Tag Archive for Foodie Friday

You Say Potato, I Say Kryptonite

You Say Potato, I Say Kryptonite. . .

There is NOTHING that tempts me like a potato~ well, maybe HomeGoods :) ~  but when it comes to food, potatoes are my weakness. Anyway you serve them or slice them. . . mashed, scalloped, baked. . . and I guess now’s as good a time as any to confess:

 I do NOT share French Fries very well.

Since we are having a small-scale Thanksgiving this year, I thought this recipe for Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust from Southern Living might do double duty~ since it blends sweet potatoes with Yukon gold potatoes. Although truthfully, I’d prefer to skip the turkey altogether and feast on sweet potato casserole AND mashed potatoes. . .but some family members would protest. . . *sigh* . . .

This recipe starts with prepared piecrusts~ a layer of chopped fresh rosemary, shredded Gruyère cheese and black pepper~ sandwiched between two layers of piecrust. Rosemary can overwhelm a dish~ you’ll want to use it sparingly unless you’re fond of it. I used a little more than the 1 Tablespoon called for, for our taste buds, since it’s a flavor we enjoy.

  Press the layered crusts in the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan~ fold edges under if needed and chill.

 Peel and thinly slice Yukon gold and sweet potatoes. Layer one-third each of Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and salt in prepared crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup  Gruyère cheese. Repeat layers twice, pressing layers down slightly to fit.


Microwave 2/3 cup of heavy cream and 1 minced garlic clove in a 1-cup microwave-safe measuring cup on HIGH 45 seconds; pour over potato layers in pan.

 Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.

  Bake at 450° for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 25 minutes or until potatoes are done and crust is richly browned. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate, and remove sides of pan. If desired, carefully slide gratin off bottom of pan using a long knife or narrow spatula. Garnish, if desired.

 In addition to your turkey, this gratin would be wonderful with beef tenderloin for the holidays.

You can find the complete & printable recipe from Southern Living here~

it looks beautiful & impressive presented on a cake pedestal.

 Wishing you a Delicious

& Happy Thanksgiving!

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust

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Grape Expectations

We’ve been Celebrating the Grape and enjoying Bottled Sunshine during September in observance of North Carolina’s Wine Appreciation Month.

Harvest festivals with serenades, grape stomps, and harvest-to-barrel celebrations are abundant with October’s arrival.


Taking my cue from the harvest events at North Carolina wineries this month, I pulled out my grandmother’s dishes~ Harvest Time by Johnson Brothers~ to enjoy with some wine we purchased during our tasting visits.

I harvested some Goldenrod along with clippings from some shrubs for filler~ grasses in bloom, Loropetalum and Abelia for a centerpiece.

Mums for some seasonal color and produce from the grocery store~ artichokes, apples & grapes~ are paired to fill my urn for a full-bodied arrangement for the table.

I fitted a wine bottle with a candelabra insert ~ a fun addition for the table & a keepsake bottle after the contents are gone :)

Cradling a bottle from RayLen Vineyards & Winery~ this little bird told about the upcoming mini-release party of RayLen’s newest vintage of Carolinius~ a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, with details found here.

 Ripe for the picking, I found a grape-producing tablecloth & napkins ~a Ralph Lauren varietal~ at HomeGoods a couple of weeks ago~

I found a cheese pairing suggestion for one of our wines~ a Childress Barrel Select Barbera~ since I had ricotta on hand, it was a natural choice and was simple & delicious~

Ricotta with Blackberries & Lime~

Serves 4


  • 3 cups fresh blackberries

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of berries

  • Zest & juice of 1 lime

  • 8 ounces whole milk ricotta


  1.  Place 1 ½ cups of the blackberries in a blender and puree with the sugar. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Add half of the zest and lime juice, stir & refrigeration a minimum of 20 minutes

  2. Reserve the remaining blackberries and lime zest in the refrigerator.

  3. Using a small 1- ounce ice-cream scoop, place 2 tablespoons of the ricotta in the middle of each of 4 small dessert plates or bowls. Toss the blackberry sauce with the remaining berries and spoon a quarter of the sauce around the outside of the ricotta on each plate.

  4. Garnish with blackberries & lime zest.


Harvest Table details:

Tablecloth, Napkins & Bird Wine Caddy/HomeGoods

Dishes/Harvest Time by Johnson Brothers

Goblets/Mikasa French Countryside- Tuesday Morning

Chargers/ Pier 1

Flatware/World Market

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Foodie Friday

Nesting Instincts


I’ve been feathering my nest twig-by-twig lately. . .

. . . tidying, sorting, consigning, donating~

 There always seems to be nesting going on around me. . .

 I’m long past due taking stock. . .

. . . cleaning out & preparing for Fall with October’s arrival around the corner~

I thought I would follow the birds’ lead and bring my nesting instincts to the table this week ~

And since birds of a feather flock together~ I decided these teapots & pitcher should come home to roost with my set of four fledgling plates~

  Gracie China Victorian Bird tea pots along with a pitcher, took flight from TJ Maxx to follow me home~

Filled with an assortment of white blooms serving as vases~ for a flower-filled habitat for my table.

I used my fledgling dishes on a table here, back in January.

On a lark, browsing tablescapes on Pinterest, I discovered that a photo from that post migrated to a blog on tumblr and was then reblogged by tumblr bloggers over & over :(

I noted on the photo on Pinterest that I was the original source and emailed tumblr about copyright violation sending a link to my post.  I received a reply within 30 minutes that the media file had been removed.

I’ll be watermarking my photos now and pinning with more interest & an eagle eye in the future :)

Have you made an interesting or disturbing discovery on Pinterest?

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Birds in Flight~ sprinkled with sanding sugar~

Perched on a soft landing of lemon curd, berries & whipped cream~

Nesting Table Twig-by-Twig Details:

Nesting Pillow/ Pottery Barn

Bird Plates-Gracie China, Napkins & Napkin Rings/HomeGoods

 Gracie China Victorian Bird Tea Pots & Pitcher/ TJ Maxx

Dishes/ Oneida Westerly Basket

Chargers/ Pier 1

Tablecloth- Quilt

Flatware/ Horchow

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Figuratively Eating

I’ve had an ongoing love affair for a while now. . .

My husband knows all about it. . .

Figs. . . sweet, savory, sliced, diced, baked, puréed or sautéed. . .

By themselves or with blue cheese, goat cheese, mascarpone, prosciutto, carmelized onions, arugula. . .

Our neighbors have a ginormous fig tree that we are welcome to help ourselves to.

Last year, annoyed by its vigorous spreading growth~ they severely pruned it . . .

So, no figs :(

This year, it grew back bigger, stronger, faster.

 We battled the birds and walked away victorious with some of its delicious fruit~

 One of several quick ways we enjoy them~

 Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Spread with goat cheese while baguette slices are warm, add figs, drizzle with honey and some cracked black pepper.

If you’re not in too big of a hurry~ add a bit more goat cheese on top of the figs, pop in the oven for 5 minutes for the goat cheese to melt a little and warm the figs.

We’re usually in a hurry :)

At the end of summer, I had the fig blues. . .

The tree was done. The figs at the Farmers Market were gone.

My love affair had come to its “Same Time Next Year” phase.

 My sister turned us on to figs in a jar to satisfy our cravings~

And this tasty trio of flavors~ Dalmatia® Fig Spread, Brie & Meyer Lemon Cookies~

So figs in a jar would have to do~ since figs we typically find in the grocery store are over ripe & overpriced.

Last week, I opened House Beautiful’s October issue, in search of The 2011 Kitchen of the Year Tyler Florence designed at Rockefeller Center and spied a recipe of his I had to try~

 Fig and Ricotta Pancakes. . .


Desperate for figs, I was afraid I would have to fly to California to visit Jain~ who has been tempting me with her fig ice cream, cake, pizza & chocolate-dipped creations~ and return with a stash in my suitcase.

Fortunately, my grocery store saved me airfare with a pristine shipment just in~ beautiful, big figs~ not over ripe~ and on special, no less :)

The October House Beautiful issue is appropriately titled, “Happiness starts here!”

From Tyler’s Kitchen, courtesy Tyler Florence

Spiced Fig and Ricotta Pancakes

Serves 4, makes about 12 pancakes


  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta

  • 4 large eggs, separated

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon each ground allspice, cloves, and cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  •  unsalted butter

  • 10 fresh figs, thinly sliced


  1. In a large bowl, add the ricotta, egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and stir until well blended. Stir in the allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla.

  2. In another bowl, or parchment paper, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

  3. In a third bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.

  4. Fold the dry ingredients together with the wet, then carefully fold the egg whites into the batter.

  5. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat.

  6. Arrange one large fig slice for smaller pancakes or three small slices in a circular pattern if making larger ones. Carefully ladle the batter over figs and cook until bubbles rise in the center of each pancake. Turn pancake over and cook for another two to three minutes. Repeat with remaining batter and figs, adding butter to skillet as needed.

  7. Serve with real maple syrup and any remaining fig slices.


Happiness does start here. . .

and a  2,500 square-foot dream kitchen complete with Mauviel cookware doesn’t hurt either :)

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Purples, Plums & Petunias

While the calendar says September, we’re still having summer weather~ thankfully with some lower humidity.  A teaser of fall-like temperatures are on the horizon for the weekend.

 I set a transitional table reflecting the bit of summer we’re still in the midst of~ enjoying the last of the summer annuals.  Petunias~ still blooming after a long, hot summer and some fruits in season~ Plums and local Muscadine Grapes from the Farmers Market.

I picked up these dishes a month ago at T J Maxx for a song~ each plate costing less than my former daily Grande Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte.

 It seems I’ve traded my Starbucks habit for a Dish one :-)

Originally thinking I would use them in the spring, I decided I could enjoy them now~ accessorizing with amethyst goblets & napkins and using an assortment of deep rich purple & plum-colored fruits for a centerpiece. . . my favorite kind of centerpiece~ one you can eat later :-)

 Adding a few petunias scattered among the plums, red and champagne grapes and local black muscadines~ enjoying the flowers while they are still busily blooming.

My two-tier server I used before here, is lined with salad savoy leaves for color and a foundation for the fruit~

 The lacy pattern on the stand and woven scalloped chargers led me to a loop edged ribbon to tie on the napkins in lieu of napkin rings~

A Nordic Ware Petits Fours Pan for mini flowers~ four different garden varieties~ dusted with powdered sugar~

I used a boxed mix~ dividing the batter between petit fours & some cupcakes, since each petit four only requires a tablespoon of batter~ that’s a lot of flowers :-)

Plates~ Royal Stafford/ T J Maxx

Tiered Bird Stand/ HomeGoods

Napkins & Chargers / World Market

Goblets/ Target.com

Flatware~ Portmeirion Botanic Garden/HomeGoods

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Dog Days

Living with Dogs: Collections and Traditions, At Home and Afield ***** by Laurence Sheehan


Since yesterday was National Dog Day and we are in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer, I thought it was timely to repost this edible book review~  inspired by Jain at Food for Thought~ a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

This is a favorite book of mine, with a prominent place on my coffee table. I stumbled on it for several years ago (it was published in 1999). If you are a dog lover, this one is not to be missed~ full of beautiful photos of homes, dogs, collections, and quite simply, as one reviewer says:  “this book is a celebration of hardcore dog enthusiasm.”


In his endearing and hilarious introduction, the author, Larry Shehan, talks about his dogs, one of which, a tricolor Collie named Zorro, who he says was “as slow-witted as he was beautiful”. (I had a cat like that :-)   He and his wife add an Australian shepherd puppy, Addie, to their household who “at that early stage of growth looked more like a California sea otter than a dog.”  As his household adapts to the puppy, he confessed to turning into my own worst nightmare– “a guy who carries a picture of his dog around with him in his wallet.”

A few years later, he finds a two-year-old English Setter, Buster“His upper lip was hung up on one side of his freckled muzzle and  one ear was flopped, pink side out, giving him a slightly deranged, ready-for-anything aspect.”  He was hooked~ however, he describes his household as becoming dysfunctional with introduction of an exuberant, willful dog deaf to the command of “Come!”. He, his wife, his cat & Addie eventually settle in and adapt slowly:

“The secret of living with dogs is to take the wild with the sweet, and then sit back and wait for the laughs and the love.”

~ Amen :-)

 My canine kitsch~  a collection of vintage chalkware dogs with no special pedigree  :-)

  You can find another book review a dog lover will lap up here~

 A chapter on dog portraiture. . .

 A “portrait” that won’t break the bank~ a canvas from Photofiddle~

“Like children they leave their toys scattered around– a rubber squeaky here or a half-gnawed bone there. These objects, along with the leashes, collars, food bowls, dog beds, and all the other paraphernalia associated with keeping a dog, turn a house into a habitat– and, late at night when the lights are out, a minefield.”

“Dogs settle into a home pretty much the way people do, gravitating to a favorite corner, window, or chair.”

No food references in this book (other than kibble :-) so I thought I’d have some Pup Cake fun, courtesy Hello, Cupcake!

 This is a great cupcake book, with lots of ideas and inspiration for Corn Utopia, Reliable Seeds & Butterfly Wings~





“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”  ~ Roger Caras

Chloe wishes you sunny skies and that everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene stays safe!

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Happy Birthday Rachel!

Happy Birthday Cake Mix Pancakes

My favorite niece, Rachel, is turning 14 on August 25th. . .

. . .technically, she’s my only niece,

but if I had another, she would still be my favorite :-)

 I saw this fun idea for birthday cake-pancakes in the August issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray~ and thought it would be fun to join along with Lynn’s Celebrity Cook-Along with  Rachael Ray~

A fun coincidence since Rachael Ray

also celebrates a birthday on August 25th :-)

 These birthday pancakes are one several cake ideas in honor of Rachael Ray’s birthday month in the August issue, using a boxed mix~

You can add sprinkles to your cake mix batter or use a Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix.  I added them to my powdered sugar glaze instead of the batter~

Mix your boxed yellow cake mix according to package directions~ I used a Pillsbury Moist Supreme Yellow Mix.

Ladle the batter into a nonstick skillet or griddle, and cook like you would cook pancakes~ I got 9 pancakes~ approximately 8″~  out of the box mix, but only used 7 for this cake~

Mix powdered sugar with 2 -3 T of water, milk, or orange juice and drizzle over your stack of “pancakes” and add sprinkles~

Rachel~ We blew out your candles and

made a wish that you would come visit us soon!

Happy Birthday Rachel (and Rachael :-)

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It’s Good to be Queen

A city rich with history, Southern hospitality, and casual seaside charm~ Beaufort, South Carolina is the “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands”~ discovered by the Spanish in 1514 and chartered by the British in 1711.

This year Beaufort celebrates its Tricentennial~ a special and historic birthday ~ that’s a lot of candles and a lot of cake!

 A National Landmark Historic District with gracefully restored antebellum homes, centuries-old live oaks, pristine waters, and some of the best fishing anywhere~

Beaufort has a way of reeling you in. . .

While Beaufort proper is the area’s Queen Belle, attracting admirers with her pre-Civil War mansions and sail-dotted bay, the town’s outlying provinces are also must-sees. . . Port Royal, Parris Island, Hunting Island, Lady’s Island, St. Helena Island and Harbor Island (an annual summer destination for us) just to name a few. . .

Queen Beaufort’s peaceful, watery realm is abundant with wildlife and remnants of the Old South~

Beaufort County rules over & encompasses more than 200 islands~ nestled between Charleston SC and Savannah GA~ most of which remain wondrously pristine. . .

A point of local preference that sets apart the Carolinas: In Beaufort, South Carolina, the name is pronounced BYEW-fort. In North Carolina, a coastal town of great similarity with the same name is pronounced BO-fort.

And yes, it matters :-)

Beaufort has an active and enthusiastically supported Arts Council. Mermaid statues, embellished by area artists in 2006, were auctioned off to endow a fund for public art.

 A few mermaids remain sprinkled throughout town. . .

 You can read more about Beaufort’s Mermaids here and see a little of sculptor Kevin Palmer’s mermaid-making process here~ from wood frame to fiberglass.

Miss Beaufort, with her streaming locks of copper wire, stained-glass tail, and beauty queen banner, greets drivers as they come onto Bay Street. She happily swims near a Palmetto Tree at the Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

A Celebratory Cupcake in honor of Beaufort’s 300th Birthday~ complete with a molded brown sugar mermaid & chocolate seashells :-)

Happy Birthday Queen Beaufort~ long may you reign!

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The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper ****

by Sarah Addison Allen

An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

“The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.”

I’m long overdue in sharing this book that I read back in April~

I always look forward to Sarah Addison Allen’s books~ I had pre-ordered it, anxious for its arrival. It was waiting for me like a nice, juicy peach ready for me to sink my teeth into, when I returned from vacation. I took these photos and cooked this book back when the azaleas were blooming, and although I had shelved this review, I didn’t shelve this book until after I read it cover-to-cover in two days. . . one day if I hadn’t had to unpack & bathe :-)

My intention was to take a little road trip to tie in to this review, and visit Transylvania County in Western North Carolina ~ the area that the town of Walls of Water is based on, and home to over 250 waterfalls. It became apparent that was not going to happen and though it’s still on my list to visit, it looks more like it will be the fall when the weather is not in the triple digits.

My other excuse is that I got waylaid by another book about peaches  . . .

The long-buried secrets and mysteries of The Peach Keeper continued to haunt me to return to it & Walls of Water ever since~  most recently by an article in Our State Magazine.

Full of North Carolina native, Sarah Addison Allen’s trademarks~ magic, small town charm, and FOOD~ The Peach Keeper is easy to devour in one sitting~  and is a great book to tuck in your beach bag or keep by your night stand.

In keeping with this book, I set a simple table where peaches are the stars. Peach blossom-inspired napkin rings from Pier 1, napkins from Stein Mart, Napoleon Bee flatware for the buzzing of the bees & a tablecloth from Kohl’s~

“A cool breeze floated eerily by, smelling of peaches.”

“If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there’s more to what’s written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don’t see.”

“There was a slight hint of peaches in the air, but it didn’t scare her.”

Tucker Devlin:

“What I know, what I’m best at, is peaches. Peach juice swims in my veins. When I bleed, it’s sweet. Honeybees fly right to me.”

“He looked like the world was a ripe peach and he was ready to bite it.”

There was plenty to tempt my palate between these pages~ Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing, Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies, Lemon-Chicken Salad, Lemon and Broccoli Mini-Quiches, Angel Food Cake, Honeymoon Pie. . .but it just seemed criminal not to use peaches in this edible review~

“Cups of lemon crème layered with hazelnut shortbread crumbles, pansies, lavender, and lemon verbena.”

I layered peaches, store-bought hazelnut shortbread cookies, lemon curd & whipped cream~ and garnished with edible violas for an individual, easy trifle~

“Lunch was then served, beautiful food garnished with edible roses and tasting of lavender and mint and lust. People closed their eyes with each bite, and the air turned sweet and cool. The quartet played ravishing melodies that were strange and exotic. There was a curious sense of longing in the air, and everyone felt it. People began to think of old loves and missed opportunities. Unlike most of these functions, no one wanted to leave. Lunch lingered for hours.”

“So it was with Claire Waverley, a beautiful, mysterious caterer who it was rumored could make your rivals jealous, your love life better, your senses stronger, all with the food she created. Her specialty was edible flowers, and once it got out that she had something no one else had, everyone wanted her.”

I highly recommend sipping on a Peach Bellini on a Saturday or Sunday morning as you read this book :-)


“ ‘Can you really make people feel differently with the food you cook, with the drinks you prepare?’ ”


A savory recipe for your peaches~ A Stacked Peach & Mozzarella Salad~

Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad, recipe courtesy Southern Living

Served with baby spinach and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette~ Delicious & definitely a Keeper recipe :-)

  “Just as they turned to walk back up the steps, the scent of peaches permeated the air for a moment, thick and cloying, before it faded into the night, crossing the moon in a wisp of smoke, then disappearing.”

“Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.”

 “North Carolina novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.”

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Anchors Aweigh

Before weighing anchor & setting sail for the beach, I created a nautical nook on my porch . . .

I hope to return buoyed~ after enjoying a week in the sun with the sand between my toes. . .

I’m looking forward to some coastal scenery. . .


I’m filling my beach bag with a few books that will float my boat. . .

And looking forward to a week of wading thru the pages and the surf. . .



 In anticipation of my voyage, I decided to set sail with Tomato Mozzarella Basil Stacks. . .


With the wind behind a Basil Leaf Sail~

A little balsamic drizzle to keep the Tomato Mozzarella Stack afloat. . .


We cast our net into the tidal pools to see what bait fish we can catch for surf fishing. . .

The results are surprising, but usually we pull in shrimp. . . which explains all the trawlers we see. . .

Shrimp Bruschetta~

Easy & crowd pleasing for sailors & landlubbers alike. . .  shrimp, chopped tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper~ if you’d like a recipe you can find one from Coastal Living, here.

Wishing you a week of Calm Seas & Smooth Sailing~

 Sea you soon :-)

Nautical Nook Details:

Melamine Striped Plates, Bowls & Cups/ Target

Boat Appetizer Plates/ Stein Mart

Flatware & Napkins/ World Market

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