Month: June 2013

BLT Caprese with Chicken or She Returns from the Cruise and Finds She Must Cook and Clean Up for Herself

BLT Caprese with Chicken or She Returns from the Cruise and Finds She Must Cook and Clean Up for Herself

After being on  a Canadian cruise (Boston- Quebec City- Boston on Holland America) for two weeks…. (in no special order)


To say we ate a lot of mussels would be an understatement. Served here with lovely Prince Edward Island beer, of course.


Public (Victorian) Garden; Halifax, NS, Canada

Confederation Bridge:  8 miles long.  Links Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick mainland.  We went under it twice.

We clean up well.

Quebec City

We had brunch here at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.  Oh, do go!

Above photo:  courtesy Chateau Frontenac.  All others:  copyright 2013, Alyce Morgan.
Please request permission before using.  Thank you. 

Breathalize yourself for $2 bucks in the Quebec bars.

A spruce swag indicates spruce beer is available on Cape Breton.
Here’s why I cruise.  Taken off our balcony–above and below.

Margaret shows us how to tell the diff between male and female lobsters at Peggy’s Cove, not far from Halifax, Nova Scotia (left) and Dave ocean kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine

Anne of Green Gables House — Prince Edward Island


Tavern at Louisbourg Fortress, Cape Breton Island, Canada–Drinkng real chocolate!

 Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove above.  The warning on it below:

…it appears I must shop, cook, clean up, and even garden for myself.  Upon returning home, Dave and I immediately were both ill for a couple of days (??) and that was topped off by several days of horrific storms in the Twin Cities, after which we were without power for two days.  Nearly every neighborhood had many trees down in the streets and on buildings–not hit by lightning necessarily, but just toppled by heavy winds after their root systems were weakened by too much rain.  Here’s what our neighborhood looks like when I walk; you’ll get the idea about how many trees we have:

Lots of cleanup all over; 410k people were without power.  Some still don’t have power from last Friday’s storm.  Today, the rain is predicted again; we don’t want it.  Rain:  go to Colorado.


Did you want the plan for the BLT Caprese with Chicken?  I’ve blogged several similar things but perhaps never this exact salad.  This is a cool meal that’s pretty much grill, slice, layer, and eat. (Or make a couple of extra chicken breasts the night before, though I do think it’s best fresh.)  It solves the problem of meals for hot days, of which there are more than I’d like.  That puts it nicely.  Enjoy!

blt caprese with chicken
 serves 2

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Kosher salt; fresh ground pepper
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts grilled or sautéed, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 4 ounce (approximate) log fresh mozzerella, sliced thinly
  •  16 fresh basil leaves (approximate)
  • 8 slices cooked, crispy bacon cut in half
  •  Juice of half a lemon
  • 12 kalamata olives, pitted, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below) 

 On a medium-sized platter, scatter spinach around the edges and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Layer chicken, tomatoes, mozzerella, basil leaves, and bacon either in two lines in the middle or in a circle inside the ring of spinach.  There needn’t be every ingredient in each layer; some layers might be  two pieces of chicken with basil between, etc.  Strive to make the layers as even as possible without being too precise.  Drizzle evenly with lemon juice and sprinkle layered salad with salt and pepper.  Garnish with olives.   Drizzle with about two tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Serve with bread and olive oil.

Cook’s Notes:  If you need to make this ahead, try to do it no more than an hour or two beforehand, cover and refrigerate. Do not add lemon juice or vinaigrette until it’s time to serve the salad.  You could also make this salad with grilled or store-bought, cooked shrimp.

Wine:  I like a very, very cold rosé with this–nearly any would do (I’m partial to French ones and they’re inexpensive as wine goes.), but a chilled nicely-rounded white like Viognier or even a lighter, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc– like one from New Zealand–would suit this dish with its herbal notes. Some folks might like a big-bellied California Chardonnay with this, but if you do go that route, don’t chill it to death.   2 hours or even room temperature works.

 Dessert:  Pineapple sherbet or fresh strawberries in melted chocolate ice cream.

…  …  …

Alyce’s (and soon to be yours) Balsamic Vinaigrette  makes 1 cup dressing

1/3 cup fine quality balsamic vinegar (I like Masserie di Sant’eramo)
2 heaping tablespoons dijon-style mustard (Grey Poupon is fine)
1 tablespoon honey
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste–this is a cup of dressing)
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
several drops tabasco

In the food processor, pulse until thoroughly pureed and very-well mixed. (Or whisk by hand in a medium bowl)

2/3 c best quality  you can afford extra-virgin olive oil (I like Olio Santo (California) or Ravida (Italy)

With machine running, slowly pour the 2/3 c olive oil into the tube on top of the processor and leave running until thoroughly emulsified. (Or whisk in by hand one – two tablespoons at a time until thoroughly combined.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.

book news

Alyce’s Salmon Chowder

  I have a title!!!!  Soups & Sides for Every Season. We looked at lots of titles, but many are taken already. Fooey. Who knew? Well, as a longtime librarian, I did–or I guessed.   Anyway:  the designer’s designing and the artist is creating the cover art; the editor’s editing and the sommelier is “somming”–it’s nearly done.  I look for a 1 September date available through  Will let you know FIRST.  Meantime, this is my great,loving, and hard-working team, along with a great list of testers across the country (can’t name them all here–they’ll be listed in the book):

Patty Miller, Editor
Amanda Weber, Designer
Daniel Craig, Artist
Drew Robinson, Sommelier

THANKS!  YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!  I love working alone on a book, but this one became lots of fun once others were involved.  There is beauty in numbers and multiple brains and talents.  Blessings.

 So what’s the book like?  The short book is divided into seven quick and easy to use chapters.  There is a chapter for every season with 6-8 wine-paired soups in each.  Each soup recipe has a little story or blurb and also has recommendations for accompaniments; many are right in the book. The other three chapters are:  Breads and Spreads, Salads and Vegetables, and Desserts.  You can put  meals together as I’ve indicated or mix and match as you like OR JUST MAKE SOUP!  I can’t wait to share it with you.

Sing a new song; think soup!

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Israeli Couscous & Tuna Salad

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Israeli Couscous & Tuna Salad

   I’m going on vacation after this post. The blog is going with me.  See you late June! 

If you weren’t up for a new tuna salad, this full-of-flavor high-five salad from Ina Garten’s newest book BAREFOOT CONTESSA:  FOOLPROOF; RECIPES YOU CAN TRUST, might make you change your mind.  Made from a good many pantry ingredients (canned tuna, Israeli couscous, roasted tomatoes, olive oil) plus a short list of freshly-purchased ones (oil-cured olives, lemon, herbs), this meal comes together in about fifteen easy minutes.  While the couscous cooks, you’re doing a bit of chopping; by the time the couscous is done, you’re mixing up and serving.

Great for a hot night on the patio, you could stir this up in the morning before the heat begins–or even the night before.  Pop it in the frig and you’re all set.  Leftovers are perfect for lunches.

israeli couscous & tuna salad    (CLICK FOR RECIPE)

 Chop your fresh ingredients while the couscous cooks for about twelve minutes. Ina calls for plain Israeli couscous, but I used an Israeli couscous blend that includes orzo and a few other grains or legumes. I bought it bulk at my local grocery, but Trader Joes often carries it; you can order through the link.   Another name for Israeli couscous is pearl couscous.  If you can’t find any at all, or don’t like couscous, use orzo or a sturdy rice.  I make a salad similar to this (lots of parsley instead of basil/no olives) and use canned white beans. Recipe at end.

 Next, mix most of the fresh ingredients plus the olive oil and spices  in a large bowl.

 Strain the couscous and stir it into the tuna mixture while the couscous is still hot.

Right before serving, stir in the fresh herbs and scallions.

WINE:  A cold and crisp Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps a citrusy New Zealand bottle, would be a good choice for this salad.  No wine tonight?  Unsweetened Iced Tea with Lemon is a thirst-quenching choice.

DESSERT:  Sorbet–lemon or raspberry.

                         SO WHAT DID I THINK?

Overall, I liked it.  In fact, I liked it lots.  This is just my kind of food.  Fish, olive oil, lemons, olives…  An easy Mediterranean feel and not terribly expensive.  Good, healthy everyday eating with plenty of leftovers.  I adored the large amount of black pepper, which gave the salad a healthy warm zing without hot sauce or red pepper flakes.

What did I change?   While this is a basically healthy recipe and not terribly high in calories, I did cut the oil in half and I also cut the salt nearly in half.  The recipe calls for a tablespoon of salt, but I find Ina’s recipes sometimes a little salt heavy for optimum health.  I left nothing else out.    I did not use the jar of Italian tuna in oil called for, but rather used a can of premium, wild tuna packed in water.

What would I add? When I make this again (and I will), I’ll add another cup of fresh vegetables like chopped celery, or yellow bell peppers, or perhaps green beans cut into 1/2-inch pieces. The additional vegetables would decrease calories, increase fiber and nutrition, and stretch the recipe out a bit.  A few nuts for garnish  add some crunch, texture, character, and depth to the dish.   I had pine nuts, and added just a few on top.  Any chopped tree nuts would do, but pine nuts just fit in with this dish. 

If I had no basil, I imagine I’d be happy with fresh parsley or even parsley and thyme.

While the dish is plenty on its own, I could serve this with lots of sliced tomatoes or green peppers, a big bunch of green beans, or even a spinach salad.   If I hadn’t had dairy that day, I might add a small piece of cheese or a small scoop of cottage cheese with whole wheat crackers at the side of the plate.

 What might you do?  Big appetites would enjoy a bowl of soup with this meal… Some gazpacho or other tomato soup are two choices.  Don’t like couscous?  Make brown rice, orzo or any other tiny pasta like tubetti or ditalini.

Cook’s Note:  If serving the next day, save a little oil and lemon juice, as well as the basil and chopped scallions, to refreshen the salad before serving.

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 The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have main courses; next month is Desserts and Other or Miscellaneous Recipes.  Note:  After this round, drinks will go with appetizers instead of with Desserts and Other.

Stop in and see what our fine writers are cooking up today:

Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you! Want to join in one time a month? Email Alyce @  or link in to join us once in a while (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?! 

It is possible some of our writers may be in and out of the Ina group periodically.  If you click on their blog and there’s no Ina recipe that day, check their index for previous entries or return another time.  Thanks.


alyce’s tuna-cannellini bean salad with feta


  • 6-7 oz can tuna, drained and flaked with a fork 
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained — or any canned white beans
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped finely
  • 4 scallions, minced (white and green)
  • 2 eggs, boiled and chopped*
  • 1 carrot, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach or parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 anchovies, smashed or minced, optional
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red or aleppo pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped feta

In a medium bowl, mix everything but the feta.  Taste and see what it needs.  Dry?  Add a bit more oil?  Bland?  Add a bit more red wine vinegar.  Spoon into bowls and garnish with crumbled or chopped feta.  Happy eating!

*I make these eggs in the microwave.  Spray a cereal bowl with PAM.  Add two eggs and poke with a sharp, small knife–once in each yolk and several times in whites.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 2 minutes.  Remove and let sit a minute or two to cool.  Carefully unwrap and tip bowl onto cutting board before chopping eggs.

Sing a new song,