Food, Recipes

Odds & Ends

Trying to use up everything in the refrigerator before leaving for Maine requires some creativity.  The fruit we can snack on, milk can go on cereal or in a smoothie, but the chicken sausage, spinach, kale, onion and salad fixings are another story.

IMG_1094So what to do with a collection of odds and ends?  Soup  seemed to be the best answer, and here’s what I pulled together.

IMG_1093Add to these a teaspoon of Hungarian sweet paprika which I have enough of to last a lifetime.  I will have to do as what was done in Hungary and put some in everything.

IMG_1101The end result of this concoction was pretty darned good and the accompanying salad’s ingredients used up the rest of the odds and ends.  The only thing missing was a good piece of cornbread!

If you are a soup lover, you might like this one that is hearty but not too heavy and very easy to prepare.

3 c. chicken broth

2-4 chicken sausage links

2-3 c. spinach and kale, torn into small pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cans of cannellini beans

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 heaping t. of sweet paprika (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients except for the greens together and simmer for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Add spinach and kale and continue cooking until  they are wilted.

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Food, Recipes

Buttermilk + Oysters

IMG_6831Before we were frozen out of Maine a few days ago, we had dinner at one of our favorite Rockport restaurants, Nina June, in the heart of the village.

IMG_6833It is the brainchild of Sara Jenkins who combines her love of Mediterranean food with her Maine roots.  She is also a cookbook author, the most recent one written with her mother Nancy Harmon Jenkins, a food guru in her own right.

On a cold night, we started with soup that combined leeks, potatoes, oysters and buttermilk in a creamy base.  It was so good that I had to see if I could recreate it for dinner on a chilly Houston night.  

IMG_0114I started with the known ingredients and added chicken broth and half and half.  I can’t promise that it was as good as Sara’s, but it wasn’t bad.  Here’s how it went together.

Buttermilk Oyster Soup

1 pint oysters, cut in half if they are large

l leek, finely chopped

3 red potatoes, finely chopped

1 c. chickens broth

1 qt. half and half

1/2-1 c. buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

Saute oysters in about 1/4 c. of their liquid for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook leeks and potatoes in chicken broth until potatoes have softened.  Add half and half and heat through.  Add buttermilk and oysters with salt and pepper to taste and heat until all ingredients are blended.

IMG_0117Simple enough, the soup was very tasty and a perfect meal with a green salad and  cornbread muffin.    Next time I make it I might add a few drops of Tabasco and I can also imagine it with spinach or kale as an ingredient.  Hmmm, what started at Nina June may take on a life of its own.

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Food, Recipes, Tablescapes


Have you ever put something away and not been able to find it?  I do that from time to time, and the hunt makes me crazy!  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor two years I looked high and low for these candelabra that fit so nicely into a bottle and are terrific on any table. Finally, they’ve been found  hiding in a basket under some books.  How did they get there!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIroning a tablecloth from Provence, I noticed a border of sunflowers which are the last flower to bloom in Maine.  Right away a tablescape that would combine the found candelabra, sunflowers and the cloth began taking form in my mind. What I liked was the notion that the table would have sunny summer colors and at the same time be a lead in to fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there it was easy to make the table happen.  Yellow plates, yes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was was a no brainer to accessorize with the cranberry tones of the tablecloth. I’m crazy about the square shape of the cup and saucer….so contemporary looking but from a set of dishes popular in the 1940’s.  Some things just don’t go out of style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese little guys, cigalles they are called in Provence, are supposed to keep a table cloth from blowing off the table, but here they are used as napkin rings.  They are fun finds from a street market in Gordes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a matter of minutes, the table is set, and I’m off to the kitchen to prepare gazpacho with which to fill those cups.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomatoes are at their best right now, and gazpacho is one of my favorite ways to use them.  I throw all the vegetables in the blender with Clamato juice (1-2 cups) and blend until they are smooth. Here I used a mixed selection of tomatoes (4-6 depending on size) and a zucchini in place of the more traditional cucumber.  You can be creative with your vegetable choices.  When the ingredients are well blended, add a teaspoon each of red wine vinegar and sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  If you like a bit of spice, add a touch of Tabasco or red pepper.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like to top the soup with diced veggies and a dollop of sour cream and when I have it I throw in some chopped lobster.  Hmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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Food, Recipes, Table Settings, Tablescapes

Dahlias and Threads

P9214852Two of my favorite things are dahlias and textiles, especially handwoven ones like this beautiful piece from San Gimignano. I’m attracted to work like this because I’m never going to weave with threads so small and have great appreciation for the time it must take to thread a loom with fiber no thicker than sewing thread. So how do the two combine? On a table where they become inspiration for this night’s dinner gathering.With colors much like the dahlias, the harlequin patterned plates are a natural choice and need no background other than the copper toned chargers. Add rose toned flatware from Target and teal thumbprint stems that were a lucky find at a back road antique shop and the settings are done. Continue reading


The Best of Turkey Leftovers

For many of us, leftover turkey is the best part of  the Thanksgiving feast.  Of course, there are turkey/cranberry sauce sandwiches, but my favorites are the soups that can be made from the turkey carcass.  You can put just about anything you want to in them which makes the soup a very creative opportunity.   Here are a couple I made, and you can vary them as you wish.

Turkey Carcass Soup

1 c. each onion and celery, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. olive oil

1-2 c. cubed potatoes

1 c. carrots, sliced

1 can cannellini, garbanzo, kidney or black beans

8-10 c. chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

Boil the turkey carcass in roughly 6 c. water.  When it is cool to the touch, remove turkey from the bones, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Chop celery and onion and saute in 2 T. olive oil until soft.  Add minced garlic and cook for one minute more.

To the turkey broth, add enough water or packaged stock to make 8-10 cups or more if you have lots of turkey.   Add celery, onion, garlic, carrots and cubed potatoes.  Heat to boiling over medium high heat, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft.  Add turkey, beans, season to taste, heat through and you’re done.

turkey soup This night I had a little cream that needed to be used so I poured it in at the last minute and added a scoop of leftover, reheated cornbread dressing to the bowl of soup. Yum!

There was plenty of soup for a second time around, and this time I added a can of Rotel tomatoes and 1 t. cumin to the mix.  As the soup was simmering, I sautéed corn tortilla strips in olive oil until they were crispy.  

turkey soupTo serve this new version, soup was poured over the tortilla strips and topped with a dollop of sour cream, some chopped avocado and a sprinkling of cheese. There you have it, two quick and easy meals thanks to the turkey carcass.  And guess what?  There’s enough left for my lunch today!

Tell me, what ideas do you have for using your turkey carcass?

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