From my kitchen to yours, best wishes for a very Merry Christmas! May you be blessed by the love of Christ.
Not My Daddy’s Shrimp September 11, 2015
I grew up on the coast and I have many fond memories of seafood. My grandfather, Papa, would go to the beach several times a week and come home with loads of fish. One night I devoured eight whiting filets. I was off fish for about a month after that, but they were delicious at the time.
On of my favorite memories is of my dad trying to cook frozen shrimp. Mom worked the night shift at the hospital leaving dad our cook for evening meals. We had a lot of frozen pot pies and fish sticks. I still love a good pot pie. (more…)
The Sick Box May 25, 2015
A couple of years ago, I came down with a nasty cold or flu and found myself too sick to cook or go to the store for easy food. I survived on crackers and toast for several days, vowing to never be caught unprepared again. When I regained my strength, I found a small box and filled it with cans of chicken noodle soup, fruit cups, and easy mac & cheese. That box has come in handy on several occasions, even when I wasn’t sick, but too busy to worry about cooking a good meal. (more…)
Tart the New Year Off Right January 5, 2014
I’m in heaven with my ripe lemons. This evening my mom asked what we could have for dessert. All of the Christmas cake and pie was gone, there was no more ice cream, and the cookie jar is nearly empty. I told her not to worry, I have lemons and a new recipe to give a whirl. To the backyard I went, plucking three giant beauties.
I zested and juiced only one of these beasts, yielding 1/2 cup of juice and at least as much zest. I whisked together the few ingredients and filled my tartlet pans, in 15 minutes we would have dessert to feed my hard-working man. You too can have these lovely tarts in no time flat, just grab a few things: (more…)
The Slump July 1, 2013
I’m in a cooking slump. Nothing sounds appealing. Even the scrumptious dessert recipes I have been purusing can’t entice me into the kitchen. Aside from a dinner last week of green beans fresh my garden along with sauted zucchin, squash, onion, and pepers, I can barely stand being in the kitchen. The fact that all of the fresh veggies come in during the heat of summer, when turning on the stove turns the kitchen into a sauna is maddening.
I wonder if a cooking slump is like a writing slump. When I get in a writing slump, I struggle to get a handful of words on the page, but if I keep at it, eventually the wall comes down. Maybe if I spend time in the garden, trimming the dead leaves, removing the worms, pinching the flowers off the herbs, then I will find inspiration to cook again.
I suppose all I can do is soldier on, taking comfort in the promise of cooler weather in a few months, and a file of new recipes awaiting my return.
Key-Lime Pie Mini Trifles March 18, 2013
Have you been thinking about the mini key-lime pie trifles all week? I have, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. I needed 16 servings so I doubled the recipe, yet I ended up with enough custard and whipped cream to make 6 key-lime tarts as well. Those are now in my freezer for a quick treat when I’m having a sweet craving. There are three steps in this process, the custard recipe can be used in a Boston Cream pie mini trifle as well. Recipe from Tea Time magazine, May/June 2011 issue.
Start by mixing up your Vanilla Bean Custard. This recipe will make approximately 2 ½ cups and takes about 25 minutes to make.
2 ½ cups whole milk
½ vanilla bean, split, scraped, and seeds reserved
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large saucepan, combine milk and reserved vanilla-bean seeds. Scald milk over medium-high heat.
- In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt, whisking well to combine. Slowly add scalded milk, whisking well.
- Return mixture to large saucepan. Bring to a boil for 1 minute over medium-high heat, whisking continuously. Remove from heat. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Next you will need to make your whipped cream unless you plan on using store bought. I highly recommend making your own though. It is so light and easy to whip up. I’ve also learned that if you put the mixer beaters in the freezer for a short time before whipping the cream it speeds up the process.
2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- In a large bowl, beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.
Finally, you add key-lime elements to your Vanilla-Bean custard. You will need to add:
2 cups Vanilla-Bean custard
3 tablespoons key-lime juice
2 tablespoons lime zest
2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
2 cups whipped cream
- In a medium bowl, combine Vanilla-Bean custard, key-lime juice, and lime zest, mixing well. Set aside.
- In another medium bowl, combine graham-cracker crumbs and sugar.
- In 8 minature trifle dishes, layer half of graham-cracker mixture, half of custard, and half of whipped cream. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
- Garnish with lime slices if desired.
As I mentioned, I doubled the recipe for the custard and whipped cream. I had extra graham-cracker crumbs as well so I pulled out my mini-tart pans, baked a graham-cracker crust and poured the extra custard in. I froze these then added the whipped cream, it spread much easier on the frozen custard. I then put them back in the freezer until the whipped cream was frozen and I could wrap them up. I’m looking forward to snacking on these over the next few weeks.
Tasting Tuscany January 25, 2013
When I was writing Summer Storms, I read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes for inspiration and insight into the mind of someone taking on a massive renovation project. From 5,000 miles away, I fell in love with Tuscany, the people, and of course the food.
Last weekend I finished reading one of her follow up books, Every Day in Tuscany. I found it hard to get into the book at first as Mayes reintroduced the citizens of Cortona as she and her husband returned to their home, Bramasole. Slowly I realized her vignettes of returning after several months in the United States, settling back into Bramasole, and reuniting with beloved friends is gently returning the reader to Italy as well. I felt my mind slowing down each night as I curled up to read more of Mayes’ experiences over the ensuing eight months. No matter how crazy my day may have been, Every Day in Tuscany brought quiet and comfort.
In these books, eating is not just something that is done because it sustains life. It is an event in and of itself. The reader is brought right up to the dinner table when Mayes joins her neighbors for a holiday celebration or a simple evening of camaraderie. Both books are dog-eared, marking beautiful passages and tantalizing recipes. I long to cook for a houseful of guests, feasting around a long table under the stars on such delicacies as Duck Breast with Caramelized Spices & Artichokes and Il Falconiere Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce.
When I closed the final page of Every Day in Tuscany I felt like a dear friend had gone away for a long vacation, not knowing when I would see her again, but I knew I would have her recipes to keep me company. Imagine my delight when I went online and found The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen. More than 200 pages of recipes, photos, and glimpses into the lives of her Cortona friends. Of course I snapped it right up and now I’m anxiously anticipating its arrival. Oh the fun I will have this summer as my garden provides fresh produce for what I know will be delectable new adventures. Stay tuned for my walk through Tuscany.
- A Review, A Recipe: In Tuscany by Frances Mayes (chroniclingayearinbookswithfood.wordpress.com)
- IL Civettaio – Organic winemaker from the Maremma Tuscany (italianwineimporters.wordpress.com)
Cooking for One Blues April 20, 2012
It’s interesting, as much as I enjoy food, cooking for one can be a real drag, especially after a twelve hour day at work. I am grateful to my dear mother who froze several individual servings of soup, spaghetti, chicken strips, and even Vodka chicken for me on her last visit. Last night I took some of those chicken strips out and put them on a salad, which would have been a nice meal, but I opened the pantry door and saw a bag of dried orange-cranberries. These made the dish really pop.
Even in my books, it is rare for my characters actually cook for themselves. In Julianne, due out this summer, Michael Finnegan is the owner of several restaurants and resorts, but he does actually make his sister, Julianne, two meals at her home. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or Facebook for more updates on the release of my next novel.
Welcome to my kitchen January 23, 2012
In my experience, some of the best memories are made over food, everything from casual sandwiches to elegant dinners and especially desserts. In my writing I often find the characters getting together to share a meal and I’ve been chided for that, so today I invite you into my kitchen, where we can talk about the foods we love, the parties we still dream of hosting, and even where my characters like to eat.
To start things off, let me tell you a little about my birthday this past December. I have been experimenting with new dessert recipes in hopes of opening a tea house one day. For my birthday, my wonderful mother bought me tons of baking supplies. Since I had just rearranged my kitchen, thanks to the fabulous pot rack my dad built, I had plenty of room for all of these new gadgets and I look forward to using every one. My first attempt was mini muffins, which I will tell you all about next time.