it, is all okay.
It's served a bit warm so that the ice-cream will slowly melt down into the fruit and crust/cake.  Mmmmm---it's so good!

Blackberry Cobbler

The Pioneer Woman-Ree Drummond


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 14 cups sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh or your favorite fruit)


Melt butter in a microwaveable dish.   Pour 1 cup of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish OR spray with  a non stick spray like Pam.

Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries, .). (Or your favorite fruit) Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup  sugar over the top.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbly. If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it's done.

Let cool slightly and serve warm. Or dig in with a fork if you can't wait, but make sure you have some vanilla ice cream and whip cream to put this cobbler over the edge! 

Mine didn't come out with as much crust as Ree's did.  I SWEAR it's because we live over 4000 ft over sea level.  There really is truth to making that baking adjustment people!

Would I recommend this cookbook?
More than this yummy cobbler, it's filled with real food that's really good!  And simple to make.
Her BBQ Jalapeno Poppers?   To die for!
Her cinnamon rolls?  OMG!
And her Migas?  I have no words!

So, yes, I have tried more than one recipe from this book and I would say it's worth your money.
I only have one little problem---
She has a recipe she calls "Egg-in-the-Hole"
(where you crack an egg in the middle of a piece of toast and fry them up)
Well, everyone knows that those are called
Or is that just my Nevada-ness coming out?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dimestore-A Writer's Life by Lee Smith

From Goodreads:
For the inimitable Lee Smith, place is paramount. For forty-five years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story.

Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith’s youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy’s dimestore. It was in that dimestore--listening to customers and inventing adventures for the store’s dolls--that she became a storyteller. Even when she was sent off to college to earn some “culture,” she understood that perhaps the richest culture she might ever know was the one she was driving away from--and it’s a place that she never left behind .
Dimestore’s fifteen essays are crushingly honest, wise and perceptive, and superbly entertaining. Smith has created both a moving personal portrait and a testament to embracing one’s heritage. It’s also an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.

From Me:
So many great quotes!
Memoirs always resonate with me.  I always feel that I have lived that life too. Is that a sign of a good writer or that I'm just nostalgic?  I mean every memoir I've ever written can't be great, can it?  But they pull me in.
I write letters.  Old fashioned letters that you put a stamp on and stick in a box at the post office and then a few days later they arrive in another box in front of someone's house clear across the United States,  which is a form of memoir kind of.  Maybe that's why I love them so much---I like people's stories.

I got totally off track---so many great quotes in this book!  I thought I'd share a few and went to get my book, which I thought I had bookmarked, but wait!  There is NOTHING marked. 
No little pieces of paper sticking out, no paper clip in a certain spot, no gum wrapper marking something important.

Hmmmm.   I'm going to blame it on my grandchildren.

I've never read a novel by Lee Smith, but I love her life story.
It's moving and deep---it says so on the cover!  And I know this to be true, because I read the book.

To conclude:
Great memoir about a southern childhood and a town and place she loved, which is no longer.
If you like memoirs, I think you'll liken this.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...