April Vacation & Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies

crocus_snow_01What to do during April vacation? It certainly is a dilemma. Okay, maybe it’s only a dilemma if you’re stuck in the chilly, gray north. A vacation is hardly a vacation when cloudy days and muddy yards make outside play uninviting at best. And a disaster waiting to happen to your carpets at worse. If you’re one of the lucky ones, problem solved – you’re soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere.

For those without the time, inclination or budget for a family trip to Disney World or the Bahamas, April vacation can be a challenge. Reminding the kids of the wonderful week of skiing, sledding and snowball fights you shared in February will not solve your current and very pressing problem. Like generations of children before them, they are battling a severe case of the April Vacation Boredom Blues. That’s Boredom with a capital B stuck-in-the-house Blues.

So what do you do with a house full of bored kids for a week? Well, you could send them to Nana and Grandpa. How many times have your parents or in-laws told you how much they miss their grandchildren? They’ll be delighted to entertain them … at least for a day or two.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, if you’ve got kids at home this vacation week, here are a few ideas to keep everyone busy and happy.

Hit the road. When the going gets rough, the tough take a field trip. Kindle your kids’ interest in science with a trip to the planetarium or aquarium. Awaken the budding artist with a museum visit. If your children have an interest in history, take them to an antique house or village or the historical society. And don’t forget a visit to the library.

When in doubt, choose a place which interests you. By sharing your love of music, art, history or science, you may find a kindred spirit.

Laugh ‘til you cry or be inspired. Check the newspaper, web or video store for movies. Whether you take in the latest comedy or a classic bio-pic, a great movie will lift you out of the ho-hum and humdrum of another rainy afternoon. An ice cream afterwards is not a bad way to finish the adventure.

Do a good deed. And another. Simple acts of kindness work wonders on everybody’s disposition on a dreary day. When we stayed with my grandparents, my sister Brenda and I frequently ran errands for Nana. She always shared her morning newspaper with the lady up the street. Off we went after breakfast to deliver the paper. Sometimes Nana added a pint of berries, a cup of chowder or a piece of pie. After delivering the paper and pie, we took at least a few minutes to chat with Nana’s friend. And then a few minutes more to play with Brownie, her cocker spaniel.

There are many things your children can do to help others. From baking cookies for the neighbors to spending a morning sorting cans at a food bank, you needn’t look far to find a deed in need of doing. The experience will be even better if you do it together.

Suddenly a dull and boring week is anything but. Enjoy the vacation with your children or grandchildren and bon appétit!

Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookiespeanuty_choc_chip_16
My mother moved into the local nursing home last summer. About once a month I do a baking demonstration and tasting for her and her pals. These cookies were given a big thumbs up by one and all! Enjoy!

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (try the minis)
1 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.

Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts.peanuty_choc_chip_03

Using a mini ice cream scoop or 2 spoons, drop the batter onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Be sure to enjoy at least one while it is still warm.

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One Year Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Two Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Three Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Four Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite way to spend a rainy, gray or otherwise miserable day? Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

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Sail of the Century & Baba Ganoush

Summer comes late and leaves early in New Hampshire. Mornings have already turned chilly, the kids are back at school and Labor Day has come and gone. It seems like just last week my summer neighbors were throwing open the windows to air out musty cottages and dragging their docks and boats into the water. Over the weekend, Pleasant Lake was buzzing with activity; but sadly the key tasks were packing up and putting summer toys away.


For many years, a small fleet of boats sailed and raced on Pleasant Lake. Regattas were held to help celebrate the 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend. In between there were races every Saturday afternoon. Not the swish regattas and races of Newport or Long Island with yachts, white flannels and navy blue blazers. This group sailed Sunfishes and for the most part it was made up of guys in baggy, madras swimming trunks. These weekend Skippers were accountants, salesmen, realtors and small businesses owners. They loved to sail and race their little boats and were constantly frustrated by the fickle winds of Pleasant Lake. Most Saturdays the Sunfish flopped around in the middle of the lake while everyone prayed for even the smallest puff of wind. They were mostly disappointed until the Sail of the Century.

Late August and September fall in the thick of hurricane season. Every year or so, a tropical storm or hurricane makes its way up the eastern seaboard to New England. By the time they reach us, they have lost their category 5 or 4 or whatever status. But, as Irene showed us last week, they still can pack a lot of wind and water. I remember one particular Labor Day weekend. Much to the delight of Pleasant Lake sailors, New Hampshire was hit with the remnants of a big, bad storm.

It was a nasty weekend to close up cottages. The wind blew a gale, it rained and hail was reported. Tennis tournaments and cookouts were cancelled. The uninitiated assumed that the Labor Day Weekend Sunfish Regatta was also cancelled. Unperturbed, in fact excited, the Skippers met at the beach for the race. They were surprised to discover that the Race Officials were missing. Not particularly official, the Race Committee included my Mom and a couple of her friends. They were home keeping dry and packing up for the return to suburbia.

Calls were made and before long, a crowd gathered on the wet and windy beach to debate the sanity of sailing in a gale. The Skippers won the debate. As a concession, they agreed to sail with a crew for some added weight and stability. Choosing a crew was a new phenomenon on placid Pleasant Lake. The average Skipper had 2.3 children, so they started their search at home. Their enthusiasm was catching and most kids were happy to jump on board. My dad set his sights on my little brother. The smaller the crew, the faster the boat would fly. No surprise, my mom declared that her five year old God-loved-angel would not be sailing in gale force winds.

My little brother was left on the beach, my sister decided the whole thing was nuts so I won the draw and crewed for Dad. It was a wild ride. The Sunfish flew around the course. A few boats flipped but happily everyone got home safely and in one piece. Who won the race? I don’t think that anyone remembers or really cares. As for us, Dad and I just know that it was 2 great days; wildly exhilarating, a bit frightening and loads of fun. It was the perfect end to a perfect summer!

Bon appétit!

Baba Ganoush
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I always feel sorry for the summer people who pack up and leave on Labor Day. I love September on Pleasant Lake … particularly evenings on the beach with a glass of wine and something to nibble. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8
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1-2 eggplants (about 2 pounds)
Olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, cut in slivers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly pepper to taste
Pita bread, cut in triangles
Fresh vegetables

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the eggplants in half. Brush with olive oil. Cut slits into the eggplants, insert the garlic slivers and bake cut side up at 350 degrees until eggplant is soft, about 40 minutes. Scoop the eggplant and garlic out of the skin and put in the bowl of a food processor.

While the eggplants are baking, sauté the onion in a little olive oil for 5-10 minutes or until translucent.

Add the onion, tahini, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper to the eggplant. Pulse to mash and combine.

Bake the pita triangles at 350 degrees until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve the Baba Ganoush with warm and crispy pita triangles and/or fresh veggies.

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One Year Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Mushrooms
T
wo Years Ago – Keftedes with Tzatziki
Three Years Ago – Sort’a Like Jambalaya  

I’ll be writing, reading and relaxing this September. What about you? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or photoblog Susan Nye 365. You can find more than 250 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more on my website. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

February Vacation Special – Fun with Frosty & Snowman Cupcakes

February vacation gives children a welcomed break from school. There is so much fun to be had … playing in the snow, on the rink or on the slopes. But there are always those days when the weather turns cold or nasty. No matter how happy and busy they are with toys, games and books, it doesn’t take too long before you hear those dreaded words, “Mom (or Dad), I’m bored.” If boredom strikes your house, have some fun with snowmen. Even if the weather outside is frightful; you can turn cupcakes into delightful snowmen.

Start with your favorite cupcake. I like something a little spicy, like Gingerbread or Pumpkin (unless you have a real sweet tooth you might want to skip the chocolate chips for this project). Maybe you prefer Chocolate or a little Citrus & Spice.

Follow the directions for the cake or cupcake batter. Instead of using a cake pan or regular muffin tin, split the batter between regular and mini muffin tins. I like to use paper liners instead of greasing and flouring the pans. Fill the paper liners 2/3 full with batter. Regular cupcakes generally take 18-20 minutes to bake and the minis 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting and decorating.

While the cupcakes cool, make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 4-6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Put the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, add the vanilla extra and combine.

Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well blended. Increase mixer speed and continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

And gather your decorations! You will need:
Sweetened coconut flakes
Mini chocolate chips
Orange gummy fish
Thin mints
Junior mints
Licorice whips or fruit leather

Now, put it all together:

First remove the paper wrappers from the cup cakes.

Take one regular and one mini cupcake. Frost the sides and top of each cupcake and roll it in coconut. (It’s a little messy but that’s half the fun!) Put a small dab of frosting on the bottom of the mini cupcake and stack it on top of the larger one.

To decorate your cupcake: use mini chocolate chips to create eyes, a mouth and buttons. Cut a small, carrot shaped wedge of gummy fish for the nose. Use liquorish whips or a slice of fruit leather for a scarf. Dab a little frosting on to a Junior Mint and “glue” it to a thin mint to make a hat. Now put a little frosting on the bottom of the hat and attach it to the snowman’s head!

Your snowman will be as handsome as he is delicious! Enjoy! Bon appétit

What do you do with your kids when you’re stuck inside? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my photoblog, Susan Nye 365 or my cleverly named other blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2011

The Final Days of Summer & Death by Chocolate Sauce

The days are getting shorter. Hospital Days have come and gone; county fairs and harvest festivals are just around the corner. Lots of summer people, mostly those with kids, are heading back to Massachusetts or Connecticut or wherever they come from. I feel a little sorry for them. Some of the best days of summer are still to come.

It tends to get a little cooler in August or at least the nights cool down. July’s heavy, sometimes stifling, humidity fades and the air is clear and dry. It is the perfect weather for a hike, a long bike ride or just a lazy day at the beach. Within a few short weeks the school bell will ring again. It is time to cram in one last sail to the island, one more turn on the water skis and one last climb up Kearsarge. Summer is a wonderful time for families to reconnect, to play, explore and laugh together.

Why not make one last stop at your favorite summer spot (or spots) before heading home to the reality of another school year? Maybe it’s the Farmers’ Market on the village green, that cozy little bookstore in the center of town or the funky gift shop with the great cards. It could be that wonderful ice cream stand you discovered when you got lost one afternoon on your way from here to there. The one with the fabulous homemade ice cream and amazing chocolate sauce. Or maybe your favorite is caramel.

Summer’s slower pace provides a great opportunity to connect with your neighbors. I’m not sure why but the corn and tomatoes are somehow sweeter when you’ve met the farmer who grew them. The adventure is more daring, the romance more enduring and the tales funnier when you’ve gotten to know the bookseller. And the ice cream is certainly creamier when you’ve had a chat with the cows before indulging!

It’s too bad that families are forced to head south before Labor Day to start the grind of school, carpools and soccer practice. It’s much too soon for summer to end. When we were kids, we left the suburbs behind and headed north within minutes of the final bell in June. Our big blue station wagon would barely get the chance to roll to a stop before we were out of the car, into our bathing suits and dashing down to Pleasant Lake. We stayed in, on or, at the very least, near the lake until the very last possible moment on Labor Day.

Finally, after one last swim, one last sail and one last (successful!) attempt to get up on a single water ski, we packed up the car and headed south. So yes, we were those kids. Every class had one or two. We showed up on the first day of school scatterbrained, disorganized and without a pencil. Instead of a brand new box of crayons and a shiny notebook we had a face full of freckles and a faraway look in our eyes.

Hoping you are enjoying the final days of summer. Bon appétit!

Death by Chocolate Sauce
You can feast on ice cream sundaes even when your favorite homemade ice cream stand is closed with this thick and rich chocolate sauce. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
14 ounces good (I use Lindt) bittersweet chocolate or a mix of bittersweet and milk chocolate, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, salt and orange juice in a saucepan; cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cream, the mixture will bubble, and whisk until smooth. Heat over low heat until the cream is hot but not boiling. Whisk in the espresso powder and Grand Marnier.

Turn off the heat; add the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes to melt. Whisk until smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk to until smooth and combined. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.

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One Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Two Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts  

What are your favorite summer haunts? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visitmy photo blog Susan Nye 365 or my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog.You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more on my website. . I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Right of Way & Crostini with Goat Cheese

Throughout my childhood and teenage years my Mother was determined to keep me busy. I’m not sure what delinquent activities or criminal behaviors she was trying to save me from, but she succeeded. Throughout the school year, she was more or less satisfied that the demands of the public school system were enough to keep me out of trouble. She felt no overwhelming need to extend the day and send my klutzy self to ballet or my tone deaf self to piano lessons. Pre-Title IX, girls were excluded from the town soccer league, so I was not drafted onto a team.

But the summer, that was a different story. I would have been perfectly content to while away the hours sitting on the beach. A perfect day would have included friends to chat with, a book to read and a few swims out to the raft. That agenda did not work for Mom.

She had me in swimming lessons forever. I didn’t just learn to swim, I earned all my life saving certificates. She signed me up for a golf class and tennis lessons. Golf didn’t last long but she enlisted me in any and every tennis tournament and round-robin she could find. Imagine the worst tennis player ever; I was worse than that.

My Dad taught us to sail. A longtime passion, he began sailing at the age of five. Neither my sister, brother nor I had a choice; we were all in and around boats from an early age. Pleasant Lake and its fickle winds provided a few fun and many challenging, even frustrating, afternoons.

Every Wednesday or Thursday, weather and wind permitting, there was a kids’ Sunfish race. My Mother was delighted. Here was yet another activity to keep me busy. Participation in the weekly event was not negotiable. My racing record was far from stellar. I never won a race; the closest I came to victory was fourth. In my defense, I’m one of those people who can’t tell their right from their left or their left from their right. Change that to port and starboard, add a bunch of rules and right of ways and I was a nervous wreck.

One race in particular stands out in my mind.

For once, a steady wind was blowing and it was the perfect day for a sail. Hoping for an advantage, we began to circle our boats around the start line. It was all pretty chaotic with too many boats in too a small space. Just minutes before the horn was due to blast I sailed right into the Mann’s boat. Maybe I got my ports and starboards mixed up or forgot who had right of way (it wasn’t me). Then again, I might have confused the dance around the start line with a watery game of chicken. I can’t really remember. Whatever it was … POW! I made a direct hit at full speed.

Thanks to me, Roger had a ginormous hole in the side of his boat. Off he limped to shore. I followed. I figure the least I could do was offer him my boat for the race. He didn’t seem particularly bothered, declined and went off to play tennis or something. Somewhat reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara, I quietly vowed to never, ever sail again.

The damages were quickly repaired and within a day or two the Mann’s Sunfish was back in the water winning races. As for me, I spent the rest of the summer thinking up excuses to stay off the boat. I’m not sure but it seems to me that Mom might have relaxed a little on all the lessons and tournaments. After all Labor Day was still a few weeks away, who knew what additional havoc I might have wrought?

Hoping your summer is packed with fun.

Bon appétit!

Crostini with Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomatoes & Olives
These crostini are always a huge hit! Enjoy!
Makes about 25 pieces

2 pints grape tomatoes
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced – ask the bakery to slice it for you
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
11 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
About 25 oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the tomatoes, onion and pepper in a heavy ovenproof skillet. Add the olive oil, vinegar and herbs, season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, toss to combine and continue roasting until the vegetables are soft and the edges start to brown, about 10 minutes more. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse to roughly chop and combine.

Put the goat cheese and cream in a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the goat cheese and combine it with the cream. Stir until the goat cheese is smooth and spreadable, adding a little more cream if necessary.

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread a thick layer of goat cheese onto the other side, top with a spoonful of the roasted and chopped tomatoes and a few pieces of olive.

Bake at 375 degrees until the buttered side of the bread is golden brown and the cheese is piping hot, 10-15 minutes.

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One Year Ago – Corn & Chicken Chowder
Two Years Ago – Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster 

Do you have a favorite summer story? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

The Annual Ski Vacation & Greek Pizza

A light snow is falling, I wish it was more but I’ll take what I can get. It has come just in time for the flatlanders’ annual trek north for February vacation. For many years, my family was a part of the mid-February mass exodus from Massachusetts to points north. The best thing my parents ever did was build a small vacation house in the woods near Pleasant Lake. When vacation time rolled around we couldn’t get out of town fast enough. On departure day, our duffels were packed and sitting by the backdoor before we left for school. We struggled through the seemingly endless school day until the last bell finally rang and we were free for the week. We quickly piled everything into the back of the station wagon and headed north.

Big snow guns had not yet found their way to our favorite ski area so we were completely dependent on natural snow. If Mother Nature didn’t cooperate we were out of luck. I’m sure that some years were better than others. There must have been years with lots of rocks and ice and little snow. I don’t remember those times; I only remember the vacations when there was plenty of snow and lots of sunshine. I have particularly vivid memories of one long and snowy February vacation.

It started out as an ordinary weekend. Vacation was still another week away. It began snowing late Saturday afternoon. It was still snowing when we got up the next morning. Since we skied in blizzards and on ice, in the cold and in the rain, we were back on our skis on Sunday. By mid afternoon we were wet and cold and visibility was close to zero. We called it a day.

Luckily my parents decided that driving back to Boston in a blizzard was not only crazy but possibly dangerous. It was a pretty sure bet that school would be cancelled the next day. We would spend a relaxing Sunday night by the fire, ski on Monday morning and then head south in the afternoon.

On Monday morning the sun came out and we watched the newscasts from Boston while we waited for the snowplow. The city and surrounding suburbs were at a standstill. Cars were stuck and abandoned on highways, city streets and suburban roadways. Offices and schools throughout the Commonwealth were closed. No one was going anywhere fast. Massachusetts was at a standstill.

In sharp contrast, New Hampshire roads were free and clear by midmorning. Delighted by our foresight, we were out on the slopes by 10:00, enjoying two feet of beautiful new powder. For the rest of the week we continued to check the newscasts but Massachusetts schools remained closed. It was an epic battle of Snow versus the Flatlanders and Snow was winning. We were all too happy to cheer from afar. We skied every day. It was heaven on earth.

The next week was vacation week. It was beyond a doubt one of the best ever. The snow was fantastic. Every day was clear and sunny and not too cold. As we were packing up to head home, another epic nor’easter blew in. Was it a miracle or had the patron saint of middle schoolers decided that two weeks was not enough? Could we hope for a third week of skiing?  As flakes began to fall, my parents debated the pros and cons of staying or leaving. My mom never really liked to ski but had absolutely no desire to spend a day or two or three snowbound and housebound in suburbia. We stayed. If the storm turned out to be more bluff than bluster, we could leave early Monday morning.

It was the right decision. The storm dumped another two or three feet of snow and Massachusetts closed down for another week. We were in seventh heaven.

Have a wonderful February vacation and bon appétit!

Greek Pizza
After a day on the slopes, let everyone hang out in the kitchen and make pizzas. Add a salad and dinner is done. Have a great vacation and enjoy!
Serves 4

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 8 ounces frozen spinach or 12 ounces fresh
16-20 ounces pizza dough (your favorite recipe, store-bought or from your favorite pizzeria)
4 ounces feta crumbled
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 or more kalamata or oil cured black olives, pitted and quartered

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped red onion and herbs and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Turn up the heat and add the spinach, sauté until the spinach defrosts (or fresh wilts) and most of the liquid is cooked off. Set aside.

Cut the pizza dough into 4 pieces. Stretch each piece into a round or roll out with a rolling pin.  Top each pizza with spinach, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, crumbled feta and olives.

Transfer the pizzas to a lightly oiled baking sheet or a preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes if you use a baking sheet and 8-12 minutes if you use a pizza stone or until the cheese is bubbly and crust is crisp.

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One Year Ago – Triple Threat Brownies
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Leave a Comment below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe  just scroll back up and click on the Sign Me Up button.

Feel free to look around my website, you can learn about my new philanthropic project Eat Well – Do Good, link to magazine articles and more on at www.susannye.com. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Welcome September & Keftedes with Tzatziki

I think that September has always been my favorite month. Or at least it has been for a very long time. For many people September is kind of a sad time. It means back-to-school, back-to-work or at the very least back to some kind of reality. But for me it is a time when the heat and humidity die down, my curly head becomes somewhat tame-able again and I try to take some time off.

September is a wonderful time to travel. Most of the crowds have gone home and the weather is fantastic. For many years I lived in Switzerland and every September I hit the road. A few of my trips were for business but thankfully not all.

I have explored the Turkish countryside, visited Jerusalem and danced on Mykonos in September. I remember spying a For Sale sign or two while wandering over hill and dale in Mykonos. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, a stone house on a Greek island was in my future. Maybe not year-round but I had a delightful vision of myself lazing around on a beach for a month or two or four every year. But I might have been lightheaded from the perfect weather and the sea air or it could have been the ouzo.

I must have a thing for stone houses because I also thought a home in Burgundy, Provence, Como or Tuscany would be pretty close to perfect. These were some of my favorite September destinations. For these escapes, I packed light, grabbed my bicycle and hopped on a train.

For a few glorious days, I would bike through miles of vineyards, fields and rolling hills. It was picture postcard perfect with a few sleepy cows and busy farmers taking in the harvest. I pedaled through quiet little villages, around lakes and along rivers, stopping from time to time to take in a few sites, visit a chateau or picnic.

There is something about the light in September which turns an ordinary day into something quite special. From sunrise to sunset, September sunshine is golden, almost magical. I know there must have been a cloudy, dreary or rainy day or two on these early autumn jaunts but I only remember splendid days filled with sunshine. In addition, I’m sure we have missed a train or two or got hopelessly lost at least once. Since we rarely made reservations, I don’t doubt we had trouble finding a hotel room from time to time. But I only remember relaxed evenings with good friends and wonderful local food and wine. And maybe a little dancing.

After a too busy summer I am thankful that September is here. I am also thankful that I won’t be jumping onto any planes or trains. Mykonos is beautiful, the French and Italian countryside are indeed special but then so is New Hampshire. And New Hampshire is a lot closer to family! Last night I relaxed on a hill overlooking Pleasant Lake with my folks and watched the loons while the sun went down. Today my sister comes to share lunch and a magnificent view of Kearsarge. Throughout the month I look forward to time with family and friends and lots of walking and hiking, kayaking and biking … and I wouldn’t mind a little dancing.

I hope that you have a wonderful September, filled with warm days, bright blue sunshine and fun with family and friends. Enjoy!

Bon appétit!

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Tzatziki (Cucumber Sauce)
Who says you have to travel half way around the world for good Greek food. These keftedes will amaze and delight your friends and family. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

Tzatziki (recipe follows)
1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
1 carrot, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sour cream
Pinch nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Flour, for dusting
Olive oil
Pita Bread

Make the Tzatziki (recipe follows) and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the turkey, pork, oatmeal, onion, carrot, garlic, oregano, mint, vinegar, eggs, sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Roll the turkey-pork mixture into meatballs and dust with flour.

Coat the bottom on a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs in batches and brown on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan.

Place the browned keftedes on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with pita bread and Tzatziki.

Tzatziki
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumber
2 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

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One Year Ago – Sort’a Like Jambalaya  

Want more? Click here for more recipes and magazine articles or here to watch me cook! I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. Feel free to visit my photoblog Susan Nye 365 or take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011