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wrapped chicken & pear sandwiches

patio menu

The recipe for this second Fall Picnic sandwich is written differently then how I actually made it.

I’m giving you the recipe for the sandwich at its best. I changed it for the picnic by using chipotle mayonnaise and a cilantro dressing instead of plain mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette because I was already using balsamic vinegar on the first sandwich.

It is far better with the balsamic than it was with the cilantro.

wrapped sandwiches

For extra flair and fun, I wrapped and tied the center of the sandwiches with parchment and twine.

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November 21, 2014   No Comments

picnic sandwiches

sandwiches under the domes

The main course for the Fall Picnic was two types of sandwiches, the first, a pressed sandwich, the recipe is here today. The second, a chicken sandwich … I’ll post tomorrow.

pressed Italian sandwiches

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

  • 4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup black or green olive tapenade
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices Genoa salami
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 roasted red, yellow or orange bell peppers, sliced
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves


Spread bottom half of each ciabatta roll with tapenade.


In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and mustard and season with salt and pepper Drizzle the cut side of top half of each roll with the dressing.

meat layers

Arrange salami on top of tapenade, followed by the prosciutto.

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November 20, 2014   1 Comment

hot toddy and mulled wine

bird view

The weather has finally cooled down – to the lovely point of chilly! Since our Fall Picnic was held outside, as the best picnics are, I needed my signature cocktails to be hot.

picnic chalkboard

I made hot toddies and mulled wine. The wine is spicy and tasty, but the hot toddy – the hot toddy is the BOMB!

mighty leaf ginger twist tea

You’ll need tea bags for the toddy. I use my favorite Ginger Twist tea from Mighty Leaf Tea because apple and ginger are the absolute loveliest combination. Any tea you like will work just fine, from Breakfast to Earl Grey and beyond.

Along with the drink recipes, allow me show you the way I set up the buffet table.

plaid ice chest

Plaid was a big part of the theme, so this vintage Thermos brand oval cooler fit right in. I filled it with ice and placed bottles of “Butter” white wine inside and a couple of bottles of “Jam” red wine next to it. How perfect are Butter and Jam for a picnic?!?  By the way, the wines are made by Jam Cellars and I found them at Costco.

tiered server

In front of the cooler, sits a cute 3-step metal server filled with French radishes and salt, seedless grapes and cute mini white pumpkins.

buffet tables

  • Next to the cooler is a cloth-lined wicker picnic basket filled with herb plants.
  • The cork filled urn, with the candle in the middle, is my everyday centerpiece of this outdoor table, I left it since it fit right in.
  • A plaid tin filled with fresh flowers sits on an overturned vintage Pepsi crate along with my prized vintage plaid thermos. Mason jars were used to serve the drinks in because my plaid mugs are packed away with the Christmas stuff.
  • Wicker domes cover the main course sandwiches.

The tall plaid thermos was just a prop and not used for the cocktails, instead I had the wine in the smaller red thermos and the hot toddy in the green thermos.

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November 19, 2014   1 Comment

roasted mushroom soup

picnic basket

The only course I plated for the Fall Picnic was the soup, the rest of the meal was served buffet style. As a result, I didn’t get a decent photo of the soup. I’m going to try and make up for it with quite a few in-process cooking pictures and a bunch decor photos.

gather props

The first thing I do when I set about to create a theme for a party is to hunt and gather from around my house for decorating items. For this dinner party I was thinking – picnic baskets, blankets, thermoses, wicker, plaid, pumpkins and squash.


I had two main areas to decorate, the buffet table and the dinner table. We’ll get to the buffet table in a later post, today we’ll focus on the dinner table. I started with a plaid throw as the tablecloth and plaid salad plates.


The centerpiece was a rustic stand with fresh pumpkins and squash above and below, a garland of fall leaves, a couple of candles and my Bundt Pan Pumpkin from last year’s craft class.


Add in the setting sun…


… and it’s easy to have a pretty table!

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November 18, 2014   1 Comment

“Autumn Picnic” Dinner Party

deer lake sign

Do you remember my posts about Deer Lake in Canada? They were from July, 2013. Deer Lake is the gorgeous property owned by our friends, Paul and Kim Howard. Barb and Terry Fenzl, Dave and I, and the Howards had a wonderful week at the lake that summer. Afterwards, we talked about having a reunion dinner in our backyard. We were supposed to do that in the fall of 2013, but it didn’t happen.


When Barb, Kim and I were at Rancho la Puerta in September, we were talking and realized we still needed to have our reunion dinner. On Saturday night, we finally did!


I decided on a Fall Picnic theme and then I asked Kim to bring the appetizer and Barb to bring the dessert.

picnic chalkboard

All of the recipes will be posted in the coming week, with decorating ideas to boot.  Today, we’ll start with the salad.

apple and celery root salad with horseradish dressing

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November 17, 2014   2 Comments

Friday Funnies

Today, I start with my favorite Funny of the week and end with two that are very closely related and on the mark!




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November 14, 2014   2 Comments

panic attack

I am having a bit of a panic attack. I don’t want to give you one too, but…

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks from today!

If that wasn’t bad enough….

Christmas is 6 weeks from today!!!!

kims tins

  • How does this happen every single year?
  • How do these major holidays sneak up on me?
  • What the heck am I doing the other 10 months of the year that I can’t be better prepared?
  • Does this happen to you?

Above is a true sign of my full-blown attack – I start asking rapid fire questions in complete and utter disbelief!

Breathe! In and out. Slow and deep breaths.

OK, I’m going to gather myself and dive head first in the holiday season by showing you how I’m going to get crafty with a recent windfall that was bestowed on me.

My dear, very sweet, thoughtful and generous friend, Kim, is moving. She has dropped off goodies to me for a few weeks now. Love!

tins from kim

The other day she brought a box filled with tartlet and candy tin molds.

light string

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November 13, 2014   4 Comments

SF 10.0

drisco hh

Marissa moved to San Francisco on June 19, 2011. I figure I’ve visited her and written about my trips at least nine times in these last 3+ years. Hence the SF 10.0 title.

foggy bridge

The trip this past weekend was a wedding dress shopping trip. It was a success. We found the dress and had a glorious weekend, fog and all! (Do you see the Golden Gate peeking out in the background?)

pretty girls

Kaley, Marissa, Petra and I went to the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason, on Sunday afternoon.


There were so many wonderfully talented people selling unique, fun and beautiful things. Marissa and I each pick up a set of these adorable berry napkins, perfectly packaged in berry boxes and tied with twine. It’s all about the packaging!

ferry bldg

After the craft fair, the girls and I went to one of our favorite spots in the city, The Ferry Building.

1700 pounds

It was there that we ran across this enormous pumpkin named “Roxanne.” She won 2nd place in the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Competition, weighing in at 1707 pounds. Makes you wonder about the 1st place pumpkin!


Later that evening, Petra flew home to San Diego while Marissa, Kaley and I went to a new restaurant for dinner, Sons & Daughters. The Michelin one-star restaurant is not new, it has been open for four years, but it was new to us.

The menu is prix fixe and expensive. Very expensive. We enjoyed it, but there are so many terrific restaurants in San Francisco that don’t break the bank… I just can’t add it to my “highly recommended” list.

sons & daughter 5

Here are photos of our nine courses!

sons and daughters 4

The portions are tiny, but the meal is rich, satisfying and surprisingly filling.

cool plates

The beautiful and fun plates were almost as delicious as the food!

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November 12, 2014   2 Comments

wedding dress shopping in SF

white wedding dresses

Marissa and I, along with her maid-of-honor, Kaley, and two of her five bridesmaids, Petra and Jessica, went wedding dress shopping on Saturday.

We visited two bridal shops and although the girls and I thought Marissa looked beautiful in nearly every dress, we have yet to find The One.


Marissa’s attendants were so helpful in finding dresses to try on! I just sat back and watched as they helped her choose dozens of dresses. What I loved most was how open she was to their choices. I knew some were not her style, but she gave all the dresses a fair shot.

I am not permitted to show you Marissa in any of them, but these “bottom half” photos will give you a small glimpse into our Saturday.

4 dresses

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November 10, 2014   3 Comments

Friday Frustrations

You read it right, in place of the usual Friday Funnies – today I bring you Friday Frustrations.

Things that chap my hiney. Surprisingly, at the moment, I only have two. I shouldn’t say “at the moment” since these two things have chapped me for years.  Oh well, they are the things on my mind at the moment.


You can ask anyone who has ever been at the counter in a Starbucks with me and they will tell you that I am embarrassing to be with. I don’t drink coffee, so I always order the same thing in the same way.

“Good morning, welcome to Starbucks what may I make for you today?”

“Good morning, I’d like a medium non-fat iced chai tea latte with 4 cubes of ice, please.”

“OK, a grande non-fat iced chai tea latte, light ice.”

“Yes, but not just “light ice” – only 4 cubes of ice.”

“Your name?”


“That will be $4.43.”

Can you spot the embarrassing part? And I’m not talking about the fact that I refuse to use the word “grande” instead of “medium.”


Well, imagine what happens with I get a cup that is half filled with ice. If you’re looking to be embarrassed, stick around, things are about to get a little testy.

The reason for the “4 cubes of ice” is because I do not appreciate paying over $4.00 for a couple sips of the refreshing beverage and being left with a cup full of frozen water. No one needs that much ice in their drink!

ask me

Notice how smart the cashier of this particular order was?

“Ask me.”

I’m sure when the barista did ask, the cashier had a few choice words to go along with, “Yeah, she only wants 4 cubes of ice.”

But what the heck do I care what they think of me!?!

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November 7, 2014   8 Comments