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Posts from — April 2012

“Take your lunch to work” Week

I recently received a blog request from one of my loyal followers… OK, it was from my daughter, Marissa. But she counts as my most loyal follower. No one has commented more, in the nearly 3 year life of this site, than my sweet girl. And I thank her profusely for that and for her constant support and encouragement. To that end, naturally I will be fulfilling her request.

She asked if I could post some brown-bag recipes. New ideas for yummy stuff she could take into the office for lunch. Marissa has a varied and sophisticated palate. She was a vegetarian back in middle school and still doesn’t eat much meat, although she, like most intelligent individuals, loves bacon.

All week I will be creating recipes and giving specific instructions for brown-bagging. Each of these recipes will not only make for a perfect lunch, but a lovely light supper too.

In most cases, everything listed in each recipe can be easily found at Trader Joe’s. (Which is, of course, this mother and daughter’s favorite place to grocery shop.) Take the hearts of palm in this recipe for example. Sure you may find them in a regular grocery store… eventually. But you’ll probably need to search high and low and until you finally give up and ask for help. But at TJ’s they will be on the one and only aisle of canned and jarred goods… right along side the peperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar you will also need to purchase, if you don’t already have them on hand. And there is no better place to buy cheese, it’s always fresh at TJ’s because of the high turn around … and the price is hard to beat. As for the produce – unless the grocery store is running the specific items on ad that week, the price is about the same. Well, except for the basil. No grocery store can touch the super low price of basil at TJ’s!

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April 30, 2012   4 Comments

bébé, ooh la la

On Saturday, my friend and neighbor, Amy (that would the Amy – as in Amy’s Famous Taco Soup) hosted a French themed baby shower for her girlfriend, Melissa.  It is true, I can’t mention Amy without referring to her soup.  Sorry, I simply cannot! I mean, I love soup and I love Amy, so it is just impossible.

Anyhow, back to the baby shower. Since I have a truck load of French stuff, Amy and Melissa asked if I’d help with buffet tablescapes. Yes, of course, I would love to!

Seriously, if I don’t use as much of my “stuff” as often and in as many ways as possible, how am I going to continue convincing Dave that I NEED and USE this stuff.  Matter of fact, I’ve loaned out my French “props” twice in the month of April alone.  First to decorate the stage at the Jacques Pepin taping and again for this adorable baby shower. Proof positive that my treasures are not junk to be easily disposed of.  See ladies, you were doing me the favor, not the other way around.  Thank you!

Back to the baby shower, again! At the time the invites went out, Melissa did not know the sex of the baby. So instead of the usual baby colors of pink or blue for the theme, she chose lavender. Reminiscent of the lavender fields throughout the French countryside.  So Pretty!

Amusez-vous s’il vous plaît ! (enjoy please!)

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April 29, 2012   4 Comments

“rain, rain, don’t go away…”

… Rain, you may come back any day!

It was so lovely, cloudy, and cool on Thursday morning, that I headed outside to take my food photos. I generally get plenty of natural light from my large kitchen window and overhead skylight, but not on this very overcast day.

That morning, we had a little bit of rain in the morning. When I say, “a little” – I’m talking about 0.o3″ at Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix’s official weather station. That brings the year to date total to 0.33″.  In Scottsdale, we’re fairing a teeny tiny bit better at 0.52″ for the year – woot!  Yes, “The Valley of the Sun” is in a drought. Well, what’s new?

It’s BIG news when it rains in the desert. The local news stations talk about it for days before, all day the day it happens, and for at least another day after the fact. People suddenly forget how to drive.  And on Facebook – on Facebook, my local friends talk about it as if it’s a sign of the second coming!  Here are just a few of the “status updates” and comments from Thursday:

Rain! The dogs are excited. I’m excited. Of course, it’s stopped already. Just a few big big drops and then, poof, gone. The desert.

Thank you surprise April showers!

A rainy day off at home! So happy to just be doing laundry 🙂

Is it raining at your house or work?? Send us your weather pictures.

We got caught in a rain cloud…

A nice, cool, refreshing rain. Enjoying every minute!

Me too! What a great day! Ooh! It’s pouring as we speak!!! Love it!

BT RAINY DAY SPECIAL ALERT: butternut squash soup, candied shallot & green garlic, creme fraiche

That final status update is from local restaurant, Beckett’s Table. Mmm, that sounded good on our nice winter-like 81 degree day! Oh, and you know how I love my soup! But instead of soup, I was making a smoothie that morning.  Not just any smoothie, a smoothie with the “right now- up to the minute” healthy ingredient – Kale.  Don’t turn your nose up! It was good. Just be sure to drink it quickly, otherwise it goes from a nice mauve color to a nasty brown.  Must be the chlorophyll from the kale overtaking the berries.

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April 28, 2012   1 Comment

humor in the truth

We all know that man has long been fascinated by three things. Fire, being outdoors, and telling the woman to just stand back – because the man knows what he is doing.

Dave forwarded me an email the other day. Since he works in an office, he no doubt receives dozens of these humorous emails each week, and this is the one he chooses to forward to me. You may ask why.  I, of course, already know the answer – because this is pretty much exactly how it goes down at our house.


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April 27, 2012   7 Comments

appetizer or side

These tasty wrapped little potatoes are perfect to serve as an appetizer with a Sriracha mayonnaise dipping sauce or served without the mayo as a side dish.

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April 26, 2012   2 Comments

a date with chicken

I love dates. In sweet dessert dishes. Stuffed and then wrapped in bacon! And in savory main dishes like this one, inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe.

Remember when Kim and I harvested blooming cilantro from Sandy’s garden?  I hung my cilantro to dry and finally collected the coriander seeds. I am using the all of seeds harvested (all 1  1/2 teaspoons of it!)  in this one recipe.

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April 25, 2012   1 Comment


This recipe was inspired by an image I saw on Pinterest. In the caption, the “pinner” (a person who pins on Pinterest) said that this roasted cauliflower tasted just like French fries.  If that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is!  I could not imagine that was true, and guess what? I was right. The little cauliflower morsels taste nothing like French fries, but they are quite tasty in their own right. A nice nibble or perfectly fine as a side dish.

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April 24, 2012   3 Comments

bite, yum, eat, good!

Today’s quick, easy, fun, and delicious recipe comes from my fun adventure-friend, Sheila.  You remember Sheila – she and I went on that wild and crazy trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Flea Market, back in March. Yes, that Sheila!

The two of us were at Sweet Salvage on Thursday evening (if you are keeping track, it is true, I went twice in one day) and then out to dinner at the new NoRTH Arcadia on 40th Street. Shelia was telling me about a menu she had recently made for a group of women she gets together with monthly – and when she mentioned this cannoli take-off, I begged for the recipe. I didn’t really have to beg, she graciously agreed to send it to me. She doesn’t remember where she found it, but assured me that it tasted just like real cannoli. Wow, was she ever right – You will love it!  Thank you, sweet Sheila!

Note: Next time I will add a little orange zest to the ricotta mixture. I’ve already edited the recipe below to reflect that addition.

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April 23, 2012   4 Comments

Ras el hanout

How’s that for a post title? Have you ever heard of ras el hanout? I had not until Joanne Weir was teaching at Barbara Fenzl’s Les Gourmettes Cooking School last month. Here is what Wikipedia has to say (which is pretty much exactly what Joanne told us about this spice blend too):

“Ras el hanout is a popular Moroccan blend of spices that is used across North Africa. The name means “head of the shop” in Arabic and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.

There is no definitive set combination of spices that makes up Ras el hanout. Each shop, company, or person would have their own secret combination containing over a dozen spices. Typically they would include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric.

Some recipes include over one hundred ingredients, some rarely found in Western food, such as ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk’s pepper, cubebs, or dried rosebud. Usually all ingredients are toasted and then ground up together. Individual recipes are often improvised. Ras el hanout is used in almost every kind of food, sometimes rubbed on meat and stirred into rice.”

You can make your own blend using THIS RECIPE from Epicurious. Or you can go online and purchase from many different sources, including HERE from Williams-Sonoma.

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April 22, 2012   2 Comments

ramdon weekend

I’ve only cooked one night, my dad’s birthday dinner, in over a week! That is so NOT like me, it’s such a rarity that it has probably been 3 or 4 years since it last happened. Well, if you exclude out of town vacations, that is.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I have nothing to share with you, recipe-wise. But I still have a few things to show you – Baseball. Gardening. Shopping! All of the photos were taken with my iPhone, the top two, with a special camera app that I cannot recall the name of.  Marissa, will you please help me out with the answer?

I’ll begin with baseball. Dave and I went to our first Diamondbacks game of the season. We split season tickets with 8 or 9 other people. They are great seats in the third row behind the DBacks dugout. It was a total bust of a game though. Our guys lost to the Braves for the second night in a row. We left in the top of the 8th when the score was Braves – 7 and DBacks – a big fat ZERO. The final was 9 -1, Ouch! Let’s move on to something more pleasant, shall we? Shopping!

On Thursday, Peggy and I made our monthly trek to Sweet Salvage and I found several treasures. My favorite is this basket. I love the worn leather detail.

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April 21, 2012   4 Comments