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Category Archives: recipe

New Years’ Eve Menu

We’re hosting our monthly dinner club this month on New Years’ Eve.  Instead of making a full sit-down dinner, I’m going to go with nosh-your-way-through-the-night apps.  Our dinner club “rules” are that another couple brings dessert and everyone else brings wine.  Here’s what I’m thinking I’ll serve:

DIY Ham Sliders.  Hubs got a nice frozen honey smoked ham from a client for Christmas.  I’ll slice it up and set it out with rolls, cheese, spicy mustard, mayo, and some fun random jellies (raspberry jalepeno!)

Chili Cheese Popcorn.

Cheese Tray.  Assorted aged cheese, artisan crackers, salamis, golden raisins, capers, olives, red grapes, mango chutney, and local honey.  My kind of heaven.

Bacon-Wrapped French Green Beans.  Wrap em’ up, sprinkle with brown sugar and bake to slightly crisped perfected.

Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

Chips and Garlic Tomato Salsa.

Cowboy Caviar.  Texas-style black eyed peas for good luck in the new year!

Crunchy Romaine Salad.  A delish family recipe that I’ll share in the coming days.

Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzers.  Complete with a festive ribbon tied on the decanter, of course!

What are your New Years’ Eve plans?  What traditions do you have to ring in the new year?



Happy As A Clam!

Hi, Friends!

Monday’s are exhausting and long and make me wish the week was already over when the alarm goes off on Tuesday morning.  But despite waking up with a case of the Tuesdays, my day ended on a happy note with a big plate of spaghetti and clams.  I got this recipe a few years ago from my father-in-law, and it’s one of Hubby’s favorites.  It’s what we had for dinner when I met my father-in-law for the first time.  That night, my future Hubby, future F.I.L., and I watched “Master and Commander” and devoured this shockingly easy, cheap and yummy dish.  Tonight, we watched “Cheers.”

I always keep all the ingredients for Spaghetti and Clams on hand as pantry staples (except for the mushrooms) and consider it a default comfort dinner.  Perfect for a Tuesday.

Spaghetti and Clams (for 2)

Olive oil
2 smallish yellow onions, chopped
One small package of white mushrooms, sliced
Two cans Bumble Bee Whole Baby Clams  (really important that these are whole, not minced), one can drained, the other not
Sea salt
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
Freshly ground pepper
Garlic powder
Multi-grain spaghetti (1/2 to 3/4 of the box.  1/2 a box = a heavy amount of clam sauce per person)

Multi-Grain Spaghetti

Whole Baby Clams

In a large frying pan heated to medium, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute onions until fairly soft.  Add mushrooms and saute until they start to get soft and juicy. 

Onions and Mushrooms

Meanwhile, heat water to boiling for the spaghetti.  Immediately after you add the spaghetti to the boiling water, add the two cans of baby clams (one drained) to the frying pan with the onions and mushrooms.  Add a small amount of salt and generous amounts of pepper, Cavender’s, garlic powder and parsley to the clams and veggies.  Stir and let simmer while the pasta cooks.

Clams Added to the Veggies

Drain cooked pasta and divide between two plates.  Top each serving of pasta with a generous heaping of the clam mixture and drizzle with some olive oil. 


Parmesan Chicken with Veggie “Pasta” and (Quick) Homemade Marinara Sauce

My hubby is out of town for the weekend, deep in the no-cell-phone-service reaches of the Alabama woods, for a good friend’s bachelor party.  I’ll miss him being away, but I’m thrilled for him to have a break from the day-to-day rat race.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m a little bit excited about the quiet weekend I’ll be having at home by myself.  I have one social outing planned for tonight (Miranda Lambert concert at Billy Bob’s!!!!!  Can you tell I’m excited?!), then I’m going to hole myself up and nest, nest, nest. 

To prepare for my weekend of nesting, I went to Central Market (non-Texans, I’m truly sorry that you don’t have Central Market in your lives) this morning and spent about $90 on produce.  I’m pretty sure the person bagging my groceries was thinking that I am going to start sprouting roots and turn into a vegetable if I actually end up eating everything I bought.  Good thing I didn’t spend a buck more on produce because there is zero space left in this refrigerator:

Don’t judge the two (large) cartons of Half and Half.

Also, I bought chicken, ground turkey, half and half, dark chocolate, and current issues of Bon Appetit and Southern Living while I was there.  Just, you know, for variety.

I have a whole slew of mostly just veggie and fruit recipes that I plan on experimenting with this weekend, sort of as a detox/reset/nutrient boost for myself and to find new ways to eat super good-for-me things.  I also plan on tackling some major organizational projects around our home and working on cleaning, waxing and buffing some of our antique furniture (including an incredible lawyer’s bookshelf that’s been in hubby’s family for years and years – pics to come throughout the restoration project!).  And, I may watch a ridiculous amount of chick flicks while all this is happening.

Before I disappear into my nest for the next couple of days, though, I wanted to share with you one of my most favorite healthy, quick and hearty recipes.  This is one that is pretty much just in my head, so I finally took the time on Wednesday evening to measure out the ingredients and write down my process.  Then I scarfed the food down so fast that no pictures were taken.  (Hence the photograph of the inside of my ‘fridge to keep this from being a photo-less post…)  Oops.

Parmesan Chicken with Veggie “Pasta” and (Quick) Homemade Marinara Sauce
Hands-On: About 30 Minutes
Total Time: About 30 Minutes
Serves: 2

For the chicken:

2 eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Approx. 1/2 Cup finely shredded or grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish, if desired)
1/3 cup unseasoned whole grain or whole wheat bread crumbs
Fine grain sea salt
ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil

For the veggie “pasta”:
2 each “normal” sized yellow squash and zucchini squash
olive oil

For the sauce:

1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 small can tomato paste
thyme (fresh, if you have it)
dried parsley
dried oregano
dried basil
dried rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
½ tablespoon of sugar (don’t skip this – sugar makes all the difference separating a fantastic marinara sauce from a blah one)
2-3 minced cloves of garlic

*note – You will need a julienne peeler for this recipe.  They aren’t expensive, and it will change your life.  I promise.
Prep your cooking space by having all of your ingredients out and ready.  This is a quick recipe, but everything happens at once (thus, making it quick…), so help yourself out by having everything in reach. 
Prep the chicken breasts by laying them out on a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board and cover them with another piece of plastic wrap.  Using a heavy pan, a rolling pin or a meat pounder, pound out the chicken. 
Prep the pasta by using the julienne peeler to make “strands” of zucchini and squash from the fleshy part of the veggies.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and mustard together.  In another medium bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
On the stove-top, heat two medium to large skillets/frying pans to medium heat and pour about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in each.  While the pans are heating, place a small sauce pan on the stove and empty the cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste into it.  Add the sugar, garlic and herbs to the tomatoey mixture in amounts that are pleasing to your taste.  Stir and heat this sauce pan to medium.  (Continue stirring occasionally and keep an eye on the sauce pan while you’re working on the rest of the recipe and turn it down to simmer once it starts bubbling).
Place the veggie “pasta” in one of the skillets/frying pans and sauté, stirring occasionally, just like you would with any veggie.  Cook to your desired doneness.
While veggies are cooking, one at a time, dip the chicken breasts into the egg and mustard mixture, letting any excess drip off and dredge well in the bread crumb mixture.  Place chicken breasts in the other skillet/frying pan.  Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked throughout. 
To serve, place a bed of “pasta” on each plate, top with a chicken breast, ladle a generous portion of marinara sauce on top of that and sprinkle with more Parmesan, if desired. 
Happy weekend, everyone. :)