A Menu for You to Use at Your Table

One of the things I think I do well over here in my world is cook.  I love cooking. I love the chopping, the sautéing, the sizzle and the sauce.  I like to sneak tastes and nibbles.  I love the planning and the dreaming and shopping before.  I love setting the table and thinking of each guest coming.  I love thinking how the foods will play off of each other.

I love looking through my recipes and cookbooks- the tried and true and the new and unknown.

I like having people over and saying, ‘no, don’t bring a thing’, because honestly how many times do you get to just show up and eat?  Glory! I Love doing that for others.

I like the conversation around the table and the laughter and connection and stories, and I am reminded that this is the life.  This is where I like to be.

Sometimes I get busy and forget.  Then the cookbooks call.  The grocery list beckons.  The guest list starts, and I remember how much I love this.

I love sharing with you, too. The recipes I tried; the ways I tweaked them. What worked. What didn’t.

I like thinking that my cooking is good for you.  Your soul. Your tummy.  Your mind.  I want to be the kind of friend who shares what she is cooking and hope that it encourages you to step out and try something new.  To step out and invite someone over.  To share life around the table with your family,  your friends, your neighbors.

I know for myself, that I get into a rut, and it helps to hear what someone else is cooking.  Thus my love for cooking shows.  I get so inspired and learn new things and make a grocery list all at the same time.

May I inspire you by sharing what I have been cooking around here?

Recently I wanted to host a special dinner for friends.  We wanted to do something Italian and something a little different.

I made a list of recipes and one day, when Craig and I were in the car driving, I described the different courses and let him pick the menu.

He ended up picking three recipes from our Giada cookbooks.

Butternut Squash soup

Pumpkin Sage Pasta

Salmon with Citrus Verde Sauce

I served a small appetizer of cheeses- a soft, fresh Pecorino and an aged Pecorino from Italy and a spicy Manchego cheese from Spain, all served with crackers.  I also had my favorite almonds from Trader Joe’s in two small bowls, Truffle and Rosemary.  I used my cheese board and chalk to label them so folks would know what they were eating.

While folks were munching on cheese and crackers,  I served the Butternut Squash soup with the Fontina Crostinis.  I will just have to say that the Crostinis are a must.  Sorry all you gluten free people out there,  but these are the perfect accompaniment for this dreamy, creamy soup .  I made the soup the day before and warmed it up slowly while guests were eating appetizers.  Spoiler alert: I took the sage out of the recipe because the next course had sage in it.

I served this taste of fall in my small Le Crueset Coquettes.  Here is a shot of these darlings ready to go for the party!

They are a great Sursee I found in a Lexington cooking shop when we visited Ryan in college.  I bought eight in different colors and have so enjoyed them for desserts and appetizers.  They make plain ‘ol mac-n-cheese look gourmet.

Then I snagged a guest to help me with the next course.  While people were visiting and slurping soup, we plated  the Pumpkin Sage Pasta.

I have these fantastic large restaurant type soup/pasta bowls that make anything look amazing.

I did use the sage that was in this recipe, but I used toasted pine nuts as a garnish because I had a guest who is highly allergic to Hazelnuts.  The pine nuts were perfect. The pasta was divine.

When we had finished that course, I snagged another guest to help me clear the table and we served up the next course.  See, usually I miss all the conversation while in the kitchen, but this time I brought conversation into the kitchen with me!  Thinking ahead I was.

Halibut was on sale when I shopped so I used that instead of the salmon that the recipe called for.  It didn’t take long to sear the halibut on the stove top.  This is different from the recipe which says to grill the fish.

I made the marinade earlier that day, and it was ready to drizzle over the top of the fish when it was finished cooking.  I used my white plates with a pile of arugula in the middle and set the halibut right on top Then I drizzled the citrus verde goodness all over the fish.

It was amazing.  Let me just say.

And this is not hard stuff to make, but it looked hard.  Don’t tell.

You can serve anyone of these items on their own.  As an entree or not.

Again. I have no photos.  I was in the moment which is the best place to be. Plus Giada has photos over on her site that are waaaaay better than what I could produce.

For dessert we had chocolate covered almonds, and I had some Sprinkles cupcakes cut in fourths so you could try a little piece of each. It was just the right amount of sweet for the ending of a delish meal.

I hope that these menu will help you this week!  Pick one thing to try.  Don’t be afraid to substitute for your own likes/allergies/sales at the store.  And please enjoy having a meal around your table. Nothing like it.




One way to lift your spirits today

You know how listening to a song can change your mood and spirits? Well today was one of those days.  I listened to this song about a kajillion times and with each listen, my spirit lifted.  I remembered what was true. And good.  And lovely.

I was sucked into the melody and something released in my spirit, and I connected with the Lord.  Music does that to me.  You?  What songs do you connect with when you are down or need a pick-up?

It is good to Praise you, Lord is what keeps swirling around me as I listen, and it changes me from the inside out.  I love how this song is based on scripture and helps me memorize His word from Psalm 92.

It talks about how we are to proclaim His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night.  Pretty much covers the day!  This is what I am thinking about today.  I think this little Sursee might be just what you need today.

Give her a listen and let your spirits lift no matter what is happening around you.



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