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Reviews from the Food Network, Rachel Ray, The French Laundry, & Olive Garden


This week has been a good week for me to remember to practice what I preach.  I have taken the time this week to set the table, add special touches, invite friends over and try to make each meal a special even, if it was simple.  I don’t always succeed, but there is so much joy in the trying!  I hope you will continue or start to give it a try.

We really enjoyed this week’ meals and had enough leftover to have friends over to help us finish them off.  My friend it calls it the microwave buffet!  Everyone picked what they wanted and then we sat around and laughed and talked for hours.  That is what it is all about!

One note about meals this week: BUY A SCALE  I used my scale repeatedly this week, it helps be more precise as well as making it easier to use recipes from other countries.  Buy a good scale that can go between ounces and grams, you won’t regret it.

This week’s Reviews:

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

pork and sweet potato

Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes (less if you butterfly the loin instead)

Ease: Intermediate

Review: Sometimes it is worth it to put a little extra effort into the meal.  Aside from the  amount of time this recipe takes it looks a little daunting to the average home cook, but once you get in there it was really pretty easy and the results, lets just say WOW!  We served this for company one night and couldn’t say enough about how wonderful they thought it was.  If you want to impress someone this is the dish!

Tips/Adjustments: This recipe, as written, yields 20 portions so I halved the recipe an it worked well to serve 4 with leftovers.  I also chose to butterfly the pork loin and stuff it down the middle and tie with cooking twine, then seared the meat before cooking in the oven for about 30 minutes (until internal temp is 145).


Time: 1 Hour

Ease: Simple (surprisingly) to Moderate

Review:  Whaaaatt???  A Thomas Keller recipe that is easy? It can’t be so you say.  It is, it is!  The Yukon Gold Potato Blini’s were incredible easy to make and even easier to eat.  We topped them with crème fraîche and smoked salmon. oh wow, they were so good.  I feel like I will make this often.  The hardest part was being patient while I waited for the potatoes to become tender.

The soup: The Chanterelle Soup is also very easy and may possibly be my new favorite soup. Note: 50ml of onions is about 1/4 cup and Changerelles can be hard to find and expensive.  I found a mushroom packet with a mixture of 4 different types of mushrooms and added cremini to total 400 grams.

shrimp salad

Time: 30 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I’ll be honest, I don’t like watching Rachel Ray.  There I said it.  It is something about the presentation and speed of things on the show that I don’t care for, but I do enjoy the food.  The Sesame-Lime Shrimp Salad was awesome and easy.  It felt like a nice light dish, one that would be great to pull back out in the summertime.

My husband asked for cheese pie, a dish his mother made when he was growing up.  I agreed to do it if we had something a little lighter on the side.  Everyone was happy.

Cheese Pie – not a quiche

cheese pie

My husband’s Cheese Pie:

4 oz shredded Muenster, 4 oz shredded cheddar, 1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup flour, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup milk, 1/8 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp Lowery’s Seasoned Peppers, 1/2 cup chopped salami pepperoni, or other sausage, 1/2 tsp oregano

Cook sausage if necessary.  Mix all ingredients together Pour into well greae 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 2 minutes more.

There is no review, this recipe just is.  As I’ve said before, my husband loves cheese.  I mean we are talking Wallace and Gromit level love of cheese.  Combine a love of cheese with a fellas love of his mother and well there is nothing left to do but make it for him!

twists pomodoro 2

Time:  10-15 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Olive Garden’s Campellini Pomodoro is delicious in the restaurant, but is just as delicious at home.  It takes 15 minutes tops and looks elegant, tastes great, and can’t be any more simple.  Add a glass a wine, turn the lights down low and enjoy!

So what’s with the twist you ask?  Simple, I traded Campellini pasta for twists, ok I know that was kinda cheesy.  You can use any pasta that your heart desires with this recipe.

enchilada black bean

Time:  1 Hour and 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Cooking Light’s Black Bean and Cheese Enchilada with Ranchero sauce was easy to make.  The flavors were nice and you can adjust the heat per your family’s tastes.  I used dried chipotle peppers instead of ancho and it added that nice smoky flavor.  To compensate for the loss in heat I added red pepper flakes.  Even though this dish is simple it has layers of flavor and would be a great dish to take to a covered dish or serve to company.

My son made a yummy stir fry this week using venison.  He did a great job and I just want to give a shout out to him!  Awesome job!  Thanks for a great dinner.

venison stir fry 2

It was a great week filled with delicious smells and flavors and friends and family.  It just doesn’t get much better.

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