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easy peasy lemon squeezy

This is the pie I made my dad for his 86th birthday. It turns out, also for his 85th birthday. See the NOTE at bottom of post.  What can I say? It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s delicious!

It was made even easier when Connor spent the night the night before and he readied the pie crust for me. He is a master at lining a pie pan with dough, crimping and blind baking it. Seriously, look at that! Pure Perfection!

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April 27, 2017   No Comments

Arizona citrus

Two of the three instructors who taught cooking classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School this April have made refreshing and colorful citrus salads. And why not? We all love to use local ingredients and Arizona offers some of the best citrus around.

Another coincidence was that both of the chefs used a variety of orange called Cara Cara. I don’t recall this variety ever being used at the school before and then suddenly two consecutive teachers use them. Amazingly, they are even available at Costco.

The Cara Cara orange is an all-natural hybrid orange, the result of the cross-pollination of a Washington Navel Orange and a Brazilian Bahia Navel Orange.

They were discovered in 1976 in Venezuela at the Hacienda da Cara Cara. The oranges found their way into very limited US markets in the 1980’s.

The next citrus tree I plant is going to be a Cara Cara! I love the sweetness of the fruit and the gorgeous reddish-pink color of the flesh. The photo above shows the blood orange, the Cara Cara and the navel next to each other. Beautiful!

I enjoyed and was inspired so much by the cooking class salads that I decided to pick up a bag of Cara Cara oranges at Costco and use my backyard bounty of lemons, grapefruit, blood and navel oranges for my dad’s birthday dinner.

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April 26, 2017   1 Comment

not fried chicken

This is the chicken that we enjoyed while my dad and Dave ate liver at Dad’s birthday dinner.

One note, in my hurry to get dinner on the table and while  busily making the gravy, I left out the last step or boiling the chicken pieces to get them browned. As a result, the chicken I served looked a little anemic. It still tasted good and it was crispy, but quite bland in color. Oops.

Since the last thing I want you to see as the lead photo on a post is anemic chicken, I made it again last night and did it right. That is what you see above. Below is the not so pretty, but still tasty, stuff.

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April 24, 2017   No Comments

Dad’s 86th birthday dinner

My Dad’s 86th birthday was Tuesday the 18th. We celebrated on Wednesday night with the dinner Dad requested and would probably ask for every weekend if he could.

Liver and Onions.

Thank goodness his birthday only comes around once a year!

Dad and Dave enjoy that meal, not so much Connor, my sister, Sloane and me. I made baked “fried” chicken for those of us with good taste.

Let’s see, we have brown liver, brown caramelized onion, brown baked chicken, light brown gravy and white mashed potatoes … looks so appealing, so appetizing. Not!

I tried to make things better by setting a colorful and cheerful table.

And I offset the “mostly shades of brown” menu with a bright mixed citrus salad, a green and yellow zucchini bake and a sunny lemon pie.

  • Lemon Pie with Whipped Cream

I’ve posted the recipe for Dad’s liver and onions before and I’ll put up the baked chicken, citrus salad and pie recipes in the coming days. Today we’ll get right to the squash bake.

In the gorgeous tart recipe from two days ago, I peeled off thin slices of zucchini and yellow squash, leaving the center portions of the vegetables behind. For this recipe, I used those otherwise discarded pieces.

You can do the same or just start with nice freshly purchased (or picked) squash of your own.

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April 21, 2017   2 Comments

Roasted Balsamic Honey Brussels Sprouts

To say that I am loving my LetterFolk letter board is an understatement! Inspiring and fun, that’s what it is!

Anyhow, along with the Spring Vegetable Flower Tart and Fresh Spring Pea Hummus for Easter brunch, I served ham, Pomegranate Molasses Lamb Chops and roasted Brussels sprouts.

The ham was embarrassingly easy.

I stirred a cup of brown sugar and a can of pineapple in a slow cooker, added the ham, turned it on LOW for 2 hours, pulled it out and slapped it on a platter. Connor, my dad and Dave raved about it. Who knew!?!

For the Brussels sprouts, when you trim off the ends and cut them in half, you’ll end up with a pile of loose leaves. Don’t throw them out!

Set aside and after the sprouts are blanched, blanch and refresh the leaves, dry and use them in a salad for another meal. Yum!

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April 20, 2017   2 Comments

Easter appetizer

I may have gone a little overboard with the flowers this Easter.

It’s hard not to. Tulips. Daffodils. Freesia. Hydrangea. Gerber Daisy. Runuculus. It’s impossible to pick just one, or two for that matter!

The funny thing is that I didn’t use a one of them on my Easter tablescape. They were all too fragrant and floral scents often interfere with the food.

But they were enjoyed throughout the rest of the house.

All of the flowers came from Trader Joe’s, along with the fresh English spring peas that I used to make this appetizer.

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April 19, 2017   No Comments

trial and challenges

This is the extraordinarily lovely vegetable tart I made for our Easter brunch. I saw it on one of Martha Stewart’s social media pages several weeks ago and fell in love. I have to admit, I did run into a few challenges making it though.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here yet, but my house is on the market. I packed up boxes full of household items and accessories back in January to make it “show-ready” before we listed it.

My garage has stacks upon stacks and row after row of boxes filled with items from every room in the house. When potential buyers look at your house, they open closets and cupboards, so those had to be pared down too.

I tried to be careful about what I packed away, but inevitably, I have times when what I need is somewhere unreachable in the garage. In the case of this tart, it was the mandolin and the pie weights I needed but were out of reach. It’s frustrating, but luckily, I was able to adapt.

Instead of my mandolin, I used a vegetable peeler for the vegetables and instead of professional pie weights for the blind baking of the tart shell, I went old school and used rice (dry beans work well too).

I’m going to be 100% honest here and tell you that this recipe is A WHOLE LOT of work! To be doubly honest, I’m not sure that it was worth it, I didn’t find it flavorful enough. That being said, please don’t let those statements stop you for reading on! There is a solution to at least half of that proclamation!

I did modify the original recipe a bit; I added nutmeg to the filling and sprinkled Parmesan on top. I also found that the squash did not need to be blanched, only the carrots needed that treatment to roll easily. And I was lucky and found extra fancy tri-colored carrots at Trader Joe’s. They added vibrant extra pops of color.

Everyone enjoyed the tart and thought it was quite good, but for all the time and effort, I didn’t think it was good enough.

Before we ate it, I posted a photo of it on my Facebook page. My friend, Sue, left a comment saying, “My daughter posted the recipe for the tart to my timeline earlier this week for us to make! You’ll have to let us know how it tastes!!

After I tasted it, I went back to reply to Sue with my thoughts, but before I did, I checked out her timeline and found that the recipe her daughter posted was not the same recipe as the Martha Stewart recipe that I used. After reading over Sue’s recipe, I can say that I will make the tart again, but next time I’ll be using the recipe posted on her page, it sounds so much more flavorful! Instead of only eggs, cream and Parmesan for the filling and pie dough for the crust, hers added in ricotta, mozzarella, and oregano for the filling and used puff pastry for the crust. YUM! Here is the link for that recipe.

Oh, and if you’ve ever had difficulty removing the rim from a tart pan and wondered if there is a trick to it… there is! Set the baked tart on a bowl and let the rim just fall right off.  Easy as pie.

There is one fact that is not contested – this is one gorgeous tart!

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April 18, 2017   2 Comments

gold speckled robin’s egg Easter eggs

If you haven’t dyed your Easter eggs yet, there is still time. Time to do something more creative than the dye kits from the grocery store.

Many years ago, when my now 20-something kids were in grade school and we had our own egg-laying chickens, I tried dyeing our eggs with natural ingredients for Easter.

I used onion skins, beets, coffee, Red-Zinger tea bags, spinach, turmeric, chili powder and red cabbage. The only one I remember turning out as beautiful as the ones I’d seen Martha Stewart do were the eggs dyed with red cabbage. Maybe that is because instead of getting the red or purple eggs one would expect, the cabbage eggs come out a lovely shade of robin’s egg blue.

I was inspired to make these gold speckled robin’s eggs when I thought back on those red cabbage blue eggs combined with the memory of the Robin’s Nest Cake I made last Easter.

This is a “Do as I say – Not as I do” sort of recipe. I didn’t use enough cabbage and water to completely cover the eggs.

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April 15, 2017   3 Comments

where flowers bloom

My plan for this week was to get ready for Easter. I was going to make some gold speckled robin’s egg Easter eggs, start decorating the house, get my table ready and have fun doing it and then share it with you. The only thing I’ve accomplished this far is the update of my letter-board.

Instead, I’ve spent countless hours at the Verizon and Apple stores.

While I type this post, on Thursday evening, I’m actually sitting at the Apple Genius Bar. I’m dealing with my Mac laptop and issues with my Photos library. Basically what happened, is that I lost all 49,000+ of my photos when I updated the operating system, late on Tuesday night.

I installed the update because I needed to back up my phone, so that I could transfer all content from my iPhone 6S to a new iPhone 7.  The reason I needed a new phone was because on the morning I was leaving for my NYC trip (a week ago Wednesday) my phone fell from my back pocket into the toilet.

I know, it’s the worst!

I put the phone in a container of rice to dry it out and carried that container with me throughout the two flights from Phoenix to Houston to New York. All seemed fine on Wednesday night when I arrived in NYC and pulled the phone from the rice. It was still working fine on Thursday and on Friday morning. Then, out of the blue, on Friday afternoon, the camera stopped working. I had no front camera for the rest of the trip, only the back “selfie” camera worked.

The phone could not be fixed, so I spent all day this past Tuesday at Verizon, trying to back it up, to no avail. The Verizon dude told me to bring it home and plug it into my Mac and use iTunes to back it up…. hence the update of the Mac’s operating system before the phone could be backed up.

The new phone is all good but the update of the operating system on the Mac somehow jacked up my desktop. Everything disappeared, so I brought the computer to the Genius Bar on Wednesday afternoon. They fixed that problem and I thought that my technology challenges were over… until I got home and found that ALL of my photos were gone!

Well, I do have most of them on an external hard drive, but I discovered that the last time I used the drive was in 2014. Oops!

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April 14, 2017   2 Comments

NYC with my girl

I returned on Monday night, after a glorious long weekend in New York City with Marissa. We hadn’t had a mother/daughter trip since we went to Paris and London, the summer after her freshman year in college.

We had The Best Time!

The first morning, we went to LIVE with Kelly, where we saw Mandy Patinkin, Rashida Jones, Jason Statham, Kelly’s charming and fun co-host for the week, Scott Wolf and even got to give high-fives to James Bond himself, Pierce Bronsan!

Kelly Ripa was adorable and everything you hope she would be; funny, quick-witted, beautiful and sweet to everyone on set and in the audience.

We were actually there for two shows. The live show on Thursday, when we sat in the front row. And again about an hour later for the taping of the Friday show, where we were up in the balcony. Both vantage points had their advantages. It was fun to be in the front, but there were often production crew and cameras blocking our view. It was great to be up high because we could easily see it all.

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April 13, 2017   4 Comments