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Category — tips

garlic bread +++

I have been making a version of this Ina Garten recipe for more than 10 years. Over that time it has evolved several times over. The basics of it stay the same; make a garlic-herb mixture in a food processor, warm it in oil, use along with some softened butter on a loaf of bread and bake.

Photo

It is such a basic recipe and since we all make garlic bread, I never thought it was worth sharing. So why share it now? Well, I finally decided that it’s not just the bread that I’m sharing here, but the side benefit of making this bread – the extra oil/garlic/herb mixture that you end up with.

You see, over time, I’ve added more ingredients and volume to the original recipe, so there is always some of the oil mixture left. I freeze the excess in mini-ice cube trays and use the resulting oil cubes for sautéing.

They add extra and unexpected oomph to just about any savory dish. It’s like having little nuggets of cooking gold at your fingertips.

So make a loaf of garlic bread this week and some gold-green nuggets at the same time.

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August 28, 2017   1 Comment

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you and yours are having a festive and fun 4th! I’ll be spending mine with Steve, Tram and Fam.  Holidays are always more fun spent with toddlers, especially Zak & Zoey! Above is a cute picture taken earlier this week during their Staycation at the Scottsdale Princess. Adorable!

Yesterday was a whirlwind for me. I was at an appointment when Tram called and asked if I’d be willing and able to do a “grilling tips” segment on 12News at 4:00. Mind you, the call came in at about 11:00, I still had more than 90 minutes left at my appointment, but I can’t say no to her. I was making mental notes of what tips I wanted to give and what I needed to shop for, prep and pick up at home before I headed to the station in downtown Phoenix.

Straight from the appointment I went to the grocery store to buy meat, fish, buns, veggies, fruit, a cherry pie, brownies, angel food cake, ice, etc. Then I raced home to load up the ice chests, prep some of the food and pull out what little 4th of July decorations I have – that aren’t boxed up and in storage.

I changed my clothes and put on fresh make-up, which was basically useless, since the segment was to be filmed outside on the 12News patio and it was 107 degrees out, so the make-up would be melting off my face while I was unloading and setting up anyhow. I packed it all up and drove well above the speed limit (not unusual) to get to the station by 3:00.

Here are the two carts of stuff I schlepped down there.

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July 4, 2017   6 Comments

dirty little secret

Honestly, it’s more of a dirty little tip that I have for you today.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite cocktails to make is Mules. Everyone knows that Mules are best served in copper cups. They’re hip, on trend and they keep the cocktail ice-cold for a very long time.

They most recent Mules I made were for Steve and Tram’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. Here are links to some of the Mule recipes I’ve posted:

My collection of copper mugs has grown to 20. Most are vintage. Seventeen of the twenty are as shiny as a new penny. They stay that way because they are sealed.

Sadly, the sealant has come off the other three and they tarnish quickly. But there is a fix for that.

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March 24, 2017   No Comments

Thanksgiving and some tips

I know that I’ve been a slacker when it comes to posting lately. Things are finally getting back to normal around here and to be honest, I’m just enjoying the calmer feeling.

entry

With Thanksgiving two days away, I’m loving focusing all my time and attention on the big day. Next week, I’ll return to blogging on a more regular basis.

recipe-index

In the meantime, I want to remind you about the Complete Recipe Index, over there on the top left. Click on it, scroll to “Holidays” and click again. Then, scroll down to “Thanksgiving.” It is there that you will find over 45 recipes for not only the feast but also recipes using the leftovers after Turkey Day.

Lastly, I want to share with you a few video segments I filmed with my friend and 12News anchor, Tram Mai. They are part of a “how to” series the station has run. Some are in my cooking and entertaining wheelhouse, a couple of the others, um … not so much, but I gave it a good college try. What I think will prove to be my favorite segment, “Setting a Proper Table” will air on Thanksgiving morning, I’ll post a link, after it airs.

pickles

Homemade Pickles

grill-pizza

Grilled Pizza

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November 22, 2016   1 Comment

TV hacks, tips, etc.

My dear friend, Tram Mai, morning anchor on 12News, and I have filmed several little segments for her morning show recently. The first one aired yesterday.

12news

Tram sent me a LINK. This one is all about how to easily peel soft fruits.

Future clips include proper table setting, how to grill pizza, a homemade all-purpose cleaning solution, packing hacks, and more.

Thank you for all the sweet birthday wishes yesterday! I want to tell you that I kept my word and didn’t complain about the heat for the rest of the day yesterday … but today is a new day and the photo below says it all!

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October 28, 2016   3 Comments

4th of July dessert bar

flowers

At last, the final post from the 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party. It only took two weeks to get all the recipes posted, that’s not so bad.

dessets

If you want to see the menu in its entirety, you can always go to the link over on the left column of this page, click on the “Menu and Party Ideas” page and you’ll find not only this party but many others.

dessert bar

The good new is that the recipes for all the desserts we served at the party are already posted on this site. There is one more fun idea though, so don’t go running off.

key lime pies

First up is Tram’s Famous Key Lime Pies! Tram brought the pies to my 4th party two years ago, so the recipe is posted HERE.

Tram's Key Lime Pie

It’s fun to go back and read that post since Zak & Zoey were only 4 months old at that gathering.

Z&Z

So sweet! As is Tram’s pie.

flag pie

Next, I baked my super easy All-American Berry-Cherry Flag Pie. It is going to be at every 4th party from here on out. Maybe next time I can convince someone else to make it though.

hand pies

I posted the recipe for these Mason Jar Lid Hand Pies on July 3rd. But how cute is this bakery display stand? I found it at The Painted Fox, one of my favorite shopping websites. Love it!

sprinkles

Lastly, we have the Mason Jar Ice Cream Bar. Above you see the cute sprinkles and toppings displayed.

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July 19, 2016   No 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.

lemon

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 ½ 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

success and failure

What should I share first? The good or the bad? I think we’ll start with the bad/ugly, that way we’ll end on a good/pretty note.

love book

Even the bad craft starts out pretty…

I do book

I spotted these adorable folded book art pieces in the San Francisco Nordstrom’s Wedding Suite, while dress shopping with Marissa and Kaley, back in November.

heart book

I knew that I wanted to make one for Marissa, so when the theme was set for the shower, this was a no-brainer.

I went online to find out how but since I could not find any step-by-step instructions, I had to wing it.

pencil heart

I found a cool vintage hardback book and decided to go with the easiest design, a heart.

fold

As I folded back the pages, it quickly became evident that this is harder than it looks. Plus, the book I chose was too vintage, the pages were delicate and would tear as I folded.

pages tear

Stupidly, I kept at it far too long. It was very clear that this was not working, long before I threw in the towel.

try again

I grabbed another, not-so-vintage thicker book, and started over.

give up

Then, for obvious reasons, I gave up! My gut feeling is that there must be math involved in this project. No wonder it was too difficult for me … I do not “do” math!

I still wanted Marissa to have a book like this, even if not in time for the shower. So, I have purchased one from a professional folded-book artist from HERE.  I am not going to share which book, since I haven’t given it to her yet, but rest assured, it is pretty!

I had much better results with this next project:

four succulent book planters

My favorite craft/decor item for Marissa’s bridal shower were these succulent book planters! Of course, I found the idea on Pinterest!

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May 15, 2015   2 Comments

Sweet ‘n Spicy Meatballs

Some people may think I was crazy to host two bridal showers in as many weeks. Crazy like a fox is what I say!

brides to be

The shower that Abigail, Kaley, Alyse and Marissa threw for Lindsey left me with a bounty of items and ideas to use for Megan’s shower, two weeks later.

signs

Kaley did such a beautiful job with the chalkboard art that I immediately knew I’d be using it again!

perfect signs

Abigail left behind a wonderful bulletin board that she had guests write words of sage advice for bride-to-be, Lindsey.

advice pinboard

I just had to recycle it for Megan’s shower, as seen on the left edge of the photo below.

present time

Then there was the “Welcome” and “Presents” banners that Abigail made.

presents

entry

Yes, I reused them as well.

IMG_8349

So, as you can see, hosting two versions of the same sort of party in a short amount of time is easier than hosting just one!

Here is another appetizer from Megan’s shower.

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February 11, 2015   3 Comments

this isn’t your Grandma’s dishwasher

I’m still in Chicago. The NYE wedding of our gorgeous niece, Maureen, to the handsome, Brandon, was beyond beautiful and the reception was the best NYE party ever!

Marissa and I felt like we were on a reconnaissance mission – as we were stealing all sorts of creative ideas – for her upcoming nuptials in October.

Dave and I are staying on for a few days with Dave’s mom, while Connor and Marissa fly back to Arizona and California.

In the meantime, I found this great article in Good Housekeeping … it is to good not to share.

Here’s to a Clean, Happy and Healthy New Year!

dishwasher plus

10 Surprising Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher

Your dishwasher has been holding out on you. Sure, “dishes” are in the name, but this machine can clean so much more.

stove hood

1. Kitchen exhaust filter
Avoid getting messy, gunky oil buildup on your filter by cleaning it in the dishwasher once a month or as often as your range hood manufacturer recommends. The high temperature combined with a good detergent should be sufficient to cut through tough grease without any effort on your part.

sponges

2. Dish sponges
Bacteria and mold love a moist environment, and your dish sponge is a perfect setting for them to thrive. We’ve found that using the “heated dry” setting is an effective way to kill most of the germs.

3. Plastic toys
This should wipe out germs from that last play date fast. Warning: Don’t place any toys with electronic component in the dishwasher. You might get shocked or short them out.

4. Toothbrush holders and soap dishes
Have you ever looked down into your toothbrush holder’s holes? Yeah, it can get pretty gross. Place them on top rack since they tend to be delicate.

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January 2, 2015   No Comments