Category Archives: Recipes

Thanksgiving Leftovers

After feasting on a 16-pound bird and its leftover accompaniments for the last four days, all I can think now is “What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?” I truly have no clue.  From breakfast through dinner, every meal we’ve eaten since Thursday has been in some way reworked from our Thanksgiving dinner.

What to do with an already sliced baguette?  Three mornings worth of French toast, of course.  But don’t save this recipe for next November. Host a brunch just to try it.  It’s sweet and easy: my two favorite adjectives when talking recipes.

Leftover List

  • Half a bag of almonds leftover from a baked brie appetizer
  • Three-quarters of a sliced baguette


Next came the obvious: pot pies.  But these were personalized portions with puff pastry cups on top instead of crust.  There are more of these in our freezer.

Leftover List

  • Turkey
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Broth made from the carcass


Finally, the not-so-obvious: Baked salmon.

Leftover List

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Citrus slices leftover from sangria


  • Citrus Baked Salmon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

No recipe needed for this one.  I pulled a salmon filet from the freezer and placed all the leftover slices of lemon, lime and orange around it in the plastic bag.  About 20 minutes before baking, I added some soy sauce to the salmon bag and roasted a bulb of garlic to add to the remaining mashed potatoes.  Delicious and not turkey.  It was the variety we needed on day four of leftovers.  I was so happy to have it all gone last night, and now I’m hungry and missing it…til next Thanksgiving week.

This photo is simply a reference for the next time John says Luke doesn’t pull his weight around here.  He helps clean the kitchen.

Getting Ripe for Summer

I juiced the last of the grapefruit tonight, and in about a month the farm stands will start to close up for summer.  But a quick walk through my neighborhood keeps the hope of fresh produce alive.  Pineapples, lychees and mangoes are starting to ripen.

I can’t wait to try this recipe:

Katie Lee’s Mango Margarita Ice Pops

Combine 2 1/2 cups chopped mango, 1/4 cup silver tequila, 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup agave nectar or sugar in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into 6 ice pop molds and freeze until solid.

From Damage Control to Dinner

The powdery mildew removal is complete…or maybe more like as good as it gets.  I cut the most infected leaves off during the morning shade and sprayed the milk and water mixture on the remaining leaves under the afternoon sun just like Appalachian Feet told me to. Now we wait and see.

In the mean time, I got stinging arms and dinner out of the process.  I forgot how prickly squash and zucchini plants are; our plants last year never produced so there was no reason to get in close.  After clipping and pulling on those powdery stems, my palms and fingers looked like pin cushions…if placed under a microscope.  But the small size doesn’t lessen the sting.  I had to scrub past my elbows to get them all off.  I’ll let you know how the milk works as a mildew resister, but for now, the most valuable tip I can give you for growing squash or zucchini is to go back inside and grab your gloves when you forget them.

I suffer for my squash, but it’s worth it.  The most mildewed plant was also the most mature.  Before plucking it by its roots to get it far away from my younger, healthier plants, I clipped its remaining fruit.  Dinner was delicious – Couscous-stuffed Summer Squash.

Quick and easy too!  Boil 1 cup chicken broth with 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Add 1/2 cup couscous, remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes.  Mix one clove crushed and chopped garlic, chopped bell peppers, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into the couscous.

To prepare the squash for stuffing, first cut off a small piece of the bottom to make a flat surface for standing.  Then cut the top off and spoon out the seeds.  Fill the squash with couscous, replace the top and place on an olive oil-greased baking sheet.  Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  The couscous mixture will fill two-plus squashes.  Bon appetit!

The Best Corn Muffins Ever

Bland and gritty are the first adjectives that come to mind when thinking of corn muffins.  I used to only bake them for Cooper because he loves smothering them with honey.  Over time, the honey sucked me in too.  But with the addition of one simple ingredient that is literally growing on trees in my backyard, the honey jar manages to stay shut, and I now love corn muffins.  Citrus is the key ingredient.

I use the generic term citrus because it started with lemon, but of course, ended with grapefruit.  Orange and lime are good options too.  The original recipe is for Lemon Cornmeal Madeleines courtesy of Food & Wine.  But if all you have on hand is a Jiffy mix, just squeeze some lemon juice in it.  Citrus adds extra sweetness and moisture to the muffins.  Still, the addition of grapefruit zest is to date my favorite.  No honey required.  The muffins tasted even sweeter than the lemon zest version without tasting sour like grapefruit.

Grapefruit Corn Muffins

  1. Combine 1 cup cornmeal mix, 1/2 cup sugar, grated zest of one large grapefruit, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of baking soda.
  2. In another bowl, whisk 1 egg, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Mix with dry ingredients just until blended.
  3. Bake in greased muffin tins at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Ugly Grapefruit


I forgot so many items on my list of simple things I’m looking forward to this upcoming year, so a big apology goes out to my grapefruit tree.  Those yellow balls are starting to get ugly!  Don’t let grocery store wax fool you; a good, ripe grapefruit isn’t pretty…not on the outside anyway.  When the grapefruit first look grocery store worthy, their insides match their outsides – yellow like a lemon and just as sour.  When they start turning brown and nasty, that’s when I turn into Luke and start licking my chops because there’s nothing but pink, juicy sweetness inside.

Lukey, the Chop-licker

And just when I was down to only a head of Romaine and a half a red onion in the vegetable drawer…perfect timing.  I left the red onion, grabbed some edamame from the freezer, a bagel from the fridge, and a bottle of Ken’s Steak House Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette from the cabinet.  Voila, the perfect side for a simple London broil.  I usually make my own raspberry vinaigrette, but Ken’s is a good substitute on a busy day.  Vinaigrette tames the sourness of grapefruit.  John and Cooper sadly don’t share my acid-loving palette, so they often find grapefruit too sour even when I think it’s at its best.  But I do the cooking, so needless to say, both find vinaigrette helpful this time of year.  And we all loved the “in a pinch” bagel croutons – just melted butter and an Everything bagel but so, so tasty.This is just the beginning.  We had a terrible yield last season after the incident, and it’s time to make up for the loss.  Grapefruit will be sliced, diced, zested, sugared, broiled, thrown into salads, mixed into cocktails, and of course, they will be juiced.  Pink grapefruit juice – a girl’s best friend.  One of my girlfriend’s bums it like a cigarette, believing it will have the same slimming effect on her figure.I looked up the “grapefruit diet” but it seems to be more of an urban myth than a reputable weight loss plan.  The premise is that you either eat half a grapefruit or drink eight ounces of juice with a protein, and an enzyme in the grapefruit causes you to burn fat.  I came up with two small studies that indicated weight loss but one was done by the Florida Department of Citrus…perhaps there’s some bias there.  And neither pointed to a specific property within the grapefruit that burns fat.  Grapefruit has fiber, so it’s filling and low in calories.  I’m all for the fruit, but the diet seems to employ the same magical thinking my sister refers to when her teenage daughter shoves her school uniform into the washer 20 minutes before she’s supposed to leave and expects to get to school on time.

What’s not magical thinking is that pink grapefruit contain vitamins A and C, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, and magnesium.   They also contain phytosterols, which are proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Yes, I’m looking forward to a hearty, healthy season.

Honey Cake

Lucky for me, honey is sweet and tasty and it’s the thought that counts…my honey bee cake for John’s birthday party last night was a total disaster.  This is what it was supposed to look like courtesy of http://aristolafood.blogspot.comAnd this is what it actually looked like…Wha-wha :( The only redeeming aesthetic quality was the fondant and almond honey bees.  They were very cute, but had they been placed in the center of the cake, they would have drowned.  John suggested poking a hole in the center to drain the pool.  It’s hard to even say what caused the pool in the first place.  It was either the burning or the scraping.

As a child, I thought my mother was this great cook who never burnt anything.  Then one day I caught her bent over the sink with a serrated knife scraping a black piece of toast brown again.  I had been duped for years; why couldn’t I pull this off for one night?  So taking a page from my mother’s waste-not cookbook, I scraped the top right off that cake.

And beyond a burnt bite here and there, the cake tasted nothing like it looked.  What was left of the cake was moist and chocolaty with the added and distinct flavor of honey.  Slightly different from the average chocolate cake, it was extremely sweet but delicious.  I’ll definitely take another crack at it.  And everyone with the exception of my father, who kept asking what was with that pool in the center, tried a piece.  But who really cares about cake when the company is so cute?

Happy Thanksgiving!

We spent the day with family and friends at someone else’s house…and that may be what I’m most thankful for this year – no cooking, no cleaning and no dishes.  All I had to be responsible for was fruit.  I can’t remember a recent Thanksgiving morning when I’ve had so much free time on my hands; the proof is in the fruit.If all I had to bring was fruit, then I was bringing FRUIT!  Some boring fruit salad would just not do, and as I proudly set my gigantic fruit art down on the table, my teenage niece says, “God, you always have to show off.”  Add an eye-roll and here’s the face to go with that comment.


LOL!  Thanksgiving is about family, and OMG I’m turning into my father.  Leave it to a teenager to point it out.  Although I don’t think either of us are show-offs per say…over-the-top on occasion?  Yep.

It a weird thing when you realize you are the person you’ve been making fun of.  I was just goofing on him today with my sister because he’s walking now.  To a normal person, this would consist of simply walking more.  But to my father, he has to plan his whole day around his walks because each one has to be two hours long.  He bought a new iPod, that I know of only because he forced my little brother to load it, but I’m betting there are more shiny, new things strapped to him too – a pedometer perhaps, at the very least, new sneakers.  And his iTunes bill probably cost more than my phone bill last month.

But here I sit, the mocking woman who couldn’t just bring fruit salad.  My house is littered with the evidence of past gung-ho efforts – reams of scrapbook paper, pounds of soap, shards of tile, the list goes on.  Oh well, one more thing to be thankful for today – the ability to laugh at myself.

And if you’d like to make a fruit bouquet yourself, it’s actually not as difficult or ostentatious as my niece would have you believe.  It’s all in the tools – cookie cutters and skewers.  I cookie cut all the pieces before assembling the bouquet and kept popping the fruit in and out of the fridge to keep the pieces cool and fresh.
The base is a half a watermelon, fruit kept in tact to hold the skewers in place.  As long as you cut your fruit slices thin enough to clear your cookie cutters, this is an easy project with some show-off, wow factor.  Yes, Mary, you will be seeing this fruit bouquet again.

From Farmers Market to Table

This is the time of year to live in Florida.  The weather is either warm or cool with absolutely no chance of snow, and the farmers markets have all reopened for the season.  Two stops at the Sarasota Farmers Market this morning led to our dinner tonight – ceviche.  We used shrimp, crab and tilapia marinated in tangerines, lemon and limes mixed with strips of jalapeno pepper and red onion.  Normally ceviche calls for cilantro, but to me it tastes like soap, so I never use it in anything. Any combination of seafood and citrus will do for ceviche.  Maggie’s Seafood and Brown’s Grove are the two stands to look for.  Maggie’s is on the corner of Main Street and Lemon Avenue.  Brown’s is at the corner of Lemon and State Street.

But here’s an insider tip on Maggie’s Seafood: if you can swing it, visit her stand at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market on Wednesdays.  The market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and there’s never a line.  Saturday mornings downtown, her line runs around the block and she often sells out.The market has expanded quite a bit since the vendors took over control from the Downtown Partnership two years ago.  An extension along State Street was added last year, but now the market stretches further along Lemon Avenue as well.  One of my favorite morning treats is pure maple syrup, so I was happy to see this sign and a few others…We also ran into a Lukey look-alike!  It was a good day.

Dessert on a Commercial Break

Craving chocolate…again.  Nutella brownies….what?  Four ingredients…must try.  Under fifteen minutes…Yes!  Add more Nutella to grocery list…done.

Four-ingredient Nutella Brownies Muffins 

Whisk one egg into 1/2 cup Nutella until smooth.  Add 5 tablespoons flour.  Pour into a mini-muffin tin lined with paper or foil cups.  Top with nuts (recipe calls for hazelnuts; I had almonds).  Bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes.

They’re baked in mini-muffin tins and taste like cake; I need to call a muffin a muffin.  But either way…delicious.

Avocados, Make Me Beautiful

I love Toby’s gift; I just don’t like avocados.  John-I love him too.  This was our dinner conversation over Creamy Avocado Pasta:

Me: “I don’t like this.”
John: “But it doesn’t taste like avocado; that’s a huge success.”

If no one else is laughing, I was.  I’m usually the one laughing loudest at his jokes anyway.  He’s funny, supportive and always optimistic; it’s nice to be around that sort of person.  So à la John, I took my lemons avocados and made lemonade beauty products. All day I whipped, blended and pampered.  I started with this…

And ended with this…

With avocados on hand, I didn’t have to leave the house for a thing.  All the ingredients were ready to go in the refrigerator and cabinets – milk, eggs, lemons, oatmeal, and cornmeal.  That covered not just my face, but my hands, feet and legs too.  I made a face mask, facial cleanser, foot scrub, and hand treatment.  Plus I set aside slices of avocado to use under my eyes and a couple of peels to moisturize.  It was time to relax…

And relaxing it was…the house was cool and quiet, not even a murmur of a TV or the chirp of a phone.  The boys were out all afternoon being loud at someone else’s house.  It was a very good day, and I’ll absolutely make these products again.  I loved all of them, especially the face mask.  It dried like any store-bought mask but was easier to wash off.  The ingredients are 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 avocado mashed.

After 15 minutes or so, I used a warm washcloth to remove the mask and used the deep cleanser next.  The blender came in handy for this recipe.  Whisk an egg yolk until it’s frothy and add it to the blender with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 avocado mashed.  Anything applied with a cotton ball is preferable without chunks, so I strained to be safe.  And this is one I’ll be using tomorrow too.  The cleanser can be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

After rinsing off the cleanser, I used the avocado peel as a moisturizer.  The peels contain humectant, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a substance that promotes retention of moisture.”  Although it left me looking a bit like Fiona from Shrek, it felt like rubbing my face in a drape of slick velor.  I kept circling it back over my lips like it was a tube of glossy lip balm.

Next up: feet and hands.  I preferred the foot scrub to the hand treatment.  It left my skin smoother, most likely due to the cornmeal.  The original recipe called for 2-3 tablespoons of cornmeal mixed with 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado, but the avocado I was using wasn’t as ripe as some of the others.  Having nearly no experience with avocado, it was lost on me how much this mattered until my spoon slid into a truly ripe one.  To improvise with the not quite ripe, I added a little olive oil and lemon juice to moisten and smooth out the texture.  It worked out so well that the leftovers ended up on my legs.  I’m now soft, smooth and completely relaxed.  Yes, it was a very good day.

Homemade Avocado Beauty Recipes