feta and lemon dip

Feta and Lemon Dip

Feta, the firm, yet crumbly cheese from Greece, is transformed into a smooth and tasty dip, with the texture and tanginess reminiscent of hummus. Once you make it, it will become one of your favorites.  Trust me!

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mushroom and sun-dried tomato bruschetta

We Americans often think that bruschetta is the mixture of tomatoes, garlic, and basil on a slice of toasted bread. Bruschetta, from the Italian word bruscare, meaning to toast or burn, actually refers to the thick slices of grilled bread. Often served as a snack or appetizer, bruschetta is traditionally prepared by rubbing the bread with garlic and drizzling it with olive oil before toasting it over hot coals.  Then the bread is topped with a simple mixture of tomatoes and fresh herbs.  It is an easy way to showcase the excellent quality of freshly-pressed olive oil as well as a way to preserve bread that is beginning to get stale.

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baked chicken thighs with olive tapenade

I don’t like olives at all, but, on the other hand, Chris loves them and  keeps our fridge stocked with some type of olives at all times.  When I stumbled upon a recipe for chicken which incorporates olive tapenade, I knew he would enjoy it so I had to make it for him.  The original recipe calls for roasting a whole chicken and three different types of olives, but I improvised by using what I had on hand – chicken thighs, some canned California green olives, and a big jar of kalamata olives. Continue reading

chicken liver pâté


Liver, or any offal, for that matter, is a polarizing food – you either love it or you don’t. You may think of it as a gourmet delicacy or are completely turned off by it. As you can see, I am firmly in the LOVE IT camp. Today’s post is especially for those who are fans of chicken liver. If you’re not, come back in a couple of days and I’ll have an entirely organ-free recipe for you. As fans, you know that chicken liver, when prepared correctly, is quite delicious and tasty. And, although it is high in cholesterol, eaten in moderation it is nutritious as well, containing a lot of vitamins and minerals that are good for our teeth, bones, skin, and hair and nutrients that help support our immune systems. I’m not going to try to convince you to like liver; it isn’t for everyone. But for those of you who do, this is absolutely indulgent, so please try to practice moderation.

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goat cheese polenta with caramelized onions, bacon and honey

Goat Cheese Polenta with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, and HoneyI was very excited to make this recipe when I found it on Food 52.  It was named the runner-up polenta recipe in last year ‘s Your Best Polenta Recipe Contest! on the Food 52 website.  The recipe remains very popular today with over 17,000 views. In the comments section, there are many posts from readers who had actually made the dish and raved about it.  With all that build-up and anticipation, I was very disappointed to be underwhelmed by this dish.  The sum of all the delicious individual parts should have been much greater than what it actually was. Maybe I did something wrong?  I’m not sure.  How could so many people give this high praise when I thought the dish as a whole was just so-so.   Continue reading

bacon and zucchini tart

My zucchini plants are finally slowing down, and I think I’ve harvested the few remaining ones, so this will most likely be my last zucchini post for a while.  I never thought I’d cook as much zucchini as I have in the last couple of months and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed them.  This tart is no exception.  While it’s great for breakfast, this savoury tart is also great for a light supper, with a salad. Of course, omitting the bacon and using low-fat milk instead of whole milk and heavy cream will reduce the calories and make for a healthier meal.
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my urban vegetable garden


Chris & I devoted most of the last week of August working on our new garden.  Chris tilled and leveled the soil and removed some tree roots left by two huge trees in preparation for the placement of four new raised beds he built.  I had it fairly easy; I was in charge of  selecting, buying and planting all the vegetables and flowers.  I included flowers around the vegetables to add splashes of color amidst all of the green foliage.  I also transplanted all the herbs that were scattered around in different pots to a single raised herb bed.  Now most of my herbs – French tarragon, Greek oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, and garlic chives are together.  I also have basil but I read that it is the perfect companion to tomatoes so I planted them together in a separate pot.  The basil is supposed to keep insects away and even enhance the flavor of the tomatoes.

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Slow Roasted Tomatoes


Over the last week, I harvested over a pound of beautiful tomatoes, and I want to preserve  some of them for use later in the week.  Ignoring the stifling summer heat, I turned on my oven and roasted my tomatoes for close to 2 hours.  I was rewarded for my long, hot and sweaty wait with the sweetest, and arguably, the most intense tomato flavor I have ever tasted.  The slow roasting method really brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes, giving them a slightly caramelized, candy-like flavor.  Imagine how good it would be to squeeze the roasted garlic on a piece of crusty bread with a spoonful of roasted tomatoes garnished with sprigs of thyme.  Yummy!

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my edible garden

As you can probably guess, I’m obsessed with gardening at the moment.  I’ve been enjoying my flower garden for the last month so now I turned my attention to my edible garden.   I like the convenience of growing and cooking with fresh herbs.  They grow with little care and attention.  However, I’ve neglected them for the last year and I needed a herb garden makeover.  The rosemary, oregano, and lemon thyme were repotted to plastic containers and moved to the corner alongside my beloved meyer lemon tree.  The pineapple sage was saved from the chopping block and repotted since I couldn’t part with the sweet scent of its leaves.  Plus during the summer, it has lots of little red flowers.   I added a small cilantro plant and some chives.  This year, I am also trying my hand at growing jalapeño peppers and two varieties of tomatoes – Sweet 100s and Yellow Pears.  If everything goes well, I should be able to start harvesting tomatoes in late July through the fall.
Could this be the beginning of my own locavore movement?  At least, I have the makings of some fresh organic salsa with the jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Meyer Lemon

I’ve had this meyer lemon tree for about 5 years.  The first couple of years, it produced about 10-15 lemons total.  Once I started to apply some citrus food, it was happy and started to produce more and more fruit.  I’ve harvested about 75 lemons from each of the past few growing seasons.  I juice the lemons and store them in one-cup increments in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  It’s never been easier to make lemon curd and lemon bars.

Jalapeño Peppers

I planted a six-pack flat of jalapeño peppers I bought at Lowe’s for $1.98.  I wasn’t sure how this endeavor would turn out as the tall, gangly seedlings were barely able to stand on its own.  Now, four weeks later, I can see some buds forming.  I hope it develops into actual edible peppers.

Tomato

It looks a little silly to put a big huge cage over two little itty bitty tomato plants, but hopefully they’ll just shoot up and bear little clusters of edible fruit in a couple of months.  It’s so exciting to grow my own tomatoes instead of buying mealy tasteless ones from the grocery store.  I read online that growing basil next to tomatoes makes it taste better, although it was unclear if the article was referring to the tomatoes or the basil.  I think I need to make another trip to Lowe’s for basil.

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