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Posts from — August 2011

civic duty

This is my heads up to you, my faithful followers. My streak of 70 consecutive days of blog posts may about to be coming to an end. Bet you didn’t even know I had a streak going, but look back at the calendars over there on the right, and you’ll see that I did, I mean I do. In fact, I’ve only missed 3 days out of the past 101 days of blog posts. There is a valid reason that the streak is about to be broken…

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August 31, 2011   3 Comments

wasted greens

See that cutting board full of mustard greens, kale, radicchio, and Napa cabbage?  That was what I had purchased to use a liners and decoration for the platters of food at Terrie’s birthday party on Saturday night. Why is it on my cutting board today, 3 days after the party? You guessed it, I forgot to use them.  In the rush to dish out and serve the food, the greens in the refrigerator produce drawer were forgotten.  And as is typical, I remembered later that night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep.  Peggy and Terrie discovered the drawer full the next morning while they were cleaning up, and brought them to me.  This recipe is what I came up with for using the kale, mustard greens and some of the radicchio. Tomorrow I’ll use the remaining radicchio and Napa cabbage for a crisp fresh salad or maybe a slaw for fish tacos.  P.S. I had planned on topping this dish with crumbled feta cheese, but when I opened the package… mold – eww.  So I shredded on some Jarlsberg instead – Yum!

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August 30, 2011   2 Comments

Tartlets… or purses… or turnovers

These quick and easy appetizers may be shaped however you like; as tartlets, purses, or turnovers. The recipe below describes how to make into tartlets. For purses, completely enclose the filling and brush the entire outside surface (except the bottom) with egg-wash. For turnovers, chop the apples and nuts into smaller pieces and fold into triangles, crimp the edges with a fork and brush all over with egg-wash. Personally, I prefer the tartlets for two reasons; you can see exactly what is inside and there is a higher filling to pastry ratio when the filling is not fully enclosed. It gives you more bang for your buck. Any version of these may be used to top a salad, but once again, I think the tartlets are the best option for that application as well.

I also prefer to use Trader Joe’s puff pastry for this recipe. The sheets are in a perfect square, without any folds. Pepperidge Farm is the other easy-to-find choice and will also work. The end product will be shaped slightly different, as their pasty comes folded in thirds and is a rectangular shape. It is also thinner, so no need to roll out, but you will need to thaw according to package directions before unfolding.

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August 29, 2011   No Comments

girlfriend’s 50th

Last night’s birthday party dinner for Terrie was a blast. Anytime the Murriettas gets together, nothing less is expected. Please indulge me and I shall share my history with this fantastic family.

Terrie and I have known each other since our grade school days at Navajo Elementary, right here in Scottsdale. We are both native Arizonans. We lived on the border between two high schools, Scottsdale High and Saguaro High. Terrie and her younger sister, Peggy, went to Scottsdale High. Terrie’s three older brothers, Vince, Mark, and John, went to Saguaro, as did I. After Navajo, Terrie and I lost touch and I only knew of her brothers as the “big men – the jocks” on campus.

Fast forward 12 years to 1991. Dave and I are in our second house and have just had our second child, Connor. We live in a cul-de-sac and our backyard fence curves around and backs up to 5 different neighbors. One day, I meet one of those neighbors, Peggy DeBolske. She also has two little ones of her own at the time, Joey and Samantha (Natalie and Steven come along 2 and 4 years later). We become fast friends and soon learn that we are both Arizona natives. Then we discover that we both went to Navajo. I ask her maiden name… Murrietta. “Oh my gosh, is Terrie your sister? And are Mark and John your brothers?” (Her oldest brother, Vince, was long gone from Saguaro by the time I arrived.) Yes! Small World! We, of course, have been best friends ever since and it gave me the opportunity to re-connect with Terrie.

Peggy and Terrie attended my Blog 2nd Anniversary Party earlier this month and Terrie told me that all of the recipes for her birthday party were coming from this site and that Peggy was hosting the dinner party. I glared poor Peggy down and gave her hell for not asking me to help her. She relented and that is how I wiggled “my way in.”

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August 28, 2011   2 Comments

party prepping

I’ve been prepping for a sit-down birthday party dinner for 30 that I am helping my friend, Peggy, throw for her sister, Terrie.  More on the party and the sisters later…

All I have time to post today are pictures of what prepping for a sit-down dinner for 30 kinda looks like.  It looks like a lot of food!

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August 27, 2011   2 Comments

desperate measures

Sometimes getting dinner on the table is the hardest part of the day; yes, for me too. Late yesterday afternoon a friend on Facebook posted this:

“ugghh! that dreaded time, dinner! I never know what to make and on top of it so tired from all those 1st graders.”

Not only is this friend obviously a first grade teacher, she is a wife and the mother of two young daughters. Before she started those wonderful phases of her life, she was my assistant at Les Petites Gourmettes one summer. I sent her two links to a couple of my “easy-breezy” recipes as a “comment” – while at the same time, I was actually having the same issue yesterday evening – “What am I going to do for dinner?” I had been deep-cleaning my house from the time I got up in the morning, right up until I realized that I really needed to stop and make dinner. I was exhausted, tired, and HOT. While the east coast has been gearing up for Hurricane Irene; in Phoenix, we’ve been under an “excessive heat advisory” all week. It was suppose to end tonight at 8:00 PM, but I just learned that it has been extended through Sunday  Monday- oh joy. (late entry – it was 117 degrees today – it is official – hottest August EVER, on record for Phoenix).
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August 26, 2011   2 Comments

boletus edulis

The boletus edulis (botanical name) is beloved around the world for it’s firm texture and distinctive flavor. It is known as Cèp in France, Porcini in Italy, Penny Bun in Britain, Steinpilz in Germany, and King Bolete, or just King in the United States. In most stores and restaurants, you’ll find them called by their Italian name, porcini. At the market you will most often find them dried in little bags. In France and Italy, they are sold not only in bags but often in bulk at the outdoor markets.

If you see them fresh in the grocery store at a reasonable price, snatch them up, they are a wonderful treat.  You can grill them, make them into a delicious sauce, even into a mushroom stew. Or just call me and I’ll help you put them to good use!

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August 25, 2011   No Comments

friends, family, and Flagstaff

I am up in Flagstaff today visiting Connor and watching my friend, Larry Fitzgerald, and the team at Cardinal’s camp. It is a joy to not only see them both, but to get out of the record-breaking heat in the Valley of the Sun; 114 degrees yesterday!

It literally tried to chase me up the mountain yesterday on the drive here. I left the house at about 10:30 AM and it was 106 degrees. By 11:00, I was at 2000 feet and the temperature was climbing faster than I was; 109. When I reached the Sedona turn-off, it was 11:25 and it was 111 degrees! What was going on here -what’s a girl to do? Drive faster, that’s what I did!

I could see the building clouds and the lightening ahead, so I knew there was hope. I actually stopped focusing on the thermostat, and just like a watched pot that won’t boil if you watch it, the temps finally went down and the next time I looked it was 94. When I reached Flag at 12:20 it was a lovely 84 degrees, relief at last!

In addition, I was able to have coffee this morning with my high-school girlfriend, Darcy. She sang at our wedding, 26 years ago. Don’t you just love it when you haven’t seen a friend for a few years and you just pick up where you left off, as if you had lunch together last week? It’s the best, love you, Darcy.  OK, all that has nothing to do with our recipe today, these are just good, so make ’em!

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August 24, 2011   No Comments

prickly pears

Here in the Southwest desert, it is prickly pear season. The prickly pear fruit (also known as tunas) are ripe for the picking; the very careful picking, that is. Be sure to wear thick leather gloves and use tongs. The most versatile way to use the fruit is to make a sauce, which can be kept for up to one week in the refrigerator or may be frozen. From there you can use the sauce to make a vinaigrette, use in marinades, margaritas or mojitos, to make sorbet, or add to a BBQ sauce, and the list goes on. The fruit has a bright strawberry/kiwi/watermelon flavor and the most gorgeous crimson color.  There are two things to be careful of though – the tiny and very painful hair-like stickers (hence the need for gloves and tongs) and the pretty color itself, it stains like crazy.

Prickly pear branches (the pads) are called nopales. They are also edible, cooked and eaten as a vegetable. I think they taste similar to green beans but with a slimy texture. Can you tell I am not a fan of the nopale?

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August 23, 2011   1 Comment


It has been 11 days since the above hashtag* in my post title first appeared on Twitter. It was Friday, August 12, 2011 and the food blogging community came out in full force to support one of their own. I was in Florida at the time, but I witnessed a beautiful and quickly growing phenom. When I returned home, my time was all about preparations for, and then posting about, this blog’s 2nd Anniversary Party.  But that hashtag and all it means has not been far from my heart or my thoughts these past days.

I am always on time and hate being late, but for the first time it has been great to be late. Had I made the Pie For Mikey a week ago, I would not have had a chance to see the outpouring of love from all of the amazing food bloggers out there. It reinforces why I so enjoy blogging on an almost daily basis. So today, 11 days later, I want to share it with you.

First, you must leave this site to watch and listen to this beautiful video… right now, please!  Honestly, don’t press “read more” until you’ve seen the video.

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August 22, 2011   4 Comments