Superb Zucchini Gratin


France is an exquisite place to visit as well as to live. Whether you are creating your favorite cuisine within your French Country kitchen, or enjoying your ‘Belle Maison” (Beautiful home in the French language,) nestled upon the rocky cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea or French Atlantic Ocean…you are sure to be blessed and inspired by this beautiful country and it’s warm and welcoming people.


French Cuisine is known for its delicious and delectable sauces, rich foods, crepes, Creme Brulee, fine wines and their famous and renowned, Beef Bourguignon. I “aimer” (French word for love,) zucchini! Whether it’s zucchini bread, muffins, omelets, casseroles or a cheesy side dish for a festive gala, I have yet to taste any zucchini recipe I did not enjoy.  Here is a delightful recipe, originated from a well known French Cuisine chef…It is called Zucchini Gratin. I hope you enjoy it and that this recipe will be a ‘keeper” for you and your loved ones.


You will need;
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping
1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large)
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Gruyere
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a very large (12-inch) saute pan and cook the onions over low heat for 20 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the zucchini and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until it makes a sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 10-inch baking dish.Combine the bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter cut into small bits and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.
This recipe is from the wonderful French cuisine chef, The Bare Contessa.

***I am sharing a recipe with each blog  that I am writing on “kitchens,” that are conducive to the theme and stye if that particular kitchen. This recipe is written for the blog, “Frances Finest…The French Country Kitchen.”

Enjoy! 🙂




Basil Rathbone Pizza

Pizza maker with a giant pizzaanimateanimate6animate 3

This is one of my favorite recipes, my husband’s rendition of the renowned ‘Basil Rathbone’ pizza. One Friday evening, in early summer,  (our pizza and movie night,)  while living in California, we visited a pizzeria and ordered this pizza, purely as an experiment…in fact, I had my husband order our pizza made half, pepperoni and cheese (for me)  and half Basil Rathbone, (for him.)  Well, long story short, I wished the entire pizza was the Basil Rathbone as it was fantastically ‘delizioso.’  Since  we moved to the east coast, we have never found that pizza again, so, we make our own…It is sure to please any crowd as it’s  “very gourmet!” ENJOY!!!


Even though Basil Rathbone was a British actor, ( at times,’the inspector general’ in murder mysteries)  and born in South Africa, this pizza is still very Italian… (At least his first name is (kind of) Italian… (sort of.) 🙂  It is an Italian spice… He even looks a little Tuscan, don’t you think? 🙂



You will need, one large pizza dough…(You can make your own, buy it from a bakery or get it from your local grocery store.) Make sure you read the directions on your dough before you make this pizza, for example, some doughs require a short pre-bake before you place all the ingredients on top…we use homemade dough and do not pre-bake it.

You will also need a small jar of pesto sauce. (We use, Classico Traditional Basil Pesto sauce) or you could make your own. One half of a large red onion, sliced in thin slices,one bell pepper, seeded and  sliced in thin slices, 4 sweet or Hot Italian sausages, sauteed  in either a small amount of butter or olive oil. In cooking the sausage, cut it up  into bite sized pieces so it comes out in a crumbled texture.   You will also need a box of fresh, sliced and cleaned mushrooms, fresh cilantro, rinsed and cut fine, a can of artichoke hearts… (sliced in half,) (we get the artichokes in  brine water and drain them) and lastly,  a large bag of Mozzarella cheese. (OK, our guilty pleasure has been revealed…we are extra cheese lovers. Graham too!)  🙂

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put that in the oven so it too,will be preheated. if you don’t have a pizza stone, don’t worry about preheating the pan.

2. Spread the pesto sauce on the bottom of your pizza dough. Use a little or a lot…it’s up to your taste. We use a  moderate amount…taste the sauce and you will know…) 🙂

3. Place the sliced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and cilantro all over the pizza.

4. Spoon out your hot,  pan cooked  crumbled sausage onto a paper towel to drain then place it evenly on your pizza. Bake at 450 for 25 minutes. Check it and see how the bottom of the pizza is browning and make sure your toppings are hot. Take your pizza out of the oven, turn your oven down to 350 degrees,  place an abundance of  cheese on top and return it to the oven until cheese melts. (About five minutes.)  When done, take out of the oven and  allow to cool a little.   You have a meal fit for a king, (or queen.)  I am not sure if the little ones would like this, as it is very gourmet…perhaps have an extra DiGiorno pepperoni pizza in the freezer just in case. 🙂  Delicious with a fresh garden or Caesar salad or sweet marinated tomatoes and cucumbers.  ENJOY!

This recipe can also be  found within my blog, ” The Delizioso Italian Cucino.” With each blog I am writing on the different styles and themes of  “kitchens,” I am also sharing a recipe with you that us advantageous to that particular kitchen. This is one of my all time favorites! 🙂

I highly recommend for “THE BEST” results for this decadents pizza, a pizza stone. I promise you will taste the difference. 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

LINKS: If you would like to learn more about the newly added ‘links” and their purpose within Living Winsomely, please read the blog “WE NOW HAVE LINKS” in the category section. 🙂

Additional Links:
Victoria Magazine
Country Living magazine

Beef Stroganoff and all the fixings!

WELCOME to my first blog on “Unforgettable Recipes for festivities, grand and small.”  In these recipes that I share, I hope the imaginative and inspired, acclimation of my cherished traditions inspire your cooking creations. Some of these recipes, I have acquired since my husband and I got married, whereas the others are from my southern heritage, grandmother, mother and sister.  All the beloved foods that graced our table at our home as I grew up in our family of 9.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! 🙂


This first  recipe blog is actually ‘ part two’ of a blog I wrote ‘just for the guys,’  called “Men, surprise the one you love one with a romantic dinner for two.” This blog is located under the ‘Acts of Kindness’ category and ‘Hey guys, the way to a woman’s heart is…’ category.  But it is for all to enjoy! It’s an entire dinner for two, with all the fixings … ENJOY!


THE DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNERAdorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

” Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you.” ~ Tommy Smothers

“One of the nicest things in life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~ Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright

“When baking, follow the directions. When cooking, go by your own taste!

This is a special recipe blog page for all the “guys” who are looking for the Beef Stroganoff and all the fixings recipe.  Here is all you will need and the directions to make your romantic meal for that special lady of yours! Have a great time!


YOUR APPETIZER. (Shrimp Cocktail with fresh sliced lemon.)

You can either buy the cooked, (large prawn) shrimp at the market or buy uncooked shrimp and boil it yourself. (Purchase the amount of shrimp you think you would need for two.)  To cook your shrimp, bring the water to a boil  in a 7-8 quart pot. (You may add some seasoning to your water if you like…again, we don’t use a lot of salt but feel free to salt and pepper the water or add your favorite seafood seasonings. (Old Bay, Italian seasonings, garlic, etc.)  Add your shrimp, allow the water to return to the boiling stage. When  the water is back to a full boil, your shrimp are usually done, but  make sure your shrimp are a bright pink color to know they are fully cooked.   Remove from water and allow  the shrimp to cool. You can place them in a bowl of crushed ice or put them in the refrigerator to get cold, after they have cooled off a bit, right before it is time to serve them, fill a pretty glass bowl with the cocktail sauce and place the shrimp around the edges with the fresh lemon slices to create a scrumptious presentation.

For your sauce, You will need, 3/4 to 1 cup of ketchup, a teaspoon of “Extra hot” horseradish sauce, (add more to taste,)  1/ 2 tsp. of Tabasco, 1/2 to 1 clove of  minced garlic, ( equaling about a 1/2 of a teaspoon,) salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon. I recommend a chilled glass or two of Sparkling cider to go along with your appetizer. (While making this recipe, as well as the ones below, keep tasting it to lesson or add to the amounts of seasoning I am sharing….) Everyone’s taste buds are different. My husband and I are connoisseurs  of hot , spicy foods!



FOR YOUR FIRST COURSE, Caesar Salad with warm sourdough baguette and butter.

You will need fresh and cleaned romaine lettuce,  Parmesan cheese, Ken’s steakhouse creamy Caesar dressing and Texas Toast butter and garlic or ‘Caesar’ croutons, fresh ground pepper, a baguette of  baked Sourdough bread and butter.

***I always use fresh peppercorns that I grind atop our cuisine as to regular pepper, but it’s up to you.

Break  your lettuce up into bite size pieces and place in a pretty salad bowl. Season with a little pepper on top as well as a small amount of cheese and put in the refrigerator until ready to toss.  When it is time to serve your salad, pour the amount of dressing you prefer on top of the salad, add more ground pepper, Parmesan cheese, (  I use plenteous amounts,) and your croutons… toss it all together and serve on chilled plates. While you are you are working on your final touches with your salads, place the baguette in a preheated, 375 degree oven and allow to heat up for 8 minutes. Slice and serve warm with butter, along with your ambrosial salad.


Don’t forget to open the wine and let it breathe…this a good time to serve the wine. I recommend Toasted Head Merlot…Delicious! (If you are a white wine drinker, the Toasted Head Chardonnay is superb as well!)


FOR YOUR MAIN COURSE, BEEF STROGANOFF, you will need 1 pound of sirloin steak, butter, 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, 2 cloves of garlic, (chopped finely, equaling about 1/2  to 3/4 of a teaspoon, ) 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red onion, 1 cup of sour cream, (I use more to taste,) one box fresh  sliced mushrooms,Tabasco to taste, Merlot wine, salt and pepper to taste, one package egg noodles.

In a good size sauce pan, place one to two TBSP of butter and allow it to melt on medium low. When butter is melted, place your mushrooms in the pan and saute. When they are almost done, add the chopped garlic and onions in pan and saute over low heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are completely done.  (Do not allow the heat to be to high, perhaps setting it on low, (everyone’s stove top is different,) as you do not want the butter, garlic or onion to burn. (Just be lightly sauteed.) 

Slice your sirloin steak into long, bite-size pieces. In a large pan, melt 1 to 2 TBSP of butter and place your meat in the pan to cook. I put the heat up to about medium to start the steak and turn it down after it gets a little brown on both sides…then turn to low and allow for it to simmer. Test your meat after about 20 minutes to see if it is  tender enough for you. If you have a lot of liquid in the pan, you can pour some out but otherwise, leave some  in the pan.  Add the cream of mushroom soup, slowly stirring, mixing it with the the steak and it’s juices.. Allow it to come to a simmer…add your ground pepper and Tabasco to taste, and your mushroom, onions and garlic. Stir together. Add about 1/4 cup of your Merlot wine, (or to taste,) and continue stirring.   Now add the sour cream and stir, blending all your flavors together and  be sure to keep your stove on low heat. You can always add more sour cream. wine, seasonings, it is up to you…The cream of Mushroom soup has a lot of sodium in it, so be careful with your added salt!  Be the “taste-tester’ and when you think it all tastes just right, turn off your burner and cover with lid. You can heat this up , stirring frequently right before you serve your Stroganoff.

While you are making your sauce, prepare  the egg noodles according to package, drain in colander  and then run under hot water so your pasta will not stick together. When pasta is drained again, it is ready to serve.  Only use the amount of noodles you want, (put the rest in a container in the refrigerator and use with your favorite pasta sauce at a later time. ) My husband and I prefer more sauce than noodles so we use less noodles as to more…It is entirely up to you….Also, you can stir the noodles into the Stroganoff or serve it hot over the warmed noodles.  The Toasted Head wine(s) go very well with this dish, enjoy another glass with your hot meal, if you like.

FOR YOUR FINALE, hot fudge sauce over ice cream, you will need, 1 pint of Haagan-Dazs Vanilla Swiss almond ice cream, 10-15 squares of Unwrapped Dove Dark chocolates, butter and either homemade whipped cream or your favorite ready-made in a can. (They both taste delicious to me! ) 🙂

In a small pan, over the lowest heat possible, melt your chocolates, (after taking the red wrappers off of course! ) 🙂 as the chocolate melts, add 1 to 2 TBSP of butter and stir until it too melts into the sauce, making it creamy and thick. Serve it hot over the ice- cream and top with whipped cream.

For fresh whipped cream, buy heavy whipping cream  in the deli section at your grocer, and pour the cream into a glass bowl. (I usually buy the smallest container of it as it whips up an abundance of beautiful, lush, white peaks of cream…) Use your electric hand beaters to whip up the cream until it is stiff, yet still creamy….add 1 TBSP. of sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Stir and serve.

My husband and I only drink decaf coffee in the evening so we usually buy a Hazelnut decaf and serve it with White Chocolate Caramel Latte creamer , made by Coffee mate in the bottle. Other nice coffees are Pete’s coffee beans , (If you have a coffee grinder,) of course Starbucks and Folgers coffee is always great!

ENJOY YOUR EVENING! Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.

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LINKS: to come! 🙂