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take-out pot-luck dinner party

take out

Our friends, Lori and Jonathan Vento, were in town last week. We wanted to get together with Tram and Steve and them, but none of us felt like cooking. Come on – It’s August – It’s hot – Our energy level is low, at best!

I offered our house for Friday night and Lori had the great idea of just getting take-out. We decided the thing to do was a Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party.

blue and white

Coincidentally, my friend, Chef Joshua Hebert of Posh was selling some excess kitchen and dining wares he’d recently acquired from a restaurant that closed. I met him at a hangar at the Scottsdale Airpark on Thursday and purchased some lovely Asian dishware.


One little thing like this is all it takes for me to go all out with a theme! Now it’s ON like Donkey Kong!


The Ventos are former neighbors of ours, so as a surprise for them, I invited two other neighbor couples, the Codys and the Cavans.  On Thursday afternoon, I learned that Friday was Lori and Jonathan’s 27th wedding anniversary. Now we really did have a party! Tram and Steve picked up a cake, and everyone brought their favorite Chinese take-out to share and an anniversary for the adorable couple!

sake bottle

Since I was hosting, I didn’t want to leave the house to get take-out, so I made a cocktail, soup and a fruit dessert. Today, I’ll share the cocktail recipe. Tomorrow we’ll have another entry for the new weekly Travel Tuesday feature. Then, on Wednesday I’ll post the soup recipe and Thursday I’ll share the dessert (no oven, no bake, in other words – the perfect dessert!) recipe.

chinese dinner plate

Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party Menu

~Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

~Lemongrass-Ginger Coconut Chicken Soup

~ Tram & Steve brought Chow Mein and Beef & Broccoli from Nee House Chinese Restaurant

~ The Anniversary couple also brought Chow Mein, along with Orange Chicken, from Chop and Wok and some cookies and candies from Sprouts. (which I forgot to put out, so I have them all to myself! Just kidding, I gave the cookies to my dad and the candies are destined for Connor’s house.)

~ The Codys picked up Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s, which Whitney beautifully served on a lovely wooden try with a vintage covered serving dish and a stoneware pitcher for the sauce. They also brought a big bowl of fortune cookies. It’s not a Chinese dinner without fortune cookies!

~ The Cavans brought Fried Rice from Yume Sushi Grill, which Dana transferred to a big chafing dish to keep it piping hot. Smart girl!

~ Tropical Fruit stuffed Pineapples with Coconut Yogurt Sauce

~ Chocolate Mousse Anniversary Cake

It was all delicious! Even having two types of chow mein was fun, since it was great to taste them side-by-side and compare.

mint tips

I have a TIP to share for this cocktail recipe. Actually it’s a good tip for any recipe where you are using herbs in the body of the dish and again for garnish. When removing the leaves, in this case, the mint leaves, strip the leaves below the tip of each sprig and save the tops, the tip of each sprig, for garnish. Too many times, people strip off all the leaves and realize too late that they need some pretty pieces to use at the end of the recipe. Get in the habit of always reserving the pretty tips and you’ll never have that issue again.

sake cocktail

Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 bottle sake, chilled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1  1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus 8 to 10 sprig tips for garnish
  • 5 navel oranges, divided
  • 1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

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August 29, 2016   4 Comments

SUPER market and flap steak

Kim and Barb

At the beginning of June, Kim, Barb and I took a field trip to the new AZ International Marketplace on the corner of Dobson and Broadway Roads in Mesa.

flap steak

I meant to blog about it back then, but then … I didn’t. When I was making room in my freezer to freeze the rosé wine for the Frozé cocktail, I came across a package of flap steak (also known as Bavette steak) that I bought at the Marketplace. No better time than the present to cook up the beef and blog about the store.


When I go shopping to check a new place, mainly when it’s far out of my neighborhood, I call it a Field Trip. This was an especially good one! There were plenty of the things you would expect to find. Such as shelves upon shelves of dried mushrooms.


Aisles upon aisles of noodles, rice sticks, rice paper and the like.


And of course, many interesting finds – “Hello Kitty” seaweed anyone? (Oh, and we’ll be talking about that popcorn later, believe you me!!!)

laxitive cookies sweets

There were sweets of every variety, plus corn starch in lovely old-fashion boxes and even cooler looking boxes of psyllium husk. Love the packaging on that, even though I had no clue what it was used for. Turns out it’s a laxative. Well then, there you go!

dragon fruit and rambutan

The produce department was the most fun!


So many exotic and tropical items to temp you.


Kim and I were extra excited about the jackfruit. Some of them are triple the size of your head! No joke! What to do with all that jackfruit? I have no idea. Before I go back, I’m going to figure it out and buy one. For sure.

full cart

Not to worry, I still filled up my cart. Here is what I brought home on this first trip.

coconut milk water

A wide range of coconut waters and milks. Some are roasted, others have pulp, all were delish.

scmilk, fish sauce milk tea

A can of sweetened condensed milk with a pretty label, fish sauce in a smaller bottle than you’ll usually find and three interesting drinks; Korean ginseng drink with root, royal milk tea and macadamia nut iced coffee. Thus far, I’ve only tried the milk tea. It was good and how cute is that blue can?!?

fun stuff

Cool triangular-shaped rice paper, Chinese honey in a sweet little glass, chrysanthemum drink, super cheap thin white candles, candied ginger and three pretty little boxes of ginger candies. I haven’t tried the chrysanthemum drink yet, I haven’t been brave enough. The candies are good though. 😉

curry and coffee

Two flavors of sardines (for my dad) a lovely can of Café du Monte coffee, a large tin of Madras curry powder, Korean BBQ sauce, green and red curry paste and sweet chilli sauce. One can never have too much sweet chilli sauce!


An inexpensive jar of tahini, garlic hoisin sauce, extra-thick noodles and panko.

sriracha popcorn

Next up: A cheap hat for yard work and the pool, a cool “ice stick” ice tray (which I used along with the candied ginger for THESE Peach Mules) and the very best thing that I bought – SRIRACHA POPCORN!  It is amazing! I can’t wait to go back and buy a case of it! Seriously addicting! A case may not be enough! I may go out there this week since now I can’t stop thinking about the popcorn!!! Anyone want to take a field trip with me?

dumplings and flap steak

Finally, the last tray displaying my purchases; frozen dumplings and pork buns. These were nothing special, I’ve found similar items at Trader Joe’s and they were about the same. And the flap steak.

Here is a great recipe for flap steak. I did not create it, it comes from one of my all-time favorite chefs and cooking teachers, John Ash.

john ash flap steak

Chef John Ash’s Grilled Flap Steak

  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 pounds flap steak, trimmed of fat

flap marinade

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August 24, 2016   9 Comments

Travel Tuesday


Some of you asked if I plan to post more about our trip to Germany and down the Rhine River. I’m sorry to have started with a few posts, then abruptly stopped.


The problem with being away for a couple of weeks and then getting home and blogging about the trip, is that I actually have recipes I want to post and other events that come up, such as the 7th Blogiversary.

Zurich 3

My solution is a new feature called Travel Tuesday. This way, I’ll be able to share pretty photos and fun travel info without allowing the travel posts to hijack the entire blog.

Zurich train station

So we’ll pick up here…

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August 23, 2016   4 Comments

Frozé Slushy Cocktail

J&M picks

I wish I had come up with the name for this pretty, refreshing and perfect summer cocktail. Unfortunately, I didn’t and it is easily found all over social media.

pinned froze

Since I love rosé wine and it’s hotter than blue blazes, I had to put my spin on the Frosé sensation. I should have tried it sooner though, back when Rainier cherries were in season. Instead, I bought regular cherries and strawberries and made simple syrups from each fruit.

strawberry cherry

The cherry-style was far too tart, so I went with the strawberries. Next summer, I’ll get on the ball earlier and make it with Rainiers. Already looking forward to that!

It’s recommended to use a darker shade of rosé since the wine will lose some of its color and be diluted due to the blending, freezing and the addition of other ingredients.

If you would like to make two batches (since only half of the strawberry simple syrup is used in this recipe) the instructions to do so are at the bottom of the recipe.

fit in freezer

My “do as I say, not as I do” recommendation for today is to place the sheet pan in the freezer first and then add the wine to it. I poured the wine in the pan and tried to transfer it to the freezer. Way more difficult than it seems like it should be!

9 of 10

One last note before the recipe. Above are nine of the ten stacks of cookbooks for the blogiversary winners. I didn’t bother to package the tenth stack since it’s for my daughter, Marissa. She’ll pick hers up when she visits over Labor Day weekend.


I delivered six of the packages on Saturday. I’m waiting for the other three winners to be home. Those lucky ladies are out-of-town, enjoying some cooler weather. Yes, I’m jealous!

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August 22, 2016   3 Comments

We have our WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who participated and left comments for the 7th Blogiversary.

My special guests arrived yesterday morning to draw the winning names out of the saucepan. I made two videos, one for the Grand Prize Winner and the other for the Seven Individual Cookbook Winners. Unfortunately both videos were too large to post here and I have not idea how to fix that, so I’ve posted them to YouTube. They are fun, so be sure to click on the links and watch.

tram ZZ

The special guests were Tram and her sweet twins, Zoey and Zak.

We’ll begin with the Grand Prize Winner drawing.

The eligible contestants are: Amy K., Nancy B., Amy G. and Sheila C.


Please click on THIS LINK to watch the drawing and discover who won.

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August 19, 2016   6 Comments

last chance!

For those of you who’ve already entered and commented, please go to the bottom of this post for a special note of thanks and some additional info.

Today is the last full day to enter and have one of seven chances to win a stack of Seven Cookbooks and/or a chance to win the opportunity make YOUR favorite recipe in MY kitchen and be my VIP Guest Blogger!

Read THIS for all the nitty-gritty.

7th blogiversary

Deadline and Details

VIP Guest blogger


Leave a comment with your favorite recipe (not from this blog) to have a chance to win and be my VIP Guest Blogger.

sample stack


Leave a comment with your favorite post from this blog from the past 7 years to have a chance to win a Stack of Seven Cookbooks from the “Overflow Cookbook Armoire” (sample stack is pictured above)

  1. All eligible entries/comments must be posted by 8:00 a.m. PST on Thursday, August 18, 2016.
  2. You may enter to win both the Grand Prize (by leaving a comment with your favorite recipe) AND one of the Individual Prizes (by leaving a comment with your favorite post from this blog). There is a chance that one person could win BOTH the Grand Prize and one of the Individual Prizes. Only one entry in each of the two categories of prizes though.
  3. All eight winners will be announced (along with accompanying prize-drawing video) in the Friday, August 19, 2016 post.
  4. I will personally deliver the cookbook prizes to you, if you are local. I will mail them to you, if you are not.

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August 17, 2016   1 Comment

Happy 7th Blogiversary to me!

Incredible! This blog is 7 years old! Last year, on the 6th Blogiversary, I was on a “wedding break” so I missed that celebration. That means that this year we need to go all out!

7th blogiversary

As such, there will be Seven Individual Prizes and One Super Cool Grand Prize.

Before I explain how to enter and what exactly it is that you can win – a little history.

figure tape holder

Two and a half years ago, I posted THIS… all about how I cleaned out and reclaimed a large part of the kids’ playroom upstairs as my new craft room. At the time, Connor still lived here, so about half of the room had his stuff in it. Three months after the reclamation, Marissa and Jeff got engaged.



Slowly but surly the room became the dump-room for all things bridal shower, wedding and after-wedding brunch related. In other-words, I trashed it.

dumproom [

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August 16, 2016   16 Comments

lucky 7

big day

There will be a contest.


For Prizes!

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August 15, 2016   3 Comments


alps map

Our last night before joining the land-tour group was spent in Germany, in the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


On the way there, from Munich, we stopped at Ettal Abbey, a beautiful Benedictine monastery.

Ettal Abbey

One thing I noticed was that the monastery gift-shop sold not only wine but also beer. It was a pretty great gift-shop!

hotel zugspitze

We stayed at Hotel Zugspitze, which is named after the highest Alps peak in Germany.

cog wheel

I really wanted to take the cog-wheel cable up to the peak, but at 49.50 euro per person (about $126 total) … on second thought… no thanks!

hotel dining

I can just image how packed this sweet hotel must be during the popular ski season.

hotel fresco

Just as in Oberammergau, many of the buildings are covered in beautiful frescoes.


hunting fresco [

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August 9, 2016   No Comments

Germany and Austria

Linderhof ticket

As I mentioned in the last post, before we joined up with the land-tour portion of our river cruise, we were on our own. First in Munich with Hope & Nick and then in a rented car as we traveled toward Switzerland.

Linderhof Palace2

We visited two of the three castles of King Ludwig, king of Bavaria from 1864 until his death in 1886.

Linderhof Palace

First we toured through the Rococo-style Linderhof Palace.

Linderhof Palace fountail

The grounds were especially beautiful with a breath-taking fountain.

Sleeping Beauty's castle (1)

Next we went through the fairy-tale Romanesque-style Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle

It honestly looks like Sleeping Beauty’s castle!

Neuschwanstein kitchen4

Not surprisingly, my favorite part of this castle was the kitchen.

Neuschwanstein molds

Neuschwanstein kitchen5

Neuschwanstein kitchen1

I’d love to get my hands on all those copper pots and the vast variety of vintage molds!

Neuschwanstein kitchen jewels [

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August 8, 2016   3 Comments