..it's about food, family, friends, and fun….it's about life.
Author: Viki D
I'm a wife, mother, and a nurse. I love to cook, craft, and create. I am a Christmas fanatic and love entertaining and cooking for my friends and family. Follow me on Pinterest at Around the Butcher Block / VikiD
It’s a strange time we are living in at the moment. We have been trying to keep things as normal as possible. It’s difficult to do when being asked to wear a mask and socially distance. Still, life goes on as it always does.
We have been at our place in Ocean City, MD. Normally crowds would be swarming the beaches and restaurants. Bars would be full to capacity, with great music and bands. There were still beach goers. There were still people on the boardwalk. There was curbside take out for meals. The quiet was evident and eerie.
We had friends over for a cookout. Grilled chicken and scallops were the main event. Nothing better than food cooked on a charcoal grill. We had some salads as sides. I decided to make a trifle for dessert.
I’ve been making trifles for a while now. They are easy to make. You can make them with any ingredients you like. They feed a lot of people. I attempt to keep mine on the light side but look for good, fresh, ingredients. I use a store bought Angel Food cake to make it even easier. Again, you could use pound cake and you can certainly make your own. But here’s the question. Why would you?
Layers and Toasting Almonds
My trifle yesterday consisted of ripe, red strawberries that were sliced. I used juicy, plump blueberries and also banana that was sliced. I cubed my store bought Angel Food cake. A box of instant sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding and Lite Cool Whip pulled everything together. Toasted almond slivers crowned the top to add some crunch and texture. It was an awesome, light, and tasty end to a great meal.
Here are the directions. Keep in mind, you can use any flavor pudding, any type of fruit. Use your imagination and make it yours. But definitely make it! I haven’t met anybody yet that doesn’t like it.
Hi folks! I hope everyone is doing okay! Honestly, I am missing my family and friends. I miss human contact…..who knew? I never realized just how much I thrived on human interaction. Guess I wouldn’t be very good on an island alone. I don’t think “Wilson” would be enough to sustain me.
I love to cook but I miss going out to dine. Nothing like sharing a good bottle of wine, or two, with family and friends. We go to certain restaurants because we like certain dishes. Some dishes I like so well that I will come home and re-create them.
One of our favorite places serves this particular salad. Actually, my daughter tried it first. All she had to say was, “it’s so light, lemony, and fresh”. I was sold and ordered it on our next visit. Her description was perfect. When we go there, this is usually what I order.
Crisp, slightly bitter arugula, with shards of thinly sliced fennel. Also with sweet, grape tomatoes that have been halved. Topped with creamy, fresh goat cheese. The salad is lightly dressed and tossed in the vinaigrette. The restaurant always serves a paillard of chicken breast on the side. Basically a flattened chicken breast that is seasoned with salt and pepper. It is then shallow fried in oil on both sides. It’s fantastic and there is nothing more to say!
The vinaigrette, I have discovered, goes well on a variety of salads. So when life gives you lemons, make this vinaigrette. You might want to grab a bottle of buttery Chardonnay to go with it. I hope you enjoy it!
I recently saw a post and recipe for ricotta gnocchi. They are creamy and light little pillows that melt in your mouth. The key is not to add too much flour. I honestly prefer them over the potato gnocchi. In fact, I never really liked gnocchi until I had them made with ricotta. I just never understood what the big deal was.
There is an Italian restaurant in Ocean City that we frequent. I am sure I have mentioned it before. Ristorante Antipasti, on Coastal highway. Trust me, if you are ever in the area, make a reservation and go. Some of the best eats in Ocean City and the owner and his wife make you feel like family. His gnocchi changed my mind forever.
I liked them so much; I wanted to be able to share them with everyone. I knew I had to learn how to make them. So make them I did. This is my recipe. Again, you do not want to add too much flour, it will make them heavy and doughy. Other than that, it’s pretty straight forward and easy to do. There’s no special equipment required and it goes quickly.
We like ours in tomato sauce and a nice grating of fresh parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil. A brown butter sage sauce also works well here. Just add some crusty bread, an olive oil dip, and a green salad. A good bottle of wine completes this taste sensation. Be prepared to be transported. This meal is amazing!
1 small containter of full fat ricotta cheese (do not use skim or low fat), drained of all liquid
2 egg yolks
1/2 C fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t French grey sea salt (Kosher can also be used)
1 1/2 C all purpose flour (plus more or less as needed)
fresh chopped basil, for garnish
Kosher salt, to add to boiling water
In a large bowl add 1 C flour, make a well in the center and add the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, and salt.
Mix until combined and turn out onto a floured board and begin kneading gently. Add flour as needed, dough should be slightly wet, but hold together. The less flour added, the lighter it will be. More flour results in doughy gnocchi.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. One rope at a time roll into a 1/2″ circumference and cut into one inch pieces. Place pieces onto a lightly floured wooden board or a sheet pan that has been floured.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of Kosher salt. Have your sauce hot and ready on another burner.
In small batches add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into your heated sauce of choice.
Top with a good grating of parmesan cheese and chopped basil.
I like to make my own sauce but in a pinch, Rao’s marinara sauce is excellent. I keep it on hand when I am in a hurry.
I thought it would be fun to share my recent artwork with you. I love to draw and use chalk pastels. They are so fun and forgiving with just a few tools. It’s also an inexpensive hobby.
This one was done for my dear friend Rhonda. She loves Flamingos! When we were in Aruba together she was on a mission. The Renaissance has a private island appropriately named, “Flamingo Island”. It’s a little island that you can see when coming into Aruba by plane. They escort you there by boat, if you are staying at the hotel. She was able to go with a mutual friend, mission accomplished. She loved it!!!
I try to make my gifts by hand for my friends and family. At this stage in my life I just think it’s more personal and memorable. The fact that I like to do it is an even bigger perk. I couldn’t wait to give it to her! I actually started writing this post before I was able to gift it to her. Anyway, it was a hit and she has another piece of artwork to hang in her home to remind her of our time.
I invited her to the house for lunch. At her request we had Chicken Caesar salads. I do have a killer recipe for Caesar dressing. Sadly, it remains a secret and will for a while. I am looking into bottling, and selling it. I will share her favorite cookie. She requests these at Christmas. I figured since we needed dessert, why not for her birthday?
We call them snowballs. They are also known as Russian Tea Cakes and Mexican Wedding Cookies. I think there are probably more names than there are recipes. I have had this one for years. I have no idea where it came from so I won’t take total credit for it. It’s a great tea cookie. It’s covered in snowy, powdered sugar and melts in your mouth. If you make them…..just don’t tell Rhonda! I hope you enjoy!
We are living in a turbulent and trying time. COVID – 19 has descended upon all of us. It’s hard to know what to do or how to respond. We seem to be dividing ourselves according to our political beliefs. The hoarding is jeopardizing our young and elderly. Greed has reared it’s ugly head and is as big a threat as the virus.
We have been asked to quarantine ourselves as much as humanly possible. We have been asked to social distance and wash our hands. We weren’t asked to hoard toilet paper, or take all the food stores! We certainly weren’t asked to turn on our fellow man!
If we are all to survive this we have got to help each other. Check on your neighbors. Offer kindness and help to anyone that needs it. Be kind and show the same benevolence to everyone that you would like shown to you. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. ALL of us are entitled to our opinions. Our biggest threat is not this virus. Our biggest threat is the hatred we are showing for our fellow man.
One act of kindness can go a long way. Please, I beg you, be that one person. Just like laughter, kindness can be contagious. Let it start with you. Let’s all stop this madness and help each other through this trying time. Be an example to our children. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It all starts with you and me!
As for me, I choose to be kind. I will help in any way that I can. I may not always agree with you but that’s okay. We have the ability to think for ourselves. We have the freedom as Americans to express ourselves. Lets not lose the fact that we have choices in this country, each and “everyone” of us.
God Bless America and God Bless each and everyone of you! I pray this will come to an end soon and find you all safe and well.
Do you ever ask the question, “what would you like for dinner?” Typically the answer is, “I don’t care”. So when I ask and somebody gives me a specific, I am on it. Last night the hubster made this suggestion. I nearly fell over!!!!
This recipe requires a couple of steps but really is very easy. It’s full of fiber and flavor and makes 6 servings. It’s just two of us; I love leftovers for lunch. These peppers are even better the next day. The flavors really blossom overnight.
I use tri-colored bell peppers, red, orange, and yellow. I like my peppers a little on the sweet side. If you want a zestier taste, use green bell peppers. Either will work fine; it’s just personal preference and availability.
You will notice I list 4 different types of meat. Again, it’s your personal preference. I like to use 1/2 either beef, bison, or turkey, and add 1/2 italian sausage meat to mine. You can use all of one type of meat if you prefer. This is an absolute personal choice so go for it.
I like to add a dollop of ketchup to the top while they are cooking. It gets thick and sweet. It also reminds me of my mother’s when I was a kid. Shredded cheese of your choice can be added to the top in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Served with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream on top is also fantastic. As you can see, there are a lot of options.
Then next time the answer is “I don’t care”, give this one a try. I hope you enjoy it!
6 bell peppers, tops removed and set aside, remove seeds and veins
1 lb of lean ground beef or turkey or Italian sausage or Bison ( can use 1/2 of two different types of meat combined)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 C of Rao’s basil tomato sauce, or sauce of your choice
1/2 C brown rice, cooked
2 T Worchestershire sauce
1 t Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Place the cleaned bell peppers in a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, remove and place in a baking dish.
Mince the tops of the bell peppers and set aside.
Sauté the meat of your choice along with the onions, garlic, minced bell pepper tops and the Italian seasoning, until the meat is cooked and no longer pink. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the 2 C of tomato sauce, worchestershire and the cooked rice to the meat mixture and continue to cook until all of the ingredients are heated through.
Divide the mixture evenly among the 6 bell pepper cups that are in your baking dish.
Add boiling water to the baking dish to at least a quarter inch.
I like to add a T of ketchup to the top of the peppers, this step is optional.