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French Onion Soup

I am providing this recipe in the spirit of Café Margaux. Lee and I love this soup, especially this time of the year when evening temperatures dip to 50 or so….BRRR. Sometimes, to increase the vitamin content, I add diced tomatoes (fresh when in season or canned when not) and finely diced carrots, to the broth. Once I make these changes, we rename the soup to Solivita Onion Soup.

4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2 Tbsp Butter
8 Cups Thinly Sliced Onions (3 lbs approx.)
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
½ cup wine (port, or a dry red wine)
2 Cartons 32 Oz each Beef Broth Low Sodium
½ Tsp Pepper
¼ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp Herbs de Provence
1 French Baguette to slice and toast
¾ cups shredded Gruyere or Swiss Cheese

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions, cook and stir until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally until deep golden brown. This should take about 30 – 40 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook a few minutes longer.

Stir in wine. Bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by ½. Add broth, herbs de provence, pepper and salt to taste, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered stirring occasionally for about 1 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette and toast on a baking sheet. Turn baguette slices over and add shredded cheese to top and cook until melted and slightly browned.

Serve soup in bowls and float toasted cheese baguettes on top.

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Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier? We have, and since it is only January, we have not yet lost our resolve. Listed below is a delicious recipe that we have both been enjoying:

Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 TBSP Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1 TBSP Light Mayonnaise
2 TSP Pure Maple Syrup
4 – 5 Oz. Skinless Center Cut Salmon Filets
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix together the mustard, 1 TSP of the cilantro, the mayo and maple syrup in a bowl. Put the salmon filets on the baking sheet and sprinkle with ¼ Tsp each salt and pepper. Spread some of the mustard mixture evenly over each fillet.

Bake until just cooked through, 10 – 12 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 TSP cilantro and enjoy.

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Lee and Lorraine’s Thanksgiving Crostini

Lee and I love a good turkey dinner. We always make a few of our family favorites, Mom’s Italian Sausage Stuffing, Lee’s Favorite Wild Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts, and from my grandmother’s recipe box; Mrs. Bailey’s Chicken Soup. Over the years we have added many new favorites to our family table. This year we are keeping it simple and starting dinner with a crostini topped with goat cheese, prosciutto, and fig jam. Easy and delicious.
1 fresh baguette
1/8 cup olive oil
Sea salt
4 oz. Goat Cheese Plain at room temperature
6 TBSP Fig Jam
3 slices prosciutto, each cut in half
6 fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Slice 6 one half inch pieces from the baguette on the diagonal. Place on a baking sheet and brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt on each slice. Bake about 10 minutes, or until crisp but not too golden. Cool bread. Spread some goat cheese on each crostini. Spread about 1 TBSP of fig jam on top of goat cheese. Fold a half slice of prosciutto and place on top of each crostini. Lay a fresh basil leaf on each and serve.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a special day devoted to the bounty of the season and a special day to be thankful. I find cooking relaxing, and while I prepare our Thanksgiving meal, I reflect on the year and the wonderful life that Lee and I have. We would like to thank all our clients, friends, and our neighbors and let you know that each of you are appreciated. You have placed your faith and trust in us, and we don’t know what we would do without you all. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. I am truly grateful to be surrounded by the love of a kind and gentle husband, a loving, supportive family, dear friends, and wonderful neighbors. Lee and I wish you a bountiful, happy, healthy Thanksgiving.
We have lived in Central Florida for almost 20 years and over those years feel blessed to be surrounded by such a caring community. We are truly humbled by the thousands of kind folks who volunteer their time to help others in Central Florida. A blessing in retirement is the gift of time, but a bigger blessing is that retired folks in Florida so generously give their time to others. Thank you Solivita and Central Florida for being so generous. Each volunteer we have met adds to our joy of living in this beautiful place. And of course, Bella Verde Realty is once again proud to sponsor a gift collection program for the over 500 foster children of Osceola County.

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Easy Halloween Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe comes together in a snap and is a delicious treat for the Chef and the lucky diners.

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (a roaster from Publix will do)
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese with Peppers
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 (4.5 Oz.) can chopped green chilies drained.
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 (8 inch) flour or corn tortillas
  • Vege Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese with Peppers
  • 8 Oz of Sour Cream
  • 8 Oz bottle of green taco sauce.

Stir together first 5 ingredients. Coat tortillas with vegetable cooking spray. Heat them in a sauté pan just for a few minutes to soften them up. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla and roll them up seam side down. Arrange in a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Add 2nd cup of Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese to the top of the Enchiladas and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes. Mix 8 Oz Sour Cream and 8 Oz. of Green Taco Sauce together and spoon over HOT Enchiladas and before serving or at the table. Sprinkle with any, or all, of the below toppings.
Serve with toppings: diced orange peppers, diced tomato, chopped avocado, chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, and chopped cilantro.
If you really like “Kicked Up” Enchiladas add a diced Jalapeno to the first 5 ingredients.

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The Perfect Dinner Salad and a Blueberry Swirl Ice Treat

Lee and I enjoy a salad for dinner in the summer weather, and we find this salad to be delicious and satisfying and really good when followed by the Blueberry Swirl Treat below.
Pear and Endive Main Course Chopped Salad
2 Tsp Sherry Vinegar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Heads of Endive (about 1 Pound total) halved and sliced into ½ inch half moons
1 Cup Parsley Leaves
2 firm but ripe pears, cut in quarters, cored, and sliced
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 – 4 Oz Wedge Blue Cheese sliced.
Salt and Pepper
In a large bowl whisk vinegar, oil and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Add endive, parsley, and pear. Toss to coat in dressing. Arrange on 2 plates and top with pecans and blue cheese.
Blueberry Swirl Ice Treat
2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
2 Tablespoons honey or agave
2 cups Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Blend the blueberries in a food processor or blender until nearly liquified to a smooth consistency. Pour the blueberry liquid into a large bowl. Stir in the honey or agave. Add the yogurt and gently mix together. Leave patches of blue and white. Taste and adjust sweetener. Freeze in popsicle molds. This is a good recipe for a sweet treat.

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Fabulous Honey Garlic Chicken

My favorite (at the moment) weeknight chicken:
This is a perfect recipe for a simple hot weeknight dinner made in a crock pot without heating up the house.
Honey garlic chicken in a slow cooker
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp ketchup
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Mix together the minced garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce and oregano. Pour this mixture over the chicken and stir to coat well.
Add the chicken to the slow cooker
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours on high. Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

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The Florida Heat

I always equate July and August in Florida to January and February in NJ. Lee and I lay low in the Florida heat, just as we did in the NJ cold, but still, I think I would rather live with the heat instead of the cold. In the summer, we swim in the pools in the morning and in the evenings. During the day we explore indoor activities rather than outdoor activities. Of course, lots of folks continue to play tennis, golf, bike ride, enjoy the outdoor walking trails, etc. but I would rather take time to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle Florida offers. We tend to visit museums, see an afternoon show, enjoy an art class or a lecture, or sit back in the AC and watch a movie. During this time of the year you can find me walking the indoor temperature-controlled track in Solivita or tending to our potted plants on the lanai. In our lanai we grow all kinds of herbs and tomatoes. Lee has even planted a few pots with pineapples, they have never grown large, but they sure are sweet. It is a pleasure to have fresh herbs and tomatoes growing near the kitchen. Easy to harvest, plus who does not love strolling out to their lanai to pick some fresh mint for tea, or some basil for a salad.
To help beat the heat, summer is a great time to vacation somewhere with cooler summer temperatures. Snowbirds come to Florida to enjoy the warmth in the winter, so why can’t we escape the heat and take a trip to a cooler climate? Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, Up-State NY, Canada, etc. The list of beautiful places, with cooler summer temperatures is endless. It is always fun to plan, and fun to visit another place on the planet. We live in Solivita, so another worry off the list is safety and security. Solivita is a safe and secure community, therefore we need not to worry about our homes while away.
No summer vacation for us this year, thanks to our great clients. Business has been brisk, and I am keeping my “nose to the grindstone” finding homes for lots of folks relocating to Florida or moving from one neighborhood to another. Always happy to help anyone achieve the “American Dream of Homeownership and a Beautiful Retirement.”

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Summer Time Is Soup Time; Chilled That Is.

Chilled Mango Chipotle Soup
Easy, Delicious and High in Antioxidants.

  • 2 Mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • ½ Tsp Ginger Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tsp. Chipotle Powder
  • 2 Cups Vegetable broth

Puree all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. More spices can be added to taste. Serve Chilled and Enjoy.

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Your Guide to a Smooth-Running Construction Project

Imagine walking into your newly built or remodeled home and seeing it exactly as you had imagined it at the start of construction: the windows are all in the right places, the flooring is the right color, and the kitchen cabinets are a perfect fit.

Now allow me to pinch you on the arm, because for most people, reality is often different from that idyllic scenario. You might see missing trim around the bedroom doors or wonder why that small change in the kitchen cost so much. Looking back, you might ask, “And why did we have to hire another subcontractor to finish the bathroom?”

Of course, there are things you just can’t plan for, but there’s plenty that you can. Costly changes and additional time-consuming work can be kept to a minimum if you fully understand what you are building before you start. By understanding the construction process, being part of the team and keeping a firm grip on the budget, your construction project can result in the home of your dreams.

Read the full article at Houzz.com