Friday, September 26, 2014

It's Been Awhile

I know it's been many, many months since I've written anything here. Please know that I am well. I am cooking and living and have a lovely job doing of all things, teaching cooking! It keeps me busy and happy and fulfilled.

There have been many changes over the last 4 years in my life and just when I am coming to be at peace with all that life has presented to me, this happens:


My youngest bouncing baby boy, A US Marine.

I know I am not the only mother of a deployed Marine. There have been and continue to be thousands of us... too many of us. My heart goes out to each and every parent, sister, brother, wife, husband and family member and friend of a deployed military member as you worry and watch the news. My prayers go out to our military for your safe return home.

Let's not forget any of our brave American warriors. Let us not forget their sacrifices. And let's bring them all home, safely. This is my prayer of the day. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thirty Four Months

It has been 34 months since the Best Husband In The World passed from our life.

34 months.

Almost 3 years.

What have I learned?

Life goes on.
Love doesn't die.
Memories don't fade.
Tears dry. But they do not stop. They can come at unexpected, unbidden moments.
People come and people go.
The heart is a living, growing, giving, humble thing.
I can feel again.
I can dream again.
I will never forget.
I will forever love.
I can heal.
I maybe (someday) will trust again.
I remember.
I forget.
I long.
I want.
I aspire to move forward.
I laugh.
I cry.
I dream.
I cook.
I smile.
I worry.

I have made a new life with new people, new friends, new beginnings. I have dreams. I have inspirations. I have confusion and yet I have hope in a new life, with new and ever changing thoughts, feelings and aspirations; but always, always, I have TBITW in the back of my mind. That beautiful soul, that amazing man... that "Best Husband In The World".

New Life. New Beginnings. New Hopes. New Dreams. New Blessings.

Love,

The Good Cook.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This I Will Remember

Two and 1/2 years ago I lost my best friend, my lover, my confident, my husband, to death.

I have come a long way in 2 1/2 years. I have changed. I have made changes. I have dealt with the worst thing that could possibly happen. I lost the love of my life. My partner. My friend.

Many years ago, on a wedding anniversary, TBHITW gave me a limited print as a gift. It is an image of two hands touching... just the finger tips.. reaching out.

It reads:

"This I will remember when the rest of life is through.. the finest thing I ever did was simply loving you."

This print hangs on my bedroom wall. I read it every morning. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I smile. Most times I know this is true.

Just saying.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lemon Budino




Budino means pudding in Italian.

This dessert is part creamy custard and part tender, moist cake. Most importantly, it adds up to all delicious.

Lemon Budino (serves 6)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh regular lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Whisk in milk.


Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until frothy. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into lemon mixture in 2 additions. Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place custard cups in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Bake puddings until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched, about 30 minutes. Remove cups from water. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream, if desired.





Sunday, December 23, 2012

One Word and Soup For One

Someone asked me recently if I could describe myself in one word.

One word.

What would you say? What would be the one word that would totally encapsulate your essence? Could you do it? Can you imagine it? Would you have the courage to share it? Could you own it?

I had to think very hard about my one word. It took me a long time and I could not for the life of me come up with one word. I came up with three words that fit my life right now. These three simple words took me by surprise.

Joyful
Happy
Centered

Are you, my long time readers, as surprised as me at the words I chose?

Trying to get to the word that best describes you or your life right at this moment is a good exercise. It makes you think. Hard. It made me concentrate on what I am feeling at this very point in time. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now. Today. Re-evaluating my feelings shook me up a bit. I was so sad for so long it was hard to think about not being sad.

I realized that I AM joyful. I laugh, everyday. I sing along to the radio. Sometimes I dance along - in the kitchen. By myself.

I am finding happiness. I am happy. Are joyful and happy the same thing? I think joyful is the celebration part of happy. I am meeting new people, doing new things. I'm reaching out of my comfort zone and exploring this new phase of my life. Is it perfect? Nothing ever is but I'm finding happiness in discovering me. This new version of me. A bit older, a bit wiser (I hope) a bit more compassionate. A slightly newer version of me. It makes me feel brave this happiness thing.

Centered. Now there's a word! What does that mean? For me it is finding the balance between what was, what will never be and what is possible now. I have begun the work of tucking the past away in a safe, secure place in my heart and learning to cherish it while honoring the gift of my life. All of the parts - the old, the new and the maybe.

Now tell me, what is your one word for you?

Soup For One: Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound broccoli (about 2 cups) - chopped
1/2 pound cauliflower (about 2 cups) - chopped
1/2 cup milk (feel free to use fat free, 1% or other)
2 ounces cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup) shredded
salt and pepper to taste
a few grinds of nutmeg

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant (about a minute). Add broth, broccoli and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Be careful with this next part. Transfer soup to a blender. Place a kitchen towel over the lid and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan, add milk, check seasonings. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Ladle into soup bowl and grate some fresh nutmeg over. Sprinkle with croutons if desired.

This recipe makes about 4 cups of soup and freezes beautifully.





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Snowvember and Chicken Bites with Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Here in the Northeast we are having our first "snow" event of the season and as luck would have it, it is coming on the heels of a major hurricane. My thoughts and prayers go out to those still suffering from the effects of Sandy.
Mother Nature - knock it off.

These bites are packed full of flavor and would be perfect for a snowy afternoon or a football watching day.

Chicken Bites with Balsamic Dipping Sauce: (yield 36)

olive oil
2 pounds ground lean chicken
1/2 of a large sweet onion (such as vidalia)
salt and pepper
4 sheets puff pastry
16 ounces goat cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eight ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (optional)
1 egg, beaten (set aside)

Balsamic Dipping Sauce:

2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2/3 cups balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Defrost the puff pastry for approximately 40 minutes on the kitchen counter or overnight in the refrigerator.
Combine the ground chicken, sweet onion, drained spinach (optional) and salt and pepper. Shape into 36 small balls (about the size of small golf balls) and brown in olive oil. No need to cook through as we are going to bake them in a bit. Remove from pan and set aside.

Combine the goat cheese with the basil, thyme and garlic. Set aside.

Unroll the puff pastry on a lightly floured board and cut each rectangle into 9 squares.
Place a tablespoon of the herbed goat cheese in the middle of each square and top with a chicken meatball. Wrap up the puff pastry around the meatball by pulling up each "triangle" end up and over the meatball. Place seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each bite with the beaten egg (this will give the puffs a nice shiny, golden color)

Bake the chicken bites for 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

While the bites are baking, make the sauce.

Directions for sauce:

Whisk the brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium large pan. Add the chicken broth and balsamic vinegar and whisk. Add the minced garlic. Cook over medium high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. The sauce will bubble and thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the warm bites with the warm sauce for dipping. If you want to make this a dinner instead of an appetizer add a light salad with warm vinaigrette dressing.

Stay warm, stay safe Northeast it can't be long till spring.



This recipe (including the sauce) can easily be halved. The sauce and the meatballs can easily be made in advance. Cover and refrigerate the meatballs. Warm the sauce before serving.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and French Onion Soup (my way)

To all my friends up and down the East Coast:
Be Safe
Be Smart
Be Hopeful

I lightened up the classic French Onion Soup traditionally made with beef broth and came up with this lighter, vegetarian version. Enjoy on a rainy, windy, cold day.

For your comparison (and in case you really, really love the traditional recipe, I have included both versions.

As always, Bon Appetite!


French Onion Soup Two Ways

Soupe A L’Oignon by Julia Child

1 ½ pounds yellow onion (about 5 cups) thinly sliced
3 Tb Butter
1 Tb Oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar (helps to brown the onions)
3 Tb flour
2 quarts boiling brown stock
½ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
3 Tb cognac or brandy
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread (recipe follows)
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in a covered soup pan for 15 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Continue to cook over medium heat until the onions have turned an even, deep golden brown (about 30 to 40 minutes)
Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 minutes to blend flavors.
Just before serving stir in the cognac or brandy. Pour into individual soup bowls or mugs, top with round of bread and cheese. Run under the broiler to melt and lightly brown cheese.

Onion Soup with Onions Three Ways: (my way)

1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia) sliced thin
1 ½ pounds yellow onions, sliced thin
3 Tb Butter (divided)
1 Tb Oil (divided)
salt
1/2 tsp sugar, divided (helps to brown the onions)
2 Tb flour
2 quarts boiling vegetable stock
½ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Combine the cheeses and set aside.
Rounds of French bread

Slice the vidalia onion and set aside.
Slice the yellow onions and brown 1/2 the yellow onions in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil following the instructions for Julia Child’s recipe.
In a separate saucepan sauté the rest of the yellow onions until soft and translucent.
Bring the vegetable stock to a high simmer and add the raw Vidalia onions. Maintain a high simmer. Add the sautéed yellow onions and continue to simmer.
Add the flour to the browned onions and cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add the browned onions to the vegetable stock. Add the wine and check seasoning. Continue to simmer (partially covered) for about 30 minutes to meld the flavors.
Ladle into individual mugs or bowls. Top with a round of bread, top with cheese mixture. Run under the broiler until cheese and hot, melted and lightly browned.

Croutes – (hard toasted French bread)
12 to 16 slices of French bread cut into ¾ to 1 inch slices
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic, sliced in half
Bake the rounds of bread in a 325 oven for 15 minutes. Lightly brush both sides of rounds with olive oil. Bake another 15 minutes or until rounds are light golden and dry. Rub the toasted rounds with the raw garlic cloves.


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