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Posts from — December 2011

toast and roast

Happy New Year’s Eve! I offer up a toast, to you, followers of this blog. Thank you for another wonderful year and here’s to an even better 2012!

We are having a NYE Brunch today, I’ll post some recipes and pictures next week. Until then, please stay safe… and if you live in Arizona and are going out tonight, remember that AAA Arizona offers a NYE “tipsy tow” service. It is a free one-way ride and tow home, up to 10 miles, for drivers and one passenger, who have been drinking. It is open to everyone, not just AAA members. CLICK HERE to learn more!

This delicious pork roast recipe and the beef tenderloin recipe that I’ll be posting in the new year, are both from the fabulous Bruce Aidells and were featured in this month’s issue of Bon Appétit.  I did make one major and one minor adjustment to the pork recipe. Mr Aidells’ version used a double rack of pork and I used a boneless pork roast. And the original used oranges, whereas I’ve used tangerines.

Wishing you a safe and festive New Year’s Eve!

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December 31, 2011   2 Comments

spicy pumpkin

You may recall that I used a bunch of pie pumpkins in my Thanksgiving table setting and on my kitchen island fall display. Soon after Thanksgiving, I roasted those pumpkins and froze the flesh – with the knowledge that I’d be making pumpkin soup for Christmas.

This recipe serves eight, so you will only need 2 small pumpkins, but since I had five to work with, I more than doubled the recipe.

For the garnish I used THESE sweet and spicy pepitas, but toasted pepitas (readily found at Trader Joe’s) work just as well.

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December 30, 2011   3 Comments

double duty

I found this recipe in an issue of Bon Appétit three or four years ago and tucked it away. When I stumbled upon it right after Thanksgiving, I knew it would be a perfect side for the pork roast I planned to serve on Christmas Eve. Not only because the flavors would compliment the pork so well, but also because I had a kabocha squash and a butternut squash laying around that I had used in my Thanksgiving table decor. I’d also used several pie pumpkins in the decor that I’d already roasted and frozen for use in a pumpkin soup I planned to serve. It is so gratifying when you can use such gorgeous vegetables twice… first to decorate and then to eat!

Just as with yesterday’s post, this dish my also be prepared a full day in advance. Assemble completely in the baking dish, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before baking.

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December 29, 2011   4 Comments

Christmas side #1

This is one of the two side dishes we had for Christmas Eve dinner to accompany a pork roast.  I also served a pumpkin and chipotle soup. The soup, the second side, and the pork recipes will be posted in the next couple of days, but this corn pudding was, by far, the favorite dish of the night!

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December 28, 2011   1 Comment

a very merry…

Merry Christmas

I usually post a vintage image for each holiday, but for this Christmas how, about a photo recipe? Only a photo… no actual recipe to needed.  I’ll be serving this during our appetizer happy hour today. Isn’t it pretty and perfectly festive? [Read more →]


December 25, 2011   No Comments

a gift for…

… me!!!  Yes, it’s true that yesterday I received a Christmas gift from me for me. I bought myself a grape hod! You ask, “What is a grape hod?” It is a metal or woven basket that was used in the vineyards of France to gather grapes. The vineyard worker would strap the hod on his back during the harvest and gently toss the picked grapes over his shoulder and into the hod.

Two summers ago when we were in Wisconsin staying with our friends, Jeff and Jen, Jen and I went to our favorite home decor store in town of Minocqua. It was there that we spotted a gorgeous vintage grape hod that was hanging on the wall filled with a gorgeous floral arrangement. We fell in love on site, but when we saw the price tag – well, let’s just say that it was a couple thousand dollars out of our price range. CLICK HERE to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

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December 24, 2011   No Comments

super green soup

It is officially Christmas time in the Hopkins’ home. Connor drove home from Flagstaff on Wednesday afternoon, Marissa flew in from San Francisco yesterday afternoon, and Dave’s mom, Pat, flew in from Illinois last night. The gang’s all here, time to celebrate! Nothing like a nice hot bowl of soup to get the party started, well that and a glass of wine…

When you taste this creamy, thick, and rich soup you will swear that is it loaded with cream and fat… but no, the only fat comes from 2 tablespoons olive oil and that is divided by 12 servings, so nearly fat-free!

And the color, oh it is lovely – thanks to the last second addition of a bunch of spinach leaves. Check out this photo of the soup with and without the addition of spinach, just to show you the lovely transformation the spinach makes to the end result.

Healthy? Oh this soup is plenty healthy… cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach – on my! Plus it uses the usually discarded broccoli stalks. I almost never discard broccoli stalks, they are flavor-packed and delicious! For instance, when I stir-fry, I use a vegetable peeler on the tough outer part of the stalk and then slice them up and throw them in the wok. No need to peel the stalks for the soup, they will get plenty tender during the simmering stage.

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December 23, 2011   2 Comments

house tour

Thank you for all your sweet comments about my Christmas dining room and “tablespape” which I posted yesterday. That’s right, I misspelled “tablescape” in my post title and not a soul told me until sweet Amy finally left a comment at 12:30… which I didn’t find right away, so I wasn’t able to correct my error until 2:30. Embarrassing!  Please, please, please, always feel free to point out my mistakes and alert me to my missed spell-checks, I will sincerely appreciate it. Thank you Amy! (of Amy’s Famous Taco Soup)

Now how about we check out the rest of the house – all dolled up for Christmas? Come on in and let me fix you a drink from my sweet little “retro bar” set-up. First things first!

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December 22, 2011   9 Comments

Christmas tablescape

This is my Christmas dining room. I was planning on showing you the whole house, but I took too many photos, so just the dining room for today.

I own more than a dozen patterns of dishes, but these are my holiday favorite. They were my parents’ wedding pattern. Over the years, my mother disliked them more and more. So when they divorced in 1981, she left them with my dad and he gave them to me. They are Mikasa Fine China in the Shasta Pine pattern. I love them, especially the square salad plate.

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December 21, 2011   7 Comments

Christmas cards and decorations

If you usually receive a Christmas card from me, it should arrive today or tomorrow. And there is one person to thank for that… my friend, Tram Mai. There is no way I would have gotten it done if Tram had not had an ingenious party this past Sunday. (I’m a bad influence, I helped convinced her to name the party this… and I don’t mean the cute “mai” part, I mean the honest “s**t” part).

Yup, she invited friends over at 11:00 AM for a pot-luck “work” party. Bring whatever project you haven’t had time to do… or have been procrastinating on (that would be the cards, in my case) and get it done!

So I packed up my cards, envelopes, Christmas letter, mailing list, and THIS Orzo Salad and headed over. While enjoying wonderful food, including a fabulous polenta smothered mushroom and onion sauce made by Tram’s husband, Steve, I knocked out 75+ cards! All hand addressed, signed, stuffed, and sealed. The dreaded cards were the Achilles’ heel for three of us, but we got them done.

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December 20, 2011   5 Comments