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dirty little secret

Honestly, it’s more of a dirty little tip that I have for you today.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite cocktails to make is Mules. Everyone knows that Mules are best served in copper cups. They’re hip, on trend and they keep the cocktail ice-cold for a very long time.

They most recent Mules I made were for Steve and Tram’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. Here are links to some of the Mule recipes I’ve posted:

My collection of copper mugs has grown to 20. Most are vintage. Seventeen of the twenty are as shiny as a new penny. They stay that way because they are sealed.

Sadly, the sealant has come off the other three and they tarnish quickly. But there is a fix for that.

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March 24, 2017   No Comments

Guinness Fondue

Sweet Zoey and me testing the appetizer I made for Tram and Steve’s St. Patrick’s Day/Going-Away dinner party last Friday night. Zoey and Zak were not fans of the Guinness Fondue, but they did love all the dippers for it.

One of the dippers is blanched Brussels sprouts.

To blanch them; trim the ends and cut in half. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add sprouts and boil for 3 or 4 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces a sprout easily. Drain and then shock in ice water. Drain on paper towels and leave at room temperature until serving time. Note: When you’re trimming and halving the sprouts, you’ll end up with a pile of single leaves. I blanched the leaves first for about 30 seconds, shocked and drained them and used them in a salad the next day. Zero waste!

Also a note about another dipper – the pretzel roll cubes. I didn’t have time to get to Costco and buy a package of their pretzel rolls, which are the best around, in my opinion. Instead I bought the Trader Joe’s pretzel rolls. You know I love my Trader Joe’s, but there is no comparison between the two rolls. The Costco variety are saltier and way more pretzel-y. Lesson learned.

One last note before the recipe. I know, I’ve got so much to say about this easy-breezy appetizer! A third and very important dipper is apple cubes. In my rush to assemble and set out the appetizer when I arrived at Tram’s, I forgot to add the apple cubes to the serving tray. I felt like something was missing, but I brushed it off. Finally, a guest asked, “What is this container of apple cubes for?” Darn it! Don’t forget to put them out because they add a much-needed light and bright color to the tray of dippers and are a delicious fresh addition to the overall taste choices. *If you look closely in the left upper corner of the photo above, you’ll see them in their storage container with the purple trimmed lid. Oh well.

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March 23, 2017   No Comments

Irish recipes for next St. Patrick’s Day

On Friday night, Tram and Steve had a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party that was also a going-away party for a special Irish chef we all know and love. Chef Michael Cairns and his beautiful wife, Dar, are moving to Napa, California today. You will now be able to find Michael at the gorgeous Silverado Resort. The last time I was at The Silverado was in 1990-something for the Napa County Wine Auction. Knowing that Michael is there makes me want to go back. The 2017 Auction is the first weekend in June… very tempting!

Michael and Steve cooked up a delicious traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal; corned beef, cabbage & carrots, soda bread, Shepard’s pie, roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes and colcannon (which is another potato dish – you know, for good measure!)

I contributed my favorite things to bring to parties, a cocktail and an appetizer. Today you’ll find the cocktail recipe and tomorrow I’ll post the appetizer.

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March 22, 2017   1 Comment

Soup for the Ventos

I had my dear friends, Lori and Jonathan Vento, over for dinner. Not this last weekend, because they are back in Chicago, freezing their little toes off! It was actually last month, while they were here visiting and Lori’s mom was along for the trip.

For our first course, I decided to combine two of my favorite vegetables. I love butternut squash soup and I equally adore red bell pepper soup. They are both bright and beautiful and doubly so when in the same bowl.

Off topic …. It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted any adorable photos of my exceedingly adorable 2-year-old cats, Bombay and Bailey. While scrolling back through my photos to find the pictures to accompany this recipe, I found a few cat pics. Honestly, I found a ton of cat pics, I am constantly taking pictures of them. I only chose a few to share though. They are at the bottom of the post … after the recipe … if adorable cat photos are your thing!

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March 20, 2017   2 Comments

savory “lollypops”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Faith and Begorrah!

I’ve mentioned several times before that I am a founding member of the Phoenix chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier. Our March meeting was an appetizer pot-luck and I made these fun and savory pimento cheese lollypops to share.

No matter how cute and tasty they may have been, they could never compete with the out-of-this-world Fried Chicken that Charleen Badman, chef/owner, of the ever wonderful FnB, brought to the meeting! So darn good! But since I don’t have the recipe for Charleen’s chicken, the recipe for the lollypops will have to suffice.

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March 17, 2017   1 Comment

chicken and lentils

I made this slow cooker stew for a girl’s night with my BFF’s, Peggy and Anne, a month ago, when it wasn’t 93 degrees outside, like it is right now! We enjoyed the fireplaces, each other’s company, the Jacuzzi and the correct seasonal weather.

What the heck?!? Here it is mid-March and already in the 90’s in Arizona! I just heard my upstairs A/C turn on again! I hate it! I know that the mid-west and east are suffering through a blizzard and freezing their behinds off. And as ridiculous as that is, this heat is just as bad. It’s expected to be 96 degrees this Saturday! What happened to spring? Who do we send our complaints to? Rant over. For today anyhow.

I used chicken tenders, which meant that I needed to removed the tendon from each.

It’s easy to do. Use a fingernail to hold on to the end of the tendon. Then slide a paring knife to scrape it off. See, easy.

I thought the stew had just the right amount of heat. Anne found it too spicy for her taste. Even Peggy thought it was a little too hot. If you like spicy, keep the recipe as is.

For a milder stew, simply eliminate the jalapeños.

 

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March 15, 2017   No Comments

soup rules!

Once I make a pot of soup, all I really want to do is to make another.

Yesterday it was cauliflower soup, today it’s broccoli and spinach. Tomorrow… ooh, chunky corn chowder sounds yummy!

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March 9, 2017   1 Comment

cauliflower rice

Have you seen or tried the packages of cauliflower rice that are all the rage? I picked up a 2-pack at Costco recently to give it a try. I used one package as intended, as a side dish and honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. If you know of a stand-out recipe, please let me know.

I decided to use the second package for soup. You can never go wrong with soup!

Initially, I thought I’d roast the cauliflower rice for the soup, I had it all spread out on a baking sheet, but then I decided to roast a bulb of fennel I had instead and leave the cauliflower as is. The thought process here was, “I don’t want to have to keep checking on the little cauliflower bits and worry about them burning.” Laziness wins!

Roasted cauliflower or not, this is one delicious and tummy warming soup.

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March 8, 2017   1 Comment

childhood food nightmares

In my recent post about canned vegetables, I encouraged you to share your own childhood food nightmare stories. After Lori shared her story about hiding Brussels sprouts in her bedroom dresser and Amy shared about having to sit at Girl Scout camp with an ever-growing brick of Shredded Wheat in front of her, while her friends went on a hike, I knew I had to share my ultimate childhood food nightmare with you.

This is the house I grew up in. All my childhood food nightmares happened in this house. The majority of those nightmares occurred in the mornings of the late fall and winter months. Summer, spring and early fall weren’t much better.

Breakfast, which is now one of my favorite and most reliable meals, was the dreaded meal for my younger self. The source of the dread was cereal. I really do not like cereal. I never have and I never will!

On a typical day, our cupboards held only three types of cold cereal; Cheerios, Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes. For readers who are far younger than I, let me educate you: this was before Frosted Corn Flakes, before Cocoa Krispies and before Honey-Nut Cheerios. Brands such as Trix, Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs were available, just not in our house.

Looking back, and I have to look back because I haven’t had a bowl of cereal since I moved out of my parents’ home! Anyhow, looking back, I think what I hated about cereal was that it got soggy quickly and the milk was never cold enough. The warming milk and disintegrating cereal, especially the Corn Flakes, was beyond disgusting to me. I literally couldn’t stomach it.

My first choice was always Cheerios, I’d put as little in my bowl as allowed, add the milk and try to shove it down as fast as possible before the milk warmed and the Cheerios had a chance to even think of sinking to the bottom of the bowl. My goal was to get to them while they were floating.

Second choice, when the Cheerios were gone, was Rice Krispies. The same deal here, try to shovel them in before they could snap, crackle and pop more than a couple of times.

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March 6, 2017   10 Comments

horseradish vinegar

In yesterday’s post I spoke of my childhood trauma with canned vegetables and encouraged you to share childhood food stories of your own. Lori and Amy obliged and shared both hilarious and horrifying stories. Thank you! I laughed and cringed at the same time. The best part – bits of each of your stories are parts of my hot cereal story, so now I’m going to have to share it!

Not today though. In my next post, I promise.

Today, I’m going to give you a recipe that will use up extra horseradish root you may have after making the fresh horseradish sauce that went with Wednesday’s beef brisket recipe. At least, I had a big piece of horseradish root left, so I needed to do something with it!

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March 3, 2017   No Comments