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Category — Holiday

Holiday Moscow Mules


This is the cocktail that, Cay, the hostess of the gourmet group that I am now a member of, served for the December gathering at her gorgeous home. Co-host, Susie is on the left and Cay is on the right, as we toast ourselves for a job well-done. To be honest, this selfie was taken before the party began, but once we had cocktails in-hand, we knew it would be a success!


Pomegranate Moscow Mules

Candied Mint Leaves

  • Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ½ cups ginger beer
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  • Fresh pomegranate arils
  • Candied Mint Leaves

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December 15, 2016   2 Comments

Easy Christmas Treats: Part 2


I was invited to the December gathering of a gourmet group that I had once been the cooking instructor for. When I initially received the call, I assumed I was going to be asked to lead the group in a cooking class again, but instead I was invited to be the group’s newest member. Fun!


The hostess had originally asked someone to lead the group in the making of holiday treats, but the woman backed out, so I became a co-hostess and we made the Oreo Truffles from yesterday’s post and this sweet treat.

We’ve all see these pretty candied pretzel rods around during the holidays. They are a snap to make and serve at parties or give as gifts.


I will admit that having a group of nine fun and rowdy women making them at the same time was a bit of a mess, but a very fun mess. Especially because there were holiday Moscow Mules involved! You’ll find the recipe for those in tomorrow’s post.

These keep really well, so you can make them a week or so ahead for holiday gift giving!


One important note – depending on the brand and flavor of melts, the coating may need to set up some before heavier decorations and candies are sprinkled on. As you can see from the photo above, we learned the hard way.

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December 14, 2016   No Comments

Easy Christmas Treats: Part 1


I was going to start this post with “Only ____ days till Christmas!” but I’m in denial and I’m afraid that if I say the number out loud, type the number or even think of the number – I might have a full on panic attack, so how about I just get to my post about easy Christmas treats.


Oh, before I do that, I’d like to apologize for an error in my last post. I said that the segment featuring Steve’s Christmas Casserole would air on 12News yesterday (Dec 12) and it did not. I set up my TiVo and was disappointed to not see it. I asked Tram and she let me know that it is airing NEXT Monday, December 19th in the 6:00 a.m. hour. If you set your DVR or got up early yesterday, I’m sorry.


OK, back on track …. I made these treats at a party last week. I’ll tell you all about the party in tomorrow’s post in which I’ll share “Easy Christmas Treats” Part 2. This is Part 1 and it is super easy and pretty darn yummy too.

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December 13, 2016   2 Comments

Steve’s Christmas Casserole


Tram used my kitchen to film another cooking segment, this time with the whole family. Steve & Tram’s new home will be finished in late December, so my kitchen is their surrogate TV kitchen until then.


The last time Tram filmed a cookie baking segment with Zak & Zoey. I had a hair appointment that morning, so I wasn’t home for the filming. Here is a LINK for that. So cute!


This time, all four of them were here to make a Christmas casserole and it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall and watch it unfold. Look how adorably skeptical Zoey is of Zak’s cheese grating abilities.


Zak was going to town on that poor block of cheese the entire time … I was dying. Mom, Dad and Zoey were all so focused on their own tasks that none of them noticed what Zak was up to. Late the next day I got a text from Tram saying that she just finished putting the piece together and couldn’t believe what Zak was doing to the cheese. I can’t wait to see how Tram edited it. It will air next Monday (Dec 12th) early morning (in the 6:00 hour) on (NBC) 12News.

My photos of the food aren’t all that great, since I was too focused on taking photos of the action, but trust me Steve’s family recipe is delicious.

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December 6, 2016   4 Comments

signature cocktail


I first created this cocktail for the last class, a Comfort Food themed menu, in my 3-week cooking series at Les Gourmettes. I served it again as my Signature Cocktail on Thanksgiving. If ever there was a Comfort Food Menu – it is Thanksgiving!


To me, it’s important to use one big ice-cube for this cocktail, either a square cube or a round ice ball.


I have both types of ice molds, but my round ball mold only makes one at a time, whereas the square mold makes 6 cubes at once. Since I had 16 cocktails to make for the cooking class and 12 more for Thanksgiving, of course, I went with the square cubes.

I did find THIS cool multi-round ball mold on Amazon. I’m adding it to my Christmas list!

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December 5, 2016   No Comments

Thanksgiving 2016 tablescape


I loved this Thanksgiving. It was such a joy to cook a big meal for more than just our immediate family.


For years it’s just been the five of us; Dave, Marissa, Connor, my dad and me. Every few years, Dave’s mom would join us, which made the six of us. Still, that’s not many people to eat a meal that you go to so much work for.


Happily, in 2014, Jeff and his parents, Dean and Amy, joined us for the first time. Since my mother-in-law was here too, that took us all the way up to nine people, the most ever at our table! I was over the moon!


Fast forward to this year. Steve and Tram are in a rental while their new home is being built. Steve’s parents are in town.


Add in the twins, Zak and Zoey and there are fourteen of us! I am in heaven.


For the first time in… ever… I am actually cooking for a respectable number of people, thus making the huge Thanksgiving feast worthy of being called a feast. I am in my element!


I mean, it’s the same number of dishes I make every year, but this year it made sense to go to all that work. Love it!!


And, of course, having 2 ½-year-old twins join in the day, makes everything more fun! Zak and Zoey are so adorable, well-behaved and, well, I’m just in love with them and so are Connor, Marissa and Jeff.


I posted a few photos on Instagram and my friend, Sheila, called them Bigs and Littles.


So sweet!


OK, how about some tablescaping?


Since we were at fourteen and my dining room table seats only eight comfortably, we had to eat outside. Not a problem in Arizona, even in November. But just in case it did rain, I flip-flopped the furniture arrangements. Moving all the seating that is under the long covered “fireplace patio” to the open patio area and moving the oblong table that is usually out in the open, to the covered area.


I also brought over the rustic 60-inch wood round table from the other covered patio to create one long table. The photo above is of the two tables under the covered patio and the beginnings of my table arranging. This all took place early on Wednesday morning.


At the same time that I was setting this up, I was also cooking; smoking a turkey breast, making bread dough, cranberry-pomegranate sauce, butternut soup and prepping the sweet potatoes and stuffing. So by the time this photo was taken of the finished tables, it was late afternoon.


The oblong table was covered with a tablecloth, since it’s a patio table and not attractive enough for placemats. Not to mention that I don’t have 12 matching Thanksgiving placemats and napkins anyhow.


The two tables were joined by two large green Jarrahdale pumpkins along with a large white pumpkin. Jarrahdale are my favorite pumpkins. I drove all the way Chino Valley to buy some a few years ago when I couldn’t find them locally. Now that they are available a few places, I’ll drive to half a dozen different stores to find them.

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December 2, 2016   5 Comments

birthday and flowers

I had fully intended to post my Thanksgiving tablescape today but I can’t let the opportunity slip by without wishing my most loyal follower, most frequent commenter, my best friend, one of my two favorite people in the world, my beautiful (inside and out) daughter – a Happy Birthday!


Marissa Lynn, I love you to the moon and back! Ever since you’ve lived away from home, basically since your freshman year in college, my favorite thing about Thanksgiving has been that it is so close to your birthday. You always come home for Thanksgiving, which means I always get to celebrate YOU!


Since the flowers by post from Flowercard are a traditional birthday gift, I’ll keep with the Thanksgiving posts and show a few photos of the Thanksgiving centerpieces I made. How gorgeous are these Velvet Queen Sunflowers!


They really do look and feel like velvet. I found them at Trader Joe’s and went crazy over them.


I used my orange and green pumpkin soup tureens as the vessels for the flowers. I then set those, along with their lids, atop wood slabs that were set on top of dyed and natural burlap runners.


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December 1, 2016   3 Comments

sweet potatoes make the best leftovers

Sometimes it seems as if sweet potatoes are the ugly stepchild at Thanksgiving dinner. The dish that is expected but not overly anticipated or appreciated.


I remember looking forward to them when I was a kid, but today we eat them more than just once a year. Sweet potatoes are in fashion all year long. Then there are sweet potato fries, which are offered and ordered nearly as often as their French fry cousins. If you’re like me, you select them over potato fries more often than not.

I have to admit that this was the case with this dish at our Thanksgiving buffet. Most guests took a small portion for their plate, but chose to fill up on the stars of the day; the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy.

And that was just fine with me. These maple roasted sweet potatoes made great leftover dishes for breakfast (sweet potato hash with eggs) lunch (added to a turkey taco) and dinner (part of a black bean chili or puréed and added to risotto).


When shopping for the sweet potatoes, I bought three varieties for a pretty trio of colors.

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November 30, 2016   No Comments

new Thanksgiving recipes… for next year

I don’t know how other bloggers get recipes up for the holidays before the holiday! I suppose I could write up this recipe and date it to post in early November 2017, but that seems like much more forethought than I ever want to have to think about!


Instead, I’ll post this and another Thanksgiving recipe, along with my Thanksgiving tabelscapes this week and remind you about them next year, that sounds more reasonable and realistic to me.


Two Notes: The first concerns the brine bag in this recipe: While shopping, I was in a hurry and could not immediately find a brine bag at the grocery store. Instead of asking for assistance, I spotted slow-cooker liners and thought, “They’ll work!”

Yeah, not so much! The liner was a smidgen too small. I could barely gather it all up and seal the bag. I was paranoid about the bag opening and leaking, so I put it into another bag. I still wasn’t secure in the leakage possibilities, so I put that into another bag. By then, I’d used 3 of the 4 bags in the box, so I thought, “What the heck!” and put all that into another bag! All ended well, as the four bags held and not a drop escaped.

My advice – for peace of mind – search out and use a true brine bag!


Second: I was at Cost Plus World Market the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I found a yummy brine mix. I used 1 ¼ cups of it in place of the salt, peppercorns and Italian seasoning in the recipe below. If you come across a good looking mix, you can do the same or just follow the recipe as written.

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November 29, 2016   1 Comment

Halloween Pumpkin ideas


I saw two cute pumpkins on social media and I just had to do them both.


For each project, you need to get yourself a nice big pumpkin.


Cut out the tops.


And pull out all those seeds.


Once they’re all cleaned out, you’re ready to go.


The first is the Lazy Man’s Jack-O-Lantern. My friend, Bridget, posted it on Facebook and it is right up my ally!


I always struggle with decided what sort of face I want to make. With this, there’s no thinking involved. Just use a skewer to poke out two little eyes.


Use the same skewer to score out a mouth…


…going deeper and deeper until you’re cutting it out. And that’s all there is to it. I think it’s adorable.


You gotta admit – he’s pretty cute when he’s lit up.


I found cool pumpkin #2 on the HGTV Instagram page. You’ll need your cleaned out pumpkin, a box of wine and some permanent markers for this one.

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October 30, 2016   4 Comments