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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.


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

crinkle cucumber slicer

crinkle cucumber slicer

There is a kitchen tool that I have owned for over 20 years which I have used only once. I can’t for the life of me tell you when, why or how I acquired it, I just know that it’s been hanging around forever. I honestly don’t even know the proper name for it but I’m calling it a crinkle cucumber slicer. This past weekend, I used it for a second time.

tool junk drawer

You know how most homes have a junk drawer? Yeah, I have one of those too, but sadly, I have a second drawer that I call the kitchen tool junk drawer. It holds an odd variety of tools I seldom, if ever, use. I had to pull out the drawer to get to the bottom to find the slicer.


The reason the slicer was rescued from the pit of despair is because my dad brought over crates full of cucumbers, beans, peas, squash and corn that he received from his friends in Colorado, who he calls his shirt-tail relatives.

My dad asked me to “put up” the cucumbers and some of the green beans for him. Although I have an obsession with Mason jars, I’m not really into canning. I told him I’d quick pickle them and he could give them to his friends at church. He reluctantly agreed to settle on that.

pickles and beans

All three of these recipes can be processed for canning. If you’d like to do so, there are plenty of articles online with the canning process. HERE is one that I found for you.

The photos show more jars than the recipes make, that is due to the fact that I doubled and tripled the recipes. The first two are Tyler Florence recipes, the third is one I worked up.

sweet pickles

Quick Sweet Pickles

6 pickling (Kirby) or 2 regular cucumbers
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
salted cucmbers

Wash and dry the cucumbers. Using a sharp knife or a crinkle cucumber slicer cut the cucumbers into ½-inch slices and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Place the colander over a bowl and allow it to sit, covered, for about 1 hour.

rinse off salt

Rinse off the salt and dry the cucumber slices well.

dry slices

Place them into a sterilized quart jar.

sweet spices

In a small saucepan add the remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil.

add spices

Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Pour the brine over the cucumbers in jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.

bread and butter pickles

Recipe from Tyler Florence

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September 6, 2016   1 Comment

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!


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

soup for take-out pot-luck dinner party


I was inspired to create this soup because I had a nearly full can of coconut milk, less only 2 tablespoons, that I’d used for this recipe.

ginger lemongrass coconut chicken soup

Ginger-Lemongrass Coconut Soup with Chicken

  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 3-inch piece of fresh lemongrass, smashed
  • Cheesecloth and kitchen string
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk (regular or lite)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
  • 6 large basil leaves, divided
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal, divided
  • 1 cup finely shredded breast meat from a rotisserie chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small red chili, thinly sliced for garnish
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Cilantro sprigs

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August 31, 2016   2 Comments

take-out pot-luck dinner party

take out

Our friends, Lori and Jonathan Vento, were in town last week. We wanted to get together with Tram and Steve and them, but none of us felt like cooking. Come on – It’s August – It’s hot – Our energy level is low, at best!

I offered our house for Friday night and Lori had the great idea of just getting take-out. We decided the thing to do was a Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party.

blue and white

Coincidentally, my friend, Chef Joshua Hebert of Posh was selling some excess kitchen and dining wares he’d recently acquired from a restaurant that closed. I met him at a hangar at the Scottsdale Airpark on Thursday and purchased some lovely Asian dishware.


One little thing like this is all it takes for me to go all out with a theme! Now it’s ON like Donkey Kong!


The Ventos are former neighbors of ours, so as a surprise for them, I invited two other neighbor couples, the Codys and the Cavans.  On Thursday afternoon, I learned that Friday was Lori and Jonathan’s 27th wedding anniversary. Now we really did have a party! Tram and Steve picked up a cake, and everyone brought their favorite Chinese take-out to share and an anniversary for the adorable couple!

sake bottle

Since I was hosting, I didn’t want to leave the house to get take-out, so I made a cocktail, soup and a fruit dessert. Today, I’ll share the cocktail recipe. Tomorrow we’ll have another entry for the new weekly Travel Tuesday feature. Then, on Wednesday I’ll post the soup recipe and Thursday I’ll share the dessert (no oven, no bake, in other words – the perfect dessert!) recipe.

chinese dinner plate

Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party Menu

~Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

~Lemongrass-Ginger Coconut Chicken Soup

~ Tram & Steve brought Chow Mein and Beef & Broccoli from Nee House Chinese Restaurant

~ The Anniversary couple also brought Chow Mein, along with Orange Chicken, from Chop and Wok and some cookies and candies from Sprouts. (which I forgot to put out, so I have them all to myself! Just kidding, I gave the cookies to my dad and the candies are destined for Connor’s house.)

~ The Codys picked up Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s, which Whitney beautifully served on a lovely wooden try with a vintage covered serving dish and a stoneware pitcher for the sauce. They also brought a big bowl of fortune cookies. It’s not a Chinese dinner without fortune cookies!

~ The Cavans brought Fried Rice from Yume Sushi Grill, which Dana transferred to a big chafing dish to keep it piping hot. Smart girl!

~ Tropical Fruit stuffed Pineapples with Coconut Yogurt Sauce

~ Chocolate Mousse Anniversary Cake

It was all delicious! Even having two types of chow mein was fun, since it was great to taste them side-by-side and compare.

mint tips

I have a TIP to share for this cocktail recipe. Actually it’s a good tip for any recipe where you are using herbs in the body of the dish and again for garnish. When removing the leaves, in this case, the mint leaves, strip the leaves below the tip of each sprig and save the tops, the tip of each sprig, for garnish. Too many times, people strip off all the leaves and realize too late that they need some pretty pieces to use at the end of the recipe. Get in the habit of always reserving the pretty tips and you’ll never have that issue again.

sake cocktail

Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 bottle sake, chilled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1  1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus 8 to 10 sprig tips for garnish
  • 5 navel oranges, divided
  • 1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

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August 29, 2016   6 Comments

SUPER market and flap steak

Kim and Barb

At the beginning of June, Kim, Barb and I took a field trip to the new AZ International Marketplace on the corner of Dobson and Broadway Roads in Mesa.

flap steak

I meant to blog about it back then, but then … I didn’t. When I was making room in my freezer to freeze the rosé wine for the Frozé cocktail, I came across a package of flap steak (also known as Bavette steak) that I bought at the Marketplace. No better time than the present to cook up the beef and blog about the store.


When I go shopping to check a new place, mainly when it’s far out of my neighborhood, I call it a Field Trip. This was an especially good one! There were plenty of the things you would expect to find. Such as shelves upon shelves of dried mushrooms.


Aisles upon aisles of noodles, rice sticks, rice paper and the like.


And of course, many interesting finds – “Hello Kitty” seaweed anyone? (Oh, and we’ll be talking about that popcorn later, believe you me!!!)

laxitive cookies sweets

There were sweets of every variety, plus corn starch in lovely old-fashion boxes and even cooler looking boxes of psyllium husk. Love the packaging on that, even though I had no clue what it was used for. Turns out it’s a laxative. Well then, there you go!

dragon fruit and rambutan

The produce department was the most fun!


So many exotic and tropical items to temp you.


Kim and I were extra excited about the jackfruit. Some of them are triple the size of your head! No joke! What to do with all that jackfruit? I have no idea. Before I go back, I’m going to figure it out and buy one. For sure.

full cart

Not to worry, I still filled up my cart. Here is what I brought home on this first trip.

coconut milk water

A wide range of coconut waters and milks. Some are roasted, others have pulp, all were delish.

scmilk, fish sauce milk tea

A can of sweetened condensed milk with a pretty label, fish sauce in a smaller bottle than you’ll usually find and three interesting drinks; Korean ginseng drink with root, royal milk tea and macadamia nut iced coffee. Thus far, I’ve only tried the milk tea. It was good and how cute is that blue can?!?

fun stuff

Cool triangular-shaped rice paper, Chinese honey in a sweet little glass, chrysanthemum drink, super cheap thin white candles, candied ginger and three pretty little boxes of ginger candies. I haven’t tried the chrysanthemum drink yet, I haven’t been brave enough. The candies are good though. 😉

curry and coffee

Two flavors of sardines (for my dad) a lovely can of Café du Monte coffee, a large tin of Madras curry powder, Korean BBQ sauce, green and red curry paste and sweet chilli sauce. One can never have too much sweet chilli sauce!


An inexpensive jar of tahini, garlic hoisin sauce, extra-thick noodles and panko.

sriracha popcorn

Next up: A cheap hat for yard work and the pool, a cool “ice stick” ice tray (which I used along with the candied ginger for THESE Peach Mules) and the very best thing that I bought – SRIRACHA POPCORN!  It is amazing! I can’t wait to go back and buy a case of it! Seriously addicting! A case may not be enough! I may go out there this week since now I can’t stop thinking about the popcorn!!! Anyone want to take a field trip with me?

dumplings and flap steak

Finally, the last tray displaying my purchases; frozen dumplings and pork buns. These were nothing special, I’ve found similar items at Trader Joe’s and they were about the same. And the flap steak.

Here is a great recipe for flap steak. I did not create it, it comes from one of my all-time favorite chefs and cooking teachers, John Ash.

john ash flap steak

Chef John Ash’s Grilled Flap Steak

  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 pounds flap steak, trimmed of fat

flap marinade

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August 24, 2016   9 Comments

4th of July dessert bar


At last, the final post from the 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party. It only took two weeks to get all the recipes posted, that’s not so bad.


If you want to see the menu in its entirety, you can always go to the link over on the left column of this page, click on the “Menu and Party Ideas” page and you’ll find not only this party but many others.

dessert bar

The good new is that the recipes for all the desserts we served at the party are already posted on this site. There is one more fun idea though, so don’t go running off.

key lime pies

First up is Tram’s Famous Key Lime Pies! Tram brought the pies to my 4th party two years ago, so the recipe is posted HERE.

Tram's Key Lime Pie

It’s fun to go back and read that post since Zak & Zoey were only 4 months old at that gathering.


So sweet! As is Tram’s pie.

flag pie

Next, I baked my super easy All-American Berry-Cherry Flag Pie. It is going to be at every 4th party from here on out. Maybe next time I can convince someone else to make it though.

hand pies

I posted the recipe for these Mason Jar Lid Hand Pies on July 3rd. But how cute is this bakery display stand? I found it at The Painted Fox, one of my favorite shopping websites. Love it!


Lastly, we have the Mason Jar Ice Cream Bar. Above you see the cute sprinkles and toppings displayed.

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July 19, 2016   No Comments

lowcountry boil

This is the second of the two main-courses from the 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party.

shrimp boil

Have you heard of Frogmore Stew? How about Lowcountry Boil? The Boil, I knew about, the Stew I didn’t. Or at least I thought I didn’t. Turns out they are the same thing.

Here is the history of this dish, according to Coastal Living Magazine, “Once called Frogmore Stew, this one-pot wonder was created by a National Guardsman when he needed to cook a meal for 100 soldiers. Richard Gay, who learned the recipe from his family, had everyone remembering his stew. The dish was named Frogmore, where Richard was from, by the guards who teased him about home. The Unites States Postal Service eliminated the name Frogmore, which changed this popular dish to Lowcountry Boil.”

aidells sausage

You can use whatever type of cooked sausage you would like. I prefer Aidells Pineapple & Bacon Smoked Chicken Sausage, which I find at Costco. I also get the shrimp at Costco. It is already deveined and ready to drop in the pot.

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July 18, 2016   1 Comment

yet another pulled pork recipe

The first of my two main-course dishes for the 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party is a pulled pork recipe that came from Williams-Sonoma. I altered the recipe to fit my needs.

WS Starter

Need #1 – I did not want to buy a jar of the Williams-Sonoma pulled pork starter. It cost too much and after going online and looking at the list of ingredients, I had all of it on hand anyhow, so I made my own.

15 pounds pork shoulder

Need #2 – I buy my pork shoulder at Costco and a 2.5 pound piece (which is what the Williams-Sonoma recipe called for) would be a joke at Costco. Mine weighed in at a whopping 15 pounds. This meant I needed to quadruple the original recipe, which was more than fine because the original served only 4 to 6 and I had more than 24 mouths to feed. I realize that 15 pounds is 6x as much, but the remaining ingredients only needed to be 4x more.

The big trick to the thing was cooking it in a slow cooker in two batches. It wasn’t difficult and took less time and effort than I expected it would. I thought about calling a neighbor to borrow a second slow cooker, but I was too lazy. That is a good option though.


Another issue was that it never even crossed my mind to take a photo of even one sandwich. I have photos of the pork in the chafing dish and of the slaw on the platter. But no individual sandwiches pics or of the cute setup I had for the little sandwich baskets and paper liners that I worked super hard to get all fixed up. Darn it! As you can see, I had to improvise with those “close-up” images. Sad, but it’s all I got.

pulled pork sandwich [

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July 15, 2016   1 Comment

watermelon overload


I had an abundance of watermelon to use up at the 4th of July Pot-Luck Pool Party. The week prior, I had purchased four small seedless watermelons to make these tasty treats. Kim, Peggy, Anne and I were planning to get together at Kim’s new house for a little housewarming happy hour. At the last minute, plans changed. Without the party on the horizon, I don’t know what I would have done with them all!


I used them up in a non-alcoholic watermelon-strawberry-lemon slushy and in this refreshing watermelon salad.

watermelon salad [

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July 14, 2016   1 Comment