Steamed Mussels with White Wine

Spence and I love Mussels and can make a meal of them – which we did last night.  They were so good that I had to share this recipe; I hope you’ll try it!

IMG_8442 3

Steamed Mussels with White Wine – serves 2

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 4 large garlic cloves – coarsely chopped
  • 1 small sweet white onion – chopped
  • 2 lemons – quartered & seeded
  • 2 c dry vermouth
  • 1/2 c water
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 T sea salt
  • red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 2 t Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 2 T chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large pan add garlic, onion, lemons (squeeze the sections into pot, then add the lemon quarters), vermouth, water, butter, sea salt, red pepper flakes and 21 Seasoning Salute, turn pan on low until butter is melted into sauce.

Turn pan on high. Add the mussels to the pan, stir and cover. During 6-8 minute cooking time, stir twice.  Mussels are done when they open.  Remove from heat, add chopped parsley, a sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Discard any unopened mussels, they aren’t safe to eat.

IMG_8443 2


I served this with fresh italian bread, butter and Prosecco. Amazing!



Simple Entertaining Charcuterie

Spence and I recently had a dear friend staying with us who, among her other great qualities, is a fellow foodie.  I pulled out all the stops (and more than a few bottles of vino).

On our final night, I decided to go with a lighter charcuterie “buffet” style meal and hope sharing it might inspire you on these hot summer evenings.

Pictured: Shrimp Ceviche, Prosciutto, Cappicola, Calabrese Salami, Rosemary & Sea Salt Marcona Almonds, Dijon Mustard, Aged White Cheddar, Fontina, Manchego, Brie, Pickled Okra, Cornichons, Herbed Boursin, Fresh Pineapple, Multigrain & Flatbread Crackers, Strawberries and fresh Italian bread
Pictured: Shrimp Ceviche, Prosciutto, Cappicola, Calabrese Salami, Rosemary & Sea Salt Marcona Almonds, Dijon Mustard, Aged White Cheddar, Fontina, Manchego, Brie, Pickled Okra, Cornichons, Herbed Boursin, Pineapple, Multigrain & Flatbread Crackers, Strawberries & Italian bread

For my Ceviche recipe, click here:

Limoncello Trick


Here’s a little trick for an easy hot summer, after-dinner drink in three steps.

  • Chill a bottle of Limoncello
  • Freeze whole strawberries
  • Pour ice-cold Limoncello over a frozen strawberry

The frozen berry keeps the Limoncello cold. When you’re done sipping, eat the berry!

Lunch of Champions

A charcuterie board for lunch with thin sliced filet and lamb, cornichons, cherry tomatoes, salsa Jack cheese, multi grain crackers and bread, marcona almonds, rotisserie chicken spread (chicken, lime, ranch, cilantro, mayo, chopped cashews and fresh cracked black pepper) and shrimp ceviche.

Living the dream, just a Thursday lunch….and a creative take on leftovers. Delicious!



Two of my passions are travel and food.  I’m always intrigued by the cuisine of the country or region I’m visiting and love to discover those spots that the locals frequent.

Spence discovered Costa Rica twenty years ago. Retired, he decided to escape Michigan, spending winters there instead. Still working, I’d take two weeks of vacation to visit him.  That first year, he’d gotten the lay of the land and sought out a local haunt and a dish we’d never heard of….ceviche. Knowing me as well as he does, he didn’t need to run it by me – I love all food.  Knowing him as well as I do, I trusted I was in for a treat.

From the house he’d rented in a little barrio near Quepos, we walked a mile into town.  Inside a small, congested bus station, we wound our way through the locals and vendor stands until Spence motioned me towards the tiny Ceviche stand where we deftly snagged two of the five stools.

“Dos Ceviche con Camarones, por favor” Spence expertly articulated to the woman behind the counter. I perused the short menu on the wall, still unaware what ceviche was but with my limited Spanish, knew shrimp were involved while other varieties featured fish, calamari or octopus.

As we waited, the husband handed us tiny napkins, forks and a couple of 8 packs of saltine crackers, setting a bottle of hot sauce between us.  The ceviche arrived, in an oval, pyrex-type vessel, vibrant and appealing.  Served very cold, it was not only refreshing but incredibly delicious – the tang of citrus, the crunch of the veggies, the sweetness of the tender shrimp.  I was over the moon.  Spence simply smiled, having anticipated my enthusiastic reaction.

In the years that followed, we made many trips to this area and specifically to that bus station.  Having sampled ceviche in countless places, all with more ambiance (and higher prices), I can say without question, none were better than what we found at the bus station.

After much research, here is my recipe which tastes as close to my memory of that Ceviche.


serves 8-12        Weight Watchers Smart Points  1 point per 1 cup serving

  • 1 lb fresh, uncooked shrimp
  • 1 c lime juice
  • 1 c medium red onion – finely diced
  • 2 c medium tomatoes-diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper – seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 c green bell pepper -diced
  • 2-3 T chopped cilantro (more or less to taste)
  • 3 T fresh orange juice
  • 1 t salt


Peel and clean the shrimp, removing the tails. Chop the raw shrimp into small pieces. Add the finely minced jalapeño, remove the seeds and ribs if you wish to keep the heat in check.


Add the green pepper and red onion next.


Juice your limes and pour over these ingredients.


Now add the tomatoes, orange juice, cilantro and salt. Stir and refrigerate for four hours (stirring periodically to insure that the citrus “cooks” the shrimp evenly.

Ready to
Ready to “cook”
Ready to serve, notice the shrimp are now white and opaque.
Ready to serve, notice the shrimp are now white and opaque.

Serve and enjoy!


Chef’s Notes:  You can substitute the shrimp with grouper or sea bass, just cut it into uniform small pieces.  Substitute a sweet white onion for the red.  I’ve seen recipes that add cucumber and/or celery diced as well as avocado and if fresh tomatoes are in season, you could add more. While I’ve served this as an appetizer to guests, Spence and I find it a refreshing, chilled entree on a hot night. 


Crispy Baked Maple Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings

Oven baked crispy coated chicken wings that get tossed in a sweet, sticky and spicy maple sriracha glaze when they come out of the oven.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 to 60 minutes
Total time: 60 to 75 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 lbs chicken wings

2 to 3 pounds chicken wings, cut in pieces, wing tips removed
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 eggs
3 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground ginger and salt to form a dredging mixture.
Whisk together the water and eggs to make an egg wash.
Dip each wing into the flour dredge, then in the egg was and back into the flour dredge again.
Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and lightly drizzle or spray the tops with a little more olive oil.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 45 to 60 minutes. Flip the wing pieces at half way through the cooking time.
When they are crispy and fully cooked toss them into the Maple Sriracha Sauce
While the chicken is baking, prepare your sauce by slowly simmering together the maple syrup and Sriracha sauce. The volume of the sauce after it has simmer enough should be reduced to about a half cup.

Note from Chef Laura: I made these the other night for dinner, quick and easy!  The flavor was fabulous – crunchy, sweet and spicy!

Recipe and Photo by Barry C. Parsons, courtesy of Pinterest


I was looking for a recipe that would work with my leftover Butter Baked Rice. I’ve seen Giada make Arancini and so I scoured Pinterest for a version that would work with what I had on hand. It turned out better than I could have imagined. Here’s what I did:

2 c leftover Butter Baked Rice (see below for link to recipe)
3/4 c Parmesano regainno
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix together the rice, Parmesan and egg, using your hands.

Block of mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese cut into small chunks (think sugar cube size)

Take a large spoonful of rice mixture into your hand, press a chunk of cheese into the center. I used a small ice cream scoop to form the rice mixture into well packed balls.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
Italian breadcrumbs

Line a platter with wax paper. Take each ball, gently roll into the egg, then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Place on the wax paper.

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fry pan. Place the balls into the oil, once browned on one side carefully flip them and brown that side. Remove from oil onto a paper towel.

Serve immediately with marinara sauce. This made 10 balls. As you can see I served these as a side with an oven baked herbed chicken breast but these could be appetizers or a vegetarian entrée.

Here the link for the recipe for Butter Baked Rice:

Hot from the fryer with melted cheese in the middle.
Plated with marinara sauce and served alongside herbed oven baked chicken.

Quick & Easy Oven Nachos

Dinner tonight was quick, easy and delicious. Here’s how to put it together, should the munchies strike your household.

Quick & Easy Oven Nachos                Serves 2 for dinner, 4 as an appetizer

  • 1/2 lb ground beef (I used ground chuck for these)
  • 1-2 T mexican/southwest seasoning blend
  • 1-2 t cumin
  • 1/2 c sweet white onion
  • 1/2 c green bell pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped baby yellow, red and orange peppers
  • 2 c shredded mexican cheese blend
  • restaurant style tortilla chips – several big handfuls

Brown the ground beef with the seasoning blend and cumin. Drain the meat in a colander lined with paper towel and set aside. Dice the onion and bell pepper, slice the baby peppers into rings of similar size – set aside. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil (including the edges).  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grab a couple handfuls of tortilla chips and lay them across the pan creating a solid layer.  Sprinkle half the cheese over the chips.  Now distribute the onions, peppers and meat across that layer.  Add the remaining cheese.

Before baking
Before baking

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

After baking
After baking

Serve with the “condiments” shown below.


  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • hot sauce (I love Cholula brand)
  • guacamole or chopped avocado
Served with an ice cold mug of Dos Equis Amber
Served with an ice-cold mug of Dos Equis Amber

Chef’s note:  Have fun with this – the quantities, toppings and condiments are your playground. Clean up is super easy, just fold in the foil and viola!  You’re done.