Friday, November 29, 2013

Foodie Penpal REVEAL day!!

Hello Friends!

Remember I told you about the Foodie Pen Pals?  Well, FYI... I found it (through Pinterest) but it is on the blog of Lindsay - The Lean Green Bean.  Check out her blog!

Today is the day!  I can reveal what Nancy from Wisconsin sent to me!! I was super excited to open my box and see what treasures were in store for me, and honestly - I'm thrilled!! 

My box contained:
1.  Maple Peppercorn Mustard
2. Asian Nut Butter
3. Co-op Hot Sauce
4. Bacon Toffee
5. Chocolate covered cherries
6. Red Baby Rice Popcorn

Note:  Bacon Toffee IS open... Dave got to it!
And.... many recipes and items from around where Nancy lives as well as a edible Madison magazine.  I LOVED that Nancy included things from where she lives so I can get to see a bit of Madison Wisconsin here in NY! 

Let me tell you about what I tasted!

Maple Peppercorn Mustard - What a tangy spicy get a hint of sweet, but then the peppercorns hit your tongue... So delicious!  I've had it on a ham sandwich..and I've used it as a marinade on my pork chops.  This was a fantastic find and I can't wait to use more!  This would be fantastic in a vinaigrette too!!

Asian Jazzy Nut Butter - This has your classic peanut butter taste at the first split second...but then - all the spices...turmeric, cumin, cayenne... blasts in your mouth for such an interesting flavor!  I don't eat peanut better often.. like maybe twice a year... but this.... This has kick, it has depth.. it has texture and flavor depth.. This has transformed the peanut butter experience for me!!  I'm so happy!!

Co-op Hot Sauce - Who doesn't like a hot sauce?  I'm a spicy girl, so I loved this!  Even as simple as a few dashes on some scrambled eggs...  Yum.  Yum.  Wings are next!!

Bacon Toffee - It didn't last past the first hour of it being in the house!  It definitely smelled like bacon and tasted like bacon initially - and then the sweetness of the toffee comes in and cuts the salty of the bacon.  Having never had it before, I wasn't sure what to expect ... but it is something I'd absolutely have again!

Chocolate covered cherries - delicious!!  I have a thing for cherries, so adding chocolate to them - YUM!

Red Baby Rice Popcorn - Now, regretfully - one of the things I was looking forward to having the most - I never got to taste.  Guess who did...??????
Yup.  That's the Red Baby Rice Popcorn all over the dog bed...
and the sofa...and the floor.
Some one snatched it off the table and had a field day... Not sure which one, but I have my suspicions!
Pay no attention to the devil eyes...
They knew I was so mad, they put themselves to bed!
Delilah is just chilling out watching me clean up... Notice Sampson (whom I believe the guilty party is) has his head down... Tell-tale sign right there!

Well, I'm going to order me some Red Baby Rice Popcorn from online and try it out ... and its coming out of the Dog Treats budget!

It was a great box to get - and I can't wait to try some of the recipes that Nancy sent me.  I'm so happy I found the Foodie Pen Pal ... Hey - if you have any suggestions on what to add to a box...Let me know!! 

In December - they don't do a foodie box in and ask that you donate what you'd spend on the box to charity... So I'll be donating to Island Harvest - one of the largest Hunger Relief organizations on Long Island.  If you can.. whether it is $1 or $10 ... It will help.  Check out their site here...  Island Harvest.

Hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving...and are thankful for all you have around you.  I'm thankful... too much to list... but I am thankful!

Until Next Time...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Who could say no to a 16 oz Kobe Beef meatball?

Not me!!

Hello Friends!

So I want to tell you about a lovely experience I had on Friday Night.  My Friend Coreen and I had decided to go to dinner and a see movie...we ended up seeing Last Vegas at the Multiplex in Farmingdale (which was a very funny, light movie...Just what I needed!).  

We decided to meet earlier for dinner and here is the story of our little culinary adventure at Trento - Italian American Retro.  A new restaurant that colleague of mine had gone to Trento and she recommended the meatball so I knew I had to try that!  I suggested it to Coreen as it is very close to the theater and I knew she'd be game to try a new place with me!

We were there early - 5:45pm on a Friday night. After looking through the menu, Coreen and I decided to share some we both love trying new places, experiencing new flavors and enjoying what hoped to be a really good meal.    

To our table comes Carmela, our waitress.  She was such an energetic, professional young lady and was very informed on the menu.  We mentioned a few dishes we wanted to share and she was right in there with the why's we should absolutely do that and some great recommendations!

So we ordered for our first course... as Carmela described it, "a 16 oz Kobe Beef Meatball with a gorgeous sauce and a dehydrated ricotta on top".  

While we'd normally not have the two come out at the same time, due to time, we also ordered the Troffolini... "little purse like filled pasta with ricotta cheese and pear in a light truffle cream sauce".

In the back..that's still 1/2 of the freaking Meatball
(which was just as delicious and tender the next day!)...
And note what looks like shaved parm on the pasta... Nope!!
So, our dishes came to the table and Carmela jumped right in there and had separate dishes and served both Coreen and my self a little of each dish... Great service!!  Carmela then asked if we wanted some fresh cheese for the pasta.  I looked a bit quizzically at her (seeing on the dish some shaved Parm...but you all know I never say no to more cheese...) and said yes.  It wasn't until I actually took a bite that I realized what that cheese impostor was... thinly shaved pear!

But I digress... my first bite was the Meatball....a bit of the meat, some of the sauce and a touch of the ricotta - collecting the perfect bite.  Folks, you can just put it all in your mouth and it practically melts away!  I've never had such a tender more flavorful meatball!  The sauce was deliciously sweet but the ricotta's texture completely complimented each element of the dish.  I don't know how anyone can go to Trento and NOT order the Meatball...It is seriously that good...and yes, I dare say - the best I've ever had!

On recommendation from Coreen, she said "Just put one whole purse in your mouth - don't cut it...just eat"... so I followed suit. I built a 'perfect bite' of some sauce, the pasta and a shaving of that pear and boom!  I swear I had to close my eyes and just savor what was going on in my mouth...the pasta was so thin and al-dente... the filling was not too much, but so full of flavor...the sauce was so could taste the bits of pear in the filling but it all just accented the shavings of pear that was on top!  Oh My Goodness.  Sweet but savory and earthy but light as a feather...This was amazing.  This was "I don't want to stop eating it" delicious.  This was "if I didn't have 10 more ounces of meat ball to eat...and an entree coming to boot...I'd eat the whole plate and order another" delicious.  Perfection. 

After all that...(and wrapping up the left over meatball and pasta)... yes..we did have an entree coming out!  We decided to try the Black Sea Bass special... served on a parsnip puree with wilted spinach and a muffaletta olive sauce on top with a hit of tomato oil. The fish was cooked perfectly and was hearty enough to stand up to the flavors of the muffaletta sauce but not over power it.  The spinach was tender and delicate...but along with that parsnip puree - a fabulously delicious and light entree.  I could picture on a cold night, eating a bowl of that parsnip puree and being a very happy girl!  By the time Coreen and I were done, there wasn't a trace of it on the plate at all!!

Perfectly Cooked and Amazingly delicious!

So - my ratings:

Food: A - for our first time there, I was super excited to taste and try.  What I did taste and try was delicious and made me excited to bring Dave there to experience it with me.  Well done!

Price: Moderate - We had one appetizer and two entrees (yes, the pasta was an entree!) along with one cocktail each (yum!!) and the bill came to about 100.00.  For the food we got, I'd pay it again!

Service: A - Carmela was attentive, professional, knowledgeable and energetic.  She has a super "people" personality and it was a pleasure experiencing Trento under her guidance.  She even told the chef how excited we were and he came to the table several times to chat and see how we liked the food.  Well done, Chef Avallone!  I promised to be back with my husband... and we absolutely will!

Yes, friends - Trento is a must!  Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews are 4 stars + and I now know why.  I'm sure as a new restaurant there are kinks and growing pains happening, however we didn't see or experience any of that during our meal.  I do look forward to returning and trying more of this delicious food!

Ok - off to do some pre-Thanksgiving prep...

Until Next Time...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Um.. can we say - RIGHT UP MY ALLEY???

Hi Friends...

How are you all doing this crazy November?  Me? I'm shocked that its nearly Thanksgiving...Nearly Dave and my 3rd Anniversary...and I have to start Christmas Shopping in week and a half!  While I'm married to Mr. Christmas, who wants to decorate already...I hold off the beginning of the Christmas season until December 1st.  I need each holiday to have its own Month!!

So this will be the start of at least three...maybe four blogs in the next two weeks. Of course around Thanksgiving there is a ton of cooking going on...and I'm doing a few of my favorite side dishes for the big day...but more on that in a later blog.

This blog - is about a wonderful discovery I found all because of the "suck-me-into-another-vortex-of-time-wasting-searches-on-my-new-addiction-called-Pinterest".  I'm all over the food and beverage section of Pinterest...I mean, obviously with my affinity for food - that's of course where I'll spend my spare time, when I'm not in a grocery store, specialty store or in my kitchen cooking.  I've found some great recipes...and some great blogs from people posting their recipes. 

But seriously - the most favorite thing that I've found of all time...The Foodie Pen pal.  Yes.  You heard me correctly. FOODIE PEN PAL. Now you get it??  RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!!!!!!!

I stumbled upon a blog through Pinterest and some amazing recipes...and of course stayed on there to look around this amazing blog and get some amazing ideas when I saw the heading "Foodie Pen pal".  Uh.. What?  OK.. I'm in...One click...and a brief glance and I was hooked!  Signed up and then starting thinking, planning, plotting what I was going to send. 

Let me explain a bit.  The blogger collects names of people interested in participating in exchanging food from around the country and connects them with another participant.  The two participants email each other and gets to know each others likes and dislikes, dietary restrictions or allergies...and then by the 15th of the Month - they send out a package of goodies to each other (spending no more than $15!).  Seems "simple" and while it is... It was really hard to think of what to send...  Its challenging, creative and I had a blast participating!  I'm already signed up for next month!!

So, I got paired with Nancy from Wisconsin.  Now I can say I know someone from Wisconsin - a first for me!

Now...I can't tell you what I received from Nancy until November 29th (official Blog Day for Foodie Pen pal)... I can tell you what I chose to send Nancy...and why!

I wanted to encompass something very ... well... New York.  My first thought was a bagel is the IT thing for New York (other than Pizza!) and my favorite bagel is the "Everything Bagel".  So I decided to send some of "Everything" to Nancy.  I made the Everything seasoning and even got some fabulous ideas on how to use it in other recipes.

So, the seasoning is:
3 Tablespoons each of: Poppy Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Dried Onion Flakes, Dried Garlic Flakes
and 1 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.

Voila!  You can use it on any raw dough to make Everything biscuits or croissants.. You can toss it in with some scrambled eggs or even use with breadcrumbs to top mac and cheese.  I put some on top of my meatloaf the night I made it and it was delic! My next thought is to use it on Pork chops or Chicken as a nice rub before cooking.

I also sent a package of lentils ... If you've been reading my blog, you'll know I discovered lentils recently (No, I don't live under a rock...I just don't pay attention some times!).  Since I was sending some of my "favorites" I decided to include the lentils and the recipe for my Quinoa & Lentil Salad along with it.  I make this just about every other week and love, love, love it!!

Lastly, I decided on one of my favorite snacks... Spiced Snack Mix

Super delicious and flavorful...  Such a simple recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, mix together:
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 - 3 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Then - in a larger bowl whisk 1 large egg white until frothy.  Once that is done mix in your nuts! :)  You'll need 4 cups of nuts - choose what you'd like.  I used almonds, peanuts and cashews.  Also mix in 1 1/2 cups of mini pretzels and 1 1/2 cups of oyster crackers.

Sprinkle in your spice blend and then stir to coat each piece.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake... stirring occasionally until golden brown (about 15 - 20 minutes).  

Really yummy...In fact, I'm snacking on some now!  

Stay tuned ... Nov 29th is reveal day and I can tell you all about what Nancy sent to me!

Until Next Time...


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pinterest will be the death of me...

Hello Friends!

Happy Sunday!  House is smelling delicious due to my crock pot cooking... House is sounding loud due to my husband watching foot all... All in all, its a good day (though will be a better day if the JETS can win today...but right now... 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter - I'm not thinking so...).

So - Have ya'll been on Pinterest?  I've heard about it...and had zero interest... 

That is, until I spoke to my sister in law who described it to me in such a way that I said to my self, "Emily - you have to at least look at this thing".  And Look I did... and looked... and looked... and created boards... many, many boards... and now I because I spend a lot of time looking on Pinterest - Its been weeks since I wrote my blog! 

But in Pinterests and my defense ... I'll have some great things to share with you because of it!  :) 

For instance... tonight's dinner was fully inspired by this nice, cool autumn weather and Pinterest.

Crock Pot Broccoli & Cheese Soup.....with Cheddar Bay Biscuits!

This morning, about 9am .. I got all my ingredients together...
One Onion - Minced
2 cloves of garlic - smashed
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 of a bag of shredded carrots
2 cups of milk ** Read my "redo" below
1 qt of chicken stock (low sodium)

Dump all of this stuff into the crock pot...
Add in one 10 oz box of chopped broccoli and one 10 oz box of broccoli florets or spears (or another of chopped broccoli)

Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours... (or on high for 4 to 6)

30 minutes before you are going to serve - use an emerson blender to very briefly (like 3 seconds) to thicken the soup and grind up some of the veggies (cut some of the broccoli spears if you used them like I did... you want chunks but not too much).  Let it continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

Re-DO!!!! **Do NOT add the milk before cooking. Hold it until you are adding the cheese...then add the milk!Add in your cheeses..

1 cup each of:   Cheddar (I used a sharp) ... Gruyere ... Jarlsberg

Stir together and cover again and let cook for another 20 minutes....

** Reason for the RE-DO... I wasn't thrilled with the texture/taste of the soup.  After some research... I realized that adding the dairy in the beginning and cooking it so long....curdled the milk!  So if you add the milk with the cheeses...and cook for 20 - 30 minutes (vs. 7 hours) completely changes things!!

The Cheddar Bay Biscuits I'm serving (another Pinterest specialty) were super easy to make... And what I like about them - you can make the dough and portion them out...and freeze them!  The night before you want to eat them - thaw in the fridge and bake at the below temp/time.  Or you can bake them right from the freezer, it'll just take a bit longer.

So the ingredients are:

1 3/4 cups of AP flour
1 tablespoon & 2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2" pieces
6 oz of sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup of milk

for the topping
3 tablespoons of melted butter (I used salted)
1 garlic clove smashed
1 teaspoon parsley (fresh or dried)
**redo - garlic powder too!

Preheat your oven to 425 and put your rack on the top 1/3rd of the oven.

Combine in the food processor all your dry ingredients and pulse 2 to 3 times.  Add in your shortening and pulse again to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 4 to 5 times until you get pea sized crumbs.  Add your cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times.  Add the milk and pulse again until moist and sticky.
Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar and Salt

Shortening and Butter

Pea size dough

With Cheese & Milk

Drop 1/4 cup measure dough balls on a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, make the garlic butter by melting the butter with the smashed garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat... cook together for about 2 minutes.  

Remove from heat and add parsley.  Brush biscuits with garlic butter *and sprinkle with some garlic powder and serve warm.

The meal was good ... with the 're-do's ... much better! I've got many a recipe on my boards on Pinterest that I want to try!!  You have any?  Let me know!!

Follow me on Pinterest ... Emily (quill964)! 

Until Next Time...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

First Day of Autumn + Sunday Football =

The first pot of Sauce for the season!! (though I'm posting this a tad bit late)

Hello Friends!

There is nothing like the smell of a pot of simmering goodness on the stove as the air turns cool and crisp...any pot of goodness is fine, but on the first day of autumn (last Sunday), my pot of choice was tomato sauce.  I was lucky enough to get a mess of fresh tomatoes from my brothers garden and decided to toss them in as well.  So - let me share with you this version of sauce.  I say 'this version' because I don't have a real written down recipe for sauce so I never make it the same way twice! 

So, Lets begin.  I started off with browning up my meatballs, sausage and pork ribs.  I brown everything but do not cook it through... it will finish up in the sauce.

While the meat is browning, I chop up one onion, a mess of carrots, a bunch of stalks of celery, all those luscious tomatoes and 5 large cloves of garlic.

When the meat is done and out of the pan, add a bit more olive oil to the pot and toss in those veggies.
Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flake and Italian seasoning and let them cook down...add in some tomato paste at this point as well.
De glaze the pan with about a cup of red wine and some chicken broth...and a can of whole tomatoes and their juices...(I crush up the tomatoes by hand before adding them in).
Let this cook down for at least 30 minutes, until all of the veggies are tender. 
At this point, I'll use the immersion blender to break down the vegetables a bit and then add in two (or three, depending on how much I'm making!) of crushed tomatoes. I season with salt and pepper, dried oregano and three heaping tablespoons of pesto (I use classico).  I then will add all the meat back to the pot and let this simmer on the stove for ... oh.... three or four hours.  The longer the better!
A bowl of pasta, some meatballs, this rich and delicious sauce... and a win for the Jets.  A perfect start to this autumn season!

The colder it gets...the more I cook - I see soups in my future!! Have a good soup recipe? A Favorite soup?  Let me know!

Until Next Time...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

CheeseCake Catastrophe

Hello Friends,

So a few weeks ago, I was watching the Create channel and Martha Stewart Bakes.  I was never really a fan of Martha's...but I do have to say her cooking shows I find very intriguing.  Anyway - She was making all sorts of cheesecakes... Ricotta Cheesecake and NY Style Cheesecake and even one with a fruit Jelly kind of thing. 

I was curious about her NY cheesecake as her recipe called for some flour.  Any cheesecake I've ever made didn't have any flour in it... and hers looked so good...
Martha Stewart's NY Style Cheesecake

I decided to make it!  Now, I'm sure I've said in the past... but I'm a terrible baker.  I hardly bake anything because it is too precise for me when I'm a 'handful of this' kind of a girl. So even though I've decided to bake this took me about three weeks to work up the gumption to actually do it. is the recipe...

12 Graham Crackers
6 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of sugar
a pinch of salt

7  eight ounce packages of Cream Cheese - room temperature
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of room temperature sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take a bit of extra butter and butter your spring form pan and then wrap the pan with aluminum foil (this goes in a water bath to cook, so this will protect the cake from getting water in it).

Put into your food processor the graham crackers, melted butter, salt and sugar...process until a fine crumb.  Press the crumb into the bottom of the pan and compact it down.  Put the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes to set.  Then bake the crust for 15 minutes until golden.  Let it cool.

Beat the cream cheese for about 3 to 4 minutes to combine it and make it creamy.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour.  Slowly add a bit of the dry mixture into the bowl and a bit of the sour cream and then let it beat for about a minute.  Repeat until all the dry mix and the sour cream is incorporated.  Add in the vanilla...and then one at a time add the eggs.

Take the mixture and pour it into the cooled pan.  Place that pan into a large roasting pan and fill with hot water so it goes up half the side of the cake pan. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Then - reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes are up...shut off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside for one hour.  Remove and let cool.

This is what mine looked like when finished:
Not as pretty as Martha's ... but a good first time effort!
I cut a piece and I will have to say - it was delicious!!  Very moist and creamy, very light and fluffy.  I really do recommend making this cheesecake.  I was so excited - and looked forward to sharing it with Dave and even bring some to my brothers house as they all love cheesecake.

This is what happens when you don't take the bottom of the spring form pan off the cake and then try to wrap it up to put it into the fridge:


'Nuff Said.

Until Next Time...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Lazy Dinner turned into a Great Breakfast...

Hello Friends!

Well - I said vacation was over, didn't I??  So surprise, surprise... another post!  I really meant it when I said I'm in a cooking mood - the weather cooled just enough... (I mean like 5 degrees???) for me to feel like making something for dinner.

(Honestly - it was either I cook so Dave had something to eat when he gets home from work other than a Pb&J sandwich - or...I order Chinese, which Dave loves and is my least favorite food.)

So - I cook! Plus...who knows how long I'll be inspired for - I have to jump on these things while I feel them!

Tonight's dinner - Crust less Vegetable Quiche!

What is an easy dish to make... I'm horrible at baking - so crusts are so beyond me... and I know I can do store bought, but it still seems so soggy to me.  When Dave was doing Atkins - I discovered using Ham for a crust, or going crust less...and for my lazy at heart self - crust less is perfect!

To start - preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

First, rough chop into bite size pieces:
1/2 a medium onion
1 medium zucchini
a bunch of asparagus (ends removed)

Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and a good splash of Olive Oil into the pan and lightly sautee the vegetables with some salt and pepper to taste.  You'll cook this for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender.

Place into a greased baking pan (no crust!) to cool for a bit.

Then crack into a bowl:
6 eggs
add 1/4 cup (about... I eyeball it) of milk (any type)
and about 1/2 a cup of heavy cream...  (don't don't have a crust, you can afford the cream!)
Mix well with salt and pepper to taste and some fresh ground nutmeg (I do about a 6 count when grating it).

about 3 oz of Gruyere cheese
and 4 oz of Sharp Cheddar Cheese...
and about 3 oz of Crumbled Goat Cheese...
*Yes, its alot of cheese...<um...have you met me??> but again, not having a crust gives you a little leeway to not feel guilty into using the heavy cream and cheeses...  and if you do feel guilty - please feel welcome to join me in the Emily-verse - no guilt here!

(Or, get your own Emily-verse where you cut down on the portions until you feel comfortable...but you can't call it an has to be a You-Verse ... but admit - it doesn't sound as awesome as an Emily-Verse, does it??   I told you so. )

But I digress... Lets continue...

Sprinkle the goat cheese over the vegetables and add a little over a half of the Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses on top.

Pour the egg mixture over the pan and allow the liquid to settle in. 

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and put into the oven.

You'll bake this for about 30 minutes until the mixture is just set (it may have a bit of give to it, that's OK) and the cheesey top is golden brown. 

Let the quiche sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

I admit...I didn't wait 10 minutes...
Best thing about this quiche (or any quiche, really) is it can be served hot, warm, room temperature and yes... I'll eat it cold too.  Its great to have hanging around the house for Breakfast, Dinner or a snack.  You can even bake it in muffin tins to have a quick 'grab and go' breakfast or snack that is already proportioned.  (Yes, its a great idea.  It's not mine...someone else thought of it...but I use it often!)

I'll also make quiche with just about anything.  You can use the base mix and put in any veggie or meat or cheese that you like.  Its a perfect go to for me when I have extra veggies from the night before - I just throw it in some eggs and poof... a great quiche!

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Vacation is OVER!

Hello Friends!

As you might have guessed, since my last post was in June ... I took the summer off from Blogging...from cooking...from rating restaurants... from a lot!  Reminds me of the good old days, when I could be less responsible and would quit my jobs for the summer!  I did that for about three or four years straight - right around my birthday at the end of June, put in my notice and then bum around for the summer ... on the the the back yard in the pool or on my hammock ... and not look for a job until after Labor Day.  Oh I Wish!

Of course I can't do that any more...(but of course when we win the Mega or PowerBall - I will!) but with getting a third week of vacation and some lovely summer Fridays...I didn't work a full week all summer - so that's just about the peaches for me!

Dave and I spent many a Sunday or (but mostly and!) Monday at Overlook Beach - having a ball in the water and sitting in the sun... people watching and of course commenting on all the idiots ..I mean people... who don't have an ounce of Beach Etiquette and feel the need to sit right on top of you with three of their screaming kids when there is a whole empty beach to sit on.

A calm day at Overlook Beach - a few hours before the crowds!
Dave and I spent a gorgeous week upstate with my Mom, my sister and some of my nieces and nephews... There is nothing like relaxing at Keuka Lake!
 A Day shot...
A grainy night shot

Sam and Lilah with their little cousin Dottie

Waiting at Bully Hill for lunch...
The Bully Hill View
Rachel, Julia and Andrew at Lunch
On our last night of our stay at the Cozy Cottage - my sister Kris got Chinese lanterns for us to light...let fill up with the heat...make a wish and let it go - we all got one to set free and made our wishes... How Beautiful!
Lighting and filling Dave and my lantern
Our wish...set free

Ah...No... I will not be telling you our wish... I want this one to come true!! 

But as it does when I have to leave the Emily-verse and get back into real life...Vacations come to an end... as slowly does Summer, as Labor Day has come and gone and while the heat and humidity are still around - they will slowly ebb into the cool, crisp days of Autumn ... and as my mind goes - to cooking soups and stews and Sunday sauce... Going out east to the farmers markets and pumpkin picking...and eventually cutting down a tree (Oh My!).

So - for the first time in just about forever - I decided to cook a new dish for Dave for dinner.  We'd just had a large red meat meal the night before ... and fish for lunch - so we decided on pork.  I searched the net for a fun, different, interesting meal to make for us - and decided to share it here with you!  Your Welcome. :)

I found a recipe on the food network - so of course I couldn't just follow it, I had to add my own touch and flavors to it... so here goes:

Pork Chops Stuffed with Spinach, Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 container of sliced crimini mushrooms, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
  • 1 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white whine
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Whole Ground mustard
Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.
Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Carefully move the knife around to create the pouch then use your finger to widen it ( least favorite part!).
Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach, mushroom and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing.  Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork.
Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the chop - mine took about six minutes).
Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. If you overstuffed your pork chops like I did mine - you'll have lovely bits of flavor and chunks from the stuffing, which just adds a great dimension to the broth.
Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Nestle the Pork Chops back into the broth and simmer for about 2 minutes, spooning some sauce over the pork before serving.
We served over pasta - but any rice or potato would work too - you want something to sop up that fabulous sauce!
It felt good to cook again - and I'm scouring the net, my cook books and even Pinterest for some fabulous recipes to share with you.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on this blog ... I hope you are too!
Until Next Time...