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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

bacon candy

At last, the end of recipes from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck.

Marissa made my famous Caesar Dip, the recipe can be found HERE. Near the end of the evening, I set out bowls and platters of holiday sweets and desserts I’d purchased at Trader Joe’s, alongside the coffee and cocoa bar.

Before I share the last recipe, let me tell you the joke I made up about it…

The original name for this recipe was Bacon Crack, that seems a bit crass, so I’ve since changed it to Bacon Candy.

I made the recipe the morning of the party. I tasted it and didn’t think it was all that great. Come party time, I put it in the serving dish and told guests, “It’s called Bacon Crack, but it’s not all that it’s ‘cracked up’ to be.” Haha.

Funny thing was, everyone loved it. I tasted it again and they were right, it was boatloads better once it cooled completely and sat around for a few hours.

I apologize that it has taken seven weeks to post the 10 recipes from a Christmas Eve Eve party. (To easily find them all in one place, just click on the link in the first sentence of this post and it will take you to them)

The good news is that here on the blog, 2016 finally ends and next week, 2017 begins!

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February 24, 2017   1 Comment

Lisa’s Brie en Croûte

This recipe came straight from the Pepperidge Farm website. And I have to confess, so did the photo. The picture I took was too blurry to use.

My beautiful friend and neighbor, Lisa, made it and topped hers with an adorable puff pastry candy cane in place of the poinsettia you see pictured here. What’s not to love?! Cheese, puff pastry, almonds and dried cranberries. Yum!

Tomorrow I’ll finally wrap up with the last recipe and some final thoughts from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck.

Photo

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February 23, 2017   No Comments

Kim’s Salmon Rounds

We’re closing in on the last of the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck recipes.

Kim made this one and totally changed the recipe I’d sent out and made it all her own… no surprise there.

Instead of making the cream cheese mixture the recipe called for, Kim used Boursin. Use any flavor you prefer.

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February 22, 2017   2 Comments

Shrimp Scampi Dip

Recipe #6 from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck is rich and creamy and what I’d call decadent. In other words, stick to the crudités if you’re watching your fat intake! Then again, this was served during the holidays, certainly a taste can’t hurt.

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February 21, 2017   4 Comments

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