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Peggy’s great Trader Joe’s find

My BFF, Peggy, and I try to walk in the early morning hours at least 4 or 5 days a week. Either she drives to my house or I drive to her’s and we walk our neighborhoods.

IMG_5698

When I entered her house a couple of weeks ago, I smelled something delicious. She said she had made Green Chile Stew for a family dinner.

From the smell alone, I knew I HAD to have the recipe. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned before, but Peggy’s a great cook. She didn’t have a written recipe but she did share that she’d found a new product at Trader Joe’s that made her stew super easy.

Do Tell!

hatch salsa

Hatch Valley Salsa! I’m not sure how long they’ll have the salsa in stores since Hatch chiles are seasonal, so get over there and grab a bunch while you can.

After our walk, I drove directly to Trader Joe’s and bought seven jars of the stuff!

Then … on the morning of the Craft Party, I browned up a bunch of pork and when Peggy came early to help me set up, I made her help me put the stew together. Below is the delicious result!

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October 22, 2014   15 Comments

Greyson’s pancake dippers

greyson pumpkin patch

Our grandnephew, Greyson, spent the long weekend with us. He is 4 1/2 … so his parents, Tony and Amy, were along for the ride too. They are from Wisconsin. Tony is the son of Dave’s oldest brother, Roger. Amy is a dental hygienist and she had some continuing education classes to attend, so they made it into a mini-vacation.

BZZ Pumpkin patch

On Friday, we met up with Tram, Steve, Zak and Zoey along with Raechel and Brooklyn at The Simple Farm for their Pumpkin Patch and Tour.

Steve and Zoey

Greyson especially liked the goats, I have no photos to share of Grey enjoying the goats because I was holding Zak at the time. Holding babies always trumps photo taking!

breakfast at the swimup bar

On Saturday morning, I made pancake dippers for breakfast. Grey and Tony enjoyed them poolside. Well, not exactly pool “side” more like swim-up bar “side.”

I have posted about pancake dippers before, but the last time, I did not include a recipe. This time, I shall!

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October 20, 2014   5 Comments

gingerbread time!

At the Craft Party last weekend, it may have been warm outside and most of the guests were wearing shorts and sundresses …. that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to dream about and enjoy the fun and flavors of fall and winter!

crafting

What the heck!??! We were making fall and winter crafts so we may as well eat food associated with the season! With that in mind, I made these tasty gingerbread muffins.

gingerbread muffins

Gingerbread Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8-ounces sour cream
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Grease 12 muffin cups; set aside.

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October 17, 2014   3 Comments

Cocktail Infusions

The original craft that Tram planned to bring for the Craft Party was a very cool black and white-painted harlequin pumpkin. She and I looked at several options on Pinterest and we were both quite excited about it.  Then… time passed and well, if you’ve read this blog for more than a few months, you know that Tram has adorable 7-month old twins, Zak & Zoey. 

Z&Z

Yeah, I know! They are just about the cutest thing on this Earth! And to think that when they start talking up a storm, they will be calling me “Aunt Linda” – I’m super excited about that!

Anyhow, Tram has her hands more than full. As the party approached, I decided to take the pressure off and offer an easier craft option. One that I could help her with and one that was close to her strength. One with coffee! You also probably know that Tram and her husband, Steve, own Press Coffee Roasters.

So… I found some awesome bottles. Here are the bottles we used. Next, I gathered up all the ingredients needed – except some cinnamon sticks, and the coffee, of course, which I left to the expert! Somehow, between the two of us, we came up with the most popular craft at the party.

infussionsPhoto courtesy of Tram Mai

Cocktail Infusions!

And not just one flavor, but three delicious options!

Shopping Notes: All of the dried fruits were purchased at Trader Joe’s.  The whole spices can be found at any grocery store. The brown sugar cubes at Cost Plus and the rock sugar at an Asian market.

They come together in no time and make THE perfect hostess gift for the holidays. Or just a super cool thing for your own bar. Enjoy!

cranberry

To make the Cranberry Infusion:

Gently remove the cork topper.

Place about 5 of each of the three varieties of cranberries in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 8 white rock sugar pieces. Tear 2 of the large pieces of the dried Mandarin fruit into the bottle.

Return the cork topper and add the Cranberry Infusion label.

 (Trader Joe’s carries at least three varieties of cranberries. All have slightly different coloring and texture, so I bought 3 packages for added interest. You can use just one variety and drop in 15 cranberries of the same type.)

ginger

To make the Ginger-Cardamom Infusion:

Gently remove the cork topper.

Place 4 pieces of the Crystallized Ginger and 6 pieces of the Uncrystallized Ginger in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 8 white rock sugar pieces. Add 1 tablespoon Cardamom seeds to the bottle. Tear 2 of the large pieces of the dried Mandarin fruit into the bottle.

Return the cork topper and add the Ginger-Cardamom Infusion label.

(Same thing with the ginger. It would be perfectly fine to just use either ginger, but the two add a better look to the bottle with more variety and interest.)

espresso

To make the Espresso Infusion:

Gently remove the cork topper.

Place 2 tablespoons coffee beans (preferably Press Coffee!) in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 6 white rock sugar pieces. Next add 1 piece of vanilla bean (cut a vanilla bean in thirds and just add 1/3 of the bean) plus 1 piece of cinnamon stick, and 3 whole loves.

Return the cork topper and add the Espresso Infusion label.

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October 15, 2014   5 Comments

dinner on the fly

market

I wander through farmer’s markets and produce departments with the best intentions. Squash for a gratin, cucumbers for a dip, apples for a pie, spinach and mushrooms for a salad.  Unfortunately, once I get home and pack it all away in the produce drawers – gratins, dips, pies and salads don’t always get made.

mushrooms

Such was the case with my most recent packages of mushrooms and spinach. The meal that the salad was planned for didn’t happen when we were invited out to dinner with friends, and for some inexplicable reason, I didn’t feel like a spinach salad the next night. OK, honestly, I was too tired to make an entrée and a salad.

spinach

Instead, I combined the ingredients and just made one dish. The result wasn’t especially inspiring, but it did get dinner on the table … with minimal thought, time and effort. Sometimes, one can’t ask for more than that!

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October 8, 2014   2 Comments

pumpkin, butternut and red kuri squash soup

sugar pumpkin

Aaron Chamberlain, co-owner and head chef from St. Francis, recently taught at Les Gourmettes.

butternut

He made this soup, which he simply calls Pumpkin Soup. As you’ll see, it is much more than just pumpkin soup.

red kuri

Aaron uses a combination of squashes to create a more complex flavor. If he wants to call it Pumpkin Soup, so be it. I call it good!

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October 7, 2014   1 Comment

quick chicken pasta dinner

creamy cajun

We’re on a chicken kick at my house. Boneless skinless chicken breast is what I make for dinner when I’m uninspired. Not that that’s a bad thing.

After all, one can’t be creative and “in the mood” to make a “wow” dinner every night!

Even so, this quick and easy pasta dinner put smiles on the family’s faces.

The best part …. even though the cupboards are quite bare … I had everything on hand and didn’t have to make a trip to the grocery store.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

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September 30, 2014   No Comments

accidents happen

This summer, when we were out of town, my full-size freezer in the laundry room was accidentally left open for a day.

oops

It wasn’t all the “openers” fault.

Although the freezer is only a few years old, the seal had come loose and instead of figuring out how to fix it, I used duct tape to keep it closed.

Additionally I had a little chalkboard chef on the front of the freezer who told “would be openers” this:

do not open

“Do NOT OPEN! It is next to impossible to re-shut and keep shut.”

Unfortunately, the “opener” did not see or heed the chalkboard chef’s warning.

Even though I knew of the “freezer-breach” immediately upon my return home, I avoided the freezer and refused to open it and face the music until two months later.

Nearly everything was a loss; homemade chicken and beef stocks, frozen citrus juices, handmade puff pastry, lobster broth, homemade mole, demi-glace, frost-burnt cookies and brownies, and quite a bit of meat. I threw out more chicken breast and chicken thighs than I’d care to mention.

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September 29, 2014   1 Comment

Pumpkin season is upon us!

cookies!

Everyone jumps on the Pumpkin Bandwagon this time of year. Recipe blogs have the best reason to do so! It’s our mission to spread the Pumpkin Joy!

These delicious cookies are inspired by a recipe I found in Better Homes and Garden Magazine.

The first ingredient is scary!

One pound of butter is A LOT!

The upside, if that is possible? The recipe makes 100 cookies. One Hundred – that’s A Lot too.

lined up sheets

Luckily I have enough cookie sheets so I don’t have to use the same sheets over and over. If you do need to use the same sheets, be sure to let them cool completely between batches.

frosted cookies

Plus, I have plenty of cooling racks. One of the advantages of having a cooking school!

I’ve named these cookies “cakey” because of their cake-like texture. I suppose another option could have been to name them “mini-cakes” instead of cookies.

You Decide.

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September 26, 2014   5 Comments

fresh honeycomb in the frame

shelborne honey

In late July, when we were staying at the Shelbourne, in Dublin, we’d have their breakfast buffet each morning. I saw something there that I’ve never seen before. Fresh honeycomb in the frame (direct from the hives) with spoons to help yourself and scoop right off the frame. So Cool!

chocolate covered honey comb

About a week later, at The Ballymaloe House, we were served Fresh Honeycomb Dipped in Chocolate as an after dinner treat. Even Cooler!

I haven’t been able to get either thing off my mind since.

Last Saturday, Sheila invited me to go to Singh Farms (8900 E Thomas – just east of the 101 at the Thomas exit) with her. Their Farmer’s Market won’t be open until late October but their compost yard was open and they were selling herb starts, compost, bat guano, worm castings, fresh eggs …. and honey!

I wondered if they might sell fresh honeycomb in the frame. Sheila encouraged me to ask.

honey frame

I did. And they do! I bought this lovely honey frame (easel not included) for $20.

You don’t have to buy an entire frame of honeycomb to make this recipe. You can purchase fresh honeycomb online HERE and have it delivered right to your door.

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September 23, 2014   2 Comments