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Christmas dinner 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
We did.
Of course, the best part is having all my loves home with me!

o christmas tree

For Christmas Eve, we brought back a tradition we began last year (when I had a fractured pelvis and could not stand up in the kitchen to cook) and we once again had blue cheese fondue. We are all in love with the new simple, fun, and communal approach to a special family meal. The kids voted that we add in chocolate fondue for dessert in 2014. Dave and I made that vote unanimous.

2013 Christmas table

This was our Christmas day tablescape.

glitter L

For our Christmas day dinner, the main course was something I taught at Les Gourmettes, individual beef Wellingtons.

beef tenderloin

You’ll notice that some of the photos below were taken while I was prepping for that class.


I purchased a full beef tenderloin and cut it into 16 pieces. This was the most economical way to feed a crowd.

16 steaks

For our holiday meal, I purchased already cut filet mignon.

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December 27, 2013   2 Comments

cool pointy peppers

sweet pointed peppers

While shopping at Costco recently, I was looking for the mixed bell peppers I usually buy. I stumbled across these cool looking “sweet pointed red peppers” instead.

They taste exactly like red bell peppers. So, I decided to stuff them for a pretty new twist on your everyday stuffed bell peppers.

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August 29, 2013   1 Comment

new “skinny” tag


I’m adding a new tag to the blog. “Skinny” is the name. My long-time friend, Karen Mock (seen below with her husband, Bob) has become a Health Coach for the Take Shape for Life program. I started working with her last week. So from now until, who knows when, most recipes I post will be “lean and green” and tagged with “skinny.”  It’ll take awhile for “skinny” to show up on the tag cloud over there on the left, and who knows, it may knock “vodka” off of there. That would be kinda sad!

Karen & Bob * G&T's

I don’t think you’ll mind my new skinny recipes, in fact, the last three recipes I posted have been “skinny.” Some of them, I will create, others I’ll be modifying from recipes that Karen has sent me from the Take Shape for Life recipe files.

I modify them to add more flavor; not more fat, calories, or carbs. Mostly, I’ll be achieving this with the addition of spices and herbs, or with a change to the cooking technique.

For instance, the recipe I’m giving you today was a TSL recipe, but instead of just throwing the raw boneless ribs into the slow cooker, I brown them first in a skillet that I’ve sprayed with Pam and then deglaze the skillet with water and pour that in the slow cooker too. More Flavor – No Added Fat!

walden farms

One of the products that Karen turned me onto that will help me boost flavor is the line of condiments from Walden Farms. All Walden Farms items are currently “BOGO Free” at Sprouts. The sale goes through 3/13/13. I saved $16 on my purchase of the eight products shown below!

$16 not $32

I honestly don’t think you’ll even notice a difference in the recipes I post, so please don’t worry, it won’t be anything like the dreaded 3-Week Cleanse that I did for most of last month!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the TSL Program, you can email Karen at karenmock@cox.net. You will LOVE her! And be sure to tell her that you learned about her here.

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March 11, 2013   2 Comments

day four (dinner) and day five – week one


Here are the recipes for dinner of Day Four and all three meals for Day Five of Week One of the “Detox Cuisine” Cleanse.

OK, I’m getting a bit frustrated with the way some of the recipes are written and with some of the techniques.

Take the original dinner recipe for day four – the procedure for the Roasted Portobellos with Kale has you sautéing the kale and then heating an oven and roasting the mushrooms for 30 minutes.

It doesn’t make sense, the kale takes less than 10 minutes to finish, which means that by the time the mushrooms come out of the oven, you’ll be topping them with cold kale. Annoying!

Since the link to the online recipe didn’t work anyway, I’ve corrected it and posted it here for you.

lentil stew ingredients

And the dinner recipe for day five – Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew – had more issues!

Red lentils generally cook quickly, so do not do as the recipe tells you. Instead of simmering the stew for the full 20 to 25 minutes as directed, reduce the total simmering time to 16 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and red peppers as directed but not the lentils. Add the lentils during the last 8 to 10 minutes and only cook until tender. I cooked mine as the recipe directed (all together for 20 minutes) and my sweet potatoes were overly soft and the lentils fell apart so badly, they turned to mush.

Enough complaining, here are the recipes.

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February 8, 2013   No 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

mushrooms for the Mayans

grilled mushroom and citrus salad with goat cheese

How about a fun salad to celebrate that the world didn’t end yesterday?

Wild mushrooms and citrus may seem like a odd pairing, but they are delicious together, especially in this light and lovely salad where the mushrooms are grilled and the salad is garnished with a touch of goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

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December 22, 2012   No Comments

a quick holiday appetizer

Today, it’s another of the recipes from Saturday’s Christmas Craft Party, stuffed mushrooms. What’s not to like? Bacon. Cheese. Mushrooms. Pepper Jelly. It’s all good! This would be perfect to bring to a holiday party.

But, before I get to it, I have to share with you just how clever my friend, Sheila is and how she “constructed” a second long table for our crowd in her craft room.

See this table? It’s really drywall set atop two sawhorses. Next, she cut up two twin bed-skirts and used them as the table skirt. Finally, Sheila used her Kitchen Papers Flourish Paper Table Wrap to cover the top. So resourceful and so darn pretty!

OK, on to the recipe!

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Mushrooms

15 to 18 slices bacon, cut in half
12-ounces (1  1/2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup diced green onions
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup pepper jelly
30 to 36 fresh medium to large crimini or white mushrooms, stems removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with foil. Place a rack atop one of the baking sheets.

Place the bacon pieces, in a single layer, on the prepared baking sheet without the rack. Partially cook the bacon in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the mushrooms.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, green onions, cheddar cheese, and jelly.

Use a small spoon to stuff the mushroom caps with the cheese mixture, really pack it in there.

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December 7, 2012   1 Comment

bonus salad and bonus pics

I am naming this “bonus salad” because while creating it, my intention was to include it in the “Take your Lunch to Work Week” that I just wrapped up for my sweet Marissa. But once I got into it, I slowly came to the realization that this takes far too much time and effort than required for an easy lunch to brown bag… that is unless you use it as leftovers… from dinner the night before. In that case, it’s perfect!

I made this a week ago Sunday and, as with most Sundays, we had my dad over for dinner. Dave and Dad devoured this thing. They loved it so much that they each had not only seconds, but thirds!

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers and want to brown bag it the next day – here is what you do: Pack the greens and the feta together in one container or zip-lock. Pack the mushroom-asparagus-rice mixture in a micro-wave safe container. Nuke the mushroom mixture to just warm it through. Place your greens and feta on a plate and top it with warm stuff. Yum… makes me wish I would have leftover of my own last Monday. :-(

The “bonus pics” in the title refers to some iPhone pictures of a few of the beyond delicious courses we had at Binkley’s last night. How I love that place! You’ll find them below the recipe.

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May 5, 2012   3 Comments

brunch deux

Next up is the recipe that my sweet sister, Sloane, made. It’s one of my favorites!

A few of the other guests brought recipes that have already been featured here on the blog… for instance, Peggy made THIS great salad that I wrote about back in September 2009.  And Peggy’s fabulous sister, Terrie, made a beautiful platter of roasted asparagus that was generously topped with crumbled goat cheese, crispy bacon, and lemon.  Regretfully, I didn’t get a picture of either Terrie’s asparagus or Peggy’s salad, (you can go to the link above to see the salad).  But thankfully I did snap a lovely picture of gorgeous Peggy!

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January 6, 2012   No Comments

festive duck

First things first - Happy Birthday to my BBF, Jennifer Markett, who lives in Illinois! I LOVE YOU! And if you were here with me, I would be serving you this wonderful duck strudel! xoxo

Pictured above is my collection of authentic vintage French confit pots. Pretty, aren’t they? Duck confit has been a preservation method, for cooking and keeping duck in its rendered fat in France, for centuries. It results in supremely tender, moist, and extremely flavorful duck. You can then sear the duck legs in a hot skillet and serve them as is, or shred the meat and add it to salads, or into the delicious and festive strudel recipe I have for you below.

One of the great things about this strudel is that you can assemble the entire thing a month in advance and freeze it. Pop it in the oven for your Christmas celebrations and impress your guests! It is out of this world glorious!

A sealed glass jar of confit may be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months, or several weeks if kept in a reusable plastic container. To maximize preservation, the fat should top the meat by at least one inch.  As the fat turns solid, and prevents any air from reaching the meat, so basically the confit technique is a way of hermetically sealing the meat. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative and results in a very rich taste.

I have been collecting authentic confit pots from France for a while now. Before refrigerators, the pots were used to “refrigerate” the confit. The entire inside of the pot is glazed and the glaze drips decoratively down the outside rim of the pot. The rest of the outside of the pot is left unglazed.  The pot was  filled with the duck and sealed with the fat. The pot was then buried in the cold mud and the unglazed outside of the pot would soak up that coldness and keep the duck confit perfectly chilled until ready to dig out and use.

The  amount of duck confit used in this recipe is small, only 4 ounces. So instead of going to the trouble to make my own confit, I purchased a leg quarter from Chef Vincent Guerithault of the famed Vincent’s on Camelback. Call ahead, and Chef Guerithault will happily sell you some too.  Or you can make our own duck confit, I’ve included a recipe from Epicurious.com at the bottom of this post. It is not difficult, just time consuming. You will need to salt the duck for at least 24 hours before beginning and you have to render duck fat from the duck skin, which I have posted about before. The link on how to do that, is there in the recipe too. But if you just purchase the confit, you can get going on the strudel recipe…. right now!

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December 3, 2011   1 Comment