Arugula & Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Walnuts & Fried Sage

One of my favorite salads can be made all year around, 
but it's particularly suited to fall and winter ~ I love
the colors and deep flavors of this one. And if you've been
following along with my blog for any length of
time you know I love simple, delicious food preps
which I can keep in my head (no actual "recipe" required!)

This is one of those:

Oven roasted (or steamed) beets ~ regular
size beets (peeled and sliced after cooking) will do, 
but this time I used baby beets.

Washed and drained arugula (you can use
baby spinach, or romaine, butter lettuce, etc. if you like)

Crumbled Blue cheese, (can substitute your
favorite cheese, or omit entirely)

Toasted nuts of your choice. 
I used walnuts this time, but I've made it with hazelnuts, 
or pecans before. Use the nuts you like, but
do toast them lightly on a shallow rimmed sheet pan
in the oven for a couple of minutes, then cool.
Toasting really brings out the flavor.

Optional: shallow fry a few fresh sage leaves for
a minute or two until crispy, set on paper towel
to cool.
Crumbled, crisp bacon works well with this one

Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette ~ I particularly like
this White Balsamic Vinaigrette .
The dressing has just a touch of sweetness which pairs 
very well with the components of this salad.

I alway finish the salads with a quick shower of 
freshly ground black pepper.

If you give this one a try, I hope you like it as well as
I do.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Be blessed. ~m. xo


Happy Thanksgiving !

(Deer in the driveway ~ it's definitely Fall here in Oregon)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm wishing everyone a peaceful and relaxed day,
whether you celebrate the US holiday or not.

Blessings and be well !
xo ~mari


Roasted Delicata Squash with Pancetta and Sage

Are you familiar with Delicata Squash?

Stock Photo

I love them because of their mild, slightly nutty flavor, 
and you don't have to bother peeling them
 ~ the skin is tender when cooked.
And their shape is so fanciful when sliced.
 (The ones I am able to find around here
are the perfect size for two meals, a little bigger 
than a russet potato.)
There are many ways of preparing Delicata ~ 
steamed, sauteed, baked, in soups, etc.

This recipe is one of my favorite ways of preparing this 
delectable squash and it could hardly be more simple.
Just cut the squash in half from stem to blossom
end, clean out the seeds* , then slice each half into
1/2-inch slices (making little half-moons.)
Put the slices on a shallow-rimmed baking pan,
along with a couple of peeled, smashed garlic cloves,
toss with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and
pepper and roast in a hot oven for about 6 minutes.

* You can roast the seeds, they make a tasty snack!

Flip the slices once, bake for another 6 minutes.
Then scatter some very thinly sliced pancetta
over the squash along with a few fresh sage leaves
and roast for an additional 5 to 6 minutes until
the pancetta is slightly crisp.

Optional drizzle (see below):

Although I could eat this roasted squash as my
main course, this time I served it with glazed salmon~
(it got too dark for good pictures, but I can
share the method with you.)

Whisk together
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons real maple syrup, grade B
My favorite is
 Coombs Family Farms 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup
(voted #1 by 'Gourmet' magazine)

This makes enough for 2 to 4 salmon filets, 
and is easily increased if you are serving more, 
(as you can see, it's just equal parts syrup and mustard.) 
It is soo good, I could eat it by the spoonful!
And if you like your glaze spicy add a pinch for cayenne
pepper, or some Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce to taste.
And another optional use for it if I'm not making
the glazed salmon to serve with the squash:
During the last minute or two of baking you can
sparingly drizzle with this sauce over the

(I must say the roasted squash is perfectly delicious 
without the sauce but when I'm not serving the
glazed salmon, it adds a nice additional
flavor dimension to the roasted squash as brings that that 
great play of sweet and salty between
the sauce and the pancetta to the dish.)

You can get the printable recipes for 
the squash here.


If you follow my blog you probably know how fond
I am of plain white dishes and serving pieces,
and this is one of my favorites because it is so
versatile. I love that ~ kitchen items that can multi-task.
Of course I use this one for its' intended purpose as
a tart/quiche pan ~ but I use it as a serving platter/tray~
for sandwiches, appetizers, fried or carved chicken,
as a shallow casserole dish, for sliced fruit, arranged
salads, etc.

If you're interested, you can get more information

BIA Cordon Bleu (Great price!):

Pillivuyt from France:

Thanks for stopping by today, I'd love if you
would leave me a comment. And please feel free to describe your
favorite way(s) of preparing winter squash. 
I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try!

Blessings ~ Mari xo


Tomato-Zucchini Soup 2 ways, with Cheese Toasts

~Tomato Zucchini Bisque with Cheese Toasts~

Recently I've been sampling recipes from the 
Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: 
Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant
authored by the owners  
DeDe Lahman and Neil Kleinberg.

After collecting cookbooks for so many years, 
these days I am particular about any that I add to my 
(groaning) bookshelves.
However after reading the reviews on, 
and reading through the book in person ~  
I'm really happy I decided to get this one. 
I'm currently working my way
through some of their fantastic recipes.
It's a beautiful cookbook with plenty of
gorgeous full page photos of many of the recipes.

(Click the link to take a free look inside the cookbook)

While their bakery and restaurant are noted as being 
New York's number one breakfast spot by many fans 
(and famous for their long waits to get in the door)
 attesting to their popularity. 

And the bonus is the cookbook also includes recipes 
for many items from their lunch and dinner menu.  

The first thing I cooked from the book that isn't a breakfast/brunch 
item was this Tomato Zucchini Bisque, which I tweaked just a little bit. 
And if you're eating Dairy Free,
you can simply omit the milk or cream, and it's still delicious.

To make the bisque, first you cook the vegetables,
then smooth it out by running the mixture through
the blender in two batches; at this point you add the
cream if you're using it.  I did ~ and yum!!

And since this recipe yields  8 to 10 servings, I
only processed half of the recipe; 
the rest I servedas a Chunky Tomato-Zucchini soup, 
without the cream. I garnished with shaved Parmesan 
and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
I'm not sure they serve it chunky-style at
the restaurant (it's not mentioned in the book) 
 it was delicious as well!

I used a creamy goat cheese to make the Cheese Toasts,
but you can substitute any cheese that melts well.

~Yummy Chunky Tomato Zucchini Soup~

Since we couldn't decide which version we preferred~ 

I served both!

This made a hearty, and delicious dinner on a dark, stormy night. 
(And great lunch the next day as well!)

If you would like my version of these recipes with my own
tweaks, hop on over to my recipe blog.

To learn more about Clinton Street Baking Company
you can take a look at their website (and their menus.)

Do you have a favorite comforting cool weather soup?
I'd love to hear about them!

Thanks for stopping by, friends. xo ~Mari


Haricot Verts with Dijon Mascarpone and Lemon

Here's a delicious way to serve up green beans, 
either the slender Haricot Verts, or any kind of string beans.  
Regular string beans will take just a minute or two more to cook, 
but the flavor will be just as pleasing.

I first saw this recipe from renown Michelin-Starred Chef Michael Mina 
Cook Taste Eat

The original recipe used horseradish (from the jar) to flavor the
creamy, rich mascarpone ~ but since one in our house doesn't 
care for the flavor of horseradish, I improvised and substituted
Dijon mustard instead.  I'm thinking this would also be fabulous
with whole grain mustard as well.

The flavored mascarpone is as rich as butter, but has more
substance. Instead of pooling at the bottom of your plate
as butter seems to do ~ it clings beautifully to the hot beans,
enrobing each one with it's tangy richness.
Fine shreds of lemon zest add another high note to
this yummy combination. 

This one received solid thumbs up ~ I would definitely consider
this for a holiday side dish... (and I admit I've made a 
lunch of a plate of these.)  :D

If you give this way of preparing string beans a try, 
I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

Click here for a printable copy of the recipe ~
and thank you for stopping by today and for leaving
me a comment!

Wishing you a good week ahead.
Blessings,  ~mari


The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams!

Besides grilling them or making Clams Casino, this is
absolutely my favorite way of preparing clams.

For this dish, I like to find the smallest clams available in 
the market. These are Venus clams, farmed in the cold waters
of Baja Mexico ~ they are a sustainable crop and
generally available year round where I live.

Here's what you need to make the BEST steamed clams
you've ever tasted:

live, fresh steamer clams
dry white wine
good butter
a small amount of finely diced onion
plenty of fresh, minced garlic (not the stuff from the jar) 
some finely chopped fresh parsley
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
a bay leaf or two

To finish:
 a generous shower of chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges
freshly cracked black pepper (optional) 
I would usually add a sprinkling of
fresh chives as well, but the recent rains
have taken their toll and the chives are looking sad.

 The recipe could hardly be easier. After allowing the clams
to purge themselves of any sediment* place them 
 in a pot, pour the wine over them**, enough
to just barely cover. Add the butter,
onion, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Cover the pot and bring to
a boil until the clams pop open (usually about 5 minutes.)

Discard any clams that have not popped open after cooking ...

A TIP I recently learned from a seafood expert:
When the clams have cooked, you may find a couple
that don't pop open; using tongs remove the open
clams and shells then cover the pot and boil for
another 3 to 5 minutes. Check the remaining clams, and you may
be surprised that some stubborn ones have now popped open.
But again, discard any that don't open upon the 2nd round of
cooking ~ discard them, and add the cooked clams back
to the pot for serving. 

*To purge the clams of any sand that might be
present: soak them overnight in a pot or
bucket of cold salted water (1 Tablespoon salt to
2 quarts of water), they will die in fresh water.
You may add a tablespoon or two of cornmeal to the water. 
(This acts as an irritant & encourages the clams to
expel any grit, along with the cornmeal.)
Discard any with cracked or broken shells, as well as
those that don't close when rapped on a hard surface.

** No need to cover them completely with the wine,
as those above the liquid level will steam cook, hence
the name "steamers".

And most importantly!

Don't forget some sturdy sourdough bread for dipping up the buttery nectar! Actually, as with escargot, the sauce (or in this case broth) 
is the best part of the dish, in my opinion.  ;)

To serve:  I usually serve them right from the small copper pots,
otherwise ladle a portion of clams into bowls, along with
some of that irresistible buttery nectar, sprinkle generously with additional
minced parsley. Add cracked black pepper if desired, some people also
like to have a little Tabasco or other hot sauce to spice things up.
Pass the bread basket and get ready to feast! 

These also are wonderful served as an appetizer ~

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe, you'll find
it over on my recipe blog:
Click here.

Have a blessed week.
Those enduring the devastation of Hurricane Sandy
remain in my thoughts and prayers.

xo ~mari


Cannoli ~ Deconstructed Plus Winners Announced :)

If you ever get a craving for the fabulous Sicilian treat . . .

Photo credit: Paolo Piscolla

Cannoli! :)

But you either don't have the time to 
make them yourself, or you don't happen to live
near a wonderful Italian bakery.  You may
want to keep this recipe in mind.

All of your favorite flavors as in a traditional
Cannoli but very easy to assemble.
We can't really call this dessert Cannoli, because
Cannoli means "little tubes", but if you
don't mind bending the rules a little bit ~ it's
a very satisfying dessert.

In this version lightly fried wonton triangles
stand in for the pastry "tubes" but the
filling and some of the accompaniments
remain true to the original. The fun part is
you can add "extras" if you wish ~
I had a basket of raspberries (which I prefer
over the Maraschino Cherries) so I added
them as well.  Later I remembered I had
put up some Bing Cherries in Cognac earlier
this past summer and could have offered 
those instead. Oh well . . . next time!

Mini Chocolate Chips work in place of grated 
chocolate and I added some chopped
pistachios, as I have had in some versions.
But actually, since we're already taking liberties
with the authentic recipe, almost anything goes. 

And the good news is ~ it all can be made
ahead; fry the wonton triangles and keep them
in an airtight container. (You can fry the wonton triangles
a couple of days ahead.) To fry: heat a couple of inches of
vegetable oil in a deep saucepan or pot, drop 
the triangles into the hot oil, a few at a time.

They only take a few moments to turn golden brown; remove
with a slotted spoon (or spider) and place them on paper towels to
help drain any excess oil. Cool completely, then store in an airtight
container. You can mix up the dip hours 
ahead and keep it covered and refrigerated.

When it comes time to serve just put the filling
in a bowl, garnish, arrange the crisp wontons
around and dust the triangles 
with confectioner's (powdered) sugar and enjoy.

If you would like a recipe for the cannoli
filling,  there is a good one HERE.

I hope you enjoy!


And NOW the two winners of the
Ariosto Natural Herb Seasoning Blends Library 
~  from the Ariosto Spa Buccinasco company in Italy!!

Congratulations to:

Kathy from "Sweet Up-North Mornings"

Melanie Montgomery from "Oh Slow Down ~ Life as a Newlywed"

Ladies, if you'll be so kind as to email me your
shipping addresses, I'll pass the information along
to the Ariosto Spa Buccinasco company
so they can mail your winnings to you.

onceuponaplate (at) gmail 
[DOT] com

Thank you everyone for participating in this 
drawing ~ please check back often, as we'll
have another giveaway coming up soon.

Mari xo

A Sampling of my food . . .


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