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time to party!

Before I share more party details, I want to wish my dear friend, Karen Mock a very Happy Birthday!

Karen was a bridesmaid in my wedding. At the time she was pregnant with her first child, Nick. Dave and I are Nick’s godparents … so yes, Karen and I have been friends for a loooong time and I love her to pieces. Happy Birthday, Karen! I look forward to celebrating with you on Friday! xoxo

On to the party ….


Peggy arrived a little early so she’d be there to greet her guests, and I was actually ready to greet her and the guests too. That doesn’t always happen. More often than not, I’m still scrambling and getting ready at the very last second before a party at our house begins.  But not this time, and here is why -

I had gone to Sweet Salvage the day before the party with my friend and colleague, Kim Howard. (after all the party posts, I’ll share with you what I got that day – it is so cool!)

I was telling Kim about the party plans and she said, “Let me come help.” I resisted at first, because I’d already hired two servers and a bartender from Elite Events AZ. Kim insisted and I finally came to my senses and took her up on her generous offer. Kim and I work together at Les Gourmettes. When I teach my series of classes there, Kim works right beside me. We’re a great team and I knew that having her in the kitchen, finishing off the dishes, overseeing everything, and doing things exactly as I would do them – well I knew that I wouldn’t have to worry about a thing and I could really relax and enjoy my own party.

That is exactly what happened! Maybe I enjoyed it a wee bit too much, if you know what I mean! So, thank you Kim. Thank you Jana, Cami, and Jeanie from Elite Events. And thank you, to my adorable son, Connor, who was the lone man in the kitchen, there to help with whatever the ladies asked him to do!


Anne and I, giving Peggy her official birthday kiss.


Peggy with her darling parents, her brother, John, and her sister-in-law, Lorraine. Take note of Peggy’s pink crown and scepter. The Birthday Princess!


Anne and Dave at the appetizer buffet. The bar is in the background…


… thanks Anne for taking this picture of the bar, I can see your reflection in the window and I see myself in the kitchen. What am I doing in there?! I think I was cutting green onions for the mashed potatoes and talking to Kim about the recipes.  This was prior to the guests arriving. Well, of course Anne was a guest too, but she was and is much more than that! She helped me so much in putting on this gala event. Love you girl! xoxo


Along with the full bar, we offered two signature cocktails…

pink pear

The Pink Pear

1  1/2 ounces pear vodka
3 ounces mango nectar  or pineapple juice
1 ounce cranberry juice
Lemon juice, for rim
Pink or gold sugar, for rim

Dip the rim of a clear “highball” glass in lemon juice, then dip into sugar. Fill glass with ice.

Gently layer the vodka, then the nectar, then the cranberry juice into the glass for an ombre cocktail.

Serves 1

pink chihuahua

Pink Chihuahua

Coarse pink salt
1 ounce  tequila
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
3/4 cup grapefruit juice
Grapefruit slice, for garnish

Dip the rim of a clear “rocks” glass in lemon juice, then dip into sugar. Fill the glass with ice. Pour tequila and Grand Marnier over ice.

Top with grapefruit juice and stir. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Serves 1


Also on the bar, were bowls of the ever popular Ranch Oyster Crackers, also known as Crack Crackers. These are seriously addicting!


Another fun 50th birthday party touch was a little something else I found on eBay …

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February 27, 2013   7 Comments

cranberry mojito and Christmas crafts

Yesterday, Sheila and I hosted a Christmas Crafts Party for our friends. Most of the participants from my Burlap Pumpkin Class were there and we had a great time, up in Sheila’s fabulous craft room, creating away!

The gorgeous paper cone wreath you see above was made by the very talented and patient Christa. Only four of us tackled the wreath and Christa’s won the blue ribbon!

Or maybe we’ll call it the Red Ribbon since it’s a Christmas wreath… with a red ribbon! Congratulations, Christa, your “best in show” is well deserved.

Here you see Sheila giving instruction on two of the other crafts; a rag ornament and snow balls.

There were 15 of us and along with crafting, we of course had lunch! The recipes will follow in the coming days.

Today, we’ll start with the cocktail. I used some of my Cranberry Vodka to make Cranberry Mojitos. That recipe and more craft photos are below.

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December 2, 2012   1 Comment

Fourth Day of Christmas Gift

Homemade Kahlua Liqueur used to be one of my go-to gifts from the kitchen. For some reason it’s been years, maybe even a decade, since I’ve made it. I don’t know why, because it is good stuff!

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Homemade Kahlua Liqueur
Lemon-Sugar Hand Scrub
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

If you want to make this gift to give for Christmas, you need to get on the stick, as in make it today or tomorrow! Sorry for not giving you more notice, but it should sit for 4 weeks before drinking and Christmas is exactly four weeks from tomorrow.

If you can’t get to it until the weekend, just be sure to write on your gift tag something along the lines of, “Homemade Kahlua Liqueur. Wait to enjoy until New Year’s Eve or after.”

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November 26, 2012   1 Comment

Second Day of Christmas Gift

The second installment of Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen.

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

This crimson cranberry vodka is easy to make, just a little time consuming because you must poke each cranberry to open it up so it will impart its goodness into the vodka. But it is time easily spent.  I used a wooden skewer and did the chore while I watched television. I was done in no time.

Make whatever quantity you want, but I can share with you that 3-pounds of fresh cranberries, 2 lemons, 2 limes, 3 tablespoons sugar, and a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka will make three 1-liter bottles of Cranberry Citrus Vodka.

You need to put this together at least 2 weeks before you plan to use it or give it away. When giving as a gift, it would be ever so thoughtful to include a Crantini recipe card with your gift. The recipe for the Crantini is at the end of the post.

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November 20, 2012   5 Comments

time for a vootbeer

Vootbeer. Isn’t that a great name? It is a cocktail made with Vodka and Root Beer. And from what I can find, it was created at the Boulder Distillery Home of 303 Vodka. Now, I’m quite certain that people had thought of mixing vodka and root beer for a long time now, but the name Vootbeer – now that is clever.

You know me, I’m all about the freshest and best ingredients you can find and afford.  So using anything other than real whipping cream may seem a bit uncharacteristic, but I couldn’t resist using spray whipped cream topping for this fun cocktail.  A dollop or big all spoonful of freshly whipped cream just wouldn’t be as fun.  Believe you me, this is the epitome of fun cocktail.

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October 14, 2012   1 Comment

chai cocktail

I was working on a chai dessert recipe (posting Monday) and was inspired to make this lovely dessert-like cocktail. Happy Weekend!

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September 15, 2012   1 Comment

Blueberry-Vodka Lemonade

If you made your blueberry vodka yesterday – then today you are ready to enjoy a tall refreshing and very pretty glass of blueberry-vodka lemonade.  Oh, and you’ll be so very happy you did – it’ll cool you down and chill you out, all at once.

This is what the blueberry and raspberry vodkas looked like when they were done macerating. Be sure and reserve the berries after you strain the vodka – you’re gonna want to use them as garnish.

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June 11, 2012   No Comments

found it!

After an exhaustive search, I somehow found the link to the Gourmet S’mores Party segment that Tram shot in our backyard nearly two years ago.  You can watch it HERE or go to the “In the News” page over there on the left and watch it and many other TV appearances.

The other thing I’m doing today is having my dad over for an early Father’s Day celebration. He will be visiting my sister-in-law, Teresa, and my nephews, Joel, Ben, and David, in Idaho over the next week.  With classes starting up again tomorrow – today is our last chance to give him his cards, gifts, and a nice Father’s Day dinner.

I woke up early and made my rounds for cooking class grocery shopping.  When I got home, I packed it all into my fridge – there is not room for one more thing! I don’t think a tiny grape would even fit!  You can’t see the door shelves or the 6 produce drawers below – but take my word for it – they are packed to the gills!

Those blueberries and raspberries are left from last week, so they need to go! I’m going to use them for dessert tonight, but there are still so many.  What’s a girl to do?  You know me, I have the answer on how to make the most of them – I’ll make raspberry and blueberry vodka!

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June 10, 2012   2 Comments

the true ultimate

On Monday afternoon, I was looking through the stack of magazines that had been piling up these past few weeks. In the middle of the stack was the January issue of Bon Appétit. The first thing I spotted, down in the right corner of the cover was this-

“Set Up The Ultimate Bloody Mary Bar”  What the heck? Who knew I was so on trend?  I had just done that very thing two days before!  So I immediately opened the magazine to page 60 and saw this -

This is the “ultimate” Bloody Mary bar? I don’t think so! They have a few good ideas, some of which I had already used on my Bloody Mary bar – like beef jerky, peperoncini, garlic stuffed olives, and pickled veggies. But come on, 8 snazzy items does not make an ultimate anything! Heads up Bon Appétit… the next time you want something done ultimately, give me a call.

This is how you set up an ULTIMATE Bloody Mary Bar -

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January 4, 2012   7 Comments

martini maddness

It is finally time to use the infused vodkas that you and I made back on July 20th.  What, you didn’t make any?!? Darn, well there is still time; click on the link above, then jump in the car and buy the necessary fruits, veggies, and vodka.  It’ll only take about week until you too can enjoy these delicious cocktails. In fact, since we used up all the pineapple vodka at the Blog 2nd Anniversary Party, I whipped up another batch this morning. Now I’ll be able to enjoy my favorite martini next weekend, here they are in order of popularity…

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August 21, 2011   No Comments