Reflections on Life and Orange Almond Biscotti

Years back when I was raising my kids as a single mom I would often find myself expressing how overwhelmed I was.  Overwhelmed just seemed to be such a negative word which could only make me feel, well, even more overwhelmed!  So I decided instead of saying I was overwhelmed, I’d say that I was overblessed!  It was amazing how a simple change in thought made me feel so much better!

So lately, I’ve been very much overblessed 🙂   The first few months of the year have gone by so quickly; I’ve had one thing after another going on and every weekend has been nonstop busyness.  I know that just like all work and no play can makes Jack a dull boy, all this busyness is making Linda in need of some relaxation! Continue reading “Reflections on Life and Orange Almond Biscotti”

I Heart You, Lemon Waffles

I’m wrapping up my citrus month with love….heart shaped lemon waffles.  Both in shape and taste, these light and fluffy waffles make a delicious, romantic breakfast.  Simply topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and warmed maple syrup.  Because as you know, it’s the simple pleasures in life that are the most special.

I’ve always used the method my mother did for making waffles of separating the eggs, whipping the whites and then folding them into the batter.  While it isn’t necessary to do this, as the taste will still be the same, I do find that the waffles are lighter and fluffier prepared in this manner.  Sometimes when I’m deciding on make either pancakes or waffles, I’ll lean toward pancakes as I don’t have to separately beat the whites for pancakes!  Pancake batter also can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.  I’ve not done that with the waffle batter, but I do pre measure out the dry ingredients one day or more ahead so that it’s easier on me in the morning!  Waffles just take a bit more love and attention.

Recently Charles at Five Euro Food posted his Swedish Pancakes, which are made in the shape of 4 hearts connected in a circle.  They are made in a cast iron waffle iron for the stove; something new I learned, once again, from Charles!

I am forever appreciative of all who follow me and the many, many blogs I follow always picking up new ideas and inspiration.  Learning about new dishes, cultures and traditions fascinate me so.  Recently, I was extremely surprised to receive from Cecilia at The Kitchens Garden these gorgeous red shoes!!  How did she ever know my size!!

Actually, this one red shoe is The (Red) Educational Shoe Award.  Cecilia so kindly thought of me to pass this on to.  I’ve learned so much from Cecilia following her morning farm walks.  I’m impressed daily with her sustainable lifestyle and all that she does and endures through the freezing cold, hunters with rifles and scary sounds in the dark!   I’m so very flattered that she felt she actually found something new or interesting from me!!

To pass along the award, I can think of so many of you that have expanded my world and taught me so much.  And, there are a few men out there but I don’t believe any of those that I’m thinking of might wear high heeled red shoes!  So I will stick to the ladies on this one and also selecting just four, for the following reasons….

For lots of information and great recipes to keep me fit and eat healthy, Lisa at Smart Food and Fit and Kelly at Inspired Edibles.  Both ladies can toss their sneakers out for a night as they deserve this Red Shoe.  Kelly not only creates healthy dishes from breakfast to desserts, her plates are always presented so beautifully.  She explains the ingredients she uses in the recipes, the nutritional benefits and has shared many ingredients new to me.  She’s also complimented my recipes and pointed out nutritional tips in her comments which I love to see!!

Lisa keeps me challenged!  She’s really committed to keeping fit and eating clean!  Whenever I read her posts, I want to do a few more exercises, bike a bit further and tweak more of my recipes for cleaner ingredients!  She’s provided tips on packing school box lunches in her Lunchbox Series to new workout routines and eating healthy strategies.

My other two recipients for this Red Educational Shoe Award go to the ladies who share their travels.  While it’s my biggest dream to one day visit Italy, I’ve not yet had a chance to travel outside the US.  So, to Karen at Back Road Journal and Tanya at Chica Andaluza, this Red Shoe goes to you both!  Through most of October, I was able to virtually travel with Karen through the more untraveled areas of Italy, learning of new places like Bolzano and Bressanone Italy to beautiful wine vineyards and finally to Germany.  Her photos and care in explaining the sites, beauty and food fascinated me throughout her trip.  I hope she’s planning another vacation real soon!!

Tanya, the Chica at Chica Andaluza, to begin with, lives in Spain which would be a dream to me, building a home there and sharing her lifestyle.  And then she takes these “holidays” to what to me are the most picturesque, beautiful locations!  Places like Galicia and Asturias and Bali – I’m so jealous!  I’ve learned of new food, culture and places I’d love to visit one day.

So take your Red Shoe ladies, display it proudly and pass it along if you wish to!!

I Heart You, Lemon Waffles

2 eggs, separated

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour unbleached white flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons raw (turbinado), depending on your sweetness level

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 ¼ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat waffle iron, spray if necessary.  Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, set aside.  In another medium size bowl, combine the yolk, cream, juice and butter.  Add to dry and mix until blended.  Fold in egg whites until just combined; do not over mix.  Cook according to the directions of your waffle iron.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and warmed real maple syrup.  Serve at once.  Makes about 8 waffles, depending on your waffle size.

You can also check out  The Orange Bee for her orange flavored waffles!

Broccoli and Cauliflower with Orange Zest, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

I have a simply delicious side veggie to share as well as my responses on being tagged for the 10 Question Quiz from Mandy at The Complete Cookbook!  (following the recipe)

Along with citrus being the fruit in season right now, broccoli and cauliflower are the seasonal vegetable during the winter months.  This very simple side dish bursts with unexpected flavor from the pine nuts, orange zest and golden raisins.  The raisins add a gentle sweetness that blends so well with the orange zest and pine nuts.  I’ve used this trio  mixed into orzo as well and as a topping for grilled or roasted fish or chicken.  Not only do these flavors enhance the dish, they also add a colorful presentation!

Broccoli and Cauliflower with Orange Zest, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

1 small head broccoli, cut into florets, stems trimmed

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 oz pancetta

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, mined

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine

½ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons pine nuts

Zest from one large organic orange

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to boil.  Add in the broccoli and cauliflower and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and continue to simmer for about 5-8 minutes.   Drain and set aside on baking sheet.  (Can be made several hours ahead or day before).

Heat a large skillet with olive oil, sauté the pancetta until crisp.  Remove and set aside.  Add in the broccoli and cauliflower, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until lightly browned and heated well.  Remove to serving bowl and add the raisins, garlic, pine nuts, orange zest and rosemary to the skillet.  If necessary, add additional oil.  Sauté lightly to toast the pine nuts and marry the flavors.  Return the broccoli, cauliflower and pancetta to the skillet to mix together or simply pour over the veggies and toss lightly.  Serve at once or room temperature.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

Now, for my responses…

10 Questions – My Answers

1.  Describe yourself in seven words.

Mother, first and foremost, Friend to many, new and old, Passionate in all I do and feel, Caring to others, Perfectionist at heart but Realistic in knowing that striving to be my best is better than achieving perfectionism, Cheery and happy throughout my day and hopelessly Romantic dreaming for that special one to share my life with.

2.  What keeps you up at night?

Not much as I live by the words of Scarlett O’Hara…”I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

3.  Who would you like to be?

I’m very happy being who I am!

4.  What are you wearing now?

A pair of jeans and a tank top.

5.  What scares you?

I can only think to answer of the safety of my children; no matter how old they are I will be concerned for their safety as they journey on in their life.

6.  What is the best and worst things of blogging?

I’d have to agree with Mandy’s answers on both accounts as the best thing about blogging is the wonderful virtual friends I have met and come to know through their comments and support.

The worst thing about blogging would have to be the amount of time it takes to keep consistent and in touch with everybody on a daily basis.

7.  What was the last website you looked at?

Amazon.  I’m constantly filling my wish list and cart with cookbooks I desire!

8.  If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I will refer to my New Year’s resolution to strive for Divine Thoughts throughout my day!  It’s not that I’m naughty but caddy thoughts are just not right!

9.  Slankets, yes or no?

No….really had no idea what it was!!

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.

Not sure how we found one another, thru her stopping by first or my finding her, but regardless of the way we “met”, I’m glad to share our virtual friendship!  Mandy not only posts some wonderful recipes but her blog contains so much other useful information.  If you search around you can find a wealth of information on conversions, cooking times, tips and how tos…even table setting ideas! She’s definitely the “complete cookbook”!

Who are you going to tag to join the quiz?  (hopefully I’ve not tagged someone already tagged!)

  1.  Mary – One Perfect Bite 
  2. Amy – Savory Moments 
  3. Phyllis – Food Flowers Herbs and Life 
  4. Juliana – Simple Recipes
  5. Junia –   Miss Pensamientos 
January is #citruslove month!
Please join in on the #citruslove by linking up any citrus recipe from the month of January 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #citruslove event! The twitter hastag is #citruslove :).
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Happy New Year!

The dawn of a new day, the start of a new year.  I woke this morning determined to post my appreciation and thankfulness to all those that have touched my life in the past year.  My family, my friends, my closest relationships that share my life; I love you all and thank you from the deepest part of my heart for all your love, support, kindness and caring.

For all my blogosphere friends, this award says it all.  An appreciation of your friendship, your stopping by and reading my blog.  I’m grateful to have gotten to “know” so many of you through your comments and posts.

Recently I’ve received two awards.  This Reader Appreciation Award from John, from the Bartolini Kitchens and the Versatile Blogger Award from Sharyn at The Kale Chronicles, Sush at Pursuit of Happieness and a new friend from Avventura.  If you’re not familiar with these bloggers, please check them out.  My paisan, John, brings back cherished memorys to me through his posts on Italian cooking and family stories.  Sharyn is one talented lady, painting and cooking are only a tip of her talents.  Sush is young and fun exploring her way through the culinary world and Avventura will amuse you with her musings!!

While I have received the Versatile Blogger Award in the past, I still become so flattered and thankful to be honored and thought of.  I’ll not bore you with seven things of myself again but refer you to my prior list as well as my daughter’s thoughts of what she felt you all needed to know about me!

As for the rules of the Reader Appreciation Award, I will copy from John’s post as he so kindly noted, why re-invent the wheel:

1. Award your top 6 bloggers who have commented the most.

2.  Be thankful.

3.  You cannot award someone who has already been awarded. And you cannot give the award back to me.

4.  Don’t forget to tell the bloggers you’ve awarded.

5.  If you don’t want to pass on this award, that’s okay to. Just admire it.

Thanks to site stats, I can easily see my top 6.  John is definitely one of the top but rules state I cannot return back to him, but I so do appreciate his loyalty and friendship.  In fact, I’ve secretly adopted him into my family, aunts and Max included.  From John, there is of course, Greg and Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide.  According to the rules, they’ve received the award from John but I cannot not acknowledge their support, after all, Greg is my long lost cousin.

Charles from Five Euro Food not only posts so many new to me recipes complete with the history of the recipes, he has also been so generous in his time to send me information on how to switch my blog to self hosting.  He hasn’t realized just how challenged I am in this area, but I do hope to make it happen this new year!

Geni from Sweet and Crumbly, is really my best friend, though we’ve never met.  I just know if she lived next door I’d be at stopping by often!  She never fails to bake up the perfect desserts and treats while entertaining readers with her funny stories!

Kristy, Caroline, Ginger, Jessica….I feel like they are my blog daughters.  Kristy from Eat, Play and Love amazes me by virtually traveling through the world with her family trying new cuisines.  Her patience in the kitchen with two little ones helping along (those little faces just warm my heart); she makes pie dough the old fashioned way by hand and her and Mike, while always putting family first, make sure to find time for date night.

Sweet Caroline is just that.  Sweet and amazing in Sweet Caroline’s Kitchen!  She reminds me of my daughter and when she had caught a cold and made her own chicken soup, it broke my heart!!

Ginger from Ginger Coutier is a special gal, finding her way back to happiness and love after her divorce.  She’s raising two children and I’ve been in her shoes.  Trapped in Suburbia, she’s funny, so cute and intelligent.   I know her dreams will all come true!

Jessica from KitchenBelleicious is super woman all the way baking and cooking with a little one and pregnant!  It seemed like she was posting in the delivery room!  Her southern hospitality and cooking shines in her blog!

There are so many more, I honestly could list every one of you; you all touch my life in so many different ways.

And now let us welcome the New Year

Full of things that have never been

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Pumpkin Oatmeal and Raisin Biscotti

How could I let this pumpkin season go by without filling my cookie jar with pumpkin biscotti!!  These are so full of fall flavors that my kitchen immediately filled with the warm aroma of pumpkin and spice.  Oatmeal and spices makes these more rustic in appearance; the texture is crisp and the flavor screams fall.  I’ve gotten into the habit now of using a mix of dried currants, golden, dark and cranberry or cherry. I like how the different colors look like the changing colors of fall leaves.

If you’re not into raisins, as I’ve just learned from Katherine about Greg at Rufus’ Guide to Food and Spirits, you can swap the raisins for walnuts or check out my last year’s pumpkin biscotti recipe.

On another note, how can I delay any further acknowledging the thoughtfulness of John from the Bartolini Kitchens, Ambrosiana from Tales of Ambrosia and Stefanie at A Dash of Sugar and Spice who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!   Please check out their blogs; from Chicago to California to Rome, fabulous recipes, heart warming family memories, travel and all things nice!

As I had received this award awhile ago I was surprised and flattered to see my blog recognized again.   As part of the process for receiving the award, I had listed out 7 things about myself.  My daughter thought I could have come up with better things to say about myself, so with this second recognition, I kindly asked her to make a list of what she thought we the 7 things others should know about me,  And in her words, the following…..

  1. You made sure to the color of your dogs’ fur was the same as your hair color, just so everything matched perfectly
  2. It’s extremely hard for you to accept help from others, especially in the kitchen
  3. You always put others before yourself
  4. Growing up your children never had a real Christmas tree because you’re allergic
  5. You get excited over the littlest of things
  6. You would rather wear your white fox fur coat from years ago during winter than buy another

Pumpkin Oatmeal and Raisin Biscotti

2 cups white whole wheat flour

¾ cup oatmeal, not instant

½ cup turbinado sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup raisins, I used a mix of dark, golden and cranberry

½ cup pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1 tablespoon walnut oil

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice liquor or pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment paper or a Slipat on a baking sheet.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.  In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil and liquor and beat well with a wire whisk.  Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients stirring until mixture is moistened and well blended.  Divide dough in half and form two equal logs about 12 inches in length directly on the baking sheet, placing them about 3 inches apart.  The dough will be sticky, therefore slightly wet hands will help to form the dough.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Allow the biscotti to cool for 10 minutes then slice diagonally into ½ inch slices.  Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until crisp.  Remove and allow to cool on baking sheet.  Makes about 36 biscotti and can be stored covered for a few weeks.

Eggplant Meatballs…and an Award!

I almost titled this Award Winning Eggplant Meatballs but aside from the fact that they do taste awesome, the award was not presented to me because of my meatballs.  John from the Bartolini Kitchens hasn’t tasted my meatballs but did think enough of my blog to include me in his five pics to forward on the Liebster Award!   While I cook mostly Italian and recipes from my mother, John has the real deal, Italian family recipes that always bring back so many memories to me!  Reading his posts on his family and traditions brings a smile to my face and that month of ice cream making had me wishing I was his neighbor!!

I was a bit intrigued on what this Liebster Award was about and googling it I found out that it orginated in German.  It was designed to bring recognition to those that are nominated and I’m assuming as the word means “beloved” that those blogs selected are loved by their readers!   At least that’s where I’m going on this when I select those blogs I love.  But then again, that’s not going to be easy as I do love reading
so many and if I don’t list your blog, it’s not that I don’t love you!!! Just that I can only pick 5!!

So, here are my five and I could certainly pick so many more…

Sweet and Crumbly

Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide 

Tales of Ambrosia

Smart Food and Fit

Ginger Coutier

And, now here’s the eggplant meatballs that are winners in my home!  Roasted eggplant, garlic, bread crumbs and parsley processed together to form the most moist and tender meatballs!  Calling these “meat” balls is misleading but it gets the point across as to what this is.  I’ll never give up my traditional meatballs, but when I’m looking for a vegetarian version this is my go to choice.  Instead of using the breadcrumbs, pureed cannellini beans can be substituted.

Eggplant MeatBalls

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 roasted garlic

1 egg, beaten

1/4 – 1/3 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil

Marinara Sauce for serving

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.  Rinse and pat dry.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix the eggplant cubes with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast the eggplant on a large baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes or until lightly brown and creamy.  Remove and refrigerate overnight  if desired or proceed with the recipe.  Combine the eggplant and remaining ingredients (except Marinara Sauce in a food processor and lightly process allowing the mixture to be creamy but still slightly thick.  Shape into a golf ball size.  They can be either fried or
baked.  I prefer to bake on a rack lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once.  They should brown slightly but remain creamy inside.  Serve with marinara sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Makes about 12, depending on size.

Grilled Artichokes with Sun Dried Tomato Dip and My First Award!

As most of you know, Savoring Every Bite came about as a way for a mother to get her family favorite recipes to her daughter away at college.  Beginning her junior year in college, Gina moved into an apartment and casually asked her mother for a few recipes.  Recipes?  My daughter is expressing an interest in cooking?  Is this really MY daughter?  The one who was always too busy to spend time with me in the kitchen?  The girl with the limited attention span?

I didn’t just want to “jot down” a few recipes; she’d probably just toss the paper.  Creating a “family” cookbook? No, she’s just not a “book” person.  Gina is forever online, shopping, searching, chatting.  She must follow every fashion blog out there… and there was my connection.  I’d start a blog.

I’d cook, I’d post and occasionally Gina would leave a comment.  Honestly I knew nothing about blogging, taking photos or making it look nice like all the others.  I still can’t say I understand this fully, but I have enjoyed every moment and have found so many new “friends” on my blogging journey.  And because of these wonderful, amazing, talented new friends I received this:

I was first presented with this award from the adorably talented Lianna from The Little Spork.  She is a college student baking and cooking her way along with some quite impressive recipes!  My second “nomination” was from Yummy Chunklet, her blog caught my attention when she was celebrating her birthday the entire month!  She definitely knows how to treat herself well and post “yummy” recipes.  And lastly from Ginger Couturier .  I can always count on Ginger bringing a smile to my face and a little chuckle as her posts tell it like it is!  She’s seems like a friend you can feel comfortable telling anything to as she writes so real about life, motherhood and homemaking.

The “rules” for accepting this award is to write 7 things about yourself that no one knows and to then pass on the award to other amazing bloggers.  I don’t think I could ever top Ginger’s 14 facts about herself, but here goes…..

1.  I love to hula hoop.  I still own my very first hoop; the pink color has faded and scratches from hitting the concrete replaced the smooth feel but when I hula the beads still swirl through the hoop with the sounds of my childhood memories.

2.  After watching Under The Tuscan Sun I wished I had moved to Tuscany following my divorce instead of Florida.

3.  Which leads to my dream to one day vacation to Italy and Sicily.

4.  I loved Home Ec class in high school but was embarrassed to tell anyone I could enjoy being a homemaker.  And then Martha Stewart came along and made a fortune giving domestic tips on cooking, gardening, homemade crafts to laundry, party planning and “Living” the Martha way.

4.  Early mornings are my favorite time of the day when the house is quiet, my puppies are still sleepy and their noses are dry.  Yoga wakens my body, hot espresso charges me up; Every Day is a New Beginning (my favorite thought).

5.  I hate Diets; I hate to hear people talk about being on a Diet and then being off their Diet.  The ‘way’ people eat is their “diet”; some have to avoid gluten, other’s follow their nationality’s style of food, some eat breakfast, some don’t.  I prefer to eat real, eat light and not combine my proteins with my carbs, though it’s not a deal breaker in my life!

6.  Chihauhua’s are my favorite little dog.  They are tiny, but fierce.  They love endlessly.

7.   I am a hopelessly romantic woman; I believe in happy endings and love everlasting.

I follow and enjoy many food blogs.  The following are my favorites; those I look forward to reading and seeing what they are cooking or baking up next!  Over time, I’ve come to “know” them through their posts, especially those that share their family stories.  I’m sure many of them have received this award before or other awards acknowledging their talents and wonderful blogs.  Therefore, I forward this Award to those I am so thankful to include in my circle of friends, and truly I could list so many others:

A Spicy Perspective 

Chef in Disguise

Eat, Play, Love

Kitchen Belleicious

Rufus Food and Spirits Guide

Smart Food and Fit

Sweet and Crumbly

Sweet Caroline’s Cooking

Grilled Artichokes with Sun Dried Tomato Dip

I love playing with my food appetizers; pulling the leaves, dipping in a sauce and scraping the tangy goodness off of each petal.  For this platter, I used 2 large artichokes.  I trimmed each globe’s pointy leaves, sliced the top and trimmed the stem.  The cut artichokes were rubbed with lemon and submerged in a large pot filled with water, 1 teaspoon salt and the juice from one lemon.  Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and gently cook approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a leave is easily pulled and the bottom can be easily pierced with a knife.  Drain well and set aside.  Can be made a day ahead at this point and refrigerated.  A few hours prior to grilling and serving, cut the artichokes in quarters, remove the fuzzy center and marinate with vinaigrette mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, kosher salt and pepper.  Heat a large grill pan, drain artichokes from marinade, place artichokes cut side down and grill until nice grill markets appear, turn and grill other side.  Plate and serve with a butter sauce or the following Sun Dried Tomato Dip:

Sun Dried Tomato Dip:  Combine 6 large sun dried tomatoes, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped onion and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil in a blender.  Begin to blend and slowly add in ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, until combined well, add Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Can be made one day ahead, refrigerate and bring to room temperature to serve.