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Friday, May 25, 2012

Cockeyed Cake

Bradley loves the color orange.  Bradley is four.  He's my grandson.  His mom and dad have nicknamed him The Kraken.  Yes, I'm biased.  Yes, I do think he's the cutest, smartest, funniest kid around.  His mom is wonderful about sharing the funnies he says on Facebook.  Here's a sample of the most recent:

"Him: Momma, here's the deal, I been going round and round, and I decided I no need a rest period today. I going to do Jedi training in playroom instead. Good idea?

The cousins stripped off their clothes for a dip in the pool at Yaya's house. When it was time to get dressed, Elliott: Which underwear is mine? Bradley: I can tell. (Picks up one pair and takes a big wiff.) These are yours.

I made nearly identical lunches for The Kraken and The Siren. Both threw fits when I set their plates in front of them. Rather than throw a tantrum myself, I left the room to get a coke. When I returned both gremlins were silently chewing. The magical fix? . . . They switched lunches while I was out of the room.

The kraken: Mom, how does daddy poke people at work? Me: I don't know. You should ask daddy all questions regarding giving shots. I can answer anything else. The Kraken: What about thundercats? Me: Okay. All shot and thundercat questions to daddy. The rest to me. The Kraken: What about cars? . . . "

Needless to say, Kara's commentary provides both Connie and me with lots of entertainment.  In fact, the only reason Connie ever looks at my Facebook is to see the latest Kara's written.
We made it to Columbus for Rosie's 2nd birthday but Bradley's celebration was in the middle of a week and we couldn't get there for his.  Between my stepson David being on call several weekends (he's a pediatric anesthesiologist so if he gets called in he's gone for hours and hours) and their family vacation and our wacko schedule, we'd not seen them for a couple of months.  It was time for Grampy and Grammy to pack the cooler and head to Columbus. 
Shortly before our visit, I found an article in Food Network Magazine that had me giddy with anticipation.  Directions for frosting colors.  Orange was 90 drops of yellow and 33 of red.  Bright orange, that is. There were probably 5-10 different shades of orange shown.  The article also gave a recipe for white frosting so you've got a base from which to work.  How cool is that???
I decided to make a cockeyed cake for two reasons.  One, it's like making mud pies and Bradley could help.  Two, I really don't like to bake so relying on a family favorite that's easy, moist and just chocolatey enough was a great plan.  Cockeyed Cake has been my family's go-to cake for as long as I can remember.  In fact, it's on page 92 of my I Hate to Cook Book.  Even though there are several recipes in there that are go-to's for me, the book falls open to page 92.

End result?  Bradley had an orange cake.  We all had my favorite chocolate cake.  Kara has a cheat sheet with tons of different colors for frosting.  I do love being a Grammy!

Cockeyed Cake


1 1/2 c flour, sifted
3 T cocoa
1 t baking soda
1 c sugar
1/2 t salt
5 T cooking oil
1 T vinegar
1 t vanilla
1 c cold water


Preheat your oven to 350.  Mix the dry ingredients and dump them into a greased 9x9 cake pan.  If you've got a phobia about washing dishes, you can mix the dry ingredients in the cake pan.  Whatever.  Then, make three wells in the dry ingredients.  Pour the oil into one, the vinegar ino the second and the vanilla into the third. 

Pour the cold water over everything and start mixing.  Yes, you can also do all of that in a mixing bowl then pour it into the cake pan.  Again, whatever you prefer.  Once everything is mixed, pop the pan in the oven for thirty minutes.  You can dust the cake with powdered sugar or frost it.  You can make two and make a layer cake.  Or double it and bake it in a 9x13 pan.  Whatever you do, this is a fantastic cake!

adapted from the I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sherried Mushroom Crabcakes

How many of you have wandered into the kitchen knowing you've got a certain ingredient to use up but you just can't wrap your mind around one of the recipes you've used before or the plethora of choices you've got?  I do it all the time.  That's one of the reasons I try so hard to actually have a menu planned.  That and the fact that sometimes recipes require advance preparation. 

Take this evening for example.  I'm going to be thawing a Boston Butt (No, not Connie, pork.  but, he is from Boston) for cooking over the holiday weekend.  I've also got to get spice rubbed pork chops thawed and rubbed so they're ready to go on the grill tomorrow night when I get back from my Columbus office.  And, I want to get the lamb chops for Friday thawing in the fridge so they're ready for Friday evening. 

A few days ago my dilemma was crabmeat.  I'd made Steak Oscar for the crew when we went to Columbus to visit.  I had half a can of crabmeat left.  And, there was another 1/3 of a can in the freezer that needed to be used before it succumbed to freezer burn. 

My first thought was my friend Lauren's wonderful casserole.  Mushrooms, sherry, a bit of cream.  Topped with buttered bread crumbs.  Then, I thought about crab cakes.  Those sounded great too.  But, neither sounded perfect.  I hunted through my file of crab recipes to try.  Nothing struck me.  I was striking out and was going to just go ahead and make Friday Night Sandwiches.  Then, inspiration hit.  What if I made crabcakes out of Lauren's casserole???  A quick peek in the fridge and I found boursin cheese that could be used as the base of a sauce.  What's the worst that could happen?  We'd have to toss the crabcakes and open a can of soup. 

What did we think?  We loved these.  In fact, Connie said he liked these BETTER than my normal crabcakes.  Since I wasn't expecting such stellar results, I made them via the dump it in until it looks right method.  The recipe that follows is based on estimates. 

Sherried Mushroom Crabcakes
makes 6-8 crabcakes


for the crabcakes:

1 pound crabmeat
2 large eggs
1/2 c cream
1 1/2 c panko
old bay seasoning
2 T shallots, minced
8 oz cremini, chopped and sauteed
1/4 c dry sherry
olive oil or butter

for the sauce:

1/4 c lowfat sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c boursin cheese
1 t Old Bay seasoning
1 T white wine
1 small shallot, minced


Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside while making the crabcakes.  Making the sauce first will allow the ingredients to get happy together.  Mix the crabmeat mixture gently.  Form into cakes and dust with flour.  Saute in olive oil or butter until browned.  Flip and sautee on second side.  Serve with the sauce.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

The months are just flying by.  It seems like yesterday that I wrote my last Secret Recipe Club post.  Now, here we are again...Actually, I've got to tell you that I'm writing this at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.  We're on our way to visit our grandkids tomorrow and I couldn't sleep and decided this was as good a time as any to sit down at the computer and write.  George thinks it's a great idea to have his mom up and about and he's sitting on a chair next to me purring like crazy.

So, let's talk about the Secret Recipe Club.  There are oodles and oodles of linky groups in the blogsphere.  Everyone posts their favorite this or that and all of the links show up beneath your post.  SRC is different.  We're actually assigned a blog to choose a recipe from.  Genius idea by Amanda.  I love participating because I meet some wonderful bloggers and read some blogs I'd never run across otherwise. 

This month I was assigned The Avid Appetite.  Rachel and Shaun live in New York and are newly weds.  A few years ago she couldn't even boil water.  Now, she loves to cook.  In a lot of ways, she reminds me of my niece.  Samantha said to me a couple of weeks ago that she's decided she's going to work on her cooking and get out of the rut of the ten things she knows how to cook.  Rachel's done that and done that well. 

We enjoyed our baked spaghetti.  When I made it, the whole house was full of this incredible aroma.  You know how realtors say to bake bread or cookies if you're showing your house?  Well, let me tell you, this'd work ten times better than those!  Except for using chopped broccoli instead of chopped spinach, I made the recipe as Rachel had written it and would make one change - less pasta.  We tend to like more stuff to pasta so I'd cut it back by half.  This was a wonderful make ahead and bake later dish.  It reminded me a lot of my mom's spaghetti and meatballs from when I was a kid.  It's one of those recipes where you can change it up to suit your own taste.  Exchange the turkey for sausage or ground beef.  Use different vegetables. It's super flexible.  Thank you Rachel!  Here's a link to Rachel's blog if you'd like to get to know her yourself :-)

Baked Spaghetti

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 26 oz jar of pasta sauce
1/2 c grated parmesan
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese


Cook and drain your pasta.  Cook it for a couple of minutes less than the package directs.  Brown and drain the turkey.  Mix together the pasta, turkey, seasonings, spinach and pasta sauce.  Put the mixture into a glass 9x13 baking dish.  Top with the shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  To serve, cut into squares. 

adapted from The Avid Appetite.  Originally from Y'all Come Eat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Salads, We have SALADS!

Connie's lost 20 pounds.  Me, not so much.  About half of that.  Everyone consoles me and tells me that women lose weight more slowly.  In my case it's because I'm not exercising as much as he is and I've not cut back as much on the food.  One big change we've made is to our intake of bread.  I threw away half a loaf the other day.  It was green.  That's never happened around our house before.  Needless to say, I've found creative ways to turn sandwiches into salads. 

My favorite?  Smoked salmon with cream cheese, shallots and capers.  Lettuce instead of a bagel.  And, radishes from our garden. Ok, I admit.  I tinkered with the cream cheese.  It went into the food processor with some lowfat sour cream and a bunch of chopped shallots and a lot of capers and a whisper of red wine vinegar.  Then, it got used as the salad dressing.  Major YUM!  Connie walked by as I was typing this and he pointed at the photo and said, "That was GOOD!"  As you can see, the lettuce (yes, from our garden) is topped with a generous serving of smoked salmon, dressing, capers and chives.  Then, radishes are strewn around the edges. 

There were leftovers.  And, we did have some flour tortillas.  And, we were meeting my friend Deb at the farmer's market so she could sign a form.  The tortillas were schmeared with the dressing and stuffed with the rest of the salmon.  Great breakfast!

Sunday was Mother's Day.  Mom's in the midst of moving.  That means my living room is stacked with boxes of dishes and other goodies from her house.  They won't be unpacked until a china cabinet moves from Mom's condo to my house.  Having the crew at my house - which is normally my turn - would be tough.  John and Pam stepped up and volunteered.  Now, you know my brother John is the BEST on the grill.  Heck, I'd put him up against Bobby Flay any day.  So, when he volunteered to do burgers and brats on the grill, I didn't hesitate to accept.  And, to volunteer to bring a couple of salads.

I'd just scanned in an OLD Taste of Home and it had a recipe for apple and sweet potato salad that'd caught my eye.  I adjusted it a bit to suit everyone else's taste.  The original recipe called for six sweet potatoes to two tart apples.  I did two potatoes to two Gala apples.  And, I omitted the dijon mustard.  Connie and I love mustard.  But the rest of the crew is into sweeter rather than more savory.  I still loved this.  Next time I'll put a hint of mustard in but will leave the ratio at one to one on the potatoes to apples. 

Sweet Potato and Apple Salad


2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium Gala apples
1/4 c olive oil
2 T orange juice
1 1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 cider vinegar
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 finely minced shallot
1/2 t poppy seeds
1/2 t grated orange peel
1/4 t grated lemon peel
2 green onions, thinly sliced


Cook, peel and cube the sweet potatoes.  Or, peel, cook and cube.  Or, peel, cube and cook.  However you do it, cook the sweet potatoes until they're tender but not mushy.  Cube the apples.  Do not peel them.  Mix the dressing. Toss the sweet potatoes and apples with the dressing.  Sprinkle the salad with the green onions.  Serve.

adapted from Taste of Home

The fam would've been very happy with Casa d'Angelo salad as the second choice.  But, I had designs on getting them to try something new.  Well, new to them.  Old to me.  Many, many years ago I had a dinner date with a fellow who shall remain nameless.  He brought a killer salad.  That salad was the best part of the date.  And, now that I wanted to make the salad again, I couldn't find the recipe.  So, I made it up.  Shocking, I know.  The almonds were toasted, the lettuce washed, the mandarin oranges strewn over the lettuce.  Then, Connie says, "Let's freak out the fam and put some chive blossoms on this!"  LOL.  Well, it sounded more like a cackle.  Ok, let's. 

Did you see the photo up top?  My family ate the chive blosssoms.  There were a couple who said, "I can't believe I just ate a flower."  But they actually liked them.  Nobody was freaked out.  Does this mean they're actually getting used to the way I cook?

The salad is pretty basic.  You put down a bed of lettuce and open a large can of mandarin oranges.  They get strewn over the lettuce.  Then, you toast a handful of sliced almonds.  Those go on top.  Finally, you chop a few green onions and strew them over the salad.  Well, that is unless you want to add a handful of chive blossoms :-)  The dressing is your basic 2/3 olive oil and 1/3 red wine or champagne vinegar mixed with some tabasco and a bit of sugar.  Toss and serve.  Easy and oh, so good!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cilantro Avocado Salad Dressing

For once, I'm just not sure where to start...

The elections are over and I'm in mourning.  Our friend, John McGoff, was defeated in the Congressional primary.  The gal who defeated him is someone I've known for many, many years.  She'll do a fine job.  But, we wanted John to win because we thought he was the best candidate.  I took the 6am-9am shift at our polling place and Connie took the 3p-6pm shift.  We handed out a boatload of literature.  And, saw lots of our neighbors.  And, met some new friends.  Then, that evening after I taught a Social Security class, we went to what we'd hoped would be a victory party.  It was not to be.

Garrison Keillor was here for one evening.  Connie loves to listen to him so I bought tickets.  Very good tickets as it turned out.  We were smack dab in the middle seven rows back.  Turns out our friends Don and Diane were sitting two rows behind us.  It was fun to be able to pick their laughs out of the crowd.  And, I will say two hours of laughter certainly helped lighten my mood.

My mood needed lightening.  A friend's 21 year-old son was killed in a car accident last weekend.  The calling was this week.  Mom and his grandma were pledge sisters.  I've known Trish since we were infants.  She's a sorority sister.  We see each other at Kappa events but don't tend to socialize otherwise.  But, there's a bond there that you just don't have with someone you've known a year or two.  Mom drove part way and I picked her up and we drove to the calling.  It was a tough afternoon.

Now, one of the other things that lightened my mood was running into some folks who looked familiar.  They were also at the Garrison Keillor show.  I asked if they lived in our neighborhood and they said no, they live a couple of streets over but we probably recognized him from running past our home.  Then, the light turned on and he realized we're the ones with the gardens and yes, he'd stopped to talk with us.  At that point, she said she always slows down to take a good look and enjoy the flowers when she goes by.  It felt great to know our hard work is enjoyed by others!

Speaking of hard work, we're getting some new veggies out of the garden.  Radishes have become a regular fixture in our salads.

And, we've just started to get some teeny, tiny pea pods.  I'm looking forward to more goodies as the summer goes along.  For now, we're still ahving to buy zucchini and all of the later summer veggies.  But for the most part the plants are out and a lot of the seeds are planted.

One of the salads we enjoyed very much this week was a BLT Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing.  It was totally a desperation move.  We had a huge head of lettuce in a garden walkway.  Either it got picked or mowed.  Bacon needed to be used up.  Avocados were getting mushy.  And some cilantro was going to seed.  Let me say that we put in a little patch of cilantro several years ago.  Last year, we put one packet of additional seeds in the herb garden.  We now have roughly 15 cilantro plants in various and sundry places they're not supposed to be...  Plants in places they're not supposed to be are called weeds, aren't they?  I just can't bear to call any cilantro a weed so keep putting up with it's aggressive ways. 

Since we had seven minutes to eat and dash out the door to head to Civic Theatre and see Guys and Dolls, a photo of the salads was not, umm, in the picture.  Here's what the dressing looks like:

Let me just say this was a fabulous salad.  It's open to interpretation.  Pretty much whatever you've got on hand will work.  We may use the leftovers as a dipping sauce for shrimp...

BLT Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing


for the salad:
lettuce (I used butter lettuce)
avocado (I used 1/2 per person)
bacon (diced and browned)
cheese (I used cheddar)
nuts (I used cashews)
tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)

for the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 c lowfat sour cream
1 t red wine vinegar
3 sprigs cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 avocado

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Moving Day

In the last two weeks I've schlepped plenty of boxes.  And, it's not done yet. 

First my dear friend Dottie had to be moved from independent living to the nursing wing of the retirement community.  Her son Jim and I spent an afternoon packing her apartment.  Then, he spent another morning finishing up.  A lot of the things are boxed and in our garage awaiting the Kiwanis garage sale next weekend.  Jim saved aside a box of her cookbooks.  Dottie was a dietician so a lot of her cookbooks were directed to cooking for a crowd or were technical types.  Three caught my eye.  One is a Cincinnati cookbook that I've not yet read.  The second is Betty Crocker through the years.  And, the third is a Campbell's Soup cookbook.  I've been reading recipes to Connie as we've traveled about and it's been like a trip down memory lane.  One of us will say, "Oh, my mom used to do that!" and the other would say, "My mom did too!"  You see, both of our moms dealt with working, raising a family and trying to keep them fed.  My mom loved to cook, his didn't.  But, both used a fair amount of canned soup!  Truth be told, a couple of my favorite recipes have the ubiquitous Campbell's cream of whatever soup in them.  So, although I may not make more than one or two of the recipes from this cookbook, it's certainly proven to be a wonderful journey!

Second, our friend Nancy has needed to get a couple of storage units cleaned out.  Her husband, Terry, died seven years ago.  She's not checked into the storage units since then.  He was executive director of Kiwanis International.  Needless to say, the opportunity to donate some things to the Kiwanis garage sale was a great incentive for us to dig into the units.  Connie and Nancy and I spent most of a Saturday afternoon cleaning out half of one unit.  Connie made about four trips to our garage - which is now bulging with garage sale goodies - and one trip to the dumpster at the office. 

Last, but certainly not least, Mom has decided its time to move from her condo to an independent living apartment.  Like me, she's got a lot of knick-knacks.  And, they all have a story.  While she's been thrilled to find that her kids and grandkids will enjoy and cherish the many treasures they've been given, it is still heart-wrenching to give away so many memories.  Connie's weeded and mulched and trimmed the yard.  A pair of robins found his work to be most disturbing and chattered away at him the first week.  The next week, we were greeted by three baby robins all snuggled up in the nest.  We're looking forward to seeing them this week!  Taking in Mom's treasures has meant either giving away or storing some of mine.  The pear that I bought so I'd have a grouping of three - with a couple of teapots that were my grandmother's - is in the garage sale stack.  It's replaced by a teacup that my great-grandmother hand-painted.  And, so it goes.  Yesterday, my sister-in-law helped Mom pack up the knick-knacks that she'll take along.  This weekend, I'll help her clean out closets and part of the kitchen.  And, we'll make the big decision of what day she moves.  Then, once she's moved, we'll finish getting the condo ready to sell.  The photo at the top is Mom with Vargus.  My brother John and sister-in-law, Pam, were pet sitting for friends and rather than leaving Vargus at home, John brought him along.  He and Mom became fast friends! 

One of my favorite photos is this - John (his father-in-law, Donald and Connie in the background) is taking down photos of us when we were little shavers:

In the midst of all of the packing and schlepping, election day was coming up on us.  I'd been trying to keep the crockpot full of nourishing food in our friend John McGoff's Congressional campaign office.  The few evenings that we've actually been home for dinner, I've fixed ours then fixed a pot of something for the McGoff crew.  Poor Connie was totally bummed to find out that the entire pot of glop was going to the guys.  So, Saturday evening I quadrupled the recipe.  Half went to McGoff, a couple of servings are going to Mom and he can have the rest for lunches this week.  Now, he'll be a happy camper. 

One of the brilliant ideas Connie had was to fix deconstructed chicken caesar lasagna.  Instead of lasagna noodles, I mixed in a pound of cooked whole wheat rotini.  And, instead of putting the cheese on top, it was also mixed in.  Now, I've got another tremendous casserole in my arsenal. 

So, you ask, have we had time to try any new recipes?  Yes, a couple.  One was an extremely average sandwich from Rachael Ray.  It was called a Rachel Patty Melt.

The sandwich was a turkey burger.  A pretty dry, tasteless turkey burger.  The recipe was tossed.

The winner was a quesadilla that I made up.  It started with a bit of olive oil brushed in a skillet.  Then, a flour tortilla.  That was topped with a mixture of cheeses - mozzarella and cheddar primarily.  Then, on top of that went sliced, sauteed cremini mushrooms and chopped pickled jalapenos.

Next was shredded chicken.

Followed by shredded chive blossoms.

And, a bunch of chopped cilantro.

Then, more cheese

And another tortilla.  Now, I will say that flipping this to get the other side cooked was, ummm, interesting.  Let's just say that it involved two plates, Connie and Kate and we got it done!

The finished dish was topped with picante sauce, cilantro sour cream and sliced avocado.  We managed to make two meals out of one quesadilla.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


There's a teeny town about an hour west of Indianapolis by the name of Mansfield.  They're known for the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival and the Mansfield Mushroom Festival.   That's MOREL mushrooms.  For those of you who've never had the pleasure of eating a morel, I can tell you there's absolutely nothing like them.  The first time I had one in 2005, I was hooked.  Totally hooked.  They come out in April and are only available for a few weeks.  There are two kinds of morels - yellow and black.  The black have a more woodsy, pungent flavor.  The yellows are a bit more mellow.  They're both incredible.  One thing to note is that they should NOT be eaten raw.  Evidently that can lead to an upset tummy.  Not the result one wants from eating decadence. 

We started our adventure at the Keystone Deli.  It's a hole in the wall not too far from our home.  Breakfast is their specialty.  Several years ago the Indianapolis Star ran an article about them and for a year after there was a HUGE line.  Now, it's back to normal - the place is packed but you typically don't have to wait terribly long.  We both ordered the smokehouse breakfast.  Two eggs, basted, bacon, biscuits and gravy,  home fries, extra crispy.  The home fries went into a box and into the cooler in the trunk.  They'll be turned into blue cheese potato salad for lunch on Monday. 

Next stop - Goose the Market.  Goose is a butcher shop, deli, specialty market.  Chris Eley manages to make a pretty small space work quite well.  We wanted to use our gift card on a couple of steaks for our morel bash.  Into the cooler went the steaks along with four scallops for another meal. 

On the road to Mansfield.  It's about an hour and a half straight west of Indy.  We decided to go through town and see where we ended up.  I've been doing a lot of that recently.  Let's turn here and see where this road goes.  Amazing the things you discover when you're exploring your own city!  Once we hit the west side of Indy, we headed toward the most direct route to Mansfield.  The weather was chilly and rainy.  We really didn't notice.  It was so wonderful to not be in the office!

The morels are sold at auction.  That's the only way you can buy them in Mansfield.  Some friends wanted us to buy some for them too.  So we wound up with about five pounds of morels.  That's a lot of good eating there, my friends.  It's fun to watch the others at the auction.  Some of them come in to buy just a pound or two and others buy as many as we did. 

From Mansfield we decided to once again take the road less traveled.  We turned onto the county road and were greeted by a sign that said, "Dangerous curves next six miles."  Ok, we'd be able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery.  And, odds were good we'd not have some idiot on our tail wanting us to go faster.  In fact for the entire six miles only one person came up behind us.  Connie pulled over and let him pass and we continued wending our way through the lovely woods and fields.

Next destination, Cox's Garden Center.  Great selection and great prices.  We bought flowers for Mom's pots and for ours.  And, we bought some more tomatoes and peppers and herbs for our garden.  Best of all, they had a scale we could use.  We weighed our mushroom haul :-)

The car was stuffed and we were tired puppies.  But, we still had four stops to make.  Back to Indy and north to Mom's.  A little bag of morels for her dinner.  Our reward was an ear to ear grin.  That was the best part of the day.  The big box of packing paper was dropped off as well as a flat of flowers.  Now, we had room to run to Trader Joes and Sams.  Mission accomplished.  One more stop.  Girls Night Out.  We'd planned on gettting back into town about 3:30 so we could empty the car and clean up and maybe rest a bit before meeting the GNO crew for dinner.  That didn't happen.  So, we stopped by and said hi to the crew and headed home for a nice, simple dinner.  We'd not been home for dinner for almost a week.  It was time.

Scallops with lemon caper sauce.  Sauteed morels.  Asparagus with citrus caper aioli.  And, mashed potato cakes.  Accompanied by a lovely bottle of Foghead Sauvignon Blanc. 

Let's start with the mashed potato cakes.  They started with about 2/3 of a cup of leftovers from a dinner out last week.  I mixed in a drizzle of white truffle oil, a bit of grated parmesan and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.  Then, I made pancakes out of them and smooshed those into a mixture of panko and grated parmesan.  The pancakes were then fried in a bit of olive oil.  They were wonderfully crispy and flavorful. 

On to the morels.  Butter.  The only way to go.  Just plain butter.  A lot of folks batter them then fry them.  Not us.  Just plain butter is perfect.

The scallops were magnificent.  The recipe came from a Rachael Ray magazine's quick section.  They were indeed quick.  If good scallops were more affordable, I'd have these regularly!

Last, but not least, the asparagus.  A recipe from one of my favorite chefs - Cat Cora.  This was published in Coastal Living.  I added a bit of orange juice to the aioli and wished I'd added more.  The citrus flavor was so delicate as to be barely discernable.  But, the sauce was still fabulous.  I didn't want to take the time to grill the asparagus as the recipe called for but will next time I make this. 

Ahhhh, a lovely day indeed.  Now, it's back to reality and the office...

Scallops with Lemon Caper Sauce

serves 4

10 large scallops
1 lemon
5 T butter
1 T capers
2 T chopped parsley


Prepare the lemon.  You'll want half of it peeled, seeded and sectioned then chopped.  The other half is juiced.  Pat the scallops dry.  Melt one tablespoon of butter in a skillet.  When the butter is hot, add the scallops. 

Cook 2-3 minutes per side.  You want to get them nice and brown but not overdone.  When the scallops are done remove them and keep them warm.  Add the rest of the butter to the skillet.  Get it nice and brown. 

Add the other ingredients and stir well. 

Serve the scallops with the sauce drizzled over them.

Asparagus with Citrus Caper Aioli

serves 4

1 1/2 lbs asparagus
2 eggs
1 large garlic clove
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 c olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T capers
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper


In the bowl of a blender, add the egg, garlic and lemon.  Puree.  Slowly pour in the olive oil until it thickens.  Pour the aioli into a bowl

and add the capers and crushed red pepper.  Serve over grilled or steamed asparagus.