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Easter Eggs and Easter menu ideas

Instead of my usual Silk Transfer Easter Eggs, I went another route this year. On Pinterest, I found Cocktail Napkin Easter Eggs.

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I hard-boiled 9 eggs and used the technique explained on This Site for the first eight eggs. Then on whim, I tried another technique and ended up with the egg above. I love the end results and will show you how to do both.

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Plus I’m putting up links to all of my Easter recipes as listed on the Complete Recipe Index – over there on the left, in case you are still trying to figure out what to make.

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Cocktail Napkin Easter Eggs

8 to 12 white hard-boiled eggs, cold
Printed paper cocktail or lunch napkins
1 egg white, lightly beaten

napkin squares ready

Open the napkins and separate the printed top layer from plain second layer if napkin has two layers. Discard any plain sheets.

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Cut each napkin into four squares, along the folds.

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Dip a small pastry brush into the beaten egg white and use to adhere and apply a square onto the front center of an egg.

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April 17, 2014   5 Comments

coconut cream pie

For the past six weeks Connor has been working at Mark Tarbell’s The Tavern. He is the dishwasher and although they feed him dinner, he has not gotten the one item he sees that he really wants… the coconut cream pie.

So of course, I made it for him. That’s what moms do.

thumbs up

He gave it a thumbs up.

I have plenty of photos to accompany the crust making part of the recipe. But my dad was here while I was making the filling. He can be very distracting, so no photos of that part, sorry.

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April 15, 2014   1 Comment

April Fool

Sometimes April 1st sneaks up on me before I can plot and plan my April Fool’s prank.

postit

Not this year.

son

This year I enlisted Connor’s help. He agreed to go to Costco with me to get the supplies as long as I’d stop at the grocery store to get two of the three needed ingredients for Rice Krispies Treats.

double the fun

Deal.

Connor at work

Here is what Connor and I did with the Post-it® notes we bought.

passenger side

We covered all the windows of Dave’s car with the colorful squares.

drivers side

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April 1, 2014   4 Comments

Good news

The good news is that I did not have an ounce of jet lag!

jet lag

Staying awake for 24 hours and then going to bed at 7:30 PM once arriving home from the airport was the key. I was still tired the next day, the day our company arrived, but I again went to bed early, by 9:00 and have slept well ever since. That is the first time I’ve ever returned from Europe and beaten it!

beat it!

We had a wonderful time with Dave’s brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Beth.

cubs park

We checked out Cubs Park in Mesa which replaced the old Hohokam Stadium and is now of the home of the Chicago Cubs for spring training.

desert botanical garden

We visited the Desert Botanical Gardens for the Chihuly in the Garden event.

Chihuly in the Garden

If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a must.

Chihuly at Desert Botanical Garden

It runs through May 18, 2014.

Chihuly

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March 28, 2014   No Comments

Orgeat and Zsa Zsa Gabor

We don’t enjoy going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.

queens affinity at the swim up bar

It’s overcrowded, the service isn’t always the best and working in the food industry, I can not relax and enjoy myself knowing that the restaurant is desperate for you to finish and leave so they can sit their next reservation.

Since Valentine’s was on a Friday this year, it made it easy to go out for our Valentine’s celebration on Saturday night instead. We wisely chose Bink’s Scottsdale.

binks scottsdale

Via

Bink’s Scottsdale is the newest more casual and relaxed venture for Kevin and Amy Binkley, chef-owners of the best restaurant in the Valley, Binkley’s Restaurant in Cave Creek.

There is also Bink’s Cafe in Cave Creek and Bink’s Midtown in Phoenix.

the queens affinity

Dinner was, of course, fantastic. The one thing I had that I thought I might be able to recreate was the Queen’s Affinity Cocktail. The menu said that it was made with Bombay Sapphire, Orgeat, and muddled Lemon and Mint.

Before I made the cocktail at home, I had to figure out what the heck orgeat is and then find out where to buy it or how to make it.

Orgeat

Orgeat is pronounced “or-zsa” – “zsa” as in Zsa Zsa Gabor.

After some research, it appeared that orgeat should be easy enough to find at any liquor store. I also learned that homemade orgeat is far superior to store-bought. As a result, I made my own.

First I shall share with you a recipe for my Queen’s Affinity Cocktail Knockoff and then for the Homemade Orgeat.

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February 24, 2014   2 Comments

Friday Q & A

Wow, this week went fast! I can’t believe it’s Friday already.

figure tape holder

Once again, I shall be answering one of Lori’s questions. Lori put forth several when I asked you to pose questions to me. This is one that I didn’t expect to be getting to quite so soon. But the week flew by so fast, that I wasn’t ready to answer the tougher questions she asked… here we go:

Are you going to unveil your plan for your “playroom” when you figure it out?!?

ribbons

Yes, Lori, it’s not only figured out.. it’s all done. Well, not completely done… but done for now.

wrap copy

I desperately needed a space to store and organize all my craft supplies in one central location. It’s been stuffed in several places throughout the house; the garage, my closet, in the buffets in the dining room, the master bedroom sitting room, in the kids’ rooms (under their beds – without their knowledge) and even in the backyard patio area.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, I’ve reclaimed a portion of a large room upstairs that we’ve always called “the playroom.”  The playroom has always had a television, couch, and computer desk. In the early years it had a dozen shelves along two of the walls. Those shelves housed Marissa’s extensive collections of Disney figurines and Connor’s huge collection of Star Wars action figures. The shelves came down and the toys went up into the attic, years ago. There were also about a half-dozen tall white cupboards, in the early days, that held school craft and art materials, games, videos and toys… those too are long gone.

double doors

More recently the room has been an extra bedroom, with a trundle daybed and also sadly became sort of a junk room. When your kids are college age, they accumulate dorm/apartment furniture and when they finish college, that stuff has to get dumped somewhere… this room became our “somewhere.”

TV

Currently, the room is divided into three distinct areas – television lounge area … also known as Connor’s lair.

Cons desk

… Connor’s computer desk area …

daybed

… and my craft area, which still has the daybed included in it. Here are some of the details and close-ups.

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February 21, 2014   4 Comments

Olympic sliders

A quick note before we get to today’s recipe: If you read yesterday’s post about the amazing cauliflower, you’ll recall that I said my friend, Ronnie had the dish at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Ronnie sent me a fabulous photo of the hotel lobby all decked out for Christmas. It’s a must see, so I’ve added it to the bottom of that post, for all to enjoy. Check it out!

So… I heard about an amazing snack that is served at a bar in Brooklyn. The bar is called Pork Slope and the appetizer  – Chicken & Waffle Sliders. How perfect would that have been for the Super Bowl?!?

pork slope slider

Via

Dang it. Oh well, you know what I did? I served it as our Official Olympics Opening Ceremony Snack. Yeah, take that lopsided 2014 Super Bowl! You were not worthy of these Olympic sliders!

olympic snack

I found a recipe online, changed it just a tad… and …. it was a major hit with my two guys.

waffle grocery

A quick word about the frozen waffles. The recipe I found called for Aunt Jemima frozen square waffles. I could not find Aunt Jemima waffles at my grocery store, nor could I find square waffles. Belgium waffles – that was all they had in any and all brands. The closest thing to square that I was able to find were octagonal waffles.

2 buns

What you want to use for each slider is four squares of a waffle for the top “bun” and another four square piece for the bottom “bun.”  Here is what I did.

stop sign waffle

Take a waffle.

3 buns each

Cut 3 “four square” pieces from each waffle.

6 waffles, 18 pieces, 9 sliders

A package of 6 frozen octagonal waffles yielded 9 sliders. Here’s the math:

6 waffles = 18 “buns” = 9 sliders

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February 12, 2014   5 Comments

“The Rebel Within” Knockoff

There is so much I have to tell you about this recipe that I hardly know where to begin. So, how about at the beginning?

pot pantry cards

Almost exactly one year ago, on January 30, 2013, I wrote about how Marissa and I had gone into a kitchen store in San Francisco and found wonderful watercolor postcards of famous dishes from various San Francisco restaurants. We framed the postcards and they now hang in Marissa’s kitchen. One dish in particular caught our fancy. It is a breakfast muffin from Craftsman & Wolves.

firm yolk

The next day, 1/31/13, I tried to recreate “The Rebel Within” at home. Although the end product was tasty, it was not at all what I was looking for… there was no runny egg yolk in the middle of a baked muffin.

within

Fast-forward almost a year to January, 22, 2014, when I wrote about how Marissa and I finally went to Craftsman & Wolves and tasted “The Rebel Within” for ourselves and about my renewed passion to try to recreate it at home.

Just as I had done back in January 2013, I went online to research what I could about how it would be possible to bake a whole egg in a muffin and get it to be “soft-boiled” with a runny yolk.

3 eggs

Via

First, I stumbling upon this website and read up on “egg cookery” – I then found out that two wonderful women had “cracked the code” to The Rebel Within. They went through dozens of eggs and baked more muffins than I would have ever had the patience to bake… and they did it!

hot or cold

Via

Tuesday morning, I used their method.  The result?

not perfect

Although my “Rebel Within” was not as beautiful, or as perfect, or as tall and well-shaped as the muffins at Craftsman & Wolves or as the muffins the brilliant women at Follow Me Foodie baked, it tasted exactly like the muffin Marissa and I enjoyed at Craftsman & Wolves!  And the yolk – it was perfectly runny!

runny

If you would like to make this masterpiece at home, I’ve posted the recipe here, the majority of which is copy/pasted from the Follow Me Foodie post, with just bits and pieces of my own additions and omissions.

I still strongly suggest you go to the Follow Me Foodie recipe post and read from top to bottom about their trials and tests and all of their tips and suggestions. It’s truly amazing and a really good read, even if you do not plan to bake the muffins. There’s a whole boatload of interesting information, dedication, perseverance and patience to be seen there!

If you don’t have the time to read it all, allow me to let you in on a few of the notes that I found to be more important:

2 eggs cracked

The recipe makes six muffins. Even so, I suggest you start with 12 eggs, as I did, when you’re making the Extra-Soft Boiled Eggs. Of the 12 eggs I started with, seven turned out perfectly.

5 bad eggs

Another two would haven been “usable” but were less than perfect … and the remaining three … completely unusable.

cracked eggs

It is imperative that you “warm” the eggs before dropping them in the boiling water. Use hot tap water to do so. I actually brought the eggs to room temperature first, and then let them sit in the hot tap water for the amount of time it took the water that the eggs would be cooked in to come to a boil. Even so, two of the eggs cracked almost immediately as they were placed in the boiling water. I took those out and discarded them straight off the bat. They were two of the “completely unusable” eggs mentioned above.

breakfast sausage

Via

The Follow Me Foodie women used bacon for their recipe, I used breakfast sausage, just as they do at the C&W. As much as I love bacon, I’d suggest going with sausage for this.

Be certain to boil the eggs for EXACTLY 4 minutes and 30 seconds. If you want to achieve that runny yolk, this is the most important part of the recipe.

popover pan

The Follow Me Foodie women suggest that you either use a popover pan or a large muffin tin. I have 2 popover pans, so of course, I used a popover pan. I can’t begin to imagine how it would work in a muffin tin. It wouldn’t be tall enough.

If you don’t own a popover pan, buy one or borrow one! If you live anywhere near me, you can borrow mine.

lift off

Once the muffins were done baking and had cooled, I found it easiest to remove them by placing a baking sheet on top and flipping it over, then gently lifting the popover pan off. Because of how much they overflowed, I feared that the tops would rip off if I tried to “lift” them out of the molds individually. This is the method that worked for me.

1 good 1 bad

Finally, when peeling the extra-soft boiled eggs, take care to gently crack all over. While peeling the last couple eggs, my mind was wandering and I failed to do so. The egg on the left is what happened as a result of not cracking all over. The egg on the right is an example of how to do it correctly.

Oh, and to those of you who so generously and selflessly volunteered to be taste-testers … I’ll have to soft-boil and bake up another batch. Those first six muffins are long gone my friends!

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February 6, 2014   6 Comments

Homemade San Tung “Dry-Fried” Chicken Wings

San Tung Dry Fried Chicken Wings 1

San Tung is that restaurant in San Francisco that Marissa and I have to eat at the night I arrive in San Francisco each and every time I visit her. It serves the famous “dry-fried” chicken wings that we crave and love.

I desperately wanted to make them for the family on Super Bowl Sunday.

After much online research and some trial and error, I have the recipe for you to make at home!

fryer and set up

You’re going to need a large pot, Dutch oven, or preferably a deep fryer. If using a pot, you’ll also need a candy thermometer. Plus, you’ll need a couple big bowls, wire racks, paper towels and a baking sheet.

If you’re like me, you like your wings cut into two pieces, the drummett and the wing.

cut through skin

When cutting the wings in half, just cut through the skin, then bend the wing so you see where the joint is and cut right through the joint.

cut through joint

It’s easy once you find the joint and don’t try cutting through the bone. Then cut off the wing tip, there is a joint there too.

cut off wing tip

Save and freeze the tips for the next time you make chicken stock.

This recipe makes about 60 wings (30 wings cut in half) and it takes over and hour and a half to fry them all – twice. The recipe can easily be cut in half.

OK, let’s get started…

San Tung Dry Fried Chicken Wings

Homemade San Tung “Dry-Fried” Chicken Wings

Sweet and Spicy Sticky Sauce
1 bunch green onions, minced (green and white parts)
1 small bunch cilantro, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1  1/2 cups honey or agave nectar
3/4 cup water
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Szechuan chili sauce

Wings
8 pounds chicken wings
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 cups canola oil
2 cups cornstarch, divided
1  1/2 cups water

split onions and cilantro in half

Sauce: Mix together the green onions and cilantro. Divide in half, placing half in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

sauce ingredients

Place the other half in a large bowl and…

whisk sauce

…whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients.

cook sauce

Pour the sauce into a large skillet and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.

reduced

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February 3, 2014   2 Comments

stuffed sweet potato skins

On Sunday, Dave and I went to a second baby shower for Tram. She’s having twins after all, so she should have a minimum of two showers! This was a couples shower that her best friends threw for her. It was at the home of Chef Michael Cairns and his wife, Dar. Michael is the Executive Chef at the Montelucia Resort and Spa.

onesie clothesline

So yes, naturally the food was outstanding! As was the decor, the company, and the relaxed casual vibe on an absolutely perfect and beautiful Sunday afternoon.

quinoa bar

Everything was delicious but the two standouts for me were a delicious and ultra-creative quinoa bar that we started with. And a pureed sweet potato side dish that Chef Michael served.

After eating that addicting sweet potato dish, I was craving sweet potatoes on Monday and I could not shake it. That is how this recipe was born… out of a craving. As we all know, pregnant women are not the only people who get them!

Connor and I thought the heat from the chipotle peppers was perfect. Dave thought it was a bit much. If you’re heat sensitive, cut the amount of chipotle in half. Or start with half as much, taste and then decide if you want to add more.

chipotle chicken stuffed sweet potatoes

Chipotle-Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins

3 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Greek yogurt, for garnish
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

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January 28, 2014   2 Comments