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Posts from — March 2019


Yup, another post about that pickle juice vodka I made that isn’t so great. It wasn’t my intention to write another post but a comment from Nancy on the last post prompted this one.

Nancy said, “Did you think about pouring some of the vodka back into the pickles to have “pickled” pickles? Maybe for Bloody Marys?”

Actually, I’d not only thought of it, but I’d already done it. Although I didn’t pour the vodka back over the pickles, I poured it over the contents of this jar of mixed vegetables I had picked up at World Market. As you can see in the photo, the vegetables are packed in safflower oil. The oil taste and smell were unappetizingly strong. Seriously strong, when I opened the jar, I gagged a little. An no, the oil had not gone rancid, you can see the “use-by” date is 2021. It was just Very fragrant!

I used part of the contents in a Custom Installation of Harmony Boards earlier this month. To make them taste and smell good, I drained off the oil, patted them as dry as I could get them and then rinsed them in apple cider vinegar. That worked. They are on the rectangular dish in the photo above.

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March 29, 2019   1 Comment

in a pickle

I created this recipe to use something I made that was a complete and utter fail. When my friend, Amy, asked me if I could create a signature cocktail for the Pickle Ball themed surprise party she was throwing for her husband, Scott, of course, I said, “Yes!”

I looked online for pickle cocktails and found one that used pickle juice with vodka. Perfect! You know I love me a theme.

I added 2/3 cup of pickle juice to a handle of vodka and let it sit for a few days. The day of the party, Scott’s parents were here early to help, so I enlisted them to fill cups with ice, add the “pickled vodka” and garnish with a baby dill pickle and a sprig of fresh dill. The drinks were set out on a tray with a sign that read, “Scott’s Pickled Martini.”  We had bottles of chilled tonic and soda water for guests who wanted to make it a mixed drink as opposed to drinking it straight up.  I watched those cups sit there, mostly untouched, for the entire evening. Finally, Scott or one of the other guys let me know that the drink was rough. Oops! Oh well, I tried.

So now I have a bunch of very vinegary vodka on my hands. Instead of pouring it down the drain, I poured what would fit back into the pickle jar (since I’d already put the vodka bottle in the recycle bin and it was buried under beer and wine bottles – all the beer and wine that the guests drank instead of the nasty signature cocktail I created) and I decided to cook with it. For this recipe, please use plain “unpickled” vodka, I’ll just be over here trying to get rid of the mess I created. Or should I say, get myself out of a pickle?

Vodka, Shrimp and Chorizo Linguine

  • 1 pound pork chorizo
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/2  cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

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March 27, 2019   1 Comment

Surprise 50th

Amy and Scott Kilpatrick, the new 50-year-olds

On Saturday I helped my dear friend and former neighbor, Amy Kilpatrick (of Amy’s Famous Taco Soup fame) with a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband, Scott. Amy and Scott are high school sweethearts. They became girlfriend and boyfriend when they were 15 or 16-years old and turn 50 within a week of each other. Amy’s birthday was last Thursday and Scott’s is this coming Thursday.

Yep, I was able to find a photo from 10 years ago. Impressive!

I remember attending their joint 40th birthday party at Scott’s parent’s house. Amy decided to throw Scott a surprise party and asked for my help. She told Scott she would be at a conference all day on Saturday. Their two boys, Tim & Will, who attend UofA in Tucson, came home for the weekend to celebrate with their parents. Tim and Will’s job was to keep their dad occupied, yet available for party time. It wasn’t too hard since March Madness is in full swing. The guys just hung out all day, watching games and enjoying time together.

Amy ordered a custom installation of Harmony Boards for the party. I already had an order for the afternoon, so I had 2 other boards to make and deliver, a total of 8 boards for the day. That’s a BIG day for Harmony Boards! Since all that was going on, there was no way Amy would be able to cook the dinner portion of the party at my house, so she enlisted her mom, stepmother, and mother-in-law to do all that. They each prepared a brisket and the additional sides and such.

The theme of the party was Pickle Ball. Scott is big into it, if you don’t know what it is, check this out, it’s the hot new sport. Amy went all out with the theme and the decorations were so cute and fun.

We figured out the perfect way to get Scott to the party. He and the boys have always been wonderful about helping me when I need extra muscle. When I lived in Equestrian Manor they lived only a block away. I’d call them for help every now and again, such as when a wind storm was about to blow down a new tree in my yard and I was holding on to it for dear life. I had my cell phone, called Amy and she sent the boys over to help me tie it to one of the bigger trees to keep it from blowing down. Or when I needed to move furniture, Scott and the boys were always willing to lend the muscle.

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March 25, 2019   3 Comments

one blog is enough

My website AZHarmonyBoards.com has the capability to have a blog. I’d been going back and forth with starting it up or continuing to pretend the option does not exist. I’m working hard to be consistent here, committing to posting every M-W-F. There are things I’d like to share about Harmony Boards but maintaining two pages is more than I care to take on. So how about I share Harmony Board stuff here?

What I’d like to share today is the process of posting a time-lapse video on social media. For years I’ve seen cool time-lapse videos of all sorts of activities. Cooking being the one that naturally draws my attention and interest. I am completely mesmerized watching the motions and process sped up. I wanted to do the same, do a time-lapse video of me making a Harmony Board. The question was, “How do I set up the camera at the right height and angle over my workspace?”

I suppose I could have searched for a YouTube video, but that didn’t cross my mind until AFTER I figured it out for myself. In fact, I still haven’t looked that up to see if there is an easier way than what I’ve come up with. Why bother? I have my system, it works for me, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Here is how I went about creating mine: I stood on a step stool over the board on my kitchen counter. I measured how high the phone/camera would have to be to take it all in. Then I walked around my house trying to find items that I could use to prop up and hold the phone at that height. It was frustrating, I tried out several household items, but none of them were getting the job done. Then I remembered that I had two tall stands that Tram and I had each purchased several years ago at Pottery Barn. They were store display props. I’ve seen Tram use hers as a part of a drink station at her parties. Mine where holding items in my Miscellany Shed. I’ve also used them for entertaining. But the last time I remember using them was to hold and display items when I was taking photos for the Shed website. (see above photo) I went out to the shed with a measuring tape to see if they were tall enough, they were not, so I grabbed several wine boxes while I was out there and brought it all inside.

Next, I needed cross bars to support and hold the phone, centered over the activity. I purchased a circular saw last summer to cut the Harmony Boards. As a result, I have several wood scraps that are used as fillers in my car to keep the boards in place during delivery.

I grabbed the two longest wood pieces and balanced them on top of and between the Pottery Barn stands. I did a few test runs and it worked! I posted my first time-lapse last week. I don’t love my kitchen counters, they are too dark, busy and distracting. So before I filmed another video, I went to the scrapbook section of Hobby Lobby and bought sheets of paper that look like white marble and more sheets that look like white shiplap. In the photo above you can see my phone case balancing on the wood rails to show you the placement (since the actual phone was in my hand being used to take the photo). It’s a tricky maneuver, the balancing of the phone so that the rails don’t block the camera lens opening. I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t bump something and cause the phone to fall into the food while filming.

I lined up the marble-like papers on the counter. Set the empty Harmony Board on top, did a test video and loved the look. Next, I made a “sample” Harmony Board off to the side.

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March 22, 2019   2 Comments

Medley Mash

There are root vegetables that not only have I never cooked before, but I’ve also never tasted them before. Shocking, I know.

Two examples are rutabagas and turnips. I have never had them or felt the need to have them either. But when I was given a bag of each, well, I wasn’t going to throw them away.

One of the visiting instructors at Les Gourmettes Cooking School had a family emergency and needed to reschedule her classes. It happens, no problem, except that owner, Barbara Fenzl, had already purchased all the groceries. I was the lucky recipient of the produce. I was excited and especially grateful for the watermelon radishes, broccolini and beets because I use those on the Crudités Harmony Boards. I was still grateful but much less excited with the rutabagas, turnips and parsnips.

As far as root vegetables go, I prefer to stick to potatoes and radishes. I don’t’ like carrots and despise beets. Parsnips are okay, but the rest I happily pass by. So I decided to treat the trio as I do potatoes.  I peeled, chopped, boiled, and mashed them. Then seasoned them up and spooned them in a casserole, baked and then finished it off with some cheese on top.

I’ve eaten the resulting dish for two nights in a row with sliced tomatoes and basil and you know what? Not bad, not bad at all!

If you don’t own a hand masher, you should get yourself one, while you’re at be sure it is a double-action masher, here’s a Link.

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March 20, 2019   3 Comments

indigo blue gin

Photo Credit: Empress Gin

Have you heard of 1908 Empress Gin? I hadn’t until I saw a post on Instagram by my friend, Beth McDonald. The second I saw her photo, I knew I needed to get me some of that gin! The cocktail Beth posted is called the Q1908. It is named after the year the Fairmont Empress opened and the name of its bar, the Q Bar.

Photo Credit: Empress Gin

The amazing thing about the gin, besides that it tastes wonderful, is that is changes color depending on what is added to it, which changes the pH. For instance, adding citrus turns it purple and adding tonic turns it pink.

Photo Credit: Empress Gin?

You can learn all about the making of the gin and history if you go to this link and click on the “Watch Now” tab of Our Story. It will be worth your time. I love the cocktail and I love the gin!

The recipe calls for the use of COUPE GLASS. What is a couple glass? It’s basically an old-fashion champagne glass. The coupe is a stemmed glass featuring a broad, shallow bowl. Nowadays tall fluted glasses are preferred for champagne. But coupes are fun and retro. I know I have some of my grandmother’s etched coupes around the house, but couldn’t lay my hands on one. So I used a wine glass from the same etched pattern. Darn it, I need to find those glasses!

Here is a photo of an etched coupe, it’s more intricate than my grandmother’s design, but you get the idea.

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March 18, 2019   3 Comments


These ribs are what I grilled to go along with the salad recipe from the previous post. When I decided on ribs for the entree, I had to look back through the blog to see just how many baby back rib recipes I have on here. The answer is eight, there are eight more baby back rib recipes that I’ve posted. Is nine too many? I don’t think so.

These remind me of Hawaii, so you know they are going to be good!

Luau Baby Back Ribs

Soaking Liquid

  • cups water
  • 1 ½ cups soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ponzu
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cups ice cubes


  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork baby back rib racks
  • 2 bottles of beer of your choice

Dry Rub

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar


  • 2 cups pineapple and/or mango juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha 
  • 1 cup reduced soaking liquid
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March 15, 2019   1 Comment

Chopped Salad and Taxes

My ex-husband, Dave, was born and raised in Illinois and is a CPA. If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you are already well aware of that. Honestly, it’s strange for me to refer to Dave as my ex-husband. After being together for 35 years, it’s awkward and difficult to use the word “ex” when he is still a part of my life. So from here on out, I’m just going to say Dave, and that will be that.

Anyhow, Dave came for dinner over the weekend to help me gather together my tax stuff. Since he is from Illinois, he loves Portillo’s.  It’s not as though Portillo’s was around when Dave lived in Illinois. He moved to Arizona in 1982. Portillo’s started as “The Dog House” in a Chicago suburb in 1963 but didn’t open their first Portillo’s in Chicago until 1994, long after Dave was gone. But it’s an Illinois institution now, so as an Illinois native son, apparently he is obliged to love it.

Arizona got its first Portillo’s in 2013, right here in Scottsdale. I’m not a huge fan, but I do like their chopped salad. For our tax dinner, Dave requested a salad and something on the grill. He’s the salad guy and I’m the soup girl. I’d have soup over salad every day of the week. But he was doing me a favor, so salad it was. My requirement for a good salad is that there are lots of goodies. I don’t like a salad that is all or mostly lettuce. Hey, I’m not a rabbit! Portillo’s Chopped Salad fits my salad requirements.

Notes: Portillo’s uses ditalini (small tube) pasta, I used pesto filled mini tortellini from Trader Joe’s. They use sunflower seeds; I prefer chopped pistachios or almonds. For their vinaigrette, they use dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon) I didn’t want to dig out the dried, so I used fresh from the garden oregano. You could add diced cucumber, summer squash or whatever floats your boat. If you want to bulk it up with a protein, add shredded rotisserie chicken.

I used the Joseph Joseph Rotary Vegetable Peeler with 3 Blades to prep my carrots. The julienne blade makes long thin strips of carrots instead of shredded carrots, which I think look and even taste nicer. Here is a link to the peeler, but shred away if you don’t want to get all fancy!

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March 13, 2019   No Comments

Pantry Stories

In this photo, there are two doors. The door on the right opens into my laundry room and the door on the left opens into my pantry. I prefer to keep both of these doors closed. I don’t want to look at my washer and dryer and I most certainly don’t want to look into my pantry.

If my pantry looked like this inside, I’d consider leaving the door open every now and then.

If it looked like this, I’d never close the door! This is what we call #pantrygoals! My guess is that the people who own these lovely pantries don’t cook quite as much as I do. Ya think?!?

Unfortunately, up until the afternoon of February 23, 2019, my pantry looked like this.

I know, it’s A LOT! But I cook A LOT! The thing is, it was organized and I knew where most everything was and could get my hands on things rather quickly and efficiently. For instance, that plastic tub on the floor in the center of the photo, held the dry fruits that I use for Harmony Boards.

And a Harmony Board is what I was making on that Saturday afternoon of February 23, when the unthinkable happened.

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March 11, 2019   2 Comments

… I’m back…

Hello! Is anyone still out there? Have you completely given up on me? I’m hoping not.

I’d like to say that since filing for divorce in January 2017, I’ve found it difficult to get back into blogging consistently. But if I’m completely honest with myself, the struggle started before that. I began to get less and less consistent when I was preparing for my daughter’s wedding in early 2015. Four years later and I’m finally ready to get back on the horse, for real this time!

I know all too well that I’ve said that before. In November 2015, I even titled a post, “I’m baaaack” – that was a couple of weeks after Marissa and Jeff’s wedding. Then, in February 2017, I wrote a post titled “back in the saddle.” But this time it is different. I am settled into my new single life. Settled in my home, where I feel more comfortable than I’ve felt in years. Settled in a new exciting business – Harmony Boards. And feeling settled with the personal growth and changes I’m making in myself.

Les Petites Gourmettes will always be a cooking/recipe blog but I’m ready to get a bit more personal with it too. My kids might think, “More personal? DO NOT Get MORE Personal!” They feel as though I overshare already, at least when it comes to them. But I don’t plan on talking about them so much. I’ll be talking more about me and how I truly feel about things. Don’t worry, it won’t be getting heavy, in fact, I hope for it to be more real and more heartfelt. I was holding back before because I was not always in a good place. I’m in a good place now. And I’m ready to open up to that.

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March 8, 2019   26 Comments