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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

images from my new hood

I’ve been in my rental for just over a month now. Bombay, Bailey and I are settled in and have our routines.

Part of their daily agenda is anticipating the visit from this neighborhood cat. The photo above was taken on the first day he visited and these two were not pleased at all!

He was just sitting there, all casual, grooming himself, while they crouched down, hissed, howled and had the hair on their backs straight up in the air.

Now, it’s old hat. They look forward to his visit and longingly peer out the window when he struts away. I’m not sure who he belongs to or how far away he lives. Part of my daily routine is to walk 4 miles around the park that is two blocks from my house. And many a day, I’ve seen that cat roaming around on the far side of the park.

Speaking of my morning ritual… I walk by this house each day. And it took me nearly two weeks to notice this…

Seems hard to miss! Look back up at the picture of the house. Did you see it at first? LOL!

Since my lease started June 1st, if I want to walk, I have to get up before the sun to do it. I leave my house no later than 4:45 and even then it’s already up to at least 85 degrees. That’s the low temp for the day and one particular morning, it was 90 degrees at 4:30 AM!

But  it’s worth it. Along with the skeleton in the rusted out car, I see a flock of peachfaced lovebirds every morning.

These two sweet men with their “boyfriend and girlfriend” dogs. They’ve been meeting at the park every morning at 5:15 to walk their dogs for 2 years.

And on one magical morning I spotted this gorgeous creature. I followed him around and filmed him for about 20 minutes. I’ve never seen such a colorful bird in Arizona in all my life.

While visiting my mother-in-law in Illinois last week, she pulled out her bird book and helped me identify it as a Vermilion Flycatcher. Awesome!

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July 3, 2017   1 Comment

Brandon’s Whiskey Lemonade

I am in Chicago this week helping my dear friend, Lori, pack up her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, in preparation for her move back to Arizona.

I came in a few days early so I could visit family before the pack-a-thon began. I first drove to my mother-in-law’s home in Rockton, Illinois and spend the night with her. We played games, went out to eat, went to church and had a lovely visit.

The next day, I was off to my brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Beth’s, home in Barrington to spend time with them. The three of us drove into Chicago on Sunday night for dinner with their two daughters, Katie and Maureen, and their beautiful families.

Our first stop was at Katie and Eddie’s home, where I had the pleasure and joy of meeting my newest grand-niece, 4-month old Emily. While Emily napped, her big sister, Kody, who is almost three, entertained us in the backyard. By the way, the weather here has been glorious! What a relief after enduring the heat wave, including the 120 degree day, I left back in Arizona!

Next, we  jumped into our cars and headed downtown to Mo (new mamma to be!) and Brandon’s loft condo. My other brother-in-law, Roger, joined us there.

Here is Roger giving baby Emily her bottle, so sweet!

Brandon, a YouTube-Self-Taught craftsman has been transforming their space. He bought himself a circular saw and went to work crafting barn doors, along with kitchen and bath cabinets, like a pro. Seriously amazing!

The other amazing thing was the signature cocktail Brandon served us.

He found the recipe on HERE. Brandon had visited the High West Distillery in Park City and brought home a bottle of their spiced syrup. The syrup is what makes the cocktail so special. How very generous the folk at High West are to share the recipe to make the syrup at home. Enjoy!

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June 28, 2017   1 Comment

Father’s Day cake

I made this cake for Father’s Day. Isn’t it lovely?

But, as usual, I had a problem while baking. Seriously, what’s new?

This time around, I took extra precautions and not only greased the pans but also lined them with parchment rounds and floured the sides.  I was sure that everything else would work out perfectly. Nope.

The original recipe, that I am not going to reference here because there were too many problems with it, did not indicate the diameter of pans to use. Much of my bakeware is packed away. I had two 8-inch diameter pans and three 9-inch diameter pans at my disposal, so I decided to go with the 9-inch. That was mistake numero uno. Since I wasn’t sure of the pan size, I should have checked the cakes much earlier than I did to see if they were cooked though. As it was, the original recipe called for the cake layers to be baked for 35 minutes. I checked them after 24 minutes and they were already overcooked and dry as the Sonoran desert.

Mistake numero dos was to not then soak them with some sort of orange liqueur or orange juice. I’m certain that would have helped. Instead, I figured that the frosting (there is a lot of it!) would be enough to compensate for the dryness. Again, no.

It’s a pretty cake and if you keep an eye on it while it’s baking, I’m sure it’s a delicious cake too. I served up the 5 pieces to my dad, Connor, Dave, Sloane and myself and then I tossed the rest of it in the trash (after I picked all the fruit off the top and had that with my breakfast the next morning).  I believe I’ve made the corrections and compensations for this to be a tasty cake. If you decide to give it a try – let me know.

In the meantime, let me say, this is just another example of why …

I Hate To BAKE

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June 22, 2017   2 Comments

onion jam

For a person who started out, nearly 8 years ago, blogging every day, these last couple of years sure have been hit or miss. Such is life.  I hope to be getting back on track now. I’ll probably never go back to posting on a daily basis, but most certainly back in a routine of regular and steady posts.  I want to thank you for hanging in there with me! xoxo

Enough chitchat, let’s get to a recipe!

This easy-to-make sweet-tart onion jam is currently my favorite thing in the fridge. I’ve made three batches since April.

For the most recent batch I used 4 pounds of onions. The house still smells of it … I am not complaining!

It is the perfect sweet-tart accompaniment to just about everything!

  • Serve with roasted pork, beef, poultry or grilled salmon. 
  • Thin it out with a touch of red wine vinegar mixed with water and use as a marinade for vegetables before grilling, broiling or roasting.
  • I mix it in with my ground turkey every morning before dropping an egg in the center.
  • For a more decadent breakfast/brunch dish – spread it on a warm biscuit with a slice of quality ham.
  • Pair it with blue cheese for the most amazing pizza!
  • Throw a heaping spoonful in a salad before tossing.

  • Or do what I do when you need a quick appetizer and toast slices of  baguette, spread with a layer of softened goat cheese, top with a mound of the onion jam and garnish with finely minced fresh rosemary. You’ve got a sure-fire hit on your hands!

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June 16, 2017   6 Comments

beyond busy

My house sold!

This is the story of my life. I am averaging five hours of sleep a night. Not only because I have so much to do but worse, I can’t shut my mind off.

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May 3, 2017   4 Comments

easy peasy lemon squeezy

This is the pie I made my dad for his 86th birthday. It turns out, also for his 85th birthday. See the NOTE at bottom of post.  What can I say? It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s delicious!

It was made even easier when Connor spent the night the night before and he readied the pie crust for me. He is a master at lining a pie pan with dough, crimping and blind baking it. Seriously, look at that! Pure Perfection!

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April 27, 2017   No Comments

Arizona citrus

Two of the three instructors who taught cooking classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School this April have made refreshing and colorful citrus salads. And why not? We all love to use local ingredients and Arizona offers some of the best citrus around.

Another coincidence was that both of the chefs used a variety of orange called Cara Cara. I don’t recall this variety ever being used at the school before and then suddenly two consecutive teachers use them. Amazingly, they are even available at Costco.

The Cara Cara orange is an all-natural hybrid orange, the result of the cross-pollination of a Washington Navel Orange and a Brazilian Bahia Navel Orange.

They were discovered in 1976 in Venezuela at the Hacienda da Cara Cara. The oranges found their way into very limited US markets in the 1980’s.

The next citrus tree I plant is going to be a Cara Cara! I love the sweetness of the fruit and the gorgeous reddish-pink color of the flesh. The photo above shows the blood orange, the Cara Cara and the navel next to each other. Beautiful!

I enjoyed and was inspired so much by the cooking class salads that I decided to pick up a bag of Cara Cara oranges at Costco and use my backyard bounty of lemons, grapefruit, blood and navel oranges for my dad’s birthday dinner.

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April 26, 2017   1 Comment

not fried chicken

This is the chicken that we enjoyed while my dad and Dave ate liver at Dad’s birthday dinner.

One note, in my hurry to get dinner on the table and while  busily making the gravy, I left out the last step or boiling the chicken pieces to get them browned. As a result, the chicken I served looked a little anemic. It still tasted good and it was crispy, but quite bland in color. Oops.

Since the last thing I want you to see as the lead photo on a post is anemic chicken, I made it again last night and did it right. That is what you see above. Below is the not so pretty, but still tasty, stuff.

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April 24, 2017   No Comments

Dad’s 86th birthday dinner

My Dad’s 86th birthday was Tuesday the 18th. We celebrated on Wednesday night with the dinner Dad requested and would probably ask for every weekend if he could.

Liver and Onions.

Thank goodness his birthday only comes around once a year!

Dad and Dave enjoy that meal, not so much Connor, my sister, Sloane and me. I made baked “fried” chicken for those of us with good taste.

Let’s see, we have brown liver, brown caramelized onion, brown baked chicken, light brown gravy and white mashed potatoes … looks so appealing, so appetizing. Not!

I tried to make things better by setting a colorful and cheerful table.

And I offset the “mostly shades of brown” menu with a bright mixed citrus salad, a green and yellow zucchini bake and a sunny lemon pie.

  • Lemon Pie with Whipped Cream

I’ve posted the recipe for Dad’s liver and onions before and I’ll put up the baked chicken, citrus salad and pie recipes in the coming days. Today we’ll get right to the squash bake.

In the gorgeous tart recipe from two days ago, I peeled off thin slices of zucchini and yellow squash, leaving the center portions of the vegetables behind. For this recipe, I used those otherwise discarded pieces.

You can do the same or just start with nice freshly purchased (or picked) squash of your own.

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April 21, 2017   2 Comments