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I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been much of a gardener. I’ve had an herb garden my entire adult life, so I can grow herbs. And I’ve always had fruit trees, but that’s not gardening.

I’ve tried to grow tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, peas, pumpkins, eggplant, okra, and even zucchini. I’ve had success with not a one! Not even zucchini. Everyone else I know gets so much zucchini, that they are begging people to take it from them. Nope.

This year it’s different. I don’t know if it’s the new house, new garden, new dirt, or new attitude, but I’m a farmer now! At least that’s what I said in my Instagram post above.

But it turns out I’m not really a farmer because I thought the photo above was a zucchini. I forgot what I’d planted. It’s a cucumber. See #squash above? Not a farmer.

Here is that same cucumber a few days later.

And here is my current harvest of cucumbers. Why is there Ketel One behind the cucumbers? Because my friend, Jen, told me about the new Ketel One Botanicals. I love the idea of them. They are lower in alcohol and calories. Botanical is vodka distilled with real botanicals and infused with natural fruit essences.

I made a delicious cucumber martini with the Cucumber Mint Botanical and my homegrown cucumber.

Back to the garden, I was also successful with cantaloupe and watermelon. 

I’ve harvested that lovely perfectly round watermelon above and now I’m waiting for these weird shaped ones to be ready.

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July 12, 2018   3 Comments


Photo courtesy of Pinkerton Photography

My cousin and my friend, Michelle Lorts, gave me a tin of Red Rock Lavender Lemon Pepper. Michelle owns Studio Fiore and is the florist who created the stunning flowers for Marissa’s wedding.

Photo credit: Red Rock Ranch & Farms

A few weeks ago, Michelle and a few girlfriends took a day-trip to visit the lavender fields at Red Rock Ranch & Farms in Concho, Arizona.

Concho is in the White Mountains, about a 3½ hour drive from Scottsdale.

Photo credit: Red Rock Ranch & Farms

I’ve always thought about going for the Lavender Festival, but never pulled the trigger on it, maybe next year.

I used her gift to make a delicious chicken dish. You can make it too, even if you don’t have a tin of the Red Rock Lavender mix because I’ve included the proportions to make the herb and spice mixture on your own at the bottom of this post.

I also used one of my favorite local olive oils, Queen Creek Olive Mill Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. You may use regular olive oil as a substitute. Of course, you if want to make this recipe using the unique Arizona spice mixture and olive oil, the links are here for you to order those items online. Enjoy!

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July 9, 2018   2 Comments

tomatillo rice

Is it okay if I’m feeling a bit reminiscent and sad when I say that this is the last post, the last recipe, from Chanté and Cody’s wedding?

After the months of planning and anticipation leading up to it, all the work and joy surrounding the wedding weekend, and the fun of posting and reliving it, I’m sad it’s really over. But then again, if anyone knows how to drag out a happy event, it’s me!

Here is a list of the recipes that made up the taco bar with links to each recipe. This same list is posted Menu and Party Ideas over there on the left side of the page, so you can easily find it when you’re in need of taco bar recipes.

Wedding Taco Bar Recipes




Signature Cocktails:

Roasted Tomatillo Rice

  • 20 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and dried
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cups rice
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

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July 5, 2018   1 Comment

Happy 4th

July 4, 2018   3 Comments

street corn

July 3, 2018   No Comments

cilantro sauce and flag food

Before we get to another recipe from Chanté and Cody’s wedding…

…I want to remind you that there are more than 2 dozen 4th of July recipes in the Complete Recipe Index under the Holidays – 4th of July tab.

So if you’re waiting until the 4th or the upcoming weekend to celebrate, get on over there and find something festive to make.

Several of them are in the shape or colors of the flag. FUN!

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July 2, 2018   1 Comment

easy cheesy

Easy Cheesy Refried Black Beans

  • 2 cups refried black beans
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion, garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato, garnish
  • 1 minced jalapeño, garnish
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, garnish

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June 29, 2018   No Comments

taco bar

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

      Wedding Taco Bar



  • Barrio Café Guacamole
  • Creamy Cilantro sauce
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Cilantro Chimichurri
  • Peggy’s Blender Salsa
  • diced tomatoes
  • black beans
  • sliced radishes
  • sliced jalapeño
  • sweet pickled jalapeño
  • sliced black olives
  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • diced avocado
  • sour cream
  • queso fresco
  • Mexican cheese blend
  • Mexican crema
  • cotija cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced white onion
  • green onion
  • lettuce
  • cabbage


  • Tomatillo Rice
  • Refried Black Beans
  • Mexican Street Corn
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Flour Tortillas
  • White & Blue Chips

That is the list of 34 items that made up the Wedding Taco Bar.


Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

There are very few recipes left to share with you from the wedding, since all the fillings have been posted and several of the sides and topping recipes are here in previous  posts. Click on these links to find them:

Barrio Café Guacamole

Pickled Red Onions

Peggy’s Blender Salsa

Mexican Street Corn

So that only leaves the Creamy Cilantro Sauce, Refried Black Beans, Tomatillo Rice and Cilantro Chimichurri. Since the chimichurri is an easy “dump in the blender and turn on” recipe, we’ll start with it.

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June 28, 2018   No Comments

best ever ground beef taco meat

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

An Instant-Pot was part of my long “To Bring” list for the wedding. I also brought along a Crockpot and four individual butane burners. I knew that with all the cooking I had to get done in two days that I’d need more than the four-burner gas range and single oven that was provided in the kitchen. I used the Instant-Pot to make the taco meat.

It wasn’t until I got up there that I discovered the oven only had one rack. As you can imagine, that created a few challenges as well.

I used 73% lean beef instead of the 92% lean that I generally use. This made for the juiciest and most flavorful tacos. It was seriously the best ground beef for tacos that I’ve ever made. The recipe I’m giving you is a guess as to the proportions of seasonings and spices I used. I was tasting and tweaking this for about an hour while the juices cooked down. I then combined the two batches and continued to season it until I got it just right.

Another reason it’s impossible for me guess exactly how much seasoning I added is because I was using 20 pounds of ground beef, 10 pounds at a time. That is 14x the quantity of the recipe below. Which translates to fourteen onions, 28 bell peppers, 28 tomatoes, 1 ¾ cups of taco seasoning, etc.

P.S.  I buy the taco seasoning at Costco and if you don’t own an Instant-Pot, the recipe can be made in a large skillet. See “Note” at the bottom of this post for details.

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June 27, 2018   1 Comment

The Fox Cocktail

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

The newlyweds!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

It’s the day many of you have waited for. Today I post several photos of the newlyweds. I also share Chanté’s Signature Cocktail. It is called “The Fox” because Fox is Chanté’s maiden name.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Cody knew he wanted a skinny margarita for his signature cocktail from the beginning. Chanté knew she wanted a vodka based drink but it wasn’t until about 2 weeks before the wedding that she, Kim and I visited Culinary Dropout and Doughbird to figure out exactly what that drink would consist of.

After trying the “Between You & Me” at Culinary Dropout and “The Local” at Doughbird, we came to the unanimous decision on “The Local.”

I had gone up to the bar at each restaurant and taken a video of the bartenders making the specific cocktails. This made it much easier to recreate for the wedding.

Of course, they were making a single drink. You might think that basic multiplication would get you the exact drink when making 100 servings, but it’s not quite that simple.

There is more than math and science involved, you have to taste and adjust as you multiply. So I took it from one drink to 100 and now back down to 10 servings here for you.

I used Absolut Grapefruit Vodka for the wedding cocktails because the drink is the perfect light pink shade. When I made the cocktail at home for this post, I only had Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka. It is already a darker color than the finished wedding cocktail was, so the end drink color is not as pretty. Tastes great, just not that subtle and inviting pretty pink.


P.S. I saved my favorite photos of the gorgeous couple for the end of this post, so keep scrolling!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

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June 26, 2018   1 Comment