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    Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Stew

    I have to say from the outset that there is a lot of chopping going on here. A LOT. It was one of the things that almost kept me from trying this recipe.

    You read – I’ll chop …

    My new dear friend, mentor and cruise ship guru, Chloe, was making this one day while we were working at her home. (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP) Her house was filled with the most wonderful aromas. She assured me that this recipe was easy  … especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken. She gave me the recipe and looking at it, I still wasn’t sold. CHOP, CHOP

    Chop this. Chop that. Chop that other thing. Oh, yeah, and chop that thing over there, as well. And not just the Swedish Chef inspired chopping that I usually do … chopping so things are the same size. UGH! Not my forte.

    The next day, while we were working (yes, I spent a tremendous amount of time at her house), we sat and had this stew for lunch. Well, hush my mouth and pass my chopping knife! You could have added 7 more ingredients to this and I would have chopped away. (Well, not really)

    Chop … chop … chop …

    I acquiesced and tried it at home. This makes a HUGE pot of stew – which is good when you hate chopping neatly as much as I do. The Dear one and I had this for dinner one night and had 3 containers for the freezer. Some toasted bread and a green salad and you’re set on a chilly evening.

    So, Chloe … I went on an interview for a job as a tour guide. I was very content to sit on a tour bus with cruise ship passengers riding around Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. Tour over, passengers leave, count your tips, done. Chloe and I hit it off instantly. You know, that rare, kindred spirit vibe you find only a few times in your life, if you’re lucky. During this interview, Chloe mentioned that she wanted to retire after the 2017 season. The next thing I knew – and I’m not quite sure what she saw in me, maybe it was my silliness in actually being willing to take the job – she was training me to take over her job when she retired. (chop, chop, chop)

    It was terrifying at first. So much information. So many moving parts. I would sit next to her, day after day, in utter awe at all the information in her head. Her ease with the most difficult people (myself included) was grace personified. Her innate ability to take the most difficult of scenarios, turn it around and make it seem like there was never an issue.

    I am sure many people who began the conversation all fired up had no idea how she managed turn the situation around, or perhaps didn’t even notice that the situation was turned around. She calls this the “please, pass the butter” voice. (I’m still working on that.) It was inspiring.

    But, aside from training me – mentoring really – adopting a bit – for this job of many facets … wait, I’ll explain. Does anyone remember the old Ed Sullivan Show? There was a fella on the show, quite often actually, who had many thin bamboo poles. He would start spinning plates on these poles and run around the stage, watching the plates, jiggling the poles, spinning plates, keeping all the plates up in the air. That, in a nutshell, is my job.

    Sorry, digressed … aside from mentoring me in this difficult transition, she became a dear friend. She and her darling husband Scott (and the dearest Lucy) fed me, wiped my tears, picked me up from the ground when I was at my lowest, taught me, guided me, became my family, laughed with me, drank wine with me at the end of a frustrating day, sighed with me, and guided me through a frantic summer and fall.

    On one of my worst days – I had made at least a billion mistakes – I had stepped away and there were tears streaming down my face. Scott came over, wiped them away and said, “Do you think Chloe has never made a mistake? Chloe has made more mistakes than this. Learn from them. Make new ones. And don’t let anyone see you crying.”

    I am truly grateful to Chloe for so much … more than I can ever possibly express, more than my heart and head can hold at times. It’s that rare type of symbiotic friendship where words are not always necessary, giggles and laughing are ever present, compassion is a given, forgiveness always there, and life is so much richer with them in it.

    Thank you so much, dear woman, for all you’ve done for and given me.

    Anyway, enough mush …

    Every time I make this soup, I think of sweet Chloe and miss the stuffin’ out of her! Hmmm, maybe I should give her a call while I’m chopping freakin’ vegetables …

    I joke about the chopping, but there is a lot. But once that’s done, that’s really it – jut add ingredients and stir. The apple cider vinegar gives it a layer of flavor that brings everything together.

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cups chopped carrots
    • 3 cups chopped celery
    • 1 large zucchini, chopped
    • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
    • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • fresh parsley
    • parmesan cheese

    In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the zucchini and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until slightly softened.

    Sprinkle in the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth while continuously stirring until it starts to thicken and comes together. Then slowly pour in the remaining chicken broth.

    Stir in the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, beans and entire can of tomatoes.

    Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken and reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

    Stir in the spinach and cider vinegar and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is heated through.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.

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    PLT #FantasticalFoodFight

    While tip-toeing through the internet, I came across Fantastical Food Fight. And, while I’m REALLY bad at timed anything, this really intrigued me. A dish is picked, make your own version, compare. I liked that.

    And April’s theme … the BLT! Not that I think there’s anything you can do to a BLT to improve it. Bacon, mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, bacon, bread. But perhaps, just perhaps, there is another way to have a BLT.

    Crispy pancetta, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, all tucked inside a ciabatta roll. Well, that works for me.

    The arugula is from our garden. The sun-dried tomatoes too – the last jar from last summer.

    You may find this shocking, but there really isn’t a recipe for this.

    • Ciabatta roll or loaf
    • Thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto
    • Arugula
    • Sun-dried tomatoes

    Heat oven to 425.

    On a baking sheet, make a single layer of the pancetta or prosciutto. Should take about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

    Pile everything onto the ciabatta.

    Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (I suggest a balsamic glaze or reduction)

    DIG IN!



    Pecan Crusted Cod #SundaySupper

    We live in the land of Cod here on the Gulf of Maine. Well, not the land of Cod … you know what I mean.

    While Cod has been over fished to the point near extinction, a small bit of Cod fishing is still allowed in the Gulf. And every once in a while our fish monger has beautiful, locally caught Cod. Nothing comes close to fresh Cod. There is no substitute.

    But, how do you do it justice. Fried is just not the way. And you get tired of cooking the same things the same way all the time. Then I came across this recipe! This recipe is adapted from one I saw on Honest Cooking – very lightly adapted. It was so great just the way it was done I only changed a couple of things.

    Finding fresh Cod coincided perfectly with this week’s Sunday Supper, hosted by Claire McEwen at Sprinkles and Sprouts. The theme – Best Sunday Supper Seafood Recipes.

    Enjoy and try to stop by the other fabulous blogs participating in this week’s Sunday Supper!

    • ½ pound cod filets
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
    • 1½ teaspoons lemon rind
    • Dash of salt
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • ¼ cup chopped pecans
    • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place cod in a baking pan and drizzle with lemon juice.

    In a bowl, mix parsley, lemon peel, breadcrumbs, walnuts salt and pepper. Add butter and stir until combined.

    Spread about 2 tablespoons of pecan topping onto one side of the fish filets.

    Bake 15 minutes or until cod flakes with a fork and crumbs are golden.

    25+ Best Sunday Supper Seafood Recipes

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    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.

    Grilled Oysters with Spicy Tarragon Butter

    serve

    There’s a birthday in the house. A very special birthday. Our dog Bob is 2. We rescued him just about a year and a half ago. It was hard. He wasn’t very sure he wanted us and we weren’t sure we could handle all of the neurosis this rescue dog came with. We knew all about these difficulties when we decided to rescue him. He was born in Georgia. He and his siblings were immediately put into a shelter. They had to have been abused. He was adopted and returned (was this the abusive person?). He was then sent to another shelter – one of those horrific kill shelters. At 3 months he was rescued from that awful place, and then rescued from one rescue organization by the fabulous folks at Underhound Railroad. He spent 3 months under the care of Underhand Railroad living with a foster mom a few miles from here.

    We talked about a dog. We talked about rescuing a dog. We scoured sites looking for the perfect dog. AND THERE HE WAS.

    We met him. He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t come near us. He hid behind his foster Mom (thank you, Jamie).

    We glanced at each other across the lawn and knew. He needed a home. He needed love and support. He needed us. We wanted to be those people for him. We decided his name had to be Bob. Twofold – (1) Canned Heat from Woodstock – Woodstock Boogie “I’ve got a dog his name is Bob” and (2) the movie What About Bob – we say this an awful lot.

    The first three days he spent under a table – shaking. Then we lost him, in the woods, for 3 days. Wet, scared puppy, rain, halter *poof* gone. When he came back we just weren’t sure anymore. Bob was just NOT happy with us. I talked the Dear One off the ledge. He talked me off the ledge. The folks at Underhound asked us to give it more than a week. So we did. Their support was incredible – phone, emails, texting.

    Then Bob fell in love … with me. Not so much the Dear One at first, which was very difficult when WE wanted a dog and the dog didn’t want BOTH of us. Be patient, he will come around. Those words became our mantra.

    We were patient. We were frustrated and sad. Our hearts were aching for this poor little dog who had to have been so badly treated that he had no faith in humans, even those who walked him and fed him and gave him treats – or our friends who fed him under the table when they thought we weren’t looking.

    Suddenly, once day, without our realizing when or how it happened, OUR dog appeared. The one who jumps up and down when he hears my car. The one who wants only the Dear One to chase him around the yard. The one who knows if I say “time to brush your teeth” to come running to the kitchen. My secret service agent. The Dear One’s play mate. He is more of a puppy now than he was at 6 months old when he first entered our lives.

    img_0889

    Happy birthday, sweet dog. Thank you for letting us put a silly hat on your head. Thank you for trusting us. Thank you Dear One (as always) by indulging me with really wanting this insane dog. Perhaps this insane dog found the perfect insane home with two insane humans and all their insane friends.

    So when Bob turned 2 and he was really and truly now OUR dog, he needed a special dinner. Enter the birthday dinner …

    birthday-cake

    A meatloaf cupcake, wrapped in bacon, mashed potato frosting and carrot candles. Maybe it was gone in 2 bites.

    The grownups, however, didn’t want Bob’s birthday dinner surprise so we had Baked Oysters with a Spicy Tarragon Butter. This is a Bobby Flay recipe from Food & Wine.

    We have a friend who grows oysters. When he calls and says he has oysters the only answer to be given is – OH.YES.PLEASE. We ate a bunch of them and had a bunch left over, but no shucking knife. Our dear friend said to just bake them in a hot oven and they’ll open right up.

    These are so fresh, so sweet, so perfectly briney and grown just off the coast a few miles from our house.

    • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
    • 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
    • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 3 dozen medium to large oysters, such as Gulf Coast or Bluepoint

    NOTE: The oysters we used were farmed by a friend the day before. These are, without a doubt, the best oysters I have ever eaten.

    Light a grill.

    oysters

    NOTE: It’s February – in Maine. The grill is away in the shed, shivering, waiting for spring to make an appearance. I turned the oven  up to 500 and baked the oysters for 10 minutes. The top shell lifted right off and we continued from there.

    tarragon

    In a food processor, pulse the butter with the tarragon, hot sauce, salt and pepper until blended. Transfer the tarragon butter to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a 2-inch-thick log. Refrigerate the butter until slightly firm, about 15 minutes. Slice the butter into 36 pats.

    NOTE: I had 2 dozen oysters, but made the same amount of butter. There would have still been a lot left over with 36 oysters. I sliced the butter and froze it. There’s a salmon somewhere just itching for this butter!

    baked

    Place the oysters on the hot grill, flat-side up. Cover the grill and cook until the oysters open, about 5 minutes.

    NOTE: A baking sheet and 500 degree oven for 10 minutes did the same thing.

    with-butter

    Using tongs, transfer the oysters to a platter, trying to keep the liquor inside. Quickly remove the top shells and loosen the oysters from the bottom shells. Top each oyster with a pat of tarragon butter and return the oysters to the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the butter is mostly melted and the oysters are hot, about 1 minute.

    NOTE: Turned on the broiler and put the baking sheet back into the oven.

    Serve right away.

    Roasted Carrot Soup #SundaySupper

    carrot-soup

    It’s Sunday Supper time again. This week’s event – Fancy Appetizers – is being hosted by Wendy Wholistic Woman. Stop by and see her wonderful site!

    I love having a garden. I love growing many different kinds of vegetables. I don’t like trying to figure out what to do with it all so it doesn’t spoil.

    I can.

    I freeze.

    I cook and freeze.

    I get stumped.

    I flip through magazines.

    And lookie what I found!

    Roasted carrot soup with a tinge of ginger. This should work. The Dear One loves soup. Me? I’m not so crazy about soup. But this one is thick and rich. Unusual. Ginger. Besides, I get to try out my new immersion blender!

    I’m very happy now that I’ve made this – it’s snowing and cold and snowing. Soup is perfect! And the orange color is so cheery!

    • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
    • 1/2 medium onion, cut into medium dice (to yield about 3/4 cup)
    • 1 large rib celery, cut into medium dice (to yield about 1/2  cup)
    • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (from about 1/2-inch piece, peeled)
    • 2 cups homemade or low-salt vegetable stock
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
    • Chopped fresh chives or chervil for garnish (optional)

    Heat the oven to 375°F.

    carrots-peeled

    Place the carrots in a medium baking dish or on a baking sheet, you want the carrots in a single layer without touching. Drizzle carrots with the olive oil. Toss them to coat well and roast, for about one hour, stirring once halfway through roasting, until they’re tender, blistered, and lightly browned in a few places.

    chopped-ingredients

    Melt the butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent and fragrant, 2 to 3 min. Stir in the celery and ginger and cook until the celery softens a bit and the onions start to brown, 4 to 5 min. Add the roasted carrots, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and cover. Cook at a lively simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 45 min. Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool.

    Purée the soup in a blender in batches, never filling the blender more than a third full, and bearing down firmly on the towel-covered lid so the soup doesn’t come flying out. An immersion blender is perfect for this! If serving immediately, return the soup to the pot and reheat; garnish with the chives or chervil if you like. Otherwise, refrigerate for up to five days; reheat gently and taste for salt before serving.

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    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.

    Grilled Swordfish with Husk Cherry Salsa #SundaySupper

    done

    It’s been a long time, but know that I feel the urge to blog again, I’ve rejoined the fab people over at Sunday Supper. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a great bunch of food folk who post recipes from a specific theme each Sunday. There’s information at the bottom of this post on how to join. I’m going to do my best to keep up! This week’s #SundaySupper Tastemaker event is being hosted by Candace from Authentically Candace. Thanks for the hosting!

    A friend of mine with a garden that is fair size bigger than ours and with some ingredients that are ‘experimental’ for my limited gardening knowledge, lets me come over and explore. While she and I were walking around her garden one day, I came across these Husk Cherries. They’re also called Choke Cherries or ground cherries.

    husk-cherry

    As you can see, they’re covered in paper, much the way a tomatillo is. They’re about the size and color of  a Sun Gold tomato, maybe a little smaller in size. Inside, they’re structurally akin to a tomato.

    picked

    peeledThey’re sweet. They’re tart. They’re like candy. They’re fabulous. Definitely going in my garden this year.

    But now that I have them, what am I going to do – aside from admiring them!

    They’re a pain to peel because they’re so small. They’re sticky.

    But once peeled and rinsed, you just want to do something fabulous with them. I searched and searched until I came across a recipe from Michael Simon, who I am liking more and more every day.

     

    FOR THE HUSK CHERRY SALSA

    • 1 pound ground cherries (husked, washed, and sliced in half, about 2 cups)
    • 1/4 cup thinly shaved red onion
    • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
    • 1 lime (juiced)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
    • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. For better flavor, let sit for 1 hour before serving.

    made

    FOR THE SWORDFISH:

    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 (5 to 6-ounces each) swordfish steaks

    Prepare the grill (medium-high heat). Whisk the oil, mint, lemon juice, basil, and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Season the lemon and olive oil mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Brush the swordfish steaks with 2 tablespoons of the lemon and olive oil mixture. Grill the steaks until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steaks). Transfer the steaks to plates.

    Add the Husk Cherry Salsa to the top of each Swordfish steak and you’re done!

    Take a moment to visit the other great Easy Dinner Recipes for Two!

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    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.

    Mussels in White Wine and Garlic

    Ready

    “It’s a beautiful day,” says he.

    “I know!” I respond, “FINALLY!”

    “We really should get out and about.”

    “Oh, yes, please! That would be great.”

    It’s one of the first truly nice days of spring. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, it’s warm(ish). I want to get out and feel the sun on my face. A nice walk in Acadia National Park. Oh, Sand Beach, I haven’t been there yet. My head was filled with places on Mount Desert Island I wanted to explore.

    The Dear One, however, had other ideas in mind.

    See, there’s a tree. A tree he cut down. A tree destined to be cut and split and stacked and dried for the wood stove for the winter.

    THE WINTER? Seriously, Dude? It’s April! I’ve barely had time to recuperate from this past winter much less think about NEXT winter.

    Well, you see, he explains, it has to be cut and split and stacked now, and covered in plastic so that it dries out to be ready for next winter.

    Now, back to that tree … it’s down a ‘slight’ hill, on the opposite side of the house from where it needs to be stacked, and looked MUCH smaller standing upright.

    “Okay, I’ll take the big part of the trunk. You take the branches. Whatever is too small to cut for the wood stove, throw on the wood pile.”

    This is when I realized that the man of my dreams is completely OFF.HIS.ROCKER! Has he not seen these delicate, little hands? Has he not seen me struggle to pick up heavy grocery bags? Most importantly, has he NOT SEEN MY TIARA!? A princess, I tell you! A City princess, at that, carrying a tree? Stacking wood? Surely you jest.

    Jesting he was not. But I princessed up, rolled up my sleeves and heave ho’d. I threw branches and stems on the burn pile (wait, ce qui es une BURN PILE … oh, I am so new to this planet!), carried big branches up to some God awful contraption so it could be cut into logs, and stacked up wood that Mr. Lumberjack split.

    I smelled. I dropped a birch branch on my toe. I dropped a birch log on my ankle. I was covered in sawdust and dirt and YUCK. Every single inch of my body hurt … except, perhaps, a 1/4″ spot on my left ear.

    AND I WAS STARVING. I needed a HOT shower and a hot, quickly made dinner.

    I sent Simon Legree the Dear One off to the market to pick up dinner … mussels, garlic, parsley … while I stood in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away the memory of the day.

    In the time it took to boil a pot of water, shallots were sliced, garlic was minced, parsley was chopped. When the pasta was dropped into boiling water, the shallots, garlic and white wine simmer, after about 5 minutes the mussels were added, another short 5 minutes, added some parsley and butter. Everything done at the same time. 15 minutes from start to finish.

    A few slices of toasted Italian bread, glasses of fabulous red wine, and I was a happy, though still sore, camper.

    It doesn’t really get easier than this dish. Next time I may add some arugula in, or perhaps halved grape tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.

    • 2 C dry white wine
    • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 4 pounds live mussels
    • 1/3 C mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, or basil, chopped
    • 6 T butter, cut into pieces

    Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels’ shells), and discard.

    In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels. Cover, and increase heat to high. Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs and butter. Remove from heat. Divide mussels and broth among four bowls. Serve immediately.

    NOTE: We were STARVING so I threw this over pasta. If you serve the mussels without pasta toast some bread, rub it with garlic for dipping.