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now I’m the winner

Nancy Chili Rellenos

Remember when I had my 7th Blogiversary contest and Nancy was the Grand Prize Winner and we cooked together?

sample stack

One of the other contestants who put forth a recipe for the contest sent me the sweetest email after I had delivered the stack of 7 cookbooks to her front door. Amy G. said that she still wanted to share her winning-worthy recipe. I made it, so I know it’s a winner! Amy said that the recipe could be frozen, so I made a double batch at the end of August and can’t wait to pull my frozen stuffed steaks out of the freezer for Sunday’s supper!

So yeah, not only did I get to cook with Nancy and make her great overnight rellenos but I got Amy’s delicious stuffed flank steak recipe too! I’m the winner now! Thank you, Amy G.

meat-market-sign

Here is what Amy wrote:

“I know I wasn’t the lucky winner to prepare a recipe, but I still wanted to share my flank steak recipe with you.  And, it is not so much a recipe, as a method.

Do you recall the Phoenix Meat Market at 7th Ave and Osborn?  I think it closed mid-1990s…boo hoo!  They sold a steak called “Mexi-Flank Steak”,

And I was lucky enough to watch them prepare a batch one day.   After the market closed, I’ve made my own.

I’ll warn you…this is NOT a pretty presentation…the cheese and chilies will squish all over the place when you carve the meat! But, it is oh so yummy, and piled on to a tortilla, it doesn’t matter what the heck it looks like! I serve the steak with hot tortillas and seasoned black beans, (or a bean/corn salad) and Spanish rice if you really want to blow the diet!  Can’t go wrong with guacamole, too!”

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September 23, 2016   4 Comments

Nancy’s Chili Rellenos

Nancy Chili Rellenos

 

A week ago today, my 7th Blogiversary contest winner, Nancy Bull, came over and we cooked her favorite recipe together.

recipe card

I asked Nancy to send me the recipe ahead of time so that I could purchase the ingredients and get set up for our time together. Since this is an overnight recipe, I made one the day before and popped it in the oven when Nancy arrived.  She brought a casserole dish with her, I pulled another one from my cupboard and we each made a pan of Nancy’s Chili Rellenos.

Since Nancy was my guest blogger, I asked her to write-up a little something about the dish:

“We’ve been making this dish for probably 25 years or more.  My mom found the recipe in a church cookbook and thought it would be a great breakfast casserole for Christmas morning.  Every Christmas Eve, after cleaning up from dinner, all the Bull girls gather in the kitchen to make the casserole(s) for the next morning.  Thank goodness it’s so easy because by the time we get to this, there have been festive beverages consumed!  We pop it in the fridge for the night and bake it while we open presents on Christmas morning.  The family has grown over the years so now we make 2….leftovers are never a problem!

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years!  Cheers!

Nancy”

swim up

This recipe could not be easier. In fact, Nancy was a little embarrassed about this at first, be I assured her that people, my followers included, LOVE easy-breezy recipes. And you can rest assured – this one is a winner! I know, because the two of us enjoyed it for dinner that night and I had some for breakfast the next morning. Just as good the next day!

grind garlic

A few notes: Nancy’s recipe called for a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles. I only had 7-ounce cans. Nancy said that we should use the 7-ounce cans – the more the better. Good idea! The recipe called for garlic powder, I didn’t have any, so I used a mini-chop and ground up dried minced garlic to make my own powder.

nancys chili relleno

Since I actually made two pans, the one Nancy and I enjoyed and the one I made with her, I asked her if the cooked dish could be frozen. She said they never have had any left over, so she didn’t know. I was leaving town the next day, so I baked my second pan, let it cool, then refrigerated it. Next, I removed it from the pan, then I double wrapped it in plastic, then wrapped that in heavy foil and froze it. I pulled it out six days later, transferred it back into the baking dish, let it defrost in the refrigerator and then reheated it in the oven.

The verdict: It does not freeze well. It was soggy and not even close to as delicious as it was when it was freshly baked.

chili rellenos from oven

Lastly, when the casserole comes out of the oven, it is puffy as all get out.

rellenos deflated

In the five minutes that it rests before cutting, it deflates. That’s natural and what is supposed to happen, so don’t fret.

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September 5, 2016   6 Comments

corn 3 ways

menu

I know that yesterday I mentioned that I’d highlight the 4th of July main courses and dessert next, but that was before I remembered that in addition to all the wonderful salads and sides my friends brought, I also made a few sides and salads myself. So let’s get to those first.

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July 12, 2016   No Comments

Rachael’s appetizer and little party bits

olive salami picks

Connor’s friend, Rachael, brought these super easy and super tasty little appetizer picks. Luckily I was able to snap a photo before they were all snapped up!

chip & dip

No one had signed up for chips and dip, so I asked Connor to provide those.

chip and salsa

You have to have chips and dip!

flag snack tray

I threw together a red, white and blue flag snack tray using, red grapes, banana slices, strawberries, yogurt covered pretzels, blueberries and raspberries.

white house

Lastly, I purchased a mock gingerbread house at Trader Joe’s, which was really a sugar cookie White House and I pretended like it was Christmas in July. I loved putting it together since our long family tradition of Marissa and Connor each assembling their own Christmas gingerbread houses has fallen by the wayside. Mostly because they hate it! Oh well, a mom can reminisce.

Tram and Scott

These were a few of the little extras at the 4th of July Party Pot-Luck Pool Party. The main course and dessert details will follow in the coming days.

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July 11, 2016   No Comments

grill pan dinner – fresh fruit week day 3

Kim gifted me with fresh Mission figs and sweet little plums. I know, it’s like a darn fruit stand over here!

figs and plums

I ate all the plums straight away and then worked the figs and all those peaches, ripening and being picked each and every day, into our meals.

grill pan chicken peaches figs

What follows is one of the quickest and easiest of the bunch.

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June 2, 2016   No Comments

Fresh Fruit Week – Day 2

The parade of peaches continues. Yesterday the peach salsa had the extra benefit of mango and strawberry.

Today’s salad gets an extra fruity punch from apricot.

almond crusted cheese salad

Dave is the salad lover in our family. I love soup. But I will admit, I do love this salad.

Oh, and I used the sliced honey roasted almonds from Trader Joe’s but plain sliced or silvered almonds, or any nut of your choice for that matter, would work perfectly fine. I would just toast them in a dry skillet or in the oven first. Enjoy!

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June 1, 2016   2 Comments

lucky long noodles with jalapeño

I faced my usual challenge while trying to balance having fun with my guests and taking photos to use for this site during my Friday the 13th Dinner Party.

So in place of the usual photos of the cooking process, how about photos of the guests?

lucky 13

Above you see everyone hanging out in-between dinner and dessert, enjoying each other and the beautiful evening in Linda Land, as Tram and Steve so sweetly have dubbed my backyard.

blondes vs brunettes

Here are The Blondes, Amy and Anne vs. The Brunettes, Peggy and Tram, posing in front of the red wine selections.

the girls

Eventually, the were able to pull me out of the kitchen for a quick snapshot.

scott and amy

Adorable Scott and Amy. Scott with his lucky grapes and Amy holding the fun Texas Boot Scraper they brought me as a hostess gift. They found it at Sweet Salvage and thought I’d love it because of my Texas connection. They were right, of course! OK, on today’s recipe.

meal13

This dish was chosen because of the superstition that it is unlucky to cut a noodle before eating and the unlucky connection between hot peppers and friendship.

Cutting Noodles: While noodles are thought to bring good fortune and a long life in Chinese culture, cutting those same noodles brings about a different fortune. Cutting noodles (especially those served on the New Year and at parties) causes bad luck and a shortened lifespan.

Hot Peppers and Friendship: Many people believe that hot peppers can bring discontent among friends. One version of the superstition says that spilling pepper can cause disagreements between friends. And when working in the kitchen, handing a hot chili pepper directly to a friend will cause disagreements in your relationship. However, the bad luck can be avoided by putting the hot pepper down on a surface and allowing said friend to pick it up as a separate action.

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May 23, 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.

someday

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.

proud

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

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

Image

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

asparagus & swiss tart

goldwaters

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.

logo

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.

jarlsberg

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!

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April 5, 2016   1 Comment