Monday, September 1, 2014

Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas (Tranches d'aubergine á l'italienne)

Happy Labor Day! The unofficial end of summer, seems too soon yet.
Julia's eggplant pizzas are one of my favorite summer meals. We have been enjoying them for dinner with a salad. I hope you will try's that good. I'll be making it again tomorrow since some nice person left me some beautiful plum tomatoes and an eggplant from their garden. I still don't know who ;o)

Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas (Tranches d'aubergine á l'italienne)

(Makes 3-4 servings or 6-8 appetizer servings, recipe adapted from one found in From Julia Child's Kitchen.)

1 globe eggplant, about 8 ounces and 9-10 inches long
about 1 T salt, for drawing water out of eggplant
about 2 T olive oil, for brushing eggplant before roasting
about 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, for sprinkling on eggplant before roasting
10 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade strips (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated low-fat mozzarella blend
hot red pepper flakes for sprinkling finished pizza (optional)

Sauce Ingredients:
2-3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 can good quality petite diced tomatoes with liquid (or use 3 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1/4 tsp. dried oregano (use Greek or Turkish oregano)

Cut off both ends of the eggplant; then cut it into 3/4 inch thick slices (trying to make them the same thickness!) Put the eggplant pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for about 30 minutes to draw out the liquid. (After the eggplant sits for 15 minutes, turn on the oven to 375F/190C.)

While the eggplant sits, make the sauce. Heat 2-3 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan) and saute the finely chopped garlic just until it becomes fragrant.  Add the petite diced tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, and dried oregano and let the sauce cook at a low simmer until it's thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork as it cooks.

After 30 minutes, wipe the eggplant dry with paper towels (this also removes most of the salt.) Spray a roasting sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray, lay eggplant slices on, brush the tops of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with dried Italian seasoning. Roast the eggplant about 25 minutes (but "not so long that the slices become mushy and lose their shape" as Julia says.)

While the eggplant roasts, thinly slice the fresh basil leaves (if using) and combined freshly grated Parmesan and low-fat mozzarella blend. After 25 minutes or when eggplant pieces are done, remove eggplant from the oven and turn oven setting to broil. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice, sprinkle with thin basil slices (if using) and top with a generous amount of cheese. Put pizzas under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. (This took 6-7 minutes for me, but I was using a toaster oven and in a more powerful broiler it would probably only take a few minutes.)Serve hot, with red pepper flakes to sprinkle on pizza if desired.

We took time to enjoy the beautiful weather on Saturday. Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jewels for the Hummingbirds


I'm seeing a lot of farewell to summer in blogland, but this gal does not have any Fall Fever yet. We spend weekends at the lake and the hummingbirds entertained us. Does anyone remember "touch-me-nots" from their childhood? As children, we would touch the plant when the capsules of seeds were ripe, and they burst forth spreading more plants-to-be.

The hummingbirds are a frequent visitor to Jewelweed, which is a native species of Impatiens. I read recently, that if you get stung by nettles, the jewelweed is always growing nearby.  Some folks grind it up in the blender and put it in an ice-cube tray, and have some ice-cubed jewelweed to rub on their skin for rashes or irritations. 

Wanna go on one final summer picnic with me? Enamelware is perfect for picnics.

 I  love surprises, so you can imagine how I felt when I received a birthday package from a dear friend I met through blogging and discovered these HAND MADE butterfly napkins to coordinate with the MacKenzie-Childs plates.

Labor Day Weekend is the last hurrah for us. Joe is a teacher and starts school next Tuesday. We continue to go to the lake through the month of October and the weather will be changing soon.

A picnic is not complete without dessert right?

I was looking for something quick and easy, and Strawberry Apple Pie sounded delightful. The recipe is  from Ricardo in Canada, and was shared on La Table De Nana's blog.

The photos below have been in my camera since July.  Our get togethers are very casual in the summer, so I stack salad and dessert plates with a paper napkin in between. Everyone helps themselves ;o)

I hope you are having a nice summer. This is about the best summer I can remember. Sunshine and low humidity almost all summer. With this post, I am joining Cuisine Kathleen for her Farewell to Summer Table Challenge, Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Tomato Tart

 I was off from work last week and had time to try a few new recipes. When I saw the Tomato Tart on  Kitty's Kozy Kitchen blog, I knew we would really enjoy it, and we did. Joe would like it again this week ;o)  It is perfect for the cooler weather we are having. I can feel Autumn in the air. We will  have a few more days of summer heat, but the changing foliage and cool mornings is our sign. Yesterday I was given a tip to get my tomatoes to ripen during this cool weather and if it works, I'll share it with you.
Tomato Tart
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 garlic bulb
1/2 t. olive oil
1 1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese
4 large tomatoes
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper.
  Press refrigerated pie crust on bottom & up sides of a tart pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 9 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside.
Cut off pointed end of garlic bulb; place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil & drizzle with olive oil. Fold foil to seal. Bake garlic at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is tender. Test it with a paring knife. Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves into bottom of baked pie crust.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of fontina cheese over the garlic.
Slice tomatoes & place on folded paper towels. Sprinkle with salt & pepper & let stand for 10 minutes. Arrange tomato slices over shredded cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until lightly browned.
I am joining Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.
Thank you for your visit!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tour Through Blogland

Last week I was featured at Hyacinths For The Soul where Sarah invited me to join the Blogland Tour. You may have noticed the “Tour through Blogland” series. Bloggers write a bit about themselves and some will share a few of their favorite blogs to visit. Sarah and her husband, who she affectionately refers to as "The Chef", live in Texas with their precious dog Sadie We've been blog friends for several years and Sarah is a fellow collector of MacKenzie-Childs. She also has many beautiful collections, and one of my favorite posts is of her Containers.

Sarah asked me to join the tour and answer four questions to give a bit of insight into Mountain Breaths.  So.…onto the questions I’m supposed to answer for this “Tour through Blogland.”

1. What am I working on right now?

This is the first summer that I have not taken on any projects and have been spending time with family and friends. My hubby and I spend our weekends at the lake in the Adirondack Mountains with family and friends. We enjoy kayaking, hiking, woodworking, traveling to Key West, Ogunquit, Martha's Vineyard and eating Magnolia Bakery cupcakes.

This summer I have been focusing on being more productive on the most important things in life. The things that make my heart sing. My new planner arrived in the mail two weeks ago, and it helps me narrow down my top goals for the day.

This winter, I plan to spend some time adding the "Printable Recipe" feature to my blog at the recommendation of others. It will make it easier to print a recipe.
2. How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I started this blog in 2008 as a journal/diary. I knew very little about blogging, and the only blog I followed was Pioneer Woman because I happened to see Ree Drummond on the Today Show. 

Fast forward to six years of blogging, and my primary goal is to share tablescapes, recipes and glimpses of my life. I have even had to refer to my blog for recipes while in the grocery store. Blogging has blessed me with wonderful friendships along the way. Meeting one of them in person was a highlight.

3. Why do I write or create what I do?  

To challenge myself!  For example, when I made this butterfly cake for a special occasion, I knew I would share it on my blog so I was more motivated and aimed for perfection.

4. How does your writing process work?

It varies. I am mostly inspired by photos and nature. I am not a writer but have a good friend that writes for many local publications, and she is a true writer. There is a difference! Since I have had very little time to blog during the last year, I rely on inspiration. Thank you to my loyal visitors to my blog that have stuck with me over the years.


I am pleased to introduce you to two bloggers who have agreed to join the tour next week.

I had the pleasure of meeting Patti @ Pandora's Box at the 2012 MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale.
We are both MacKenzie-Childs fans, especially drawn to their Courtly Check. Patti is a retired teacher and has a side business of painting furniture. She loves to travel, especially to cruise. Her favorite place to be is on Cape Cod. We chat quite often, and Patti is so good about alerting me to items I may be interested in on Ebay ;o)

Kitty at Kitty's Cozy Kitchen has a delicious blog, full of recipes that I use on a regular basis and the sweetest tablescapes. She is also a wonderful seamstress, and made me a potato baker for the microwave that we use all the time. It's always a pleasure to visit Kitty's blog, and we chat every week too. We've shared virtual tea and cupcakes. If you like Zucchini Bread, the recipe on her blog is the BEST I have ever had.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Before you leave, I have a no-fail recipe for the BEST grilled half-chicken you will ever have. Bar none. (Except for when someone else cooks it for you!)The recipe came with chicken that I picked from from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The direct farmer-to-consumer relationship cuts out the middleman, putting more money directly in the pocket of the farmer. The farmer, in turn, knows where her food is going. We both benefit from the personal relationship between us, the food, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Oatmeal Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am taking a break from weeding to share this wonderful cookie recipe. I had everything set out on the counter, and made them quickly this morning. I like that this recipe doesn't make a million cookies. They all fit on one extra large cookie sheet. (the size the professionals use)

We are having houseguests next weekend, and I don't think I have weeded in a month. I needed a nudge. And my friend Paula dropped off some blueberries she picked, so I quickly froze a cup of them for this recipe.
Here is the recipe for the cookies, but you really need to go to the beautiful blog that shared the recipe. And to Monique's blog for alerting us.

To Print the recipe, click here.
Makes:  approx 22 cookies
In absolute urgencies, you can skip browning the butter and just melt it in the microwave inside the same bowl…  It doesn’t make a huge difference actually.
The frozen blueberries can probably be applied to other non-oatmeal cookie-doughs that need firming as well.  Due to the blueberries, these cookies have a higher moisture-content than normal oatmeal cookies.  So keep them uncovered in whatever container you decide to store them with.

Ingredients:  oatmeal cookie adapted from
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 grams) of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (71 grams) of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (63 grams) of dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (101 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup (136 grams) of quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 heaping cup (85 grams) of chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup (125 grams) of frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven on 365ºF/185ºC
Melt the unsalted butter in a small pot over medium heat, and continue to cook for approx 5 min until the butter has turned clear and the milk solids are browned.  Pour the browned butter into a large bowl and let cool slightly for 5 min.  Then add the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar, and whisk until smoothly combined.  Add the large egg and vanilla extract, and whisk until thick and velvety.  Sift the all-purpose flour, salt, ground cinnamon and baking soda right into the bowl, then whisk again until smooth.  Switch from the whisk to a spatula, then add the quick-cooking oats and chopped dark chocolate.  Fold the mixture until evenly incorporated.  Add the frozen blueberries and fold again until even.  The cookie-dough will instantly firm-up as the frozen blueberries are mixed in.
Scoop about 1 1/2 tbsp of cookie-dough onto a parchment-lined baking-sheet, with about 1″ of space in between each.  The dough should be firm enough to shape with your hands.  Make round dough-ball for a taller/thicker cookie, or press it down into a disk for a thinner cookie.  Bake in the oven for 12~13 min, until the edges are set and the center slightly soft.
Let cool for at least 10 min on the baking-sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.  Or NOT.  These cookies will keep moist uncovered at room-temperature.
Joe was "weed whacking" and took down part of my clematis vine by accident. I sighed for a brief second, and then put the vine in a vase on the table.
Hope you are enjoying this summer Saturday!