Category: Food (page 1 of 2)

Parchment paper cooking: Eat a healthy fish dinner & spend more time with family

Life happens fast.  We all have too many things we need need to do: work, sports, school activities, help with homework, etc.  Our lives are also filled with a long list of the things we want to do: spend quality time with friends & family, read a book, take a bath, travel, spend time working on a hobby, etc.  For me, family time has become more  critical than ever as I realize my son is growing up way too fast.  How did he get to high school already?

We also want to eat healthy and save money.  All of these conflicting desires and demands can really stress out a parent.  Let’s figure out a way to slow down the clock, hear about our kid’s experiences, achievements, and challenges over a healthy, easy, budget-friendly meal.  Here is a quick and easy cooking technique for shrimp and fish that will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I enrolled in a cooking class at a nearby farm.  We had a chance to try several different fish recipes and cooking techniques.  I immediately realized that ‘en papillote’ had the potential to change my life in the kitchen.  This fancy French term?  It describes an easy cooking method for healthy food with minimal clean-up!  Count me in!

I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  My kitchen experiments have not always turned out as planned and are never perfect, but  this is real life and I don’t recall a time when my family has ever turned down a meal.  The recipe outlined below works well with shrimp and any sturdy white fish such as orange roughy, tilapia, haddock, sole, or halibut. Buy whatever your budget allows.  I purchased a pack of individually wrapped tilapia filet (6) for about $10 at Target.

I really like the flexibility of this recipe.   It allows you to use what you have available for marinade or toppings.   It can be varied easily to make this part of a regular meal rotation without boring everyone’s taste buds.  If you keep a bag of fish filet in the freezer, you can make this last minute to avoid expensive food delivery or an unhealthy drive through visit.

What is en papillote?  It is a method of cooking where the food is put into a pouch or parcel and baked.  Parchment paper or aluminum foil may be used.  I prefer parchment paper.  The pouch is created by folding over the parchment paper or foil, sealing the edges by folding/twisting, and the contents are steamed.  In restaurants, en papillote is typically served in the pouch at the table so guests can open their own and enjoy the aroma.

The Basic Fish Recipe

  • Place the shrimp or fish on the parchment paper.
  • Top with julienne (thin) strips of red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, green onion, or lemon.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and paper.  Add fresh or dry herbs.
  • Liquid can be added with a splash of olive oil, broth, or wine.  Fish can also be marinated for 30-minutes prior to baking to allow time for the fish to absorb the flavors.  See below for a suggestion.
  • Seal the edges of the parchment by folding to prevent the steam from escaping.
  • Place the pouches on a baking tray for support.  Bake in the oven at 400 F for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  This technique is very forgiving as long as you don’t leave the pouches in the oven too long, allowing all of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Does not get easier than this!

Simple Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of dillweed, dash of hot sauce, and dash of soy sauce or sprinkle of salt

I grew up in a salad, meat, potato, and veggie every night for dinner family (love!).  If you add a vegetable and steam along with the fish inside the pouch, you can keep meal prep even simpler… need for an extra veggie side dish  or salad.  I had fresh tomatoes from the garden, so I tossed those with a little balsamic vinegar and blue cheese.

Tilapia filet on parchment paper with julienne strips of red pepper.

Prep time for fish and potatoes after boiling was about 10-minutes (cleaning and slicing).  Threw it in the oven and 20-30 minutes later a delicious, healthy, and cost-friendly meal was on the table.

Tilapia filet on parchment with red pepper, a splash of olive oil, dash of salt and pepper, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a sprig of fresh thyme from the garden.

To keep things simple, I boiled a few red potatoes while I prepared the peppers, smashed them on the tray with the fish pouches, sprinkled with bacon crumbles,  cheddar cheese, and green onion.  Because the potatoes were precooked, everything was in the oven and on the table in under 30-minutes.

The tilapia filet and peppers were sealed in the parchment paper by folding over the edges. Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes and dinner is served!


For serving, the en papillote (fish pouch) can be served directly on a plate and opened just before eating to keep the fish warm and moist or it can be removed.

I hope this recipe helps you get dinner on the table quickly and easily so you can enjoy a nice conversation with family and friends.



Plan an Oktoberfest celebration for family and friends

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Planning guide for Oktoberfest

OKTOBERFEST!  The best fall party of them all!  This is a perfect time of year to enjoy beautiful fall weather with family and friends.  Attending Oktoberfest in Munich Germany is on many people’s Bucket List (mine too).  For good reason, the party (originating from a wedding celebration) has been a tradition since 1810.  The official event in Munich typically takes place between mid-September and early October (Official 2017 dates: September 16th-October 3rd).  It’s time to start planning your Oktoberfest event.

Event Budget

This party can be as simple/complicated and budget-friendly/expensive as your heart and bank account can manage.  Smaller is simpler, but Oktoberfest provides a great excuse to mingle family, friends, and co-workers.  Just be sure to ask for help.

As the size of the party increases, consider asking guests to bring appetizers, entree, desserts, or beverages to share.  Many guests love the challenge of preparing a special, party-appropriate dish.


Evite is a great way to send out a party invitation.  It’s easy to set-up and allows you to review guest RSVP’s quickly and easily.  You can even ask guests to sign up for food or beverage contributions.  This feature makes it easy to ensure your guests will have adequate food and beverage and prevents having too much of any one item.

If Evite doesn’t work for you e-mail is an easy option.  Hard copy invitations dropped in mailboxes or formal written invites sent by mail also work, but they do require a bit more planning.

Venue or Location

You driveway, patio, or yard provide a perfect venue for Oktoberfest.  If it’s cool build a bonfire or have baskets filled with blankets and extra sweaters to keep guests comfortable.  Tents are part of traditional Oktoberfest celebrations.  Don’t have a tent?  Consider borrowing a tent from a neighbor.  Tents and tables can be rented, but this will add significant cost to your party budget.  Another option is to decorate your garage or open your home to guests.  You might also consider renting a picnic facility in a nearby park.


Oktoberfest food and drink

In my opinion, the guest list is the top priority.  Next in importance?  Food and beverages.  To keep the party simple, enlist the help of your crock pot, family, and friends.

Beverages are fairly easy.  Non-alcoholic beverages for guests of all ages can include sparkling water with fruit syrups, sparkling cider, and soda.  Recommended grown-up beverages include a selection of Oktoberfest Bier that is easy to find in the fall at grocery and liquor stores.  I recommend Spaten and Hacker Pschorr for an authentic experience.  Riesling and other wines can also be served.  Here’s a great recipe for Apfelwein.  It’s simple to prepare.  I use light brown sugar in place of the corn sugar.  If you purchase cider in a glass bottle, you can even ferment right in the bottle.   Supplies are readily available on-line.   I typically make a 5-gallon batch and serve in interesting bottles that I collect throughout the year.

After dinner drinks (apertifs/digestifs) are highly recommended.  Apertifs to consider include my favorite: Barenjager honey liquor.  Tastes great and I have wonderful memories sipping this liquor with a sweet Aunt at the end of a visit in Germany.  Other great options include schnapps, Jagermeister and Goldschlager.  If you are feeling especially creative, you can create an entire cocktail menu for these apertifs on their own.


German Sausage

Depending on the food you serve, you will likely need warming and/or cooling trays.  Consider hiring local teens to help replenish food and drinks.  This will help you enjoy the party and time with your guests.

Free Menu Printable

Please subscribe to Provenance Preservation newsletter and I will send you a free menu template.  Customize with your menu selection, name, address, and party date.  I place these on all of the tables for guests to view.

I have provided a collection of recipes.  Your party can be simple with a nice selection of grilled sausage or you can compliment the sausage with one or several of the dishes below.

Würstl (sausages)
Würstl refers to a variety of classic Bavarian sausages.  Buy a selection of sausage, grill, and serve with a selection of mustard.  My favorites include traditional bratwurst, thuringer, knackwurst, and bockwurst.  We call the butcher in advance so our order is waiting.  An easy way to save time.

Schweinebraten (roast pork)
Schweinebraten is a classic Bavarian dish that is very easy to prepare, especially for a crowd.  Pork loin can be used in place of traditional pork shoulder.  If you are feeling ‘uber German’ you can replace the vegetable broth with dark beer.  Yum!

Schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock)
A beer hall favorite!  Roasted pork shank (pig knuckles) are crispy on the outside with juicy, delicious meat.  These are also easy to make, but I highly recommend you contact a local butcher to order the pork shank in advance.

Brezen (pretzels)
You can’t have Oktoberfest without pretzels.  Soft and chewy, they taste great with mustard, sausage, and beer.  Here’s a pretzel recipe.  Try making your own, it’s so much fun.  I use 1/2-cup water for the yeast and replace the other cup with beer (seems to be a common theme in my cooking).  I use baking soda in place of lye as recommended.  Prepare the dough the night before the party and bake the pretzels just before guests arrive.  What a great aroma!

Kaese Spaetzle

Kaese Spaetzle can be considered a German version of mac-n-cheese prepared with homemade noodles or mini dumplings.   Easy to make ahead.  Mix spaetzle, cheese, and cooked onion in a casserole dish and heat in the oven just before serving.

Other great side dishes include fennel salad, potato salad, sauerkraut and red cabbage.


Apfelstrudel is a classic German dessert.  Delicious with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of hot coffee.

Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Torte)

Preparing Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte is quite involved, but it is quite delicious.

Oktoberfest Music

Oktoberfest BandNo Oktoberfest is complete without some ‘oom pah pah’ music.  If you really want to splurge, you can hire a band.  You can also recruit family members or friends to entertain your guests with live music.  I wish I planned my first Oktoberfest years ago when my aunt was still playing her accordion.  You can also ask a guest to serve as the party DJ with old records.  Pandora or Spotify also offer Oktoberfest selections to get the dancing and singing going.  Eins, zwei, g’suffa!

Tableware, Decorations, Fashion, and Fun

Decorate tables with festive tablecloths.  You can also decorate tables with pictures,  fruit, flowers, or other items that represent the fall harvest (e.g. bundles of wheat, squash, gourds, pumpkins, and grapes).  Consider hanging flags or banners.  You can even order Oktoberfest plates, napkins and utensils.  If you have a really big budget, you should really purchase custom steins, lederhosen and a dirndl dress.

Besides food, drink, and music, there are lots of ways to have fun at your Oktoberfest.  Have guests bring photos of their German travel adventures for a picture ‘wall’.  You can also buy or build a prop for photos.  Share some of the photo highlights as part of thank you note to guests.  Consider offering prizes for best dress, best Tyrolean hat, best stein (don’t be surprised if lots of people bring their own!), best waltz, even best chicken dance, etc.  The point is to get a little crazy and have fun!

The History of Oktoberfest

On October 12th of 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event.  Horse races attended by the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for all of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

In the early decades of Oktoberfest, visitors quenched their thirst at small beer stands. In 1896, the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries.

Today, the Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world.  Each year, approximately 6 million visitors from around the world converge on the Oktoberfest on the Theresienwiese.

If a trip to Bavaria for Oktoberfest isn’t in your plans, create your own festival.  Prost!

When life gives you lemons? Make dinner, dessert and cocktails!

I adore lemons.  I love the yellow color; they always make me feel happy and bring a smile to my face.  I also love the smell of the blossoms and fruit and cannot get enough of the flavor.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Hjalmar18).

When we lived in our little Spanish Bungalow in Long Beach, CA we had a lemon tree in our front yard.  I loved walking past it numerous times each day enjoying the smell and activity of the bees buzzing busily around it.  When we moved back to the Midwest, one of the things I missed most (besides milder winter weather, of course) was my little lemon tree.

Several years ago, my son gifted me with a lemon tree for Mother’s Day.  I loved this little tree, but it did not like indoor life in my home.  After about 1-year nearly all of the leaves had fallen off and it certainly wasn’t flowering or bearing fruit.  I almost threw my little lemon tree away, but decided it couldn’t hurt to place it outside on our porch for the summer.  The sunshine and fresh air breathed new life into my resilient little tree.  A couple of years later, summers outdoors and winters indoors, it is healthy and now it has two lemons ripening.

There are approximately 50 varieties of lemons.  They range in flavor from sweet to sour and in acidity.  They are grown all around the world and are thought to have originated in northeastern India.
The ancient Egyptians are credited with ‘inventing’ lemonade around 500 AD.  However, only the Pharaoh and royal family were allowed to enjoy the beverage.  In 1630, a lemonade soda (lemon juice, honey, and sparkling water) was first sold in Paris.  Through the 1840’s demand for lemons grew as a cure for scurvy.  This debilitating disease was caused by a lack of Vitamin C and significantly impacted sailors and miners during the California Gold Rush in the mid 1800’s.  This demand for lemons resulted in the many California lemon groves, some of which still exist today.  Even in current times, many websites suggest that increasing consumption of fruits like lemons decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and lower weight.

And now that you have learned a little bit about lemons, let get to the recipes!


Lemon Chicken is a quick and easy meal for a weeknight.  Add a salad and rice or pasta and you have a perfect meal. Continue reading

A Beginner’s Guide to Canning: Preserve Your Food in Jars

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Canning is a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables for later use.  When I was growing up my mom made delicious plum jam, but she did not can or pickle any vegetables.  No canning mentor for me.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Several years back, my husband and I decided to rent a community garden space to grow vegetables (check out one of my early posts on our farm plot).  We paid ‘rent’ for a 30’X30′ plot and got to work.  We started planting in late April-early May and by the time late July rolled around we had a bumper crop of vegetables and the bounty continued through early October.  We shared much of the harvest with friends and family, but we still had tons of veggies left-over.

In an effort to save our harvest for later use (think dark, cold winter days; I knew we would want to mentally escape), I scoured the internet and book stores for good canning references, magazines, and guidelines.  I had heard about the dangers of canning (exploding jars and food poisoning) and was honestly quite intimidated.  After reading the basics, it seemed manageable and I decided to give it a try.  I loved the process and the reward.  I hope you will follow the steps I have outlined below to get started on your own canning journey.

Step 1:  Collect recipes and tips

I recommend purchasing a good canning/preserving reference book.  Food safety is extremely important when canning and good quality resources outline critical procedures for produce preparation, processing, and storage.  Books, magazines, and Pinterest are great places for inspiration.  If you are interested in a particular fuit/vegetable, search the internet for recipes.  I highly recommend that you read the reviews.  Many recipes do not follow proper, safe canning procedures (for example, my beloved Blue Ribbon Pickle recipe) and usually this comes up in the comment thread.  If you are not sure, follow recipes in a canning reference book.  The book I got started with is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I do not recommend modifying or tweaking recipes.  They are designed to ensure appropriate conditions for canning and the quality and safety of your final product.

Continue reading

A simple recipe for a quick and healthy Alfredo sauce – 3 variations to add variety to your menu

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Why healthy Alfredo sauce?

I love to cook and I love the idea of preparing healthy meals.  I have been following the 21-Day Fix eating plan on and off for just over 1-year.  It helps me balance portion sizes and  the right mix of food groups.   I feel great when I stick to the plan, especially with some exercise.

I try to eat healthy, but comfort food tastes great and sometimes it’s just good for the soul after a stressful day.  Fettuccine Alfredo is one of my all-time favorite comfort meals.  The traditional recipe uses butter and heavy cream and this is served over pasta.  Unfortunately, the comfort feeling doesn’t last long and tends to turn into a bloated feeling and state of guilt for me.  Fear not, comfort food can be adapted into a healthier, feel better version.  I have tried several ‘healthy’ Alfredo sauce recipes and have found the recipe provided in the link below to be a great base.  Think of the recipe as a really nice blank canvas.  You are the artist who gets throw on the color and design the finished product exactly to your taste.

Don’t get me wrong,  I love carbs too and can’t give them up.  However, I do try to manage my carb intake (that little yellow box is way too tiny fellow 21-Day Fixers!).  I recently purchased a spiralizer and really enjoy using it to prepare ‘zoodles’ (zucchini) or even better yet, daikon radish noodles.  Seems strange (pungent smell), but perfect base for a creamy sauce.  Even better than pasta with a creamy, heavier sauce.  Try it!

How do you prepare a satisfying meal with a healthy Alfredo sauce?

A great 21-Day Fix version of Alfredo sauce.  Check out this great link.

Ingredients for a basic  Alfredo sauce:

  • 1-1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons low fat milk or almond milk
  • spices (garlic powder, salt, pepper) can be added if you don’t follow the variations outlined below; go light with the salt as the base flavor can be salty from the Parmesan

Instructions for Alfredo sauce preparation:

  • Mix  cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese in a saucepan or dutch oven (I LOVE my Dansk Kobenstyle cookware)
  • Heat on medium-low, mixing just until the Parmesan cheese melts.  Temperature is key.  Be patient (I know this is hard after a long day of work).  Be warned, if you overheat everything separates.  Please be patient, it really only takes a few minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly and carefully transfer the sauce  to a blender.  Ensure bottom is attached tightly to prevent leaking.  I’m thinking about trying an immersion blender the next time I prepare this recipe, which is probably next week!
  • Puree the Alfredo sauce in the blender, adding the milk to get the desired consistency.  Don’t make it too watery, you have another opportunity to add more milk when you reheat the sauce.
  • Transfer the sauce back to saucepan or dutch oven, add any protein or vegetables that you may have prepared (see quick meal tips and recipe variations below).
  • Serve over pasta, zoodles , or Daikon radish noodles.

Continue reading

4 great recipe ideas for leftover ham

Links to recipes are provided below. Enjoy!


Over the weekend, we enjoyed another fantastic barbecue.  We had family over, so we grilled lots of food including a double-smoked ham with apricot glaze from Ray ‘Dr. BBQ’ Lampe’s Slow Fire Barbecue guide.  That is not a mirror image below; we threw two hams on the smoker.  A couple hours into the low and slow smoke, we covered the hams with a simple glaze prepared by blending apricots in syrup, ketchup, soy sauce and molasses.  What great flavor.  We also grilled salmon and asparagus.




Continue reading

When we first started ‘farming’ at a community garden, we purchased our plants at home centers and nurseries once the garden was ready for planting.  Last year, we decided to grow our own plants from seed in order to have more variety.  I have tried starting seeds indoors in the past with little or no luck.  They either dry out too much with the heat or stay too moist and get moldy.   I needed an easy, fool-proof method that doesn’t demand so much attention.

We picked up a gardening magazine last winter, which had an article on winter sowing.  It was something I had never heard of, but sounded easy enough and made sense.   Plant the seeds and stick them outside in mini greenhouses.  They will germinate when the conditions are right.  When they grow large enough for transplanting, they are already hardy and ready for outdoor conditions.  We decided to just go for it and  tried this with several plants last year with very good luck.  We have greatly expanded our options this year and look forward to sharing our seedlings with friends and neighbors.

This winter, in the darkness of the post-holiday blues, we began our search for vegetable, herb, and flower seeds.  In January, we planted cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, corn, onions and one of my absolute favorites…..lavender.

In February and early March, we planted some native woodland perennials and a few annuals including Canada lilies, blackberry lilies, Virginia blue bells, Dutchman’s breeches, ramp or wild leeks, Celedine poppies, Icelandic poppies, Oriental poppies, columbine delphinium and two that bring back great memories.  Jack-in-the-pulpit reminds me of Brownie and Girl Scout hikes in the woods, while Hollyhocks remind me of my grandfather and grandmothers’ house.  Their alley was filled with hollyhocks in so many colors.

I can’t wait for April.  That is when we will start the tomato, cucumber, squash, and pepper seeds.

List of supplies:

Very simple instructions:

  1. Drill or poke holes into containers.  You need several drainage holes on the bottom and also holes on the lid to allow water to enter your mini greenhouse.  You can recycle old food containers, but we find Rubbermaid containers are sturdier, making it easier to transport seeds from home to the garden.  We clean and re-use.
  2. Fill the container with 2-3 inches of seed starting soil.
  3. Distribute seeds and cover with seed starting soil.  Don’t bury the seeds to deep, just a light covering (about 1/2-inch).
  4. Water or place in tray with water, so soil absorbs water through drainage hole.  Replace lid and place in a sunny spot.
  5. Patiently wait for the seeds to germinate.  If moisture is not accumulating on the lids, you will need to water.
  6. Once spring arrives and the seedlings start to grow, you can remove the lids during warm days.  Be sure the lid is replaced to protect them from cold night time temperatures and risk of frost.
  7. When the plants grow too high to fit into the container it is a good sign they are hardy and ready for transplanting into the ground.

Step 1: Drill holes in tops and bottoms of mini-greenhouses.

Step 2: Collect soil, seeds, and signs.

Steps 3-5: Distribute seeds, cover with soil, and water.

Step 6: Wait for seeds to germinate and open to allow them to get comfortable with the weather. Close at night if it’s cold.














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I LOVE Dansk Kobenstyle Cookware

My Kobenstyle Casserole filled with Gumbo.

Brilliant! The casserole lid doubles as a trivet.

I have ‘known’ Kobenstyle Enamel casserole cookware my entire life.  My mom received a set as a shower gift when she married 50-years ago.

Growing up, this cookware meant special events and celebration food.  My mom stored her most beloved Christmas cookies in her Kobenstyle.  This isn’t her Linzer recipe, but close enough and good reviews!

My mom used her Kobenstyle to entertain company and I remember many appearances in the dining room, which was reserved for special occasions with family and friends.   Some of my favorite Kobenstyle memories are Gumbo and Mushroom Soup.

Growing up, I didn’t understand how much I associated the Kobenstyle casserole cookware with great food and good times.  Unfortunately, my parents divorced and the Kobenstyle cookware was lost!!!!  I went off to college, married, and started cooking for a family of my own.  I had some great enamelware from Crate and Barrel, which I also received as shower gifts.  I loved the light weight and versatility, but cleaning caked on food left the bottoms scratched and eventually I had to retire these dutch ovens.  About 2-years years ago, I opened a catalog I received in the mail and was delighted to find Kobenstyle cookware.  What a flood of great memories!  I had to have it!  The fabulous stock pot is available in 6-Quart4-Quart; and 2-Quart sizes.

Italian Wedding Meatball Soup.

One pot mac-and-cheese Easy, creamy, andso delicious!

My mom had the teal version.  Very mid-century modern color, I think.  It seams teal items are still available, but the black works better for me.  I love cooking with my Kobenstyle casseroles.  Le Creuset dutch ovens are also nice, but they are so heavy.   They are difficult to manage manage with food, they are difficult to clean, and they are EXPENSIVE.  Kobenstyle is a good fit for my lifestyle….affordable, super easy to clean, lightweight so you can easily manage the transfer from oven to table, and how cool is it that the lid doubles as a trivet.  So practical and stylish.






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Re-purposed leftovers: Grilled Tuna Steak dinner followed by Salade Nicoise

I love to shop at Costco.  The large packaging sizes can be a problem…..or they can be a benefit.  We like to purchase the tuna steaks.  They are typically offered in a package of two large steaks.   Great price, great quality and they make a simple meal on the grill.  I use this basic recipe for Grilled Tuna and then add in whatever fresh herbs I have an hand or whatever interesting spice I come across in my cabinets.  I am a scientist, so I do like to experiment.  Even in my kitchen with my dinner!  On this particular BBQ evening, I stuck with the lime and used cilantro.

For the original meal, I served the grilled tuna with a salad, crusty bread and roasted garlic (easy enough to throw on the grill in some foil while the fish cooks or preferably earlier so it has time to get warm and carmelize).  The steaks were very large, so after a few appetizers the three of us only managed to chow down on one of the two tuna steaks.  Leftover problem….no problem!

These are the grilled tuna steaks we enjoyed for dinner #1.

A couple of years ago I had a wonderful Salade Nicoise at a local restaurant.  Sounds fancy, but really provides a substantial meal and the flexibility to use what you have available.  I was fortunate enough to have a grilled tuna steak, but canned tuna works as well.  ‘Standard’ ingredients include potatoes and hard boiled eggs.  I started boiling the potatoes and after about 15-minutes, I added the eggs.  I like my potatoes al dente (a bit crispy; apologies for mixing Italian in with French) in a salad.  Another ‘standard’ ingredient is green beans.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any available.  If I did, I would have cooked or blanched them with the potatoes and eggs.

Here’s is a great basic recipe for a French Vinaigrette.  You can see the ingredients I used below (olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, tarragon, lemon, salt and pepper).  I really enjoy the ‘zip’ of Dijon mustard and use it on sandwiches, as a marinade on meat, and in dressing.  I buy bucket-sized jars of Grey Poupon at Costco, but my favorite brand to date it Maille.  I have seen this at World Market (Cost Plus).  I was lucky enough to visit France last week.  Can’t wait to use my souvenir mustard.  They had all kinds of interesting ’embellishments’ (dill, pepper, herb mix).  Shallots are another great option in addition to or in place of the garlic.  I love tarragon.  I throw everything in a jar and give it a good shake.  Simple!



Again, this salad is about what you have on hand (romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, olives, radishes).  If you love it, throw it in.  Wow!  Look at this amazing, fresh, healthy, satisfying meal.  Yum!

The assembled salad.  Dinner #2.

Please let me know what you think by adding a comment using the link just under the post title.  Do you have a great idea for leftovers?

take care.


Leftover beef tenderloin panini

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start.   I know many of you may have healthy eating resolutions.  I do too, but I start Monday.  For now, let’s talk food!  

Over the holidays, I hosted a Christmas dinner for my family.  It was a lovely evening and I served a roasted beef tenderloin.  Normally, we would have grilled.  However, the temperature on the day of our party was below zero with Arctic wind chills.  I’m not sure we would have been able to get the barbecue up to a high enough temperature.  Needless to say, it was a wonderful dinner and the tenderloin was delicious .  I was so busy serving 15 guests, I completely forgot about pictures.  What a shame.   No such thing as  a free dinner……next time someone in the family will be assigned this important task.

The cut of meat was rather gigantic, so there was quite a bit left even after sending some home with guests.  I threw it in the freezer for a later date.  Well, that date arrived.  One great option for leftover tenderloin is Beef Wellington.  On this occasion, I didn’t have puff pastry in the freezer.  However, I did have a nice loaf of jalapeno cheddar bread, so beef panini came to mind.  Even better idea knowing I had horseradish cheddar cheese in the refrigerator.  Who doesn’t love a little horseradish with a tender slice of beef?  Just one problem, no panini press.  I mean how many kitchen gadgets can I cram into my cabinets?

This is where I had to get a little creative.   I could just use a frying pan, but I was determined to have grill marks.  I didn’t have a grill pan available because I was cooking at the cabin.  I expect a grill pan would work if you had a way to weigh down the panini.   My solution?  I just used my waffle iron and a little cooking spray.  I love my waffle iron even more!

Quick to assemble and just a matter of minutes to get the bread crusty, meat warmed, and cheese gooey.  Threw some minestrone soup mix in a pot and a delicious dinner for a cold northwoods evening was on the table in no time at all.

We enjoy serving tenderloin for nice dinners and typically have plenty of leftovers.  Please share your ideas for how to use left-over tenderloin.   I am always looking for new ideas.

Thanks for sharing!  Laura

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