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Category — Recipes

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

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

no canned vegetables allowed

When I was growing up, we very seldom had fresh vegetables. No frozen vegetables either. Canned vegetables, that’s what we ate.

There was the occasional fresh corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, potatoes and of course, lettuce – mostly iceberg. But tinny tasting canned veggies were king at our house.

  • Canned peas (mushy with an unappetizing dull green-gray in color)
  • Canned green beans (ditto)
  • Canned beets (I can’t even!)
  • Canned lima beans (Please, NO!)
  • Canned spinach (especially tinny, watery and gray-green)
  • Canned carrots (the worst of them all!)
  • Canned corn (this is the only one that I will eat today – I admit to  a strange weakness for canned cream corn)

Exceptions: Canned beans (pinto, black, kidney, etc.) and canned tomatoes – these are allowed in my pantry and in my cooking. Although I’m always using them as a component in a dish, not just heating them up and eating as is.

It goes without saying, that I hated most vegetables throughout my childhood and into early adulthood. And it took years to get up the courage to taste fresh versions of those canned nightmares.

It took decades longer to try “exotic” (think asparagus, Brussels sprouts and the like) vegetables. Today, I love most all vegetables. The only holdouts that I still can’t acquire a taste for are beets (taste like dirt to me) and carrots. I know, carrots, of all things, but I still don’t like them cooked or even raw.

I didn’t have my first Brussels sprout until 1999 or 2000 and I didn’t see them fresh on the stalk until 2013, when I posted this recipe. Seriously, I never had seen them on the stalk before that day when I walked into Trader Joe’s and there was that strange looking thing!  Now they are one of my favorite, especially roasted, as in this easy side dish.

**Please feel free to share any of your childhood “food nightmares” in the comments section. I have more, a real whopper of a tale involving hot cereals.

*After all that nightmare talk, let me say that growing up in Scottsdale wasn’t all that bad. I mean when you wake up to a sunrise like this, from earlier this week, you know that life is nothing but good!

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March 2, 2017   4 Comments

rainy day brisket

It’s been raining cats and dogs in our desert for the last couple of days. Nothing tastes better or is more welcoming on a cold and rainy day than beef brisket!

This classic brisket is a family favorite. I found the original recipe nearly 30 years ago in The Silver Palate New Basics cookbook and have adapted the recipe over the years.

Basic Beef Brisket with Fresh Horseradish Sauce

  • 6 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of most excess fat
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Horseradish Sauce

  • 1 cup and finely grated fresh horseradish root (peel first and use a microplane to grate)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Pinch of salt

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March 1, 2017   No Comments