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soup for my dad

Upstate Minestrone Soup

When I was cleaning my dad’s house last week, I came across a large envelope with a dozen copies of a page from a cookbook.

dads recipe

One of the recipes on the page was outlined. I decided to take a copy and make the soup for him for our Sunday supper.

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April 7, 2014   5 Comments

sausage to the rescue

sleep baby

I have a confession. It is really hard to get back into the swing of cooking and cleaning and real-life after nearly 3 weeks of being out-of-town and having company. I have no drive or motivation to do … ANYTHING!

Dave is knee-deep in tax season, so we are like ships in the night.

Connor works from 2:30 PM to midnight, five to six days a week, so he’s rarely home for dinner.

sleep kitten

And although I didn’t have jet-lag in the usual sense, I now realize that although I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night…. I am tired all day long!

sleepy sloth

I mean, when 3:30 or 4:00 hits each afternoon… I’m ready for bed! It takes all my power to stay up. Seriously, I feel like I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open! I think the latest I’ve hit the sack since our house-guests left is 8:00 PM. My usual bedtime is 10:30 or 11:00.

Enough of my first-world woes. I did get somewhat inspired by a package of sausage, of all things.


It’s really good sausage! Aidells sausage from Costco. And one of my favorite flavors ~ Habanero with Pepper Jack!

I went on the Aidells website and found a recipe to zip up to our liking. Here is one of the two sausage dishes we had for dinner on Sunday night…

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March 31, 2014   2 Comments

taste memory

“I’ve had this, or something like it before, but I can’t for the life of me figure out exactly when or where.”


Have you ever tasted something and thought that?

It is exactly what happened to me last night when I was assisting a cooking class at Les Gourmettes.

Meredith Deeds was the instructor and as she began to put together this soup … well, I knew the second I smelled it, that I had created a recipe with those same smells, those same flavors and tastes … but it was not a soup.

300 sensatiuonal soups

Meredith is the c0-author of 300 Sensational Soups, and she is not only lovely but she is a wonderful teacher too. She demonstrated three of the 300 last night, and the African Peanut Soup was, hands down, my favorite.

During my drive home, I was racking my brain trying to remember the recipe I’d made using the same combination of peanut butter, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. I could have sworn it was a pasta. It was not, it was THIS recipe. As I recall, it was quite the hit with the family. Today, I shall share Meredith’s fantastic soup recipe. Expect a similar pasta recipe to come down the road sometime soon too.

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January 30, 2014   No Comments

slow cooker potato soup

slow cooker soup

This is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do!” recipes.

Last night I decided to throw some potatoes, onion, and broth in my slow cooker to make a no-fuss potato soup for the next day.

It turned out to be a huge fuss. All because I wasn’t thinking about exactly how my particular slow cooker works.

I set it on “low” for 4 hours. Which would have been just fine, perfect in fact. I later went to bed. During the middle of the night, I rolled over and woke slightly to smell the delicious soup simmering away as the comforting aroma of soup wafted into my room. Fabulous.

Problem was, I forgot that my slow cooker switches to “keep warm” after the 4 hours is up. So for an additional 4 hours or so, the darn thing kept cooking the soup. Overcooking it, actually.

too brown

When I woke this morning and went to look in on it, it was still lightly simmering and it was dark… so dark!

Please learn from my mistake. If you know your slow cooker turns OFF when it is done, fine. If it switches to “keep warm,” be sure to be around (or at least awake) to turn it off.

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January 29, 2014   No Comments

turkey gumbo

I usually use the leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make enchiladas, chili or tacos. This year… Turkey Gumbo!

The thing about gumbo is that you have to start with roux. The thing about roux is that you have to stir constantly … for a long, long, long time! And the thing about stirring constantly, is that I hate having to do that!

auto stirring piece of crap

Several years ago I received an automatic pot stirring thing-a-ma-jiggy, called the StirChef Saucepan Stirrer. It has sat in the box and never been opened … until yesterday, when I made this gumbo. I’ve had it so long that the batteries that were included – were corroded.

how many pots

Guess what, I should have left it in the box. It was useless. It only fit into the smallest of my saucepans and the paddle turned so slowly, seriously ridiculous!

Here are some of the reviews I found on Amazon:

“I spent one dollar on this at a thrift shop and I still feel like I was ripped off. It is no surprise they are already out of business. The thing doesn’t even fit on all but one of my saucepans.”

“I just set this up for the first time to make a roux… what a joke!
It fit the pan and that is THE ONLY thing that was a positive. As soon as those worthless paddles hit that hot oil and flour, they began to dissolve!”

“Attaching the StirChef to my new 4qt saucepan, I turned it on to stir some chopped vegetables for 10 minutes at low heat. After about 4 minutes the flimsy plastic blades began to melt, adding an interesting but unwanted taste to the vegetables.”

bad gadget

Evidently this lame product is a collector’s item of some sort. On Amazon it sells for nearly $90 new and $60 used. Mine has only been used once. I’m willing to sell it for a mere $45.99.

Any interested buyers out there? No? OK, maybe you’ll be more interested in my Gumbo recipe.

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November 30, 2013   1 Comment

artichaut soupe

Our soup at the European Dinner Party uses one of my favorite vegetables – the artichoke.

artichoke hearts

Fresh artichokes are not the easiest vegetable to work with, but when you use canned (or frozen) artichoke hearts, they are a snap to use.

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November 7, 2013   2 Comments

chowder time!


I can not begin to tell you how difficult I find it to even think about decorating this house for fall. It is still in the high 90′s during the day. Even attempting to place a real pumpkin outside would be asking for disaster.

At least the mornings and late evenings are finally cooling off to the low 70′s. That helps a little.

Plus, one of my favorite areas to decorate for the season is the front entry.

Last year it looked like this…


Today, it looks like this.

fall 2013 entry

Hmm, at least the “caution” cones are a bright pumpkin orange. That might be all the entry decorating we get this year.

No matter ~ I vow to dig out the fall and Halloween decorations today and then do something with them.

The morning and evening cooler temps did instill in me the urge to make a double batch of yummy fresh corn chowder. A double batch because I wanted to share with my very generous neighbor, Cheryl.

You see…..

A few days ago, Cheryl anonymously dropped off culinary treasures at my front door (yes, she tromped through the dirt to get there). I don’t know for sure if she meant for the gift to be anonymous, but I wasn’t home and she left it with Connor.

Not surprisingly, Connor had no idea who Cheryl was, all he said when I ask who dropped it off was, “I don’t know, she was thin and pretty.”

Oh, thanks Connor, that describes all my neighbors!

After a little detective work on my part, Cheryl fessed up.

Cheryl's crafts

This is Cheryl at the Christmas Crafts Class back in December 2012. On that note – watch for info tomorrow about my upcoming Fall Crafts & Decor Class …

So what was the culinary treasure that Cheryl gifted me with?

Homemade Croissants!

There were three of them!
Connor was home … so coincidentally there were three of us.
I ate one, and immediately hid the other two – eventually eating all three.
Connor did not know what was wrapped in the towel he had accepted.
Dave never knew they even existed.
They were mine. All mine. And they were delicious!
Thank you, Cheryl!

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September 30, 2013   6 Comments

as requested by Peggy…

pita jungle

After not seeing each other for more than three weeks, Peggy and I just had to get together and go out for lunch this past Monday. That’s a long time to not see your BFF!

The day before, I called her to make our lunch plans. Coincidentally, she was having lunch at Pita Jungle, enjoying Coconut Curried Soup w/ Chickpeas, with her daughter, Natalie.

Peggy said, “Linda, I LOVE this soup! You have to taste it, figure out how to make it, and give me the recipe!”  I told her that if she didn’t mind going back to Pita Jungle the next day – I’d do my best.

Problem is, the Coconut Curried Soup with Chickpeas is not on the printed or online menus at Pita Jungle. This means there is no description of the soup for me take any of my cues from.

I’ve deciphered restaurant recipes many times before but there’s always been some sort of guide or reference, you know, a description of the dish – besides just the food itself. This was going to be more challenging than I had originally thought.

Monday, I ordered the soup. I ordered nothing else, I wanted all my focus to be on the flavors of that soup.  I tasted it and knew some of the ingredients for certain; obviously coconut milk, probably full fat. I’m going to use lite coconut milk for my recipe, feel free to use full fat if you’d rather.

There was most certainly red curry paste, garlic, and ginger … and possibly jalapeño as well.

pita jungle soup

Next, I spread the vegetables out on the rim of the bowl to see what I could see; I snapped this photo of it – let’s see… red bell pepper, tomato, poblano pepper, parsley, chickpeas, onion, and either orange bell pepper or carrot.  The orange-colored pieces were so small that neither Peggy nor I could decide which it was – so I’m going with orange bell pepper since I don’t care for carrots. I’m also adding diced mushrooms, just ’cause I want to.

soup vegetalbes

I’m posting the recipe this morning but I may come back and tweak it after Peggy gets over here and tries it.

Get over here, girl!

If tweaking is done, I’ll put any additions or changes in red print… stay tuned.

Peggy never did make it over to try the soup, but my boys and I decided it was too thick. Add another can of coconut milk or vegetable broth to thin it out to your liking. I used more coconut milk and then needed to add more curry paste as well.  I’ve made those changes in the recipe below.

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July 25, 2013   4 Comments

first course

The table before dinner…


… and during dinner.

party people

We started with Rosé champagne and a toast to the birthday girl.

Peggy’s brother, Mark, made the first toast – and her brother, Vince, said grace.

As we enjoyed our first course salad – many of the guests toasted sweet Peggy. When Peggy got up to speak… well, there wasn’t a dry eye at the table.


Peggy and her gorgeous kids; clockwise – Peggy, Stevo, Samme, and Natalie.


Quinoa Salad with Baby Greens, Summer Fruit, and Herbs

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March 1, 2013   5 Comments

baby it’s cold outside

perfect pairings

Salt and Pepper.
Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Bread and Butter.
Wine and Cheese.
Milk and Cookies.
Gin and Tonic.

Winter and Soup.

winter and soup

They are made for each other! Each is a perfect match made in heaven.

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January 5, 2013   3 Comments