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Easy Christmas Treats: Part 2


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!


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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 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

signature cocktail


I first created this cocktail for the last class, a Comfort Food themed menu, in my 3-week cooking series at Les Gourmettes. I served it again as my Signature Cocktail on Thanksgiving. If ever there was a Comfort Food Menu – it is Thanksgiving!


To me, it’s important to use one big ice-cube for this cocktail, either a square cube or a round ice ball.


I have both types of ice molds, but my round ball mold only makes one at a time, whereas the square mold makes 6 cubes at once. Since I had 16 cocktails to make for the cooking class and 12 more for Thanksgiving, of course, I went with the square cubes.

I did find THIS cool multi-round ball mold on Amazon. I’m adding it to my Christmas list!

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December 5, 2016   No Comments

sweet potatoes make the best leftovers

Sometimes it seems as if sweet potatoes are the ugly stepchild at Thanksgiving dinner. The dish that is expected but not overly anticipated or appreciated.


I remember looking forward to them when I was a kid, but today we eat them more than just once a year. Sweet potatoes are in fashion all year long. Then there are sweet potato fries, which are offered and ordered nearly as often as their French fry cousins. If you’re like me, you select them over potato fries more often than not.

I have to admit that this was the case with this dish at our Thanksgiving buffet. Most guests took a small portion for their plate, but chose to fill up on the stars of the day; the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy.

And that was just fine with me. These maple roasted sweet potatoes made great leftover dishes for breakfast (sweet potato hash with eggs) lunch (added to a turkey taco) and dinner (part of a black bean chili or puréed and added to risotto).


When shopping for the sweet potatoes, I bought three varieties for a pretty trio of colors.

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November 30, 2016   No Comments

new Thanksgiving recipes… for next year

I don’t know how other bloggers get recipes up for the holidays before the holiday! I suppose I could write up this recipe and date it to post in early November 2017, but that seems like much more forethought than I ever want to have to think about!


Instead, I’ll post this and another Thanksgiving recipe, along with my Thanksgiving tabelscapes this week and remind you about them next year, that sounds more reasonable and realistic to me.


Two Notes: The first concerns the brine bag in this recipe: While shopping, I was in a hurry and could not immediately find a brine bag at the grocery store. Instead of asking for assistance, I spotted slow-cooker liners and thought, “They’ll work!”

Yeah, not so much! The liner was a smidgen too small. I could barely gather it all up and seal the bag. I was paranoid about the bag opening and leaking, so I put it into another bag. I still wasn’t secure in the leakage possibilities, so I put that into another bag. By then, I’d used 3 of the 4 bags in the box, so I thought, “What the heck!” and put all that into another bag! All ended well, as the four bags held and not a drop escaped.

My advice – for peace of mind – search out and use a true brine bag!


Second: I was at Cost Plus World Market the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I found a yummy brine mix. I used 1 ¼ cups of it in place of the salt, peppercorns and Italian seasoning in the recipe below. If you come across a good looking mix, you can do the same or just follow the recipe as written.

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November 29, 2016   1 Comment

gingerbread bundt cake


It’s no secret that I don’t like to bake. I considered buying dessert for the German-Swiss Dinner Party. At the last-minute, I caved. I was inspired to make a gingerbread cake by the beautiful gingerbread-like towns in Switzerland and Germany.


As usual, my baking experience wasn’t great. I coated the bundt pan heavily with softened butter and then coated it with flour.


Unfortunately some of the cake STILL stuck to the darn pan. This, right here, is why I hate to bake! I really should rename this website that. Hate2Bake.com. I just looked it up and the name isn’t taken. Hmmm.


It’s OK, it all worked out because I carefully lifted out the stuck pieces and gingerly put them in place. See what I did right there, gingerly!


Along with the gingerbread, I served Swiss Hot Chocolate with Asbach brandy from Switzerland.


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October 20, 2016   4 Comments

a little more cheese

This is the second side-dish that accompanied the Pork Schnitzel and the last of the savory dishes from the German-Swiss Dinner Party.


Did you think you’d seen the last of the recipes containing cheese from the extravagantly cheesy dinner? I’m afraid not. I do promise this is the last of it though, there was no cheese in the dessert, which I will post the recipe for tomorrow.


Then on Friday, get ready for another contest. This time, instead of winning cookbooks, if you live in The Valley of the Sun, you could win a free spot in a cooking class. Stay tuned!

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October 19, 2016   1 Comment

side salad and a Thanksgiving table


Today’s recipe was one of the two side dishes that accompanied the Pork Schnitzel at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.

It’s an extremely easy and quick recipe and a great side dish for just about any main course.


The other thing I’m sharing today is a few photos of a quick taping I did yesterday for Channel 12. I received a text message from one of Tram’s colleagues, Nico, at 7:45 in the morning asking if he could come by in a couple of hours to film a “how to set the table” segment. I told him sure, that I could be ready by 10:00.


I knew it wasn’t going to air until November, so I started pulling out the Thanksgiving stuff. Luckily, I’d just hauled the Halloween decor out of the shed over the weekend, so I knew exactly where the Thanksgiving tubs were located.


Next, I went out into the Miscellany Shed and pulled out the wood slabs to use as chargers and a handful of antlers.

Finally, I dug through the various china cabinets to round up the dishes, crystal and flatware.


One unfortunate thing happened though, I broke one of the wine glasses from my wedding crystal. I’d love to blame it on the cats (they were annoyingly underfoot) or on my rushing, but it was just general clumsiness. Even after sweeping twice, I kept finding glass, long after the shoot was over.


I didn’t get my Halloween decorations put out, which was my plan for the day before the text arrived, but I was ready when Nico arrived… and that’s saying something!

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October 18, 2016   1 Comment

Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein


Until recently, in Germany and Austria, one was not allowed to call a dish Wiener Schnitzel unless it was made with veal. If the dish was made with pork instead, it needed to be called Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein.

In 2009, they lighted up and a “Wiener Schnitzel” no longer refers exclusively to a veal dish, but instead to a breaded steak in general.


Since I didn’t want to offend or cause confusion, I just called it Pork Schnitzel on the menu skillet at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.


The recipe is an adaptation of a Tyler Florence recipe. From it, I learned a new technique for breading meat. Tyler suggests letting the breaded meat rest in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 10 minutes to allow the coating to dry out and adhere. It worked great! I’ll be doing that on all my breaded recipes from here on out.

Since I was cooking for 20, it was especially important to make this ahead. I cooked all the schnitzel, refrigerated and then reheated and finished cooking it in the oven. If you are serving immediately, reduce the oven time to about 12 to 15 minutes.

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October 14, 2016   1 Comment