Photography for Sale

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bare-Naked Pear Salad

Not sure why the pears are bare naked, but I knew that would get your attention and that's what this stuff is all about.  If I can't get your attention you'll never know how easy it is to be a fabulous cook that everyone raves about behind your back.  Why behind your back?  Because they're all jealous.  Now focus - and be prepared to present a salad as artistic as the ceiling in a famous chapel.  Remember:  Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.  Set your pear salad down before them with attitude and chin high.  They'll believe.


  • 2 Pears, any kind, cored and sliced
  • 1 Large chicken breast cooked and chopped
  • 2 Romaines lettuce heads torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 1 Clove garlic, chopped


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, stir sugar and nuts together until they caramelize, about 5-10 min.  Cool.
  2. In large salad bowl layer lettuce, pear, and chicken.
  3. Dressing:  blend oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over salad.  Sprinkle with nuts and serve with a smile and a flip of the hair.
Caramelizing nuts

Preparing the Pear



Monday, March 19, 2012

Shallot Chicken

The closest I'll probably ever get to him is by making his personal favorite dishes.  Perhaps my conniving hope is that somehow by cooking his meals he will accidentally fall upon a link that brings him to my blog.  He will be swept off his feat (not sure by what exactly yet), and immediately send 'his people' to locate me and bring me to him. He'll ask me to whip up a meal alongside him, bumping elbows in the extra-large kitchen (but I'm sure we'll both want the blender at the exact same time.)  He'll playfully put flour on my nose, I'll pull out my camera and take these exotic photos of him posing with the butternut squash and before you know it we'll be seated at a candlelit table feasting on an appetizer of cranberry feta pinwheels, to be followed with shallot chicken, and finished off with feeding each other buttermilk and honey sorbet - clinking our coffee cups.

But for now I must keep sweating over these hot coals, tirelessly exploring one recipe after another until he finds me, and smiles, and says, "Well done my child, well done." 


  • 8 chicken thighs
  • flour
  • 3 T safflower oil
  • 2 cups sliced shallots
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup rich chicken broth
  • 1 q cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 T dried Basil

Here is where I needed to deviate some, for various reasons-certainly not to improve upon the recipe because there is no such thing with Andrew's recipes.  Andrew asked for 4 cups whole peeled shallots - no mention of slicing.  I opted for 2 cups, sliced.  Andrew requested 2 cups chicken broth, I used 1 cup otherwise my pan would have overflowed.  I did not have tarragon on hand ( his recipe asks for 6 tarragons tied together) so I used basil instead.  I also did not have cherry tomatoes so I chopped up some whole tomatoes in place.  Lastly I used lime juice in place of the lemon juice because I had margarita's last night.

Does this make it mine own recipe?  I suppose I could argue it does, but I'd much rather share the creation with Andrew.  After all, he inspired me.   

The result ... honestly ... it is my absolute 100% incurable favorite chicken recipe of all time and will definitely be my go-to dish if ever I decide I need to get some one's attention.  Which causes me to pause ... and wonder if Andrew would like to come to dinner ...

Back to the recipe ...


Season chicken with salt & pepper and dredge in flour.  Place in oil in a large wide pot over medium heat.  When very hot add thighs, skin side down.  Brown well on both sides.  Remove chicken to plate and add shallots and basil to oil in pot.  Stir, until shallots start to caramelize.  Add wine, cook, boiling for 3 minutes, add mustard, broth, and chicken and cover.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and at a strong simmer cook until liquid is at sauce consistency.  Add tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Season with salt & pepper.  Drizzle in 1/4 cup lemon juice, heat 30 seconds.  Serve garnishing with minced basil or tarragon.

                                                                            flour and fry

                                                                            fry it pretty

                                                                    caramelize shallots

                                                              add wine, drink the rest   

                                                                  adding chicken, broth

                                                               thicken, good lookin'

                                                   tomatoes and lemon juice for a bit of tang   

                                   We'll share a fork, Andy.  You don't mind if I call you that, do you?

Inspired, encouraged, and enticed, by Andrew Zimmern.




Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maple Salmon

I don't know about you, but I find salmon sexy.  Yes, I said sexy.  It can be tantalizing - smelling the sweet marinades as they caramelize with the heat.  Romantic with the sipping of a paired wine.  I find the color of salmon beautiful - in fact, it is a color.  My brother serves salmon for Easter. My sister goes to watch the fall salmon run in Michigan.  If salmon is not yet a part of your life, now is the time.  Not only is it amazing for your health, but it'll make you feel sexy too - as it's an aphrodisiac.  Search for all those natural aphrodisiac ingredients - you know, the ones that increase your,  ummmm ... interest in your partner (insert wink).  Don't go overboard though, or you just may get interested in your neighbor's partner.  Then, blindfold him and feed it to him.  He might just love you forever.  OXOX.


1 lb. salmon

1/2 cup maple syrup
4 Tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a bowl, mix the syrup, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. Place salmon in a shallow glass dish and coat with marinate.  Cover dish and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum, turning once. 
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  4. Place salmon in oven with marinade, and bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.


Baked Asparagus
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • snap off ends and rinse well
  • place in a large Ziploc bag with 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning once.

Wine Pairing:
Pinot Noir
Rose Champagne

marinade salmon

prepared asparagus, ready for baking

baked salmon, can you smell it?



Don't be afraid to swim against the flow.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Among all types of cancer, prevention of the following cancer types is most closely associated with intake of Brussels sprouts: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.  I have recently increased my intake of Brussels sprouts due to their superb properties, as well as just because I think they are so darn good!  I wanted to get away from the high - calorie white sauce that I had been making to top them with, and with experimenting, found some easy and great tasting alternatives.  If you have qualms about eating Brussels sprouts, increase the salt you put on them.  Slowly back off on the salt as you learn to enjoy them.  Here is my favorite sprout recipe, today. 


1 lb. Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper.
freshly grated Parmesan is optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Places Brussels sprouts in a cast iron frying pan, or roasting pan.
  • Toss in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.
  • Cook 5 min. on medium heat.
  • Place sprouts in oven, top rack, for 20 min. 
  • Stir, cook another 10 min.  Sprinkle with cheese lightly, cook another 5 min.

    Outside leaves should be dark and lightly crusted.  

    Optionally, you can toss in 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, cider vinegar, pine nuts, thyme, or roasted chestnuts.  Add them during the last 5 minutes.

    Wine Parings:
                                                                                            Meagan's and my favorite 
    Pinot Noir                                                           
    Cabernet Franc
    Pinot Grigio



    The leftovers waited patiently,
    In the fridge for their turn.
    They did not harbor resentment,
    Nor was their rejection of concern.

    Except for Brussels sprouts,
    Who worried they'd be overlooked -
    They reeked of rotten eggs and sauerkraut,
    For they’d been overcooked.

    Yams tried to console Brussels with some sage advice:
    “Sure, you’re the lesser cousins of a greater creed,
    But rest assured, even you will be sought after 
    By gluttony and greed."

    The vegetables and their sauces, 
    Gravy, and cornbread dressing too,
    Congealed under plastic wrap,
    Between the mayo jar and last week's stew.

    Cranberries, potatoes and turkey
    Cooled in the old Frigidaire.
    Whipping cream and pumpkin pie,
    Sat idly by without a care.

    But as the leftovers leisurely gossiped,
    In the crisp Freon atmosphere,
    Brussels foresaw a hopeless future:
    "We're never getting out of here!"

    Brussels sprouts just knew,
    With their rancid smell,
    They’d be the only leftovers
    The gluttons would repel.

    The others humored Brussels,
    While furtively rolling their esculent eyes.
    Then as predicted they heard a voice:
    "You get the turkey, I'll get the pies!”

    They could hear dishes clanging,
    And the fridge door slowly creaking -
    The gluttons had arrived,
    Whispering and sneaking.

    Leftovers were piled onto plates, 
    And happily heated in the microwave.
    Except for the Brussels sprouts,
    Who were left behind to rot, rant and rave.
                                                       Rachel Howells


P.s. New camera, can you tell?  :o)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Healing Soup

drum roll please ...

Lori Prosser -  With her life sustaining soup!


This recipe calls for gnocchi.  A wonderful little Italian gem of a dumpling.  I have a gnocchi class coming up in a few days that I am terribly excited about.  There is quite an art to the making of good gnocchi, so if you're buying them, buy the best and freshest you can find!  Lori stated, "The best gnocchi I've ever had was served as an appetizer in Milan.  The waiter sauteed it in a skillet at the table.  Served a bit crispy on the outside and melted in your mouth.  I've never had it the same way since."

I was anxious to try this soup, as I had been feeling under the weather.  Five ingredients and fifteen minutes later I was into a bowl pulsating with the heart of heaven!  Sooo easy, sooo good. The  first time Lori made it she didn't want her husband to know how easy it was.  Of course, she wanted him to think it involved hours of slaving and simmering!  It tastes like it does.

The recipe calls for hot turkey Italian sausage.  "Really, it doesn't matter the sausage, it always turns out delicious," Lori says.  I had plain ground turkey on hand and threw in two teaspoons of Cajun seasoning to give it a kick and one tablespoon Italian seasoning and it worked quite well!  I would think even Kielbasa would go nicely, for the men.

Lori also changed the five ingredients to seven (as did I), by adding sliced mushrooms and chopped fresh spinach - just because they were on hand.  I always double my recipes as well, something I've learned from my mother - cooking for a family of eight.  For me, it provides leftovers for healthy work lunches and food to share with friends!

                           Not much time to leaf through a magazine, "Soup simmers in minutes."

  • (4.5-ounce) link hot turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 cups water
  • (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (along-side the dried pasta)
  • (14-ounce) can fat-free, beef broth
  • (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed      tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese 
lori prosser
  1. 1.) Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat  until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble.  Pepper to taste.

  2. 2.) Add 2 cups water and next 3 ingredients to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until gnocchi float to the top of pan. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Make it your own:  Tear up a handful of fresh spinach, slice up some fresh mushrooms - toss in with other ingredients.  Fresh garlic would go nicely as well.  

Wine Pairing:  Chateau Julien 2009 Barrel Select Merlot ($15)


                                             Bert, 90                                                             - Photo by Lawrence Syverud       

  2. I texted my children one evening, recently, to tell them to look at the moon.  It was glorious in it's crisp white shirt and as full as a baby's tummy after nursing.  Huge on the horizon - I wanted to drive straight to it.  The moon reminds me of soup.  I'm not sure why ... the moon is the one thing that my children and I can look at, at the same time and be together, no matter where we all are in the world.  That's comforting, like soup.
  3. Soup brings me back to the basics.  After an active day - while chopping vegetables for soup, I pretend I'm my grandmother.  Hair up, apron tied. Grandma whistled.  I sing.  When Ill, we instinctively go back to the basics, the beginning; humidifier, Vicks, soup.  It sooths and comforts.  We know It heals more than the sickness.  
  4. What newer generations have not learned yet is that soup should always be eaten, not just when we have runny noses.  The elderly know this, but they don't tell us.  It's for us to discover on our own. The elderly aren't eating soup because the vegetables are soft with the liquid and goes down easy, they eat it frequently because of it's healing properties.  It offers longevity.  It sustains, helps one grow to 90.  
  5. Tonight while preparing the soup, shaking the delicate rain of cayenne and basil into the broth of it, my daughter, Hannah, called and told me to look at the moon.  I strained over the balcony of my third floor apartment in every direction except the one allowing me to view the splendor.  She said it was blazing and glorious, but I could not see it.  I returned to stirring my soup, and raised the wooden spoon to my lips and tasted the moon.
  6. Unsettled, I quickly slipped on my Uggs and raced down the flights of stairs that brought me to the back door and into the crisp air, and there is was!  And we gazed at it, together.  After two days of eating nothing but Lori's Healing Soup, I am on the mend.  I feel strength returning, an uplifting of my soul.  I am learning what Bert knew.  I think I'll have soup tomorrow.

As the winner of this month's recipe contest, Lori will receive something homemade from my kitchen, just as soon as the bird takes flight to England.  : )

  1.   mel                                                                                                                             

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Some of you that read my other blog, noticed that I have a contest running for this, my cooking blog.  Doesn't make a lot of sense does it ... or does it?   In this new year I have decided to award one guest chef to be featured in my blog per month - complete with a gift, from ... drum kitchen!  How will we know if  I really sent a gift?  Well, the winner has permission to relentlessly harass me in the comment section if I don't.  But only for one day.


 If you'd like to be a guest chef, please email me your recipe and I will give it an honest try in my own kitchen. - If I love it (or like it a whole heck of a lot), I will post it.  If I post it, I will send you a personal gift from my kitchen - guaranteed.  Almost guaranteed.  *Remember the harassment rule.  I will have one guest chef each month in the new year, and you can send as many recipes as you'd like.  Email your recipes to:


I thought I should share this here, since here is where the contest runs!  Make sense?  Indeed.

If your recipe does not win the month you submit it, it does not mean it won't win for a later month.  I have received several already, so I've been busy in my kitchen!  Have fun with this, share anything you like related to the recipe (or not)... and keep them coming!

                                                                      It could be you!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken Pesto Toasties

I totally got in to this.  Making my own pesto.  Roasting my own chicken.  Heck, I almost made my own bread! Growing up I made several loaves of bread every Saturday morning.  It was one of my household chores.  Feeding a crew of 8, the bread never lasted very long.  There is little that compares to freshly baked bread, pulled from the oven, sliced thick and slathered in butter - accompanied by a cup of tea.  I'm drifting away a little here in my memories, so lets come back ...


Mix the following in a food processor or
Magic Bullet:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, pack 'em in                                                                 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, or walnuts - minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

This will yield 1 cup
Adjust the above to your liking in any way you like.  It's your pesto!


In a bowl, add 4 chicken breasts - cooked and shredded, or chopped.
Add 1/2 cup pesto
Add 4 Tbsp. light mayo or salad dressing
pepper to taste

Spread Italian bread with butter and cook both sides, in a frying pan, until golden.
Top with chicken mixture, spinach leaves, and sliced Roma tomatoes.





Wine Paring:

American Chardonnay                                                        
Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Biscuit Lasagna

This is the most - requested meal from my adult children, and it was when they were younger.  I like it better than traditional lasagna, I think because of the cheese - stuffed biscuits.  I'm sure you can add whatever you like to the stuffing - it would be great with mushrooms, spinach, even peppers!  Some people have trouble breaking away from tradition - step out once, and you may never go back.  Sometimes, the grass really is greener.                            


lb ground beef
28oz  tomato pasta sauce
tsp. garlic powder
tsp. Italian seasoning
tsp. pepper
can (12 oz) Pillsbury Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits
cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
cup cottage cheese
Tbsp. parsley flakes
tsp. dried minced onion
tsp. dried basil leaves
Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 400°F.  In skillet, cook ground beef until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in pasta sauce, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Press or roll each into 4-inch round. In small bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, parsley flakes, onion and basil until blended. Place about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture on each biscuit round. Fold dough in half over filling; press edges with fork to seal.
Into ungreased 13x9-inch glass baking dish, pour hot beef mixture. Arrange filled biscuits on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until biscuits are golden brownI double the cheese mixture - we like our biscuits more stuffed!
To reduce calories, I use reduced-fat cheeses.  Can also use chicken in place of beef, or no meat at all for vegetarian.
Wine Pairings:
                                                                                  Chianti (Sangiovese (Gabbiano)Cabernet Sauvignon (Clayhouse)