Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail: Celebration Food #SundaySupper

shrimp cocktail, shrimp, appetizer

I know we’re getting into the time of year of bridal showers and baby showers and such- but it’s also coming on GRADUATION time-as it turns out- MY graduation!

I am delighted to announce that I have officially completed my Masters degree coursework, and my thesis has been accepted and approved!  I am now able to proudly place the letters, MS, after my name. Earlier this week, when I received the confirmation, I was immediately hit with wild, teary emotion. I was washed over with such a powerful feeling of relief and satisfaction. I had set a long range goal, and now, after imagining this moment for so long- it is finally here. 

So dear friends, if you have nothing else to raise a glass for, you are welcome to join me in my happy dance as your excuse to eat, drink, and be merry!  (there really should be dancing)

For those who don’t know, I’ve been working on my degree is in Nutrition and Applied Physiology at Columbia University. It was a long 7 years ago when I made the decision to rearrange my life and head back to school. It was terrifying at first. I had been a fairly confident and successful business woman, but what if I failed at this? After all, it had been 20+ years since I sat in a classroom. I was dedicating myself to a long ranged commitment, and I wasn’t exactly clear of the direction that I wanted to go- just a positive feeling that I had to point my bow forward and keep plodding toward it.  

And you know what happens when you follow a passion- it brings you to places you never imagined, which are wholly more fantastic. That hazy first step turned into a steady stream of many. Though I had many moments of feeling overwhelmed, or questioned the risks and investments I was making- in the end it has left me stronger, and frankly, amazed.

The work and struggle have not all been my own.  Sacrifice and patience has been demanded of several people in my life, especially my beautiful fiancée Pam.

For the past two years I’ve been living in NYC while she has been renovating and tending to our home in Louisiana. There has been a lot of back and forth, and hours upon hours of FaceTime, which frankly has just worn us out. In a few weeks we will attend my convocation. Shortly after I doff my mortar board and gown, Pam and I will pack up my apartment and head home- at last- together. Then my life will begin- again.


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Radish Butter on Homemade Rye Rounds


It’s the late afternoon. Before the wine time, before we bathe and dress and head out to meet friends for dinner. It’s the afternoon respite, when the day’s whirl and swirl of energy has slowed to a breathless ease. It’s the afternoon sit down.

Earlier in the day flour dust rose and settled as I prepared the rye bread dough and shaped it into two logs. The smell of caraway seeds filled the kitchen, and the homey smell of bread straight out of the oven is the now the familiar. It’s so easy to make, so easy to create a masterpiece out of such simple ingredients- it no longer makes sense to do anything else.*

We don’t eat much butter these days. The demon “saturated fat” lurks within and I shun it at every possible turn, but from time to time, there something so simply wonderful as butter on bread. It is a taste so crazy good and so elemental, that it makes me laugh. Because I eat butter so rarely, I can experience a wide open happiness. That’s a really good feeling.

As a kid I remember reading books such as Heidi, where thick slices of wheaty homemade bread were slathered with butter. This was the staple, the basis of existence, the staff of life-the safe place of home.

I go back to that romantic place here.

The combination of radishes with butter and salt is another classic. If you’ve not tried it, please do. The sharp spice of the radish is tamed by the butter, and at the same time brightened by the salt. Typically radishes are sliced into paper thin wisps, then planked on top. For my table I’ve diced and mashed them right into the sweet butter. So simple. So good. A sprinkling of Maldon salt on top and you are complete.

A delightful afternoon snack.

Of simple.

And quiet goodness.

*The recipe for basic no knead bread is found HERE. To make rye, I replaced 1 cup of the white flour with dark rye, and added 2T of caraway seeds. When it came time to shape the bread I divided the dough in two and created two long thin loaves- as long as my oval pot would hold, and then baked them separately.

Heavenly Roasted Peppers with Artichoke Puree

Fall colored roasted peppers with a light green artichoke puree.

Taking the time to make fresh roasted peppers is well worth it in my book. Not only do I appreciate the better flavor, but I don’t drown them in oil either- which they simply DO NOT need! Peppers are packed in oil are to preserve them, but I eat mine right away. Instead of all that oil, I dress them with this fantastic artichoke spread, that will steal the show the next time you serve it.

Roasting peppers is a little time consuming, I won’t kid you. I usually throw mine into the oven when I’m in the midst of doing other things. If I can’t get to skinning them right away I’ll do it later- though between you and me- skin-on ain’t no bad thang either.

For company I’ll do them up right, but once a week I throw in a nice big tray of roasted peppers to keep them in the fridge for a great afternoon snack- or an addition to a sandwich.

This batch was a result of falling in love with all the colors at the farmer’s market. Seriously, how could I resist? I pulled them into my arms like I was arranging flowers. Once they were roasted I had a blast arranging them into a contemporary painting of colors on the platter.

I’m also really loving this artichoke dip. This was a bit of stroke of serendipity when I came up with this. At Fairway they sell lovely little jars of artichoke puree for a mere $9 each. On the other side of the aisle are the bins of pickles, olives and- artichokes. Do I need to explain my thinking?

The addition of the rosemary is just stellar. The pine flavor rosemary makes the artichokes sparkle and it compliments the peppers too. I make myself a good batch of this. It’s so good on so many things.  Rather than mayo I use this garlicky spread on my sandwiches. The flavor is amazing and it’s just as satisfying.

Strips of bright colored peppers with a nice addition of artichoke puree

So now you can add a brightly colored serving of delicious and healthy vegetables into your weekly menu.

Roasted Peppers with Garlicky Artichoke Puree
If you prefer to use pre-made peppers, that’s fine. Drain off the extra oil and reserve for salad dressing. The artichoke dip is also wonderful with other veggies too. You’ll fall in love, I promise.
serves 3 plus one cup of dip
6 peppers of varying types
1 can of artichoke hearts packed in water
1 small clove of garlic, crushed and rough chopped
2t fresh lemon juice
S & P
1T olive oil 
1T fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350˚ and line cookie sheets with foil
Slice peppers in half and deseed. Arrange top down on sheets. Roast until blistered and a bit shriveled. Abt 45 mins.
Allow the peppers to cool, then peel off skins. Slice into thin strips and arrange on a plate.
In a food processor combine drained artichokes, garlic, S&P and olive oil.
Puree until smooth. If necessary you can add a little water to reach desired consistency.
Spoon puree over the peppers and top with chopped fresh rosemary.
Store leftover puree in the fridge for up to a week.