everyday recipes – good enough for entertaining

mushroom and goat cheese tart with watercress salad

My friend was telling me about a recipe she made with goat cheese and tomatoes in a tart…. This got my thoughts going! I love it when an idea jumps in my head and takes over. It took me a good week and a half before I had time to actually get around to trying out my new recipe idea… It was worth the wait. Here’s what you need…

For the tart:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (keep cold)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter,
  • 2 slices of a large onion, cut in half
  • about a half pound of assorted mushrooms, (I used shitaki, portabella and cremini) sliced
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 5 – 6 oz. pkg. fresh goats cheese (chèvre) , softened to room temperature

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch watercress, rinsed well
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325°. Melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion until slightly caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and mushrooms to the pan, season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme (be generous with the thyme) and sauté  3 or 4 minutes until tender. Add wine and let reduce and thicken a little. Remove from heat and set aside. Unfold puff pastry onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Score the pastry 1/2 inch from edge by gently cutting with a knife, not cutting through to the bottom. Fold this 1/2 inch edge inward over the pastry square creating a raised edge to your tart.

Spread the goat cheese over the bottom of the pastry. Cover this with the mushroom mixture and some additional leaves of fresh thyme. Bake for about 18 -20 minutes until pastry is cooked through and golden on the edges. Toss the watercress with the olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. To serve, cut a slice of tart to plate and top with a handful of the watercress salad. Pair this with a glass of that white wine that you opened just for this recipe and enjoy!

*Note… This recipe can be done without the wine if you like.

*If you can’t find watercress you can substitute baby arugula.

*This is a wonderful dish to serve for brunch, lunch, as an appetizer or a larger portion for a light dinner!











vanilla ice cream with stone fruit lavender compote

This dish is so easy yet displays itself as a wonderfully elegant but simple dessert. All you need is :

  • a really good quality vanilla bean ice cream (I use Breyers)
  • any combination of stone fruits; peaches, plums, apricots and figs, fresh or dried
  • butter
  • honey
  • fresh lemon juice
  • dried lavender flowers

Cut fruit into quarters or large pieces. Heat a couple tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Saute’ fruit in butter. Add a couple tablespoons of honey and a little lemon juice and about teaspoon of lavender. Continue sautéing for one or two minutes until you have a little caramelization. Spoon over ice cream and serve immediately. Enjoy!

The ingredients

sautéing the fruit

maple planked trout

I’ve always wanted to try fish on a plank. It’s just one of those neat things. Will the wood flavor come through? Where do I get the plank? The usual questions. My good friends and fellow foodies were out of town for a wedding in September. When they came back home they had a gift for me…a maple wood plank! Of course I had to try them right away. That next weekend I bought some beautiful Steelhead Trout, some lemon and fresh dill and was half way to making some of the best fish I’ve eve eaten! This was so easy if you can find the planks (mail order if you have to) you can do this. Soak the plank… I started soaking the morning of. Prepare your grill as usual. Since fish doesn’t take that long you’ll want to put the plank on the grill first for about 10 minutes before adding the fish. This is to give the plank time to actually smoke before the fish is done. That is where the wood flavor comes from. Note that the fish will take a little longer to grill on the plank than it would just on the grill.

To prepare the fish… Season well with salt and  fresh cracked pepper, a little fine grated fresh lemon zest and juice. Some sprigs of fresh dill and very thin lemon slices. Place onto plank on the grill and cook through. Fish should be firm and flaky. This made an absolutely beautiful presentation not to mention how good it tasted!  Ours was a maple plank. I really enjoyed the flavor it imparted. There is also cedar or applewood. I plan to try porkchops or pork roast on the applewood plank next. Try this one soon before it’s time to put the grill away for winter. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy.

Trout prepared and ready for the grill.

Ahhh, This looks so good!

Maple planked trout...Yummmm!

spring pasta with fresh breadcrumbs

photoI love the way a recipe can evolve. Several weeks ago we were at our friends’ house for dinner. One of the side dishes was steamed broccoli with fresh bread crumbs. Ariel really loved this. She doesn’t like to eat broccoli unless it is in broccoli cheese soup. So of course I took notice of another way to get her to eat her vegetables! Then a couple of weeks later somehow ended up in a conversation with the same friend over an Italian cookbook. She is sicilian and as we were talking about recipes she mentioned that a lot of sicilians were poor and they used bread crumbs made from stale bread to top dishes in place of cheese. I thought this was very interesting. It was a way to use the old bread and add more flavor to a dish. What I didn’t know is just how good it could be!
So I’ve had this beautiful package of imported Italian pasta, shaped like butterflies in pastel colors. I bought them because they were so pretty, not knowing what in the world I would do with it…too pretty to cover with a red marinara! Inspired by the bread crumbs here is what I came up with and I will say it was a winner in our house!
Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. pasta (tri color bowtie pasta would work if you can’t find specialty pasta)
  • 1 large lemon, (zest and juice)
  • 1 package fresh sugar snap peas
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and papper to taste
  • stale french bread
    To make the bread crumbs, if the bread is not dry you can slice it and toast it in the oven. Let it cool and then process in a food processor until you have crumbs. Set aside. Boil pasta as directed on package.  Make sure to cook al dente (still firm), you don’t want soggy pasta. Blanche sugar snap peas in boiling water, just long enough to brighten the green color, 1 minute or less. You still want them to have a nice crunch. Set aside. Meanwhile heat about a tbsp. of olive oil in a pan with a tsp. of butter, toast the fresh bread crumbs until nicely brown and crunchy, stirring often. Set aside. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/8 cup of the cooking water. Place pasta and water in a large serving bowl. Add sugar snap peas, 1 tbsp. butter, shredded parmesan (as much as you like) and the zest and juice from one lemon. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh toasted bread crumbs. Serve with additional cheese and bread crumbs if desired. You could also sprinkle a little fresh chopped mint or parsley , yeah! Serve with a small salad and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. Enjoy!
  • orange ginger roasted asparagus

    Just in time for your Easter dinner… asparagus, I love asparagus. It’s one of the vegetables that I didn’t make very often because my husband didn’t like it. Then one day I thought to myself… “Just because he doesn’t like it doesn’t mean I can’t have it”, so I decided to make some fresh asparagus…guess what? Yeah, Kenny liked it! It’s still not his favorite vegetable, but he discovered that it’s pretty good prepared this different way from what he remembered growing up. Not to mention that our taste buds usually change as we get older! This is just one way you can take asparagus to a new level. Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 1/2 – 2  lb. fresh asparagus ( I like young, thin stalked asparagus)
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 2 Tbsp. light olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
    • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
    • 1 tsp. fresh orange zest
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • pepper to taste

    IMG_3043Preheat oven to 400° . Cut or snap off tough ends of asparagus. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Whisk together orange juice and remaining ingredients; pour over asparagus tossing to coat. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time. To serve, garnish with fresh orange slices or zest. Enjoy!

    homemade waffles

    homemade-waffles-lemon-curdAriel wanted waffles for breakfast this morning so I went to my recipe file and pulled out a waffle recipe I got from my mom. This makes a really thick, fluffy waffle. I’m not sure where she got the recipe but it’s a good one. As I usually find myself, I started thinking…mmm…what could I do different? So i thought about what I happened to have in the fridge and came up with lemon curd and fresh blueberry waffles! I made the batter traditional and just topped them differently. This is good because, like Ariel…she just wanted plain syrup…you can please all palettes with one recipe! Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1  3/4 C. all purpose flour
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3 egg yolks, beaten
    • 1 1/2 C. milk
    • 1/2 C. vegetable oil
    • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
    • for topping as desired; powdered sugar, lemon curd, fresh blueberries or raspberries, syrup, melted butter.

    Measure dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Blend. Combine beaten egg yolks and milk. Stir into dry ingredients. Stir in oil. Carefully fold in egg whites. Do Not Overmix! Pour approximately 3/4 cup batter onto preheated waffle grid, cook until set and golden. Serve as desired with assorted toppings. Enjoy!

    *Note- If you are only serving this with the lemon curd, you could add 1 tsp. fresh grated lemon zest to the batter for an additional burst of lemon flavor. homemade-waffles

    roasted potato and spinach salad with hot bacon dressing

    rpssEver have leftover roasted potatoes in the fridge and you don’t know what to do with them? Well, the leftover potatoes were the inspiration for this recipe. A couple weeks ago I was going to have a small salad for lunch. I had about a handful of leftover roasted potatoes from dinner the night before. For some crazy reason I decide to warm them and throw them on my salad. Now, the salad was just a basic iceberg salad, carrot, onion, tomato. I just happened to have a little  bottled spinach salad dressing in the fridge. It didn’t taste bad! Nothing to knock your socks off but it got my mind thinking…Hot German potato salad…hot bacon spinach salad…You see where I’m going with this? So a week later I decided to try it out. Only this time I made my own salad dressing. I also tried the salad two different ways. First my take on breakfast for dinner…salad style! This version has hard boiled eggs. Get it… bacon, eggs, potatoes! The second was done with chopped red (fuji) apples instead of egg. This ones a little lighter and a little healthier version. They were both delicious…you choose! Here’s what you’ll need:

    For the dressing:

    • 8 slices bacon (I prefer the thick sliced…yes, you can never have too much bacon!)
    • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (this is what I used, but I am going to try it again with cider vinegar…I think it would work just as well)
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • fresh cracked black pepper  and salt to taste…don’t be afraid to use a good bit of pepper
    • a pinch or two of fresh thyme leaves or just a dash of dried thyme

    Cook bacon. I like it to be a little crispy, we will reserve this to add to the salad. In a small sauce pan heat 2-3 Tbsp. of the bacon grease, add onions to soften. Wisk in remaining ingredients and simmer just for a minute or two. Remove from heat and set aside.

    For the salad:

    • 1 large bag of fresh spinach  (about 6-8 cups), rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups of roasted potatoes. You can roast them fresh, toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Or reheat leftovers!
    • red onion, sliced into rings, enough for 3 or 4  rings per serving * the onion really balances the sweet of the dressing
    • reserved bacon, crumbled
    • Your choice…3 hard boiled eggs, halved. OR  1 fuji apple, cored and chopped
    • croutons if desired

    To assemble the salad place spinach in a large bowl, add potatoes, onion, bacon and if using apples, the apples. Heat the dressing just until it boils, pour over salad and toss gently. If using eggs, you may add eggs at this point. Add another dash of fresh black pepper and croutons if desired to serve. Garnish with another pinch of fresh thyme leaves if you have them. This is definitely  a winner. I had company for dinner and served this as a main dish after a bowl of butternut squash and apple soup. ( recipe coming soon) A great fall salad to serve as a meal or a smaller serving as a starter course for a dinner party. If you’d like to have a glass of wine with this I’d suggest a nice Pinot Noir. Enjoy!rpssa

    pasta salad with shrimp and lemon lavender vinaigrette

    lemon-lavender-shrimp-pastaDuring the summer on Wednesday evenings here in Park City, we always go to Deer Valley for the mountain town stages free concert. Everyone is there… all of the kids play and dance and hula hoop and the older kids bring a picnic basket filled with great food and a bottle of wine, or two! So I’m faced with a challenge every week…what to make for the picnic. Do you ever just get tired of the same old thing? I know, we’ve all been there. So, I’m standing in the kitchen thinking …what to make?  I swear I get these crazy recipes that just pop into my head. All of the ingredients just start running through my mind. Actually I kinda like it when this happens, it usually produces a really good recipe! So here is my crazy “pop up” recipe!

    • 1 lb. cooked shrimp ( I like 26-30 count size or larger)
    • 1 12-16 oz. box of penne pasta
    • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halves
    • 1/2 lb. fresh aspapagus spears, bottoms trimmed
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
    • 1 recipe lemon lavender vinaigrette ( to follow )

    Lemon Lavender Vinaigrette

    • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
    • 1 tsp. dried lavender flowers
    • 1 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. sugar

    Wisk together all ingredients. *This dressing would also be great on a salad of mixed greens.

    Cook pasta according to package directions*( Make sure to cook al dente’, you don’t want overcooked pasta for this dish! Drain, rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl. Toss with a dash of olive oil to prevent sticking. Wrap the asparagus in damp paper towels and microwave about one minute, just to slightly steam it. Asparagus should still be crisp. Cut into two inch pieces. Add to the pasta along with tomatoes, shrimp, feta, and basil. Toss with vinaigrette. Chill well.

    I hope you’ll try this dish…(don’t be afraid of the lavender) It was a great hit at the concert a couple of weeks ago!. This one is a great dish for a hot summer afternoon. Excellent for a simple garden get together! Serve with a great baguette and a nice sauvignon blanc. Enjoy!

    fish tacos

    fish-tacos-2I made these amazing fish tacos last night! You’ve got to try them, better than any I’ve had in a restaurant. These will definitely be added to our regular weeknight dinners. Yum! This will make 8-10 tacos. Here’s what you’ll need:

    • One recipe crunchy fish nuggets
    • One recipe salsa fresca
    • soft corn tortillas
    • 1 avacado, peeled and diced
    • For garnish: shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges, lime crema (recipe follows)

    Lime crema: 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp. lime zest   Mix all ingredients together, chill.

    Prepare salsa fresca as directed. Add the diced avacado. Prepare crunchy fish nuggets as directed. To assemble: Heat tortilla in hot skillet 1o seconds each side. Break fish nuggets into bite size pieces and fill taco, top with cabbage, salsa fresca with avacado, cilantro and jalapenos if desired, a squeeze fresh lime  and lime crema. I like to serve this with caribbean black beans and mexican rice. Enjoy!

    black bean burgers

    Have you ever had a vegi burger? I have and had some pretty gross ones at that! It can be hard to find a good one but if you like a little southwestern flair, please try this recipe. They are so good even Ariel (who is not very into vegetables) likes this one! Try serving this with my crunchy oven fried onion rings or a nice little green salad. Here’s whatblack-bean-burgersyou’ll need:

    • 2 cans black beans, drained
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 cup fresh, dry (very important) bread crumbs
    • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp.  ground cumin
    • 1 tbsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. each, onion powder and garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. each, salt and pepper
    • dash hot sauce, or 2 or 3 if you like!
    • 1 egg

    Saute onions, pepper and garlic in the butter, just until softened. About 2 to 3 minutes. Place all ingredients and sauteed vegetables into a food processor. Pulse intermittenly on low until blended but not completely smooth. You may have to scrapes sides a few times. Shape into patties and place in a well oiled hot skillet or griddle cook until browned, turning once. Brown other side add cheese if you like to melt. I like cheddar and/or pepperjack. Place on a nice toasty gourmet bun and serve with your choice of condiments. Some suggestions:I like to serve with my pineapple mango salsa and avacado slices. You could also use barbeque sauce and red onions , red salsa and avacado or traditional lettuce and tomato with a spicy mustard or chipotle mayo. You decide, but however you top it, it will always come out on top! Enjoy