Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Red, White, and Blue!

I love the 4th of July!

This is a holiday that shouts family! to me. For years and years, we have spent the 4th at the beach. This year we are sticking close to home... so I am working hard to bring out the red, white and blue.

Or maybe I should accent the red and white~ to avoid the blue!

A day spent making holiday cookies always does the trick. I have posted this recipe a dozen times... but it is the best!

Y'all enjoy!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Lemon Chicken Salad

This is a recipe for chicken salad for those who really don't like chicken salad.

I made it for my friends at work... and got raves from the un-chicken salad eaters. It is fresh and lemony~ perfect for these hot summer days. (is lemony a word?)
Lemon Chicken Salad
2 cups cooked chicken
1 lemon
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup capers
1 small jar artichokes, drained
2-4 Tbs mayo
2 Tbs pickle relish
Chop cooked chicken into small chunks. In a mixing bowl, toss chicken, the zest and juice of one lemon, diced onion and parsley. Add capers juice and all. Drain artichokes and chop into bite sized pieces. Stir to combine. Add mayo and pickle relish~enough to hold it all together. Salt and pepper to taste. (I also used a bit of my favorite Italian spice grinder)
This chicken salad has all my favorite flavors. You can't go wrong with lemon, capers, and artichokes!
Y'all enjoy~

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Summer Salad

This salad is a favorite of Marcia at Happy Trails to Us another fun slow travel blog. I am so glad she posted this one, the Tarragon Pesto is awesome!
This makes a hearty salad... perfect for these miserable hot summer days.
I did change it up a little~ I have a hard time following rules. Especially with salads! I used a spring salad mix, and quickly grilled some chicken breasts with WhistleStop marinade and olive oil. No bread for me, and some beautiful yellow summer tomatoes on the side. As I said, the pesto is the star of this dish... I followed Marcia's directions on that. I whipped it up in my favorite magic bullet.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Tarragon Pesto
1/4 cup (packed) fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 tablespoons pine nuts, divided
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons chopped shallot
6 tablespoons (or more) olive oil, divided, plus additional for brushing
4 boneless chicken breast halves
4 1/2-inch-thick slices country-style French or sourdough bread
1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers
To make the Pesto: Place 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, parsley, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and shallot in mini processor; chop coarsely. With machine running, gradually add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil by teaspoonfuls to thin, if necessary.
Whisk 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon, remaining 4 teaspoons lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons oil in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Brush chicken breasts on both sides with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until grill marks form, skin is crisp, and chicken is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to work surface; let rest 5 minutes.
Toss salad with dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad among 4 plates. Cut grilled chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange 1 sliced chicken breast atop salad on each plate. Spoon tarragon pesto over chicken. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons pine nuts over salads. Serve with grilled bread slices. As I said~ the tarragon pesto is wonderful. I have some left over and will use it on pork or maybe on grilled salmon.
Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Photohunt~ flags

The photohunt for this week is 'flags'.
This is a close-up of a pretty centerpiece a few years ago... the flag's in the background!

Happy Hunting y'all~

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poppy Seed Risotto

I was thinking about my poppies, and found this recipe just the other day on Brownie Points. I promised to make it, and I'm glad I did!

Poppy Seed and Sweet Onion Risotto
2 Tbs poppy seeds
2 slices bacon
1 sweet onion diced
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
white wine
1 Tbs butter
3 cups chicken broth simmering on a back burner.

In a small bowl soak poppy seeds in just enough white wine to cover. In a deep frying pan, fry bacon- fry a couple of small onion rings for garnish. Reserve a small amount of the bacon grease and pour off the rest. Saute onion until translucent, add rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Continue making the risotto as you normally do... add wine to deglaze the pan. Add the broth one cup at a time. Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. When all the broth is used and the risotto is tender, add the poppy seeds and wine, crumble the bacon into the pot, add 1 Tbs butter and stir until creamy.
I served it with my favorite lemon-caper chicken. It was perfetto and tasted of Tuscany!
Ciao y'all,
This post was featured on Photograzing!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Salad on the Grill

This week's Sunday Salad Sampler comes from Cindy Ruth at Baked Alaska~ I just love that name for a cooking blog from the Alaska wilds... I say 'wilds' because she has been keeping us up to date on a grizzly bear that comes a visiting.

I thought it was something to brave the heat to turn on the grill... better the Alabama heat than a bear!!

2 heads romaine lettuce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette, recipe below
Chopped tomatoes
Homemade croutons, if desired
Preheat grill to med-high. Rinse and pat dry the lettuce. Cut the 2 heads in half lengthwise. Brush surface with olive oil and grill about 4 to 5 minutes total, turning occasionally. Place each wedge on a salad plate and drizzle with Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette. With a vegetable peeler, shave some pieces from a wedge of Reggiano-Parmigiano over each salad. Top with chopped tomatoes and homemade croutons and serve.

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a lid. Secure the lid, then shake to blend. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Bill was convinced that I had totally lost my mind. Grilling Salad??? While I was at it I grilled plenty of vegetables for our Father's Day at G-daddy's.
This was really very good! I added some grilled fennel and forgot the croutons (opps). The citrus dressing is great~ I'll be using that again.

Happy Father's Day y'all!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photohunt~ Creamy

The photohunt for this week is 'creamy'. How 'bout some cappuccino from L'Orso80 in Rome.

Happy hunting y'all!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

just a bit of whining

Opps... spell check.
I meant wine-ing!

You can't go to Italy without enjoying a glass of wine~ or two. I saw this sign before I left.

So true!

We visited a couple of great wineries in Tuscany. This is il Paradiso di Frassina, an organic winery in Tuscany where they play classical music to the vines. Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe the sounds of the music playing over the fields as you drive down the windy road.
We tasted a little red
and a little white.
Now that I am home, I will have to stick to my 2 buck chuck.
(and save up for next year!)
Ciao y'all,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We were lucky enough to be in Italy during poppy season.
I don't think there is anything prettier than red poppies blowing in the breeze.
They grow in amongst the wheat fields adding a spot of color.
They also sprout between the rock walls.
The bee's know a good thing.
They don't last long in a posey... but the memory lasts forever.
I found this recipe for Sweet Onion Poppy Seed Risotto. That sounds like comfort food to me~ I am giving it a try!
Y'all enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Shrimp Salad

Enough Already!!!

Enough with the travel talk~ it is time to get back to the real world. I have missed out on the last several Sunday Salad posts (the lack of internet will do that to you!) I am glad to be back in time for this next salad.

The Sunday Salad Sampler this week comes from Jan @ Keep Your Feet in the Street Jan lives in Florida... so it only makes sense that she has a favorite recipe for a summer shrimp salad.

Shrimp Salad
1 pound extra large shrimp (16-20)fresh, wild if you can find them.
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, tarragon or parsley.
1 large stalk celery chopped
¼ large red pepper chopped
salt and pepper

Steam the shrimp for about 5 minutes in water with Old Bay. When cool enough to handle, remove shells and chop into about 5 or 6 pieces per shrimp. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss in the chopped shrimp and chill. Serve over a bed of lettuce of your choice.
I think I could wear old bay for perfume. It reminds me of the beach, almost as much as the coconut tanning lotions. This is a quick and easy salad. Perfect for summer time~ when the livin is easy.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Photo Hunt ~Lock

The photo hunt for this week is 'lock'This s the pretty lock and key at the Hotel Burchianti in Florence.
Happy hunting y'all!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Wedding~

A part of the reason I was in Italy last month was to attend the wedding of our friends Coy and Susan. Not everyone starts their married lives with a wedding at the Vatican!
Dinner the night before was at Alfredo's. The most amazing fettuccine alfredo you have ever tasted. It was so simple... light fresh pasta, Parmesan and olive oil. It was a fun night with plenty of laughs and memories.

The ceremony was held in Vatican City at the chapel where the Spanish Guard attend mass. It is... awesome! After the 'I do's and blessings, the bride and groom strolled down the street to the cries of 'congratulazioni!' We had a fabulous dinner at Veneria~ a favorite of the pope's.

Words don't even begin to describe the event...This is a marriage is truly blessed.

The honeymoon in Montisi is next... I bet you can't wait for those pictures.
Ciao y'all

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What time zone am I in??

I am home... but not exactly sure what time zone I am in.
My plan is to drink caffeine during the daylight hours and sleep when it is dark. (sounds simple enough)My luggage is somewhere between Chicago customs and my front door. It is full of the things I love... olive oil, Italian spices, truffles, a new espresso pot and a cream whisker thingy. I have a few special surprises tucked in for upcoming birthdays.
I'll show you when I can. In the mean time... another cup of Jo!
Then maybe I can get around and visit my bloggy friends~ I've missed y'all.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Do y'all skype?

This is the best way to stay in touch with somone overseas. Now that I am in Florence, Bill and I are able to Skype~ if we can get the time differance straight.
There was s'posed to be wireless at the Rondo Bar in Montisi. It would have been a great place to sit outside, have a coffee or a glass of wine. Apparently some hacker messed that up for the rest of us. We need to work on some internet connections before next year!!

Just keeping in touch~
Ciao Y'all!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Photo Hunt ~Advertisement

The photo hunt for this week is 'advertisement'.
This is the advertisement (of sorts) for Robert Etherington's Ballooning in Tuscany. He has a bottle of wine on hand when he lands in a farmer's field.
Happy hunting y'all!


Friday, June 05, 2009


Ciao Y'all~Sandi

Thursday, June 04, 2009


In Cortona~
and in Roma~

Ciao Y'all,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

more pictures from Tuscany

Ciao y'all!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Just photos!

I only have a few minutes on the internet... so I am going to just post photos.
Ciao Y'all!
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