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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Potato

There are many secrets to making a great potato salad. Often people leave it to chance or just pick up some from the deli – this can be a hit or miss proposition, as we have all had the not-so-good deli version. Making your own will give you a taste for the very best and you will never want to settle for deli potato salad again.

Some tips for making great tasting potato salads:

Use waxy potatoes (i.e., fingerlings, red potatoes, Yukon Golds) instead of starchy potatoes (i.e., russet), if you want them to hold their shape when you toss the potatoes with the dressing.

Lighten up the dressing by using a mixture of reduced-fat mayonnaise and low-fat yogurt. The yogurt gives the salad a nice tang. Vinaigrettes are an excellent alternative to creamy dressings.

Another important tip is to leave the potatoes whole and cook them thoroughly. Drain well and set the potatoes aside, until they are just cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into bite-sized pieces (it is not necessary to peel them) and toss with a little vinegar, pickle juice or lemon juice to infuse the potatoes with flavor.

Other flavor boosters without fat to add to potato salads are onions, chives, capers, olives, mustard, herbs or pickles.

Add some veggies: red bell pepper and celery are naturally low in calories and will give your salad appealing crunch and color.

Be creative and add some interesting, non-traditional ingredients. On warm summer days, these salads are perfect for dinner. 

Chicken, Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Salad:

  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound diagonally cut green beans
  • 2 cups sliced or cubed grilled or poached chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 (10-ounce) package mixed baby salad greens (about 6 cups)

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add beans and cook an additional 4 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain well.

Quarter potatoes. Place the potatoes, beans, chicken, onion and greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve without chilling.

Farm Stand Potato Salad

8 servings

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Salad:

  • 1 3/4 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes from pan with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Add sugar snap peas and broccoli florets to pan. Reboil and cook 1 minute; drain.

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add a little dressing to the potatoes and let rest while you prepare the other vegetables.

Then, combine potatoes, peas, broccoli, bell peppers and green onions in a large bowl. Add remaining dressing; toss well.

Quick Potato Salad with Shrimp and Feta

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salad:

  • 5 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 3 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Add shrimp and 1 tablespoon dressing; toss gently to combine. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Add remaining dressing, lettuce, bell peppers, onion and cheese; toss gently to coat. Top salad with kalamata olives.

Lemon-Arugula Potato Salad

If you want to make this potato salad ahead, prepare the recipe without the arugula. Once the potato mixture is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate. Toss with the fresh arugula just before serving so the greens do not wilt or get bruised.

Add some grilled steak for a complete meal.

6 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3 small)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula

Directions:

Peel the potatoes, if you wish, and cut them into 1 inch pieces Place potatos in a medium saucepan; cover with cold, salted water to 2 inches above potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots to pan; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk until combined.

Drizzle dressing over warm potatoes; toss gently to coat. Cool completely.

Add arugula to potato mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Cobb Potato Salad

Great side dish for grilled entrees.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • Blue cheese vinaigrette, divided
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

Make Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, directions below.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Toss potatoes with green onions and 1/3 cup of the blue cheese vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, peel and chop avocados; toss with lemon juice. Mix lettuce with avocado mixture and tomatoes and add a little blue cheese vinaigrette. Toss gently.

Arrange lettuce mixture on a large serving platter; top with the potato mixture and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with bacon.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided 
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.

Transfer garlic mixture to blender. Add 1/2 cup blue cheese, white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil; blend well.

Transfer vinaigrette to bowl. Mix in chopped basil and remaining 1/2 cup of blue cheese. (Vinaigrette can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

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The origin of fish cakes is said to have been in England in the 19th. century, when leftover fish was mixed with cold leftover potato, dipped in batter, fried and served as snack. Traditionally these cakes were made of cod, but today salmon, crab meat or any white fish are also used to prepare them. My grandmother made fish cakes in the traditional Italian style with baccala (dried, salted cod) that was leftover from holiday meals.

Fish cake recipes can have a lot of variations depending upon the type of fish, cooking method, and the use of  herbs and spices. Here are some common variations:

Gefilte Fish-fish patties consisting of white fish, matzoh or challah.

Fiskeboller- Fish buns made of forcemeat are very popular in Norway.

Bermuda Fish Cakes- A traditional dish of Bermuda especially made during Easter and eaten on rolls.

Satsumaage- Japanese fried fish cakes usually eaten as a snack. Kamaboko is yet another preparation of fish which makes use of white fish.

Thai Fish Cakes- These fish cakes are popular in the entire world and make use of Kaffir sauce in its preparation.

Yorkshire fish cakes- consist of fish along with two slices of potato dipped in batter and fried. These fish cakes are also known as scallop cakes.

For a salmon patty recipe go to an older post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/12/frugal-italian/

 

Most fish cake recipes call for frying in oil. I have been baking fish cakes for many years to keep them healthy. They taste just as good as fish cakes fried in oil but with much less fat than the original. I like to add mashed potatoes because it is a great binder to hold all the ingredients of the patties together and the flavor complements the leftover cooked fish. My children liked them better with this addition. If you don’t add butter and cream to the potatoes prior to adding them to the fish, the cakes are not high in calories. 

When I make crab cakes, I do not add mashed potatoes because the potato would not allow the taste of the crab to come through. However, leftover cooked white fish doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor to start and the added ingredients in this recipe make for a very delicious patty. This is also a frugal way to cook, as most Italians like to do. Purchase enough fish for two meals, cook it all and reserve half. The leftover fish is then available for a new meal and you do not have to cook more fish before making this recipe.  You can also do the same thing with the mashed potatoes – cook once and use the leftover potatoes in this recipe. A serving of these baked fish cakes (2 patties) is about 300 calories.

Italian Fish Cakes

Makes 8-12 fish cakes, depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 2 large baking or Yukon gold potatoes about 1 pound, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound cooked white fish (such as cod, halibut, flounder, etc.) or salmon, boned and flaked
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian Panko ( Progresso) or bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush two baking sheets with olive oil.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside 1 cup of mashed potatoes to add to the fish cakes. If there is any remainder, save it for another use.

In a large saucepan melt the butter and saute onion, garlic and celery in butter over medium high heat until tender. Turn heat to low and fold in flaked fish. Slowly mix in flour, cheese, Old Bay seasoning, dry mustard, salt, pepper, mashed potatoes and milk. Mix gently. Remove pan from heat. If you have time, chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour.

For perfect even cakes, try using an ice-cream scoop to form balls and shape with your hands.

With floured hands shape batter into cakes 1/2 inch by 3 inches. Coat in Panko crumbs and place on the prepared baking sheets. Spray the top of the cakes with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake the fish cakes for 10 minutes, flip the cakes and bake another 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with one of the sauces below.

Sauces To Serve With Fish Cakes

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

In blender, puree 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers (jarred is fine) with 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and blend.

Caper-Parsley Sauce

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons drained capers
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, halved

Blend all ingredients in processor until coarse puree forms. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.

Lemon-Caper Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large fresh red chile, minced
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
  • Salt

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and chile and cook over moderately low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and water and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Add herbs and season with salt. Serve warm.

 


Potatoes originally came from South America specifically from the Andes mountains and they were brought to Europe by early Spanish explorers.  In 1565, Spain’s King Philip II is said to have sen a gift of potato tubers for Pope Pius IV in Rome, who passed samples on to a cardinal in Belgium.  Along with the tubers went their Italian name – tartufoli- and the samples were disseminated throughout Europe.   Wherever the potato was introduced, it was considered weird, poisonous, and downright evil.

European immigrants introduced potatoes to North America several times throughout the 1600s, but they were not widely grown for almost a century. Not until 1719, when Irish immigrants brought the potato to Londonderry, New Hampshire, were potatoes grown on a large scale. Again, potatoes were slow to gain popularity. Even when they became the second largest food crop in America, they were still used primarily as animal fodder.

Although the potato – called patata by modern Italians – was a staple food for generations of rural families, potato growing in Italy has been declining since the 1960’s. Large areas of land are unsuitable for potato growing and have since been abandoned.  Pasta-loving Italy has one of the lowest levels of potato consumption in Europe.  They do not use sweet potatoes in Italy, but pumpkin is a favorite ingredient for a number of dishes, including ravioli and soups.  Marcella Hazan notes in her book that she could not get the right textured pumpkin here in America, but found that the orange-fleshed sweet potato came the closest.

In Italian cuisine, potatoes are used as a complement to other ingredients in a dish, such as  soups, frittatas, stews or salads or baked alongside fish or chicken.They are a nutrient filled vegetable despite their carbohydrate level.

It is a misconception, though, that they only contain carbohydrates and calories!  Potatoes are also a  rich source of  vitamin C, potassium, manganese, copper, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber.  If consumed in the right form and with moderation, potatoes can make for a very healthy, high fiber vegetable choice.

Artichoke and Potato Salad

You can substitute 1 pound green beans for the artichokes as an alternative.

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup green onion or red onion (thinly sliced) 
  • 1/2 cup italian parsley (fresh, chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons capers (drained)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt  to taste
  • black pepper (fresh cracked, to taste)
  • 2 lbs red potato (scrubbed, unpeeled and cut in half)
  • 1-10 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • Garnish with olives, optional

Directions

In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients and set aside.

In a large pot simmer potatoes in salted water to cover until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.  Drain in a large colander and move to the bowl with the dressing.

In the same saucepan cook artichokes (or green beans) in 3 inches salted boiling water over high heat until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and add to potatoes.
Mix well, let marinate and serve at room temperature.

Sicilian Potatoes Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 28-ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 baking potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:

  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

In a skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft and slightly caramelized. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and oregano. Cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

In a gratin dish, ladle enough sauce to cover bottom of dish. Layer potatoes over sauce. Continue layering tomato sauce and potatoes, ending with a layer of potatoes.
In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, olive oil and garlic. Sprinkle bread crumb topping over potatoes.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.

Braised Fingerlings with Crispy Sage & Tender Garlic

For this dish, choose fingerlings that are all about the same thickness (length doesn’t matter), so that they will all cook in about the same amount of time.
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 25 large sage leaves
  • 8 garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 1 pound  fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sherry

Directions

In a large (10-inch) straight-sided skillet with a lid, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is foaming, add the sage leaves and cook, stirring a bit, until the sage leaves have turned color and are crispy and the butter is golden brown, about 2 minutes. (Watch carefully so that they don’t burn; they will stiffen and curl and turn grey as they crisp up.) Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the sage leaves with a fork or tongs to a plate.

Put the pan back over medium to medium-high heat and immediately add the garlic and potatoes. Season them with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss them in the butter/oil mixture. Arrange the potatoes cut side down, partially cover the pan and cook until the bottoms of the potatoes are nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and partially cover the pan again. Bring the broth to a gentle simmer and cook until the broth has reduced to just a few tablespoons,  about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the lid, turn the heat off, and transfer the potatoes and garlic to a serving dish. Add the sherry to the pan and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to get up any browned bits. Immediately pour the pan drippings over the potatoes and garlic and garnish with the crispy sage leaves. Sprinkle a little kosher salt over all.


Butternut Squash & Potato Gnocchi

When making gnocchi, I always like to mix the potato with another vegetable to reduce the calorie level.  You could also substitute sweet potatoes for the russet potatoes or use all sweet potatoes in the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 pound butternut squash
  • 1 /3 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough
  • Sage Pesto, recipe below

Directions

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil until very fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return the cooked potatoes to the hot pan. Let them dry out over medium heat for about 30 seconds.  Let cool a bit and then pass the potatoes through a potato ricer.

Cut the squash in half and roast in the oven, see post https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/08/make-dinner-sunday-for-your-mom/

After the squash cools, scoop out the flesh and mash it. Add the squash to the potatoes and add the egg substitute, the cheese, nutmeg, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and  press it into the potatoes. Fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together and seems a bit sticky.

Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece on a generously floured board, into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with the tines of a fork.  Roll the gnocchi along the times of the fork making light indentations and curving the gnocchi just a bit.

MegaGnocchi1

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and place in a serving bowl.
Gently mix with the Sage Pesto

Walnut and Sage Pesto Recipe
(makes 1 cup pesto)

  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmaggiano- Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh packed sage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons water

Put the food processor on and add garlic, pulse until the garlic is minced. Remove lid and add walnuts, cheese and sage. Add a big pinch of salt and of freshly ground pepper.

Close the food processor and pulse until minced. Open it back up and scrape down the sides. Combine lemon juice and water. With the processor running stream in lemon juice and olive oil. Stop and scrape down the sides.



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