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Frico with Smoked Paprika Aioli and a birthday wish


Chef/Restauranteur and longtime friend, Mark Tarbell of Tarbell’s Restaurant, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes on Monday and Tuesday nights. His menu was inspired, fun, and delicious. The first course was Frico with Smoked Paprika Aioli.

frico round

Frico, is an Italian savory food, typical of Friuli, in the northeastern tip of Italy, which consists of a thin crisp wafer of shredded cheese, baked or fried until crisp. The customary cheeses used include Montasio, Parmesan or mozzarella. Mark used Montasio cheese, but Parmesan is easier to find and works just as well.

I’ve sung the praises of smoked paprika or pimentón many times here before. I don’t know why I didn’t think of making a pimentón mayonnaise – brilliant!

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February 26, 2014   4 Comments

non-traditional Labor Day potato salad

Today is my Aunt Patty’s 60th birthday. Patty is the youngest of eight in the family where my mom is the oldest. My mom was 18 when Patty was born and she married my dad in November of that same year.

pattys cake

We celebrated yesterday with a birthday party at my Uncle Mike and Aunt Silvia’s lovely home. This is the cake that my sister, Sloane, had made at Honey Moon Sweets, for the occasion. The following recipe is one the two salads I brought. The other salad will be posted tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Patty!

And a very Happy Labor Day to all of you.

potato veg salad

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September 2, 2013   2 Comments

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   5 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