Goodbye Old Friend

Yesterday we had to say Goodbye to our wonderful lab Riley.  Riley has been with us since the girls were 3 and 5.  They are now 15 and 17.  12 years of friendship from a dog who’s only fault was to love us unconditionally.

This was by far one of the hardest things we have had to do as a family.

We spent the day together and had pizza for lunch; Riley’s favorite: DiGiorno…he was a simple man, nothing fancy.  Our wonderful vet came to our home and we said our goodbyes.

Here are a few pictures that I would like to share with you.  If you are not a animal lover you may not understand how difficult this was for us.  That’s OK.  I just needed to share this, because our home feels empty without him, because he was always a friend and a protector, because he loved us unconditionally…as we did him.

Our gorgeous Riley

Our gorgeous Riley

Riley's favorite sleeping position...so sexy!

Riley’s favorite sleeping position…so sexy!

Riley sleeping with Bear. She gave him this blanket for his final resting place

Riley sleeping with Bear. She gave him this blanket to be with him in his final resting place.

 

This is the day we brought Cooper home, look at Riley's face...he's thrilled! ;)

This is the day we brought Cooper home, look at Riley’s face…he’s thrilled! ;)

 

Friendship <3

Friendship <3

 

Riley also liked to hoard the toys

Riley also liked to hoard the toys

Riley got a lot of love today from his human sisters

Riley got a lot of love today from his human sisters

 

for one thing Riley wasn't a very classy eater...but he LOVED food!

For one thing Riley wasn’t a very classy eater…but he LOVED food!

 

this picture breaks my heart, he was such a gentle soul

this picture breaks my heart, he was such a gentle soul

 

Goodbye Riley Old Friend. We love you.

Goodbye Riley Old Friend. We love you.

Peace and Love your pet,

Isabelle

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Manchego Sauce

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Manchego Cheese Sauce

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Manchego Cheese Sauce

This year when we planned our pepper garden I had one goal in mind: poblano peppers to make this recipe with my own poblanos… I didn’t want to use store bought, I wanted the freshest most delicious peppers I could get.

I love this recipe.  In fact everyone at my house loves this recipe.  I found the original idea on one of  Rachael Ray‘s shows back in ’08.  The only reason I changed it up a little is because hers is somewhat time consuming and I wanted it to be a recipe I could throw together pretty quickly, especially on a week night (even in the summer our week nights seem to be super busy!)

Rachael Ray gives directions for a side of black beans with roasted garlic.  Honestly they are very good black beans but at the end of the day serve it with what ever beans, salad or even guacamole and chips your heart desires.  It’s that simple: pick a side!   The magic really is the amazing filling and the mind blowing manchego cheese sauce.

Note: the Poblano peppers are delicious in this recipe but don’t get stuck on them,  just change to any peppers you like.  Poblanos are slightly spicy so I always use a couple bell peppers for my kids or anyone who doesn’t like spicy food.  I also had to improvise since I didn’t have that many Poblanos ready when I could no longer wait and HAD to make this recipe.  ;)

perfectly delicious!

perfectly delicious!

Ingredients:

8 large poblano peppers (you may need more depending on size or kind you select)
2 pounds ground beef (or chicken or pork)
1/2 cup cooked white rice
1 tablespoon cumin
1 can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped, plus more for serving
4-5 scallions, white and green parts finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (about 1 teaspoon each)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided (1/4 cup is for peppers)
1 3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups grated manchego* cheese
Hot sauce, to taste

How to:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.

To prepare the peppers for stuffing, lay them down on their sides (move them around to find the best way to lay them) and take a thin slice off one of the sides leaving both the stem end and the bottom of the pepper intact.  Finely chop up the removed slices and reserve in a large mixing bowl.  With a small spoon, scrape out and remove the seeds and guts from each pepper and discard.

peppers with their tops off....oh my! ;)

peppers with their tops off….oh my! ;)

To the bowl with the reserved chopped pieces of pepper, add your ground beef/meat, rice, cumin, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, salt and pepper.  With your hands or a spoon, combine all the ingredients thoroughly.

Using a spoon or your hands, stuff each of your pepper boats with the meat mixture.  Once they’re filled, arrange the peppers in your prepared casserole dish, alternating stem end and bottom end so that they all fit snugly in the pan.  Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock to the pan and cover with tin foil.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake 45-50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, until nicely brown and cooked through.

Stuffed!

Stuffed!

Baked!

Baked!

About 10 or 15 minutes before the peppers come out of the oven, make your cheese sauce.  Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the flour and cook for one minute.  Whisk in 1 1/4 cup of chicken stock and the milk, and bring up to a bubble.  Cook until thickened.  Season with some salt and pepper, turn the heat down to low and stir in the cheese until melted.  Reserve until ready to serve.

the lovely cheese sauce....which may or may not be totally awesome with bread sticks....just sayin'

the lovely cheese sauce….which may or may not be totally awesome with bread sticks….just sayin’

Remove your peppers from the oven.  To serve, cover the bottom of four serving plates with a little of the cheese sauce, then place one or two of the roasted peppers in the middle of the plate.  Top with some more cheese sauce and cilantro.

I wish you could have been here with me to enjoy this awesome dish! YUMMY!

I wish you could have been here with me to enjoy this awesome dish! YUMMY!

*Note: Manchego cheese is quite expensive, you could substitute with extra sharp white cheddar or half cheddar/half manchego.

Printer Friendly: Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Manchego Cheese Sauce

Peace and Mind Blowing,

Isabelle

Roasted Tomatillos Salsa

Roasted Tomatillos Salsa

Roasted Tomatillos Salsa

It took a big leap of faith on my part to not make my usual Salsa Verde .  It’s Matt and I’s absolute favorite salsa.  I use it for so much more than just chips and dip.  I won’t bore you with all the details (go see recipes: here and here and here )….my brain can only handle so much information so let’s just talk about why a new tomatillos salsa?

It’s ROASTED which means it will take flavors to the next level.

I like the hands free everything in the oven idea.

It’s easy to change up the heat lever and add other interesting ingredients, perhaps a couple green tomatoes or red onions.

I don’t want to be in a salsa rut….where ever that is!

I want to be in salsa heaven…where ever that is!

Gorgeous salsa....this is where I want to be!

Gorgeous salsa….this is where I want to be!

Ingredients:

2 lbs tomatillos (about 10-14 depending on size) peeled and rinsed

1 onion roughly chopped

2-3 jalapenos (or less if you don’t like spicy or you could use a combination of peppers, I did: 1 inferno, 1 italico spanish spice and 1 anaheim)

6 garlic cloves peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cilantro roughly chopped

Juice one lime

How to:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Set aside.

Put all your tomatillos (peeled and rinsed…kind of important), chopped onion, peppers and garlic in a large bowl, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle your salt and pepper.  Toss everything together well.  Lay everything in your prepared pan.  Put in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Stir everything again at the halfway point….smell the amazing flavor while you are at it!

look at these marvelous ingredients! OH MY!

look at these marvelous ingredients! OH MY!

roasting is simply THE BEST....end of story!

roasting is simply THE BEST….end of story!

After 30 minutes, let cool for about 10 minutes.  Put everything (any juices as well) in your food processor.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup cilantro and lime juice.  Pulse until desired consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

for some reason this picture makes me smile...everything about it is YUM!

for some reason this picture makes me smile…everything about it is: YUM!

there you have it: over 4 cups of deliciously flavorful salsa...HOMEMADE SALSA!

there you have it: over 4 cups of deliciously flavorful salsa…HOMEMADE SALSA!

time to serve up some knock your socks off salsa!

time to serve up some knock your socks off salsa!

Enjoy!

this is where I grow my peppers: around the chicken coop! I have over 5 kinds of peppers... I <3 it!

this is where I grow my peppers: around the chicken coop! I have over 9 kinds of peppers… I <3 it!

Printer Friendly: Roasted Tomatillos Salsa

Peace and Leap of Faith,

Isabelle

You could make this with this delicious salsa:

My Mom's Mexican Dip

My Mom’s Mexican Dip

My Mom’s Mexican Dip

OR this:

Green Enchiladas

Green Enchiladas

Green Enchiladas

 

Summertime Salads

Here’s a little compilation of my favorite summertime salads.

I was talking to the lovely and gorgeous Beth the other day at my cousin McKenna’s open house (yay!  done with high school…on to more schooling!  HA!  Life…).  We talked about the “famous” Wild Rice Salad.  To which my friend Jenny (from Jenny’s Famous Chicken Salad ) said she was very much expecting me to show up with this particular salad for the open house…alas I made Laura’s Mac and Cheese .

Why?  Because I worked all day Thursday, spent Friday at BFF’s Aislinn’s yard sale without Aislinn (because her kids are jinxed and always end up at the emergency room on yard sale day…!) and finally at a Lacrosse Tournament on Saturday from 8am till 4pm for 4 games….so I made a quadruple batch of mac and cheese in 40 minutes (I am not kidding you!) so it could be ready for the open house at 6pm.

And this is why I didn’t show up with the perfectly lovely summer Wild Rice Salad.

And this is why I am sharing with you delicious wonderful ideas for your summertime feeding frenzy!  Also because Beth and Jenny told me to make this little compilation and I aim to please!

Wild Rice Salad

The "famous" Wild Rice Salad. Trust me once you make it you will fall in love!

The “famous” Wild Rice Salad. Trust me once you make and taste it you will fall in love!

Southwest Chicken Salad

Mr. Man's amazing chicken salad....love a man that can cook!

Mr. Man’s amazing chicken salad….love a man that can cook!

Grilled Potato Pesto Salad

a perfect change for the old mayo potato salad! Scrumptious!

a perfect change from the old mayo potato salad! Scrumptious!

Best Caesar Salad EVER!!!!!

I make this waaaaay too much but it is beyond incredible, it's more than perfect!  I think it's magical (yup! magical!)

I make this way too much but it is beyond incredible, it’s more than perfect! I think it’s magical (yup! magical!)

Kale Salad

I have to be honest...I have made this salad about 5 times so far this summer! I adore it!

I have to be honest…I have made this salad about 5 times so far this summer! I adore it!

Angie’s Summer Salad

Healthy, fresh, and so easy to make!

Healthy and Fresh, the addition of crisp apples is perfect!

Chicken Ramen Salad

the infamous potluck Ramen Salad! If it's good why change it, right?

The infamous potluck Ramen Salad! If it’s good why change it, right?

Asparagus and Parmesan Salad

this salad is my old stand-by salad...been making this since the girls were tiny babies!

this salad is my old stand-by salad…been making this since the girls were tiny babies!

Shaved Asparagus Salad

I know 2 asparagus salads...yes...they are equally amazing!  DELISH!

I know…2 asparagus salads…yes…they are equally amazing! DELISH!

Cauliflower Salad

I think the capes might be what makes this so wonderful

I think the capers might be what makes this so wonderful

Nicole’s Fresh Strawberry and Spinach Salad

so in love with this fresh colorful salad

So in love with this fresh colorful salad

Orzo Tuna Salad

Orzo Tuna Salad

Who wants a heavy tuna casserole when you can make this fresh and gorgeous salad! YUM!

Fruit Salad with Orange and Agave Sauce

 

Some days you need something a little fruity!

Some days you need something a little fruity!

Jenny’s Delicious Chicken Salad

I couldn't leave out this mind blowing mouth watering salad!

I couldn’t leave out this mind blowing mouth watering salad!

Hope this gives you a little taste of summer!  Let’s get cooking!

Oh and before I go….

Cheers to you Beth! I know it's one of your favorite!

Cheers to you Beth! I know it’s one of your favorites!

A Lemontini makes everyone happy!

Peace and Let’s Have a Salad,

Isabelle

Lessons I Learned About Running

Running...love it or hate it I am making it this Fantastic Friday's topic ;)

Running…love it or hate it… I am making it this Fantastic Friday’s topic ;)

All this started after I read my friend HaeWon’s post  about the start of her experience while helping her friend John do an Ultra…as in Ultra Marathon = 100 miles….yep.  100 long crazy fool miles!  Luckily HaeWon is only running the last 20 miles with him….hmmmm hahaha last 20 miles…that’s more than a MINI!

But I don’t judge.  Some think I am crazy just to run 5-6 miles per day so whatever rocks  their socks.

I encourage you to read HaeWon’s post.  She is a doctor and she could have easily talked all fancy schmancy but she explained some medical stuff about Ultras that even I (the non-medical goofball) could understand.

One thing in particular got me thinking: the runner’s stride.  Don’t change it.  I got it!  It’s been an on-going battle for me.  First off “they” tell you not to be a heel striker…bad running….but it seems most people are.  Also I tend to drag my feet.  I think I do that because I am constantly looking at the ground for fear of falling, which means I wear out my shoes in the back outside heel.  Which means I need new shoes….a lot…or so it seems.  I got new shoes last week and I have been fighting with myself to change my stride so I don’t drag anymore.  I am hurting everywhere and I hate it.

While I ran this morning I decided to just run.  Forget how I hit the ground, heel or toes first.  Just RUN.

And I did!  7 wonderful miles.  Best run I had in weeks.  The bonus is; I thought of this post while I was running (lucky you!)

this watch is at times the best invention or my worst enemy!

this watch is at times the best invention or my worst enemy!

SO here’s goes my list of things/lessons I have learned about running.  Keep in mind this is MY unprofessional and somewhat funny list.  I am not a doctor or even a running specialist, I just like to run…like Forrest Gump.

I learned:

~ to wear my sunglasses even when cloudy.  Bugs are idiots and have no clue where they are going; eyes and mouth are usually a favorite target!

~ to accept that car drivers won’t let me go even if I have the right of way, often saluting me with a one finger wave when they cut me off.  So nice and friendly!  NOT!

~ not take a deep breath while I run past the golf course because it seems most golfers are smokers…and it’s a sport??? WTH?  (don’t send hate mail about my opinion on golfers…it’s MY opinion only and I am not a golfer)

~ same goes for construction zones = smokers.

~ that I don’t like races.  I actually have zero desire to run a marathon or another mini.  Been there, done that and it’s just not for me.  I am too neurotic and the crowds freak me out.  I do small 5ks here and there for fun and even that is torture in itself.

~ that I am not big on running with other people.  I get serious anxieties about it.  Am I too fast, too slow?  How far will they want to go?  What if I crash during the run?  What if I have a bathroom emergency?  What if they think I am not a good running partner? and on and on…. (yes I am crazy)

~ that some days my body will not cooperate and I can’t put one foot in front of the other.  I just can’t run.

~ that I need to know where I am going.  I actually visualize my run before I go.  I am NOT a freelance runner.  I am way too OCD to let loose and just run amuck!

~ that some days are too hot or too cold to run outside.  Let’s be honest, you know me, too cold is never been a huge problem since I HATE cold weather.  But I have had heat exhaustion pretty much every summer since I can remember because I LOVE hot weather and I am a stubborn fool.

~ that I am not running to be in the Olympics but simply running to be healthy and it makes me happy.

~ that about 99% of land care company workers are super nice guys that will stop mowing or hedging while you run by them so you don’t end up covered in grass clippings!  thanks guys!

~ that new shoes and new socks actually make me feel like running even more!

new socks and shoes...isn't that exciting!

new socks and shoes…isn’t that exciting!

~ that I don’t need to change my stride after all.  I just need to run (or walk) the way my body wants to do it.  We don’t always have to fight what mother nature intended!

As always, I encourage you to just move.  I know running is not for everyone.  But being active should be.  Just do something.

Peace and Love,

Isabelle

Here is more from HaeWon’s experience (it is mind blowing to me to run 100 miles….)

Day 1 and 2

Day 3

Day 4 and 5

Can’t wait to hear how they do! :)

 

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Toasted Breadcrumbs

It’s the same old story: PASTA.  I love pasta.  There is no other way to say it.  I think I have only heard maybe once or twice in my lifetime someone say they didn’t like pasta.  Honestly my first thought was: “we can’t be friends, who doesn’t like pasta?!!!”.  Sad but true….that’s me making friends through food since 1969!  :/

So here I am making more pasta and trying to incorporate what I love most: roasted vegetables.  It’s my easy out on weeknights when I am hurrying to make dinner: cut all the veggies, put them in a large bowl, drizzle olive oil, a few good grinds of fresh pepper and a generous amount of kosher salt.  In the oven it goes at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (or until all my other dishes come together…if we are being honest here!)  It truly is a no-brainer.  My kids absolutely love roasted vegetables, really any will work or a combination of a few or many…. a great clean your fridge type of dish.

I am sure you could substitute the broccoli but I think the flavor and color just makes a gorgeous anytime dish.  The finishing touch with the toasted breadcrumbs is absolutely fantastic.  I guess you could use store-bought breadcrumbs but you would be cheating yourself….trust me…the extra little step is worth it!  AND you can do it ahead of time!  :)

This totally rocked my pasta socks!

This totally rocked my pasta socks!

Ingredients:

3 broccoli heads (one package usually has 2-3)

1 onion minced

2 garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like spicy)

1 cup dry white wine (or chicken/vegetable broth if you prefer)

1/2 cup fresh basil roughly chopped

1 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs (see below on how to)

1 lb pasta (I like rigatoni for this dish but I think any short “fat” noodles will work)

Parmesan Cheese for serving

How to:

For the toasted breadcrumbs:

In your food processor pulse 2-3 pieces of country bread to make about 1 cup (this is not an exact science but it’s just delicious madness).  In a medium size pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add your fresh breadcrumbs and gently toast while stirring…I suggest you keep an eye on them…they tend to burn rather quickly!  Add 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  When nicely toasted set them aside until ready to use.

fresh breadcrumbs

fresh breadcrumbs

toasted breadcrumbs...oh the logic!

toasted breadcrumbs…oh the logic!

For your roasted broccoli: 

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

Cut your broccoli, including the stem (I cut about 1-2 inches off the bottom but use always use the stem).  It is DELICIOUS!  Taste the same as the florets and loaded with vitamins!  No waste!  Put in a large bowl, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper.  Toss everything well and put in your prepared baking sheet.  Put in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.  When done set aside until ready to use.

gorgeous broccoli!

gorgeous broccoli!

perfect!

perfect!

For the pasta and sauce:

Cook pasta according to package directions, but I would suggest you cook them very “al dente”.  They will continue to cook for a minute or so in the pan.  Keep 1 cup of your cooking water.

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Add your pepper flake and gently heat while stirring (so nothing burns and gets bitter) for about 1-2 minutes.  Add your onions and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes until soft and fragrant.  Add you garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Add your wine and gently simmer until reduced by about half.  Add your broccoli, chopped basil, cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of your pasta water.  Toss everything together well and let this cook for 1-2 minutes more.

this smells so amazing!!!!

this smells so amazing!!!!

now this is what pasta should always look like!

now this is what pasta should always look like!

Time to serve; put your pasta and broccoli in a serving plate (no really….) top with parmesan cheese and a big ol’ amount of toasted breadcrumbs.  Dive it!  So fabulous!  I could eat this everyday!

ready for action!

ready for action!

you know how I feel about the perfect first bite....magnificent!

you know how I feel about the perfect first bite….magnificent!

Printer Friendly: Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Peace and We Have To Be Friends,

Isabelle

 

The Slumdog Martini

The Slumdog Martini

The Slumdog Martini

I am not going to lie to you, I really just grabbed this cookbook: Indian Cooking Unfolded from my library because I needed something to read while my kids had appointments.  I fell in love.  It is filled with lovely recipes using TONS of spices and herbs….oh my!  Inspirational!  I have so many recipes I want to try but let’s first help ourselves to a lovely cocktail before the real cooking starts!

Although I am not really “allowed” to have martinis (let’s not revisit this lovely issue) I firmly believe that it stands for Dirty Martinis…not this lovely fragrant type of Martinis.

This Martini is inspired by the famous movie: Slumdog Millionaire, which I haven’t seen even though everyone has but it goes with my refusal to see E.T. and pretty much any massively popular movies out there.  Yes I am a rebel….if refusing to watch popular movies or reading popular books is being a rebel.  ;)

Let’s not worry about why I am so weird, let’s get to this deliciously spiced beverage!

amazing color, fresh herbs and spices! YUM!

amazing color, fresh herbs and spices! YUM!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves

2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, coarsely chopped (do not remove the seeds)

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt

2 cups crushed ice cubes

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 cup premium vodka or gin

How to:

Chill 4 martini glasses in the freezer.

Measure the sugar into a small saucepan and pour in ¼ cup water.  Stir in the ginger.  Bring it to a boil over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the burner, strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl or measuring cup, and chill in the refrigerator as you get the remaining ingredients ready.

ginger simple syrup: perfect!

ginger simple syrup: perfect!

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the skillet is hot, usually after 2 to 4 minutes, add the cumin seeds and toast them, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until they turn an even reddish brown and smell incredibly nutty, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Immediately transfer the seeds to a small heatproof bowl to cool.

smelling fantastic!

smelling fantastic!

To make a single martini, place 1/8 cup of the mint leaves, a quarter of the chiles (or less see note below), 1/4 teaspoon of the toasted cumin seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt in a cocktail shaker.  Using a pestle or something you can use to pound, pummel the mixture to release the essential oils until the mint and chile breaks down a bit (not necessarily until it becomes pulpy), 1 to 2 minutes.  Scoop in 1/2 cup ice cubes and pour in 1 tablespoon of the ginger syrup, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and ¼ cup vodka or gin.  Screw the cocktail shaker’s lid in place and shake to thoroughly mix the martini.  Pour it into a chilled martini glass.

interesting picture to take...just so you know!  ;)

interesting picture to take…just so you know! ;)

pouring it all in!

pouring it all in!

Great way to start the weekend!

Great way to start the weekend!

Repeat with the remaining ingredients and enjoy!

Note from the author:  If you drink all four, I will see you under the table. 

Hahahaha….I couldn’t agree more!  Been there….Done that….Not proud!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is spicy….and I mean SPICY.  I loved it but it’s not for the faint of heart.  Add chiles/peppers to YOUR liking don’t worry about what he suggests. 

such a gorgeous interesting cocktail!

such a gorgeous interesting cocktail!

Printer Friendly: The Slumdog Martini

Peace and Be Inspired,

Isabelle

 

Nicole’s Fresh Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Fresh Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Fresh Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Nicole is one of our Lacrosse parents.  We had a lovely end of the season Award “pitch-in” dinner.  Nicole showed up with this AMAZING salad.  So in good Isabelle fashion I asked for the recipe….not in a subtle quiet way but a direct reply to all email that I was looking for the recipe….unless it was top-secret (but we all know I wasn’t about to back down that quietly).

I got the recipe and her blessing to share it with you my wonderful amazing fantastic readers!  <3

I am/was a soccer player, therefore Lacrosse is foreign territory to me.  I know NOTHING about Lacrosse.  Mind you, I was a soccer mom before I became a Lacrosse mom.  I may have overstepped my bound being a soccer mom so it’s best I stay a Lacrosse Mom.

Here’s why I need to be a Lacrosse Mom: when Sunshine was playing soccer, she would be the back up goalie.  Once while she was in the goal, I kept telling her (from the side line as a super shark soccer mom…not proud) to do this or do that…etc…she was paying NO attention to me.  NONE.  So finally I said: “Can’t you hear me?”  She screamed (and I mean screamed for everyone to hear): “Yeah MOM I can hear you!  The whole world can hear YOU”.  I kept my trap shut after that and even now at Lacrosse you will find me in the cheering section: “way to go girls!  Keep up the good work girls!  Awesome!  Great! Amazing!  I love this game!! ….”

I have no clue what I am doing!

all I can say it: YUM SO FRESH!

Awesome! Great! Amazing! I love this salad!

But I know a delicious salad when I eat one!  ;)

Ingredients:

For the salad:

1 9-ounce bag Baby spinach leaves (about 6 cups)

1 lb. container strawberries, sliced

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup chopped pecans

Dressing:

1/2 cup sugar (mine was shy of 1/2 cup…trying to lower our sugar intake!)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon each poppy seeds & sesame seeds
How to:
In a medium size mason jar, combine your sugar, oil, red wine vinegar, worcestershire  sauce, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.  Give this a shake like you mean it.  This can be prepared ahead of time, put in your fridge and shaken (like a dirty Martini….) when ready to use!
there is separation in the ranks!

there is separation in the ranks!

see what a little shaking can do!

Shaken….not stirred  ;)

In a large serving bowl combine your spinach, strawberries, shredded mozzarella and chopped pecans.  Toss with dressing when ready to serve.
stunning colors!

stunning colors!

action shot....just 'cause I can!

action shot….just ’cause I can!

fresh, healthy, pretty, and flavor galor!

fresh, healthy, pretty, and flavor galore!

Note: add the dressing right before you serve, I don’t think this salad sits very well unattended…it tends to get temperamental and looks sad… ;)
one last look, it's worth it! <3

one last look, it’s worth it! <3

Peace and Know your Sports,
Isabelle

Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta and Raw Tomato Sauce

Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Homemade Ricotta

When I started typing this I was actually sitting at school subbing on the very last day of school.  Some people might call me crazy but I am happy to be here.  While the kids finished up their finals and turned in every books that weight down their famous backpack, I was reading “Delancey” by Molly Wizenberg.  Molly also wrote: “A Homemade Life “.  Both books are absolutely fantastic.  I couldn’t do her justice if I tried to explain how wonderful a writer she is.  I re-read a Homemade Life often.  It just makes me happy.  I will probably do the same with Delancey.

Back to being at school….it’s interesting to me that even when I get home totally exhausted from a day with kids I can’t wait to go back for more.  It is the strangest feeling.  I feel grounded when I am here with them.  I feel at home, which is odd for me, being a homebody is one of my proudest self-descriptions.  But here in these walls (different walls for different schools!) I feel OK, I am not wanting to run screaming for “my” home!  I can dream of food I want to make, plans for our home I have, write my never-ending to-do list, and so on….it’s good place for me.

On that day, I had a vision of pasta, it is a reoccurring vision.  Molly talks about Homemade Ricotta in her book and although I have never made it, I decided I should.  Simple as that, I should try to make ricotta.  What could possibly be better than Raw Tomato Sauce with delicious pasta and soon to be homemade ricotta?  Nothing.  Simple as that.

doesn't that look so delicious?

doesn’t that look so delicious?

Let’s start with the ricotta.  I followed Molly’s recipe, she found it here: Look I made that

Homemade Ricotta:

Ingredients:

6 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups cultured buttermilk

1 tablespoon salt

How to:

Combine everything in a large pot and cook over medium heat. When the mixture forms curds and the whey separates and becomes clear, turn off heat. Let it for 30 minutes for the curds to strengthen.

the start....seems like nothing but...

the start….seems like nothing but…

magical things are happening

magical things are happening

Set a strainer over a container and line with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour ricotta onto cheesecloth and let strain until a desired consistency is reached.

very high tech set up here!

very high tech set up here!

and just like that....

and just like that….

you have ricotta!

you have ricotta!

Stir in salt.

Raw Tomato Sauce:

Ingredients:

2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, finely chopped (keep all the juices)

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (plus more for serving)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound spaghetti (I had whole grain pasta today)

Olive Oil, for serving

How to:

*Possibly the easiest sauce ever….

<3

<3

In a large bowl combine your chopped tomatoes with the juices, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper (approx 1 teaspoon each).  Toss well, set aside.

my sauce: a no-brainer

my sauce: a no-brainer

Cook your pasta al dente, keeping 1/2 cup of cooking water.

Serving:  Toss your cooked hot pasta with your Raw Tomato Sauce, put into your serving platter and add dollops of your delicious ricotta, drizzle with olive oil, and more fresh basil.  I like to serve this with more ricotta in a side dish for the gluttons (like me…) who need to add ricotta to every single bite!

this pasta is ready to meet the ricotta (what?)

this pasta is ready to meet the ricotta (what?)

PERFECTION!

PERFECTION!

Note: if needed add a bit of your pasta cooking water when tossing pasta with the sauce.  It will give it a bit more body, if your tomatoes happened to not be very juicy.

Another Note: some people call raw tomato sauce: fresh tomato sauce, either way it’s the same thing.  Bottom line you are not using any heat and/or cooking this sauce.

it's all mine!

it’s all mine!

Printer Friendly Homemade Ricotta:  Homemade Ricotta

Printed Friendly Raw Tomato Sauce: Raw Tomato Sauce

Other delicious ricotta recipes:

Ricotta Chocolate Chips Ice Cream

Delicious Ice Cream

Delicious Ice Cream

Rolled Eggplant with Sausage and Mozzarella

 

I need to make this ASAP

I need to make this ASAP

Easy Cannoli

 

So Easy and So Yummy!

So Easy and So Yummy!

Peace and Simple,

Isabelle

 

Sauteed Rainbow Chard

Sauteed Rainbow Chard

Sauteed Rainbow Chard

We decided this year to expand our “greens” in our garden to not only kale and swiss chard but also rainbow chard.  It is quite a miracle that I am able to grow anything at all but the fact that my greens did so well last year made me think I could do more….which is usually where I crash and fail…but so far so good.

I GREW THAT!!!!! So pretty!

I GREW THAT!!!!! So pretty!

This is not so much a recipe per say but more of a guideline.  I make this “recipe/formula” pretty much the same way for kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet tops, rainbow chard, spinach…etc…

Got to love a recipe that can adapt to many different main ingredients!

Got to love a recipe that can adapt to many different main ingredients!

Ingredients:

Large bunch of rainbow chard (I had about 15 stems)

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine (substitute with vegetable broth if needed)

1/2 lemon juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

How to:

Separate the stems of the chard from the leaves.  Cut the leaves into bite size pieces and set aside.  Slice the stems into small pieces and set aside.

big ol' bowl of chopped chard

big ol’ bowl of chopped chard

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add your chopped onion and saute until soft and fragrant.  Add your chopped stems.  Cook on medium heat until soft, about 5-8 minutes.

Look at those gorgeous colors!

Look at those gorgeous colors!

Start adding your chopped leaves, a few big handful at a time, stirring gently after each addition.  It will seem like a mountain of leaves but it will cook down greatly.  Keep adding your leaves until they are all in.

a whole lot of chopped chard

a big mountain of chopped chard

gently stir or you will have chard all over your stove top!

gently stir or you will have chard all over your stove top!

Add your garlic, white wine and lemon juice.  Cook gently until your chard has wilted nicely.  Add your salt and pepper to taste, about 1 teaspoon each.  Finally turn heat off and add your apple cider vinegar, toss everything to combine and serve.

all cooked down and ready to go!

all cooked down and ready to go!

smells so amazing! I am ready to dig in!

smells so amazing! I am ready to dig in!

So easy, healthy and fresh!  I love this side with grilled chicken or baked fish, even a nice steak!  Really it goes with everything, and my kids love it!

Enjoy!  <3

Enjoy! <3

Printer Friendly: Sauteed Rainbow Chard

Peace and Grow,

Isabelle