BLAT Salad

Salad BLTA

All of your favorite things, just not the bread! I guess I’m on a bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato kick. I mean tomatoes are at their best, right? Continuing the love here, salad form. Eat, Drink & Carry On!

8 oz fat free sour cream
1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 t dried basil
1/8 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
2 large heads of red leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces
12 slices precooked bacon, warmed and crumbled
6 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and either sliced or chopped.

Stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper and garlic powder until well blended.
Layer lettuce, bacon, tomato, and avocado in a wide shallow bowl, or large platter.
Drop mayonnaise mixture in dollops evenly over avocado.
Cover and chill salad at least 2 hours.

Serves 8.

*Author’s Note: This is really beautiful presented untossed. I prefer for guests to see it in its glorious layers, and then serve it or toss it in front of them!

Oven Baked Shrimp Boil

This is a terrific, easy to prep dinner for a full house of actual PEOPLE over the Fourth of July Holiday. So take a quick peek here and “up” your kitchen success, while sparking extra joy. I’m totally thrilled to be seeing my family (on the regular now) and friends (cautiously) in the flesh, after admittedly being emotionally paralyzed with Covid Fear. But there are also some wonderful lessons learned and accomplishments achieved during Quarantine that will be part of my life forever, thanks to guidance from a trusted life coach, and an organizer unparalleled! So go out there, have some fun, celebrate America, eat good food, and most importantly relish the joy of human interaction…hugs optional…

1 lb Baby Dutch yellow small potatoes
4 ears corn, cut into halves or thirds
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 2 inch sections
Stick of butter, melted
8 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 lbs large cleaned shrimp
2 heaping Tbs Old Bay seasoning (I prefer blackened)
8 oz pilsner beer

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Microwave potatoes on plate 4 1/2 minutes.
Place corn, standing on ends, in baking pan.
Add potatoes and sausage (cut side down).
Drizzle with half melted butter, half lemon juice, thyme, and garlic.
Place lemon wedges on pan.
Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Make pouch of aluminum foil.
Add shrimp, Old Bay, lemon zest, remaining lemon juice, remaining butter, and beer.
Bunch foil together at top.
Place in center of baking pan.
Return to oven and roast 15 more minutes.
Remove from oven.
Empty shrimp and juices onto sheet pan.
Turn corn on side to absorb juices.
Return to oven for 5 minutes.

Serves 6 with a side of salad. 

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

This house on “the Forest Hill” was packed with energy and festive events last week. I had the five year olds for Grand and GrandDad Camp, a childhood friend here from Shaker Heights, and the Queen Peggy’s 95th celebration of life! And in the midst of it all, the children managed to create a wonderful bread concoction! It’s play time, so follow the trail below…

16 oz round sourdough bread
Stick of butter
2  t minced garlic
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning (or equal parts of dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs chopped parsley, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place the bread on non stick sheet pan.
Cut a grid on the bread by creating vertical cuts, stopping before you hit the bottom crust. Repeat the cuts in a horizontal manner.
Place butter, garlic, seasoning, and half of parsley in small sauce pan.
Heat until butter is melted.
Drizzle butter into crevices of bread.
Gently stuff cheese deep into crevices of bread, and sprinkle of top.
Wrap bread in foil to cover.
Bake 10 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Bread by Lucy, Parker, and Peg. Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer.

Every Day/Evening Sangria

Our family has always enjoyed the properties of a single, simple glass of Sangria, especially following a L.O.N.G. day of walking streets, touring museums, scouring markets, and absorbing culture in a distant city…or simply picking up the 5 year olds for the week right here in ENC (Eastern North Carolina)! The top pics below are from a treasured Thanksgiving holiday in London, on a quiet little street in Brenton’s neighborhood, when she was there and studying at Sotheby’s. Dare I say a magical adventure. The London version is a white wine Sangria, and my recipe is for a delightful red wine Sangria. Cheers!

2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2 Tbs superfine sugar
2 (1/5th size ) bottles red wine
2/3 cup Grand Marnier
1 red apple, cored and sliced into thin wedges
Club soda to top up

Place half orange and lemon slices in large pitcher.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Leave to commingle flavors 15 minutes.
Add wine and Grand Marnier.
Refrigerate 1 hour or more.
When ready to serve, add apple slices, remaining orange and lemon slices.
Add ice to tall glasses and pour over.
Top up with small bit of club soda.

Rosemary Cashews, revisited

©PEGhardee

Monday is here; so let’s think about this! I try to begin each week and each day with a bucket full of patience and energy. But by 4 pm my bucket is running a bit low! To back up a moment, actually 7 years…TheDon and I found ourselves at the Ritz, Amelia Island; and each night the bartenders rotated the one in charge of taking care of the nuts…I know, I know…you’re thinking the human nuts, but this time it was literally nuts. These were a fav and we snagged the recipe. Like they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”! Bucket empty? Grab a glass of cold iced tea and a palmful of nuts to refill. Try It; You May Just Like It! Have a Happy, Nutty Week!

1 lb unsalted roasted cashews
2 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t light brown sugar
1 Tbs salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread cashews on baking pan.
Toast 5 minutes, until warm.
In large bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Stir in cashews and toss to coat.
Return nuts to pan and heat 5 minutes.
Transfer to wax paper to cool until the rosemary mixture dries on the cashews.

Mint Julep

The 2021 Derby is over, but Bourbon and Mint Juleps live on forever!
Here’s to the Weekend. May it be a great one for everyone!

5 sprigs fresh mint
2 sugar cubes
2 oz bourbon

Crush mint and sugar in bottom of glass.
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Add bourbon.
Stir vigorously and serve.

Photography by pegHARDEE

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

It’s still strawberry season, so don’t sit under the apple tree; get yourself to the strawberry fields. Then bring the berries home, race to the kitchen, and make this treat to tickle those taste buds. And the crunch factor of the toast just adds a bonus to the mouth feel. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. Just sitting back smiling!

4 slices wheat/seed bread*
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
On parchment lined baking sheet, toss together strawberries, syrup, olive oil, and salt.
Bake, stirring twice, until berries are slightly shrunken and juices are syrupy, about 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Toast the wheat bread and brush with olive oil.
Spread with fresh goat cheese.
Top with berries.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy for breakfast.
Or cut into pieces for appetizers.

FYI…a cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a cup of oranges, and almost as much fiber as brown rice. 
Leftover berries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 16 appetizers.

*My favorite wheat and seed breads are made by Food for Life, specifically Genesis and Ezekial.


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Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Well Happy Almost Weekend! Hope yours will be stellar; mine will bring even more clarifying studying and activities (thank you F and B)! Back up…I spent the first several months of the quarantine cleaning out cabinets, drawers, closets, shelves, counters etc. Now I’ve moved on to the part of the home that I actually SEE daily and live in!!!! Good bye extraneous books, nik naks, patty whacks, and I’m giving the dogs the bones! So here’s another boneless pork for ya!

For Pork:
1 peppercorn pork tenderloin
Bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat skillet over medium high heat.
Drizzle olive oil all over bottom of oven proof skillet.
Salt and pepper both sides of tenderloin.
Place in skillet and sear one side for 3 minutes.
Turn over and sear other side for 3 minutes.
Add more oil and 1/2 cup water to skillet.
Transfer to preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest out of skillet for 10 minutes.

For Sauce:
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 t fresh ground pepper
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t Dijon mustard

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
Add shallot, garlic, pepper, and salt.
Cook 2 minutes until shallot is soft.
Take off heat and add brandy.
Return skillet to medium heat and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add cream and bring to simmer.
Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in tarragon, Worcestershire , and mustard.

Slice tenderloin and drizzle sauce over to serve.

Wonton Cinnamon Crisps with Fruit

Happy Monday! I trust that this “Spring of Vaccinations” is bringing a freshness to you and yours…hope and recovery from 2020, and renewal, with positive refreshing energy changes. And speaking of energy, a couple of weeks back the grands and I joined forces for a bit of energetic fun in the kitchen to make these cinnamon crisps. It’s a “duck for cover” situation when you have 5 year olds mixing cinnamon and sugar free hand, but filled with smiles, love, and giggles. This house wasn’t built on gummy bears alone!

8 wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fat free vanilla yogurt
1 cup mixed berries of choice
4 t honey

Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix cinnamon and sugar together in small bowl.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Arrange wonton wrappers on baking sheet.
Lightly spray wontons with nonstick cooking spray.
Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.
Bake 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.
Set aside to cool.
Spoon yogurt and berries into dessert dishes.
Drizzle with honey.
Serve with cinnamon crisps.

Note: Cinnamon Crisps will last 3 weeks in zip top bag or sealed container.

Hasselback Tomatoes

Hello Hello! There’s a surprise guest being featured next Friday…just think amazing person, volunteer extraordinaire (PandemicOfLove.com), deep thinker, lots more, AND she’s sharing her homemade Strawberry Bread Recipe. After all, it is the season of helping others AND of fresh strawberries. I can’t wait for you all to meet Suzi, a very recent friend and wonderful person!

This is a vintage vegetable that remains modern, and will always stand the test of time; and it’s finding a stage again in many forms. I especially love this creation because you can use it year round, since you are cooking the tomatoes. The name is derived from the restaurant where they originally introduced Hasselback Potatoes…the Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1940’s. And a wise chef later decided to use the same treatment on the tomato. Put some swagger in your veggies!

6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored
8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to broil.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiling element.
Place wire rack on rim of metal baking pan.
Using serrated knife, slice small bit off long side of bottom of tomato.
(We’re making it sit flatly.)
Place tomato on that now flat side.
Slice crosswise at 1/4 inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch  at bottom in tact.
Combine half of the Gruyere, basil, oil, panko, garlic, salt, and pepper together.
Carefully open tomato slices, and spoon a bit of mixture between slices (about 2 Tbs per tomato).
Place tomatoes on wire rack.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.