Mussels Dijonnaise for Bastille Day

Mussels Dijonnaise for Bastille DayVive la France!
Today is Bastille Day and we are thinking about dining al fresco on some delicious and simple-to-prepare French Bistro fare this evening. Mussels Dijonnaise or Steamed Mussels in Mustard Sauce can be made on a weeknight and paired with a toss salad with a nice Read more…

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice CreamGoing Through A Phase
For better or worse, I have been eating more than the normal amount of ice cream lately. It happens. I go through phases where I have to have some every night. I am currently smack dab in the middle of one of those phases. Even better, the phase has phases.

I start out with the family favorites like mocha almond fudge and pecan praline and let’s not forget the classic vanilla with chocolate sauce. After a week of that, I turn to the ice cream sandwich phase. It’s-its and drumsticks are a must-have. They are a reminder of summers dashing out of the house and racing down the street at the sound of the ice cream truck driving by.

The final phase, the phase I am in now, is the try something new phase. If you have been in the ice cream section lately I am sure you have noticed that your options for a frozen treat have become bountiful. From coconut, to soy, to cashew, or even oat milk there are so many possibilities to satisfy your cravings.

My most recent foray into the world of dairy-free desserts is this recipe for dairy-free ice cream which combines two of my favorite ice cream flavors, coffee, and coconut. The result is a treat so good you may never go back…well, until the next phase comes around!

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice Cream
Adapted from Food 52
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Independence Flag Cake

Independence Flag CakeJust like everything else this year, the 4th of July is going to be weird. There will be no fireworks shows—though if your neighborhood is anything like mine has been lately, you’ve had your fill of the sound of fireworks. There will be no neighborhood parade with Dads pushing their prized, decorated grills while performing dance routines. (Yep. This is a thing where I live.) But, I know one thing that will not change. We will eat flag cake.

Every year my sister makes a flag cake for 4th of July. It’s kind of become a running joke for my family. Don’t get me wrong, the cake is great but not having the cake would be a catastrophe of epic proportions. Maybe. Probably not. I just know there have been more than a few years when we had to scramble to find decent berries to top the cake. I sense that this year it will be just that much more important if only to provide a bit of normalcy.

We always use Ina Garten’s recipe for flag cake. But, as long as you have white frosting and red and blue fruit for the decorations, you can use any cake recipe you want. You can use your favorite boxed cake mix and make your life that much easier.

I did do a quick search online for flag cakes just to switch things up this year. I was amazed by what I found. If you are not a big fan of sweet stuff, rest assured that there are plenty of savory versions including a flag Caprese salad and a deviled egg flag which sort of scares me, frankly. Take a few minutes to do a search if only for the entertainment value.

How ever you decide to celebrate the 4th this year, be it with or without a flag cake, I wish you a safe, healthy and very happy 4th of July!

Independence Flag Cake
Adapted from the Food Network and Ina Garten
Yields about 20 servings Read more…

Pine Nut Vinaigrette

Pine Nut VinaigretteGiving Thanks for Dad
If there is one thing I know it’s that my family isn’t normal. From the outside looking in, we may seem like your typical family of five. But, in reality, we are more than a few degrees off-center. The following is the most recent example.

Like most other families during the shelter-in-place order, we have been spending more time outside enjoying our backyard. The more we were out there the more it became obvious that our backyard space was in need of some serious help. So for the last month, that’s what we have been doing—little by little. It started with a fire pit that the family gave me as a birthday present. And, quickly turned into a much larger home improvement project culminating in the building of an outdoor bar.

The bar happened because we were sitting around the fire pit one night and I got thirsty. I mentioned that it would be cool to have a bar outside ‘cause I was feeling lazy and having to walk to the kitchen was just too far. This is where things got kinda nutty. Ideas and possible designs were thrown out for consideration. The kids were in on it, too. (I know. Great parenting. The kids are designing a bar. At least they learned some rough carpentry skills. That’s good, right?) Everything came together when I remembered the Mexican tiles and sink we had sitting in the garage.

Seventeen years ago I was pregnant with twins and my husband and I, knowing things were never going to be the same again, went on a vacation to Peurto Vallarta as the last hurrah before the boys showed up. While we were there we found a tile shop downtown that was filled with the most amazing Talavera tiles and sinks. I forced my husband to haul a sink and about 40 tiles home on the plane in a backpack with the idea that we would use them in the bathroom of our new house. That never happened. They sat in the garage until we moved into our current house ten years ago where they sat in the garage again until last month.

Long story (sort of) short, the tiles and sink are now part of a lovely and very sturdy (my love has a tendency to over-engineer) outdoor bar that looks like a Mexican cantina complete with a palm roof. The plan was to get it done by Father’s Day and we did. Naturally, I assumed we would be toasting Dad and breaking in the new bar with tacos and margaritas. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

When asked what he wanted to have for his Father’s Day feast my husband declared that he wanted his favorite dinner in the world, Thanksgiving. In June. In 90 degree heat. Do you know how hard it is to find Thanksgiving stuff in June? During a pandemic?

The turkey was the easiest part. I roasted two turkey breasts, mashed some potatoes, and baked the stuffing outside of the bird. We even had pecan pie thanks to my daughter. My sister, the smart one, was in charge of the green beans and made something that was more in line with the weather and the time of year. She got a bunch of green beans, steamed them, and dunked them in cold water to stop the cooking and keep them crunchy. She then dried them off and spread them on a platter, scattered some sliced cherry tomatoes around, and topped them off with a tasty Pine Nut Vinaigrette. It was the perfect way to cut all of the richness and carbs of Thanksgiving in June. In our Mexican cantina…

Pine Nut Vinaigrette
Adapted from Six Seasons: An New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden Read more…