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Congratulations to by my BFF, Peggy, who, as of yesterday afternoon, is a first time grandma!

gma and gpa

I know, she is too young to be a Grandma, but somehow she is to little Cruz Michael DeBolske. OK, Cruz is not so little. He weighed in at 11 pounds!

What? Eleven pounds, that’s two babies in one!


It’s hard to believe that this beautiful petite young woman could deliver such a big baby … well maybe not so hard to believe.  Look at new mommy, Keegan, just last week. She is all baby!

daddy stevo

Here is new daddy, Stevo! This photo was posted on Peggy’s FB page soon after 11 pound Cruz was born.

Baby Cruz is named after Stevo’s big brother,  Joseph Cruz DeBolske, who is Cruz’s personal guardian angel! Joey, my boy, I know you are dancing around heaven this day. Such love and joy!

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September 18, 2014   2 Comments

a skillet, a slow cooker and the broiler


Sometimes I am shocked when I discover the recipes that I have NOT posted on this site in the last five years.

I found a pork shoulder in my freezer and decided that the best thing I could do with it was to make carnitas. I would have sworn, that by now, I would have posted my carnitas recipe. I typed “carnitas” in the search bar over there on the right … No, there was no carnitas to be found. Strange!

crispy browned carnias

In the old days, I’d make carnitas one of two classic ways … deep-frying it in lard (oh my!) or slow roasting it in a hot oven for hours on end (not the best idea in the AZ summer!) … today, I use a slow cooker. OK, not only a slow cooker. Also a skillet at the beginning and a sheet pan, under the broiler, at the end.

The skillet, and a bit of olive oil, is needed at the beginning to brown the meat.  The slow cooker is used in the middle to make the meat fork tender, without heating up the entire kitchen. Finally, the broiler is used for only about 10 minutes at the end to make the pork crispy. Soft meat (which is what the slow cooker produces) does not qualify as carnitas! Below is a photo of some of the meat scrapes from the bottom of the slow cooker, placed in a tortilla. This is what you don’t want! Soft, over shredded, soggy meat. This is not carnitas!

unbrowned over shredded

Even though there are three distinctly different cooking stages, the hands-on time is minimal. Totally worth it! [Read more →]


September 17, 2014   No Comments

roasted vegetable versatility


Roasted vegetables are one of the most versatile foodstuffs to have on hand.


Case in point – I roasted up a bunch of vegetables last week for a meeting I had here at the house.


I used a few cups of the finished product for mini-pita sandwiches, which were devoured between the meeting attendees and my by guys, after the meeting.

roasted vegetable enchiladas

A couple of nights later I used them to make enchiladas for dinner.

vegetable scramble

And all week long, I added them to scrambled eggs for breakfast.


No need for the sandwich or egg recipes; just stuff mini-pita halves and warm in a skillet before stirring in a couple beaten eggs. The enchilada recipe is below.

The link for how to roast the veggies has three more recipes using roasted vegetables. The only difference in how I roasted them this time, was instead of using olive oil, I sprayed the foil-lined pans with Pam, placed the vegetables on the foil and then sprayed the vegetables again with Pam before seasoning with salt and pepper and placing in the oven.

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September 16, 2014   2 Comments

nom nom nom

Are you looking for a healthy Meatless Monday meal?


Move along, this recipe is not for you!

This is decadence at its best!

Oh sure, I used chicken breakfast sausage and soy chorizo …  don’t let that fool you, this is not a healthy, low-fat, low-cal recipe. It is deliciousness to the max!


Are you still with me?

Good… Enjoy!

The recipe makes two skillets of Queso. It is best to do this in two small 8-inch cast iron skillets, as it is best eaten hot from the oven.

A larger skillet would allow the queso to cool and harden, which is exactly what we don’t want! It’s best while hot and melty.

queso fundido

Now you don’t have to use cast iron, but look how good it looks! You just need to make sure your skillets are oven-safe, meaning the handle won’t melt. If your skillet is not oven-safe, or if you’re not sure, just wrap the handle with at least 3 layers of foil… now it’s oven-safe and ready to rock and roll!

Assemble both skillets at the same time, cover one and place in the refrigerator until the other is about gone (This is guaranteed to happen within minutes of being placed in front of a hungry group!) then pop the second in the oven.

nom nom

Hungry Queso fans will be hanging around the oven, waiting for it to come out… that’s fine, it takes less than 10 minutes to bake.

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September 15, 2014   2 Comments

updates and upgrades

The first order of business is to inform you that 20 of the 23 consolation prizes from the 5th Blogiversary Comment Contest have been mailed out. I’ve already heard that a few of you have received them. If you’re still waiting for your prize, it should be in your mailbox in the next day or two.

7 spice packets

I’m talking to you; Sharon C, Patti P, Karen P, Nancy B, Betsy S, Amy G, Maggie H, Vicki D, Sydney W, Ruth M, Tram M, Deirdre B, Maureen M, Bonnie F, Amy S, Nancy H, Sheila C, Jamie S, Gwen W and even grand prize winner Kathy R.

As for Amy K, Marissa H, and Jeff S – sorry, yours will be mailed next week when I get more of the product delivered to me from Amazon.

What was the consolation prize, you ask?

Japanese 7 spice

Japanese Seven-Spice! Enough for one batch of Grilled Edamame with Japanese Seven Spice, which will get the recipients addicted to THIS RECIPE!

As I reported back in August, I’ve had some work done on this site. It had to be moved from a private server to Go Daddy. That has been completed.

I also asked my new webmaster, Chris Tingom of Tornado Design to fix a few of the glitches and bugs that I’ve experienced on the site. (thank you Steve and Tram for the referral!)

One of the big annoyances was the inability to post a comment using your cell phone, which so many of you told me about. Even I was got the message that my cell phone comment was not posted because it was viewed as spam.

NO MORE! Now you may leave comments with your cell – so please, let the commenting begin!

The next issue is the fact that “new post” emails are no longer being sent and received by those of you who subscribe to the blog. Chris is working on that, for all I know, this post may show up in your mailbox, if so, please let me know. If not, it should be there soon.

notify me

One thing Chris discovered, was that when you comment on a post and check the “Notify me of new posts by email.” box – you will receive the emails, as shown below. This was the email that Chris received after yesterday’s post. So that’s always an option!

new post [


September 13, 2014   6 Comments

Rancho la Puerta Garbanzo Soup

my favoirte view

My abbreviated week at Rancho La Puerta, although short, was wonderful!

rancho la puerta

When Barb, Kim and I first went to “The Ranch” in 2008, I thoroughly enjoyed the week.

the bird and branch

This time, I really realized what a special and beautiful place it is. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Rancho La Puerta is one of the Top 10 Destination Spas of 2014 according to Conte Nast Traveler. Granted there are three Top 10 Spas that are closer, all right here in Arizona (Canyon Ranch and Miraval in Tucson and Mii Amo in Sedona)  but “The Ranch” is darn close too, only 45 miles south of San Diego, just across the US/Mexico border in Tecate.

dining hall

One of my favorite meals was a lunch consisting of garbanzo bean soup and roasted vegetable pita sandwiches. I tried to recreate the soup at home, I think I got pretty close.

yoga class

Along with the recipe, I’m sharing a few of the many (as in over 200) photos I took, including one at my daily yoga class above and another of Kim and my bedroom below.

linda and kims room

Thank you, Barb, for once again taking me along on another of your wonderful adventures. xox

broth and beans

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September 12, 2014   2 Comments

heartache and joy

First off, I have to say, “Has it really been 13 years?”

Hard to believe.

That morning is as fresh in my mind and heart as it was 13 years ago. The thoughts and memory of it can flood my eyes with tears in an instant. Every anniversary I just want to scream out,God Bless America.”



As adults we learn that to truly appreciate joy, you must have had heartache. You can’t appreciate true beauty unless you’ve seen ugliness. If everything in life was perfect, we would not be able to appreciate it with all the sameness of that boring perfection.

Our family experienced that reality and life lesson last week.

As you know, the first week of September, I was in Rancho La Puerta with Barb and Kim. Late on Labor Day afternoon, we were in one of the two WiFi zones and I found a text that my husband, Dave, had sent earlier that day. From it, I sadly learned that my sister-in-law, Debbie, had died in tragic car accident that morning in Illinois. Debbie is the wife of Dave’s oldest brother, Roger. All of Dave’s family live in Illinois. Roger and Debbie had been married for 41 years. Days later, I did the math and realized that Debbie had been in Dave’s life since he was just 13 years old.

I spent the next day scrambling to make the arrangements to get myself out of Mexico, back to San Diego and then home to Phoenix. Dave made our travel arrangements to Illinois. I flew home on Wednesday and we flew to Chicago on Thursday.

Roger and Debbie are “big-time” in their town of DeKalb, Illinois. Roger is the former city planner and Debbie was a retired professor from Northern Illinois University. Everyone knows them, as was clear from the 600 to 700 people who showed up to stand in line for over two hours at her visitation. Police offices, fire fighters, NIU professors, faculty and students, CPA professionals, friends of the couple and their two grown children, Tony and Megan. Even Starbucks baristas and T.J. Maxx employees came to show their respect and give condolences. Debbie was a proud Starbucks addict and an enthusiastic shopaholic!

To give you a glimpse into what kind of person Debbie was, here is a small excerpt of an article from the NIU website. To read the entire article GO HERE.


NIU Debra Hopkins


Obviously the loss of a family member is the heartache I mentioned at the beginning.

But that weekend in Illinois also brought immense joy! On Saturday, as we were all en-route to the funeral, our niece, Katie, went into labor with her first-born. Katie is the daughter of Dave’s middle brother, Tom and his wife, Beth. Katie’s due date was Sunday, so her mother strictly forbade her from coming to the visitation on Friday or the funeral on Saturday. (As much as a mother can forbid a grown daughter from doing anything!) As always (YES ALWAYS!) mother knows best, as Katie learned early that Saturday morning when her water broke.

As Dave and I sat in the church pew next to Dave’s mom, Tom and Beth and their middle daughter Mo, and her fiancée, Brandon. Our tears were mixed with the joy in our hearts and minds thinking of Katie laboring at the hospital with her husband Eddie at her side. Sweet Kory Ellen was born just hours later.

My favorite moment of that eventful day was when I opened my Facebook feed later that evening and found this posted by new first-time aunt, Mo.
mo fb  [


September 11, 2014   4 Comments

winner and a week off

RK Watermelon stick

We have a winner!

list of names

Kathy only submitted one comment, on the last day comments were accepted. Although she mentioned three recipes she liked, she only added a comment to the grilled fresh figs post and therefore had only one entry. Here is her comment:

foil protector

I just made this on Saturday and it could not have been easier or more delicious. This is my first blog reply even though I’ve followed you for 3 years. I’m torn between the Watermelon shaped rice Krispy treats that got me some major wow points (not before my friend’s Labrador got to them counter surfing during the 4 th of July party). Or the Best Broccoli ever – as I struggle for easy good vegetable dishes. I love your blog!

roasted garlic broccoli

cut them up

Her comment and her win confirm my long time belief that you only need to buy one lottery ticket to win the lottery. That being said, I appreciate each and every one of you who commented and participated in this contest whether with one comment or with all five!

all the names

A total of 23 of you played along.
There were 76 eligible comments.
Nine of you submitted 5 comments.
Seven of you submitted just 1 comment.
The remaining seven of you were somewhere between one and five comments.

in the pot

winner draw  (CLICK ON THIS LINK)

Above is a little video of the Trader Joe’s Crew member, Akeem, drawing the winner from the stockpot.

The great news is that although Kathy is the grand prize winner, all of you are winners! I will be sending each of you a prize. I would greatly appreciate it if you would email me at LPGourmett@aol.com with your mailing address so I can send you your prize. If I don’t hear from you in the next week, I’ll email you asking for your address.

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August 29, 2014   10 Comments

last chance bunco

You have only 8 hours left at a chance to win this great prize!

knife and apron

Eighteen of you are already in the running.

Amy G.
Amy K.
Amy S.

Ladies and gentleman, your names are already printed out and put in the stockpot, ready for the chance to be drawn out, later this evening, by an unsuspecting cashier at Trader Joe’s.

dining room

In other news, I hosted our Neighborhood Bunco last night. This was the first time in the fifteen years that we’ve lived here that I hosted.

breakfast room

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August 28, 2014   No Comments

cuban panini

Before we get to recipe #3 from the pork tenderloin in yesterday’s post, a quick update on The Give-Away. As of 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, we have 56 eligible entries and sixteen possible winners. Remember, you may comment up to five times and you have until tomorrow, Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. (PST) to enter. Click HERE to learn more.

knife and apron

Someone is going to win, don’t miss the chance … it may be you!

The third recipe from two pork tenderloins is a classic Cuban sandwich, minus the Cuban bread (French instead) and plus a panini press.

If you don’t own a press – no problem – a waffle iron (perfectly good) a grill pan (fine and dandy) or a skillet (better than nothing) all will work too.


The recipe makes four sandwiches, even though you only see three being made in the photos. That is because my panini press could only hold three sandwiches at a time. The fourth sandwich was made later.

Connor and I loved these sandwiches so much that we had them for dinner one night, then lunch the next day and dinner again that second night. In fact, I’m craving one as I type!

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August 27, 2014   1 Comment