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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

Plan B

On Sunday morning, I pulled a package of pork tenderloin from the freezer to thaw for dinner. A few hours later I heard from Connor and he decided to stay home instead of coming over as he usually does for Sunday dinner and to do his laundry. I think he’d had enough of me after our trip to Austin.

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April 4, 2017   2 Comments

Guinness Fondue

Sweet Zoey and me testing the appetizer I made for Tram and Steve’s St. Patrick’s Day/Going-Away dinner party last Friday night. Zoey and Zak were not fans of the Guinness Fondue, but they did love all the dippers for it.

One of the dippers is blanched Brussels sprouts.

To blanch them; trim the ends and cut in half. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add sprouts and boil for 3 or 4 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces a sprout easily. Drain and then shock in ice water. Drain on paper towels and leave at room temperature until serving time. Note: When you’re trimming and halving the sprouts, you’ll end up with a pile of single leaves. I blanched the leaves first for about 30 seconds, shocked and drained them and used them in a salad the next day. Zero waste!

Also a note about another dipper – the pretzel roll cubes. I didn’t have time to get to Costco and buy a package of their pretzel rolls, which are the best around, in my opinion. Instead I bought the Trader Joe’s pretzel rolls. You know I love my Trader Joe’s, but there is no comparison between the two rolls. The Costco variety are saltier and way more pretzel-y. Lesson learned.

One last note before the recipe. I know, I’ve got so much to say about this easy-breezy appetizer! A third and very important dipper is apple cubes. In my rush to assemble and set out the appetizer when I arrived at Tram’s, I forgot to add the apple cubes to the serving tray. I felt like something was missing, but I brushed it off. Finally, a guest asked, “What is this container of apple cubes for?” Darn it! Don’t forget to put them out because they add a much-needed light and bright color to the tray of dippers and are a delicious fresh addition to the overall taste choices. *If you look closely in the left upper corner of the photo above, you’ll see them in their storage container with the purple trimmed lid. Oh well.

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March 23, 2017   No Comments

Irish recipes for next St. Patrick’s Day

On Friday night, Tram and Steve had a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party that was also a going-away party for a special Irish chef we all know and love. Chef Michael Cairns and his beautiful wife, Dar, are moving to Napa, California today. You will now be able to find Michael at the gorgeous Silverado Resort. The last time I was at The Silverado was in 1990-something for the Napa County Wine Auction. Knowing that Michael is there makes me want to go back. The 2017 Auction is the first weekend in June… very tempting!

Michael and Steve cooked up a delicious traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal; corned beef, cabbage & carrots, soda bread, Shepard’s pie, roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes and colcannon (which is another potato dish – you know, for good measure!)

I contributed my favorite things to bring to parties, a cocktail and an appetizer. Today you’ll find the cocktail recipe and tomorrow I’ll post the appetizer.

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March 22, 2017   1 Comment

Soup for the Ventos

I had my dear friends, Lori and Jonathan Vento, over for dinner. Not this last weekend, because they are back in Chicago, freezing their little toes off! It was actually last month, while they were here visiting and Lori’s mom was along for the trip.

For our first course, I decided to combine two of my favorite vegetables. I love butternut squash soup and I equally adore red bell pepper soup. They are both bright and beautiful and doubly so when in the same bowl.

Off topic …. It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted any adorable photos of my exceedingly adorable 2-year-old cats, Bombay and Bailey. While scrolling back through my photos to find the pictures to accompany this recipe, I found a few cat pics. Honestly, I found a ton of cat pics, I am constantly taking pictures of them. I only chose a few to share though. They are at the bottom of the post … after the recipe … if adorable cat photos are your thing!

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March 20, 2017   2 Comments

savory “lollypops”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Faith and Begorrah!

I’ve mentioned several times before that I am a founding member of the Phoenix chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier. Our March meeting was an appetizer pot-luck and I made these fun and savory pimento cheese lollypops to share.

No matter how cute and tasty they may have been, they could never compete with the out-of-this-world Fried Chicken that Charleen Badman, chef/owner, of the ever wonderful FnB, brought to the meeting! So darn good! But since I don’t have the recipe for Charleen’s chicken, the recipe for the lollypops will have to suffice.

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March 17, 2017   1 Comment

chicken and lentils

I made this slow cooker stew for a girl’s night with my BFF’s, Peggy and Anne, a month ago, when it wasn’t 93 degrees outside, like it is right now! We enjoyed the fireplaces, each other’s company, the Jacuzzi and the correct seasonal weather.

What the heck?!? Here it is mid-March and already in the 90’s in Arizona! I just heard my upstairs A/C turn on again! I hate it! I know that the mid-west and east are suffering through a blizzard and freezing their behinds off. And as ridiculous as that is, this heat is just as bad. It’s expected to be 96 degrees this Saturday! What happened to spring? Who do we send our complaints to? Rant over. For today anyhow.

I used chicken tenders, which meant that I needed to removed the tendon from each.

It’s easy to do. Use a fingernail to hold on to the end of the tendon. Then slide a paring knife to scrape it off. See, easy.

I thought the stew had just the right amount of heat. Anne found it too spicy for her taste. Even Peggy thought it was a little too hot. If you like spicy, keep the recipe as is.

For a milder stew, simply eliminate the jalapeños.

 

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March 15, 2017   No Comments

soup rules!

Once I make a pot of soup, all I really want to do is to make another.

Yesterday it was cauliflower soup, today it’s broccoli and spinach. Tomorrow… ooh, chunky corn chowder sounds yummy!

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March 9, 2017   1 Comment