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sausage to the rescue

sleep baby

I have a confession. It is really hard to get back into the swing of cooking and cleaning and real-life after nearly 3 weeks of being out-of-town and having company. I have no drive or motivation to do … ANYTHING!

Dave is knee-deep in tax season, so we are like ships in the night.

Connor works from 2:30 PM to midnight, five to six days a week, so he’s rarely home for dinner.

sleep kitten

And although I didn’t have jet-lag in the usual sense, I now realize that although I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night…. I am tired all day long!

sleepy sloth

I mean, when 3:30 or 4:00 hits each afternoon… I’m ready for bed! It takes all my power to stay up. Seriously, I feel like I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open! I think the latest I’ve hit the sack since our house-guests left is 8:00 PM. My usual bedtime is 10:30 or 11:00.

Enough of my first-world woes. I did get somewhat inspired by a package of sausage, of all things.


It’s really good sausage! Aidells sausage from Costco. And one of my favorite flavors ~ Habanero with Pepper Jack!

I went on the Aidells website and found a recipe to zip up to our liking. Here is one of the two sausage dishes we had for dinner on Sunday night…

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March 31, 2014   2 Comments

chowder time!


I can not begin to tell you how difficult I find it to even think about decorating this house for fall. It is still in the high 90′s during the day. Even attempting to place a real pumpkin outside would be asking for disaster.

At least the mornings and late evenings are finally cooling off to the low 70′s. That helps a little.

Plus, one of my favorite areas to decorate for the season is the front entry.

Last year it looked like this…


Today, it looks like this.

fall 2013 entry

Hmm, at least the “caution” cones are a bright pumpkin orange. That might be all the entry decorating we get this year.

No matter ~ I vow to dig out the fall and Halloween decorations today and then do something with them.

The morning and evening cooler temps did instill in me the urge to make a double batch of yummy fresh corn chowder. A double batch because I wanted to share with my very generous neighbor, Cheryl.

You see…..

A few days ago, Cheryl anonymously dropped off culinary treasures at my front door (yes, she tromped through the dirt to get there). I don’t know for sure if she meant for the gift to be anonymous, but I wasn’t home and she left it with Connor.

Not surprisingly, Connor had no idea who Cheryl was, all he said when I ask who dropped it off was, “I don’t know, she was thin and pretty.”

Oh, thanks Connor, that describes all my neighbors!

After a little detective work on my part, Cheryl fessed up.

Cheryl's crafts

This is Cheryl at the Christmas Crafts Class back in December 2012. On that note – watch for info tomorrow about my upcoming Fall Crafts & Decor Class …

So what was the culinary treasure that Cheryl gifted me with?

Homemade Croissants!

There were three of them!
Connor was home … so coincidentally there were three of us.
I ate one, and immediately hid the other two – eventually eating all three.
Connor did not know what was wrapped in the towel he had accepted.
Dave never knew they even existed.
They were mine. All mine. And they were delicious!
Thank you, Cheryl!

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September 30, 2013   6 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



On the second day after Christmas, we had no food left in the house.  OK, we had food, but nothing much to make for dinner. All I could scrounge up was the ham bone from HoneyBaked left from Christmas Eve. It had less than a cup of meat left on it.

ham bone

What to do?

I dug around and found a package of diced pancetta with an expiration date of 12/29/12. Score!

I had a few potatoes, a bell pepper, a chunk of cheddar cheese, and some leftover mushrooms that would soon be going south. Hey, this might constitute a meal, after all!

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December 28, 2012   1 Comment


The first time I stepped foot into America’s Taco Shop, I was completely sold! It was back in February when Tram and I first dropped in during a full afternoon of shopping on 7th Avenue in the Melrose District. And the most recent time I was lucky enough to eat at America’s was this past weekend, with Kim, and yes… we were shopping again.

In addition to the signature tacos, Kim and I shared an “extra” – America’s Corn (sweet white corn, lite mayo, cotija cheese, chili, and lime).

This is how it was served, which would be perfect for one. But since we were sharing, I began to use a little plastic knife to cut the kernels from the cob so we could eat the corn with chips. A server walked by and said it could be ordered off the cob too, so he took it back to the kitchen and cut the kernels off for us (most likely with a metal knife!) Wow! It is terrific – so terrific in fact – that I made it at home for my guys… who loved it too.

Cotija (pronounced ko-TEE-hah) cheese  is a hard, crumbly Mexican cheese made  from cow’s milk. Named after the town of Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It can be hard to find in all grocery stores, so a good substitute is either Parmigiano-Reggiano or feta. I used Parmesan.

The mayo-slathered corn is a common street food you’ll find being sold on corners throughout Mexico.

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September 25, 2012   1 Comment

shrimp sausage pasta

Back in early June, I told you how I was going to join a CSA.  Well, I did, and I was able to pick up a box of fresh Crooked Sky Farm produce every Thursday morning for the past eight weeks. What fun it was to be surprised by the bounty I received.

For the last four weeks of the eight, there was fresh corn. Corn is one vegetable we never get tired of. This is one of the many “easy-breezy” dishes I created to use up all that corn. Of course, many a night, it was plain old corn on the cob, always a wonderful summer-time treat!

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August 12, 2012   3 Comments

Tarbell’s knockoff

Mark Tarbell and Tarbell’s are one the many chef friends/restaurants that I follow on Facebook. A great side benefit to following these talents is that they sometimes post what is on special for dinner that night. When it looks tempting, I can hurry up and make reservations… or if we don’t feel like going out… I can try and duplicate the dish for my own knock-off “special of the day”.

This was the case late last week when I saw Tarbell’s post above.  It reads:

“A new week, a new Mr. Fish! Nantucket Sea Bass with a stew of sweet corn, summer squash, and Napa cabbage is topped with a cured tomato relish. We’re loving the veggies we’re getting from local Crooked Sky Farms!

It is a big recipe, but after not posting a recipe for a full week, a big recipe is called for!

I didn’t have sea bass, but I did have halibut. Additionally, I didn’t want to cure tomatoes for the relish, so instead I used sun-dried tomatoes as the base. Following is the delectable result.

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August 9, 2012   2 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

Crooked Sky Farms

Guess what I got to do on Friday morning?!?  I got to go on a private farm tour! So how did this lucky event come along for me?  As usual, it’s all in who you know. 

I met Jennifer Woods back in October 2011, when Peggy and I attended that super cool dinner at The Accidental Yard – CLICK HERE to read all about it. Jennifer is a full time mom to Patrick who is 5 and two-year-old Gretchen (pictured above), a contributor to Chow Bella (CLICK HERE to read just one of the nice articles Jennifer has written about me), and the Marketing Manager for Crooked Sky Farms. Yeah, Jennifer has a full plate!

Anyhow, Jennifer emailed me a week or so ago and asked if I’d like to tour the farm. Would I? Heck, YES!!  There was supposed to be a group of us but the others rescheduled (maybe because they looked at the forecast and noticed that Friday’s high was supposed to be 112 degrees!).  So I met Jennifer and her two adorable, outgoing, well-mannered, articulate, farm-enthusiast kids at the farm at 8:00 AM.

We jumped in the Gator, which looked something like this, but without the hay in the back, and headed out into the fields.

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June 2, 2012   3 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