It’s May and All’s Okay

springtrees

Dogwoods in my neighborhood.

Silly little rhyme I know. But all is okay, thankfully, and I’m still cooking. I truly just haven’t had time to experiment on anything new due to work commitments. (Not a bad thing!)

Still, there have been moments squeezed in to enjoy the glory of Spring and some time with family and friends. Here are a couple of little slideshows of what’s been going on since last I posted…so long, long ago in April.

Mother’s Day brunch strata and some scenery in Florence, Alabama…

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Spring blooms and woodland walks…

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And of course, I had to make some Souvlaki and tzatziki, because it reminds me so of our Spring honeymoon in Greece.

I hope this post finds you all well, enjoying happy seasons and good weather. Summer is rapidly approaching for us, and with it all the great produce that comes our way. Rest assured, I’ll be sharing more recipes with you soon so stay tuned. Have a lovely week!

Here’s the recipe for the strata I made for Mother’s Day brunch. It’s great for any special occasion and it feeds a crowd!

Prosciutto, Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Strata
(Adapted from Bon Appétit) Serves 6-8 generously

16 1/2 inch slices of sourdough bread, crusts removed
8 ounces of prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
6 ounces of provolone cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped green onion
6 Tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup well drained and chopped sun dried tomatoes
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
7 large eggs
2 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
1 generous tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Line the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish, or same size casserole, completely with 1 layer of bread, trimming slices to fit. Arrange half of the prosciutto over the top of the bread, then sprinkle half of the goat cheese and half of the provolone over that. Sprinkle half of the green onions, half of the sun dried tomatoes and half of the basil. Repeat the layers in that order, beginning with a second layer of bread and ending with the basil. Cut the remaining bread into 1/4 inch cubes and sprinkle over the top of the strata.

In a medium size bowl, combine the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper, and whisk well. Pour the egg mixture over the strata, pressing down on the bread with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and uncover the strata. Let the strata sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top of the strata and bake for about one hour, until the center is set and the top is golden. Cut into large squares and serve.

Note: You can substitute your favorite cheeses easily in this dish. Fontina would be nice instead of the provolone, for instance.

I served this with Citrus Salad with Mint Sugar. Delicious.

Finished Strata.

Finished Strata.

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Spring Teases Us and a Refresher on How to Cook and Extend a Roasted Chicken

To say this week has been busy would be a severe understatement. In addition to my regular work, I’m learning how to do web site design. It’s really fun, but lots to learn and do. When I have this kind of a week, I tend to focus more on cooking my old standards and less on experimenting with anything new. Are you like that?

I did take a needed break on Monday and went for a walk to enjoy an amazing spring-like day. It was just a tease, though, as the temps have now returned to more normal and winter-like cold, but there were definitely signs that spring is on it’s way. Let me share a few pics to brighten your day:

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Last Friday there was a sale on whole organic chickens, and faced with that lovely prospect, you know I couldn’t resist. Yes, roasted chicken was on the menu. And much like in the Tale of the Little Chicken That Could, posted a couple of years ago, I made an Herb Roasted Chicken first. The next night, I stripped off the remaining meat and instead of making the Individual Chicken Pot Pies, I used the meat to make my Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes for the next two nights’ meals. This chicken made exceptionally good enchiladas.

Last night, I combined the stripped chicken carcass with veggies, herbs and water to make a rich Homemade Chicken Stock, which you can see in the photo at the end of this post. I’ll use it to make a lovely risotto and/or a soup later in the week, and share that in my next post. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll click on the individual dish title links in bold above, and check out ideas for cooking and using chicken, as well as enjoy the story I wound around the dishes—if you haven’t read it already.

Here’s my study partner in all of her almost 15 pound glory…Miss Thumbelina, for a giggle.

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New dishes will be on tap for the next post, I promise. Have a great week and may spring be on its way for us all!

This stock has such a rich color and taste...I can't wait to use it in my next dishes!

This stock has such a rich color and taste…I can’t wait to use it in my next dishes!

Happy Mother’s Day and Some Fresh Flowers

More azaleas from my garden this spring.

More azaleas from my garden this spring.

Rather than let the weekend go by and still no post from me, I’m teasing you with a few images from what I hope will be a garden slideshow next week.

Meanwhile, wishing you and yours a very Happy Mother’s Day, be you a mother to a child, a fur kid, fish or fowl! Have a lovely day.

A magnificent double blossomed dogwood tree from a garden tour I attended with my mom.

A magnificent double blossomed dogwood tree from a garden tour I attended with my mom.

Close-up of the double blossom on the dogwood...amazing tree!

Close-up of the double blossom on the dogwood…amazing tree!

Candy striped camellia blossom.

Candy striped camellia blossom.

The tremendous snowball bush in my mother's yard.

The tremendous snowball bush in my mother’s yard.

Sweet double petaled jonquils.

Sweet double petaled jonquils.

*****

A Hiccup, and What I Love About Spring

Azalea blossoms in our yard shot with a macro lens. I think azaleas are fascinating!

Forgive me readers for I have been MIA. It’s been two weeks since my last post.

Missed me? I’ve missed you all….figuratively and literally! I’ve been dealing with some family health issues for the last two weeks, so had no time for cooking, blogging or keeping up to speed with other posts, either. So sorry about that…some of my fellow bloggers are so prolific I may never catch up! Since I still haven’t had time to get back on my schedule of cooking or just fun eating in general, I’ve decided to give you an update on things I will hopefully be cooking from my garden within a few months and my quarterly commentary on a few things I love about the season at hand….Spring! Continue reading

Has Spring Sprung?

February 2nd: A ladybug works on a soon to open "Colonel Fiery" Camellia Japonica blossom.

Based on weather reports of a blizzard in the western U.S. and Colorado, the answer to that question is: Not everywhere. But, in what was no great surprise around these parts yesterday morning, our local resident groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day, predicting that our Spring will be early. Ummm, more like right now…I would say! Continue reading