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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.

aidells

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

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

no chip “nachos”

I served this appetizer at the Christmas Craft Party and I’ll be bringing it to a family Christmas party next this weekend. (I think I may be in denial that Christmas is a week from Today!)

It is chicken nachos, minus the chips!

melty goodness

In the place of chips are those adorable mini bell peppers you can find in most grocery stores and always at Costco.

lazy chicken

I was in a super time-crunch for the craft party so I used a new product I found at Costco, rotisserie chicken breast meat. It came in a 2 1/2 pound package, I pulled out what I needed, and froze the rest.

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December 18, 2013   3 Comments

chile, cheese, and chorizo

If there was one food, dish, or recipe that you could eat for the rest of your life; as much as you want, as often as you like, from now until eternity – without gaining an ounce – what would it be?

ice cream

If you would have asked me that question a few weeks ago, I would have said, “Ice Cream!”

Ice cream is my go to answer to any question that begins with “What food would you…”

I love ice cream; the coldness, the smoothness, the creaminess, the richness, the pure happiness that ice cream brings. And that is why we rarely have ice cream in our house!

But ask me that question today – my new answer is, “Chile, Cheese, and Chorizo Bread Pudding.”

going going gone

I developed this recipe for my classes at Les Gourmettes and I could not love it more! I am quite certain it is as calorie and fat laden as ice cream, if not more so. It’s full of bread, cheese, chorizo, more cheese, eggs, and milk. And it is SO GOOD!

Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is just perfect, in every possible way. It is amazing! Well, except for the calorie/fat count – on that front – it sucks!

I made it twice last week. First for the class and then again for a dinner party the evening before Thanksgiving that we had with our family and Marissa’s boyfriend, Jeff’s family. One of the guests was vegetarian, so for the dinner party, instead of using a 9×13-inch pan, I made two 8×8-inch pans. One with the chorizo and one without.

The recipe is for the larger pan but the images are of the two smaller pans … just to clarify … so you aren’t confounded by the instructions vs. the photos.

Oh, and if you don’t have time to make the red pepper sauce, it’s still delicious with out it. Just saying!

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December 4, 2013   4 Comments

another chili recipe

Once I made the decision to serve chili at the 2013 Fall Craft Party, I knew I wanted one with beef and one with chicken. I already have a Favorite Chicken Chili recipe, but if I made that, then I wouldn’t have a new recipe to blog about!

chili buffet

And, that my friends, is why I came up with this recipe.

Because I’m always thinking about you, your happiness and well-being – your desire for new and tasty recipes. That’s how I roll. It is who I am.

OK, enough of that, on to the recipe!

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October 23, 2013   3 Comments

Olive Garden Salad Knock-Off

Olive Garden Endless Salad

Even though I may be a food industry professional who generally avoids big chain restaurants, even I have to admit that Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat salad and bread-sticks are hard to pass up!

all you can eat Olive Garden salad

Not that we are frequent diners at Olive Garden. In fact, I believe the only times we’ve eaten there in the past decade have been on road trips.

no much of a stretch

This is the salad I made for work-weary Marissa and Jeff on Friday night. I have a few more photos of the apartment kitchen too. Here you can see that 6′ 3″ Jeff doesn’t have to stretch much to touch both ends of the kitchen at the same time.

color strip

After I complained about how dark the sink area was at night, Dave went to Costco and bought a cool light strip that Jeff and I installed around the kitchen and over the sink. It even has a remote and you can have a full-color light show! Most importantly, it really lights up the place.

pumpkin happy

Lastly, Marissa used the velvet pumpkins I made for her last year, to cover up and camouflage the TV cords and components on her mantel. Cute!

And most wonderful of all… I found the Jarrahdale pumpkins, that I so love, at Marissa’s corner market which is only two blocks from her house. I smuggled home three of them in our luggage! So excited!

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October 8, 2013   3 Comments

chowder time!

frontdoors

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…

wideview

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

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

sizzlin’ fajitas

Connor is between semesters at school so he is home for a couple of weeks. On Sunday, I asked him to decide what we’d have for dinner and he didn’t hesitate – he requested fajitas.

fajita fixins

It’s been ages since I’ve made ‘em, so I went all out and cooked up not only traditional beef, but also shrimp and chicken. The best part about that… we had plenty of leftover beef and had tacos on Monday night. Yay for leftovers!

flap meat

Connor and I shopped at Food City for our meal. In our search for skirt steak, we happily stumbled upon flap meat. Flap meat can be difficult or next to impossible to find at standard grocery stores like Safeway, so when I come across it, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Flap meat comes from the bottom sirloin, and although it’s from a similar region as flank steak or skirt steak, it’s a different cut. The flap is not very tender, but it is well-marbled and very flavorful. It’s sometimes called flap steak or bavette and is an excellent meat for carne asada and fajitas.

If you can’t find flap, use either skirt or flank steak for this recipe.

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August 27, 2013   2 Comments

more tapas

tapas plate

The tasty little ricotta stuffed pepper on the plate above is the recipe we’re going to make today from Peggy’s Tapas Dinner party.

mini sweet peppers

The mini sweet peppers are readily available in most grocery stores, at Trader Joe’s and at Costco.

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August 13, 2013   1 Comment