Fresh and Easy Spinach Soup

This is a soup I make with fresh, organic baby spinach.  I usually buy organic spinach in the large rectangular tubs, and for this soup it's perfectly okay if the spinach is just a little beyond its' prime as long as it still smells good and hasn't started to "turn". :0(

I don't use a recipe, just a method. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan, add a small finely chopped onion and a peeled, smashed garlic clove to the pan and allow to slowly turn golden. Rinse about 4 to 5 large handfuls of  baby spinach leaves, shake off excess moisture. Push the golden onion and garlic to one side of the pan, add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary, turn heat up to medium-high, add the spinach,some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Quickly saute the spinach, mixing with the onion/garlic, turning frequently with tongs until the spinach is just tender and wilted --- this only takes a minute or two.

Place the hot spinach into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse until finely minced, while machine is running add a lump or two of butter and pour in some chicken broth (homemade or canned), process until smooth. I allow machine to run continuously for a couple of minutes. Add a bit of half & half or heavy cream as desired (it mellows out the flavor so the spinach isn't so strong tasting.)  Taste and add more salt, pepper, butter or cream if desired.

I usually serve the soup right away, but you can heat it gently on the stove top if it is not hot enough.

I like to serve a little "something" alongside soup ~ this time I baked some little puff pastry cut-outs. I always save any leftover scraps from frozen puff pastry, store them in the freezer in an airtight bag. When ready to use, remove from the freezer allow to thaw just slightly.  Cut them out however you like,  then bake them off.

You can cut them with a knife or small cutters...

I used mini-cutters in Autumn shapes this time. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Dock (prick) them with a wooden pick. You can brush with egg wash and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, Cayenne pepper, or herbs if you like, then bake off in a hot oven until puffed and golden.

Yummy ~ and they add a nice textural interest with most any simple soup.

I hope you enjoy!

Please go by and visit Michael on her blog "Designs by Gollum" to see what's cooking this week on Foodie Friday!

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Thank you for stopping by to visit today!


Tablescape ~ Early Fall Dinner

Hi Friends ~ Welcome to an Early Fall Dinner Tablescape.

I've set the table here in the dining nook again... I can't tell you how long it's been since we've used the table in the dining room. 

But this is always so much cozier for four so please take a seat where ever you like.

We've been having 80+ degree weather lately ~

I'm not quite ready for Fall, so I'm gently easing into
my Fall color palate. ;o)

The little covered pumpkin bowls are a few years old, and if you follow my blog you've probably seen them here before today.

For our simple centerpiece I simply pulled out this Pumpkin shaped soup tureen.  I usually serve soup in it-- as intended, but not this time... 

Instead,  I nestled in some pretty pansy plants ~ a temporary home for them, to add a little life to the table.

Detail of the tureen lid.

I have always loved having fresh plants, flowers or fruit on the table, these were so inexpensive; a jumbo 6-pack of pansies for under $3.   I'll plant them in the garden when they have finished blooming and they will reward us with color again next spring and beyond. A bargain that keeps on giving!

I have some orange and amber colored pansies in the back garden, but I had never seen this particular variety ~ called "Whiskers  Orange."  So cute!

I acquired two pairs of these silverplate S & P shakers from an estate auction several years ago ~ 
Ahem, I've been the type who always polished silver, but I'm experimenting by allowing these to darken with tarnish.  I've liked the look when others have allowed theirs silver to darken, but I'm still getting accustomed to the look at my house (and I was REALLY tempted to get the polish out for these this morning!)

I hope you'll come on back for Foodie Friday to see what I'm serving in the individual pumpkin bowls! 

Tablecloth and Napkins: April Cornell
Napkin Rings: Pottery Barn
Large Pumpkin Soup Tureen: Lenox
Flatware: gs (gourmet settings)
Round Orange woven placemats: Bed Bath & Beyond
Woven plate chargers: Big Lots
White plates: Home Goods
Green Bubble-Glass Goblets: Target
Little Covered Pumpkin Soup Bowls ~ secondary market


Thank you for stopping by, and a big thanks to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for hosting us each week.


Powder Puffs ~ Powder Puff Cookies Laura Calder

Every lady I knew while I was growing up carried a pretty, slim, little container called a "compact" in their handbag. The compact held pressed (not loose) face powder and a thin powder puff applicator nestled on top of the pressed powder cake.
It was just not fashionable to be seen with a shiny forehead, nose or chin in those days.   ;)
So recently, as I watched Laura Calder make these darling little Powder Puffs on The Cooking Channel, it reminded me of Mom's powder puff in her compact--- and I could not resist making  them.

Who can turn down raspberry jam and vanilla-flavored whipped cream sandwiched between two soft, spongy, slightly chewy little cakes?

I used agave-sweetened Marionberry jam this time rather than the Raspberry jam ~ it worked perfectly.
The cake batter is slightly reminiscent of Madeleine batter, except there is no butter in this recipe.

After the simple batter is mixed, tablespoonfuls are dropped  on a parchment lined baking sheet, and baked in a hot oven for only 5 to 7 minutes. 

When finished baking they are removed to a cooling rack. After they have cooled the jam and vanilla whipped cream
is layered between two cookies-- and placed bottom to bottom.

I found it surprising that the sweets then need to sit for an hour or so, in which time the little cakes turn from slightly hard to softer and  spongy, and that's just the way they are meant to be.

Be forewarned... you might find it difficult to eat just one, but that's okay because the recipe yields about 16 Powder Puffs.

If you would like a copy of the recipe you'll find it on my recipe blog HERE.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, and if you feel like leaving a comment I would love it!  ~m.


My Favorite Fresh-Herb Dinner Rolls

Years ago these were the signature dinner rolls served in the bread basket at a local organic restaurant and farm.

Back then, they offered a few of their most requested recipes online.  I'm so happy I saved this one because I don't think they offer the herb rolls at the restaurant anymore.  A few years ago the restaurant added a bakery which produces mostly more stubstantial artisan-style breads, served at the restaurant and sold at local food stores and Farmers Markets in the area. The finest baked goods come from their ovens, and I have enjoyed everything I've tried...

However these remain my family's absolute, all-time favorite recipe for dinner rolls. The combination of whole wheat, white flour and oat makes them light and fluffy, and a bit more healthful than all white flour rolls. (There is a good dose of olive oil in the recipe, too.)

You can use any fresh herbs that you like. I prefer to use a combination each time I make them; usually rosemary, thyme, chives, and sometimes oregano or sage.

The perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of soup, or along with a healthy salad ~ I also make them every Thanksgiving. (They freeze and reheat beautifully if you wrap them airtight after baking and cooling.)

If you would like a copy of the recipe you can find it HERE on my recipe blog. I hope you enjoy!

Have a wonderful day, friends. Thanks for stopping by ~ I love your comments !!


Fresh Wild Blackberry Pocket Pies

My friend Elizabeth from "Gossamer Wings" held a generous give away a few months back, and I was stunned to find out I was the winner. One of the items in the gift box was a clever Pocket Pie Mold from Williams-Sonoma !

The heart shape is especially appealing with cherry or red raspberry filling, but at this time of year the wild blackberry vines on the property are at their peak ~

Wild blackberry vines can grow like weeds here, and emerge from the earth in the most unlikely places.  However there are a few vines that are very special to me. 

Those are the ones which my late father lovingly cultivated and neatly trained along a split-rail fence at outside far edge of the lawn area. Fruit from those plants are my favorite of all.  Perhaps it's all in my imagination, but every year the berries from Dad's Vines seem sweeter and juicier than any others. 

I'm always reminded of my dad when we pick and eat the succulent berries from "his" vines during late summer and early fall each year.

The crop has been incredibly abundant this year, so I didn't have to think twice about the fruit I would use to fill the pocket pies this time.

The mold is an ingenious device combining pastry cutter, mold and crimping tool in one.

The method is easy ~ simply roll the pie dough out and cut the shapes with one side of the mold, then flip the mold over, and line the cupped side with the pastry cut-out, fill with your favorite pie filling, then place the second pastry cut-out over the fruit and press down to seal. Brush with egg wash or cream and sprinkle with sugar, if desired, then bake until the crust is done and the filling is bubbling.


I don't believe the heart shaped mold is available any longer, but look at this Apple-shaped mold with the leaf cut out! It's perfect for this time of year.
Photo credit: Williams-Sonoma

Photo credit: Williams-Sonoma
Available at Williams-Sonoma. (Click image above to learn more)

Of course, if you don't have the mold you could use cookie cutters or a knife to cut the dough to desired shape, and use a tiny cookie/aspic cutter, or knife to cut the decorative vent in the pastry ~ but the mold really speeds up the process and produces neat, uniform results every time.

Yum! Somehow the adorable shapes just seem to make the pocket pies taste even better. 

Thank you so much for your generousity Elizabeth!

And thank YOU, friends, for coming by to visit with me today.

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Please hop on by Design by Gollum to see what everyone is sharing this week!


Welcome Fall ~ 2010!

Hello Friends!

Cinnie (Cinnamon), our Mastiff-Malamute mix, is my constant companion.
She joins me in welcoming you. Please make yourself at home for an early Autumn lunch ~

She's been keeping a watchful eye down the driveway for quite a while, waiting for your arrival. She's a very good girl and keeps me lots of company (plus, she doesn't beg at the table!) :D
Come on back to the family dining table in the kitchen nook...
As you pass through the entry you'll notice we don't make substantial decorating changes for the seasons. Since we live in the wooded forest, the large windows in the house make "decorating" a bit of a challenge, so we enjoy the seasonal transitions nature brings through the windows during the year, and I just add minimal touches here and there to compliment nature's constant renewal.

This afternoon we're having a casual country-style lunch.
It's apple harvest time, so in keeping with eating with the seasons they provide abundance to our towering center piece.
(In real life I would never use such a massive piece on such a small table... but we're in the virtual world, so almost anything goes... isn't that fun?? :D)

I love when the mini pumpkins come into the market.
Seeing them always make me feel cheerful!

The "chargers" are actually small trays from Crate and Barrel a few years ago.

I've had these Lone Oak & Co. terracotta dishes and bowls for years, they are from the Napa Valley ~ when we lived in California we spent a lot of time there, and I loved shopping for treasures, these dishes remind me of those times. Some are plain terracotta, and others are glazed; I love to mix and match them.
Unfortunately the company went out of business long ago, (and that's a shame because these chip rather easily.)

I am especially fond of the Queen Ann-style rim detail.

The "Rooster" stainless flatware is by Pfaltzgraff

The fresh flowers are from Safeway... $5. for a mixed bunch. A feel-good bargain.

I've used these Italian ceramic Salt and Pepper shakers before...
(pffftt....and I still cannot remember where I purchased them.)

Stay tuned for some "apple" goodies coming from the kitchen in the near future.

I'm so fond of the "Granny Smith" green color.

Oak and acorn detail from the 3-tiered rustic metal stand.

Thank you so much for taking the long journey out to the country to come visit for lunch ~ I hope you had a good time! We really enjoyed having you, and hope you'll visit again soon.
Happy Autumn, everyone!!
Please go by and say hello to our gracious host of Tablescape Thursday;

A Sampling of my food . . .


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