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Posts from — April 2010

…40 days later…

Hey, it is time to take your jar with the first stage of limoncello out of the dark cool place you have been hiding it. You don’t know what in the world I’m talking about?  Then you must have missed the March 8th post that gave you the first step to make your own limconcello. Of course, you can still do it, just go back to the beginning, do step one and mark your calendar accordingly. But if you were following along, you are ready to proceed.

CLICK HERE for Step 1

CLICK HERE for Step 3

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April 17, 2010   5 Comments

raffle payoff time…

L & L

You may remember a post back in September about a raffle that, my friend and former private student, Larry Fitzgerald, and I were doing for a charity event.

The winner, Bill Nassikas, was announced on October 1, 2009 and last night we finally held the cooking and dining event.  Bill’s guest was Beau MacMillan, chef at Elements at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, which received a rave review in yesterday’s Arizona Republic.

Bill is the President & COO of Westroc, owners of Sanctuary, so there is that connection and congratulations to you both!  We had a great night cooking together and then sitting down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. A BIG thank you to my BFF, Peggy, for assisting with the class and the evening, I couldn’t have done it with you! xoxo [Read more →]

April 15, 2010   10 Comments

carpeting not cooking

No recipe today… the reason… my house should be deemed a national disaster area! I am hoping for some catastrophe funds from the government to be flowing my way very soon!

Everyday since Easter, I have boxed up, thrown out, or donated car-loads of goods.  Our house is 24+ years old and we have lived in it for 11 of those years and until today, the original carpet was on its floors. Although the picture above looks nice, with the new fresh carpet, the rest of the house… not so much!

Before the carpet could to be torn out and the new carpet installed, I had to face my demon. The name of the demon is stuff, way to much stuff! Although I would never categorize myself as a hoarder, I will have to admit that I am a pack-rat. I find myself continually cramming all those things, that I can not bring myself to part with, into every nick and cranny of the house.

To clean it out, I began with the upstairs carpeted rooms; a huge playroom, Connor’s bedroom, and an office.  The office was easy, it has a build-in desk and bookcases all the way around the room, and although those are packed to the gills, nothing had to be gone through in that room. Connor’s bedroom was another story, he has inherited my tendencies and doesn’t want to throw out anything, not even birthday cards received from family and friends for his 3rd birthday, which of course he can’t even remember receiving! Sorry, Connor, when you went back to school after Easter, some of those things ended up residing in the recycle center.

The playroom – I can barely talk about the playroom! Before Marissa went back to Tucson on Easter Sunday, she helped me go through three cabinets full of games, videos and arts & crafts stuff. Almost an entire carload of that went to Goodwill. Everything else that was in those upstairs rooms went into Marissa’s wood-floored room. See the pictures of that sad scene below – I don’t know when I’ll find the strength or courage to open that door again and face it.

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April 13, 2010   4 Comments

not pretty but pretty darn yummy!

On Saturday, I was at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market conducting a class for kids at the market.  The class came about when I was contacted by a group of ASU students who are in a program planning class. Their assignment was to put on a community event, and they chose to teach kids about the importance of locally grown foods and organize a cooking class. They were so well organized and put together a great event. I want to extend a big congratulations to each of them; Kc, Megan, Britany, Daniel, Ryan, Mary and Jessi.

Plus Kc made the most adorable visual aid for her presentation, I just had to include it here!

And the kids who participated were so attentive and excited to participate. Sadly, I didn’t get all of their names committed to memory; but to all of you, including Matthew, Ava, Brenden, Leanna, and Bekah – thanks for coming and keep on cooking!

We made a roasted vegetable dish and a berry smoothie. Since we didn’t have access to an oven, I roasted a batch of the vegetables ahead of time. At the market, the kids sliced and prepared a second batch of the veggies, and I brought those home to roast and used them to create this soup. When the vegetables are pureed, the go from all their various lovely colors to a drab old brown. Not very appealing in color – but the taste – fantastic! It helped to hold back a few bits of the veggies to dice as garnish and my finished soup would have even been a little brighter if I had remembered to garnish with some cilantro, so be sure and remember for yourself!  The brioche croutons are a wonderful added flavor – and on their own – they are downright addictive.

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April 12, 2010   2 Comments

dine and dash

This morning, I’m off to the Downtown Phoenix Public Market using the market’s fresh fruits and vegetables to teach a class for kids.  I’ve just enough time to put up this tasty twist on coleslaw before I dash out the door.  If you haven’t been to the DPP Market yet, you really need to take a break and go, check out the details HERE.  Have a happy Saturday!

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April 10, 2010   No Comments

I’ve got sole…

One of my favorite songs by The Killers is All These Things That I’ve Done. The chorus, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” is my favorite part and was used in a Nike advertisement during the last summer Olympics (Click here to watch). Hence the title:  I’ve got sole…  My niece, Raina, had a post on her facebook page, right before Easter, that totally cracked me up…  “I’ve got ham, but I’m not a hamster.”  I really did laugh out loud at that one!

I was the lucky and happy recipient of an “over-purchase” of fresh fillet of sole and banana leaves after Wednesday night’s cooking class at Les Gourmettes. That meant that Thursday’s dinner was on the table in less than 10 minutes! Fresh banana leaves are available at Asian markets, and are very inexpensive, give them a try!  The leaves tear easily, so it is important to quickly pass them over an open flame to make them more pliable and easier to handle. The exposure to heat brightens them and releases the leaf’s natural oils and fragrance. When steamed, the leaves tend to loose their vibrant green color and turn a darker shade of olive green. Click here to make the chipotle mayonnaise, if you don’t already have some on hand.

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April 9, 2010   No Comments

chocolate, peanut butter… and hazelnuts

Finally, this is the last of the Easter brunch recipes. Hopefully this past week of posts has given you a nice repertoire of brunch, breakfast, and spring recipes ideas.

I’ve mentioned of my love for Nutella before, so how about a little “history of Nuttela” this time?  This comes straight from the Nuttela website, “Nutella® spread, in its earliest form, was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, as pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply.” There you go, a little history with your breakfast!

I served this at the Saturday office brunch last weekend and have some “do-head” tips for you. The brioche can be sliced, spread, and sandwiched together a day ahead. Place in an airtight bag or container and refrigerate until ready to cook. And the cereal-brown sugar mixture may also ground together ahead and stored in an airtight container. Unsliced loaves of brioche can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Lastly, a shout-out to my girlfriend, Lorie, in Los Angeles…. I couldn’t decide which old picture to choose, so I put up both of them.  Happy Birthday, Lorie! xoxo

Lorie, Sloane, Dave, and me at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 1998
Anne, Peggy, Lorie, and me about to board a private plane to California in 2005… good times!

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April 8, 2010   3 Comments

banana – the unberry

You know how sometimes one of your children (who you love dearly!) demonstrates a trait and you think, “Did I really birth this child, do they belong to our family?”  Admit it, you do, it doesn’t mean you love them less or would trade them for all the tea in China, but you still wonder!  For me, that child is Connor and that trait is his complete distaste and dislike for all things berry.  He doesn’t like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, marionberries, any sort of berry. This is completely out of sink with everyone else in our family, heck I don’t know anyone else in my entire life who doesn’t love berries!  But, of course, I love Connor all the same and because of that deep and undying love, I happily made this unberry dessert, especially for him for Easter…. and berry shortcake for everyone else, everyone else who is normal…

Connor rocking the “kaleidoscope on a rope” he found in his Easter basket… that’s right, I still make my 18 and 22 year olds baskets and force them to search for them!

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April 7, 2010   8 Comments


Just like yesterday, today we have dish that was inspired for our Easter menu by a dish we enjoyed at the new FnB restaurant in Scottsdale (here is the link). The night we went, Dave had the most amazing chicken dish. Mind you, chicken is not something either of us generally order at a restaurant, but I’d read rave reviews about Chef Char’s chicken with spaetzle. Those reviews were right on the mark – fabulous!

Spaetzle are tiny dumpling-like noodle nubbins from Germany and Austria that are made with flour, eggs, milk, salt and nutmeg. The spaetzle dough can be firm enough to be rolled and cut into slivers or soft enough to be forced through a sieve, colander, or spaetzle-maker directly into boiling salted water. They rise to the top then are drained and sautéed in butter or mixed with a sauce. Spaetzle literally translates from German as “little sparrow”. In Germany, spaetzle is served as a side dish much like potatoes or rice, and is often accompanied by a sauce or gravy.

There are spaetzle-makers that consist of a hopper to hold the dough as it slides across a metal plate with holes, others that look like ricers, and a third style that is a food mill with a handle and a paddle to force the dough through the holes of a special speatzle blade (which is what I have).

I served the wild mushroom spaetzle with my Pomegranate Molasses Lamb Chops which you can find on this previous post.

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April 6, 2010   2 Comments


I was inspired to make chilaquiles for Easter brunch after learning about them at FnB, a fabulous new restaurant in downtown Scottsdale, (click here for link) where Chef Charleen Badman traditionally makes them on weekends for the late-night crowd.

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish. Typically, corn tortillas cut in quarters and lightly fried are the basis of the dish. Red or green sauce is poured over the tortilla triangles, called “totopos.” Scrambled eggs and/or shredded chicken are sometimes added. The dish is topped with queso fresco and crèma.  Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or brunch. This makes them a popular recipe to use leftover or stale tortillas.

I’ll be using two of my favorite “convenience” items – 3 garlic cubes (purchased at Trader Joe’s) and 4 chipotle cubes(homemade using empty garlic cube trays – see this previous post on how to do so).  You can too, or just follow the recipe for the “traditional” method of peeling and mincing.

Marissa, Sloane, and Connor in the shade at Easter Brunch

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April 5, 2010   4 Comments