Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Herb Garden

I have been wanting a garden for a while. So I decided I would start with an herb garden. We have this circular bulb garden area, if that is what you want to call it, that iI decided would be a perfect spot for a small herb garden.

While the boys were on their shortened Spring Break this year I put them to work. We dug up the bulbs, not very many there, turned over the soil and shook out the grass. Then we went to Home Depot for the plants, compost and whatever I thought I needed. We came home and got right back to work on it. Laying down the weed blocker. Cutting holes in the weed block to plant the plants. I was very surprised that the boys actually helped the whole time. We got all the plants in the ground. Luckily for us the forecast had been rain for what seemed like eternity after we planted. They have grown some. The one plant that is doing well is my Cinnamon Basil. Never heard of it but I will tell you when you smell it there is a light scent of Cinnamon to it. When you chew a leaf you will taste cinnamon. Pretty neat. I guess I didn't read the label when I bought it. Hopefully it won't screw up any recipes.

So here are some photos of my Herb Garden 2009.

The whole herb garden. Basil, oregano and parsley.

Sage & Cilantro Rosemary & Thyme

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Giada's Pork chops with Fennel and Capers

I was watching the Giada DeLaurentis on the Food Network a couple of weeks. She was making pork chops. Now I am not a big fan of pork chops with the bone in. So when I was watching this show I said I had to make this recipe, it uses Boneless Chops.

I have never used nor touched fennel before and I wanted to try something different. I have always heard that fennel smells like licorice, which I do not like at all. I was skeptical about trying the fennel and realized it was "that" strong of a smell.

The one negative thing that I have to say about cooking this recipe is I NEED a larger pan. It was very good.

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce


1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning meat
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons capers


In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

Key Lime Cheesecake

This week was Staff Appreciation Week at my oldest son's school. I volunteered to make something sweet for the staff. So I decided to make a Key Lime Cheesecake. I have made this recipe several times (you should see my cookbook). It is a labor of love grating several limes and juicing them too.

Refreshing Key Lime Cheesecake


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted


1 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a medium bowl stir together all crust ingredients. Press on bottom of 9-inch springform pan; set aside. In 2-quart sauce pan combine lime juice, water and gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Add sugar, eggs and lime peel. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just comes to a boil (7 to 8 minutes). DO NOT BOIL. In large mixer bowl combine 1/2 cup butter and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes). Gradually beat in hot lime mixture until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes). Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cool (about 1 hour). In chilled small mixer bowl beat chilled whipping cream at high speed, scraping bowl often, until stiff peaks form (3 to 4 minutes). Fold into lime mixture. Pour into prepared crust. Cover; refrigerate until firm (1.5 to 3 hours). Loosen edge of cheesecake with knife; remove pan. Garnish top of cheesecake with sweetened whipped cream. If desired, garnish with lime slices.

Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Tuna Salad

Thanks to Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails, has chosen Tuna Salad by Ina Garten for our first recipe of May.

I have only had Tuna Steaks once or twice in my life and I loved it. So I was excited to try this recipe. This was the easiest recipe I think anyone can make.

I don't know about the rest of you who made this recipe but my house filled with smoke once I placed the tuna on the hot pan. That was the first thing that went "wrong". The recipe says to cook it for 1 minute on each side. I think I did 2 minutes each side and when my husband looked at how "red" it was inside his face was just priceless (reminded me of a kid not wanting to eat something for the first time). So we actually threw it onto the bbq grill for a couple of minutes. It was still pink inside and tasted good. I decided to serve it as a steak with a side salad.

The vinaigrette I thought was tasty. I could do without the salt in it but that is just me. I only used the juice of two limes (that was all I had left after making a Key Lime Cheesecake) and still thought is was sour.

I know my comments above sound negative but that is the farthest thing from the truth. Both my husband and I loved this recipe. We like the tang from the limes in the vinaigrette to the spicyness after. We will be making this recipe more over the summer time.

Tuna Salad


2 pounds very fresh tuna steak, cut 1-inch thick
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black, plus extra for sprinkling
2 limes, zest grated
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 to 2 ripe Hass avocados, medium diced
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup red onion, small diced

Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the tuna steaks in a very hot saute pan and cook for only 1 minute on each side. Set aside on a platter.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, wasabi, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Add the avocados to the vinaigrette.

Cut the tuna in chunks and place it in a large bowl. Add the scallions and red onion and mix well. Pour the vinaigrette mixture over the tuna and carefully mix.