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I am one of the billions of people across the world who waste too much time on TikTok. It is wildly entertaining but also mind-numbing. So yeah, your basic good time. My personal rule is that I only watch it when I get in bed at the end of the day. One thing that has blown my mind is how much engagement some of these videos can get. Some of them have hundreds and thousands of likes, which is amazing.

Coming back to the video, I made it as the original one showed, but I’m suggesting you make a couple of changes, I am reflecting those changes in the instructions below. The original used 2 pounds of ground beef. That is too much for my taste, When the sliders were baked in the oven, covering with foil was not called for, it should be. I’ve added foil for the first 15 minutes of the 20-minute baking time. This should prevent the top buns from getting so dark.

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August 19, 2020   No Comments

It’s been 11 years

Eleven years ago yesterday, my friend, Cyndi Greening, came to my home, set up this thing called “a blog” for me, logged me onto WordPress to post my first blog entry, and LesPetitesGourmettes.com was born. It is my 11th Blogiversary!

I was SO dedicated to it for the first few years, blogging Every Single Day! I shocked myself. I am not the type to do anything, besides brushing my teeth, that consistently. Eventually, I began to feel resentfully tethered to writing daily and started taking off weekends. That worked for a long time and then Marissa became engaged. We had a wedding to plan and I had weight to lose, so I took off nearly a year. I’ve not gotten back to any sort of blogging consistency since and I’m fine with that.

Life changes and flows. I went through a divorce and now live alone. Cooking is not the priority it once was. I started Harmony Boards and that is my passion now. I love to entertain but that has been put on hold until … who knows when. But this blog will live on with posts put up when I have something I think is worth sharing. It will live on because I love connecting with all of you. Your kind comments make it worthwhile. When you ask for a recipe for something to try at a restaurant or something you see me share on Instagram, it makes me smile, and more than happy to share it with you. So thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for following along on my life journey for more than a decade. Thank you for caring! xoxo

I can’t think of a better recipe to post on a Blogiversary than a cocktail recipe. I made the most DELICIOUS cocktail for my kids the night before they left for their long drive back to Austin. If this wasn’t a Blogiversary post, I would have titled it, “Recipe Perfected.”

You may recall when I recently posted a recipe for a Frozen Gin & Tonic. It is a knockoff of a cocktail from one of our favorite restaurants in Austin, Loro. I used regular ice in the blender that time around. This time, I used pebble ice from Sonic (yes, you can drive through and buy their ice) and it made all the difference!!! I mean ALL THE DIFFERENCE. It was the exact consistency of the Loro G & T. Since you may not know what that consistency is – the same as the famous frozen margarita from Z’ Tejas. Smooth to the point of almost creamy, not a single chunk of ice to be found. Enjoy!

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August 17, 2020   9 Comments

missing, lost, or never happened?

Marissa and Jeff’s month-long working road trip has come to an end. As I write this on Friday morning, they are both working from their in-home-office setups in my house. When their workday comes to an end in a few hours, they will pack up their car one last time and drive back to Austin. As much as I hate to see them go, I understand the need and desire to be in your own home. I have that feeling every time I go out of town. I can’t wait to leave and then I am so happy to be back in my own familiar space.

Marissa and I had several cooking/meal goals planned for the trip. I think we accomplished them all. One was for her to try out my sous vide, aka an immersion or circulation cooker.

I purchased it about 4 years ago, I had used it once or at least I thought I had. I searched every possible term and word to find a blog post for the chicken I cooked with it. I found nothing. I went through the nearly 59,500 photos on my computer and I found no photographic evidence of using it. Does that mean it didn’t happen? If we don’t have a photo or video of an event in life, was it just a dream? The other strange thing is that I am 100% certain that I purchased the sous vide on Amazon. I can’t find it anywhere in my purchase record there. What is happening?!? You can buy the one I have from Amazon HERE, or feel free to do research and find one that suits your needs.

With the amount of time I have wasted worrying and searching for that first sous vide use, I could have posted this recipe days ago. I am going to have to believe that maybe it happened in some alternate universe or reality and move on with my life.

Marissa chose the recipe from seriouseats.com. We did some adapting and ended up with a deliciously seasoned and perfect tender pulled pork. Unfortunately, her first experience with the sous vide was not the easy, effortless, and smooth one I hoped it would be and that is completely my fault. I filled a large stockpot with water, clipped the sous vide to the side of the pot, and plugged it in. Then we endured at least 30 minutes of struggling and constant beeping trying to get it started. After much aggravation, Jeff suggested that maybe there wasn’t enough water in the pot, sure enough, the water did not come up past the minimum fill line. It was just at the line because I knew that once it came up to temperature and we were able to add the bags of pork, the water level would jump significantly. Dang nabbit! No matter, we finally got it going and were able to go to bed knowing that the pork would be cooked to perfection late the next day. One of my favorite parts about cooking with this method, for this long period of time, is that your house doesn’t smell, Not at all. Not until you open the bag. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fragrance that cooking provides… just not the same strong smell for 18-24 hours. Especially when you’re trying to sleep.

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August 14, 2020   No Comments

best intensions

Trying something new, a Watermelon Cake

My daughter and son-in-law, Marissa and Jeff, are on a month-long “work from home/away from home” trip. They packed up the car and left Austin, TX on Saturday, July 18th, stayed overnight in Las Cruces, NM, and arrived in Scottsdale, AZ on Sunday, July 19th.

One night, we picked up a divine meal from our favorite AZ restaurant, FnB

Jeff set up his workspace in my Harmony Boards office to work remotely and Marissa set up her office in my dining room. Both had their large monitors, laptops, and all other needed computer equipment. Their jobs require a minimum of a combined dozen+ Zoom meeting per day so the cats and I did our best to stay quiet and out of the way, with varying levels of success. At least in my mind, success. I’d bet Marissa would say with varying levels of failure. As stated, we did our best.

One night, I made Ahi Tuna Poke

The following Friday, July 24th, they again packed up the car and drove to Thousand Oaks, CA to spend the week with Jeff’s sister, brother-in-law, and two adorable nieces. Jeff’s parents, who live in Chandler, AZ, were also there and the entire family had several days of overlapping time together.

The Beach and heavenly cool temps!

On Saturday, August 1st, Connor and I packed up my car and drove to my timeshare in Carlsbad, CA for the week. At the same time, Marissa and Jeff packed up their car for the third time and met us there. Actually, I should say met us here, as it is Thursday as I write this and we still have all day today and tomorrow before we pack up the two cars and head back to Scottsdale on Saturday when M & J will once again unload the car to stay with me for another week before they pack it one last time to drive back to Austin after their month-long vagabond adventure.

Chicken Enchiladas another night with my #1 favorite cheddar, Tickler.

My intention had been to blog throughout this time with the recipes for the food we’ve been cooking together. But in all honesty, after not seeing my daughter in person since January 1, 2020, I’ve just been enjoying spending time with family and not writing recipes or taking photos of the cooking process. It had been the longest stretch of time since I had not seen her in person in her life. The last such stretch was 6-months when she did a semester abroad in Paris at the end of her sophomore year at UA but that culminated with a 2-week dream family vacation in Italy and France. There wasn’t just a light at the end of the tunnel, but an actual rainbow!

Beet Hummus for a baby shower

I know it has been as long or longer for many of you, so I know you understand. And for those of you with loved ones in the military or abroad for other reasons, I have no room to complain. But I so missed my girl!

Pink-themed Harmony Boards are my new favorite.

While they were in Thousand Oaks for the week, I switched Marissa’s office set up to my master bedroom for more privacy for her and the ability to not live like a church mouse for me. My hope is that it will be an even better week for the three of us. And hopefully the bonus of actual recipes being posted from the final week of their trip. In the meantime, I do have a simple grilled pizza recipe to share that we made together the other night here in Carlsbad. I would have preferred to use chévre as the cheese, but I was outvoted in favor of burrata. I also forgot to pick up peaches, walnuts, and arugula, so we skipped those, but you should not, if possible. Lastly, I did not have the luxury of topping the pizza at the grill due to lack of space, so I added the toppings in our room with everything except the burrata because that would have made the raw pizza too heavy to transfer to the grill. So I slid the pizzas onto the grill, topped them with burrata, and then reduced the heat to low, closed the lid, and cooked it for about 10 minutes or until the top crust was cooked through. To prevent the bottom of the crust from burning, I frequently moved the pizzas from the front of the grill to the back and closely monitored the bottom crust to make certain it was not charring too much.

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August 7, 2020   4 Comments

fig & plum compote

Timing is everything and my timing for the most recent fig harvest was not good. Not good at all.

I had about 5 days of using ripe figs from my 4 trees on Harmony Boards when I once again made the decision to temporarily close due to the alarming jump in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Arizona. What to do with all of the figs?!? Honestly, the birds are feasting like never before and Connor’s dog, Ellie, enjoys the fallen figs when she visits but I am still left with baskets full of ripe and overripe figs to deal with.

I had other ripening fruit I’d purchased for boards in my refrigerator, one of those being plums, so the best option was to make fig and plum compote. It’s quick and easy and will be great to put on boards once I start up again. I shared the process in stories on the Harmony Boards Instagram page, I’ve saved it in the highlights if you’d like to take a look. Please go give the page a follow if you haven’t already. One of the best ways to support small businesses is to follow and share from said small business’ social media pages. Instagram is where over 75% of my orders come from!

If you decide to make it, the compote is not only delicious as an accouterment on a charcuterie board but would also be fantastic on grilled pork, chicken, ham, etc. Add a tablespoon to a basic vinaigrette. Use as the base for a sweet pizza that includes prosciutto, peaches, chèvre or blue cheese, walnuts, and minced rosemary, topped with arugula. (now my mouth is watering) Or simply spread it on your morning toast.

Fig & Plum Compote

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups trimmed and halved fresh figs
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped fresh plums
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil over low heat in a medium pot. Add the onions and reduce the heat to as low as it will go and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper and continue to cook, stirring often for another 15 minutes until the onions are just beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat before the onions brown.

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July 22, 2020   5 Comments

halfway through 2020 …

Be sure to read to the end. I have a tip that will change your life if you love fresh flowers in your home!

Remember back in March when we were all stuck in our homes and cooking became THE thing to do? I was cooking, writing, snapping photos, and blogging like a madwoman.

Well here we are at the beginning of July, still, or once again, stuck in our homes but now it’s over 100 degrees outside and the last thing I want to do is cook. I’m only selling Harmony Boards from Thursdays – Sundays, so there are often fruits and vegetables that must be used up on Monday. The solution to that is smoothies, soup, soup, and more soup.

At last count, I’ve posted over 80 soup recipes, so adding several more doesn’t seem like the thing to do. As I’ve shared before, to make a smooth and creamy soup with any vegetable; simply sauté some diced onion with diced celery and carrot, add the main vegetable of choice, such as asparagus- basil (photos above), and pour in a box of chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until said vegetable is tender, season, blend and enjoy.

I can’t have people over, so no use in firing up the grill, it’s too damn hot to turn on the oven and I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll be able to escape this nearly surface of the sun local on the 1st of August as I usually do. California may or may not allow us “Zonies” in and I’m not yet certain if my timeshare in Carlsbad will shut down again before I can get there. Yes, things are feeling not so wonderful here in the Hopkins’ Cave.

The one thing guaranteed to always make me feel better, feel loved, and feel human, is to have fresh flowers in my main living area. In the kitchen, breakfast room, and living room. If there are pitchers filled with gorgeous blooms, Arizona summers are tolerable. Barely, but barely is better than nothing!

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July 3, 2020   6 Comments

arancello, limoncello, candied citrus peel, oh my

In early 2010 I posted the recipe for Limoncello. It actually consisted of three posts because the process to make the sweet Italian liqueur takes nearly 3 months.

Limoncello circa 2010

After using bits of it here and there in dessert recipes and occasionally enjoying it as an after-dinner delight, the last of that batch was consumed in late 2019. That’s correct, it took nearly 10 years to get to the last drop. Limoncello is stored in the freezer, so no worries about it going bad, even 10 years later.

I doubled down with this year’s citrus crop and not only made a new batch of Limoncello but a batch of Arancello as well, which is the orange counterpart to the lemons used in Limoncello. (arancia is Italian for orange)

This go-round, I funneled both batches into smaller bottles that I can give away. As much as I love it, I do not need to have a supply of Arancello and Limoncello circa 2020 in my freezer when we ring in the year 2040!

Another difference between 2010 and 2020 is that I did not throw out the citrus peels after the final bottling stage, I candied them. Another fabulous byproduct is the sweet orange and lemon syrups left from the candying process.

To make the Arancello, follow the three-step directions of this recipe for Limoncello.

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June 26, 2020   No Comments

Thai wraps

As has been our tradition for over 20 years, Peggy, Anne, and I get together for our birthdays. Peggy’s is in the winter, mine is in the fall and Anne’s is in the summer. Most often we go to a restaurant but with social distancing still of large concern, gathering at my house, in the pool to be exact, seemed like the best option. Yay for sun and chlorine!

Peggy was in charge of dessert along with our joint gift and card. I was in charge of dinner. It’s summer and it’s hot, so something cool and refreshing, that we could enjoy while wading in the pool, seemed like the way to go. PLUS, I’ve been dying to try out the new floating “Harmony Board” I purchased several months ago.

I used pre-cooked sticky rice from Costco. It comes in an 8-pack and can be found in the same aisle as the dry rice. It takes only 90 seconds to heat in the microwave. I used 2 packages for this meal.

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June 15, 2020   4 Comments

easy-breezy chile mac & cheese

In September 2009 I posted a fabulous recipe for Chef Robert McGrath’s Green Chile Mac & Cheese. It is still one of my favorite recipes on this site. Last Sunday night I was craving it but was so wiped out from the heat that I didn’t have the strength to make it. It’s not that it is difficult to make, I simply didn’t feel up to roasting peppers, doing a bunch of dicing, or spending more than a few minutes in the kitchen. How to feed that craving without the effort … cheat and use boxed mac & cheese … I know, Sacré Bleu!

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June 3, 2020   3 Comments

chicken thighs

I often prefer cooking chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Thighs are juicy, more flavorful, and don’t dry out. I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs most often.

The thing I don’t like about using skin-on chicken pieces is all the extra skin that is left on when you bring them home from the store.

Use your kitchen shears to trim off all that extra skin and discard.

This dish comes together in a snap, it only takes about 15 minutes to prep and is in the oven for about 45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dinner. I like to serve the thighs and their rich herb sauce over couscous.

When you use the side of your chef’s knife to lightly smash the garlic cloves, you are looking for each clove to break up slightly, making each clove come apart into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. You don’t want to obliterate them, use a light touch.

Please don’t be alarmed by the expiration date on the package, this photo is from a post from nearly 6 years ago.

You can purchase the pancetta at Trader Joe’s. It comes in a convenient 4-ounce package and is already diced into the perfect size. Simply open the package and scatter over the chicken when called for.

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June 1, 2020   3 Comments