Best Moment Award (thank you Lilly Sue’s Bites and Brews)

May 10, 2013 § 6 Comments

Thank you Lilly Sue’s Bites and Brews for the Best Moment Award!


Awarding the people who live in the moment. The noble who write and capture the best in life.  The bold who reminded us what really mattered – savoring the experience of quality time. (Please check out

RULES: Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded. Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardee’s! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.

As for my acceptance speech.  I guess this is more of a time to give thanks and ponder the word “moments”.

It is a privilege to receive this award in recognition of my “little” blog.  I want to say thank you to all of my new friends who leave me such kind and sincere comments.  I feel much encouragement to continue posting to cottagegrovehouse!

I have been so inspired and encouraged by my family who sit with me at the dinner table every single evening and share my love of cooking, even if my dinner didn’t turn out quite as I imagined.  I appreciate these days so much.  I know some day my teenage son will no longer be at our table for every meal and I truly want to memorialize these moments.


….hens and chicks

I had some thoughts on best moments.  I have a tendency to live in the moment… almost to a fault at times.  It seems some very important matters are put off because I am enjoying the present moment far too much to stop and shift gears.  Eventually I do get it all done, thank goodness!

I keep seeing the statement “Be Present” and it has such a profound meaning to me.  My interpretation of “Be Present”  is to give full attention to what you are doing, “now”.  These days multi-tasking has become such a part of our lives we don’t even realize we are doing several things at a given moment.  Imagine visiting with a good friend while they are carrying a text message conversation with another friend.  Or spending time with your children while you are on your smartphone.  How about at the market making food choices while chatting on your phone. Admittedly, I am at fault for doing all of these things.  I appreciate the reminder of “Be Present” and I do make an effort to heed it’s instruction.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.  -John Lennon

It is my pleasure to present this award to….

Congratulations.  I love receiving notification every time you post!

Liebster Award!

May 7, 2013 § 24 Comments

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from

Well…I have to admit I never even thought about awards when I started this blog.  Poppy’s Patisserie so kindly nominated me for a The Liebster Award!  Thank you so much Poppy. This is very exciting for me.  When I started posting recipes on this site two months ago I thought it was a great way to get my thoughts together about the food I was preparing for my family.  They have always been such a fan of my cooking and nothing satisfies me more than putting dinner on the table for us.

This is what Poppy wrote on her blog about the Liebster Award….

My research on the award suggests that it originated as an award to small and new blogs which had less than 200 followers but over a few years has moulded into more of an appreciation and ‘booster’ award.

The Rules:
• Post 11 random facts about yourself.
• Answer the 11 questions made by the person who nominated you.
• Create 11 questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
• Choose 11 bloggers to pass the award to and mention them in your post.
• Go to their blogs and let them know that they have been nominated
• No tag backs.

Here we go!

11 Random Facts about me:

  1. I could eat spaghetti every single night!
  2. I am obsessed with white pottery and white linen.
  3. I am a black belt in tae kwon do.
  4. My favorite color is orange.
  5. I really like cool cloudy days.
  6. Fall is my favorite season. I love the clothes and food.
  7. I have a fine collection of antique color glass vases.
  8. I’m crazy in love with my husband.
  9. I’m in bed by 9pm!
  10. I buy myself a bouquet of white flowers every week. (my favorite: tulips)
  11. Along with my husband and teenage son, we are completely remodeling our 1931 cottage!

Questions from Poppy:

  • What is your favorite cookbook?
  •      -Tessa Kiros…..Apples for Jam.
  •  What is the worst kitchen disaster you’ve ever had?
  •      -While having guests over I filled the whole house with smoke from the salmon in the oven!
  • If you could become a non-human animal, what would you choose to be and why?
  •      -A dog. My big black lab!  I would love to lounge around all day!
  • What dish do you make most often?
  •      -Spaghetti with a tomato base sauce
  • If you had to emigrate to a country of your choice, where would it be?
  •      -Italy, of course!
  • If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
  •      -Cooking!
  • What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate?
  •      -Only weird to me….escargot
  • Where’s the weirdest place you ever went?
  •      -Weird in a foreign way…..Istanbul
  • Do you have an embarrassing/cheesey nickname?
  •      -When I was little…..Cecil
  • What’s your favorite website?
  •       -I use to love
  • What is your favorite charity?
  •       -Local Seattle homeless charities and “No Kid Hungry” in America

Questions for other blogger:

  1. What is your perfect Saturday?
  2. List one of your obsessions.
  3. What is your favorite cooking spice?
  4. What is the one thing you keep putting off?
  5. Who is your favorite person?
  6. What is your favorite thing to do at home other than cooking?
  7. Are you a dog or cat person?
  8. What is your favorite drink?
  9. Where would you go…Hawaii or Italy?
  10. What genre of music do you enjoy most?
  11. Do you enjoy fiction or non-fiction?

Blogs I award:












Thank you again Poppy!

roquette salad

May 6, 2013 § 16 Comments

Here is a very nice salad recipe I think you will enjoy.  This tangy dressing was a satisfying alternative to my usual “go to” olive oil and balsamic blend.   I think any seed or nut would work well as long as they are roasted and salted first.  I had both sunflower seeds and pine nuts in my cache, so I chose sunflower seeds.  I kept imagining pumpkin seeds would have been perfect, roasted and salted.

And, of course, along with my new obsession of “putting an egg on top”  I just had to include one.DSCN0372

served with a nice glass of dry rose”…


  • 3 large handfuls of spring greens….I used arugula
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • sea salt
  • olive oil for coating
  • 4 eggs


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons  sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • sea salt / pepper


Heat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scatter your seeds, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, scrape around with a spatula until well coated.  Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let them cool.

Make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Divide your salad greens among serving plates, top with seeds and drizzle dressing over each.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick skillet.  Fry your eggs according to your preference.

Top each plate with a fried egg and serve with dressing on the side.

Serves 4.

buon appetite.

minted pea soup

May 4, 2013 § 21 Comments

After visiting one of my favorite food blogs dollyrubiano I discovered a beautiful post using kawakawa tree leaves in a delightful looking chicken soup recipe.  It was a very enchanting post and after a few back and forth comments to each other we decided we would coordinate a back to back minted pea recipe.  Here is my minted pea soup recipe.  You must go see her recipe and amazing blog!  Her photographs are remarkable and her recipes are extraordinary.


This soup was sensational!  Very simple to prepare, especially if you are fortunate enough to find fresh english peas…already shelled.  If you are unable to find fresh peas I think using frozen peas for this soup will be delicious all the same.  I roasted a handful of the peas, tossed in olive oil and salt in the oven to create a nice crispy topping for the soup.   The chives in my garden are just now blooming so I added a few of the buds on top.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 packages frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of salt / pepper
  • creme fraiche
  • freshly chopped chives
  • Crusty garlic croutons, for serving (see recipe at the bottom of post)



Heat the butter in a heavy stock pot, cook the onion and leeks over medium heat until tender.  Add the peas and stir to coat well.  Pour in chicken or vegetable stock, increase to high heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until peas are tender.  If you are using frozen peas they will take less time to cook.  Turn the heat off and add the mint, salt and pepper.

Puree your soup using a hand blender.  I discovered using a hand blender for soup is much easier and less clean up.  You may blend directly into your cooking pot.  If you are using a counter top blender, puree the soup in batches.  Place 1 cup of soup in the blender, place the lid on and puree on low speed.  With the blender still running open the vent hole and slowly add more soup until soup is pureed.

Ladle into serving bowls, spoon in the creme fraiche and top with chives and croutons.

Generously serves 4.

Crusty garlic croutons

Several weeks ago I posted a crouton recipe.  Now I have found a much improved method of preparing croutons I would like to share with you.

You’ll need 4 or 5 slices of crusty day old bread, sliced into cubes.  Place bread in a large bowl, drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil, sprinkle a little salt, 2-3 chopped or pressed cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Toss well to evenly coat and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake in a 475° oven until toasted, turning occasionally with a spatula until well toasted.  Simple.  You may want to add some fresh herbs too!


buon appetite.

spaghetti aglio e olio stuffed tomatoes (ripieni di pomodoro)

April 26, 2013 § 10 Comments

Long ago I had a friend from from Vicenza Italy who was one of my greatest cooking influences. Every sunday several of us would gather around his table to enjoy perfectly prepared northern italian meals.  Undoubtedly I was inspired by his delectable dinners, however, he didn’t “teach” me a thing about cooking.  As a young aspiring cook I wanted so badly to be involved in his kitchen.  I think he wanted to keep his ingredients secret because he wouldn’t allow anyone near while he was cooking.  He would chase you out as soon as you made an appearance.  Although he didn’t teach me about cooking, I learned a great deal about food and cookery just by being present around his table.

This recipe features spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, also known as spaghetti aglio e olio.  I vividly remember having spaghetti aglio e olio for the first time.  I was mesmerized.  Up until that point spaghetti for me was tomato sauce with ground meat either cooked in the sauce or made into meatballs.   The simplicity of this sauce makes it so easy to throw together.  Most of the time I already have all the ingredients in house.  In my opinion, the sauce relies on a good quality spaghetti.   Try to buy the best brand from Italy you can find.


Aglio e olio is profoundly satisfying served in a large bowl with freshly grated parmesan.  Or, ripieni di pomodoro is a pleasing arrangement for guests as a side dish.  If you choose to make the tomato stuffed recipe it is best to buy capellini, also know as “angel hair” pasta.

Agio e olio


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a few pinches of red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of fine parmigiano-reggiano


Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat and add the spaghetti.  Cook for 9 minutes stirring occasionally.

While spaghetti is cooking, Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and chili flakes.  Cook until golden and turn off the heat.

Drain the spaghetti and place it into the skillet.  Carefully toss the pasta until every strand is coated well.  Add the parsley and continue to toss until well incorporated.

Divide into large serving bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and serve right away.

Serves 4.

Follow this recipe if you choose to make the stuffed tomato version.


ripieni di pomodoro


  • 1/2 pound capellini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a few pinches of red chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of fine parmigiano-reggiano
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes


Heat the oven to 300°.

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat .

While you are waiting for the water to boil chop all your ingredients and set aside.  Cut the tops of the tomato off 1/4 way down.  Scoop out the inside. Set aside.

When the water boils and before you add the capellini, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and chili flakes.  Cook until golden and turn off the heat.

Now add the capellini to the water and boil for 2 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Drain the capellini and place into the skillet.  Carefully toss the pasta until every strand is coated well.  Add the parsley and continue to toss until well incorporated.  If your pasta seems to be dry add a little of the cooking water to loosen it up and to moisten.

Fill each beefsteak tomato with your capellini aglio e olio. Put the tops back on and bake for 15 -20 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and cooked.  Serve promptly with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 4.

buon appetite.

salsa salad

April 20, 2013 § 12 Comments

As a final post of my juice cleanse I am putting up one more raw food idea.  This particular juice fast was different from any other cleanse I have experienced.  It was remarkably easy.  The detox symptoms were unusually mild.  My challenges were cravings, wanting to “crunch” and “chew” food, and a dull headache for a full day.  The spicy food craving was simple to resolve.  We just added chili’s and garlic to the juicer. Then this cheese craving came over me.  I love sheep cheese and I wanted a good pecorino!  Juicing for detox requires willpower, especially when you love to cook and eat!  Let us not underestimate the emotions we have attached to food.  I understand our need to acquire, prepare, smell, taste and chew food goes far beyond our basic demand of nourishment.   I recognize how eating is such a big part of my life.  However, after 8 days of fresh pressed homemade organic fruit and vegetable juice and 5 more days of rice, quinoa, nuts and raw produce, I feel rejuvenated, my mind is clear, and my jeans fit better!!  And, I am ready to start cooking again!


Here is a simple spicy salad.  We call it “salsa salad” because it is the same ingredients we toss in the food processor when we make salsa (except we leave out the cucumbers when we make salsa).  This would be delicious served on rice.  We did not add any fat or seasonings.  I think some olive oil, salt and maybe a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder would be nice.

Salsa Salad

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 large or 1 small jalapeño, chopped
  • handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

Lightly serves 2.

buon appetite.

carrot soup w/carrot top pesto

April 6, 2013 § 7 Comments


The other day I had a huge bunch of carrots and being the soup person I am I went looking for a carrot soup recipe.  I’m not a fan of curry or ginger in my carrot soup and up to then I really didn’t have it any other way.  My usual “go to” soup recipe involves sautéing onion in olive oil, adding whatever vegetable I’m using, chicken broth and boiling for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Sometimes I use a hand blender to make it smooth, sometimes not.  I decided to keep it simple and just do the “go to” method.

I remembered reading, at some point, the green tops of the carrots are edible.  Well, I love pesto in my soup.  I used the green tops to make a simple, garlicky pesto and topped the soup off with toasted pecans.  Simply delicious.


What you will need:

  • 1.5 lb. carrots with tops
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 quart broth, chicken or vegetable
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped



Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot, add onion and a little salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until soft.   Remove carrot tops, peel carrots (optional) and roughly chop and add to pot.  Stir until carrots are well coated with onions, add broth and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

While carrots are cooking, either finely chop carrot tops or use a food processor and whizz until fine.  Add the minced garlic, remainder of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

Place 1/3 cup pecans in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat.  Occasionally move the pecans around with a spatula until toasted, approximately 10 minutes.

Purée soup in a blender, working in batches, until smooth.  Or use a hand blender directly in the soup pot.

Ladle into bowls and top with carrot-top pesto and toasted pecans.


serves 4.

buon appetite.

spring soup deux (potage aux primeurs)

April 3, 2013 § 7 Comments

I posted a spring soup a few weeks ago.  Here is a second spring soup choice.


I stumbled across the most beautiful site today.  Manger.  All I could think was, stunning, charming, romantic, gorgeous.   A recipe for a spring soup (potage aux primeurs) caught my eye and I knew right then I had to make it…tonight. I decided I wanted to experience the soup exactly how she created it.  I would not go astray from her recipe.  I went to the market and gathered all the ingredients.  Sadly, fresh fava beans were not available, so, I had to omit them.  Unswerving,  I drove home looking forward to preparing what I thought will be a perfect soup with fresh, in season vegetables.

This soup and the spring soup I featured a few weeks ago are very similar.   Particularly adding the whisked egg, to thicken, at the end.  I thought  the Manger soup was easier to put together and I especially loved the turnips. Turnip are so much lighter than potatoes. This soup brought such contentment.  Very clean and fresh.  This perfect soup is sincerely flawless.

I did add one ingredient.  Fresh pea sprouts.  I had them on hand from the other night and it was quite nice.

Thank you Manger for your recipe.



  • 2 leeks,  white part only, cut in julienne strips
  • 1 cup green peas (preferably fresh peas, but frozen are fine too)
  • 1 cup fava beans (shelled)
  • 1 large carrot, cut in julienne strips
  • 2 turnips, diced finely
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • A handful of celery leaves, chopped
  • A handful of parsley, chopped (to be sprinkled on soup when served)
  • Salt and black pepper, for seasoning
  • 4 egg yolks


  • Half a stale baguette/ small country bread
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic clove

Slice stale bread into small cubes.  Place in a bowl, add the ground garlic, salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Mix well.  Place on a baking tray (lined with parchment paper) and place in pre-heated 350° oven.

For the soup
Wash all vegetables, slice and chop according to ingredients list.  In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil and add all the vegetables.  Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl, add a few tablespoons of  the soup to blend.  Take soup off the heat and add the egg yolks, making sure to whisk continuously to avoid any egg curdling.

Spoon soup into bowls, season with salt and pepper to your taste, sprinkle a few parsley leaves and croutons.  Serve immediately.


Serves 4

buon appetite.

happy spring. forget-me-not

March 20, 2013 § 1 Comment

Aw. The first day of spring. Forget-me-nots.


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