Friday, October 28, 2011


Loved this book. I am asking you, pretty please, go and buy/checkout/download this book.  Anything David McCullough writes works for me.  The Greater Journey Americans in Paris is his latest work that I had a hard time putting down.  We learn about the Americans who visited Paris for various lengths of time between 1830 and 1900 to perfect their craft.  The list of recognizable folks is eye-popping.  Name after name of people you will recognize makes it so much fun to read: Samuel Morse; Henry James; George Healy; James Fenimore Cooper; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Mary Cassat; Augustus Saint-Gaudens; Henry Wadswroth Longfellow; Oliver Wendell Holmes; Harriet Beecher Stowe; and John Singer Sargent.  The list goes on and on.

Getting to know about the relentless work of American minister to France, Elihu Washburne, was in itself worth a read.  Even the source notes are interesting.  I highlighted many quotes in this book but instead of noting them in this review (because I would end up quoting the entire book), I promise you will enjoy this book.  If you don't, you'll learn something anyway so it won't be a waste of  your time.

Five stars from me.  (Of course, I don't really review on a "star" basis, but if I did.....)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Don't know where this recipe originated from but I was lucky enough to receive it from my friend, Kathleen, who raved about it.  I made up a quick batch today for lunch having all the ingredients on hand except for the garnishments which I skipped.  This is a great Fall soup even though the high today here in sunny (perpetually so) AZ is 92 degrees.

Creamy Pumpkin-Peanut Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 tsp ground turmeric (you can substitute ground mustard and saffron, per Kathleen)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 can solid-pack pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 jar roasted red peppers (7 oz), drained, 1 tablespoon chopped and reserved for garnish
1/3 cup smooth reduced-fat natural peanut butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp chopped scallion greens

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

2. Add turmeric, paprika, and chili flakes; stir. Add pumpkin puree, broth, peppers, and peanut butter; whisk to incorporate and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with sour cream, peanuts, reserved chopped peppers, and scallion greens.

Makes 4 Servings.
Per serving: 270 cal, 18 g fat (4 g sat), 22 g carbs,
450 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I've made so many fruit crisps, cobblers, etc. that were all delicious.  But what sets this recipe apart is the luscious maple cream sauce that is swirled around a scoop of this peach crisp. Any leftover sauce could be drizzled atop a hot bowl of oatmeal the next morning, but who would ever do that?  


  • 5 whole To 6 Whole Fresh Peaches (best When Not Overly Ripe Or Soft)
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 stick Butter (1/2 Cup)
  • 1/2 whole Lemon
  • 7 Tablespoons Real Maple Syrup, Divided
  • 1-1/2 cup Whipping Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

Preparation Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry cutter. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.
Peel peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches, stir well.
Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top. I broiled the top for about 2 minutes because our family loves the almost burned brown sugar that dots this yummy dish.
Maple Cream Sauce:
Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle sauce over peach crisp. Serve warm.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


In honor of our official entry into the "ber" months (yea for October!), I made a new soup recipe today from Sunset Magazine.  Yes, it is 97 degrees today, but I'm pretending there is a chill in the air. 

The ingredients were a new combination for me--I've never made anything combining green olives and orange zest, but it works.  It is spicy so if you aren't one to enjoy a slight burn on the tongue, you may want to back off the chile powder and cayenne.  I made the recipe as is without any changes and savored every bite.  Technically it's called a stew, but it seemed more soup-like to me.  It's now my sister's new favorite soup recipe.  Go forth and make.


  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup chopped ripe plum tomatoes (about 2 large) or fire-roasted diced canned tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed if canned
  • 1 cup pimiento-stuffed small green olives


  • 1. Bring broth to a simmer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and lower heat to a simmer. Cook chicken, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through; transfer to a plate. Pour broth into a large bowl and set aside. Wipe out pot.
  • 2. Add oil, onion, and salt to pot and cook over medium heat until onion softens and is starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
  • 3. Stir in cumin, coriander, oregano, and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add ancho chile powder, cayenne, chopped tomatoes, reserved broth, orange zest, and quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until a white ring appears around each quinoa seed, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, shred chicken.
  • 4. Add shredded chicken, chickpeas, and olives and heat through.