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Category — Holiday

back in the saddle

Hello friends,

I’ve put off this day for far too long. I’m going through some life changes. As such, blogging about food and entertaining and putting on the “everything is just fine” face has felt disingenuous.

After trying several times over the past five weeks to get a post up and stopping short each time, I have decided that today is the day.

My last post, on January 13th, was a recipe from our 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck. I figure that is as good a place as any to pick up where I left off and get on with it!

These chicken cheeseballs were a big hit and could not be easier to throw together. They can be assembled, lined up on the baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap and then refrigerated the night before or in the morning and then baked off just before your guests arrive. They are even delicious at room temperature. I’m certain they would be great the next day too, but there were none left, so I can’t swear to that.

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February 20, 2017   8 Comments

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

This is one of the recipes I made for the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck and it is a winner any time of year. It only has four ingredients and can be made well in advance, then thrown in the oven at the last-minute.

I’d love to be able to tell you that these are just as good reheated the next day, but I’ve never had even one left any time I’ve made them to test that theory.

Of course, in my opinion, anything wrapped in bacon is the perfect appetizer for any occasion!

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

  • 15 Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
  • 15 pieces bacon (regular cut, not thick cut)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Add the sprouts and cook for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cut in half through then stem end when they are cool enough to handle.

Fry bacon, in batches, in a large skillet until it is just beginning to brown but still pliable. Drain on paper towels.

What you’re looking for here is the exact opposite of what you ever what to have served at breakfast – you’re looking for limp bacon.

Place the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet, in the bacon drippings, that you cooked the bacon in, add 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels.

Cut each slice of bacon in half crosswise and then wrap each sprout half with a half piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. At this point the wrapped sprouts may be either cooked or covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

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January 13, 2017   No Comments

Peggy’s Greek Quesadillas

This fun spin on quesadillas is what Peggy chose to make for the Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck. They were a big hit!

Greek Quesadillas with Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Quesadillas

  • 8 flour tortillas (8-inch)
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more for garnish

Tzatziki Sauce: Combine Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Quesadillas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Top a tortilla with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheeses, and then top with another tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas to make 4 quesadillas.

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January 11, 2017   1 Comment

Michelle’s Antipasto Skewers

The first appetizer from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck was made by my cousin (and friend!) Michelle. They are super easy and colorful little skewers.

As you know, most of the recipes from the party are ones I found online and sent out to the guest to choose from. If you would like to see the original post for this recipe, with many more photos, go HERE.

Antipasto Skewers

  • Bamboo skewers
  • 24 mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • 24 small basil leaves
  • 12 slices of salami, cut in half
  • 1/2 pound fresh tortellini, cooked
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts
  • 24 olives

Using bamboo skewers layer your ingredients in the order shown, starting with the mozzarella balls and ending with the olives.

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January 9, 2017   2 Comments

Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck 2016

On Christmas Eve eve, December 23rd, I hosted my annual Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck party. It’s a great format for a fun stress-free holiday party. To find out exactly how it works, go to This Post from the 2015 party and get all the “How To” details.

In the days to follow, I’ll post the recipe for each. As an added bonus – at the end of today’s post you’ll find my signature cocktail for the evening.

Here is a rundown of the dishes made and brought by the guests … with a few contributed by me.

Antipasto Skewers

Greek Quesadillas

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Rounds

Spicy Chicken Cheeseballs

Caesar Dip and Crudités

Bacon Candy

Shrimp Scampi Dip

Holiday Brie en Croute

I’m calling my signature cocktail “winter berry” but in all honesty, these are summer berries. Oh well, summer or winter, it’s a keeper!

Winter Berry-Rosemary Cocktail

  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh small rosemary sprigs
  • 6 limes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cups simple syrup *
  • 4 cup vodka
  • Juice of 8 more large limes
  • Ginger ale, chilled
  • Garnish
  • 16 small fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 8 lime slices, cut in half
  • Reserved berries

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January 6, 2017   2 Comments

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas…

… From our home …

… to yours.

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December 25, 2016   2 Comments

Holiday Moscow Mules

hostesses-with-moscow-mules

This is the cocktail that, Cay, the hostess of the gourmet group that I am now a member of, served for the December gathering at her gorgeous home. Co-host, Susie is on the left and Cay is on the right, as we toast ourselves for a job well-done. To be honest, this selfie was taken before the party began, but once we had cocktails in-hand, we knew it would be a success!

mule-setup

Pomegranate Moscow Mules

Candied Mint Leaves

  • Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mule

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ½ cups ginger beer
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Garnish

  • Fresh pomegranate arils
  • Candied Mint Leaves

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December 15, 2016   2 Comments

Easy Christmas Treats: Part 2

before-the-storm-copy

I was invited to the December gathering of a gourmet group that I had once been the cooking instructor for. When I initially received the call, I assumed I was going to be asked to lead the group in a cooking class again, but instead I was invited to be the group’s newest member. Fun!

chocolate-covered

The hostess had originally asked someone to lead the group in the making of holiday treats, but the woman backed out, so I became a co-hostess and we made the Oreo Truffles from yesterday’s post and this sweet treat.

We’ve all see these pretty candied pretzel rods around during the holidays. They are a snap to make and serve at parties or give as gifts.

the-mess

I will admit that having a group of nine fun and rowdy women making them at the same time was a bit of a mess, but a very fun mess. Especially because there were holiday Moscow Mules involved! You’ll find the recipe for those in tomorrow’s post.

These keep really well, so you can make them a week or so ahead for holiday gift giving!

yuck

One important note – depending on the brand and flavor of melts, the coating may need to set up some before heavier decorations and candies are sprinkled on. As you can see from the photo above, we learned the hard way.

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December 14, 2016   No Comments

Easy Christmas Treats: Part 1

sprinkled-truffles

I was going to start this post with “Only ____ days till Christmas!” but I’m in denial and I’m afraid that if I say the number out loud, type the number or even think of the number – I might have a full on panic attack, so how about I just get to my post about easy Christmas treats.

mai-family

Oh, before I do that, I’d like to apologize for an error in my last post. I said that the segment featuring Steve’s Christmas Casserole would air on 12News yesterday (Dec 12) and it did not. I set up my TiVo and was disappointed to not see it. I asked Tram and she let me know that it is airing NEXT Monday, December 19th in the 6:00 a.m. hour. If you set your DVR or got up early yesterday, I’m sorry.

packagin

OK, back on track …. I made these treats at a party last week. I’ll tell you all about the party in tomorrow’s post in which I’ll share “Easy Christmas Treats” Part 2. This is Part 1 and it is super easy and pretty darn yummy too.

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December 13, 2016   2 Comments

Steve’s Christmas Casserole

mai-family

Tram used my kitchen to film another cooking segment, this time with the whole family. Steve & Tram’s new home will be finished in late December, so my kitchen is their surrogate TV kitchen until then.

tzz

The last time Tram filmed a cookie baking segment with Zak & Zoey. I had a hair appointment that morning, so I wasn’t home for the filming. Here is a LINK for that. So cute!

no-you-didnt

This time, all four of them were here to make a Christmas casserole and it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall and watch it unfold. Look how adorably skeptical Zoey is of Zak’s cheese grating abilities.

zak-and-cheese

Zak was going to town on that poor block of cheese the entire time … I was dying. Mom, Dad and Zoey were all so focused on their own tasks that none of them noticed what Zak was up to. Late the next day I got a text from Tram saying that she just finished putting the piece together and couldn’t believe what Zak was doing to the cheese. I can’t wait to see how Tram edited it. It will air next Monday (Dec 12th) early morning (in the 6:00 hour) on (NBC) 12News.

My photos of the food aren’t all that great, since I was too focused on taking photos of the action, but trust me Steve’s family recipe is delicious.

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December 6, 2016   4 Comments