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lobster + eggs = indulgence

I made Connor a special breakfast to celebrate his birthday. As I’ve mentioned before, Connor loves lobster!


This lobster dinner, 13 years ago in Maine, was to celebrate his birthday too.

lobster soft scrambled eggs

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May 25, 2013   5 Comments

birthday boy and his cake

opening presents

Happy 22nd Birthday to my fabulous son, Connor!

Please know that even though I’m not with you today, you are in my heart and on my mind.  I love you from here to the moon and back! xoxo

wish made

Here is the classic and easy to make chocolate sheet cake I made for my boy. With lots of pictures showing each step. I was camera happy this day!

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May 24, 2013   4 Comments

baby sister birthday wishes

6e-Gennine's 1st bday

Today is Sloane’s birthday. She is my baby sister by 5 1/2 years. I may have mentioned before that all four of us siblings are adopted. I vividly remember the day we brought her home.

4jj-bring Gennine home 5:66

I had an older brother and a younger brother but I wanted… no, I Needed… a baby sister! I was so proud and excited to be getting a baby girl, of my very own! As you can see in the picture above with us standing in front of the Catholic Social Services building, I was all business and raring to get her home. I can’t tell what all I’m holding there, but it looks as though I’m taking the responsibility designated to me, quite seriously!

5l-Gennine 11 months

Before Sloane turned one, we had new puppies too!

4ff-Gennine footies puppies

There’s nothing better than a new baby and new puppies!

5d-Gennine 1st Chistmas

At least, not when you’re the six year old big sister! Pictured L to R: Dennis age 7 1/2, Andy age 2 1/2, Linda age 6, and Sloane age 6 months.

6p-Christmas '69 Gennine and Linda

I love you, Sloane!


Then, now, and forever!

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April 30, 2013   9 Comments

birthday twins

Happy Birthday to two of my dearest friends. Two women whom I adore.

Their birthdays are only two years apart, but I won’t reveal who is older or their exact ages.

Let’s just say that one is a tiny bit more than decade younger than me and the other is just less than a decade behind me.

Yeah, they’re young and they are both gorgeous, inside and out!

bday girls

You may not be able to see, but they are both in the image above. You can easily see that I am cooking with Tram Mai on the old Valley Dish. We are making Amy’s Famous Taco Soup. Because it is Amy’s recipe, I’d brought along a framed photo of Amy and her family… you can barely see it down in the lower right corner of the image.  Can you see it?

Since then, Amy and Tram have been together at my house a couple of times, but unfortunately, I’d never gotten a photo of them together, so until I do, this will have to do!


Before our mutual friend, Lori, moved to Chicago, we used to celebrate Amy (on the right) and Lori’s (center) birthdays together.

Happy Birthday, Amy! I love you!


linda and tram

This fun photo was taken in August 2010 when Tram invited me to cook with her on stage at Phoenix Cooks. Good times!

Happy Birthday, Tram! I love you!

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March 21, 2013   6 Comments


mishmash: noun \’mish-mash, -mäsh\

  1. A collection containing a variety of miscellaneous things.
  2. hodgepodge, jumble
  3. A popular Bulgarian summer dish made with tomatoes, peppers, onion, feta cheese, eggs, and fresh herbs.

That is what today’s post is; a mishmash of items. Plus a recipe for Mish Mash!

First and foremost I want to wish a Very Happy Birthday to my dear friend and former neighbor, Lori Vento.

Lori is pictured below, doing what she does best, looking beautiful and giving back to others! This is a photo from when she generously hosted one of many charity events at her home … while posing with two little angels.


Lori, her sweet husband Jonathan, and their gorgeous daughter Kylie, moved to Chicago nearly 2 years ago. I miss them so much! Kylie is attending college in Michigan, while Lori and Jonathan are now doing business and living in Tokyo … temporarily. I hope Jonathan has some very special Japanese plans today for Lori’s big day! I wish I could be there to celebrate with her. But sending my love, admiration, and thoughts across the miles and through the cyberspace will have to suffice. xoxo

Secondly, let’s talk about stress and old people!
Stress and Crazy Old People!

I’m quite certain I haven’t previously mentioned the fact that my mom has Alzheimer’s. Fact is, she does.

When I say Crazy Old People, from here on out referred to as CrOP, I’m not only referring to the Alzheimer’s because, trust me, my mom has been crazy for my entire life! Ask anyone who has known me for more than a few years and who has met my mom, they will confirm that I’m not being mean when I say so, it just is!


Anyhow, my sister, Sloane, and I (more so Sloane, than I, until recently) have been dealing with trying to convince our mom and her husband, Bill (her 3rd husband, by the way) to move into assisted-living. Mom turned 78 on March 8 and Bill turned 90 in February. We believe that Bill has Alzheimer’s as well, he is being tested for it next week. They need more help than we can provide!

Sloane and I found the place and had the lease papers drawn up yesterday. We then took the papers to their house to have signed. We stayed and packed for several hours while the two CrOP, followed us around and repeated themselves and asked the same questions over and over and over for the ENTIRE time!

In the middle of that, while removing and packing up thousands of dusty framed photos from a dusty floral wallpapered hallway, I cut open my wrist on a nail that was invisibly protruding from said nasty floral wallpaper. It would not stop bleeding. It made me nauseous to look at. I finally got it under control and now it just aches. Anyhow, at one point in the middle of all that fun, Bill actually said to me, “You know that you and your sister will be going to heaven for this!” Amen to that!

OK, enough of that drama and downer news. Back to some more fun and uplifting mishmash!


The next fun thing – my horoscope for today – it is spot on! I am working like a fiend on “the space around me,” so this horoscope must be correct. The final full sentence, you can not see, is “Beautiful changes are coming.” I believe that indeed they are!

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March 12, 2013   3 Comments

pocket fold napkins

napkins with flowers tucked in

I received several emails from readers who wanted to know how to make the pocket fold on the napkins I used for Peggy’s birthday dinner.

fold in hlaf again

Making them is easy as can be.  Here is your step-by-step guide.

right side up

1. Spread the napkin right side up on a flat surface.

fold in half

2. Fold the bottom of napkin up, in half, to meet the top edge.

fold down

3. Take the top layer and fold it down to the fold line on the bottom edge. The top layer will now have a fold line along the center of the napkin.

flip over

4. Carefully turn the napkin over. Be certain that it stays folded.

fold one side to middle

5. Fold over the left side of the napkin to the center.

fold other side to middle

6. Now fold the right side of the napkin in, to meet the left side, in the center of the napkin.

fold in hlaf again

7. Fold the napkin in half so that the two sides meet.

8. Tuck flatware or flowers or a menu card or whatever you’d like into the pocket.

Ta-dah – that’s all there is to it!

Sadly, this is the very last birthday party post. How about a few final photos of the fun night?

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March 4, 2013   1 Comment

the dessert table


For dessert, I put out a pink-candy sweets tower, a gorgeous pink birthday cake, and individual mini Bourbon-Butterscotch Puddings.

pink candy

I bought the birthday cake from Honey Moon Sweets, a bakery in Tempe that my sister uses all the time. Sloane is the wedding and special event coordinator at The Buttes Resort in Tempe. Birthday cakes were also ordered from Honey Moon Sweets for My Dad’s 80th birthday party and for my 50th Surprise Party.

blow those candels

I requested a pink obmre ruffle layered cake like one I’d seen on Pinterest, and the pastry chef at Honey Moon Sweets made it exactly as I imagined it would be. So Pretty!

mini flare

The pudding recipe came from Bon Appétit. I doubled it and used mini-flare dessert dishes instead of ramekins, otherwise I made it exactly as it was written.

anne and her peeps

Anne, Lorraine, Connor, Peggy, Stevo, Samme, and Natalie – happy after enjoying dessert!

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March 3, 2013   4 Comments

the birthday dinner

dinner plate

For our sit-down birthday dinner we had stuffed pork loin, green onion and Parmesan mashed potatoes, and a cold succotash side dish. The potatoes and the succotash have been posted here before, there are links to those recipes near the bottom of this post.

Peggy is not a big fan of beef. Occasionally, she’ll indulge in a hamburger, but put of plate with beef tenderloin in front of her and she turns her nose up at it. (I know, sometimes I think there is something wrong with that girl!)

It was a blessing when you’re feeding 25 people, though! Beef tenderloin would have been on the expensive side, to say the least. But a pork loin – now that is doable!


I was initially planning to use pork tenderloin, but when I compared the price of the loin to the tenderloin – well that made the decision for me. I purchased two huge pork loins at Costco, they were about $18.00 each.

This recipe would work just as well using beef tenderloin, so choose whichever you prefer. If you can’t find Manchego cheese, use Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack instead.

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March 2, 2013   1 Comment

first course

The table before dinner…


… and during dinner.

party people

We started with Rosé champagne and a toast to the birthday girl.

Peggy’s brother, Mark, made the first toast – and her brother, Vince, said grace.

As we enjoyed our first course salad – many of the guests toasted sweet Peggy. When Peggy got up to speak… well, there wasn’t a dry eye at the table.


Peggy and her gorgeous kids; clockwise – Peggy, Stevo, Samme, and Natalie.


Quinoa Salad with Baby Greens, Summer Fruit, and Herbs

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March 1, 2013   5 Comments

appetizer buffet

For some strange reason – while making 13 different recipes in two days (eight appetizers,  four recipes for the sit-down dinner, and one recipe for the dessert table) I didn’t manage to take even one cooking photo. Imagine, too busy to stop and take pictures of the process!


Oh well, I did manage to get pretty decent photos of the food on the table itself, at least for the appetizers, which is what I present to you today. Some of these are new recipes which I’ll provide here and others are recipes I’ve previously posted. For those, click on the link to take you the original post.

Here we go….


Brie with Pears and Brandy

12 to 16-ounce wheel Brie cheese, cold
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large Bosc or Red Anjou pears, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus rosemary sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
8 walnut halves

Slice cheese wheel in half crosswise; set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add diced pears, and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in brandy, and cook 1 minute more. Add rosemary, and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and spread pear mixture over bottom half of cheese wheel, reserving 2 tablespoons mixture for garnish. Transfer cheese to serving plate.

Return skillet to stove, and heat balsamic vinegar and honey until simmering. Simmer mixture until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.

Pour half the glaze over the bottom half of the cheese with the pear mixture; top with remaining half of cheese wheel and top with the 2 tablespoons reserved pears. Drizzle with remaining glaze, and garnish with walnut halves and rosemary. Serve immediately.


Blue Cheese-Apricot Bites

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup crumbled Roquefort, room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
32 dried apricots
Snipped fresh rosemary

In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add walnuts and sugar; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly toasted. Stir in rosemary; cook and stir for 30 seconds more. Transfer nuts to a foil-lined baking sheet; cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine Roquefort cheese and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Spoon about 3/4 teaspoon of the cheese mixture on top of each dried apricot. Sprinkle with nuts. If desired, garnish with additional fresh rosemary.

Makes 32

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February 28, 2013   3 Comments