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Posts from — July 2012

taquitos

I had hoped to post about our trip to San Francisco, but I haven’t been able to get all the photos formatted yet…  tomorrow… San Fran, I promise!

Until then, here is the quick and easy dinner I made for Connor and I, the night before we flew off to see Marissa.

Connor has always loved taquitos. You know – those thin, crunchy, nasty frozen sticks. He also adores Buffalo chicken wings.  I made these Buffalo taquitos just for him. A healthier (especially if you use low-fat cream cheese and sour cream) version of those fried greasy sticks!

A little side note: I brought home my tortillas, opened the package and there were only 9 tortillas! It clearly states on the package that there are 10 tortillas, but I only got nine.  What’s up with that? It makes me wonder if someone got hungry at the grocery store, opened the package and ate one, or if there was a miscount while packaging… hmmm?

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July 31, 2012   4 Comments

spa vinaigrette

As celebration for another great year at Les Gourmettes Cooking School, Barb treated me and Kim to a spa day. It was scheduled for early June, but I got food poisoning the night before and could not go with them. Barb, sweetly scheduled another date for after my summer classes at Les Petites Gourmettes, and she and I had a great time a week ago at the Willow Springs Spa at the Scottsdale Princess. After our treatments, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. We each ordered the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. It was your basic Cobb, with the exception of the the herb vinaigrette… which was outstanding.  I asked the waiter if the chef might be willing to share the recipe. I gave him my email, and sure enough, within an hour of arriving home, it popped into my inbox.

I cut the recipe he sent in half. You may want to cut in half again, it still makes over 3 cups, and although that is a lot, it is delicious on more than just salads. I drizzled it on hot fresh corn on the cob and as the dressing for a tomato-mozzarella salad. Both were fabulous.

You can wing it with the herb quantities if you don’t have a scale or just don’t feel like weighing everything, nothing has to be exact. Look at the photo I posted of all the herbs and it will give you a good idea of the amounts needed of each. I can tell you that 1.25-ounces of chives is two of those little herb boxes you get in the produce section. You can take it from there.

Thank you, Barb, for a relaxing and luxurious day – what a generous gift and treat! xoxo

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July 30, 2012   5 Comments

make this for breakfast this weekend…

… and thank me later.  Connor and I are in San Francisco this morning, with our sweet Marissa. We arrived last night and are ready for a fun-filled, big city, mom and kids, weekend!

Last weekend, I made these pancakes for Connor and Patrick, his Flagstaff roommate, who was down for the weekend. I started us all out with a stack of three each… which was two too many for me. Dang, this babies are rich! Be sure you have a tall glass of ice-cold milk to wash them down.

The inspiration to make them that morning was two-fold. Firstly, I had a bunch of overripe bananas to use (isn’t that always the case?) and secondly, when we were in Wisconsin, Jen’s boys kept pestering her to make her famous banana pancakes. Sadly, we never remembered to buy bananas when we went grocery shopping. Connor has never had Jen’s pancakes, so I felt obliged to serve them up. I make the call Jen to get her recipe, but since there is a two hour time difference, when she didn’t answer the phone, I figured they were already down at the lake. So, I winged it and they turned out pretty good, although I’d still like to get my hands on her version.

I have a cool website to share with you today. Did you know that you can find out where your milk and other dairy products come from? How cool is that!?

This Website allows you to type in a code from any dairy product. It then tells you where it’s from! Great to know where your milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, etc. is from and how far it had to be shipped to get to you. The code from the gallon of Fry’s brand milk that I typed in showed me that my milk came from the Tolleson Dairy, which is about 21 miles from my home.  Check it out for yourself and see where your milk products are coming from.

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July 27, 2012   2 Comments

maple + mustard = yum!

We love flank steak, it’s a favorite “go-to” meal at our house. I usually make THIS version, with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar.

For a change of pace, I tried something new, that was even easier. My boys – Dave, Connor, and my dad – gave it six thumbs up!

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July 26, 2012   3 Comments

…not your everyday tuna fish sandwich

I went to Costco yesterday with the sole purpose of buying a package of their fantastic ahi tuna. If they didn’t have any, I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner… I was craving ahi and ahi it was going to be… hopefully.

Connor came along with me and as we walked toward the back of the store, we passed an very tall older gentleman wearing a blue pinstripe seersucker suit. He was holding an extra-large reusable “cold” bag. You know, the insulated kind you take shopping to help keep your groceries cold on the way home. He was talking rather loudly and animated to the guy selling the cell phones. Not in a mean tone, just really loud and attention drawing.

On our way to the seafood, we got distracted by some cool maps we saw, and in the process, Mr Seersucker passed us by.  When we arrived at the seafood area, he was already there, filling his bag with salmon, crab legs, lobster tails, and more. Basically, he was just going down the aisle, putting one or two of every sort of seafood in his bag. As I scanned down the open refrigerator for the ahi, I walked past him. There it was, at the far end of the refrigerator, the ONE and ONLY package of ahi left. I snapped it up and put it in our cart. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Mr Seersucker, near the center of the long refrigerator, looking in my direction, he did not look pleased.

Connor and I headed to the bakery to get the rolls for our ahi sandwiches and I watched as Mr. Seersucker called over an employee and proceeded to ask him about finding some more ahi tuna for him. The employee shook his head, and told Mr. S. that no, there was no more ahi today.

Linda Scores with a mere second or two to spare! Sorry, Mr. Seersucker, the crab legs, lobster, and salmon will have to do.

The other thing from Costco that I used was this tasty Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce as my marinade. But use whatever sort of marinade you like, such as teriyaki sauce.

The ever-popular roasted raspberry-chipotle sauce would be a great choice too.

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July 25, 2012   3 Comments

the log mansion

I posted some photos of our trip to Wisconsin on Facebook and my sister commented, “I would like to see pictures of the rest of the house! It looks so pretty!”  Although I’ve spoken of the cabin and posted a few pictures before, today I will fulfill her wish and show you the whole thing.

One reason I call Jeff and Jen’s vacation home a log mansion, is because it is drop-dead gorgeous.  And the other is because my husband, Dave, grew up with a simple and modest vacation log cabin in northern Wisconsin. It was built by his dad, several years before Dave was born, and sadly it was sold in 1987. I stayed there one time, in 1986, when Dave and I were first dating. And next to it, J & J’s is truly a mansion – even Dave’s mom agrees!

The Hopkins’ cabin was originally without running water (there was only a hand pump), no inside bathroom – instead an outhouse (as seen above from a 2007 photo, and NO, I never went in there!). No heat besides what the fireplace provided. And no electricity until the mid 1960′s. Once the electricity was in, the pump became electric and a bathroom was added. But as Dave told me, “Even then, when we lost electricity due to storms, it could be out for days at a time. I remember one time it was out for at least 3 days. So we still had to revert to using the hand pump, and the outhouse, and that is why we kept the kerosene lamps and the gas refrigerator and stove.”

This photo of the Hopkins’ cabin was taken in 1955.

And this one was taken in 2007, the first summer we spent a week at Jeff and Jen’s. We drove over to show Marissa and Connor the mystical place their dad always told them about… “the cabin in the North Woods.”

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July 24, 2012   3 Comments

summer fresh pasta

After driving by literally hundreds of farms and thousands of acres of corn fields in Minnesota and Wisconsin, during our vacation to the North Woods, I’ve had corn on my mind.  I took dozens of photos of as many of the charming farms and barns as I could, as we sped by in our rental car.  We even came upon a flock of wild turkey on the side of the road.  I made Dave turn the car around so I could get a picture.  They took flight just as I clicked the shutter.  That, and more barn pictures are at the end of this post.

The first meal I made when we returned home was this pasta with shrimp and fresh corn off the cob.

Even though the pasta is in a cream sauce, it is still lite and perfect for a summer supper. Instead of clam juice, I used some lobster stock I had in the freezer (the continuation of my perpetual freezer clean-out!) and wow, did it make a delicious sauce! And that is the reason my sauce is a little darker than yours will be if you use clam juice.

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July 23, 2012   2 Comments

new easier taco salad

Initially, I was going to label this “new and improved” taco salad. But after going back and looking at the original taco salad I posted in November, 2010, I determined that it isn’t improved, just different, and a whole lot easier!

I love this dressing, it is so smooth and creamy. Feel free to add whatever else you’d like to the salad toppings; black beans, diced red or green onion, and pickled jalapenos are just a few things that come to mind.

I used the multi-grain Tostitos Scoops as my chips of choice. Connor thought that was a waste of the perfectly formed Scoops, so I dumped out the package and picked out all the broken pieces, so we wouldn’t waste a single “Scoop”!  Then I had the brilliant idea of making Individual Taco Salad Bites as a party appetizer. If you decide to make these cuties for your next party – be sure  to chop the lettuce finer, place the shredded cheese in the “Scoop” first, then the rest of the ingredients and fill at the last minute to keep them from getting soggy too quickly.

I used some of this delicious Jalapeno Olive Oil that I’d bought last year at The Olive Press store which was located inside the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma, California. But any olive oil you have or prefer will do nicely.

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July 20, 2012   1 Comment

clean as a whistle and shiny as a new penny!

Remember, way back when (as in April 2010), I got new carpeting? My house looked like THIS!  All of the furniture and stuff that was on the carpeted portions of the house got moved onto the marble tile portions of the house. And the new carpet was installed. It was a joyous occasion!

Then do you remember when about a month ago, in a super-long post, I told you all about “a day in the life” of the cooking school and I said,

“The only solution is to have my marble floors stripped and polished, once classes are over at the end of the month.  Now those are before-and-after photos I promise to show you!”

… remember?  Well, the time has come.

Upon our return from a relaxing and rejuvenating two-week vacation at our BFF’s log cabin (which is really more like a log mansion) in Wisconsin, I moved all of the furniture and stuff that was on the marble tile portions of the house onto the carpeted portions of the house, and the next day the floor guys came and did their magic.

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July 19, 2012   5 Comments

pop pop

This is the final entry of my quick and easy party food ideas for the week… and it may be the easiest of them all. Only four ingredients that take only minutes to assemble and bake.

Get the kids to help and put them together, assembly-line style, and you’ll be chowing down on these puppies in less than 20 minutes. 

Tip: I always keep cooked bacon pieces in my freezer. Anytime a recipe calls for bacon that is chopped and cooked crisp, I will cook up a full pound, use what I need, and place the rest in a freezer-ziplock bag. Then when you need a small amount, such as for these poppers, you just pull out what is needed.  Perfect for a quick omelet any morning of the week too.

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July 18, 2012   2 Comments