I am so happy that you have landed in my little corner of cyberspace. If you join me here, you will, hopefully, get to know a little about me. You will read my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, and see some of my favorite things. I hope you will visit often. I will try to update it regularly and hopefully you will see an improvement in the blog along the way. Thank you for stopping in to see me as I travel on this journey called "life"!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Kale-o-Kopita....Sorta

Even though the temps around here have been very warm and muggy lately, it is really starting to look like fall around here.   It has been fun watching the trees in my backyard slowly start to show out.  This is our first year here in our new home and I suspected that this little stand of trees were going to provide some beautiful colors in the fall.  I think i was right.  I don't know if this is the most beautiful fall that I've seen in New Hampshire; but it's like bad pizza, ya know?  It's all good.  We are expecting cooler temps over the weekend and some cloudy days so I'm hoping that the colors will really start to show out going forward.

I am a huge spanokopita fan.   The phyllo dough...the spinach....the cheese.  I love it.   My sweet husband made a wonderful version of it for my birthday this year.  Spanokopita, Sorta.  Seriously.  That was the name of it.  It was a recipe that we found in Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals 2 cookbook.  The spanokopitas were rolled like a burrito instead of triangles.  They were so good.

When I saw a Kale and Butternut Squash Pie featured here on Proud Italian Cook,  I thought why not roll the ingredients up in the phyllo dough and get all of the crispy flavor of the phyllo dough in each bite.

So I cut the squash up into small pieces, tossed them with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked black pepper and roasted them on a cookie sheet at 400° for about an hour until they were tender and caramelized.  The time is not exact so watch them carefully to make sure they get caramelized to your liking.  We like our roasted veggies to have a nice, crispy caramelization around here.  You may have different tastes.  I could just seriously eat the whole pan just like this.  No other ingredients would be required for me to enjoy this as a meal.  Thankfully, I exercised restraint.

Once the squash was all nice and roasted, I placed the pieces in a large bowl to cool.  After they had cooled for a few minutes, I tossed in parmigiano-regiano cheese and crumbled feta cheese and gently stirred to combine. 

While the squash was roasting, I sautéed diced pancetta, onion, minced garlic, chopped sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper,  stirring frequently, until onion was softened, about 7 minutes.  I added some chopped kale and water and cooked, covered, stirring occasionally, until the kale was tender, about 6 minutes.   When the mixture was done, I set it aside until cool.   Once the mixture was cool, I mixed it into the bowl of squash and cheese, being careful to drain the kale of as much juice as possible as I was spooning it out.

It's kind of irritating when you have a brand new box of phyllo dough and you pull it out to use it and find that it's too dry.  It's so dry that it cracks and splits.  That kind of makes something that is not easy to work with under the best circumstances even harder.   I perservered though and used it anyway.  I took a sheet or sometimes two (just go with it and don't be intimidated!), brushed melted butter on half of it or tried to, at least and folded the sheet in half.  Did I mention that this particular box of dough was really hard to work with? They are not all like that if you remember to keep the dough covered when you aren't working with it.  In any case, don't let phyllo dough intimidate you.  When it was being particularly troublesome, I overlapped them and just extended the length and width.  Really, it's not that big of a deal so just do what feels right when you are working with it.  It will be fine.

I scooped some of the mixture down the center of the dough in the shape of a log, folded in each of the short sides, and rolled and wrapped the long sides upwards until I reached the edge of the dough.  I brushed the end with butter and rolled it completely up...like a Mediterranean burrito....and placed seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.   I'm sorry that I didn't get photos of this whole process; but, it was hard enough rolling them.  Photos were out of the question.  If I have totally confused you (sorry about that!!) and would like a little more instruction, I rolled these kind of like I rolled the baked eggrolls that I blogged about here.  The only difference is that the eggrolls were rolled on the diagonal.  However, you can get them rolled up will be fine.  Some of mine split as I was rolling them and the stuffing started coming out of them.  They were a mess.   No fear though.  I just grabbed another phyllo sheet and wrapped it around the whole roll however I could to contain the goodness.  That will just give you another layer of crispy to go with the yummy inside filling.

They look kind of pitiful on the baking sheet. You can see some of the splits in the top of the rolls.  No worries.  I baked them in a 400° oven for 15 minutes until they were lightly golden.

The uncooperative phyllo dough did not harm the taste of these babies at all. The pancetta, the kale, the sweet butternut squash combined with the parmesan and tangy feta....all wrapped in the crispy phyllo dough was absolutely amazing.

Butternut Squash Kale-o-kopita...Sorta
Adapted from Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2  and from Proud Italian Cook  and a recipe found here at Epicurious

Olive Oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into small pieces (about 3 ½  cups)
¾  teaspoon salt
½  teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 oz. finely chopped pancetta
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ½  teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 ½ lbs. kale, stems and center ribs discarded & leaves coarsely chopped (16 cups)
¼  cup water
Phyllo sheets, thawed, if frozen
½ cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp. butter, melted (it may take a little more depending on how thickly you paint it on the phyllo dough.)

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel, seed and cut the squash up into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle the pieces with olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper and toss to coat.  Spread the pieces out in a single layer on a cookie sheet  and bake in the oven for about an hour until they were tender and caramelized to your liking.   Once the butternut squash is done, place in a large bowl to cool and set aside.   When cool, add the shredded parmigiano-reggiano and feta cheese and gently toss to combine.

While the squash was roasting, dice pancetta and onion.  Mince garlic.  Chop the sage.  Place all of those ingredients in a pan with olive oil,  1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper,  Cook over medium heat,  stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the chopped kale and water and gently toss to mix.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 6 minutes.   When done, remove from heat and allow to cool.    Once this has cooled down for a few minutes, spoon the mixture into bowl with the butternut squash and cheese, being careful to drain any water as you spoon it out and mix gently but thoroughly with the squash and cheese.

On a large work surface, lay out one sheet of phyllo.  Paint half of the sheet with a little melted butter.  Fold sheet in half to make almost a square.  Spoon the filling into a log shape in the center of the dough.  Fold the short sides of the dough up and in to touch the filling.  Start with one long side and bring up and over to the filling, rolling and wrapping the mixture inside until you get almost to the end.  Paint the final edge with a little melted butter and continue rolling up.  Place seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Repeat until all filling has been used.

Once rolled, bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven until lightly golden.

This was a fun adventure with phyllo dough.  Next up, I think I'm going to experiment with chipotle roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, onions and goat cheese and I may even do that today. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Have a beautiful day!

This recipe is being shared here for
Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday here for Friday Potluck
 and here for Stir, Stitch and Straighten Sunday.
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage



Monday, September 26, 2011

Greek Meatloaf

It all started with a blog post about Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) that I saw here on elly says opa!   Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  It happens alot.   I added them to the menu plan and bought the ingredients that I needed to make them last week.

On the afternoon that I had planned to make them, I just didn't have it in me to make the meatballs and pan fry them.  Elly cautioned that I shouldn't even think about baking these babies.  So, as a "most of the time rule follower", I thought "No problem!" and the idea of meatloaf came to my rescue. 

It's hard for me to make meatloaf look good in photos; but I have to tell you that this one was fantastic.  It was not, in the least bit, dry.

the onion....the garlic....the oregano


It went perfectly with the Greek Potato Salad (which I got from Elly, as well) and the fresh green beans from my mother-in-law's garden.   It is definitely going to be a regular in our house going forward.

Greek Meatloaf
Adapted from a recipe found here at elly says opa!

1 slice of bread

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 an onion, finely diced or grated

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed

3 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 heaping tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. salt

freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the bread into a shallow dish and pour milk on top to cover. Set the dish aside while you assemble the rest of the ingredients to give the bread time to soak up the milk.
Into a large bowl, add the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, fresh oregano, dried oregano, parsley, salt & pepper.  Squeeze the bread and discard the milk keeping just the soggy bread and add that to the meat mixture.  Mix everything together being careful not to overmix. (I always use my clean hands.)  Shape meat mixture and place into loaf pan.  Bake for approximately one hour until a meat thermometer placed in the center of the meatloaf registers 160° F.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

This recipe is being shared
here for Mangia Monday

Sunday, September 25, 2011

When a picture speaks louder than words...

Autumn in New England...
No words necessary.

Have a beautiful day,

This post is being linked up here
 for Mellow Yellow Monday.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


While navigating through the interwebs this morning responding to comments and emails from my recent postings, I happened upon a lovely blog here , phos-graphé, that is hosted by Johanna Grace (pronounced "jo-ha-nauh" ~  Isn't that a beautiful??),  a "writer of light".  

writer of light

I have taken some time to look through her blogs (she has two) and find that they are a reflection of her beautiful personality.   This particular blog features photography.  She definitely has a gift.
She is, also, very generous and at the present time, she is holding a photography contest.  When I read the description of the one entitled Sky, meet Earth,  a contest about reflections, I remembered a photo that I took in Vermont back in July.   While contests are fun and she is giving away a gorgeous pair of earrings, for me, this gives me the opportunity to share one of my favorite photos and memories of the summer.

It was a beautiful sunny day that I spent with family and my friend, Glenda, who was visiting for the first time from Louisiana.  Everyone had gone into the Simon Pearce gallery and I was attracted to the building and the flowers out front.  The white building with the tall, skinny black door and the purple flowers full of bumble bees drew me completely in.  I love how the sky is reflected in the glass.  This is another photo that will remind me of summer when the cold wind is blowing and the snow is falling this winter.  I will remember the laughter shared with people that I love.  I will remember how the sun felt on my face even though I might have complained about being hot once or twice that day.  I will remember my precious flip flops.  I may miss them the most.  :)
If you have a photo with a reflection of earth or sky, please consider entering.   If you just like to view photography and beautiful blogs written and hosted by beautiful people, take a moment and visit Johanna Grace.  You will be happy that you did.


Thanks so much for stopping by!  It's a cold and rainy day here in New Hampshire so I'm going to take the time to catch up on emails and comments.  Tomorrow promises to be sunny and warm so I absolutely will need to be outside enjoying it.  Have a beautiful day!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Summer went quickly this year.
 I don't think I have been sorry to see a
summer go since I was a child.

We made a lot of good memories in New England this summer.  Some I have been able to share with you.  Some I have in reserve.  Soon....when the snow is falling, I will look back through the photos taken of happy times and I am sure that I will reminisce about them here with you.  Until then, I am going to make some more memories to keep me warm until the ice is out on Lake Sunapee, 2012.

Thanks for stopping by!

This post is being linked up here
with Work of the Poet for Ruby Tuesday.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


...the bananas that I got on sale because they were just past their prime

...the roasted bananas that members of the blogging community have been tempting me with

...the quart of maple syrup that Ben so graciously sent me (Thanks, Ben!)

...my husband's love for all things "banana nut"....bread, muffins....he's not picky

...a day alone in the house to do whatever I wanted & because I spent it missing my husband's company

Every one of those reasons played into the birth of these muffins yesterday.   Thankfully the local grocery story doesn't sell their bananas quickly enough so I find them very often marked down.  Yay me!  I love a good deal.  I originally bought the bananas to freeze for smoothies; but, because my freezer is full of slow roasted tomatoes and basil pesto and kale and because I couldn't get "roasted bananas" and the maple syrup off my mind, I thought it might be nice to surprise David with his favorite muffins - kicked up.  

So....roasting the bananas was easy.  I just did a quick "Dairy Queen Banana Split cut" on them.  Thank God for those life skills I learned as a teen, right?

I dotted them with butter, drizzled some of that yummy Ben's Grade B maple syrup over them and placed them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  You should have smelled this house while they were cooking.  oh.my.  Amazing....

While the bananas were getting happy in the oven, I toasted some walnuts in a dry skillet.  Bananas and walnuts just go together, I think.

Once the bananas had cooled down, they were ready to be mashed up and used in my favorite banana muffin recipe that I shared with you here.

The recipe calls for mixing the mashed bananas with sugar, egg and butter.  I had some delicious butter and maple syrup left in the bottom of the baking dish and I could not let that go to waste. 

I poured it into a measuring cup and melted about 3 tablespoons more butter in the microwave to make the required 1/3 cup butter called for in the recipe.

So into the bowl with the mashed bananas it goes along with 1 egg, slightly beaten, and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Because I had used the maple syrup in the recipe this time, I omitted the white sugar completely. 

In a separate bowl, I had mixed together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour and combined it with the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  After adding the toasted nuts, I spooned them into pans lined with cupcake liners and placed into the oven for 20-25 minutes.  The original recipe usually makes 12 muffins.  I didn't fill mine up like I normally do and so I got 18 out of it.  Good thing that I did because.....    oh.my.goodness.

I will never make banana muffins any other way.

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you have an awesome week.

This post is being linked up here
with the Hearth and Soul Hop,
here with Let's Do Brunch and here
with Seasonal Inspiration at Crumbs and Chaos.

 Hearth and Soul blog hop at Zesty South Indian Kitchen

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Weekend in Black and White

We went to the New England coast this past weekend and winding our way back home through rural Maine, this caught my eye.   It was so unexpected that it demanded that we turn around and photograph it.  I got a lot of great photos of our fun trip to the coast; but this turned out to be one of my favorites.

I'm linking this photo with The Weekend in Black and White.  If you enjoy black and white photography, please visit Dragonstar here  for this fun weekly linkup.  There are always so many beautiful photographs from photographers worldwide.  They never fail to amaze and inspire me.

I am, also, linking this photo up here for A Photo Challenge by Allie and Mikayla. My photo does not even come close to the quality of photos featured here; but, it is a photo that I'm proud of nevertheless. If you have a moment to hop over and take a peek, you will not be disappointed.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Have a great week!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Massaged Kale Salad

There has been something about the sound of a massaged kale salad that I haven't been able to get out of my thoughts.  Does that ever happen to you?  You see something online or in a book or magazine and it invades your thoughts until you try it.  That happens to me often.  I can't be the only one.

One trip to the "kale farm" aka my mother-in-law's back yard last week and I was inspired to give it a try.  I thought the tender leaves that she has growing in her backyard would be perfect for a salad.    Shannon at Tri to Cook had posted a recipe here  for a massaged kale salad earlier in the summer and I had enough of the ingredients to give it a shot.  I didn't have the edamame so I left that out.  I, also, didn't have a ripe mango so I substituted a nice, juicy nectarine.  That worked great.  The sweet nectarine paired so well with the creamy avocado, the tang of the lemon and the saltiness of the roasted sunflower seeds.  

I can definitely see this salad happening again in our future.  In fact for lunch today, I massaged a small handful with some with olive oil, sea salt and lemon and added it to a pita along with tomato and goat cheese.   It was an absolutely fantastic vegetarian lunch.  If you haven't tried massaged kale, I encourage you to visit Shannon's blog, get the recipe and give it a try.  While you are there, check out some of the other yummy dishes that she has featured.  This is the not the first time that I've tried her food.  Not only has everything tasted fantastic; but, it is all very healthy, as well!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you are enjoying a fantastic week!

Friday, September 9, 2011


On a recent excursion to one of my favorite places, I took the opportunity to snap some photos of a really old firetruck that was on display. I thought that black and white really made them pop. I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Enjoy your weekend!