Saturday, August 24, 2013


Our kitty Jo Jo officially became a cat on August 8th when he celebrated his first birthday. We felt it appropriate to have a little occasion for him. I made a small kitty cake, he wore a party hat, much to his chagrin, and he had his first catnip. I think that was the part he liked best! It sure was fun to watch him race around!
He was so excited about the party that he did not eat his cake until the next day. Here is the recipe...
1/2 cup dry Purina (or your cat's favorite brand), ground in blender, mini-max or food processor
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. soft ground food (not chunky)
1 tsp. catnip

Mix all ingredients and pour into greased custard cups. This makes 2 custard cup size cakes. Bake at 350 degrees in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Jo Jo went crazy when I first took the cakes out of the oven. The kitchen was filled with the delicious aroma of rich grain mixed with a little fishiness!
*This would work equally for a puppy party, but not sure about the catnip!

OK, enough of that...on to something a little more useful. As some of you who follow this blog know, I have been on the South Beach diet for a couple months now. It is definitely changing my cooking expression, but I am loving it. This is not to say I will stop cooking crazy things like Triple Bourbon Pork Chops, but recently we've had mainly a lot of veg and lean protein. Here's a South beach dessert I tried the other day that was easy, delicious and refreshing on a hot summer night.


Buttermilk Lemon Sorbet-2
If you enjoy the flavor of lemon and like the tanginess of buttermilk, this sorbet will be a hit. It has just 3 ingredients and takes no time to put together, although you will need an ice cream freezer.

2 cups buttermilk, reduced-fat
2 medium lemons; zested (use all the zest) and juiced (use just 3 Tbsp.)
2/3 cup agave nectar

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice and agave nectar. Chill in fridge for 4 hours and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's instructions. In my Cuisinart that means about 25-30 minutes. Place in freezer until ready to serve. Garnish with lemon twists or mint leaves. Next time I am going to add a cup of blueberries before freezing.

I met a lovely woman at a car show a couple weeks ago who gave me a great tip for freezing Basil Pesto. Thanks Marty! Once you make the pesto, pack it into ice cube trays. Press the pesto down into each cup, level off and freeze. When the basil cubes are frozen drop them into a zip lock bag. In this way you take out just exactly what you need to use. Very handy for instant bruschetta, pasta with pesto and shrimp, pasta e fazioli, pizza, and on and on and on! Basil pesto freezes very well for up to 6 months. If you have a big basil crop you can enjoy pesto all winter long. One year my Mom grew basil thinking she would like pesto. Turns out she didn't like the flavor and I ended up with 17 lbs. of basil. That made a lot of pesto. My fingers were green for weeks! Here's a pesto I put together last night on grilled chicken.


2 Big handful basil leaves (I used both regular and Thai basil.)
2 sprigs rosemary-leaves taken off the stem
Chives to make about 1/3 cup
1/2 cup parmesan, asiago, or 4-cheese blend (I used the 4-cheese because that's what I had on hand!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. mayonaise (I would not normally put mayo in basil pesto, but it seemed like the right thing to do here.)
1/4 cup almonds (Traditional pesto uses pine nuts, but walnuts work well, too and are less $$.)
1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed
Blend the herbs in a food processor or mini-max until well chopped. Add all other ingredients and blend until you have the right consistency. Adjust salt.
Pesto can be made with any combination of herbs, nuts, olive oil, cheese and garlic. Get creative and have fun with it.
I served the BBQ'd chicken with fresh steamed summer squash from Teri's Farm Stand and grilled eggplant, also from Teri's, topped with homemade red sauce and a bit of cheese. I marinated the chicken in a reduced fig balsamic glaze before grilling.
I'm going to finish up today with a couple very refreshing summer drinks suitable for all ages.

My sister-in-law, Esther, turned me on to this drink. Thanks Esther! Just add cucumber spears to a pitcher of ice water. I used a whole large, peeled cuke for this pitcher of water. Chill in the fridge for about an hour and you will have a very surprising cucumbery drink!
And last...
I have started experimenting with essential oils thanks to my friend Diana who introduced me to the medicinal and culinary benefits of using them. Thanks Diana! The best, most pure oils are doTerra Oils ( Place 1-2 drops of Peppermint essential oil into 16 oz. of water. Shake and chill. Unbelieveably delicious!
That's all for now.
Thanks so much for joining me fellow foodies
for another adventure of

Hey, even the cook gets to enjoy a little R&R at the beach during the dog days of summer!

Sunday, August 11, 2013



I recently went to a local food produce stand here in America's home town, and mine, Plymouth, MA and Teri had giant banana leaves sitting on the floor of her ever so cute little veg-shed. She ended up giving me a leaf (as I was out of money since I bought so much wonderful stuff!) and I told her I would write about it in my next blog. What a blast it was to cook fish on the grill wrapped in banana leaf...a-w-e-s-o-m-e! ...and very easy. It made me feel quite cheffy! I know I talked about fillet of sole last time, but we eat a lot of fish and sole is one of my favorites. And last time we did not wrap it in banana leaf!

Teri also sells fabulously fresh hen and duck eggs, all kinds of vegetables, freshly cut flowers, and beautiful driftwood sculptures she creatively makes herself. Check her out on Facebook. Invite Teri Payne Snyder to be your "friend" and she will invite you to her Farmstand Group.
First, here is the leaf which was about 3 feet long. Next, I cut it into roughly 12" x 12" squares to wrap my fillet of sole into.

Here is the sole after being cooked.

I stuffed this sole with crab meat (about 1/2 lb. for 4 fillets or use good quality canned crab) mixed with about 2 Tbsp. of mayonaise, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a little salt, pepper and the stuffing was complete. Drizzle the sole with olive oil, salt, pepper  and a little more freshly squeezed lemon juice. Put about 2-3 (depending on how big your fillets are) Tbsp. of the crab into the center of each fillet. Roll up gently and then wrap them in the banana leaves. Think: Christmas or gift package. Gently roll folding each side and then tie with kitchen string. You may have crab left over, but that is not a bad thing! This makes a great stuffing for mushrooms.
Can you see how much fun I have playing with food?!?!
Get your grill on high and drop each package onto high heat for about 4 minutes per side.

Tender, juciy, and incredibly flavorful, these banana leaves kept all the juices in and made for a very interesting and fabulous meal. Thank you Teri! Wonder what other leaves you could wrap food in?

This reminds me of when my husband, Jerry and I were in Fiji about 20 years ago...On our last festive night in that spectacular part of the world, we had a meal that was cooked wrapped in some kind of leaves (possibily leaves from a giant coconut palm tree), buried underground and cooked for hours in a bed of hot rocks. I remember it was some kind of fish and veg. When they unearthed it, it was coated with soot and dirt and who knows what else, but in any case, NOT good. We all tried to be gracious because this was a traditional way of cooking, but even ME who likes almost everything had a bit of a hard time. It took a lot of kava to get that meal down. My poor husband, whose tummy is delicate got horribly sick on the 14 hour flight home. My general rule of thumb when traveling, regarding matter what! GO FOR IT!

Here's an interesting veg I also got from Teri's Farm...

You may be familiar with these beans, but I was not. They taste almost exactly like green or yellow wax beans, but the amazing thing is when you cook them they become green again. I love the transformation! They are also great sliced and raw in salads. When you cut into them, their centers are green making a very attractive presentation.

Traditional green beens on the left and the purple beans on the right. See the difference?!?! Right, no difference when cooked!

Our kitty cat, Jo Jo just had a birthday. He turned 1 last Thursday. I made him a special birthday kitty cake and we had a little celebration for him. You will hear about those festivities next week along with some other tips and a suggestion for freezing basil pesto I just learned about this weekend from a new friend I met at a car show!


Here I am with my sister-in-law Chickie wearing my new Rabbitt's Kitchen birthday apron. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift dear Chickie. Thank you!