Fresh Cherry Tart

The most time consuming thing about this delicious dessert is 
pitting the fresh cherries ~ but believe me, it is SO worth it!

I use a simple cherry pitter device, but you can use a sharp
paring knife to cut around the natural crevice of the cherry
and pop pit out with the tip of the knife. I alway
set the colander of cherries right in the sink, with a small 
bowl for the pits, and a larger bowl to hold the pitted halves.
I find that if I rinse the sink with cold water before 
beginning the task any cherry juice/splashes rinse right
off.  I don't bother wearing gloves, just rinse my hands
with cold water before beginning, and every now and then
to avoid staining.  (Don't forget an apron!)

The good news is that this tart only requires a few ingredients,
and it's simple to put together:

Graham Cracker crust (Crushed graham crackers, melted butter and a little sugar)
Or you can use store-bought, I won't tell! :)
6 ounces (from a block) of cream cheese
3/4 cups heavy (whipping cream)
A little sugar
Pure vanilla extract
Fresh sweet cherries (such as Bing)
Seedless Raspberry jam or Currant jelly 
(to dab on the cherries for a shiny finish)

Oh my GOODNESS, this one is a winner!

I adapted the recipe from an old issue of "Everyday Food" magazine ~
Though the original recipe used cherries, as I did here ~
I'm thinking any type of fresh berry (or seedless grape halves)
would be absolutely delicious.

If you would like a copy of this recipe, it's on my recipe blog (click.)

Thanks for coming by today!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  xo~m.


Cream of Vine Ripened Tomato Soup

I feel fortunate for having good neighbors, and some other 
generous friends who shared their produce bounty 
with us this year, gifts from their gardens are such a treat!
Is there anything like a homegrown tomato fresh from the vine? 
So tasty!
When the tomato harvest begins to get ahead of what 
you can eat fresh, you might like to try this soup. 

It's one I adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa 
and it's very good!

I adjusted just a few things from the original recipe 
and switched out the garnishes. 
Ina suggested croutons, and some julienned fresh basil leaves.
I really like to try different garnishes on soups, particularly creamy or pureed soups = those with little or no texture... 
I can't help it, I get bored eating spoonful after spoonful 
of the same thing and feel the need to break the monotony, 
no matter how good the soup tastes garnishes are a treat!

I have served it with baby arugula leaves and crisp crumbled 
bacon (I love the way the arugula adds a nice contrast to 
the creamy soup.)

 I've also served this soup with thin, grilled/toasted slices from a baguette, 
smeared with Spinach-Arugula-Basil Pesto:


For the pesto I just whirred the leaves in a small 
food processor with some good olive oil, a small garlic clove 
and added coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

The proportions are up to you; I used mostly spinach, 
with just a little arugula, and a couple of leaves of fresh basil. 
You could add grated Parmesan, pine nuts, walnuts or 
almonds to the pesto ~ but I just kept it simple. 
It was very good and clean tasting! :)

If you would like a printable copy of my version of Ina's recipe, you'll find it on my recipe blog. Click Here.

Thanks for stopping by today!


Fresh Peach Pie (No Bake, except the pastry crust)

It's peach season here ~ and while they are around, 
I can barely get enough of them ~ this is one of my favorite pies 
to make when peaches are at their peak.  I've been making it 
for many years and everyone seems to love it.

While I do like baked peach pie, I usually will make a 
fully baked two-crust or lattice crust using frozen peaches 
during other times of the year when fresh peaches 
aren't available.  I think this unbaked method captures the 
freshness of the season best. The only thing you have to bake
 is the pastry crust, and that can be done a day 
in advance if you like.

The method is rather unique in that the peaches are peeled 
and sliced into a big bowl, I sprinkle them with "Fruit Fresh" 
or similar (citric acid) product to prevent the fruit from 
oxidizing and turning brown. The sliced peaches are then 
sprinkled with sugar and allowed to macerate for about a 
half an hour to release some of their juices; which is then 
drained off into a measuring cup. Enough water is added 
to the juice to make 1 cup of liquid. Corn Starch is stirred
 into the liquid to make a slurry, then cooked over medium 
heat until thickened. Next, approximately 1/4 of the prepared 
peaches are stirred in and cooked for about a minute, then 
allowed to cool.  Once cool, the remaining fresh peaches 
are gently stirred in and poured into a baked, 
single crust pastry shell and refrigerated until serving time. 


It's perfectly pretty, and delicious served plain, but I always garnish with 
additional freshly cut, sweetened peaches and serve with 
sweetened whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream 
or frozen yogurt.  It's soo GOOD!

Note: This pie is best enjoyed the day it is made.

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


Did I mention we love peaches at my house?!

This year I bought about 30 pounds of locally grown "Red Haven" 
organic peaches, this 20 pound box was the first, followed by 
another 10+ pounds of white peaches.

After enjoying them every way imaginable fresh,  I peeled, 
slice and froze the rest (using the "dry" method of sprinkling with 
"Fruit Fresh" and a little sugar prior to freezing.) I froze the peaches 
in small portions, about 2 to 3 cups per bag.  As once the 
peaches are thawed, they will oxidize (turn brown) before long. 
Better to thaw 2 bags when needed than one large bag, 
of which half is likely to go to waste. 

Nothing like a "fresh" Peach cobbler or crumble to make 
cozy a winter evening, when it's raining or snowing outside.

If you try the pie, I hope you love it. 

Thanks for stopping by today!

xo ~m.


What a Tomato! (Caprese Salad, done differently)

I don't know about you, but my summer meal planning 
and strategy is entirely different than the way 
I approach meals during other seasons.
I tend to spend more time outdoors in summer 
and for the most part, less time in the kitchen ~ 
most of the time I choose simpler fare that can be 
prepared quickly. Instead of a full blown meal 
I gravitate towards a small plate of this or that 
when I'm hungry. This is just the kind of lunch 
(or light dinner) that calls my name during 
warm weather.  

It would make a wonderful appetizer, too.

(This brilliant method comes from the kitchen of Donna Hay. Yay for Donna Hay!)

Basically it's a different take on the classic 
Italian Caprese salad which is comprised of sliced 
juicy tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, 
and drizzled with olive oil, vinegar, or a vinaigrette.

This method changes things up a bit by wrapping 
a ripe, whole tomato in a thin slice of prosciutto, place on a 
shallow-rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment)
sprinkle tomato with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.
Bake the tomato in a hot oven (390ºF/200ºC) for 
12 to 15 minutes* until the tomato is hot and the 
prosciutto is slightly crisp. 

To assemble:
(For each serving)

On a salad plate place the baked tomato beside a 
smallish size ball of fresh mozzarella 
(ripped open so the cheese can absorb the oil and vinegar),  
drizzle with 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar and 
2 Tablespoons olive oil, shower with freshly ground 
black pepper and garnish with as many 
fresh basil leaves as you like.

* Best with vine-ripened tomatoes; the ones I used were on the smallish-medium size and almost ripe, so I only baked for 10 minutes.  
Best to keep an eye on them at the 10 minute point to see 
if you would like them more well done.

Then get yourself a knife and fork and enjoy that vibrant taste 
of summer one more time before it's gone. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful day, friends! Thank you for stopping by. :)


Grilled Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)

Corn season is in full swing where I live.
Although we didn't grow corn
 in our garden this year we're fortunate to live right nearby
 a number of farms which grow it every year.  
Nothing like sweet, juicy just-picked corn on the cob!
I understand this method of preparation originated in Oaxaca, Mexico, 
where it is offered by street vendors.  It's absolutely delicious ~ 
and of the ways I've served the abundance of corn this 
summer, I'm sure I've prepared it this way more than any other.
It's THAT good.

Preparation is straightforward enough ~ shuck and clean silk 
from corn, grill on a medium hot charcoal or gas grill, 
turning occasionally until corn is hot and has developed 
char marks here and there.

Remove corn from grill and roll or brush with softened 
(or melted) butter. Sprinkle cobs with salt. 
Spread an even layer of good mayonnaise like Best Foods/Hellmann's 
(not salad dressing) on the cob ~ sprinkle with crumbled or 
grated fresh cheese such as Cotija or Queso Fresco, 
(if you cannot find either of those, I have also used crumbled 
Feta cheese in a pinch,  it works ~ however, 
I prefer the Mexican-type cheeses.)

I usually place some or all of the following optional condiments 
on the table so each one can add what they like, if desired:

lime wedges 
ground Cayenne pepper or ground Chipotle Chile Pepper
a couple of tablespoons chopped cilantro
Cholula® brand hot sauce

Best served piping hot (although we've been known to 
eat them at room temperature as well.) 

Make plenty ~ everybody seems to love corn prepared this way.

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe click HERE.



Spiced Beef Turnovers with Avocado Creme Dip

I found this recipe on the Haas Avocado Board ~  they sounded so good,
 and since I had all the ingredients on hand ~ I couldn't wait to try them.
When I served them up, they received thumbs up all around the table.  


You've probably surmised from the photos that the little turnovers 
are made with wonton wrappers. They are filled with cooked, 
slightly spicy ground beef (I added a little grated cheddar to the 
beef mixture after it was browned and cooled.) 

After filling and sealing the wonton wrappers, they are fried in 
about an inch of vegetable oil for just a couple of minutes, 
flipping once.


I'm not a fan of burning hot and spicy, and these were not.
Next time though, I would either add a little more spicy seasoning 
to the filling, or spice up the avocado dipping sauce a bit.

Honestly, I thought the combination was just a wee 
bit bland . . .the avocado is blended with only sour cream, 
a pinch of salt and lime juice. Either the filling or the dip
needs more heat, imo.

But then again they disappeared within moments, 
accompanied by lots of compliments and no complaints.

I'm thinking of experimenting with this method using ground chicken, 
turkey or pork. Perhaps shrimp?  (I'm not so sure the other fillings 
would have to be cooked first (thinking here about traditional 
meat filled wontons) ... 
If I do try them with another filling, I'll post about it with my results.

Such a fun little appetizer!

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe you'll find it by clicking HERE.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit today ~ 

I love to read your comments and/or suggestions!  xo~m


Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wings

Though they can't truly be considered low fat, this version of 
Buffalo-style Chicken Wings contain substantially less fat 
than traditionally prepared Buffalo Chicken Wings because 
they are grilled, not deep fried, and finished 
with a 0 fat sauce, rather than butter & hot sauce.

I actually prefer them over the traditional wings because 
they are more flavorful due to an unlikely marinade ~

Amazing but true.

Bottled Italian Salad Dressing and Soy Sauce ~ 

I very seldom buy/use bottled dressings and was 
skeptical about this combination until I tried it. 


Just measure equal parts soy sauce to Italian dressing:
Whisk together 1/2 cup of each for 3 pounds of wing sections ~
increase or decrease the amount according to the number
of wings you're making.

Really easy to put together ~ 

Toss the wing sections in a large resealable plastic bag 
along with the marinade then place in the refrigerator overnight, 
flipping the bag once or twice to distribute the marinade evenly. 

When it's time to grill, remove the bag of wings from the 
refrigerator and allow them to lose some of their "chill", 
for about 15 minutes at room temperature.

Grill, using the indirect method, basting once at the first 
turn of the wings (the discard remaining marinade.) 
Turn every now and then until nicely browned and 
cooked through; about 20 to 40 minutes depending 
upon the size of the wings, and the temperature 
of your grill.

When done to your liking place in a large bowl, pour 
a generous amount of wing sauce over, and give them a 
good toss to coat each one, then serve them up.
You can do the blue cheese dip & celery sticks if you
like ~  I just serve them on their own.


Best when freshly made, but you can refrigerate the 
cooked and coated wings, covered. 
To reheat, preheat oven to 275º (F), lay them out in a 
single layer on a parchment-lined, shallow rimmed 
baking sheet for about 10 to 12 minutes until hot.

Another calorie saving tip ~ I use Frank's Hot Wing Sauce® ~ 
that way you can skip the butter in the traditional-style 
hot wing sauce. It's very good, and not too spicy, 
just the way I like it.  To me it tastes identical to the traditional sauce.
For those who prefer spicier, just pass the Tabasco® or other hot sauce. :)

I saved this recipe quite some time ago, 
sorry I cannot recall the source but it may have been 
from ? 

 If you know, let me know and I'll  happily edit to give credit 
where credit is due.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xo ~ Mari

Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way by 
the Frank's Hot Sauce® people, nor the Tabasco® folks.


Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad

One more lovely idea from Donna Hay ~ 

Perfect for spring or summer because you don't really need a precise recipe. As you might know by now I'm a fan of hers, and for good reason.  
She always offers an original take on food by using familiar ingredients in an unusual way, with delicious results.

And the bonus is most of her recipes go together very quickly.

This one is no exception ~ 

Simply drain marinated artichoke hearts* and place arrange with feta cheese on puff pastry, 
cut into squares or rectangles (you can make your puff pastry own or use store-bought.) 
Brush the borders of the pastry squares with a beaten egg, then bake off in a hot oven 400° (F) [200° C] 
for about 12 to 14 minutes.

While the tarts are baking, toss the simple salad together; cherry or 
grape tomato halves, peas (frozen, thawed), and mint with a drizzle 
of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, 
plus a little salt and freshly ground pepper, if you like.

*Donna's recipe suggests one whole artichoke heart (halved) 
for each puff pastry square ~ I made my puffs appetizer size, 
so I only used 1/4 of a (rather large) artichoke heart for each puff.

To serve~

Plate each tart and spoon the cherry tomato salad and dressing 
over and around the the tarts. Serve right away ~ 
the combination of the hot tart and cool salad are simply . . .


If you try this, I hope you like it.

Blessings !  xo ~mari


Zucchini and Spinach Gratin (It's Gluten Free)

Are you dealing with a glut of zucchini this summer?

Sadly, we're not ...  

I was away in California when it was time to plant, but my helper did get the plants in the ground before I returned home. They are growing but harvest will be delayed because of the late planting.

I miss my zucchini!!  

But thanks to our dear neighbors I don't have to go without good, fresh homegrown zucchini! (These is the same wonderful couple who share, and other goodies from their prolific garden with us.)  

Thank you P & J !!!

The one thing I'm not short on is a folder full of great zucchini recipes ~ and this is one of them (it's from Simply Recipes, click the link to access the recipe.)

It's very good . . . what can I say?  It has BACON in it.  Enough said. :D

Although you could omit if you're a vegetarian, or don't eat pork. Over at "Simply Recipes" it is suggested that you could substitute a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, or butter in lieu of the bacon.  I'm thinking you could also substitute turkey bacon as another alternative.

So the remainder of the ingredients are zucchini (of course), and frozen spinach (I used fresh because I had it in the fridge.)  Bacon, an onion, parsley, 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese*, fresh garlic, 3 eggs, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.  I also added some fresh thyme leaves, just because I love thyme so much and it's prolific in my gardens.

*I would also like to try it with Monterey Jack, or Gruyere cheese in place of the Parmesan, with a little salt added since those cheeses are not as salty as Parmesan. And how about some diced or sliced sauteed mushrooms? Yum!

You can use your food processor to grate the zucchini, cheese, and to process the spinach and garlic to reduce prep time. Then it's just a matter of combining the ingredients and placing the mixture into an oiled 2 quart baking dish then back for 35 to 45 minutes in a preheated 350° (F) oven. Keep an eye on the gratin at about 25 minutes, as I think it's best if not over baked. 


I don't think waiting until the top to brown (as the original recipe directed)  is essential (nor desirable) for this type of gratin, with virtually no other liquid the eggs will become tough. Naturally the timing will depend upon the dimensions and material of the baking dish you choose.  I removed it from the oven while the center of the gratin was still slightly jiggly, and it firmed up out of the oven with retained carry-over heat (and the heavy ceramic baking dish I used.)  A bit overdone for my taste. Next time, I'll definitely remove it a few minutes sooner because I prefer it a little more tender, but it was still very tasty.

You can serve it as a main, or as a side dish.  I served it as the main course with some sliced ruby red tomatoes drizzled with a Dijon-Shallot vinaigrette ~ a perfectly fine dinner!  This can also be served at room temperature, another bonus is that any leftovers reheat well.

You can get the step by step tutorial through the Simply Recipes link above. 

Have a wonderful day everyone!



Mushroom and Bacon Salad

Years ago, back in the day before personal computers, my mother and I would clip good-sounding recipes from the weekly food section in our local newspaper. This is one of the hundreds that we saved, really simple to make (you don't really even need a recipe). When I make any of these old recipes from the newspaper I am reminded yet again how much I miss Mom. *sigh*

Not content to leave the recipe as it was (the original was a bit bland for my palate now) I've tweaked it slightly over the years to make it a little more flavorful. 

 The ingredients are sliced mushrooms (white or brown), green onions (I used chives this time), olive oil, lemon juice (or your favorite vinegar), a little Worcestershire sauce, salt, freshly ground black pepper, a little sugar for balance and Dijon Mustard. Right before serving it is garnished with crisp bacon pieces. I add a few crushed pink peppercorns as well.  

 Any time of year it makes a very nice first course, or a light lunch or dinner and can be made a little heartier by adding some cubed or crumbled cheese (most any kind you like), cooked chicken, shrimp, or beef. Vine ripe tomatoes are another flavorful addition in the summer. You may also add a sliced hard cooked egg along with the bacon at the last moment.

The original recipe suggested slicing the mushrooms and tossing them with the vinaigrette, allowing the flavors to meld for several hours or overnight, then adding the crisp bacon just before serving. Usually I just make it and allow the mushrooms to marinate for 30 minutes to 4 hours, stirring once or twice to distribute the vinaigrette evenly.  I prefer the texture of the mushrooms using the shorter marinade time.

You can serve it up on individual salad plates spooned over Romain lettuce leaves, and it's also very pretty served in a glass serving bowl, that way each diner can help themselves to the amount they want.

If this sounds appealing to you and you would like the recipe, you'll find it over on my recipe blog.

Thank you for stopping by today friends!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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