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easy olives for a tapas bar

mixed olive stuff

If you’re anything like me, you have a variety of open olive jars in your refrigerator. And if so, then this recipe if for you!

I had partial jars of stuffed olives, pitted olives, black olives, green olives, and olives with the pits still inside. Any and all of those can be used here.

So clean out your fridge and make a great addition to a tapas bar at the same time.

small servers

Tapas Bar Olives

16-ounces of a variety of olives
3 long slices of orange peel
4 fresh bay leaves
1 small hot red pepper, cut to thin circles
Olive oil

tapa bar olives

Place a third of the olives in a large jar with a tight fitting lid. Add an orange peel strip, a bay leaf, and a couple of pepper slices to the olives.


Top with another third of the olives, another bay leaf and a few more pepper slices.

to the top

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April 24, 2014   No Comments

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

This easy and super pop-pop-popular tapa has only three ingredients and takes only a couple of minutes to throw together.

3 ingredients

Sometimes the Spanish chorizo can be difficult to find. I found it at Cost Plus World Market.

Chorizo Filled Dates  in Bacon

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Spanish chorizo sausage, casing removed
14 Medjool dates, pitted
7 slices thick-cut bacon, halved crosswise

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.


Make an incision in one side of each date and remove the pit. Discard the pits and set aside the pitted dates.

Cut the chorizo sausage into 14 little sticks about twice the size of the pits you removed.

stuff with chorizo

Tuck a chorizo stick into each date and pinch the dates closed. Wrap a half strip of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick.




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April 23, 2014   1 Comment

vinegar-free vinaigrette

Last week, Chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink, Bink’s Midtown, and Bink’s Scottsdale, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes. Kevin is once again up for the James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Southwest. Fingers are crossed!

Everything he made was, of course, amazing! The thing that I really enjoyed though was a simple, thick, tangy, creamy vinaigrette made without any vinegar. Strange but true and truly delicious.

strawberry arugula salad

Kevin served the vinaigrette over a salad of arugula, strawberry slices, goat cheese and pistachios. I’ll be serving the same salad for our Easter dinner on Sunday.

Speaking of Easter Sunday, if you haven’t colored your eggs yet, hold off one more day because tomorrow I’m posting a new way to decorate eggs and a bunch of Easter Menu ideas.

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April 16, 2014   1 Comment

snack attack

chipotle powder

This is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that I modified. These nuts are addicting… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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April 9, 2014   1 Comment


My life is spiraling out of control, out of my control. Others are currently pulling the strings. As a result I have nothing new to blog about so today I’m giving you a Throwback Thursday.

blackberry gin & tonic

Today is a special day for my longtime friend… who also was a bridesmaid in my wedding some 28 years ago …. today is her birthday.


The two cocktails and appetizer in THIS POST are what I served when we had Birthday Girl Karen and her husband, Bob, over for dinner last year about this time.

Karen & Bob * G&T's

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February 27, 2014   1 Comment

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

slow cooker potato soup

slow cooker soup

This is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do!” recipes.

Last night I decided to throw some potatoes, onion, and broth in my slow cooker to make a no-fuss potato soup for the next day.

It turned out to be a huge fuss. All because I wasn’t thinking about exactly how my particular slow cooker works.

I set it on “low” for 4 hours. Which would have been just fine, perfect in fact. I later went to bed. During the middle of the night, I rolled over and woke slightly to smell the delicious soup simmering away as the comforting aroma of soup wafted into my room. Fabulous.

Problem was, I forgot that my slow cooker switches to “keep warm” after the 4 hours is up. So for an additional 4 hours or so, the darn thing kept cooking the soup. Overcooking it, actually.

too brown

When I woke this morning and went to look in on it, it was still lightly simmering and it was dark… so dark!

Please learn from my mistake. If you know your slow cooker turns OFF when it is done, fine. If it switches to “keep warm,” be sure to be around (or at least awake) to turn it off.

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January 29, 2014   No Comments

lucky peas

I served this dip on New Year’s Eve. It is my version of a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

black-eyed pea dip

It is good!

It may not be the prettiest thing ever, but what do you expect? It’s bean dip!

If eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is lucky, then it must be lucky the other 364 days of the year too.

Plus you only need to use and wash 2 measuring cups, a bowl, a fork and a baking dish to make and serve it. Lucky … and as easy as can be.

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January 2, 2014   1 Comment

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

The following four ingredients take 5 minutes to assemble…

The resulting meat will be feeding your family and guests for days on end…

And they deliver the most versatile, easy, meal-making thing you’ll have had in your refrigerator in a long time.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

Tender, juicy, and tantalizing Kalua Pork is amazing as is. Stuffed into a toasted roll – pretzel rolls being my personal favorite – is a meal in itself.

But there is so much more you can do with it; add to omelets or frittatas. Fill a wrap or toss into a salad. Pile into tortillas or crisp lettuce leaves, garnished with tomatoes, guacamole and salsa, for sumptuous tacos or lettuce wraps.

You get the idea – this stuff is versatile!

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December 24, 2013   2 Comments

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

This recipe came from the food section of our newspaper and was provided by our local dairy, Shamrock Farms.


We didn’t trim our tree until Saturday, once the kids and my mother-in-law arrived. So the night before, I put together this breakfast dish while I waited for Marissa’s plane to get in from San Francisco. It was scheduled for midnight, but delayed until 2:00 AM. I made good use of the extra two hours and wrote out all my Christmas cards as well… blurry-eyed, but I got it done!


We all enjoyed breakfast and tree-trimming, with carols playing in the background and coffee and hot chocolate mugs in our hands.


I made a few changes to  the recipe; using actual rum instead of rum extract and subbing cinnamon bread for the firm white or whole wheat that was suggested. Additionally, I’ve decreased the amount of eggs used in the mixture.

This eggnog French toast was a huge hit with the family and will likely become a new holiday tradition for us.

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December 23, 2013   4 Comments