Monthly Archives: April 2015

Bacon, Muenster and Green Onion Quiche

April 16, 2015, posted by Gina – I co-hosted a prayer group meeting today and each month the hosts make something for brunch. When our Cookbook Club first started one of the first things we made was this quiche and everyone loved it. It’s been a while since I made it only because I had foolishly forgotten about it! I changed the original recipe which, I think, makes it easier and more cost efficient. Judging by the number of ladies who asked me for the recipe today, I can say this is a hit. Enjoy!

bacon meunster quiche

Bacon, Muenster and Green Onion Quiche

1 refrigerated pie crust
6 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
1 bunch green onions chopped & sautéed in bacon drippings until
8 oz. muenster cheese, shredded
3 eggs
1½ cup half & half
½ teaspoon salt
A sprinkle of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°

Place the pie crust in a pie pan. Whisk eggs and half and half together. Add cheese, onions and bacon, salt and
nutmeg. Whisk until combined. Pour into pie shell and bake for 40 minutes or until quiche is set.


Coordinating Arrangements

April 15, 2015, posted by Gina – I recently created a few arrangements for an event using various combinations of red tulips, red carnations, white roses, pussywillow and boxwood. Keeping the design height of each in mind further created a unified look.  I also added a special element to each: a small bird nest with eggs, a lemon and a succulent. I quickly snapped these photos before I transported them, so excuse my kitchen in the background!

Spring Centerpiece

Spring Centerpiece

Tall Arrangement with Lemon

Tall Arrangement with Lemon

Centerpiece with Tulips and Succulent

Centerpiece with Tulips and Succulent

Bacon Tomato Tartlets and Onion Dip

wine and cheese party table

April 15, 2015, posted by Gina – Recently, I participated in a membership drive for the Ronald McDonald House Red Shoe Society. The event was a Wine & Cheese party but, far from a simple cheese board with fruit and crackers on the side, the table was packed with delicious dishes. I made bacon tomato tartlets and onion dip and I’d like to share these simple recipes with you.

Bacon Tomato Tartlets

1 – 10 oz can Rotel, drained
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 – 3 oz package real bacon bits
3 – 1.9 oz packages mini phyllo shells

Preheat oven to 350°
Combine the Rotel, cheese, mayo and bacon bits. Fill the phyllo shells with the mixture and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.


The onion dip is quasi-homemade in that you have to blend two ingredients together. That being said, it’s not entirely whipped up from scratch but neither is it straight from a jar. I ran across a really cute article in Bon Appétit magazine that had four people blind taste test Alton Brown’s French Onion Dip and Lay’s French Onion Dip from a jar. The panel consisted of a Health Nut, a Foodie, a Dude and a Kid. Read the article and see the results HERE.

Onion Dip

8 oz sour cream
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
onion dip

French Farmers Market 1 comment

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It’s the moment for asparagus and both the green and white varieties are abundant.

April 12, 2015, posted by Michelle – Just about every Sunday morning we go to the farmers market along the Saône river in downtown Lyon. One of the great things about Lyon is that there are farmers markets all over town every day. In my neighborhood there’s a mini farmers market every Tuesday morning just 50 feet from where I live. But with over one hundred vendors nothing compares to the quarter mile of gastronomic paradise that is the Sunday market. The selection is huge, the quality supreme and the setting idyllic, especially on sunny Sundays. There’s plenty of local produce, cheese (oh, the cheese!), pastries, breads, herbs, honey, wine, fruit juices, ciders, seafood, meat, chicken, sausages, nuts, olives and flowers but also Italian, North African, Chinese and Latin American specialties.

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Sacred to the Lyonnais, Saucisson Sec, Dry Sausage

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We have our favorite vendors to be sure; the lady who drives to Turin, Italy every weekend and returns with fresh pastas and parmesean, the cheese guy who has the disposition of a pitbull but his cheese is so good you gladly put up with him, Chez Carlos, the Chilean food truck that sells divine homemade empanadas with hot sauce, the herb people who sell big bunches of fresh herbs for almost nothing, the chicken producer we visit each week sells the tastiest chicken and we grab a bunch of fresh flowers from a sweet mother and daughter team.

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The market is a big social scene as well and the terraces of the two riverside cafés are packed, even in cold weather.  Their specialty is fresh oysters and each week the oyster guy is out there shucking them as fast as he can as a steady stream of oysters and white wine make their way to almost every table. From these tables you have the perfect view of the market, the river and the two beautiful cathedrals and Renaissance buildings of Vieux-Lyon on the other side.

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Do you have a favorite farmers market? Are there certain foods you’ll only buy from a local farmer? We’d like to hear about your market days so if you’d like to leave a comment, click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the end of the post.

Before and After

April 8, 2015, posted by Gina – I am always looking for inspiration and ideas for flowers, table scapes and home décor. I read several home decorating blogs (a few of my favorites are listed in the sidebar) and magazines and never fail to find designs and ideas that give my own creativity a boost. I really enjoy “before and after”  articles, be they total renovations, updating accents and accessories or simply rearranging furniture for a new look. So, I decided to share my own personal before and after with you. Voilà, my home….
Before Family and DiningFamily room and diningThe first two photos above show the before and after of our entry and dining room (taken from the family room). Before, the dining room china cabinet made the entire space look heavy, as if it were leaning to the right. This illusion was helped by the fact that the opposite entry wall was so empty and devoid of warmth. The neutral color had no personality and made the two spaces appear to be one, though it was not unified. The after photo shows how using color, lighting, window treatments and accessories brought warmth and interest while creating two uniquely separate yet cohesive spaces.

Before Family RoomFamily roomThese two photos above are the before and after of our family room. Huge difference! We did a few very simple things like removing the lower shelving in the built-in to make room for the flatscreen, added a mantle above the fireplace and hung a large tapestry to break up the brick, had custom drapes made and placed the furniture in a more inviting and cozy arrangement.

Before KitchenKitchenAnd the final before and after is the kitchen (photo taken from the keeping room). I think you’d agree the most enjoyable addition was  our adopted black lab, Emma; see her there on the floor? Painting the base of the island white and adding backless bar stools changed the oppressive feel in the center of the kitchen and freed up the flow. We recently bought an antique European table with eight chairs and recovered the seat cushions with a casual buffalo check.  A few well placed, interesting and colorful accessories and plants put the finishing touches on these rooms.

Have you renovated or redecorated a home? Did you make sweeping changes or cosmetic ones? We’d really like to hear about your home decorating experiences and ideas. Click on the title of this post to open the comment form and share your stories with us.

Flowers for Easter

April 7, 2015, posted by Gina – There is a flower committee of about 14 people at my church. During most of the year we usually operate independently and typically create two arrangements, a large one for the altar and a smaller one in front of a restored 14th century statue of Mary from Northern France. But for Easter and Christmas we work together to transform the church with beautiful flowers that are visual expressions of the importance of the day. As with most floral arrangements, when you see the finished product it looks like it was so easy to create but there was a whole lot of behind the scenes work on these special flowers.


These flowers actually came from a parishioners yard and one of our committee members worked her magic with them.

For years we have used forsythia on this cross.  I suggested we change it up a bit and use a little quince.  My wish was granted and the pink was a welcome change.

For years we have used forsythia on this cross. I suggested we change
it up a bit and use a little quince. My wish was granted and the pink was a welcome change.

Normally we don't these areas but we dress it up for Easter.  These ferns and lilies are at the entrance of the church and provide such a nice welcome.

Normally, we don’t these areas but we dress it up for Easter. These ferns and lilies are
at the entrance of the church and provide such a nice welcome.

A few years ago someone suggested we place a cross outside the church as well. This one is directly across from our doors so when you are leaving it reminds you of Easter joy.

So much work went into transforming our church for Easter. Somehow, when the whole flower committee comes together, it truly does not seem like work. We all love working with flowers and help each other with all the aspects of creating these arrangements.

Cooking Class 1 comment

April 2, 2015, posted by Michelle – Today I had the pleasure of doing one of my favorite things here in Lyon, the French capital of gastronomy, and that is cooking. I have attended some cooking classes at a small place downtown and have learned some pretty useful tips and techniques while adding a few great meals to my repertoire.  Their focus is not on classical French cuisine, though they do offer classes based on French cooking, but you’re as likely to find Asian, Latin American, Italian, etc. inspired courses.

Today we made Pavé de Boeuf poêlé with Avocat et Salsa de Mangue et Tomates / Seared Sirloin with Avocado and Mango-Tomato Salsa. It was delicious, the beef was tender and the salsa’s light, citrusy flavors married well with it. Along with the recipe I’ll share some of the tips and advice the chef gave to us.

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Seared Sirloin with Avocado and Mango-Tomato Salsa


Sirloin, eight 6oz pieces
4 avocados, peeled and mashed
2 shallots, minced
2 small red onions, minced
2 mangos, peeled and diced
4 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 limes, zest and juice
½ cup chopped basil
½ cup chopped chives
3 pinches piment d’espelette or cayenne pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Sauté pan that can go from stove-top to oven


Preheat oven to 400°

For the salsa: Mix the tomato, mango, red onions, basil and chives. Add piment d’espelette or cayenne, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste.

For the avocado: Peel and mash the avocado with a fork. Zest the limes and then add the zest and juice of the limes to the avocado and mix. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the shallots and balsamic vinegar and sauté one minute on medium heat. Add the avocado to the pan and gently mix with the shallots and balsamic vinegar. Do not overmix. Remove from heat after one minute. You can shape the avocado mixture into a “quenelle” which is basically an oval shape achieved by passing the mixture back and forth a few times between two tablespoons.

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The Chef forming the avocado mixture into a quenelle shape.

For the sirloin: Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a hot sauté pan then put in the beef and brown on all sides ( 2 minutes per side). Remove the pan from the heat and transfer it to the oven. Continue cooking the beef in the oven for 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with two spoonfuls of the avocado mixture and the salsa. Serves 8.

Ateliers 4 Chef’s Tips and Tools:

Use a ceramic knife to chop herbs and fruits. They do not impart any flavor and unlike metal knives they do not lead to browning. He specifically referred to using a ceramic knife to chop basil which is fragile and can turn black when cut with a metal blade.

Add freshly ground pepper to the meat only after it is cooked as the pepper will burn during cooking.

After zesting the limes, roll them back and forth on a hard surface to get more juice out of them.

We garnished these plates with a little Cream of Balsamic

He removed the pit from the mango using a mango pitter, makes dealing with dicing so much easier.

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Mango pitter – worth it if you regularly use mango or are bothered by that pesky pit!