Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Top Recipes of 2013

It's the end of the year and
everyone is making lists - me included!

It's been another enjoyable year
as you've invited me into your homes
and let me share good food
and wonderful music.

I can't thank you enough!

As I look over this list of
2013 posts which have garnered
the most visits, I'm so happy
to see so many of my personal favorites
among them!
There's just something very satisfying
in knowing that others
find your "likes" appealing as well!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Connie's Carrot Cake

Winter Moon by Mindy Gledhill
This is one of the newer additions to my holiday music.  It's from her album of the same name.  The first adjective that comes to mind in trying to describe this song - and whole album, actually - is "charming."  Her voice is easy to listen to and it comes across like you're good friends - there's no pretense or glossy polish.  And, you know what?  She sounds like she's having fun!  It's relaxed.  Just like friends should be.  And that's fitting because I bring you a recipe today from one of my absolute dearest friends on this planet.

My friend, Connie, is a choice woman.
She has shown me, by example, what
being a good Christian person is all about.

We met each other 27 years ago
while living in the same small town in
upstate New York.  
I've never been one of those people who
could just walk up to someone new and
say, "Hi!  My name is Janice!  Are you new?"
But something came over me that day
at church when this lady walked in who
was obviously VERY pregnant.
I had only moved to the area a couple months 
earlier and understood how it felt to be the new person.
I walked over and introduced myself
and we just hit it right off immediately.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bengal Spice Ice Cream

We Three Kings by Kurt Bestor
Kurt Bestor's arrangement of this wonderful Christmas classic has a very exotic and foreign feel to me.  I can picture the Magi as they cross the desert to bring gifts to the sweet baby King - the camels all plodding along to the beat of the music - slow yet grand.  Regal even.  What would I take to welcome the newborn child?  Spices - flavors that tantalize the tongue!  And I'd pack them all into some ice cream!  

The week before Thanksgiving I was spending 
some time with my daughter, Becca.
One day I heard her say that she wanted or was
going to make some ice cream using the Bengal Spice
herbal tea blend from Celestial Seasonings.
(It's one of our favorites this time of year.)

"What a great idea" I thought.
And then said it out loud.
I asked what her methodology would be.
She supposed that she would simply steep 
the tea bags in the warm cream for the ice cream custard base.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fresh Herb Cheese Spread

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
Christmas trees are going up like lightning everywhere!  With Thanksgiving so late this year, some folks jumped the gun.  No judging - just sayin' is all!  So those who wait until Thanksgiving is over, we're scrambling to get all the decorations up so we have plenty of time to enjoy them before taking them down again!  The Christmas tree is such an important symbol of the holidays to me.  It was always such a festive occasion when we would decorate ours.  Music was playing, we'd be singing along, and the kids were all vying to have their ornaments in the highest and most visible spot for adoration.  It was all a great party until the lights were turned off and the finished product would be gazed upon in the quiet darkness of the family room - the twinkle lights of the tree casting its magic all around.  It doesn't matter what kind of ornaments or garland you use.  All Christmas trees are beautiful!  And some are downright tasty!

So, years ago, my husband and I used to throw a Christmas 
get-together at our home for all the people who worked with him.
This sort of thing used to terrify me.
I was so lacking in culinary skills and, year after year, 
something crazy would happen -
like when I attempted to serve a whole meal
and made chicken breasts.
I opted to use these clear plastic yet pretty plates 
on which to serve the dinner.
All was going well until folks started trying to cut their chicken.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin & Spice Shake

Let's Get It Started by The Black Eyed Peas
Today's recipe is one of my newest favorite breakfasts.  It makes me hap-hap-happy and ready to "get it started."  You'll be dancing with and the rest of the gang in no time.  Items on your "to do" list will be falling like pianos, houses, and cars.  Just watch the video.  But make your shake first - you know, so you have the energy to . . . well, shake!  Let's get it started!

Everybody is going to be having some pumpkin 
around the house in the next several weeks.
It's the star veggie of the holidays!
And if you find you've got about 1/2 cup extra and 
don't know what to do with it -
for heaven's sake -
make this shake!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pepper and Onion Corn Muffins

Get What You Need by Jet
I love it when people write songs about vegetables.  I mean, this is what Nic Cester is singing about, right?  Getting what you need?  Or maybe I'm being influenced by my current concerns of getting those fruits and veggies in every day.  As well as the required water and fiber.  Ah.  Perhaps he isn't singing about food at all.  We all have things we need.  Here's to hoping everyone finds what that is - and gets it!

My family just started a Health and Wellness Challenge.
Yes - right at the beginning of the holiday season.
What better gift could we be giving ourselves - and each other - than
healthier and happier versions of ourself?

This challenge includes my husband and myself and all of our 
children and spouses.
That's nine total.
My daughter-in-law and daughter worked together
to come up with a really great point system.
We are rewarded points for healthy eating habits as
well as healthy emotional and physical and spiritual habits.
If someone doesn't have a physical problem to work on,
there are opportunities to work on other aspects of our life as well.
At the end of the challenge in February, the person
with the most points wins!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Simple by Indie.Arie
"What more can I say?"  It's simple.  My love.  Of shortbread cookies.  "I love you."  

Remember that post a few weeks ago about my new pal,  Sailor Jack?
And I talked about how I went into the bakery and got my "usuals"?
The shortbread cookies?

I often get asked why, when I'm faced with shelves full of 
decadent pastries, voluptuous brownies, and cheeky cookies, 
that I almost always walk out with the 
seemingly plain Shortbread.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn Mist by Pianissimo Brothers
Last year I really got the urge early to start listening to Christmas music and it frustrated me!  I'm definitely one of those who don't like to shortchange the Thanksgiving season.  And I didn't want to tire of my Christmas music before it even got to Christmas!  So I took my frustration to the iTunes store and  looked to see if maybe there was some Thanksgiving music out there, too!  And, oh happy day!  There was!  I downloaded a few albums of mostly instrumental music that brilliantly matched that autumn feel - the feeling of winding down - the feeling of reflection - the feeling of taking stock of your blessings.  And the feeling of wanting to cozy up to a bowl of really good soup!  This song does all those things!  If you're wanting some holiday music of a non-Jingle Bell persuasion - at least for now - check out the album that this song is on.  And make some soup!

My great group of girlfriends and I have been holding these Jumble Sales this past year.
We have a theme of reusing, repurposing, and recycling.
We call our little boutique "Twice Is Nice" and send out flyers and 
invite all our friends to come see what we've been up to and maybe buy some of it!
We held the first sale in the spring and then the second one just last week.
We have so much fun doing it.

For me, though, it has become something more.
It has become a place to funnel all my creative energy - and 
I have lots of it running around inside my head - keeping me up at night.
The thrill and buzz I get from looking at something and 
imagining it in a new way is indescribable.
It is a high for me.
It is euphoric even.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Witch Hat Sugar Cookies

Witchy Woman by The Eagles
That little witch above has got her work cut out for her!  Shopping for the perfect hat with which she will be able to dazzle and put a spell on Don Henley and be the mysterious woman of this song!  But, let's be honest.  If there's anyone casting spells and captivating eyes and hearts, it's Don Henley!  Am I right, girls?!  Am I right?!  I got to see The Eagles in concert recently and, every now and then, I closed my eyes and just pretended away all those thousands of other people and told myself it was a private affair event.  Yeah - he's in his 60s now but that voice is still raspy and raw - and every bit as delicious as these soft chocolate witchy cookie hats.  You WILL be spellbound!

I'm sure you've heard the saying,
"If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat!"
Well, with these cookies around, you'll be wishing for error after error!
So very soft and moist with a rich chocolatey taste and a chaser of cinnamon.
I made a few minor changes to my Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe and used
my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, making it a little thinner than usual to help with
the smaller piping lines.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

Autumn Leaves by Eric Clapton
Our leaves are just starting to turn here in the pacific northwest.  And it's a melancholy feeling.  I'm caught between the sadness of seeing the long, hot days of summer go away and the excitement of seeing family and friends throughout the upcoming holiday season.   A wistful song seems to satisfy my mood.  Many artists have covered this song and I love them all - mostly because it's an exquisite piece of music.  Nat King Cole gives a grand studio performance - classic.  Eva Cassidy does a mournful and soulful cover that makes me want to cry - in a good way.  Miles Davis' rendition is a little sexy - maybe too sexy for pancakes.  But Eric Clapton's version is so intimate.  It feels like he is sitting right there with you.  And this is a scenario that I can picture quite readily.  Me sitting there enjoying these delicious Pumpkin Pancakes, while he serenades me with his impeccable guitar skills.  Wistful - melancholy - yes, it must be autumn!

One of the best things about this time of year is the arrival of 

I have found some really great ways to incorporate pumpkin in some of my recipes lately.
This recipe today is just one of them.
And I'm happy to share!

The traditional Halloween night dinner I made for my kids, and they mostly ignored
in their scramble to get out the door, was hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.
Yes, the Kraft in a box macaroni and cheese.
I'm thinking that these pancakes would be a more welcome lure to the table.
Served up with a little bacon, of course.
A glass of milk or hot cider (if it's nippy out there) and they'll be
fueled for an evening of fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sailor Jack Muffins

Brandy by Looking Glass
This song from my youth used to act like a pause button.  My mother hated songs like this because they'd make me stop what I was supposed to be doing and stare off into space.  I guess I should say she didn't hate the song - just its effect on me.  Although I had yet to see the ocean or a port, except in the movies, this song made me imagine I was standing right there on the dock.  I thought what it must have been like to be Brandy, watching each ship come in and unloading their cargo, hoping to see her love and what treasure he had brought from far, far across the sea.  I never gave much thought to the treasures they might have been loading INTO the ships before they set sail.  The song clearly states that Brandy lived in a port on the west coast.  Why not the pacific northwest?  And what those ships would be loading up would be these delectable and delicious and delightful Sailor Jack muffins!  It's true!  Ah!  Had Brandy caught a whiff of these spiced breads she would have quit her job at the tavern and ran off with . . . not her love . . . but with Sailor Jack!  Oh yeah!

If you were to see me, you'd see I'm about bouncing out 
of my chair with excitement to bring you this recipe today!
No kidding!
I tasted these stud muffins for the first time about a month 
ago and the world truly stood still for a minute!
I can't even explain how serious I am!
Let's put it this way - 
if one of these muffins were placed in front of me 
along with a dish of the most decadent silky chocolate mousse - 
or even ganache -
I'd choose the muffin!
Let me tell you about it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Apple Crostata

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon by Queen
Being lazy.  Sometimes it's a good thing!  It's what we call it when we don't feel like going to alot of trouble over something.  For instance, "I was feeling lazy so I just popped something into the microwave!"  We've all said something to that effect.  I wanted a song that would reflect that attitude and it gave me the opportunity to tap into one of my all-time FAVORITE albums - A Night At the Opera by Queen!  Sheer brilliance.  I won't tell you just how recent it was that I realized I had been singing the wrong lyrics to this song.  Let's just say woohoo for being able to Google lyrics, eh?  I had been singing, rather loudly I might add (as is the only way to sing most of this album), that "Fridays I go painting in the N-U-U-U-U-U-D-E!!!" Didn't quite catch that subtle "V" at the end, making the more logical and correct lyric - "Fridays I go painting in the L-O-O-O-U-V-R-E!"  Ah, well,  we have all done this - and you have to admit that, being Queen, they could very well have said the nude thing, too!  Our family has some hilarious lyrical goofs.  What are some of yours?

It's a busy time of year.
The holiday rush has already seized me.
I have commitments and projects lined up, ready for me to knock them all down
as we gallop forward toward the end of the year.

I'm not just talking Christmas.
That's why it's called the "holiday" rush or season.
All the holidays between now and the end of the year require a degree 
of planning and preparation.
At least in my world they do!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kale and Arugula Pizza

Something to Hold Onto by The Wailin' Jennys
These sad girlies sing about walking past a love's home, hoping that the love will extend something - anything - to give them a reason to stay.  They want something that they can take by the hands - something tangible - something real - a token of promised affections.  I say,  "Buddy, I can help you out here!"  Just set one of these here pizzas on the table - you know, in plain sight from the window they're walking past - and let this dish reel one of those girlies in, speaking volumes of love.  And, believe me, she will have plenty to hold onto!  I've tried eating this with a fork.  Nope.  It's a hands-on affair - letting your fingers delicately pick up the strays that fall away and sweeping them straight up to your mouth.  You won't want to miss a morsel!  

So today is the day where you're going to be wishing you had 
made up those Olive, Garlic, and Wheat Rounds from last week!
You know, like I told you to!

Today we're going to take one of those rounds and make this delicious pizza!
I've had salad pizzas at restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen 
and have been wanting to make my own.
But I find you have to have a base with some oomph to start out with.
Just piling a regular salad on top of a regular dough doesn't seem to cut it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Olive, Garlic, and Wheat Rounds

Around the Bend by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
I had my friends over for lunch yesterday and my friend, Lara, brought along her daughter, Emily.  I introduced you to Emily in my post about the Almond Joy Tarts.  I had mentioned at the time how Emily has introduced me to some amazingly great music.  Well, she sat there quietly with us older ladies, listening as we discussed food, boobs, food, summer trips, and, well --- more food!  It's what we do!  When there was a few seconds pause, she quickly piped up about a band she wanted me to listen to.  The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.  Had I heard of them?  No.  I hadn't!  She named her favorite song, I made a note of it, and as soon as they all left, I checked them out on iTunes.  Oh - Emily knows me well!  Few things get me bopping around like funky eclectic pop!  So I spent some time learning about them while I downloaded two of their albums!  They are danish.  They have brass in their ensemble!  The lead singer, Mette Lindberg, has one of the most distinctive female voices I've heard in a long time!  Although she's the front, the band is so interesting to watch as well!  It's not just about Mette.  I loved this group!  And, then, I about fell off my chair!  Come to find out, their song that I'm sharing with you today, was used in an Apple iPod Touch commercial!  Those who know me well, know my worshiplike love for all things Apple.  I consider it no small matter that both Apple and I have a fondness for The Asteroids Galaxy Tour music.    There are always good things around the bend - or just good things that are round - like pancakes, donuts, and these fiber and protein rich bread rounds that can be used for so many things!

As I mentioned above, I had my friends over for lunch yesterday.
It's the group of friends that I went to the beach with last year 
about this time and we made foil dinners.
It was a good time.
It's always a good time when we get together!

We needed to discuss an upcoming craft boutique 
we are having so I volunteered to host a luncheon.
We couldn't just get together and not eat, now could we?!
No way!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Portobello Paninis

Treat Me Right by Pat Benatar
We all want to be treated fairly, kindly, respectfully.  Every woman I know appreciates Pat Benatar's anthems of justice.  Her gutsy and glorious delivery of every song lifts you to a point of awareness and you suddenly know EXACTLY what you want.  And you find yourself saying, "Yeah!  What she says!!"  For a good while now, though, I've heard this particular chorus being yelled from within.  It's been my body calling out, "Yeah!  What Pat says!!  Treat me right, OK?!  You can't have it both ways!"  And a couple weeks ago I got a fire in my belly and decided I was going to take that nudging seriously.  And today, I'm going to share a recipe that will help you treat yourself right, too.  And, my oh my, it's so delicious!

Weight has been an issue for me my entire life.
As a little kid I was identified by my "short little chubby legs."
People liked to pinch them.
It hurt.
As I got older, the words hurt, too.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

LOL Cupcakes

Happy Together by The Turtles
I'm celebrating a couple things today.  First, a few days ago, I celebrated being married 35 years to my wonderful husband.  Second, I celebrate being together with you for two years.  Two years!  I'm Happy Together with my husband.  And I'm Happy Together with each of you.  I've made a very happy cupcake to share with all of you in recognition of all this happiness!  I'm so happy, I'm Laughing Out Loud!

It's been two years since my first post, folks!
Two years since I cast all fears aside and dove in!
I've loved every minute, every experiment, every success!
And I love sharing all of this with you!
Last year, on my first birthday, I was excited to report a total of 10,374 page visits since beginning.
This year, I can hardly contain myself with the joy of seeing that I have a total of 51,773 page visits!
What the heck!

When I write each post, I don't imagine I'm talking to 51,773 people.
I imagine its each one of you, sitting here in my kitchen, sharing goodies and conversation.
I talk like I do to my near and dear friends when they come to call.
I hope you can feel that ease and my genuine love for what I do in the things I say.
Whether you're one of my visitors from China, Russia, Poland, Vietnam, or any of the other countries represented in my traffic stats, I love that you come and see what I have waiting for you!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Five Guys Style

Ain't That Unusual by Goo Goo Dolls
"Hey, you never made it.  Ain't that unusual?"  Exactly what I was saying when I had my encounter with a Five Guys Grilled Cheese sandwich.  Not that grilled cheese is unusual - at all.  But their methodology is a bit outside the box.  And it's brilliant.  And it's very unusual that I hadn't thought of doing it their way a long time before now.  Leftover hamburger buns will never catch me heaving a sigh, saying "What in the heck am I going to do with all these buns?"  I know what will be happening!

I was in Utah for family events recently and happened to be staying in
downtown Ogden for a few days.
Close to our hotel was a Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
One night around dinnertime, we were looking for a place to eat.
I wasn't too hungry but my sister, Brenda, was, so we set
out to find her some dinner - at the Five Guys.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

S'mores Ice Cream

'S Wonderful by Ella Fitzgerald
When we are in a relaxed mood - a state of bliss or complete contentment - we tend to relax our speech as well.  Slang enters our vocabulary and we run our words together.  We're not worried that our English teacher is going to be around the corner, ready to correct our enunciation and grammar.  We have confidence that those around us will understand what we're saying, regardless.  And it'S Wonderful!  This song is an Ira and George Gershwin collaboration.  And I particularly enjoy Ella's recording of it because she goes beyond the 'S Wonderful combo of the title.  She goes ahead ahead and relaxes far enough to rhyme "fash"(fashion) with "pash"(passion) as well as "emosh"(emotion) with "devosh"(devotion).  The result is a peek into an intimate confession by someone who has entered the nirvana of love!  Yes - nirvana of love!  That dreamy sublime state of discovering that you've found someone who will step on a raft surrounded by swans and sail away with you!  Confused?  Watch this clip of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire do just that in "Funny Face"!  Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy s'more ice cream - simply because it'S Wonderful!

You can track my aging process by tracking my camping habits.
As a kid, I was eager and excited to load up the camping gear - tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles, roasting sticks - and head out to nature!
Our family often took camping trips on the river in canoes, pulling over at night to set up camp and eat fish and, if I remember right, bull frogs!
You'll eat anything to get to the inevitable end - roasted marshmallows and chocolate on a graham!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Miso Marinade

Let's Stay Together by Al Green
I will have to give my sister, Brenda, credit for this recipe's song choice.  After explaining the idea I was going for - the idea of being together and getting to know one another - she came up with this song in less than 10 seconds.  The down side of the moment was that she started singing it to me - while we were doing a couple loads of laundry in our hotel's laundry room - which is about 8' X 10' - and we were sharing the space with one other hotel guest - and my sister didn't stop with a sound byte - she kept singing.  And singing.  She has a beautiful voice.  The laundry room had good acoustics.  Maybe I can't blame her.  Needless to say - we all got to know each other very well - that hotel guest and us - as they slyly "snuck" a photo of us which I'm sure was shared with all their friends, entitled something like "The Nutty Ladies in the Laundry Room"#getmeoutofhere.

I'm late in posting today because I attended my nephew's wedding this morning.
I realized how appropriate my recipe was this week - in light of the occasion and all.
I'm offering a marinade.  
Something I came up with after monkeying around in the kitchen.

Marinating meats and veggies is all about bringing two entities together and giving them a chance to sit and visit a spell - learn about each other and exchange ideas.
Getting married is like that - only it's for a much longer period of time than a few hours or overnight - let's hope!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Minty Limeade

Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
We're going down Cuba way today, folks.  The birthplace of the mambo AND the mojito - which is the inspiration for today's recipe - the drink, not the dance.  We're in the dog days of summer.  That heat is hanging on.  And this drink is what's helping me enjoy every single ray of sun.  Come on, Lou!  If only my name rhymed with - well, anything - I'd get a shout out, too!  Let's mambo our way to the store to get some limes and mint . . . . and club soda!  Party at my place!

I've been trying to cut back my intake of diet sodas.
I'd really become a champ at chugging those drinks down.
And I mean CHUG!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fresh Herb Ravioli in Brown Butter

Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel
I love my back yard.  It is enchanting to me.  There are hot summer evenings, like the ones we've been having lately, where I half expect to see fairies peek out at me from behind leaves and flower blossoms.  We don't have fireflies here, but we should.  But should some fireflies arrive and bring along some fairies with them, I imagine that this song would spontaneously start playing - out of nature itself.  It is one of the most mystical magical songs I've ever heard.  Spellbinding.  Although the message is sad - love being promised only when impossible tasks are completed - the tune seems to hold hope.  In this enchanting back yard of mine, I have a pot filled to overflowing with rosemary, chives, and unbelievably huge leaves of velvety sage.  If I were a fairy, it's the very place I would choose to hide. 

As I was tending to the plants on my back patio last week I noticed that my pot that holds chives, rosemary, and sage has become enormously bountiful.  Other pots are doing well, but this particular pot  is definitely the overachiever of the patio planet.  I figured I better be thinking of ways to use this bounty of freshness - and quick!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roasted Peach Sherbet

Good Golly Miss Molly by Little Richard
Peaches are here.  Not just any peaches.  THE peaches are here.  Or I should say - they are at Pikes Place Market.  And now they are here - at my house.  Only those who have eaten these particular peaches will truly appreciate my song selection.  There's just no mediocre reaction to them.  It's hands down the best peach you've ever tasted.  Ever.

Several years ago I took my first trip to Pikes Place Market in Seattle, WA while visiting my sister, who happened to be living there at the time.  
We strolled and sampled and nibbled and tasted.  
It was great fun.  
It was unlike any market I had been to up to that point.  I had already purchased some really tasty almonds from one vendor and was on my way down to see the guys who threw the fish when I attempted to pass this one produce stand.  It was the Sosio's.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Apricot Tarts

Daybreak by Barry Manilow
"It's daybreak, if you only believe, and let it shine, shine, shine, all around the world!"  It's summertime and here in the northwest our days are long!  They get started around 4:30 - 5:00 a.m. and hang on until around 9:30 p.m.  I love this end of the seasonal cycle as opposed to the long nights that hit us in the winter.  When I'm scurrying around at 3:30 in the afternoon trying to get my daylight activities done before sunset at 4, I think to these glorious long, hot summer days.  These cute little Apricot Tarts look like a great big ball of sun wrapped up in puff pastry.  And they taste all happy and joyous - just like how this song makes me feel!  These tarts and this song make me want to run out to my back yard, open my arms wide to the rising sun, and sing out, "Let it shine, shine, shine ~ all around the world!"  

I went to the farmer's market last Friday and found these darling little apricots!
Actually, in all honesty, I went in search of them.
A few weeks ago I had my friend and her daughters over for lunch and we made some savory puff pastry tarts for our meal.  
It made me think about how long it had been since I'd made a sweet pastry.  
I thought that that should probably be remedied!  
Knowing that apricots were in season, I really, really wanted to feature them in my sweet venture and the whole vision of what I wanted just opened up in my mind!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cow Bean Salad

Cattle Call by Eddy Arnold
This is one of those instances where the recipe sort of picks the song itself - or the song picks the recipe.  Either way, this is the song that ended up playing through my head every time I thought about cow beans and the salad I would make with them.  For some reason, it's in my brain that cowboys would eat cow beans.  I pictured them eating my delicious salad at night around the campfire after a long day of herding cattle.  What do I know about cowboy life?  Absolutely nothing - except what I've seen in the movies!  And my favorite movie about herding cattle - "City Slickers"- then has me pondering about what the perfect flavor of ice cream would be to complement my Cow Bean Salad!  (Fans of the movie will know what I'm talking about!)  What do you think?  Cow beans and cowboys!  It sounds like a match to me!

A few weeks ago I was strolling along at our farmers market and found one of my favorite stalls.  These folks have the most gorgeous fruits and vegetables.
And they have beans!
And these black and white beans caught my eye.
I'd never seen them before!  The sign said "cow beans" and it did look like a bin filled with tiny little holsteins!  These beans were flashy!  They had sass!  So I stopped and chatted with the vendor for a few minutes to find out about these little guys.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Creamy Bacon Purses

Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller
I'm on a family vacation right now.  I'm with all my children and grandchildren in Newport Beach, California and we're having a grand time!  I think I can speak for the whole family in saying that the song we will always associate with this time together is Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade."  It's the absolute current favorite song of my granddaughter - who turned two years old yesterday. 
This little girl wants to listen to this song ~ all the time.  No - I mean ALL THE TIME!  It soothes her.  It makes her little girl heart beat with joy!  She and I took a walk to the local farmers' market one day and she held my phone in her tiny hand, listening to the song on a loop - over and over again as she rode in the stroller.  I eventually had to turn Glenn off to preserve the battery on my phone.  When one of the vendors asked about why she wore such a frown, he got a good laugh when I said, "She's upset with me because she wants to listen to Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade."  Haha!  Lucky for us, it's a pleasant song to listen to over and over - as much of the music of that era is.  

If you will remember, when my family gets together on one of our reunions, we have a cooking competition ~ a sort of Iron Chef thing.  We have a not-so-secret ingredient which we all know in advance.  The big surprise is which course we will be preparing, which we draw for when we arrive.  There's four courses - appetizer, entree, side dish, and dessert - and each course must use the special ingredient.  And this year is the fourth competition.

The special ingredient this year?  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Almond Joy Tarts

Give A Little Love by The Mostar Diving Club
I love getting new band suggestions.  I listen to all sorts of music and love to troll the iTunes store, linking my way through the "Hey, if you bought this, you'd probably like this" cues.  Aaaand next thing you know I've lost about an hour of my day, my credit card bill has a few added lines under the Purchases column, and my iTunes library is even more awesome than it was before!  One of my richest sources for new bands are the daughters of my dear friend, Lara.  And, not too long ago, they put me on to the music of The Mostar Diving Club. The band's Facebook page lists Damian Katkhuda and Will Worsley as the band members.  I love their description of their genre.  It says "Quirky Acoustic."  Which is exactly why it appeals to me so much!  Thanks, girls, for sharing your finds ~ again!  And Happy Birthday to Emily!  Read on ~

This past week my friend, Lara, said that her daughter Emily's birthday was coming up and when asked what she would like to do for her special day, she replied that she thought it would be fun to go over to Janice's house and make lunch together!  

Cue the "Awwwww!"

It did give me enormous pleasure that a teenager would think that spending the afternoon preparing and then enjoying a lunch was fun!  It restores my hope and faith in the future!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Potato Salad

Everything I Own by Bread
It's time.  I've mentioned my father several times in my posts but I want to pay him a tribute today.  And there just isn't a more fitting song out there than this one.  People often mistake this for a romantic love ballad.  But David Gates wrote it for his father who had passed away.  Now - with that in mind, give it a listen.  And if you had/have a relationship with your father like I did/do with mine, then I suggest grabbing a handful of tissues before you press "play."  

I missed Father's Day this year.  
Well, I missed writing a post about Father's Day this year.  I honored the fathers in my life, though, on their special day - don't worry!

I had wanted to share this Potato Salad recipe with you in time for Father's Day.  Last year I gave you some delicious ribs to try.  And they'd be wonderful paired with a creamy potato salad like this one.  But, the first week I missed a post it was because I needed to go back to Pennsylvania - kind of last minute - to help with some family issues.  The second week I missed, I was too emotionally drained to write anything at all.

But now I'm doing better.  
And I want to honor my father - a wonderful man who was my anchor throughout my life

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay
This song makes me think of skipping.  The intro begins with the handclaps which then melt into a lilting drumbeat.  I'm not sure what Coldplay wanted me to think about when listening to this song, but it takes me inside a 70s movie.  Have you ever noticed how sun-drenched those movies seem to be?  You can always see all the filaments in the air - cottonwood, pollen, dust.  I picture myself walking through a field, the sunlight is flared, I've got a long stalk of field grass to chew on, and I'm happy.  Almost skipping.  And it's a perfect day.  A perfect day can also look like this - playing around in the kitchen and coming up with a new cookie for the recipe box, and then sharing dinner (complete with said cookies for dessert) with my husband in front of a documentary about The Eagles, and then having the husband announce that my new cookie just might be his new all-time favorite.  Yeah - that's a pretty terrific day!

My small strawberry patch, which fits inside of a 4'x4' box, is starting to present me with strawberries!  Not enough to do anything with other than walk out there and eat them straight from the stem.  You know, before the birds or bugs get them.  But I'm hopeful.  I can already see that I'm going to have a killer raspberry harvest this year - and the grapes will be ridiculous!

But, back to the strawberries.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lavender Lemonade

Garden Party by Ricky Nelson
It's time for garden parties.  I mean, parties in gardens or back yards or parks.  Not Madison Square "Gardens" about which Nelson wrote this song.  But the message holds up in all locations.  Pleasing everyone around you can be a hopeless task.  It's a horrible rat race that can consume your soul.  So you have to just sit back, sip some snazzy Lavender Lemonade in your own garden, and contemplate the best YOU you can be, and want to be, and set that as your goal.  Lavender Lemonade is a very good thought sifter!  Try it and see!

A few years ago I had to do an internship at the end of my class training in culinary school.  I really wanted to learn about baking as I had dreams of owning my own bakery some day. But, living in a relatively small town, I couldn't think of anywhere I was going to get the education I wanted.  My daughter, however, happened to live in a large city where there were several bakeries I could look to for this training.  Luckily, I was able to get a spot at my first choice.  I lived with my daughter and her family for 6 weeks while I worked the grueling schedule of a bakery/patisserie.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lemon Cream Pie

When Life Gives Me Lemons I Make Lemonade by The Boy Least Likely To
I've never been one of those people who can just eat a lemon outright.  My mouth puckers with even the thought of trying.  But temper that sourness with some sweetness and even some creaminess and I am all smiles.  This song was on the soundtrack for the movie "Easy A."  I like it's simple message of not being overcome with the downers in life - figuring out a way to turn things positive again.  Or as I heard in a talk in church a few weeks ago - learning to be a cork - not a stone - in the Sea of Troubles and popping right back up to the surface.  That's kind of what this pie is all about.  Definitely turning those sour lemons into the happiest of goodies!

It was my birthday a couple days ago.  
Hence the Lemon Pie!  
I had been wanting to try something a little different than my usual Lemon Meringue Pie.  

I'm one of those people that gets a little giddy when I slice into something and find layers of surprises.  From the outside, everything looks basic and straightforward.  But when the cut is made and the insides are revealed, the appearance of little bands are like eye candy to my tongue.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spaetzle with Arugula and Tomatoes

Any Way You Want It by Journey
This song is what was playing through my mind as I considered lunch one day last week - and this week - and will be what's playing next week and all the weeks after!  "Any way you want it, that's the way you need it!"  And I wanted Italian - and German.  And the song says, over and over again, that I can have both - over and over again!  Not that I needed Steve Perry's permission.  It's just kinda nice knowing I have it!

Hectic is the word.  
It describes what the inside of my head has been like the past couple weeks.  It's been one of those points in my life where I have so many different interests, concerns, projects, and commitments intersecting at exactly the same time.  You know those open-shutter nighttime photos of busy intersections with all the headlights and tail lights creating thousands of red and white streaks?  Pop the top off of my noggin and that's what you'll see.  I'm certain of it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy May!

I will have to beg your forgiveness but I don't have a new post today.  My attention has been needed elsewhere - meaning family - and they are always numero uno!  

But while I'm speaking spanish, let me direct you to an old post that might have escaped your attention!  And just in time for Cinco de Mayo!  My Black Bean Salad!
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and one I know you'll enjoy as well!  Pair it with my Ensenada Chicken and the Mexican Rice from last week and you're ready to party!

Hasta próxima semana!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mexican Rice

Primavera by Santana
A beautiful song.  Enchanting lyrics with a gorgeous latin beat.  Carlos Santana has written a beautiful song about the rebirth and new beginnings that come with spring.  It's well worth your time to google the translation.  Sheer poetry.  Measuring in at 6 minutes and 22 seconds long, this song gives you plenty of time to get your cha-cha on!  What are you waiting for?  

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
I know it's a bit early but I wanted to share this with you in plenty of time for you to include it in your party planning.  I'd have to say it's pretty authentic.  I learned how to make Mexican Rice literally at the elbow of a former sister-in-law who is from Pueblo, Mexico.  She made such wonderful rice, I had to know how to do it myself.  She also made fabulous lemon/limeade.  I wish I had listened closer to how she made that!  Alas, I'm happy that I at least have the rice down!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Raspberry Macarons with Lemon Curd

Raspberry Beret by Prince & The Revolution
I've often thought that French Macarons look like they're wearing a little hat.  After they're all baked and are "outfitted" with their fillings it is then time to place their little cap on the top and send them out the door.  I like how the one in the photo at about 3 o'clock looks like they've tipped theirs to add a little attitude.  And she should have some attitude ~ yes, "she," for they're just too cute and dainty to be anything else.  She has a zesty lemon soul with a delicate raspberry shell - and, were she to use her little feet and take a stroll down the street, she would have gentlemen lined up to tip their cap as well!  Pretty and delicious!

I'm back at the French Macaron project again.  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  I am much less apprehensive now, even though I still have some flops now and then.  And when I do have those flops, I can usually tell what I did wrong. 

These raspberry macarons are a practice run for an upcoming wedding reception.  My friend has ordered three different flavors from me.  The wedding colors are soft pinks, cream, and glittery gold.  Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fresh Asparagus Risotto

Spring, Spring, Spring by Cast of "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers"
I really hope you've seen this movie.  It's a musical from 1954 starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell and is one of my FAVORITES for very many reasons ~ this song being one of them!  Anyone who has ever had to endure a long, long seemingly never-ending cold and snowy winter, can appreciate the joy and celebration of spring that is conveyed so perfectly through this song's lilting melody and charming lyrics.  "Every field wears a bonnet, with some spring daisies on it."  I mean, come on!!  If you're of the inclination to feel the need to dance about and celebrate the arrival of spring, then this song is for you!  And, if you love the arrival of fresh and vibrant green asparagus, then this recipe is for you!

My Facebook wall is filled with news of friends who are getting new baby chicks, bunnies, puppies, etc.  There are those who are sharing gardening tips as we get ready to plant our gardens.  It's all about new beginnings - and I love the energy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


It's So Easy by Linda Ronstadt
It's so easy -  to make.  It's so easy to fall in love - with spaetzle!  Sometimes I find myself thinking that because a food is ethnic, it has to be difficult.  Which is ridiculous because there are lots of examples where that's not true.  But, still - sometimes I hesitate.  No need to hesitate with spaetzle.  This German staple is not only easy, but quick as well!  Lightning quick!  And versatile.  Add it to soups in place of rice or pasta - or serve as a side dish.  Did I mention that it's so doggone easy?

So my ancestry is German.  
Very German.  
I have it coming at me from both parents.  It was one of my earliest identifiers.  My maternal grandfather would speak the language now and then.  I used to hang out with him while he worked on cabinets and such out in his garage/shop.  Sometimes the hammer would slip or some other mishap would happen.  He'd say some German words in frustration.  Those are among the first German words I learned - and remembered.  Funny how kids pick up on THOSE words first, right?  Luckily, I never shared the words with others.  I just whispered them to myself and wondered.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Carrot Cake Cookies

Mairzy Doats by The Merry Macs
Today's post has taken me waaaay back down memory lane!  I've been thinking about an elderly lady I knew as a child and I wanted to use a song that I imagine she might have tapped her toe to in her day.  I remember being mystified by this song.  I was sure they were speaking a foreign language!  I can't remember how old I was when it finally dawned on me just what they were saying!  It is said that it was a particular favorite among soldiers during World War II and that it's nonsensical words were used as passwords.  I just know that it's as much fun to sing today as it was back then!

Last year my friend, Lara, and I went to a sort of Flea Market craft sale.  There were lots of vintage items to be found - and lots of folks walking around dressed up in era attire.  As I strolled past one booth, a bundle of old-timey handkerchiefs caught my eye.  I remember always having a hankie tucked into my pocket or pocketbook (yesteryear lingo for "purse") because that's what "little ladies" did.  You just don't see that kind of hankie much anymore.  We use tissues now.  But, hankies were displays of embroidery and fine handiwork.  I was surprised, therefore, to find that this particular bundle was just a couple dollars!  Sold!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Coconut Lime Cake

Coconut by Harry Nilsson
Come on.  It's a no-brainer.  There's only one song that pops into your head when making coconut and lime ANYTHING!  And when it pops in - it STAYS!  Over and over again.  And you know what?  This song is one that is welcome to stay and play over and over and over again in my  head.  I loved it back in the early 70s and I love it today.  That opening arpeggio puts a groove into your step and happiness in one's heart.  One chord, folks.  There's only one chord for the whole song - played in arpeggio.  Thank you, Mr. Nilsson, for this simple delight!  Put this lime and coconut recipe together and you will be feeling all better - no doctor call necessary!

This song slams me back on Keenan Street in Warren, PA - 1972.  It took maybe 3 seconds of hearing those opening arpeggio notes and I'd be up on my feet getting my funky little moves going.  If you know me, and know my body type, and if you're trying to imagine what I would look like trying to get those funky moves going, would you do me a favor?  Would you just give me nice, long legs in your imaginings?  Thanks!  I appreciate that!  It makes for a nicer image.  After all, it's how I imagine I'm looking whenever I dance.  Reality is no friend when a short-legged pudgy girl wants to groove.  You hearing me on this one?  Good!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Split Pea Soup with Ham & Bacon

The Green Grass Grew All Around by Larry Groce & Disneyland Children's Sing-Along Chorus
Bear with me this week.  So many thoughts running around in my brain - all I can think of when I see or think of Split Pea Soup is "green."  It is its most distinctive feature, in my book.  I figured a song about something green would be fitting.  And a song that I remember my father singing with us kids would be even more fitting as I mark the 18th year of being on this planet without him around to sing with me anymore.  My father was a master guitarist.  And that made me a lucky kid as I was serenaded to sleep almost every single night by my father playing and singing downstairs.  He played just about every day.  But my favorite times were when he'd pull out his guitar and just start playing kid songs and leading us in sing-alongs.  And this song was one of the best!  He'd make up his own verses, going on and on and on, thinking of something infinitesimally smaller than the object in the previous verse.  He'd have us all giggling silly.  And when the song would be done - finally - he'd be ear-to-ear grin and chuckling silly himself.  I wish you could have experienced this, too.  So my St. Patrick's Day offering this year is something green ~ from one very lucky kid.     

I've always liked Split Pea Soup.  
It's an old-timey kind of soup and brings about images of days of yore - of simple hard-working days and long evenings spent with the family.

I know it's appearance can be a little off-putting to many folks.  Green and mushy.  Not the best words of endorsement.  But, what can I say?  It is what it is.  Like mushrooms and spinach, I was surprised as a child when I discovered that I wasn't supposed to like it.  Certainly all the other kids at school found it disgusting.  Maybe their parents just didn't make it right!  I just know that the homey smell of a simmering ham bone with onions and celery guaranteed something delicious for dinner.  And, often, that delicious something was Split Pea Soup with Ham!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

More Than Fine by Switchfoot
"When I'm up with the sunrise, I want more than just blue skies.  I want more than just ok, more than just ok."  I'm with Switchfoot on this one.  Why start your day with low expectations?  Why not start your day out with something spectacular ~ and then let it carry you through awesomeness the rest of the way?  It would be like pre-programming your daily outcomes.  That's a tall order for a breakfast - for a muffin.  But I get that order fulfilled with these guys.  Lots of yummy vibes sent out to herald a fabulous day.  I leave the house with a smile on my face and a bounce to my step - because they're "more than fine - more than just ok!"

So I guess it was international Banana Bread Day a couple weeks ago.  I didn't know about it in time.  But it's on my calendar now, marked to remind me of it every year for eternity.  So that's good!

But I did spend the day ruminating about banana bread.  I already have a few really good recipes which I've shared with you.  But my mind kept jumping over to the muffin track.  And then I've kind of had obsessive thoughts about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups lately.  That's only because I'm trying to be better at how I eat - which does NOT include the peanut butter cups - very often.  You know - how when someone tells you NOT to think about something, then that's ALL you can think about.  Well, with those two thoughts running around in my brain it wouldn't be long until they ran into each other head on!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Baked Chippy Chicken Fingers

Use Me by Bill Withers
Now, my bags of chips don't sing to me like that bag of limes from my last post, but they get the message of their need to be used across just fine.  If they DID sing, however, I imagine they'd be singing along with Mr. Withers - "Oh, you just keep on using me until you use me up."  It cracks me up just how well the lyrics of this song fit a bag of chips!  It never used to be a problem - using up those chips.  But, nowadays, it is.  Do I stop buying them?  Nooo!  Not only do I keep buying them - I buy more "gourmet" chips - chips that give the impression that a "sandwich and chips" dinner is fine fare!  Still - what to do with ALL those chips - especially those last broken up bits.  You toss them all together and make these chicken fingers.  To paraphrase the song, "If it tastes this good getting used, you just keep on using me until you use me up!"

Chips never used to last long enough in my house to get to that stage where you start wondering about their freshness.  But, now that we're empty nesters, this happens quite frequently.  I used to just toss them.  This past week, however, I stopped myself as the recollection of one of my kids' favorite meals popped into my head.  Several years ago I had read about an idea of using crushed up potato chips to coat chicken breast strips.  I had a hunch that this was something my little brood would enjoy.  They loved them!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lime Sugar Cookies

What About Now by Lonestar
A song about taking advantage of a good deal and seizing the moment.  He was talking about a car for sale.  I'm talking about a bag of limes.  Yep.  A whooooooole bag.  Of limes.  It works.  Be patient and read on . . .

I made another Disneyland Costco run about a week and a half ago.  It had been almost two months since my last trip and I was in agony!  So, when my list of needed items finally got to the "gotta go" stage, I cheerfully informed my husband that it was time for a Costco outing!!!!  He knows how I feel.  How I don't like to be rushed.  How I loooove a slow perusal of every aisle (sans the automotive stuff.)  He's fine with it.  He gets lost, too.  We run into each other now and then - but I keep the cart.  It's understood that I'm more likely to find something we can't live without than he is - like the bag of limes.  A whole bag of limes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quick and Creamy Tomato Pasta - For Two

Howlin' For You by The Black Keys
I really want to thank my buddy, Ian C., for acting so incredulous last fall when he found out I didn't have any Black Keys in my music library.  I wasn't even sure if I had heard of them before.  GASP!!  He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I should take care of that as soon as I got home (we were both vacationing on the Oregon coast at the time.)  Well, I did.  I came home and I sampled.  And then I bought.  And I saw that Ian was right.  Where had I been?  These guys are AMAZING!  I love their bluesy funk that they've got going!  Especially this Howlin' For You song.  The beat in this song absolutely speaks to my inner primal being - much like the drum solo in In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly.  And much like this very easy, very delicious, very quick, pasta with a creamy tomato sauce.  It has me howlin' every time I fix it.  And I fix it often - because anything that tastes this good in 20 minutes or less should be made often.  

It's Valentine's Day today and, if you haven't already found yourself a valentine, you better hop to it!  Like I said last week - I tagged mine early this year!

I think pasta makes a very romantic meal - as long as it doesn't get too involved.  Nobody wants to be weary by the time dinner rolls around.  This dish makes up so quickly.  You'll be amazed!  You can use any type of pasta - penne or rigatoni would be great - affording little tunnels where the tomatoes can sneak in and hide until you bite into them!  But I suggest taking a cue from the Lady and the Tramp and use a long noodle such as fettuccine.  That way you can share a bowl and dig in at the same time and eat until you end up nose to nose at the end of the same noodle!  
"Why, hello there, Sweetheart!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cherry Chocolate "Sushi"

Round and Round by Perry Como
The perfect "love" song for these cute little "sushi" wheels!  Perry Como got a whole new generation of admirers when they used this song in the fabulous movie, "Blast From the Past."  Watch this scene and just enjoy it! Seriously!  Click on that link!  Perry's voice has no tricks - no engineered nuance.  His is just a good old-fashioned clear singing voice that you could listen to for hours.  And this song captures that head-over-heels feeling of falling in love.  If you're not grinning ear to ear by the end of this song, you have no heart!  Round and round goes our life and our love.  And round and round goes these dessert sushi rolls - and they're likely to roll right into your heart and stay there!  

I've been thinking alot lately about me and my husband's friendship/courtship.  It was on the unique side.  We'd met in my hometown in Pennsylvania but he lived 2000 miles away in Utah.  So we got to know each other through letters.  

At first these letters were friend to friend.  But I knew something was changing when I realized that I was looking forward to his letters with increased excitement and anticipation.  No matter how rotten my day had been, when I got home and saw that I had a letter from him, my heart just exploded with joy and I raced up to my room to read what he had to say.  I fell in love with him through those letters.  We talked on the phone now and then.  That's back when long distance phone calls were for emergencies or special occasions.  Phone calls are nice - hearing each other's voice.  But letters - you can read them over and over and over again.  Sigh!!!