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Category — Recipes

family pasta night

jeff marissa

Marissa and Jeff were in Mexico this past weekend for a wedding and came back through here Sunday and Monday on their way back to Austin. I decided a big pasta dish was just the thing to satisfy everyone for our Sunday dinner.


The dish uses six garlic cloves. Four are peeled and sliced and 2 are left whole. If you hate mincing a bunch of tiny garlic cloves, like I do, this is the perfect way to use those little pains. Gather them up and estimate how many make up a large clove and use them as the whole cloves in this recipe. See, I got rid of eight little ones in one fell swoop.


Meyer Lemon Spaghetti with Parmesan Chicken


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • 2 Meyer lemons, well washed
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 6 large peeled garlic cloves, divided; 4 thinly sliced, 2 left whole
  • 3/4 cup Panko
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves and tender stems, minced

pounding chicken

Chicken: Use This Method to pound out the chicken breasts.

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April 26, 2016   3 Comments

a cake made of cheese

Ever since I started this blog, coming up on 7 years now, in August, 2009, there has been one aspect of posting that I’ve been terrible at keeping up on.


It is the task of putting all new recipes over there into the Complete Recipe Index that you see in the left column of the page. It’s not that it is a hard thing to do, it’s just something that I consistently forget to do.

You see, it can’t be done when the post is being written. It can only happen after the post goes live. Therein lies the problem. Once a post goes live, I’m already on to the next post, the next recipe, the next day. Out of sight – out of mind.

get er done

Then, once I’ve gotten far behind, it really does become hard to do and even harder to catch up.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m very proud of myself. I am all caught up! I updated the Menu Ideas page while I was at it. And it only took me … three days. Really, I’ve been working on it since Monday morning, off and on, but still, three damn days! I hope you’ll check it out.


The last recipe I had entered into the Index was from early March 2014. There have been more than 300 posts since then. It makes me grateful that I took that 7 month hiatus for Marissa’s wedding, otherwise that number would have been much higher!

Cheese Layers

Besides getting it done, the upside is that while I was doing all that work, looking over every single post from the last 2+ years, I realized that I never posted about Marissa & Jeff’s Wedding Brunch. This Sunday, will be their 6-month anniversary, so I guess this is as good a time as ever.

Here is the sad part. I don’t remember much about the brunch at all! I was in a complete fog and haze. I don’t know what I served or how it was set up.

Ultimate Cheese Cake

I only remember that I had a pretty great Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar on my cute French buffet on the back patio. There are no photos of it but I do recall that Jonathan Vento was the voluntary master-bartender and was whipping out Bloody Marys like nobody’s business.

I remember that all the kids’ friends and bridal party were hanging out on the far east side of the patio and seemed to be having a grand old-time.

Cake of Cheese

I distinctly remember that my wonderful friends and family helped me A LOT! I had not slept a wink on the wedding night. I never even put my head on the pillow. I was up cooking and setting up the entire time from when we got home and unloaded from the wedding until my girlfriend, Mary, showed up to help and as others arrived early and pitched in.

I can’t remember even one dish that I served, not one! If any of my family, friends, or Marissa’s friends who were there remember, I’d love to know. Seriously, I would!

And I remember that after all the friends left, and only family remained, I had to excuse myself and go to bed and pass out. I didn’t wake up until hours later, long after everyone had cleaned it all up and left. What a haze it was and still is.

Layered Cheese Cake

But the one thing that I will never forget is this gorgeous Cheese Cake that I assembled for my girl. She had seen something like it on Pinterest – long before her engagement – and she wanted one so bad.

We had thought about having it at the wedding, but the cost was prohibitive. Having a venue or restaurant do this would be crazy-expensive. To do it yourself, still not cheap, but totally worth it.

Cheese Cake

Even though I could barely put together a cohesive sentence or keep my eyes open during the brunch, this beautiful presentation and the joy on the many faces, especially my beautiful girl’s face, when they lay their eyes on it – that made the sleepless night seem like nothing.  It was the perfect wedding brunch.

That, I remember.

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April 21, 2016   2 Comments

Dad’s Lemon Pie

Meyer lemon bunch

This is the recipe for the lemon pie that my dad requested as his birthday dessert. The recipe for the second, a bananas foster pie, can be found HERE.


I used Meyer lemons for his pie. Once Meyer lemon season has passed, regular Lisbon lemons can be used. I give you that variation in the NOTE at the bottom of the recipe.

Meyer juice

I wasn’t sure how many Myer lemons I’d need for the juice, so I picked four off my tree. My Meyers were so large, I only needed 1 and 1/2 lemons for 3/4 cup of juice! Depending on the size of yours, you might need 2 to 3 Meyers. I know the ones they sell in grocery stores are not nearly as large.

Since the Meyers were huge, I used small lemons of my Lisbon tree for the sugared lemons, either variety will work, just use lemons on the smaller side.

TIP: Since the pie is blind baked, you’ll need to cover the edge with foil to prevent it from over-browning when the lemon filling is being cooked. That is traditionally done by cutting long strips of foil and covering the edges with the strips. It’s harder than it sounds, since the strips are difficult to keep intact.

10 inch

There is an easier way – if you have a 10-inch tart pan you can use this new tip I devised while baking this pie:

tart pan

Remove the ring from a 10-inch tart pan and turn it upside down.

tart ring cover

As you can see, it sits perfectly on top of the pie crust, but it needs some foil strips added to really cover the crust.

slip over crust

The advantage is that the strips hold together easily when attached to the ring. It can then be easily slipped right on top of the pie. It holds together so much better than the old method. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

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April 20, 2016   1 Comment

the master crimper

I made two pies for my dad’s 85th birthday dinner on Sunday. He requested a lemon pie and then Connor and I decided on a banana pie. Not any old banana cream pie, but a decadent Bananas Foster Pie – a custardy caramely luscious pie!


A little history here: Even though I hate to bake, I’ve always made my pie crusts from scratch. I guess it’s some sort of cooking instructor-pride thing. Now that I think of it, it’s stupid. I also almost never use cake mix either – nearly always making cakes from scratch. Again – kinda idiotic!

I mean, IF I loved to bake, then it would make sense to go all out, but since I don’t, what the heck?!?

crimp one

Anyhow, Connor works in the pantry station at a high-end casual restaurant – meaning he makes the salads, condiments, the Charcuterie Boards, the desserts, etc. When he was over a couple of weeks back and we were talking about Dad’s birthday dinner, I mentioned the pie. He asked me if I wanted him to do the crust. What? YES! Of course, I do!

pie crusts

So Connor came over mid-week to help me with the two pie crusts. It turns out that at his work, they use Pillsbury’s roll out pie crusts (2 to a package) from the refrigerator case.

Who Knew? The fillings for the pies are made from scratch, but not the crusts. I put aside my snobbery and in doing so, discovered that they were excellent, much more consistent and reliable than mine and “easy as pie” to use. And who was the genius who made up that saying? It’s stupid too!

Let’s change that saying to  – “they were easier than pie!” Not “easy as” but Easier!

Can you tell that baking makes me crabby?!?

master crimper

The best part? Connor is a master crimper. Way better than me. Call me impressed. I’m very proud and pleased with my boy and his pie crimping skills! It’s fun discovering all he’s learning and finding out what I can get him to do for me!

Something else – I’ve decided to try to add a video or two to this post. Not sure how well it will work or if you find it helpful or not, so let me know what you think and if you’d like me to add more video content to future posts.

dad and his pie

So back to this pie. The crust is blind baked, which can be done a couple of days before, wrapped well in plastic and refrigerated.  Also, I forgot to sprinkle the top with the pecans. You should make sure you don’t forget. Finally, it should be topped (sweetened whipped cream, caramelized bananas AND pecans) at the last-minute and you might want to enjoy it with a fun rum cocktail! That last part is just an extravagant suggestion and up to your discretion. Enjoy and Happy Birthday, Dad! xoxo [Read more →]

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April 19, 2016   1 Comment

El Alma inspired rellenos

I can’t stop thinking about the chiles rellenos I had at El Alma, while visiting Marissa and Jeff in Austin last week.

el alma rellenos


At the time, I posted about it on Facebook and my high school friend and blog follower, Cynthia said, “I just want you to come home and start making some of those recipes.”

Great idea, Cynthia!

I did. I shared it not only with my family but also with my dear friend, Tram.

So here it is!

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April 14, 2016   3 Comments

chicken tinga for Tram

Tram’s birthday was three weeks ago and we had not yet had time to get together and celebrate. Not until this past Saturday, after the twins were down for the night and Steve was at a Diamondbacks game.

Tram and fam

She had texted me the night before to see if Saturday would work and if it was OK if we stayed in and had take-out. The staying in part was perfect but the take-out … not so much.

chicken tinga

I decided to make my slow cooker version of Chicken Tinga. Chicken breasts and slow cookers aren’t something that always go together. We are so accustomed to cooking with boneless skinless chicken breasts that we sometimes forget how wonderful bone-in and skin-on chicken can be. For this recipe, the bones and the skin are a must – don’t worry – they are both removed and discarded before being served.

The bones and the skin keep the white meat from turning to shoe rubber and being dry and tasteless. They are essential for this long and slow cooking process.

tiny bones

The most important part of this recipe is to take extra time and precautions to find any and all bones and bone fragments that may be left on the meat or in the sauce. See those tiny bones and bone bits on the bottom edge of plate in the photo above? That’s what I’m talking about. Since the chicken cooks a long time, the bones get very brittle and break easily, so follow the recipe on how and when to search them out and discard them. How terrible it would be if someone choked or cracked a tooth!

drain tomatoes

Also be sure to drain the canned tomatoes well. Plenty of juices are given off by the meat and the vegetables during the cooking process. The liquid that remains already needs to be reduced, so having all that extra tomato liquid will make the process take twice as long. Plus I’ll be posting a fabulous recipe later this week where you can put the tomato juice to good use, so save it. Or freeze it and add it to your next batch of soup or pitcher of Bloody Marys.

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April 11, 2016   1 Comment

not perfect, but still perfectly beautiful

CL Cake

I spotted this cake all over the Internet in the weeks leading up to Easter and I knew it was the dessert for me. It has so many things I love!

  1. Coconut – check
  2. Malted milk – check
  3. Malted milk balls – check
  4. Cuteness Overload – check and Yes Please!

Now, I could just send you to the LINK at Country Living from where the recipe came. But then I couldn’t tell you all of my little trials and frustrations with it and pass along a few hints and tips that might make it easier for you in case you decide to make it.


First, let’s review the differences between the various liquid coconut products available:

  • Coconut water is the clear natural juice found when you crack open a coconut.
  • Coconut milk has the consistency of dairy milk and is made by simmering one part shredded coconut with one part coconut water.
  • Coconut cream is much thicker and much richer than coconut milk. It is made by simmering four parts shredded coconut in one part coconut water. If there is a bit of cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk – it is also considered coconut cream.
  • Cream of coconut is a sweetened coconut cream. It has a thick almost syrupy consistency and is most often used in desserts and mixed drinks, such as a Piña Colada.

not coconut cream

The frosting calls for cream of coconut. I accidentally pulled out a can of coconut cream, took photos with it along with the rest of the frosting ingredients, opened it and only then realized I had grabbed the wrong product.

cream of coconut

Here you can see the difference in the look and consistency of coconut cream vs. cream of coconut. Happily, once opened, coconut cream will keep, transferred to another container, covered and refrigerated, for about a week, so I used it to make a chicken curry a few days later. If you can’t find cream of coconut in the baking section of the grocery store, look in the liquor area or just ask.

CL Cake

Next, let’s once again look at the lovely photo from the Country Living website for this beautiful cake. My frustration in trying to get my frosting to look like my robin eggs was tremendous. Just look at how perfectly their frosting coloring and speckling match their eggs. Seriously, it’s as if they are cut from the exact same cloth.

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April 8, 2016   6 Comments

ham and lamb plus a little gospel and a bunch of bats…

gosple brunch

Two Sundays ago was Easter and I’m still posting Easter recipes. This past Sunday I was in Austin and Marissa and Jeff took me to Gospel Brunch – it was AMAZING!

There are several restaurants in Austin that serve brunch with a side of gospel music, we went to Stubb’s BBQ and heard The Original Bells of Joy. What an absolute JOY it was. Thanks M & J!

on the bat boat

The night before that we took a boat cruise out on Lady Bird Lake and watched as the 750,000 pregnant Mexican bats started out for a night of hunting.

bat bridge

You can read all about it HERE. It is a truly beautiful and fascinating sight to behold.

bats over austin

My Easter ham was a no-brainer.  I bought a spiral-cut ham at Costco. I mixed together some whole-grain Dijon mustard (1/4 cup) with 1/2 cup each of the following; maple syrup, brown sugar and fresh orange juice. I spread that all over the ham, put it on a rack and stuck it in a 325 degree oven for 90 minutes. That was it. No recipe needed and no photos taken of the easy process.

easter dinner

The lamb was almost as simple, though I do have a recipe and photos for you. I bought a little French-trimmed rack of lamb at Costco, cut it into chops and served the chops with a chimichurri sauce.

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April 6, 2016   1 Comment

asparagus & swiss tart


The weekend after I turned 16 years old, my best friend, Laura Galloway, and I went in search of our first jobs. Laura’s birthday is the day after mine, so we ventured out together, filling out applications in just about every store at Scottsdale Fashion Square.


At that time SFS was a small outdoor mall with two anchor stores (Goldwater’s and Diamonds) and a couple dozen shops.

cheese ball

We each got part-time seasonal jobs; Laura as a gift-wrapper at Switzer’s, a women’s clothing store, while I was making cheese balls and cheese logs across the way at Hickory Farms.


My favorite cheese at Hickory Farms was Jarlsberg, a Norwegian Swiss-type cheese with a mild buttery and nutty flavor.

After being “knee-high” in the cheese used in the cheese balls and logs, to this day, I can’t stand even the smell of those particular cheese blends, but I still love Jarlsberg and decided to use it in my asparagus tart for Easter.

round top

Before I get to the recipe, take a look at this beautiful photo that Marissa took in Round Top, Texas. We went in search of fun vintage items during the 48th Annual Spring Antique Show. It was the final day of the 2-week long event but there was still plenty to see.

mother and daughter

Of course, the real problem was not the amount of goods, but rather the size. Having to limit my purchases to what could fit in a suitcase, I missed out on the stuff that really interested me.

got away

The most heartbreaking being this amazing reclaimed barn wood sink for backyard entertaining. I’ll be dreaming about this beauty for a long time to come!

sink [

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April 5, 2016   1 Comment

popover to Austin

Austin, TX postcard mural

I’ve been in Austin, Texas all weekend, visiting Marissa. Actually, not just Austin, but Waco and Round Top too. So this week, along with the recipes from more than a week ago from our Easter supper, there will be a bit of Texas thrown into the mix.

The silo sign

Our first adventure was hopping in the car and driving to Waco, TX so that we could visit and shop at the Magnolia Market Silos.

inside magnolia market

You know, Magnolia Market, as in Joanna and Chip Gaines from the ever so popular Fixer Upper on HGTV.

Magnolia Market Silos

It was raining when we arrived, but it cleared up as the day went on.

magnolia market entrance

inside Magnolia Market Silos

We were nice and dry in shopping heaven, so the rain didn’t bother us anyhow!

Magnolia Silos

Here I am with my two little bags of purchases. I couldn’t go too crazy, since I flew to Austin, I could only buy as much as I could get in my suitcase.

Magnolia Market Garden Shop

That’s OK, maybe I’ll drive the next time. By then this sweet little Garden Shop will be open along with the Magnolia Bakery, which should be opening in the next month or so.

potting bench

After all, a girls needs goals!

cheddar popovers

Sharp Cheddar Popovers

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April 4, 2016   No Comments