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fresh entrée #1

yellow flowers

For last weekend’s Spring Reunion Dinner, I served two fresh and colorful entrées. Today I post the first, along with a few photos of the flowers and tablesetting.

I picked up the flowers above at Trader Joe’s when I was grocery shopping for the dinner and arranged them quite simply in a few of the bottles from my “miscellaneous cool bottles” collection.

Loris flowers

These beauties were given to me by Lori and I can assure you she didn’t just pick them up at Trader Joe’s – more likely at some fancy florist shop. I arranged them in some of my clear square vases and they were held indoors until it was cool enough to move them to the table on the back patio where we ate our meal.


I decided to keep the table simple, fresh and clean – like the food.


I started with white placemats and napkins, blue and gold Indian-inspired tea-glasses for the water and frosted white striped wine goblets.


Gold flatware to match the tea-glasses and a lovely set of mix/match of bird and floral dishes in simple black and white.

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March 4, 2016   4 Comments

fruity first course

This layered fruit-cheese salad was the first course for our Spring Reunion Dinner. I decided to make individual servings, but it could be made even easier in a large clear bowl or better yet, in a trifle dish.


If you’re making one large salad, you’ll use all the fruit. For these six small individual portions, you’ll end up with about half of the fruit left or enough to make at least 12 individual servings. So either cut the fruit portions in half, or freeze the remaining fruit and use for smoothies, that’s what I did.

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March 3, 2016   No Comments

Vento Cocktail #2

Yesterday we had Lori’s Honey Paloma Cocktail, today it’s Jonathan’s turn.

peeps and drinks

Now I can share with you that this cocktail was our unanimous favorite. Lori’s was good, but side-by-side, this lemonade won, hands down!

I will also let you know that since I have both navel orange and blood orange plus lemon and Meyer lemon trees in my backyard, we used a mix of all four citrus varieties for our juice base. It’s possible that made all the difference… or maybe it’s just a good recipe no matter which citrus varieties you use.

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March 2, 2016   1 Comment

asparagus to die for

This recipe is one I found on Pinterest and nipped, tucked and tweaked to make this killer vegetable side dish.

Pancetta-Citrus Asparagus with Dill

I hadn’t planned to post it until the end of the week, but a couple of you asked for it ASAP, so here it is.


The 4-ounce package of diced pancetta is from Trader Joe’s and makes this dish a snap.


When you’re in the produce department looking at leeks, always pick out the leeks with the most white. The dark green goes in the trash. White and light green = Good. Dark green = Waste.

Also, always wash your leeks after you’ve sliced or diced them. To do so, fill a bowl with cold water, drop the leeks in and swish around. Then use your hands to lift the leeks out of the water, transferring to a dish or plate. Next, pour out the dirty water and do it all over again. Pour out that water and if it’s clear, your leeks are ready to use. If that water is still sandy and dirty, do it again and again as needed. It’s important to not pour the leeks into a strainer. Doing so will leave the dirt you removed from the leeks all over them again.

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February 3, 2016   1 Comment

slow cooker pasta and turkey meatball soup

I’m doing my best to not just make all of the “week’s worth” of slow-cooker recipes into soup recipes. But it’s hard! I love soup!!! Especially this one. It is so lite, so lemony, so satisfying, so M-mmmm good!

mmm good

My brother-in-law, Roger, is visiting for the week. He, Dave and Connor devoured it. Which is a good thing I suppose, since I’m running out of room in the fridge. The thing is bulging at the seams with the ingredients for the upcoming recipes and with all the leftover baby back ribs and beans from the other night.

sleepy dog beer flightConnor had the day off work, so Roger, Con and I went to a couple breweries yesterday afternoon and tasted some beer flights. Our favorite stop was the Sleepy Dog Brewery which has a Groupon promo going on right now. If you go, you have to try the Wet Snout Milk Stout, it is out of this world good! I found out they have it on tap at Hopdoddy right now too. Guess where else we’ll be taking Roger before he heads back to the Illinois snow?! Ah, snow, this soup would be the perfect remedy for a snowy day, pretty great for a sunny day too!IMG_2032

Lemony Turkey Meatball and Orzo Soup

1 large egg
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon zest, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

turkey lemon orzo

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the ground turkey, Panko, salt, dried rosemary and the lemon zest (set aside the lemon juice) and mix to combine well.brown meatballsHeat oil in a large non-stick skillet, when oil is hot, use a 1- tablespoon scoop (or two spoons to make meatballs that are 1-tablespoon in size – but the scooper is The Best!) to make the meatballs and drop into the skillet as you scoop them out. Do not overcrowd the pan. Use a spatula to turn the meatballs and brown on all sides.

transfer to pot

As the meatballs brown, transfer to a slow cooker and continue making meatballs and transferring as they are browned until all the turkey mixture is used. You should end up with about 30 to 32 meatballs.

saute onion and carrot

Sauté the onion and carrots in the same skillet, just long enough to bring up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet, for a minute or two. Scrape into the slow cooker with the meatballs. Add the garlic and broth and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

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January 29, 2016   2 Comments

bridal shower sweets

burlap and book pages

The last post about Marissa’s bridal shower is “the dessert post” … you know – just saving the best for last!

shower table

Before I share the recipes that Raina used for her cookie trio, I want to tell you about the iced Vietnamese coffee that we served, along with iced chai tea, milk and chocolate milk, at the Milk & Cookies dessert station.

press cold brew

Vietnamese coffee is a blend of cold brew coffee and sweetened condensed milk. I used a 50/50 ratio of Press Coffee Roasters Cold Brew and sweetened condensed milk. I mixed them together the night before and served it over ice. So Good!

lemon glazed blueberry lemon bread

On the lunch buffet table, along with the salad, savory tart and bruschetta, we served my Lemon Glazed Blueberry Bread. It was an extra loaf I had baked for a cooking class the week before. Barb stored it in her freezer, defrosted it in the fridge and then glazed it just before serving.


Now for Raina’s scrumptious cookies!

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

mini cupcakes for a baptism

Sunday was baptism day for Peggy’s grandson, Cruz. Cruz is the cutest baby boy there ever was! I swear, he is a little chub of pure joy and his grandma is head over heals in love! I don’t blame her one little bit!

Cruz Baptism

Darling Cruz being held by his godfather, along with his godmother, proud daddy Stevo (Peggy’s son) and beautiful mommy Keegan.


The baptism was held during the 10:30 mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the lunch was at Cruz’s great-uncle’s home.

Peggy was responsible for dessert and she did herself proud! She made the most adorable and delicious little lemon cupcakes with lemon curd, lemon frosting and lemon sugar. I held myself back and only had two. It was a test of control and strength!

Peggys cupcakes

I just noticed that the cupcake liners match her dress. What did I tell you? Adorable!

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January 19, 2015   1 Comment

yes, I do bake… every now and then…

lemon glazed blueberry lemon bread

We all know that I don’t bake.

Yet I did, voluntarily, on Sunday.

Weird, I know!

frys ad

It all had to do with the blueberries that were on sale at Fry’s.

I bought them, only because they were on sale, then I didn’t know what to do with them … so I baked. The result was pretty darn fantastic! (Oh, I bought the pork loin on sale too… that recipe will follow soon.)


I used Meyer lemons, because I have them, but regular Lisbon lemons would be just as delicious.

2 varieties

If you need either, and you are in my neighborhood … contact me and you can pick as many as your heart desires.

expesive lemons

I do not charge $46 (plus $10 for shipping) for 3 pounds like they do on Food52/Provisions!!! In fact, I don’t charge anything, they are free for the picking. Meyer or Lisbon! And yes, both are organic!


Before we get to the recipe, a few notes:

lemon glazed blueberry bread

I love to use a longer and thinner loaf pan for breads. There are more slices and they are a nicer size. A 12″ long by 4 1/2″ wide by 2 1/2″ deep loaf pan is my favorite size to use.


When you use a glaze on baked goods, the glaze drips. Many recipes call for you to place the baked item on a rack – over waxed paper or such.

pastry scraper

Don’t bother, just place on a rack – on a clean counter. It is much easier to pick up the excess glaze drips with a pastry scraper and drizzle over the bread a second or even a third time this way.

drizzle the drips

When making the glaze, start with the juice from 1/2 a lemon and add more as needed. Powdered sugar soaks up liquid like a sponge, so start with a little and add more as needed, instead of adding too much liquid at the start and having to add more and more sugar to get the consistency you want.

lemon juice [

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January 12, 2015   6 Comments

salad color

easter egg radishes

If you can find Easter egg radishes and colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes at your grocery store or farmer’s market, this perfect colorful summer salad!

heirloom tomatoes

If not, I’m sorry for you but it will still taste fantastic without the “fancy” vegetables.

IMG_1713 copy

Isn’t it pretty?

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July 12, 2014   No Comments

colorful summer salad and a tomato tip

tomato halves

I’ve seen this cool tip for cutting a bunch of cherry tomatoes at one time all over the internet and on Pinterest. I’ve used it for sometime now, but keep forgetting to share it with you. It not only comes in handy for this salad but is especially fabulous for THIS RECIPE and any other recipes calling for roasted cherry tomatoes.

Summer Squash and Salmon Salad

Summer Squash and Salmon Salad

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and then thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pepper jelly
3 pound salmon fillet, skin on
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
6 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 avocado, diced
1 cup chopped pecans


In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini, toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

coat salmon

Spread the pepper jelly on the flesh side of the salmon. Heat a grill or broiler to high.

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June 30, 2014   4 Comments