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Posts from — January 2013

…from the beginning – the tablescape

inspiration tub

The last two days were dedicated to the dessert I served at dinner with our friends on Friday night. Today, we’ll start at the beginning. The very beginning… in my tub where the menu inspiration hit me early one morning – in the wee hours when I should have been sleeping!

No, I did not have the foresight to actually take a tub photo at that moment, this was taken the next day, in fact, the flowers were a hostess gift from Karen and Bob. But this pretty spot is where quite of bit of my inspirational thoughts develop.  So quiet and relaxing. Nothing like a calming soak in the hot tub to clear the mind.  OK, enough of that… on to the tablescape.

1938 French Grain Sack as runner

I wanted the evening to be easy, casual, and relaxed. Nothing too fancy, so I laid out a 1938 French grain sack as the table runner. Soft and pretty white and blue hydrangea blooms in square glass containers were the no-fuss centerpiece.

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January 21, 2013   1 Comment

lemon curd cake

lemon curd yogurt crumb cake not much left

This is the dessert I made with that microwave lemon curd I posted yesterday. The recipe said to serve it warm or at room temperature. I served it warm. That was a mistake.

I had a piece the next morning (yes, for breakfast – don’t judge!) that was at room temperature –

So. Much. Better.
Do not serve it warm!

As with the curd, this recipe comes from the February issue of Southern Living. I only altered it slightly; using Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons, honey yogurt instead of plain, and adding a bit of garnish.

lemon curd yogurt crumb cake slice

The one other change I’ll make when I make it next time, is to cut the crumb topping in half. Not that it was overwhelming or that it was not wonderful, just to cut down on the fat and calories. It’s just that half a stick of butter seems like a better bet than a full stick when you can do with less, you know?

If you love lemon, lemon curd, lemon bars… yeah, any sort of lemony-goodness, you’ll love this. It’s a keeper!

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January 20, 2013   1 Comment

a dinner party story

Earlier this week I told you that we were having, Karen, my long-time friend, who was a bridesmaid in our wedding, and her husband, Bob, over for dinner on Friday night.

As of Thursday night, I had not a clue what I’d make for dinner the next evening. I wasn’t too worried, I knew I’d figure out something, so I went to bed.

In the wee hours, the house phone rang.

That really is the worst thing, isn’t it? Nothing good can come of that, no good phone calls occur at 3:53 AM!

I rolled over, grabbed the phone, and looked, through very blurry eyes, at the caller ID.  “Starnetpaetec” is what it read. I immediately pressed “Talk” and then “End” and said a choice curse word or two.

Starnetpaetec, whoever you are, what the heck? It’s 3:53 AM, what could you possibly think you could sell me at that hour?!?

Thank you for ending my much-needed sleep for the night.  Yep, that was it. For the next hour, try as I might, I was not able to fall asleep, too many aches and pains in my leg prevented it. Finally, I relented and decided to get in the Jacuzzi tub to relieve the pain.

And that is where and when I came up with my menu and shopping list for the dinner party that was, by now, only 12 hours away.

I love to read books or peruse magazines in the tub. I had a stack there already and pieced together the menu from the February issues of Food & Wine, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Today’s recipe comes from Southern Living.

Southern Living 2-13

On the cover this month, there is a gorgeous Lemon Bar Cheesecake.

Lemon! Yay! Inside, there are several recipes using lemon curd to make different desserts. Lemon Curd! Triple YAY!

The thing is, there was a new way of making the lemon curd that intrigued me. Using the microwave. I was curious as to just how that would turn out as compared with the usual stove-top method.  Turns out, pretty darn well.

Personally, I will probably use the standard method from here on out, because I found having to go to the microwave every minute, and then every 30 seconds, to stir it, more annoying than just standing there and stirring constantly, as you usually do. That could be attributed to the fact that I’m a bit ADD and find it difficult to keep track of all those time intervals.

post it

Need proof of that? I had to put a Post-it note on the microwave to keep track of the times I stirred it.

5 minutes and 90 seconds

Seriously! If I didn’t do this, God only knows how many times I would have cooked and stirred this for 1 minute, could have been 4 or 10 – most certainly not the correct amount!

But, if you’ve been afraid to try making lemon curd before, stop being afraid and make this recipe. It works perfectly and you’ll finally have homemade lemon curd you can be proud of!

The rest of the recipes from the dinner will be posted throughout the week to come, including the dessert I used this curd for.

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January 19, 2013   No Comments



Peggy, Shelia, and I went to Sweet Salvage yesterday morning and something super exciting happened to me!

I had the privilege of meeting one of my styling/lifestyle/blogging heroes who is an editor and photographer!
I know!
It was awesome!

I’d read the night before, on Facebook, that she would be there – so I went to her blog and left a comment that I was one of her stalkers fans and was excited at the possibility of meeting her.

And then it actually happened!

Peggy and I got there about 45 minutes before the doors opened. We were holding a space in line for Sheila, who was coming separately. Peggy went to the car to deposit our coats and scarves, as it was warming up while we waited.


There is a sidewalk that runs alongside the store and is adjacent to the parking lot.  As I was standing there on that sidewalk, I see this woman get in the car that is right in front of me. I think, “What kind of crazy person would leave and give up that great parking spot now, only minutes before the doors open?”  I look closer and lo and behold, it is her!

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January 18, 2013   4 Comments

meyer lemon pasta

This was my horoscope on Tuesday.


How perfect is that? Oh, here are the last few words you can’t see, “… nourishment and warm feelings.”

It’s perfect because I already had on my calendar two dinner parties this week.

Peggy and Anne were over last night and my dear friend, Karen, who was a bridesmaid in my wedding 27 years ago, and her husband Bob, are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. Got to Love It!

Are you ready for the onslaught of Meyer lemon recipes? I hope so, that is what I’ll be making for quite a while now!

Don’t have Meyer lemons? Not to worry. You can use regular lemons in any of my recipes that call for Meyer lemons.

meyer lemon pasta in trifle bowl

I saw a photo of a version of this salad on Pinterest and was inspired by the use of a trifle bowl to serve it in. I created the recipe from scratch but stole the visuals and serving idea. If you don’t have, but have always wanted, a trifle bowl – Crate & Barrel always has them in stock.

It’s so pretty and springtime fresh and it turned out to be a delicious main course salad. I’m sure Peggy and Anne will attest to that. It would be lovely as a side salad on a buffet too.

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January 17, 2013   2 Comments

frozen tundra


In case you’re not local and just in case you haven’t heard – we’ve been freezing here in the desert this past week.

Literally freezing.
It’s not right.
This is the desert!
That land of saguaro cactus and yucca, not ice and snow!


Winter is our prime time! It’s what we live for, perfect weather! Not freezing temps that damage our desert-loving plants. (Yes, those are sheets covering plants and trees in my backyard.)

We aren’t supposed to be moaning and groaning about the weather now, that’s what we have 6 months of summer for … 115+ degree days … that’s our moaning and groaning time.

small portion

I am not happy! Not happy because it forced me to get out and try to pick as many of my Meyer lemons as I possibly could pick in one day. I wasn’t able to get them all. Close, but not all. The photo above represents about 1/4 of the crop I got off the tree.

My dad took home a full crate plus a full shopping bag.


The tree was the most prolific it has ever been. Here is what it looked like on Thanksgiving day.

so many meyers

So many lemons, that they were laying on the ground, still attached to the tree. The weight of them brought them down that far.

In late November and early December, I picked all the low lemons and took several bags to Les Gourmettes, to share with the teachers and students there.

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January 16, 2013   5 Comments

coffee ahi

coffee tuna

Seared ahi tuna is already one of the easiest and most impressive things to make for a special occasion or on the fly any ordinary weeknight.

A little salt and pepper, a little oil, and a hot skillet or grill pan are all you need. I’ve decided to make it a tiny bit more complex, by adding a marinade of coffee, sugar, and salt.

See, not too much more difficult, just a little something extra.

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January 15, 2013   1 Comment


1 pound muffins

It doesn’t make sense that this recipe did not appear on my blog long ago.

I developed it back in the late 1990’s and it was published in “Reflections Under the Sun: The Brightest Collection of the Best Recipes from the Junior League of Phoenix” in 1999.

I remember being so pleased when the JLP requested a recipe from me. I hadn’t been a member for a couple of years by then.

I had become a member in 1992, back when the previous cookbook was being published, joining too late to participate in that project.

white pitchers

Anyhow, everyone loves these muffins. We often make them for our graduation luncheon during summer cooking classes with the teens and there is never a crumb left. How they have been so elusive and not yet appeared here, is beyond me.  Make a batch now and thank me later!

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January 13, 2013   1 Comment

slow cooker tip

Today, I have more of a tip for you than a recipe. It all came about because of a mispurchase that I made at Costco some time ago.

Mispurchase ~ spell-check does not like that, but I think it is a perfectly reasonable word.

chicken legs

Anyhow, I accidentally bought a huge package of chicken legs instead of chicken thighs, and the legs have been sitting in my freezer for much too long.

Connor is still home this week, so I decided that he would absolutely love to have chicken legs for dinner and for a few lunches before he goes back to school on Monday.

2 sauce choices

I also had way too many bottles of various sauces taking up room in my refrigerator. I used a mix of these two.

So what does all this have to do with a new tip for a crock-pot/slow cooker?

Being as lazy as can be, I didn’t want to brown the legs before sticking them in the slow cooker and I didn’t want to have to pull the skin off of all 15 of them. But I also didn’t want all that fat from the skin to be floating around in there.  So… I came up with for brilliant idea of wadding up some foil and placing it in the bottom. Worked like a charm!


The fat all went down below the foil and the legs turned out crispy and cooked through and through.

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January 11, 2013   4 Comments

pop and fresh

These “pillows” aren’t what anyone would consider gourmet, but they are still pretty darn great!

chicken pillows

I saw a recipe similar to this on Pinterest the other day. I didn’t pin it, but when I went grocery shopping later in the day, it popped into my mind.

pinterest chart

So I bought what I thought were the right ingredients and just winged it.

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January 10, 2013   3 Comments