Tomato-Stuffed Tri-Colored Roasted Peppers

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Get a crusty loaf of bread ready!  You are going to want to sop up every last drop of the sublime juices of these stuffed peppers.  With both peppers and tomatoes in season this is a perfect recipe to showcase the season’s stars.  This recipe comes to me from the brilliant British chef Delia Smith via my dear friend Claire, but is originally from Piedmont, Italy.  You will wonder how something so simple could taste sooooo good.

Although there are anchovies in the recipe, don’t shy away from it if you are not a lover of this briny fish.  You won’t even know they are there once the peppers are cooked down and they will add a complex briny note to the juices.  Did I mentioned to have bread ready?

TOMATO- STUFFED ROASTED TRI-COLORED PEPPERS

Preheat oven to 350F

6 tricolored  peppers, red, orange and yellow, organic if available( not green)

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

6 medium tomatoes, peeled and cored, cut in 6 segments

12 anchovy fillets

12 teaspoons of good olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

Shredded basil,  to serve

1-  Cut the peppers in half, seed,  being careful to cut through stem also so you leave  the stem on.  Place on a foil-lined sheet that is lightly oiled.

2-  Place 3 tomato segments in each pepper half.  (To peel the tomatoes, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain.  The peel will slide right off with your hands.)  I used heirloom tomatoes.  To save time, you can use peeled  plum tomatoes in a can. imageimage

3-  Slice one anchovy fillet per pepper and sprinkle over the tomatoes.  Divide the garlic evenly among the peppers.  Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil per pepper half.  Season with fresh ground pepper, to taste.

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4- Bake at 350F for an hour.image

Before serving, sprinkle with the fresh basil.  Serve warm with that crusty bread.  Simply delicious!

Can be served as an appetizer or as a vegetable side dish.  Enjoy!

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Playing with Stones: Building an Inuksuk

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Inuksuk: defined as something which acts for, or performs the function of a person.

Everyday as I gaze out my kitchen window, I  look upon a stone work of art that I love and is meaningful. This organic, unique and beautiful Inuksuk sculpture was  built by hand by my husband and youngest son, Tristan.  They hunted together for the perfect stones to build it in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania and hauled them home.  It is constructed without mortar or any kind of support.  It is a marvel of engineering from the natural world.  The stones are nestled ingeniously, much like a puzzle, and stacked into a delicately balanced one-of-a-kind sculpture.  Inuksuks, also called Inukshuks or cairns, are an Inuit symbol.    Their purpose is often navigational or a point of reference and appear often in Canadian cultural heritage.

Like a stone, each of our children is unique.  My husband has strived to connect with each of our 3 sons through their very different  interests and passions.  My husband lost his own father when he was just 2 years old.   This has shaped his drive to be a devoted and passionate father himself.  One son is a sports fanatic.  Another is into history.  This one, loves the outdoors and his Canadian ancestry.  Everytime I look upon this simple work of art, I see it as a metaphor for a strong father and son bond, a symbol of our Canadian roots, and as an example of the power of working together to achieve great things.

As my baby leaves for college this week, the cycle of life has come full circle.  I hope he will think back on the summer when he and his dad searched for the perfect stones to build their Inuksuk, and take  all the love, wisdom and blessings given to him by the wonderful man who is his father along his journey to delicately balance all that life throws his way and remain strong and sturdy, like this sculpture, with his father’s moral compass guiding him into adulthood.

image To read more about Inuksuks, please visit:  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk.

Pin It! Creative Storage For Brooches

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Brooches have always fascinated me and are a staple of my wardrobe.  Over the years my collection of brooches has grown, with many pieces received as gifts or inherited.  My husband often surprises me with a  brooch when he travels, selecting pieces that  are handmade by local artists.  These are the most meaningful brooches of my collection.

Hand painted pieces by American artist Christina Goodman

Hand painted pieces by American artist Christina Goodman; sunflowers by Michael Michaud

The problem with most jewelery is that once out of sight, it is forgotten and does not tend to get worn.  My solution to this problem with my brooch collection was to use a store bought, plain, ribbon bulletin board, that I mounted on a wall in my closet to display my brooches and provide easy access to them when dressing.

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  A great steal at $15.99 at Target,  this French twill ribbon board is of good quality with thick padding.  It can be ordered online by clicking here:  http://www.target.com/p/twill-french-memo-board-ivory-18×20/-/A-10635957  I chose a plain fabric so the brooches could pop when pinned on it.                                                                                                                             .

image The padding of the bulletin board is thick enough to securely support even the heaviest of brooches and the board currently holds close to 100 pieces, with room for more. I use the ribbon bands to display clip-on earrings.image

Even on days where  I am not wearing a brooch, I enjoy looking at this beautiful collection and thinking of the people who have given me such lovely tokens of their affection.  The bulletin board is an innovative storage solution for a growing collection of brooches and art for the closet!

 

Monogram Gingerbread Cookies

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Life’s accomplishments can all be relative.  When I was working full time as a periodontist with 3 young children born 3 years apart, I won the “Best Snack Mom of the Year” award at my sons’ preschool. The “over the top” homemade soft pretzels in the initial of every child in the class probably cinched the title for me.  What was I thinking?  It was all downhill from there!  I recently did revive the monogram idea for one of my sons, by cutting free-hand his monogram out of our favorite gingerbread cookie dough from pre school days and added a heart shaped cookie with it.  The 18 year old loved it.  To make, just roll out your favorite plain cookie dough.  Cut out initials or even a special date to celebrate, such as an anniversary, an engagement, or a wedding.  Bake as you would a regular batch of cookies, careful not to burn as not all intials require the same amount of baking time.  This could be a fun wedding shower idea using the bride and groom’s initials.  A custom baking project sure to make a special someone smile and feel really loved.

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The much loved and bakes gingerbread recipe from the booklet Kinder-Krunchies by Karen S. Jenkins

The much loved and baked gingerbread recipe from the booklet Kinder-Krunchies by Karen S. Jenkins

Just Peachy! Blueberry-Peach Crostata

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With juicy peaches in season, showcase them in a free form crostata. A crostata is essentially an open top rustic tart.  It is easy to make and lets the beautiful fruit become caramelized while baking.   It has a certain casual flair, perfect for a lazy summer dessert.  Top it with ice cream or whipped cream, and this dessert is sure to be a hit.  When it is baking, the spices make the house smell sooooo divine!

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BLUEBERRY-PEACH CROSTATA   Serves 6

Preheat oven to 400 F

3 large peaches, sliced, peel left on( yield about 4 cups)

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 c brown sugar

2 T flour

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground nutmeg

2 T spiced rum

1 T lemon juice

1 t bourbon vanilla( plain is fine)

1-12 inch pie crust of your choosing

1 egg lightly beaten

2 T sanding sugar( I used regular sugar but coarser sugar is better)

1-  In a large mixing bowl toss the peaches and blueberries with the brown sugar, flour, spices, rum, vanilla and lemon juice until evenly coated.

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2-  Roll out your pastry and place on a rimmed baking sheet on parchment paper.  I love Martha Stewart’s combination foil and parchment paper for baking.  The pastry does not need to be a perfect circle.  The crostata will look more rustic if it is not!

3-  Leaving a 2 inch border to fold over, dump all the fruit in the center of the pastry.  Fold over the border to create a pie crust edge and brush with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle the sugar along the pastry border and the top of the fruit.

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4-  Bake at 400 F for 45 minutes.  I started mine on the lower rack for 25 minutes and moved it to the middle rack for the remainder of the cooking time.

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5-  Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  YUM!

 

Seared Hake and Orzo Salad with Nectarine Salsa

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Summertime and the living is easy.   A salad featuring summer’s bounty is a great meal option.    This orzo salad topped with succulent fish and a fresh, bright and aseasonal nectarine salsa is a little different.   Peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots could all be substituted.  The pasta, salsa and fish can all be made in  advance and assembled just before serving.  Fresh summery bursts of flavor in every bite.   Not a fish lover?  Substitute chicken.

SEARED HAKE-ORZO SALAD with NECTARINE SALSA   Serves 4

SALSA

2 c diced stone fruit(I used 2 nectarines and 2 apricots), peel left on, pit discarded

1/4 c diced red onion

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, membranes removed, finely chopped

2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime

1T fruit flavored balsamic vinegar(I used pomegranate balsamic)

ORZO

2 vegetable flavoring cubes added to cooking water

1 16 oz bag of orzo, cooked according to package directions, rinsed under cold water after cooking and drained

4 T toasted sliced almonds, reserved for serving( I used Trader Joe’s new honey toasted sliced almonds)

FISH

10-12 oz fillets of firm fleshed white fish such as Mahi-mahi, hake or halibut

4 T olive oil and 2 T butter if searing in a pan;  light rub of olive oil if grilling

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

salt and pepper, to taste

1 t ground cumin

Season fish with cumin, salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter in a skillet, add garlic and ginger.  Pan sear  each fillet, about 3 minutes per side, on medium heat, until fish is opaque and cooked through.  Cool to room temperature.

ASSEMBLY:

On a rimmed platter, spread the orzo.  Top with the fish fillets and flake those in bite size pieces, using a fork.  Spread the salsa evenly over the fish.  Sprinkle with the almonds and serve with extra lime on the side.

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“Moonlight Dinner Amongst the Ferns” Tablescape

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” Only spread a fern-frond over a man’s head and wordly cares are cast out and freedom and beauty and peace come in.”  John Muir

Our beloved cherry tree is slowly dying.  Every year a few more limbs need to be cut off.  Recently my youngest son, earning a trip abroad by doing odd jobs, was sawing off some diseased limbs.  Inside one he found an intriguing hollow and excitedly brought it to my attention, exclaiming I should use it as a sculptural vessel for plants.  He is, after all, his mother’s son!  The creative wheels began turning and  I envisioned a mini woodland garden nestled inside nature’s vessel.  So was born the inspiration piece for this table setting.

In summer, our back yard is an oasis of ferns in a multitude shades of greens, purples, and silvers that sway in the breeze and cast a beguiling invitation into the garden.image image  It is in this setting that I chose to set our outdoor dining table and create a woodland table with a fern theme.  In the cherry tree vessel I set a fern, surrounded it with moss and nestled in 3 concrete mushrooms. image I potted a second fern in a 1920s terra cotta pot with a lovely patina and set it under a vintage cloche, recently found in a new local boutique, Eastcote Lane.

imageI placed these 2 naturalistic arrangements on a scalloped-edge fern motif quilt.  image

A long-ago cherished fern candlelabra from the now defunct Smith Hawkins imagewas hung by my son from a bough of a massive Sweet gum tree with a broad lush green canopy, under which we had set the table.   This was the view, looking above, at dusk, of this superb tree canopy!  image

I hung additional glass pendants from the candelabra for extra candlelight.  Place settings were kept simple and casual.  Rattan chargers were layered with cream stoneware dinner plates.  The silverware was our everyday stainless steel flatware.  The green theme was highlighted by gorgeous handblown glass bowls from Turkey with an unfurling fern motif, scored at Home Goods. image image imageGreen and white napkins with a botanical graphic print were simply rolled in DIY birch bark napkin rings.    The napkin rings were made by cutting stips of birch bark with kitchen shears, shaping them into a ring, then glueing each with a dot of hot glue.  A pebble was glued on the top for a rustic finishing touch.

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Tall glass tumblers with fun green and white polka dots were set out for water.  A Fiesta Ware ceramic pitcher in pale green, dispensed water.  imageA birchbark vessel meant for floral arrangements served as bread basket. image Additional pebbles were strewn all over the table top and a dozen white candles in clear glass votives dispersed more romantic candlelight to the table.image image image image

Black wicker seating with comfortable cushions was chosen as black disappears in nature and becomes a neutral.  This way the table setting could really shine and beckon guests into a woodland moonlit settting for a magical evening under the stars.

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I hope to have inspired an outdoor table settings of your own creation!  This post is dedicated to my son Tristan who inspired the post and did all the heavy lifting for me!