Fall Greens for Comfort

The calendar says it is still fall, however, the temperatures outside say that winter is here.  I love the cooler weather and I love the fall vegetables even more.  Needless to say, I have quite a few favorites for my fall comfort foods.

Today is for Kale.  Curly, leafy, dark-green, wonderful Kale.  Steamed alone or used in soups and stews, kale is a wonderful vegetable to add to your diet.  Filled with vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium, and more,  this leafy green adds a powerful nutritional punch to your meals.  I actually crave this veggie on occasion!  So I decided to cook it much like I do spinach, with plenty of garlic and onions and a little olive oil!

Fall2014 168

First chop half of a sweet onion in smaller chunks, then finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and sauté over low heat in extra virgin olive oil until the onions sweat and are clear.

Fall2014 169

While the onions and garlic sauté, slice up a green onion (also known as scallions) including the white bulb.  Add this to the onion and garlic mixture and sauté together. 

Fall2014 170

Wash and pat dry a nice bunch of fresh kale.  Roughly chop into smaller pieces, taking care to remove any stems that may be tough.  Pile this into the pan on top of the onions and garlic and toss together.  Watch closely as it begins to wilt.  I take care not to let it get too dark.  Which is why I put about 1/3 cup of water into the greens and put a lid on it briefly.  If you get distracted and let it sit a little too long, they don’t remain a bright green, which is how I prefer my greens. (Note in the photo below….I got distracted by two trouble maker feline children and my greens got a little too dark,) Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Fall2014 171

Cyn’s Steamed Kale

1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large bunch kale, washed, pat dry and roughly chopped with stems removed

1 large stalk green onion, finely chopped, including the white bulb

pinch Kosher salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 c. water

Sauté onion, garlic and green onion in extra virgin olive oil until soft.  Add chopped greens and toss together.  Pour water over greens and let steam in lidded pan until greens begin to turn really bright.  Add pinch kosher salt and black pepper.  Watch closely so greens don’t overcook and turn dark.  Remove from heat and remove lid.  Lightly toss into a serving bowl and enjoy.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says, but nothing beats a nice big bowl of greens on a cold wintery day!  Bon Appetit!

Hummus–From Cyn’s Kitchen

Today I am starving.  Must be the fall nip in the air or the rain.  Whatever it is, I decided it was time to make hummus.  I’d bought the ingredients days ago and each time the pantry door opens, they’re calling my name!

So here goes!  Grab your food processor or blender and get it set up, ready to go.  Now gather your ingredients together: 1-2 cans of garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, spices, parsley, extra virgin olive oil.


As you can see from the photo above, I just dumped everything in the food processor.  I used just 1 can of garbanzos/chick peas.  I forgot to soak the dry beans overnight, so whatever was in the pantry is what I’m using.  Drain the liquid from the canned beans into a cup or small glass and set aside.  You will want to use some of this later.  You’ll need nice pinch of sea salt, about 1/4 tsp cumin, paprika, 4 tsp tahini, several cloves of garlic, fresh chopped parsley or dried parsley, juice of one lime or lemon and extra virgin olive oil.


Turn on your food processor and while it’s blending everything together, open the spout and pour your olive oil in.  Leave on until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a bowl, garnish with a few parsley leaves, sprinkle paprika and drizzle a little olive oil.  Here’s the recipe….keep in mind, I do not measure, so measurements are approximate.  Adjust to suit your taste.



1 can Bush’s Garbanzo Beans/Chick Peas

4 tsp Tahini (ground sesame paste)

2 large garlic cloves

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cumin

about 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and extra for drizzling

juice of one lime or lemon (I had limes in the kitchen this time)


coriander or parsley leaves, finely minced or 1/4 tsp dried

Drain the garbanzos/chick peas into a cup or bowl.  Set liquid aside.  Rinse the beans in cold water and place into the food processor.  Add tahini, garlic, sea salt, cumin, lime/lemon juice, and about 1/2 of the bean liquid.  Turn on the food processor and pour the olive oil in it while it runs.

When completely combined and smooth, pour into a serving dish.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle paprika and garnish with parsley leaves.  You can also take 3 whole garbanzos/chick peas and arrange in the middle for decoration.

Serve and enjoy as a dip with raw veggies or as a spread for sandwiches on bread or in pita pockets!

Jeffery Camera–New York, New York

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since we visited New York City for the first time together as a couple.  We had so much fun, but realized that The Big Apple is a much larger city that we imagined it to be and must plan another trip to take in some of what we missed!

The City is a great place to photograph and we had a wonderful time taking it all in.  Enjoy a few of our shots from this great place and we hope to go back very soon!


One of the most recognizable skyscrapers of the City: The Empire State Building

New York City Day 2 078

Little flea market in the heart of the City: 

New York City Day 2 118

Looking up at the then unfinished Freedom Tower from the World Trade Center Memorial Park:

New York City Day 2 154

Until next time……

Pimento Paroxysm

By definition, paroxysm means any sudden, violent outburst.  In my mind, with summer just around the corner and today being Father’s Day, it’s time to break out the summer dishes and just let the flavors explode all over the palette.  So, given that definition, I think paroxysm works well in my title!

Today I am trying two comfort food dishes that include pimentos but changing it out a little.  Pimentos are just chopped up red peppers that can be pickled and smoked.  I love the flavor they add to dishes and the color just adds a beautiful pop to any dish!  The first dish is a revamping of my favorite summer dish: potato salad.  Who doesn’t love potato salad on a hot day?  There are so many ways to make this dish, but I just kept it simple using what I had in the pantry.  The second dish is: pimento cheese spread.  Another dish that has fifty million different ways of making it, I again chose to keep it simple and the recipe is based on one from a co-worker.


Summer foods 002

First step: peel and chop potatoes.  Probably the least fun part of the whole thing!  I took 5-6 large Idaho potatoes, because that’s what I had in the kitchen!  After peeling and washing them, I put them into a large bowl of water.  It’s been said that soaking them in water will help remove some of the starch.  I guess it’s true, because when I came back a little later to chop them, their texture was very different!

Second step: cook the potatoes.  In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until just softened.  You don’t want to overcook them because the potato salad will be mushy.  Once cooked, drain and rinse the potatoes.  Rinsing them helps to stop the cooking as they will continue to cook until cool.

For the sauce, you will need your favorite mayonnaise or salad dressing.  To keep it vegan, use Veganaise or another similar vegan mayo.  I had some light Miracle Whip on hand and decided to just use that.  Next add some yellow mustard, freshly ground black pepper, healthy pinch of paprika, pimentos, shallots and some Vidalia onion.

Mixing it all together, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight so the flavors meld together.  See the recipe below!

Summer foods 003

Cyn’s Pimento Potato Salad

5-6 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cooked until just tender

1/2 Vidalia onion, diced

1-1/2 purple shallot, diced

2-1/2 tbsp. pimentos

3 tbsp. yellow mustard

3-4 tbsp. salad dressing or mayonnaise

1 tsp paprika

freshly ground black pepper

Peel and soak potatoes in a large bowl of water for about 20-min.  While they are soaking cut the Vidalia onion, purple shallots and place in a bowl together with all the other ingredients.

One the potatoes are chopped, cook until just tender in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Drain and rinse to slow the cooking process.  Toss altogether and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight so the flavors will meld.

Summer foods 010


Now for the second dish!  I love pimento spread, but sometimes the store-bought has so many extra ingredients in it and while I like cream cheese, using it in pimento spread makes the spread so much heavier, in my opinion.

This recipe was inspired by a co-worker who brought in her pimento spread for a birthday party luncheon that we had recently.  I basically followed what she told me, except for the choice of cheese.  She uses Velveeta process cheese and I chose sharp cheddar.

The end result is basically the same = creamy, light, flavorful.  Perfect.

Summer foods 006

Doesn’t that close up photo just make you want to dig in?!? 

Here’s the recipe:

Cyn’s Pimento Cheese Spread

1 cup freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

2-3 tbsp. pimentos, including the juice from the jar

your favorite mayonnaise or salad dressing

(I added some freshly grated white Mexican melting cheese that I had because there was just a tiny bit of it left.  I think it came to about 1/3 cup or less)

Mix all together in a large bowl until well combined and creamy.  You may have to add more mayonnaise or salad dressing until it’s the right consistency.  Chill for at least an hour to allow the mixture to set.

Serve on bread or crackers or use as a dip with your favorite dipping chips.

Summer foods 009


Bon Appetite!

Tracking Tom

Celebrating my Mother-in-law’s birthday last weekend, we met them at our favorite spot on earth: Cades Cove.  Smoky Mountain National Park is a very large park and we do sometimes frequent other spots.  However, because of our love of photography, well…Cades Cove calls us more often!

After days and weeks of unseasonably cold weather, Tennessee Spring is finally here.  No really, it is!  Even though it’s been weeks since the official first day of Spring, the warmth did not arrive until recent days.  The animals were out last weekend enjoying the sun about as much as we were.  Although the big bear we saw was from a good distance. 

Spring 2014 Cades Cove & Home 011a

Continuing along the Loop Road, we see a whole flock of turkey hens and two males fighting over them!  Excited for this rare opportunity, I grabbed the camera and my Dad-in-law and I were out of the car, shooting as we went!  Tom 1 would flare out his tail feathers and chase Tom 2 down the slope.

Spring 2014 Cades Cove & Home 020

Not to be outdone, Tom 2 tried his best, but not once did I see his tail feathers bloom!

Spring 2014 Cades Cove & Home 028

This is where having a little patience finally paid off!  After years of waiting for the right moment, Tom 1 turned to look at me while I was shooting him!

Spring 2014 Cades Cove & Home 044

Just getting that last shot in really made my day and made the trip over a complete success!  Spending the afternoon with my in-laws, sharing a picnic lunch before heading around the Loop Road made for a wonderful day for us.  I can’t wait for the next visit!  Who knows what I’ll be able to shoot then!

General Tso’s Tofu

There is a little hole in the wall in town that makes the absolute best General Tso’s tofu.  They serve it with broccoli and it’s been a very long time since I’ve even made it to that side of town to get some!  It has been on my mind for weeks, nagging at me until the craving has gotten so big that I just could not ignore it any longer!  So I started searching for a recipe to make General Tso’s Tofu.

After looking at countless recipes online and remembering how the dish looked from my local restaurant, I finally found one that I could use!  I had most of the ingredients and figured tweaking it a little based on what I have on hand would be fine.  After all, if it tastes good, that’s all that matters, right?

First step: open the package of Organic, non-GMO extra firm tofu and drain.  Wrap it in a towel and place a plate on top and bottom to press out more water/liquid and let sit for a little while until it isn’t so wet.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 150

I cut mine into square, little cubes and put them in the pan to brown the edges a little.  While the tofu browns, dice up half of a red onion.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 151

Remove the browned tofu cubes from your pan and sauté the diced red onion.  I used about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for the tofu and the onions.  I also put 3 cloves of garlic through the press and chopped some onion greens to the sauté.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 152

To change things up a bit, throw in some snow peas with the sautéed onions and add the browned tofu.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 153

Now for the sweet, tangy sauce that makes this dish so delicious.  Gather together the organic soy sauce, something a little sweet and the corn starch for thickening.  My sweet was some homemade syrup that I had leftover from a Sunday morning brunch recently.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 154

Add 3 tbsp sweet and 3 tbsp organic soy sauce to the pan.  In a small measuring cup, add 3 tablespoons of corn starch and 6-8 tablespoons water and mix together until smooth without lumps.  Add to the pan and quickly toss the tofu mixture so that it is evenly coated.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 155

As the liquid heats up, it will thicken.  Remove from the heat once it is thick and the tofu mixture is coated well.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 156

Below is the actual recipe courtesy of Food.com.  Someday, when all the ingredients are in my pantry, I may try this again!

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 158

General Tso’s Sauce

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp rice wine

1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp chili paste

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Mix all ingredients in a sauté pan.  Cook at medium temperature until thickened, stirring occasionally.

While I left out some of the ingredients in this particular recipe, it turned out really nice and if you don’t like spicy, leaving out the chili paste won’t matter!  Snow peas and all, this was probably one of my better lunches…ever.  And I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

Until next time… Bon Appetit!

Jeffery Camera 2014–Cades Cove

These were taken on our recent visit over to the Cove just after our area had all that extra snow!  Most of the snow was gone and the roads were re-opened so we could get into the park.  It was cold but it was so beautiful.  I am always refreshed mentally and spiritually when we go to this little corner of Heaven on Earth.

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 043

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 056

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 117

Spring 2014 Epcurian delights 121

In a little while, Spring will be here and there will be many more reasons to return.  Until then…