Picnicking Birds

He’s hitting the grape jelly.  We heard that the orioles were in town and put this feeder up 2 days ago.  We are gratified to see one so soon, or at all.  We had a pair nest in a walnut tree years ago, in the pre digital camera days.

Friday Recipe Exchange: On The Road

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An unexpected family event means I’m on the road this week camped out at my brother’s house. So while everyone is at work and school I’m putting together dinner tonight.

I brought peaches from Palisades, but they will not make it into a recipe, they are too good by themselves and I didn’t have enough room (thanks Bixby) to bring an entire flat with me. But they are still the main ingredient in tonight’s featured recipes.

Speaking of peaches, Mrs. J’s Famous Peach Pie is pictured above and the recipe is here.

And if you have the grill going anyway, throw some peaches on for Grilled Peaches (recipe here)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m making Chipotle-Orange Glaze Grilled Chicken (recipe here), Cucumber-Tomato Salad (our traditional family style recipe here) and of course grilled corn steamed rice (someone forgot the corn on the way home from work).

For the pet lovers, Bixby had quite the adventures last week as a bunch of us celebrated my birthday. He wishes every week was like that. You can read about it here.

How’d your week go? Any fun plans on the menu this weekend? Anyone heading out to a state fair and want to report back on what they’re trying to deep fry this year? Share your tales of gastric adventures.

Peaches and Strawberries 2

For tonight’s featured recipes, I’m posting two of my favorites to make when the peach basket overflows with Palisade Peach bounty. They are great with grilled chicken or pork, and the salsa makes a great side with fish.

Peach Salsa

  • 2 cups diced peeled peaches (2 to 3 peaches)
  • 4 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 medium lime
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced hot or mild green chile pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • dash ginger
  • dash garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon orange or pineapple juice
  • dash freshly ground black pepper

Mix together and let meld together for about 30 minutes or more before serving.

Peach Chutney

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp minced fresh
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste

small sauce pan

Add all ingredients to sauce pan, heat to boiling – stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until slightly thickened.

That’s it for this week. Excuse me while I try to figure out how to turn down the heat on the Chipotle-Orange glaze before my family disowns me.  Whimps – TaMara




Full Dinner Menu:Cream of Potato Soup, Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad and Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

The deep chill set in last week and shows no sign of leaving, so it had to be soup tonight. I just made a big pot of potato soup from leftover mashed potatoes and a few whole potatoes I sliced on my new mandolin to help get me through the big freeze. I thought it should then be the theme for tonight’s menu.


I’ve been eyeing mandolins for a while and settled on one that would be useful for how seldom I would use it. So far I really liked it. I did invest in a glove to prevent adding my fingertips to any meal prep. So between that and the new camera, I’m hoping to wow you with some pretty plates in the coming weeks.


But until then, here is tonight’s full menu and shopping list:


There’s nothing better on a cold night than Creamy Potato Cheese Soup.  I rarely peel potatoes, I scrub the skins thoroughly and that’s good enough for me. It also saves a lot of time and potato skins are full of good things. Yes, there is cheese, but milk instead of cream, and you can even use non-fat milk without noticing any loss. I threw the Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp in at the last minute, because to me, fall is all about fruit crisps.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Pears & Sour Cherry Crisp


  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly


  • 4 large fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine pears, cherries, sugar, & cornstarch. Spread in baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 to 34 minutes, topping should be golden & pears tender.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 large fresh pears
  • 12 oz frozen pitted cherries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

Originally posted November 2009


Friday Recipe Exchange: Gluten Free Goodies

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This is going to be a quick one. I didn’t want to leave you hanging a second week, especially since I’m going to be travelling next week and there probably won’t be  any recipes.

I asked earlier in the summer  for gluten free recipe ideas. There was lots of input, as always you guys rock. One thing I noticed about  recipes for bread substitutes the ingredient list is daunting. I thought mixes might be a better route for these items. I wanted to test out some mixes for pizza crust, rolls and bread, but I just haven’t found the time.

If you’ve had success with mixes and would like to recommend some, let us know in the comments. I could use some direction and I’m probably not the only one. Share any other gluten free recipes I may have missed in the first go round. And of course talk about any other recipes you’d like to share.

First up, the links that came from various commenters:

Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Alton Brown, here.

Almond Butter Blondies, from Eat Well, here.

Too easy to believe, Chocolate-Walnut Cookies, recipe here.

Then there is my favorite gluten free cake recipe. I love this cake because not only is it gluten free, but you can change up the ingredients to a variety of fruits including cranberry, clementine oranges, and of course chocolate and mocha

And if I had to pick a blog, I like Gluten Free Girl, because she emphasizes foods that are naturally gluten free as a place to start, click here to see her journey and great recipes.

I am not gluten sensitive, but years ago realized that wheat flour, among other things, exacerbated my joint pain, so I cut way back. When my friend LFern went gluten free, she recommended a brown rice pasta that I love. It has great flavor and excellent texture, I’ve used it for all kinds of things, including tonight’s featured recipe, I rarely recommend specific products, but this is my exception, it’s Tinkyada Rice Pasta, link here to products, pricey, but worth it.

So that’s a start. I’m sure you have many more I haven’t even thought of and I look forward to hearing about them.

Tonight’s featured recipe I’ve posted before, but not with the gluten free alternative. I wanted to use it tonight because I wanted to show gluten free doesn’t mean it can’t be yummy.

Gluten Free Spinach Lasagna


  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned


Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.


  • 1 pkg Tinkyada or other gluten free lasagna noodles (16 oz)* – boiled and cooled.
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

*I’ve boiled these and also baked them dry. I prefer the dry method, you’ll need to increase baking time by 30 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Okay, this was all done on the fly, so if I missed something or messed something up, let me know, I’ll fix.  – TaMara


Dinner Menu: Color It Orange

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In the heat of summer, I like to keep the menus out of the kitchen to keep things cool. So break out the grill and the chocolate.

Sometimes I really want oranges. Orange juice, orange popsicles, orange dreamsicles, orange chicken, and oranges, lots of oranges. When I originally put this menu together, I worried that there would be too much orange with both the chicken and the salad. But the chicken flavor is subtle; more of a tangy citrus and the orange salad compliments it nicely. Instead of bread you can try couscous or a nice variety of rice, I’m into brown Jasmine these days. Chocolate is the perfect finish to an orange themed dinner, so fire up the grill, get out your sticks,  put on your scout cap and make some S’Mores.

On the board tonight:

  1. Orange Grilled Chicken
  2. Orange Salad
  3. Artisan Bread with garlic butter
  4. S’Mores

Orange Grilled Chicken – Marinate Overnight

  • ½ cup orange juice concentrate
  • ¼ cup limejuice
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried mint, crushed
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt & pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts

zip-lock bag, bowl, brush & saucepan

Mix together all ingredients and marinate overnight in a ziplock bag or sealed container. Remove chicken from marinade and set aside. Add marinade to saucepan and boil until reduced by half, stirring constantly. Grill chicken over medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until no longer pink in the center (170ºf). Baste frequently with sauce after the first 5 minutes.

To keep chicken from drying out, sear both sides (about 3-5 minutes) over direct heat and finish cooking away from direct flame.

Orange Salad

  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 oranges, peeled, remove pith and slice in thin circles
  • 1 cucumber, peeled & sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced rings
  • 4 oz slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp ea. Oregano, cumin & salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

serving bowl

Tear leaves and arrange in bowl. Layer oranges, cucumber, onion and almonds. Whisk together remaining ingredients and drizzle over lettuce mixture.

Menu serves 4

Shopping List:

  • Loaf of Artisan Bread
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 16 oz box of graham crackers
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 4 chocolate bars (okay, to be authentic I think they should be Hersheys)
  • 6 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 3 oz limejuice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 oz slivered almonds

Also: lots of crushed garlic, dried mint, oregano, ground ginger, salt, pepper, cumin, white wine vinegar, honey

Originally published June 2010


Blood Orange Salad

Blood oranges are in season so I thought I’d make it the focus of tonight’s recipe exchange. This was originally posted January 2009:

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Blood Orange Salad
  • 2 blood oranges**
  • 2 large navel oranges
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ small jicama, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • Bibb lettuce leaves

shallow serving bowl

Peel oranges, and slice them into thin circles (don’t section). Place oranges, onions & jicama in a bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, oregano & cumin, and toss gently. Let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature, serve on lettuce leaves.

**If you can’t find Blood Oranges, substitute pink grapefruit for some tang.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Orange Bread

Orange BreadI love fruit breads. It took me a long time to move beyond banana bread, but strawberry bread and lemon bread are high on my list of favorites. I had never made orange bread before, but this week when it was clear I had a half dozen Clementine oranges that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them soon, I decided to give it a try.

Basically, what I did was adapt my strawberry bread recipe, with some additions I thought would work with oranges – ginger and a bit of limejuice.

Here’s the original Strawberry Bread recipe (click here).

And here is Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake recipe (click here), which is what I usually make with my extra oranges.

I love oranges and I’m always looking for different recipes for them. Do you have a favorite orange recipe? What about other fruit recipes? Hit the comments with your ideas.

Now for the featured recipe:

Orange Bread

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or butter
  • 6 Clementine oranges
  • 2 tsp limejuice


  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Hot water

blender or food processor, large mixing bowl, loaf pan – greased and lightly floured


First, I did these in mini-loaf pans and it made 3 loaves. It will make one loaf in a regular loaf pan.

Peel 3 of the oranges and split in half. Cut the remaining 3  UNPEELED oranges into 4-6 pieces. Add all to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Clementine peels are easily blended smooth and give a nice tart flavor – like instant zest. If you’re using regular oranges, peel them all and add about 2 tbsp of orange zest to the recipe.

In mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, oranges, limejuice and stir until all ingredients are moistened, do not over beat. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (30-45 minutes for mini-pans) or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then run knife around edges & remove to cool on wire rack.


Blend together sugar, butter and vanilla, add hot water a bit at a time until it is thin enough to drizzle over loaves. If you add too much water, just add some more sugar. Let glaze cool completely, stir again and then drizzle over completely cooled loaves.

This really was good

Roasted Orange Chicken

A while back, JeffreyW roasted a duck and glazed it in a nice looking sauce. I thought I would use that glaze on my Thanksgiving turkey, but since I didn’t end up cooking on Thanksgiving,  a chicken was going to have to do. I stuffed it with oranges, onion and a spice bag. I roasted it at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then let it finish out at 350 degrees until it was about 150 degrees. Then I coated it with the glaze (recipe below) and continued to roast until it was 165 degrees. I pull it out and let it rest for 15 minutes. It was really good.

EDIT: I forgot to add that I did the herb butter/oil paste under the skin (that’s why there is that small tear in the skin – half the time it tears, half it doesn’t). I added a bit of orange zest into the herb mixture.

I was a bit concerned because when I do the orange turkey, it’s usually in a cooking bag, so the flavor of the orange is intensified. I wasn’t sure roasting was going to give me the same flavor. But between the oranges in the cavity and the orange glaze, it had a nice spicy-orange flavor.

Orange Chicken 2

It looks like it burned, but it was just a trick of the light, making the darker spots look really dark.

Sweet & Spicy Orange Glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp teriyaki, ponzu or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, bring all the ingredients, except orange juice and cornstarch, to a low boil. Mix together orange juice and cornstarch until smooth and add the to boiling mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes before applying to the chicken.