Monday, April 20, 2015

Time to break out the grill.....

The weather isn't the greatest here in Michigan but it is much better than it has been so I declared that it was time to start acting like it was Spring and break out the grill.  That means that food gets a little lighter, less sauces and gravies, less braising and roasting and more salads, veggies and grilled meats.

Saturday, we grilled some Carribean Spiced Pork Chops and topped them with some Mango Mojo Salsa.  I adapted this recipe from one that I found in Cuisine at Home back in 2004.  The recipe calls for Pork Tenderloin and I have used Tenderloin in the past with great results but Saturday I used bone in Pork Chops and they turned out lovely as well.  I have also used boneless pork chops and I'm sure this rub would be delicious on ribs too.

Caribbean Spiced Pork Chops

Island Pork Rub

1 T. Paprika
1 T. Chili Powder
1 T. Dried Oregano
1 t. Kosher Salt
1/2 t. Red Pepper Flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small container.

Mojo and Basting Sauce

Juice from 1 orange
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of kosher salt
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 T. honey
1 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to incorporate. Reserve 1/4 c. for salsa (recipe below)
Rub the pork chops on both sides with the Island Rub.  Save the remainder for another day.

Grill the chops over med high heat, flipping occasionally and brushing with basting sauce until pork reaches internal temperature of 145*.  Print Recipe

Serve topped with Mango Mojo Salsa (recipe below)

Mango Mojo Salsa

2 c. ripe mango, diced
1 T. chopped fresh cilanto
1/4 c. of the above Basting and Mojo Sauce

Toss all ingredients lightly in a bowl.  Let set while grilling the pork so that flavors meld together. Print Recipe

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes for Crazy Ingredient Challenge


This fun party is hosted by Dawn of Spatulas on Parade.  Each month she gives us two lists of ingredients and then we vote on which ingredients we want to use to make a dish of some sort.  This month the winners were Parsnips and Cardamom.  We would love for you to join us...just send an email to Dawn at and she will set you up.

I had voted for cabbage and candied ginger for this month's challenge, thinking I would make something Asian....but I lost.  So I was faced with Parsnips and Cardamom.  Parsnips used to be called white carrots by my kids and the name stuck.  That made me think of what I would do had I been assigned carrots and Cardamom and my mind went right to carrot cake.  Sounded good to me. 

I was not really familiar with Cardamom, having never used it before.  So I did a google search and found that it is an Indian spice describes as pungent and warm.  Google also included some cardamom recipes so I started browsing them and found a recipe by Martha Stewart that called for Parsnips and Cardamom.  That sealed the deal for me. 

Now, you know the difference between muffins and cupcakes right?  That's right.....frosting.  I personally prefer muffins because I am not a frosting lover but my family prefers cupcakes so I added the cream cheese frosting that was included in Martha's recipe to these.

The cupcakes turned out beautifully moist and flavorful.
My husband couldn't believe it when I told him that it contained parsnips.

This is definitely a cupcake recipe I will use again.
Tingting ate 2 of them, one right after the other.

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes
very slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

1 c. flour
1 t. ground cardamom
1 1/2 t. baking powder
pinch salt
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 large peeled parsnip, grated

In large bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, oil and parsnip.  Add the flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt.  Mix on low speed just until combined.  

Divide batter among a 12 muffin pan lined with baking cups.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely.  Serve as is and call them muffins or add a cream cheese frosting and call them cupcakes.  

For frosting:  Cream together 8 oz of softened cream cheese, 4 T. of softened butter, 1 t. vanilla and 1/2 c. sifted confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Print Recipe

Sunday, April 19, 2015

We are having a picnic for #SundaySupper

This week for Sunday Supper we are celebrating Earth Day with a picnic hosted by T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley.

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

I love picnics.  I love being outside and spending time with family and friends.  I love spending a leisurely Sunday, visiting, playing badminton or croquet, snacking, grilling and perhaps having a glass of

I think that the perfect wine for a casual picnic pot luck, where you aren't sure what food will be offered and what the other guests wine preferences might be, is a fruity, refreshing Sangria Punch. This recipe I'm sharing with you today is sure to please everyone at the table with it's light and sparkly goodness.

Now, one of the problems of trying to keep wine chilled at a picnic is the danger of watering down your wine if you add ice to it.  Want to know an easy way to rectify that problem??  Ice cubes made from wine....melt away ice....melt away....and in keeping with the fruity theme you can put a cherry inside each cube

Sangria Punch

1 bottle red wine
2 cans lemon lime soda
1 orange, cut into slices
1 lime, cut into slices
1 lemon, cut into slices

Pour wine and soda into a large pitcher.  Add fruit slices and stir to combine.  Serve chilled. If desired make ice cubes using some of the punch to add to the wine on hot days to keep it cool.  Print Recipe

Let's see what everyone else brought to the picnic

Main Dishes:
Soups and Salads:

National Garlic Day

Calling all garlic lovers! Welcome to National Garlic Day 2015, hosted by Heather from girlichef. April 19th is a day for garlic lovers far and wide to come together and celebrate the wonder of "the stinking rose". Whether it's the ability to ward off vampires (and bugs), its numerous health benefits, or the way it lends flavor to a dish, there are so many reasons for singing the praises of garlic. 

National Garlic Day 2015

Yep, that's right.  There is actually a day set aside to honor this lovely, fragrant vegetable from the allium family.  Now, in this household, every day is garlic day.  We don't believe that there can ever be too much garlic.  We love it so I was happy to join this great group of food bloggers led by Heather of girlichef.  The only rule was to share a recipe that prominently features garlic.

When Frank and I go out to lunch, more often that not we head to the Lebanese Grill.  They have amazing, authentic food and we always start our meal with pita hot from the oven slathered with garlic paste.  We love that garlic paste and we usually eat it together so we don't realize how strong we smell until we run into someone else and they start sniffing around and wrinkling their noses at us.

Frank has been after me for a while now to make some garlic paste at home.  This challenge was the perfect opportunity to accommodate his wishes.  So I went on line and I found a recipe.  This recipe called for 3 heads of garlic, 1 t. salt, juice of 1 lemon and 4-5 c. of canola oil and used a food processor.....FAIL.

So I thought perhaps the food processor was too large and tried it again using the small bowl of the processor....FAIL.

Back to the computer...another recipe, this one called for placing all ingredient at one time into a jar and using an immersion blender....FAIL.

I was getting very I did what I always do when recipes are not working out for me.  I tossed them in the garbage and figured I would do it myself.  I used garlic, lemon, salt and oil as called for in every other recipe but I used the blender and adjusted the amount of ingredients.

This sauce is delicious smeared on pita, as a topping for grilled meats or as a spread for sandwiches.

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Cloves from 1 head garlic, separated and peeled
2 large pinches kosher salt
Juice squeezed from 1/4 of a large lemon
1/2-3/4 c. canola oil

Place garlic cloves and salt into a blender.  Pulse and scrape repeatedly until garlic becomes pastelike. Squeeze the lemon juice into the blender and pulse until incorporated.  Turn the blender to the stir setting and keep it running as you drizzle the oil slowly into the garlic. Pulse as needed to incorporate all the oil before adding more.  Continue in this manner until the paste is the consisitency of mayonnaise.  Print Recipe

To help you get in the mood, check out these garlicky good recipes from this year's National Garlic Day bloggers:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Another week just flew by so here's the Weekly Menu....

I am writing this on Friday night since our date night was canceled due to Frank's being indisposed and not feeling much like a date.  Instead we threw some potatoes, asparagus and a steak on the grill.  That's better than going out if you ask me!!!

Tomorrow I have my pal, EJ, coming over to help me bring the deck furniture out of storage while his Mom makes my house all spic and span.  No other great plans except to go see Mom for a bit.

Sunday we are singing at 9:30 Mass.  We need to go to the funeral parlor as a friend's Mom has passed, and then we are  just spending a quiet day at home.

Monday we will have an early dinner as I have a meeting at church.  Tuesday and Thursday, I hope to get back to Zumba. Friday all 3 dogs are going to the doctor and then in the evening we will be attending an appreciation dinner put on by the church for all the volunteers.  It is also Ting's birthday but we will celebrate over the weekend.

This week has not only been busy for us but Little Miss has been busy learning a new trick.  Here she is sharing kisses with her Grampy.

So there is next week in a nutshell...and here is what's on the menu.  Stop by each day for photos and recipes and join me on Monday at MPM.

Carribean Spiced Pork Chops
Carribean Black Beans and Rice
Mango Mojo Salsa

Skillet Roasted Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans

Meatless Monday
Homemade Pierogis
Buttered Corn

Chicken Stir Fry
Steamed Rice

Baked Beans

Pesto Chicken Melt
Homemade Potato Chips

Appreciation Dinner promised

Yesterday I shared with you a wonderful cookbook written by Debbie Matenopoulos called "It's All Greek to Me".  The publisher, BenBella Books, even provided a free copy for me to raffle off to one of my lucky readers.  Click here to enter.

The entree I served last night were the Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and they were delicious!!! At Debbie's suggestion, I served them over Pilafi. A perfect meal....there were no leftovers, so that tells you how wonderful it was.

The Pilafi (Rice Pilaf) was the easiest version I have ever made.  The only adaptation I made was to use some colorful shredded carrots that I had been provided by Grimway Farms, who are sponsoring our next fun event #BrunchWeek 2015.  Oh, and I didn't have flat leaf parsley so I used the curly stuff and I didn't have a 1/2 c. so I used a 1/4 c.  That's it....other than that I followed the easy peasy recipe and it was perfect, I wouldn't change a thing.

Saute up your carrots, bay leaf and onions in olive oil over med heat for a few minutes.

Add the rice, stir and cook until rice is translucent.
Add broth, bring to a boil, stir rice mixture, cover and place in the preheated oven.

Let it bake for the next 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, add the parsley, fluff with fork and serve.

Pilafi (Rice Pilaf with Carrots and Parsley)
 from It's All Greek to Me

1 1/2 c. long grain white rice, rinsed
2 T. olive oil
1 med onion, diced
2 carrots, diced (I used a 1/2 bag of shredded carrots)
1 bay leaf
2 3/4 c. vegetable or chicken broth (I used homemade chicken broth)
salt to tast
1/4 c. parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375*.

Heat the olive oil in an oven safe dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, bay leaf and carrots. Saute until the onion is translucent and the carrots begin to soften (4-5 minutes) stirring often.  Add the rice.  Stir to coat with oil and cook until rice turns an opaque white, about 2 minutes.  Pour in the broth and salt.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Stir once, cover and place in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from oven, add parsley and fluff with a fork before serving.  Print Recipe

Soutzoukakia for #OneYrGreek....

You can probably tell from the title of this blog that I have pulled out the wonderful It's All Greek To Me cookbook that I won last November.  I spent many a relaxing evening flipping through Debbie's book, enjoying the photos, learning a bit about her culture and drooling over the recipes.  I even shared her recipe for Olokliri Kota sti Skara which turned out wonderfully.  In fact, it would be hard for one of Debbie's recipes to not turn out, they are written in easy to follow directions that are clear and concise.  I love this cookbook and I am happy to announce that at the bottom of this post you will find an opportunity to win this great cookbook for yourself compliments of BenBella Books.

That's celebration of the One Year Anniversary of Debbie's book, her publisher, BenBella was offering bloggers a free copy of the book in return for them recreating one of Debbie's dishes and giving an honest review of the cookbook and the recipes.  I had already done this last year when I won the book but was so pleased with the cookbook and results that I asked if I could participate in this party.  BenBella generously agreed and since I didn't need the cookbook they said I could raffle it off to my readers. How nice is that??

I chose to make Soutzoukakia or, in laymans terms, Greek Meatballs, using this recipe from Debbie's book.

Soutzoukakia (soo-zoo-KAH-kee-ah)
Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Here is what Debbie had to say:

"These little delights remind me of my grandmother, Thespena, for whom I am named. Her soutzoukakia were magical, and even though my mom and my aunts use the exact same ingredients, they have yet to replicate the flavor and texture of Yiayia’s. I still wonder if she had a secret ingredient she never divulged. Still, this is her recipe, and it will yield a fantastic result—secret ingredient or not!"


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 11/2 cups day-old bread, crusts removed, cubed
11/2 pounds lean ground beef, extra ground
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Pilafi (page 230) (optional)

To make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the tomatoes break down, about 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.

To make the meatballs: Soak the bread briefly in a bowl of water, just to wet it all the way the through. Squeeze the water from the bread, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use impeccably clean hands to gently mix the remaining meatball ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Roll the meat mixture into little sausage shapes, about 2 inches long. Carefully arrange the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and immediately add them to the tomato sauce, taking care not to break them. Gently stir to coat the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 5 minutes more over low heat. Serve over Pilafi, if desired.

The only change I made to the above recipe is to used canned tomatoes because it is April in Michigan and hard to find decent fresh tomatoes. When Tingting finished her 3rd, yes 3rd serving, she declared this recipe a keeper.  The meatballs were tender, moist and flavorful.  I did choose to serve them over Pilafi. I am sharing that recipe with you on a separate post, but it was perfect with these meatballs and dinner was ready and on the table in one hour which makes it a perfect weeknight meal.

If you live in the USA and are reading this blog you are eligible to win Debbie's cookbook, It's All Greek To Me courtesy of BenBella Books.  This giveaway will start today. 4/17/15 and run until Midnight ET on 4/24/15.  Good Luck!!!!

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