What’s In Your Garden Plan

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Last week I wrote of the symbolic nature of flowers. Look around your garden. What does it say about you? Plant some dill. It symbolizes power against evil. Every victory garden could use that power right about now. Nasturtium, too. Those edible peppery and sometimes fiery orange blossoms stand for patriotism. Do you love this country? How do you show it?

For those who knew William or have followed this blog I’m certain I don’t have to explain why dill and nasturtium remind me of him. I don’t know a soul (other than his military brothers) who love this country more and fought the good fight, so others could live free.

William on the left with two of his brothers.

Today, I praise the essential workers battling the evil of COVID19 especially my two nieces. Heather and Brenda are on the front lines as nurses in ICU units devoted to the care of those infected. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions associated with these essential jobs, but they do it. They pledge an allegiance to quality healthcare no matter the hardship. All any of us nonessentials can do is express our gratitude for their courage, dedication and willingness to fight the good fight…plus wash our hands and practice social distancing. This thing isn’t over, yet.

With its feathery leaves and delicate flowers dill is an essential herb that attracts beneficial predators to the garden. I guess that is how it got its reputation for fighting evil.

As much as I love this recipe as written desperate times call for desperate measures. These days #AmericaStrong we are all adapting to a new normal. Thankfully, this is a raid your pantry kind of recipe initially adapted from William-Sonoma’s web site. No puff pastry? No problem. Use any kind of pie dough or even a pre-made pizza crust, flour tortillas or naan…hey! it is an international situation we are in so be brave and use whatever. Same goes for fresh tomatoes. Any fresh vegetable will do, but if it is crunchy like broccoli, blanch it first. Onions? Caramelize them first. Canned tomatoes? Drain them and pat them dry. Same for cheese and herbs…just do you and don’t forget to plant some seeds.

Fresh Tomato Tart with Feta & Dill

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced

kosher salt

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

 freshly ground pepper, herb oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes lightly with salt and place in a single layer on paper towels. Let them stand 15 to 30 minutes for paper towels to absorb some of their moisture.

Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, prick (or dock) the pastry all over. Fold over 1/2 inch of the pastry all the way around the edge.

Arrange the tomatoes and cheese evenly on top of the pastry rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the dill and some freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little herb oil and parmesan.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a work surface. Cut the tart into pieces and serve.

Choose Well this St. Patrick’s Day

Life is full of choices

  • The black or the white
  • Dine in or dine out
  • hoard TP or not

However, when it comes to cooking corned beef there really is only one good choice. This St. Patrick’s Day choose the brisket designated “flat-cut”. The flat cut vs the point cut is leaner and slices perfectly. The point cut may have a bit more flavor due to all that fat, but the meat will shred on you and no one wants shredded corn beef unless you are making hash.

And here is another tip for making a delicious St. Patty’s feast. Make a spirited glaze to flavor the meat. Let’s be honest, boiled meat, no matter how much pickling spice you use, lacks flavor. It needs a boost, so this glaze is what I recommend.

perfectly sliced whiskey glazed corn beef

Years ago my friend, Tina, of the blog Epicuricloud, posted a St. Patrick’s dinner as featured in a Cuisine At Home magazine. The recipe included a whiskey glaze. Spirited and easy to make the glaze offers the corned beef a depth of flavor that it so desperately needs. To add to the party I choose an Irish whiskey to make it a bit more authentic, but you can make your own choice.

Irish Whiskey Glaze

1/2  cup Irish whiskey

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or I prefer 2 teaspoons of hot honey if you have it


Whisk all the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until thickened.

Brush glaze onto your cooked corned beef and then roast for 10 minutes at 450F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. This makes enough glaze to then drizzle over the slices or serve on the side.

❤ Be Well ❤

Good Grief Baking Therapy

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Peppermint Stick Cheesecake Stuffed Cookies

Baking therapy. It’s a thing this time of year. Among other holiday goodies, I baked a baker’s dozen of different cookies. Tapping into that inner strength I created 3 inspired original recipes which were totally delightful. Sadly, I don’t have photos of the orange nut pinwheels (Bill’s favorite), jam thumbprints (Caitlin’s favorite), molasses, almond butter cookies, bourbon chocolate chip or cranberry crumb bars, but please enjoy the rest.

Truth be told I did have a meltdown the day after Christmas. In a room full of people surrounded by our children I suddenly felt like half of me was missing. In an instant and out of nowhere I was overwhelmed by his absence. Gosh I miss him! Cookies can’t change that. I wonder which one would be his favorite. What gets you through the holidays?

Here is the recipe for the Orange Nut Pinwheels. Clipped from a magazine, I have been making this spicy, fruit-filled nutty slice and bake cookie for decades. What I love about it is the cookie dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer for a week and then sliced and baked fresh when you need them. It’s a keeper.

Orange-Nut Pinwheels

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
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1 cup California walnuts, ground

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/3 cup dark seedless raisins, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

In medium bowl, combine first 4 ingredients and 3 tablespoons light brown sugar; set aside. Into large bowl, measure flour, shortening, egg and 1 cup packed brown sugar. With hands, knead ingredients until dough holds together. On sheet of wax paper, roll out half of dough into a 14″ x 6″ rectangle; spread with half of nut mixture. Starting with 6″ side, roll dough tightly jelly roll fashion. Wrap in wax paper. Repeat with remains ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or until firm enough to slice. You can chill this dough up to a week. Heat oven 350F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment. With serrated knife, slice dough crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place cookies 1-inch apart on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown. With thin spatula transfer cookies to rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to two weeks.