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now I’m the winner

Nancy Chili Rellenos

Remember when I had my 7th Blogiversary contest and Nancy was the Grand Prize Winner and we cooked together?

sample stack

One of the other contestants who put forth a recipe for the contest sent me the sweetest email after I had delivered the stack of 7 cookbooks to her front door. Amy G. said that she still wanted to share her winning-worthy recipe. I made it, so I know it’s a winner! Amy said that the recipe could be frozen, so I made a double batch at the end of August and can’t wait to pull my frozen stuffed steaks out of the freezer for Sunday’s supper!

So yeah, not only did I get to cook with Nancy and make her great overnight rellenos but I got Amy’s delicious stuffed flank steak recipe too! I’m the winner now! Thank you, Amy G.


Here is what Amy wrote:

“I know I wasn’t the lucky winner to prepare a recipe, but I still wanted to share my flank steak recipe with you.  And, it is not so much a recipe, as a method.

Do you recall the Phoenix Meat Market at 7th Ave and Osborn?  I think it closed mid-1990s…boo hoo!  They sold a steak called “Mexi-Flank Steak”,

And I was lucky enough to watch them prepare a batch one day.   After the market closed, I’ve made my own.

I’ll warn you…this is NOT a pretty presentation…the cheese and chilies will squish all over the place when you carve the meat! But, it is oh so yummy, and piled on to a tortilla, it doesn’t matter what the heck it looks like! I serve the steak with hot tortillas and seasoned black beans, (or a bean/corn salad) and Spanish rice if you really want to blow the diet!  Can’t go wrong with guacamole, too!”

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September 23, 2016   4 Comments

thank you notes and an upgrade

So many people to thank, so little time.


First, I want to thank you all for the comments and encouragement on my new venture, Miscellany Shed. It took less than 24 hours for the Miscellany Shed Facebook page to get 100 likes and that is in big thanks to these lovelies for sharing, posting, tweeting and inviting others to like the page: Marissa Sandell, Tram Mai, Beverly Bertrand, Sloane Hansen, Whitney Cody, Sydney Wigle, Amy Kilpatrick, Lisa James and Cyndi Greening. You are all amazing and wonderful friends and I can’t really thank you enough.

Speaking of someone I can’t thank enough, at the very tippy-top of that long list is Cyndi Greening. Cyndi is the “Blogmaster” who set up this very site for me back in 2009. She has been my dear friend since we worked together on the Beach Balls for Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the mid 90’s. Cyndi taught me how to use my first desktop personal computer, the first computer we had in our home. I know, hard and strange to remember NOT having a computer. Flying Toasters, anyone?

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September 19, 2016   2 Comments

a couple of weeks early

Do you remember, back at the beginning of the month, when I told you that I had big news to announce on October 1st?

MSLogo copy

October 1, 2016


Well, I’m announcing it to you, today, a couple of weeks earlier than expected!

I have a new business! It was built out of my love of entertaining, my love of stuff and my wish to share. You see, I am a collector, an “Organized Hoarder”, some in my family would say.

13th table

When I entertain, the first thing I do is come up with a theme. I build the entire dinner, event, party, or whatever around that theme. The theme is what sparks my imagination and helps me create. Once I have the theme, I’m off and running. The theme is where my inspiration comes from for the decor, the food, the cocktails, the music playlists and sometimes even the guest list.

peggy anne linda

So what does all of this lead to? It takes me to the fact that I have A LOT of stuff. A bunch of great collections.

One evening last fall, while enjoying cocktails with my BFF’s, Peggy and Anne, we discussed the obvious need for me to do more with all The Stuff!

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September 14, 2016   11 Comments

crinkle cucumber slicer

crinkle cucumber slicer

There is a kitchen tool that I have owned for over 20 years which I have used only once. I can’t for the life of me tell you when, why or how I acquired it, I just know that it’s been hanging around forever. I honestly don’t even know the proper name for it but I’m calling it a crinkle cucumber slicer. This past weekend, I used it for a second time.

tool junk drawer

You know how most homes have a junk drawer? Yeah, I have one of those too, but sadly, I have a second drawer that I call the kitchen tool junk drawer. It holds an odd variety of tools I seldom, if ever, use. I had to pull out the drawer to get to the bottom to find the slicer.


The reason the slicer was rescued from the pit of despair is because my dad brought over crates full of cucumbers, beans, peas, squash and corn that he received from his friends in Colorado, who he calls his shirt-tail relatives.

My dad asked me to “put up” the cucumbers and some of the green beans for him. Although I have an obsession with Mason jars, I’m not really into canning. I told him I’d quick pickle them and he could give them to his friends at church. He reluctantly agreed to settle on that.

pickles and beans

All three of these recipes can be processed for canning. If you’d like to do so, there are plenty of articles online with the canning process. HERE is one that I found for you.

The photos show more jars than the recipes make, that is due to the fact that I doubled and tripled the recipes. The first two are Tyler Florence recipes, the third is one I worked up.

sweet pickles

Quick Sweet Pickles

6 pickling (Kirby) or 2 regular cucumbers
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
salted cucmbers

Wash and dry the cucumbers. Using a sharp knife or a crinkle cucumber slicer cut the cucumbers into ½-inch slices and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Place the colander over a bowl and allow it to sit, covered, for about 1 hour.

rinse off salt

Rinse off the salt and dry the cucumber slices well.

dry slices

Place them into a sterilized quart jar.

sweet spices

In a small saucepan add the remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil.

add spices

Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Pour the brine over the cucumbers in jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.

bread and butter pickles

Recipe from Tyler Florence

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September 6, 2016   1 Comment

Nancy’s Chili Rellenos

Nancy Chili Rellenos


A week ago today, my 7th Blogiversary contest winner, Nancy Bull, came over and we cooked her favorite recipe together.

recipe card

I asked Nancy to send me the recipe ahead of time so that I could purchase the ingredients and get set up for our time together. Since this is an overnight recipe, I made one the day before and popped it in the oven when Nancy arrived.  She brought a casserole dish with her, I pulled another one from my cupboard and we each made a pan of Nancy’s Chili Rellenos.

Since Nancy was my guest blogger, I asked her to write-up a little something about the dish:

“We’ve been making this dish for probably 25 years or more.  My mom found the recipe in a church cookbook and thought it would be a great breakfast casserole for Christmas morning.  Every Christmas Eve, after cleaning up from dinner, all the Bull girls gather in the kitchen to make the casserole(s) for the next morning.  Thank goodness it’s so easy because by the time we get to this, there have been festive beverages consumed!  We pop it in the fridge for the night and bake it while we open presents on Christmas morning.  The family has grown over the years so now we make 2….leftovers are never a problem!


I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years!  Cheers!


swim up

This recipe could not be easier. In fact, Nancy was a little embarrassed about this at first, be I assured her that people, my followers included, LOVE easy-breezy recipes. And you can rest assured – this one is a winner! I know, because the two of us enjoyed it for dinner that night and I had some for breakfast the next morning. Just as good the next day!

grind garlic

A few notes: Nancy’s recipe called for a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. I only had 7-ounce cans. Nancy said that we should use the 7-ounce cans – the more the better. Good idea! The recipe called for garlic powder, I didn’t have any, so I used a mini-chop and ground up dried minced garlic to make my own powder.

nancys chili relleno

Since I actually made two pans, the one Nancy and I enjoyed and the one I made with her, I asked her if the cooked dish could be frozen. She said they never have had any left over, so she didn’t know. I was leaving town the next day, so I baked my second pan, let it cool, then refrigerated it. Next, I removed it from the pan, then I double wrapped it in plastic, then wrapped that in heavy foil and froze it. I pulled it out six days later, transferred it back into the baking dish, let it defrost in the refrigerator and then reheated it in the oven.

The verdict: It does not freeze well. It was soggy and not even close to as delicious as it was when it was freshly baked.

chili rellenos from oven

Lastly, when the casserole comes out of the oven, it is puffy as all get out.

rellenos deflated

In the five minutes that it rests before cutting, it deflates. That’s natural and what is supposed to happen, so don’t fret.

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September 5, 2016   6 Comments

less than a month from today…

MSLogo copyThis is the new logo for something nearly a year in the making.


MSLogo copySomething I’ll be launching on the first day of my favorite month of the year.

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September 2, 2016   4 Comments

pineapple fruit salad platter

Who would think that a person could squeeze three blog posts out of one simple Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party?

tropical fruit

You must admit, I know how to stretch out a good thing! I’ve given you the recipes for the cocktail and the soup, now it’s time for dessert.

pretty stuffed pineapple

Tropical Fruit stuffed Pineapple with Coconut-Yogurt Sauce

halve pineapple

  • 1 pineapple, halved lengthwise
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large mango, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large papaya, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 container of raspberries
  • 1 container of blueberries
  • Juice of 2 limes


  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (my preference is Greek Gods, honey flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut
  • Mint sprigs and lime slices, for garnish

cut and scoop

Cut out the center of each pineapple half, cube the pineapple you removed from the center, avoiding and discarding the center core, set aside the pineapple cubes.

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September 1, 2016   3 Comments

soup for take-out pot-luck dinner party


I was inspired to create this soup because I had a nearly full can of coconut milk, less only 2 tablespoons, that I’d used for this recipe.

ginger lemongrass coconut chicken soup

Ginger-Lemongrass Coconut Soup with Chicken

  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 3-inch piece of fresh lemongrass, smashed
  • Cheesecloth and kitchen string
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk (regular or lite)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
  • 6 large basil leaves, divided
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal, divided
  • 1 cup finely shredded breast meat from a rotisserie chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small red chili, thinly sliced for garnish
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Cilantro sprigs

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August 31, 2016   2 Comments

Travel Tuesday

dying lion

From Zürich, we traveled to the gorgeous city of Lucerne. Our first quick stop was at the historic and beautiful Lion Monument, which commemorates the more than 700 Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

It is a very moving and emotional place. As Mark Twain said of it,

“… the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”


Before we got back on the coach, I snapped a selfie, one of the rare photos proving that I was actually on this trip! And one of the even rarer times you’ll ever see me wearing a hat. It was raining, so the hat was there to try to save the hair from frizzing out from here to kingdom come!


We were then dropped off near the city-center to tour around while our driver took our luggage to our hotel.


These colorful umbrellas caught my attention.


My favorite part of Lucerne was seeing and walking across the Chapel Bridge. I felt as if I couldn’t get enough photos of it. In the picture above you can see our guide, Patricia, telling us the history of the bridge before we walked across it.

bridge flowers

The flower boxes on the sides of the bridge were magnificent!

flowers on bridge

Absolutely stunning!

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August 30, 2016   2 Comments

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   6 Comments