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lazy Super Bowl snack

Did you enjoy the Super Bowl? It was very low-key at our house. A few weeks ago, Dave and I received an invite to a party, but we turned it down because we didn’t want to leave Connor and my dad hanging out to dry.

xlix

A few days ago I talked to my dad and was asking what time he wanted to come over and he informed me that he was going to a Super Bowl party! How do you like that? Too funny really. So it was just the three of us chilling at the house all day.

I had some chips and salsa on hand, so that was snack #1. I needed something more but I had no intention of going grocery shopping, so I came up with this tasty treat.

I’d baked a few potatoes the other night and had two left. Plus there was leftover prosciutto and cheese from last weekend’s bridal shower. That’s all it took!

The recipe made 16, I ate 2 of them, the rest quickly disappeared, so I guess the boys really like them!

 prosciutto potato wedges

Prosciutto Wrapped Cheesy Potato Wedges

  • 2 baked potatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 16 pieces of Port Salut or Brie cheese (cut into 2-inch long sticks)
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

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February 2, 2015   1 Comment

shrimp piccata pasta

wine glasses

Marissa’s childhood friend, Lindsey, is getting married in March.

entry

Marissa and Lindsey’s other bridesmaids and maid of honor threw Lindsey’s bridal shower here at our house on Saturday.

savory

The girls (Abigail, Kaley, Alyse and Marissa) did a fabulous job! The shower was a huge hit!

dessert table

Lindsey and all her guests were rightly impressed.

cheeses

We set up the “savory” station consisting of cheeses …

meats

… Italian meats…

salad and bread

… breads, crackers and salads.

essence

Then there was the wonderful Essence Bakery desserts! Oh my!

pool bar

We set up the bar down in the pool kitchen.

milk bottles

We used my vintage milk bottles – along with necessary sign to keep guests from being scared off from the beat up bottles.

Yesterday, I made dinner for the first time in more than a week, to the delight of my family. It had been an unusual, difficult and busy week. The recipe follows.

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January 26, 2015   3 Comments

an especially beautiful salad

I served this salad on Christmas. I think it’s one of the prettiest salads around. It is inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest.

Easy and Pretty. Now that’s a nice combination!

wreath salad

Fruit & Cheese Green Salad Wreath with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Salad

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 2 small bunches grapes (red and/or purple)
  • 1 small red and 1 small green apple (1 cored and cubed and 1 sliced)
  • 2 pears (1 cored and cubed and 1 sliced)
  • 8 Strawberries (3 left whole for decorating, the rest diced)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Dressing

  • Zest of 1 lemon (remove zest and set aside before juicing lemon)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Salad: Place the iceberg lettuce and mixed greens in a large bowl and toss to combine. Place a bowl in the center of a large round platter and spread the lettuces around the bowl on the platter. This is your wreath base.

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January 20, 2015   2 Comments

mini cupcakes for a baptism

Sunday was baptism day for Peggy’s grandson, Cruz. Cruz is the cutest baby boy there ever was! I swear, he is a little chub of pure joy and his grandma is head over heals in love! I don’t blame her one little bit!

Cruz Baptism

Darling Cruz being held by his godfather, along with his godmother, proud daddy Stevo (Peggy’s son) and beautiful mommy Keegan.

 

The baptism was held during the 10:30 mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the lunch was at Cruz’s great-uncle’s home.

Peggy was responsible for dessert and she did herself proud! She made the most adorable and delicious little lemon cupcakes with lemon curd, lemon frosting and lemon sugar. I held myself back and only had two. It was a test of control and strength!

Peggys cupcakes

I just noticed that the cupcake liners match her dress. What did I tell you? Adorable!

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January 19, 2015   1 Comment

slow cookers are made for pulled pork!

Pork + Slower Cooker = Perfect Match

pork loin

Honestly, when I lay my eyes on a large cut of pork, I always think of the slow cooker. With very little initial effort, the cooker turns the meat into the most tender and moist meat there is.

clean plate

In these parts, it’s a family favorite, no matter how I fix it.

salsa and coke

This recipe in particular, using a few key spices, Coke and salsa, is one of Connor’s favorites. So much so, that he insisted I take a photo of his “clean plate” which was clean before the rest of us even finished on taco. Growing boys… always a pleasure to feed!

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January 13, 2015   5 Comments

yes, I do bake… every now and then…

lemon glazed blueberry lemon bread

We all know that I don’t bake.

Yet I did, voluntarily, on Sunday.

Weird, I know!

frys ad

It all had to do with the blueberries that were on sale at Fry’s.

I bought them, only because they were on sale, then I didn’t know what to do with them … so I baked. The result was pretty darn fantastic! (Oh, I bought the pork loin on sale too… that recipe will follow soon.)

meyer

I used Meyer lemons, because I have them, but regular Lisbon lemons would be just as delicious.

2 varieties

If you need either, and you are in my neighborhood … contact me and you can pick as many as your heart desires.

expesive lemons

I do not charge $46 (plus $10 for shipping) for 3 pounds like they do on Food52/Provisions!!! In fact, I don’t charge anything, they are free for the picking. Meyer or Lisbon! And yes, both are organic!

lisbon

Before we get to the recipe, a few notes:

lemon glazed blueberry bread

I love to use a longer and thinner loaf pan for breads. There are more slices and they are a nicer size. A 12″ long by 4 1/2″ wide by 2 1/2″ deep loaf pan is my favorite size to use.

drips

When you use a glaze on baked goods, the glaze drips. Many recipes call for you to place the baked item on a rack – over waxed paper or such.

pastry scraper

Don’t bother, just place on a rack – on a clean counter. It is much easier to pick up the excess glaze drips with a pastry scraper and drizzle over the bread a second or even a third time this way.

drizzle the drips

When making the glaze, start with the juice from 1/2 a lemon and add more as needed. Powdered sugar soaks up liquid like a sponge, so start with a little and add more as needed, instead of adding too much liquid at the start and having to add more and more sugar to get the consistency you want.

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January 12, 2015   6 Comments

savory raspberry dip

This is another of the recipes I made for the bridal party lunch for my niece’s wedding day. The lunch was served in the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Magnificent Mile, which is where we all stayed in downtown Chicago. Maureen and her bridesmaids were in the suite having their hair and make-up done. The girls had been there since 9:15 and the wedding was at 4:00, so they needed nourishment in the middle of that time.

maureen bridePhoto

How beautiful is she?!?

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January 5, 2015   No Comments

Our Christmas dessert

apple cranberry crumble pie

I am in Chicago for my niece’s wedding, so there will be no long explanation or story attached, except to say that this pie was a Christmas hit.

pie slice missing

Apple-Cranberry Crumble Pie

Crust

  • 1  1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup plain, vanilla or honey yogurt

5 apples

Filling
  • 2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 4 Granny Smith and  1 Honey Crisp)
  • 1  1/4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  1  1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Crumble
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Vanilla ice cream

processor

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December 30, 2014   4 Comments

en Papillote

salmon en papillote

This is the salmon and spinach recipe that I was talking about in yesterday’s post. I’ve corrected two items from the original recipe – which I enjoyed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The first change being the enormous amount of spinach the recipe called for. I’ve reduced it from 2-pounds to 8-ounces. If you make this dish you will be amazed to think that 2 pounds could have ever been used!

too small

The second major change was the shape and size of parchment. The original recipe called for a 10-inch circle. I’ve made Fish en Pappillote (in parchment) several times before, so I should have known better. The traditional shape is a heart, not a circle. Even if a circle is used, 10-inches is in no way large enough, as you can see from the photos above and below.

the good the bad

I’d already cut out the 16 parchment circles I needed for a cooking class, so I went ahead a struggled through by using them … along with about 60 paper clips to hold the parcels together!

I don’t mean to make it sound as though the recipes from Ballymaloe where bad. There were 14 recipes from that wonderful day of cooking and this is the only one I’ve had to correct or modify.

The thing I like best about this recipe is the fact that the parcels are steamed – not baked. Fish en Papillote is traditionally baked, I love this extra-moist alternate way of cooking so much, that I think I’ll steam instead of bake from here on out.

This is the very definition of healthy and delicious!

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December 17, 2014   No Comments

Mini Spinach Flower Tarts

I brought these pretty and tasty little morsels to a family Christmas party on Saturday night. I made a double batch so that I’d have them in my freezer for the rest of the holiday season, ready to pull out on a moments notice.

spinach flower tart

They were made out of necessity, not only the need to bring something to a party, but also the urgency to use over 2 pounds of fresh spinach that I reluctantly had in my refrigerator.

Later in the week, I’ll share a Salmon and Spinach recipe that called for 2 pounds of fresh spinach. The recipe was from my day a Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and I was sharing it with the students in my cooking class at Les Gourmettes Cooking School here in Phoenix.

2 plus pounds

Anyhow, I was doubling the Salmon recipe to feed sixteen – so according to the recipe, I’d need 4 pounds of spinach. That’s A LOT of spinach. While shopping for the class at Costco, I realized that would have been 4 boxes of Costco baby spinach. I had not realized that each box was 1 pound until I looked, so I cut back and only bought 3 boxes. Well, I didn’t cut back enough! In the end, I did not even use 1 full box of spinach (1 pound) to make the double recipe for the cooking class.

That’s way too much leftover spinach, so this recipe was born out of the wish to not waste food.  If you would rather substitute frozen chopped spinach for the recipe, rest assured, that is perfectly fine. A 10-oz package of frozen spinach is almost the same as 1 pound fresh spinach, once the spinach is cooked.

If you want to be extra smart, like me, make a double batch and freeze for your later entertaining needs.

to freeze

To Freeze: Place the unbaked filled muffin tins in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Once frozen solid, use the tip of a paring knife to pop each mini tart out and place in a freezer quality zip-lock bag. Write on the bag, not only what they are, but also the date and baking directions (Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.)

frozen adn baked

I did a test to see if it was best to bake the frozen tarts in or out of the muffin tins. The good news – you may bake them on a baking sheet, no need to dig out the muffin tins again. In the photo above – the top two were baked on a sheet pan and the bottom two were placed back in the mini muffin tin and baked. Fantastic, they hold their shape!

One more thing…

rolled not folded

Did you know that Trader Joe’s carries puff pastry during the holiday season? Yes, they do and it’s better than the Pepperidge Farm brand that you buy at the grocery store.

PF vs TJ

It actually has real butter in it… unlike that other brand (which is still pretty good stuff) that uses only shortening. Additionally, the TJ’s puff pasty sheets are rolled, whereas the PF sheets are folded in thirds. The rolled sheets are MUCH easier to work with.

I buy not only what I’ll use in December and January but at least another 8 packages to have for the rest of the year. Super Smart!

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December 16, 2014   3 Comments