Posted in Veggies on April 6, 2011 by Rita

I’m now going to give you all a description of my grilled veggies along with 2 photos.  I used one yellow pepper sliced, one orange pepper, sliced, 3 Mexican zucchinis sliced, asparagus tips (whatever you want), whole mushrooms and chunky red onion.  I used my special Italian dressing (Look at my older post for “Weetie’s Special Italian Dressing”) for the marinade and all I can say is YUM, YUM!   



Posted in Fish on April 6, 2011 by Rita


The other night I had my son and his friend from France over, and it was a beautiful evening so we ate outside on the patio and had a luscious dinner and great wine.  Our main course was Grilled Shrimp  along with grilled veggies, such as yellow pepper, orange pepper, Mexican zucchini, asparagus tips, mushrooms and chunky red onion.  I used my special Italian dressing for the marinade and all I can say is YUM, YUM!    I also made orzo pasta with basil (some dried and some fresh), olive oil, parmesan cheese and a little of the cooking water from the cooked orzo. Of course, my very special friend – the “Barbecue King” did all the grilling and what a “Pro” he is.  For dessert I dipped fresh huge strawberries from the local farm, in melted Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and then in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate.  After a big meal, that kind of dessert is perfect.   Soon the warm weather will be upon us and these recipes would be just perfect for a wonderful dinner/evening.


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

Juice of 1 lemon(juicy lemon)

3 to 4 garlic cloves, pressed

2 teasp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teasp. crushed red pepper (or 1 teasp.)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 to 2 pounds extra large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and rinsed with cold water and patted dry.  (I buy  them by the count instead of the pound).

To make marinade, combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive bowl and mix well.  Add the shrimp and refrigerate for about 60 minutes.  (I let it marinate longer)

Preheat grill for 10 to 15 minutes.

While grill is preheating, pour off the marinade and discard it.  Put the shrimp on foil with holes in it or use a grilling basket.

Grill shrimp for about 4 to 6 minutes total, turning them once.  Do not overcook shrimp; they will be done just as they turn opaque throughout.

Serve immediately because they get cold quickly.

Buy your shrimp at Costco, but after buying them you won’t have money for your mortgage (Ahhh – just kidding, very reasonable for the size and taste).  DO NOT GET THE COLOSSAL SHRIMP AS THEY ARE KIND OF TOUGH.


Posted in Cakes on March 27, 2011 by Rita

Wow – it’s been a long time since last wrote in my blog – I apologize.  No excuses for me other than just being lazy.  I’m still cooking all the time and love to search for new yummy recipes and ideas to make and serve to friends and my family.  One of my discoveries of a great dessert that I have made is called Apple Clafouti Pie.  Now, I’m not sure where I found it, other than either Food Network (probably Ina Garten) or Epicurious,  but not sure.  It is easy and fun to make and the presentation is very appetizing.   I made it a few times and now it is time for me to share it with you.  So, here goes:


Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie


1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup apple liqueur or brandy

4 Jonagold apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (1-3/4 lb.) – I prefer Granny Smith apples

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

3 T unsalted butter

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped


4 T unsalted butter, melted (plus 1 T, melted, for brushing pie plate)

3 eggs

1 cup half-and-half

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. table salt

Ground cinnamon and sugar

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees

Combine cherries and liqueur in a small bowl; set aside to plump, 15-30 minutes.  Strain cherries, reserving liquid; set both aside.

Cook apples, brown sugar, 3 T butter, lemon juice, vanilla seeds, and reserved liqueur in a skillet over medium heat, until apples soften, 7-10 minutes.

Brush pie plate, with 1 T melted butter; heat in oven while blending batter.

Blend first 7 ingredients for batter in a blender until smooth and frothy; set aside.

Pour half the batter into heated pie plate.  Layer half of the apples, (reserving apple juices) on top of batter followed by half the cherries.  Repeat layering with remaining apples and cherries.  Top with remaining batter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar; bake until golden and set in the center, 25-30 minutes.

Simmer reserved juices in a skillet until reduced by a third.  Serve clafouti drizzled with warm juices.

I bought a pretty white oven-proof dish to help make it look even more appetizing.  Let me know how you like it, if you decide to make it.  Love to hear comments.

Great Dessert

A French Dinner For My Best Friends

Posted in French Cuisine on April 12, 2010 by Rita

The other day my best girlfriend and her husband (my accountant) came over for dinner, as payment for his accounting services.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are very close friends so this was just a little something extra which we decided on. They kind of told me what I should make, if possible.  So as you will see below I made a French dinner.

The main course of the dinner was from a bouillabaisse recipe that I have had for years from a cookbook by Renny Darling, and I decided to make it for them.   It is really very easy to make and you can make the broth a few days ahead.  Of course, the fish goes into the broth right before you eat, but that’s no big deal.  I also made a yummy caesar salad (my own dressing given to me by a friend a long time ago, with my own changes).  This dressing has become another major favorite of ours.  Oh yes, I can’t forget that I also made two artisan herb bread loaves.  Here is  the recipe for you to have, make, or just drool over.

Bouillabaisse Treat


1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. can stewed tomatoes, chopped

1 7 oz. can minced clams

2 cups tomato juice

3 cups clam juice

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon basil

t tsp. thyme flakes

2 tsp sugar

pinch of saffron

pinch of turmeric

juice of 1 lemon (a little more is good too)

pinch of crushed pepper

salt & pepper

TOTAL:  2 lbs. of various fish (less than 4 lbs. when doubling the recipe) – halibut, scallops, shrimp, fresh clams, snapper.  Whatever you choose or can afford.

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT fish – simmer 20 minutes and bring to boil.  Add fish and boil for 5 – 10 minutes.

YUMMY  – crusty french bread and caesar salad.  MAJOR SLURP!!!!



DESSERT – Apple Tarte Tatin

For dessert I made my first apple tarte tatin, a dessert that has actually been haunting my cooking passion for such a long time.  My girlfriend and I always talked about making one but were “chicken.”  I’m so weird because if something isn’t to my satisfaction, the garbage gets it.  Naughty, naughty me.

Apple Tarte Tatin

I searched the internet for days looking for a recipe that seemed to be fairly easy and VOILA! I found one.  It was one created by Anne Burrell of Food Network along with her video of the procedure.  I changed the recipe slightly because I had trouble with the dough, but finally it was a success.  There was no mention of putting the dough in the refrigerator to get cold.  Maybe she can roll it out after taking it out of the food processor, but I sure couldn’t get it right.  After preparing the apples by peeling, coring and cutting in quarters, I let them soak in a little lemon juice so that they would not turn brown.  That became a plus for the recipe.  So, after putting the whole thing together, baking it for 30 minutes and removing it from the pan by placing a plate over the pan it was cooked in and turned it upside down to have the apples on top of the plate, it really looked pretty damn good.

Yummy Sliced Tarte Tatin & Vanilla Ice Cream

It made me feel like I was a Julia Child fantasy chef.  HA!    I will have to keep making the tarte tatin and get professional.  All in all – it was a fun and yummy evening.  Lots of wine too.  HIC!!!!

Vegetable Garbage Soup

Posted in Soups on January 24, 2010 by Rita


I had quite a few different kind of vegetables that were ready to be thrown in the garbage, so I got economical and decided to made a garbage soup which I just created and it absolutely came out great, at least I think.  I have a cold so my taste buds aren’t working too well, but for some reason, I got through it and YUM, I was able to taste it and can’t wait until I have more veggies that are ready for the garbage so that I can have fun just dumping the veggies into a great big stockpot and simmer away the best tasting soup ever.   No kidding, I first sauteed a few onions and crushed garlic in a little olive oil in a big stockpot and then just chopped up whatever veggies needed to be chopped and just put it in the stockpot.  I also added a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves that I also had.  For liquid, I added 6 cups of Swanson’s chicken broth (low-sodium) and one can of beef broth.  For seasoning other than the veggies, I added some chili powder, crushed red pepper, ground pepper, a little salt and chopped cilantro that was in my veggie collection.  I also dumped in around 1 cup of uncooked macaroni.  You can use any kind of pasta, rice, or whatever you enjoy into the soup too.  Simmer the soup until the veggies are tender and all of the flavors are incorporated nicely.  Remember, you can choose whatever seasonings that you like.  This is just what I did and it was so good, that it makes me want to buy lots of veggies and then forget about them and that would be my excuse to make more Garbage Soup.  Trust me, it is delicious and so healthy.  

Roasted Eggplant Soup (Soup of the Gods)

Posted in Soups on January 20, 2010 by Rita


Soup of the Gods

Since it has been raining for days, I decided to make my favorite soup – because there is nothing like a hot cup of wonderful soup on a rainy day or days.  I also like to make bread to go along with it or along with anything that I cook.  Yum!  My favorite soup is Roasted Eggplant Soup.  My whole family loves it so much that we named it “Soup of the Gods.”  Crazy, huh?  Even if you don’t like eggplant (which I don’t), you would never know that it is an ingredient in the soup.  It is a bit time consuming to make , but it’s totally worth it.  The flavors blend so beautifully, that all you can do is keep eating it and never stop.  Guess what, it isn’t even fattening – just healthy and very vegan.  A friend of mine told me about this soup and she had found it  in a vegetarian cookbook, but it was such a long time ago and she just gave me the recipe so therefore I really don’t know what cookbook it came from.  I cherish this recipe and would love to share it with you.


1 to 2 firm, shiny eggplants, weighing in all 1-1/2 pounds

about 4 Tbsp. Virgin olive oil

1 large red or torpedo onion, halved but not peeled

1 large or 2 medium red peppers, halved and seeded

2 medium ripe tomatoes

4 to 5 thyme branches or 1/2 teasp. Dried thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teasp. Dried basil

1 teasp. Salt

2 Tbsp. Basil leaves, chopped (optional)

7 cups Swanson’s chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wipe outside of eggplants, halve them lengthwise, and brush entire surface with olive oil.  Salt & pepper the cut surfaces, set the halves on a baking sheet or large earthenware dish, and start baking.  Brush olive oil on cut sides of the onion, both sides of the peppers, and the tomatoes, and add them to the pan with the eggplant after it has baked 20 minutes.  Continue baking another 20 minutes or so, until the eggplant is soft and is beginning to collapse, and the skins of all the vegetables are loose and wrinkled.  Remove the vegetables from the oven and cool briefly.  Take off what you can of the pepper skins and peel the onions; then roughly chop all the vegetables into large pieces.

Slowly warm 2 Tbsp. Of olive oil with the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and dried basil.  After several minutes add baked vegetables, salt and chopped basil, if using.  Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly for 25 minutes.

Cool the soup briefly.  REMOVE THE BAY LEAF (might be tough to find, so you may have to look for it when you ladle the soup into the blender.)   Then puree it in a blender at a low speed, preserving some texture and small flecks of the pepper and eggplant skins.   Return it to the pot and season to taste with salt and lemon juice.  ENJOY!!!!!!  

Apricot Chicken Treat

Posted in Chicken on January 17, 2010 by Rita

One day I had a mad desire to create a recipe for apricot chicken so I became a wild home chef and started putting different ingredients into a sauté pan with a few chicken breasts that were sautéed.   Well, I thought the end results were really tasty so I wrote up a recipe so that I wouldn’t forget what I did.

I especially created this apricot chicken recipe for a very dear friend of mine who couldn’t eat garlic in any kind of recipe so I certainly left out that one ingredient.  Unfortunately she passed away a few years ago, and every time I make this chicken I call it “Charlotte’s Chicken.”  So, now I would like to share it with you and hope that you try it because it is one of my favorites.  I like to serve it over steamed rice.  YUM!!!!



4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 T extra virgin olive oil

flour for shaking the chicken

1 onion chopped fine

12 dried apricots

3/4 cup apricot preserves (Trader Joe’s)

1/2 cup orange marmalade

approx. 1 cup chicken broth

1 T chili powder or whatever you want

1 scant teaspoon red pepper flakes

Heat oil, sauté the onions for a bit and then remove; shake the chicken in flour and brown in the oil on both sides. Put onions back in saute pan.

Add about 12 dried apricot halves, lots of apricot preserves & marmalade until you think you might have enough sauce.  Add chicken broth to make it saucy but not too watery.  Then add seasonings to your likeness and simmer until chicken is done, covered (about 25 minutes).

I put the amount of ingredients that really are approximate, because I didn’t measure.  So, hopefully it works for you.  Charlotte Dinner