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Easter Soup

Things are beginning to work themselves out around here. Connor got his car back yesterday. I think I figured out what area of our water usage the major water leak is coming from (now to exactly pinpoint it) and I think my dad is taken care of for the next few days, at least enough for me to get out-of-town and away from it all for a long weekend.

texas map

I’ll  be in Austin, visiting the newlyweds, Marissa and Jeff. Marissa and I will be taking day-trips to Waco to shop at the Magnolia Silos and to Round Top, Texas to hit the last day of the spring Round Top Antiques Fair. I am so excited!

While I’m there, I’ll still be posting recipes from our Easter supper. Yesterday, we started with my well-deserved cocktail. Today, we have the soup.

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March 31, 2016   2 Comments

Easter Cocktail

The week leading up to Easter and now the couple of day since have been wrought with angst and issues.

What sort of issues?

tow away

  1. Missing cats (found after 4+ hours of searching)
  1. Connor’s 1:30 AM backed-up kitchen sink – which led to apartment flooding, stinking, and day-long cleanup (not his fault, came from the apartments above him)backed up
  1. Connor car problems – still ongoing … now into day eight
  1. Quadruple water bills at our house (obviously a leak, but not one that has yet been found)water meter
  1. Ongoing care for parent who had surgery and a subsequent fall


With all that and the fact that I gave up alcohol for lent, it should come as no surprise that the first recipe I’m going to share from our Easter dinner is a cocktail recipe!

 Easter Cocktail [

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March 30, 2016   2 Comments

Birthday wishes and Ahi Tacos

I want to wish a very happy birthday to two of my sweetest friends.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.54.08 PM

Happy Birthday, Tram!

linda and amy

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Love you both! xoxo

Ahi Tuna Tacos with Pickled Slaw and Wasabi Cream & Chipotle Mayo

seared ahi tacos

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March 21, 2016   6 Comments

shoulder or butt?

slow cooker asian pulled pork

You may think from the title that this post is an update on my dad’s recent shoulder surgery. Or me updating you on the fact that he went down our staircase on his butt. That wasn’t the original intention, but I will give you that update first and then tell you all about the difference between pork shoulder and pork butt.

pork butt

So … less than 48 hours after his rotator cuff surgery, my dad decided he should attempt coming down the stairs on his own. Not the best idea! While holding the rail with his left hand (not all the strong since his stroke a few decades back) and with his right arm in a sling, he slipped, hit his right side on the stairs and slid down to the bottom on his behind.

I could ring his neck! We’d talked about the stairs the day before and I told him I didn’t want him on them without me, Dave or Connor there to assist. Sunday morning, he decided he didn’t want to bother us, so down he went.

Monday, I took him in for x-rays and thankfully, the shoulder is fine but he does have two broken ribs. Arrrg!!!! So we’ll be tacking on several more days is not weeks to his stay at the Hopkins’ Recuperating Home. OK, enough of that – on to the pork.

piggy piggy

There is often confusion about the cuts of pork referred to as pork shoulder and pork butt. Pork shoulders, pork butts and picnic “hams” are all part of the same front leg and shoulder of a hog.

bone in pork butt

What is commonly sold as a pork butt and Boston butt are the same cut of meat – the top portion of what is considered the “whole shoulder” of the hog. This cut is very marbled and often sold skinless, with a large portion of fat on top. The “butt” can be sold boneless or bone-in, and weighs between 6 and 9 pounds on average for bone-in, or between 4 and 7 pounds if boneless. There is no need to search out the boneless variety. The bone, the blade, is thin and flat and not at all a nuisance, as you’ll see in the photos below.

In comparison, the pork shoulder is the lower portion of the shoulder. It is located below the joint and above the shank (leg). It is smaller than the pork butt and contains more fat, bone and connective tissue. It is often sold complete with skin and is rarely sold boneless. This smaller roast usually weighs in at between 4 to 5 pounds.

The important thing to know is that no matter which cut you find in your market, all are interchangeable in any recipe (shredded pork or otherwise) that calls for pork shoulder or pork butt.

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March 11, 2016   No Comments

pot roast for recuperating

Horseradish Pot Roast

My dad had shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff last Friday. He has been recuperating at our house. His favorite meal is pot roast. Since his every wish and need is my command, I made it for him.

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March 10, 2016   2 Comments

super hummus

Before I post the final recipe from our Spring Reunion Dinner, I want to acknowledge that today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. She passed away this past August after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. I wasn’t posting at the time, taking a break while preparing for Marissa’s wedding, but I remember her today. Happy Birthday, Mom. xoxo

mom and family

Along with the Fresh Fruit – Smoked Salmon Spread, I served this “super hummus” as an appetizer to go with Lori and Jonathan’s super cocktails.

front patio

You can use store-bought hummus or any hummus recipe you like and then “pump it up” with these toppings.  I’m linking you what I made, which is my favorite hummus recipe, it begins with dried chickpeas.

spring sign

We enjoyed the appetizers and cocktails on the front porch. I’ll share more about the “Spring Shutter” sign later in the week. Photo credit goes to Lori Vento for the two photos above.

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March 8, 2016   1 Comment

Reunion Dinner Entrée #2

The second entrée salad of our Spring Reunion Dinner contained farro.  Farro is a type of wheat grain. Regular farro needs to be soaked overnight, but quick-cook and ready to use farro is ready in only 10 minutes and can be easily found in most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s. Be sure to find a quick-cook package.


A grill basket is also a must for this recpe. Grill baskets are the only way to go when grilling small items, such as shrimp and cut vegetables.

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March 7, 2016   1 Comment

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