Cashmere Apron

lemon cake

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Ask a 14 year old what the best use of a lemon is and they may tell you it’s to squeeze on your hair, and lay in the sun to lighten your dull, dreary locks.  Ask your grandmother this same question, and she may tell you that it eases digestion, cures bad breath, and freshens the garbage disposal.  While this is all very true, my favorite thing about this magical fruit is it’s health benefits.  Nutritionally, lemon is a great source of calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, minerals and antioxidants that improve the condition and appearance of our hair, skin and nails.  Let’s face it, we all grew up serving lemonade at our neighborhood lemonade stands and squeezing a fresh lemon slice into our tea.  Below is a list of some interesting lemon facts that you may not have known:
Fun Facts About Lemons:
Heals acne and removes blackheads
Lightens dark skin spots and blemishes
Whitens teeth
Immune boosting powers
Lemon oil mixed with water and sprayed into the air, repels insects
Calms dry scalp and remedies dandruff
Offers relief to those suffering from eczema
Cleanses the face and body
Gets rid of oily skin

Ingredients:
1-1/2 butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 Tb lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup 7-Up
Shortening
Lemon-Lime Glaze (recipe to follow)
Candied Lemons (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and extracts.

Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with four. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased (with shortening) and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. You may need to shield the cake with aluminum foil after 45 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cake from pan to wire rack.

Spoon Lemon-Lime Glaze over the warm cake. Top cake with the Candied Lemons. Compliments: my recipes.com

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Lemon-Lime Glaze

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb fresh lime juice

Directions:
Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, 1-1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice, and lime juice in a bowl until blended and smooth.

Candied Lemons

Ingredients:
2 medium lemons
4 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:
Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick slices; discard seeds. Stir together water and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a light boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Add lemons; reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer 45 minutes or until rinds are very soft and lemons are translucent, turning every 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a single layer on a wire rack. Cool completely.

leoda’s kitchen and pie shop, maui

Leodas Lead

There’s a feeling you get every time you return to a place you love – a certain familiarity and time tested traditions you rely upon. One of those places for me is the island of Maui. My parents discovered it for the first time in the early 70’s and brought us almost every summer to visit.

I remember the days of flight attendants garmented in long flowy Hawaiian dresses with leis around their necks and orchids in their high tight buns. My mom always dressed my sister and me in matching Hawaiian dresses for the flight. And as soon as we stepped off the tarmac, the overwhelming feeling of excitement was hard to temper especially with the warm tradewinds blowing, ukeleles playing and greetings of “Aloha” and friendly smiles from every person you passed. I don’t know how many times I have visited this place but it’s close to 40 I would imagine. That’s how my family is…we find something we love and we stick with it. We have explored some other wonderful places but our hearts always lead us back here. And now we have passed that love on to our own kids. Whenever they are asked about vacation spots, they always say, “We want to go to Hawaii,” and we have been fortunate enough to carry on the tradition.
Leodas Lead 2

On our way in from the airport this year we noticed that Chez Paul, a long standing landmark restaurant was gone. Replacing the landmark in tiny Olowalu town was Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop. We didn’t think anything of it UNTIL some New Yorkers we were sitting next to at lunch mentioned that we should try it. Apparently, the way we were all “scarfing” down the food (their words) made them think we would appreciate good food and good pie. And, of course, they were right.

We hit Leoda’s after a rousing tennis match with our stomachs churning for food. Leoda’s did not disappoint. The place is quaint, warm and homey. Wood floors, bright white tile, soft hanging lights, a large vintage sideboard housing cups, napkins, silverware, condiments and a display of cake stands and plenty of high and low tables to sit and enjoy your food which is served in vintage pie tins. Their approach to food is this, “Our menu features hand crafted specialties made fresh daily using only Maui’s freshest ingredients. We take a unique approach to many classic or traditional favorites…we call it glorified grandma comfort food.”
Leodas Lead 3

We stood in line to order and despite the size of the line, it moved quickly, pressuring us to make a decision after looking at all the different and yummy choices on people’s plates. The various choices are hand-written on chalkboards flanked by a Daily Specials Board, a listing of local farms the food comes from and an abundantly filled display case of mini-handmade pies and pastries. Known for their sweet and savory pies and their homemade breads, we had a little bit of everything…the Chocolate Mac Nut pie, the Olowalu Lime pie and the Chicken Pot pie, and those were just the items we shared. Amongst the food we ordered was Leoda’s burger, homemade fries with a garlic aioli dipping sauce, a roasted pork hoagie smothered in onions and sauce, a cobb salad with amazing greens, a fried salad (my order) which had fresh greens topped with slim pieces of flash fried brussel sprouts in an orange vinaigrette, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made from thick pieces of Leoda’s homemade bread.

Leodas Lead 4

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop is a must visit. There’s always something new to discover in a place you love. We are planning on visiting Leoda’s again before our vacation ends. Aloha!

veggie crustless quiche

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Spring has sprung and this delicious quiche recipe reminds me of a Spring Break road trip I took in college. While many of my college friends went home for Spring Break, a few of my girlfriends and I loaded up my Mitsubishi Eclipse (it was the bomb back then!), and took off on a culinary adventure.  After many Hardee’s hamburgers and  countless Wendy’s frosties (let’s face it, that is all that you can afford in college) we stumbled upon this great little café called Chelsea’s and The Village Tea Room in the Biltmore Village in Asheville, NC. At an early age, I had already acquired a love for quaint restaurants, good recipes and unique cookbooks, so before leaving, I purchased their cookbook. Luckily for me, I found this delicious, crustless quiche recipe hidden inside it’s pages and have been whipping up many versions of this wonderful quiche recipe for the past 20 years.
Asheville, NC is such a beautiful mountain town, especially in the  Spring and Fall. If you visit Asheville, plan to spend a day exploring the Biltmore Estate. This large estate was built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is the largest privately owned house in the United States.  Another Asheville secret is the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa which is one of the South’s best-loved resorts with spectacular views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. This hotel has been completely renovated and has over 100 years of history tucked inside.

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Ingredients:
8 eggs, scrambled
2 Tb heavy cream
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Provolone cheese, grated
2 cups of quiche filling (examples below)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add all other quiche ingredients and stir to combine.

Spray a rimmed pie dish or quiche pan with cooking spray. Pour quiche filling into your pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until set. Allow quiche to cool about 10 minutes before serving. This can be made the night before.

Quiche filling ideas:
Shrimp and dill
Mixed vegetables
Bacon, onion and feta
Veggie sausage and veggie
Broccoli and bacon
Artichoke, red pepper, olive and feta

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PicMonkey Collage

st. pat’s day feast

St. Pat's Lead 2Having grown up with an Irish father who was devoted to his heritage and roots, I thought everyone LOVED corned beef and cabbage. And while I have since learned that may not be altogether true, this Irish preparation by Bobby Flay will make believers out of those with the most dubious palates.

Follow Bobby Flay’s surefire hit for Corned Beef and other additions below to round out your Irish Feast, and your guests will leave wishing St. Patrick’s Day was more than once a year!

(1) No Irish Feast is complete without Jameson Irish whiskey (2) Rather than boiled cabbage, put together a hash using golden brown bacon (see below), shredded cabbage, shaved brussel sprouts, shredded carrots and diced red potatoes (3) Bake a loaf of Ina Garten’s Irish soda bread as an accompaniment (4) A crisp and perfect salad is made of Butter lettuce, dried cranberries, blood oranges, Irish Soda Bread croutons, a sprinkling of Gruyere and a light vinaigrette salad dressing (5) Before the meal begins, read a tried and true Irish Blessing (we always select one of our children to read the blessing) (6) Decorate each table setting with something new and something traditional. Here, we paired monogrammed vintage napkins with a sequined shamrock tied with heavy twine (7) The complete meal

Now for the STAR {Corned Beef} of the show…I came across this recipe a few years back while seeing Bobby Flay on CBS Morning News. I decided to follow his recipe and couldn’t stop eating – it’s that good. The recipe is easy because you still follow the very basic directions for cooking Corned Beef. Once the Corned Beef is cooked through, the extra elements add an elevated essence that is unparalleled.

St. Pat's Lead 1

Ingredients
Whole prepared Corned Beef (follow directions on label but allow 3 to 4 hours for cooking)
Bobby Flay Spice Rub for Meat
Canola oil
1 pound bacon
Dijon mustard
Whole grain mustard
Honey
Prepared horseradish
Chervil, for garnish

Ingredients for Spice Rub for Meat
3 Tb dry mustard
1 1/2 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb chili powder
1/2 Tb garlic powder
1/2 Tb black pepper
1/2 Tb sea salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp celery seed

Directions
Rub Corned Beef with Spice Rub and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden brown. Remove bacon, let rest, and coursely chop. Sear the Corned Beef in the bacon fat until a crust forms, turn over and continue cooking until golden brown. Remove, let rest and thinly slice.

Whisk together mustards, honey and horseradish. Serve Corned Beef with sauce on the side and garnish with chervil.

mini chicken parms

Chick Parm 2Fresh. Simple. Wholesome. Delicious. Make-Ahead. These are just a few words I like to consider when making dinner. Serving a hot meal for my family is such a challenge most days with sports practices, carpools, school events, a traveling spouse, and other unexpected surprises. I know we have all heard it, “Mom, do we have any magenta posterboard and lime green glitter????” “Mom, remember, I’m in charge of snack for 25 tomorrow for my advisory group and it has to be homemade.” Or how about my personal favorite, “Mom, don’t forget, tomorrow I have to bring in a hot appetizer that showcases my heritage and our family traditions.”

If I can make dinner ahead and have it ready to go, I feel so much more organized and accomplished. I can handle the unexpected tasks and requests without hitting Chipotle for dinner three nights in a row (not that we don’t love Chipotle). This recipe is perfect to make ahead on Sunday and have it ready to go Monday night to start the week on the right foot.

Ingredients
One package thinly sliced chicken breast filets
One pound bag of large elbow macaroni
Progresso “Italian Style” bread crumbs
16 ounces of “Precious” brand Mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup
One, 28 ounce can of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Marinara sauce +1/4 cup
2 to 3 eggs, lightly blended in a medium sized bowl
one package fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Large muffin tin (yields 6 large muffins)
recipe makes about  dozen “Mini Chicken Parms”

Chick Parm 1

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place about 2 cups of bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each thinly sliced breast filet in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Place on a slightly oiled baking sheet. Bake chicken for about 25 to 30 minutes (be careful not to overcook or the chicken will be dry). While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Shred the 16 ounce block of Mozzarella cheese and chop the entire package of basil, which should yield abut 1/2 cup, maybe a little more.

Once the chicken is baked through, remove from the oven and let cool. When the chicken has cooled, chop into cubes (1/2” to 1” is fine).

In a large mixing bowl add the pasta, cubed chicken, Marinara sauce, Mozarella, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together gently until just combined.

Lightly spray or grease each muffin well and add a hearty scoop of the mixture. Top each filled muffin well with a teaspoon of Marinara and an extra sprinkle of Mozzarella. Put back into 350 degree oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Use a pie server to scoop out each individual “Mini Chicken Parm.” Top with a sprig of basil and serve with organic greens and Italian breadsticks.

Lead Chicken Parm

*If you make this meal ahead of time, remove all individual “Mini Chicken Parms” from the muffin well. Let cool completely on a large platter and cover tightly. When ready to serve, place on a large baking sheet and re-heat gradually at 350 degrees.

 

 

bite-size chicken and waffle appetizer

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So you may be asking yourself, “chicken and waffles……. is this something I would like”? The answer is…….”absolutely, yes”! I know this dynamic duo may seem a little far fetched, but just think about a salty and sweet culinary masterpiece in one bite. I very seldom order this when I see it on a menu because it is just too much food. On occasion, I will meet my sister at The Blue Rooster in Sarasota, FL, and we will splurge and share this delicious showpiece of a meal.
This chicken and waffle recipe is sublime because you get the combination of salty, crunchy chicken with a sweet, warm waffle, but the chicken is baked instead of fried and is a much smaller portion. It is a unique appetizer for a dinner party or brunch gathering. I love to see people’s reactions when they spot it on my food table. There is much controversy over this dish and where it originated.  John Edge who is the director of the Southern Foodway Alliance and author of Fried Chicken: An American Story says, “it’s a dish most popular among expatriate African-American Southerners”. He adds, “a dish most popular among Southerners now living in urban areas whether that be the urban South or urban West, in the case of Los Angeles, or the urban North, in the case of New York”. Edge suspects this delicious pair probably has been a part of America’s culinary repertoire for a long time- since the nation’s earliest days when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. He believes the recipe originated in multiple places including the South.
If you are like me and would like to know the history of a recipe, check out www.thehistorykitchen.com.  Tori Avey explores the story behind the food we eat and how recipes of different cultures have evolved.
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Ingredients:
12 chicken breast tenders, cut in half crosswise
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1- 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Cooking spray
24 mini waffles
Maple Syrup

Directions:
Stir together chicken and buttermilk in a medium size bowl. Chill 30 minutes. Place a large baking sheet in oven, and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place panko crumbs in a shallow bowl. Stir together garlic powder and next three ingredients. Remove chicken from buttermilk, and pat dry, discard buttermilk.

Sprinkle chicken evenly with spice mixture; dredge in panko. Remove baking sheet from oven; coat with cooking spray. Immediately place chicken on hot baking sheet; coat chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is crisp and lightly browned.

Arrange toasted waffles on a large platter and top each waffle with a pice of chicken. Secure chicken to waffle with a decorative pick. Drizzle warm maple syrup over top. Serve immediately. Serves:24

Recipe compliments of The Slim Down South Cookbook.

love in elysian park

Finding Love in Elysian Park Burger
Last summer the TODAY show held a “Burger Battle” in search of the best original burger recipe and the inspiration behind it. I thought, “Why not?” I made taste testers out of my family. My son wouldn’t try it but my daughter (the more adventurous eater) and husband gave me a thumbs up.

I wasn’t contacted by the TODAY show, clearly a mistake (haha) but their contest did present me the occasion to create something special. So I am sharing my inspiration and recipe on Valentine’s Eve because it’s all about the LOVE.

My Valentine's Day Inspiration

My parent’s at the Los Angeles Police Academy – my Valentine’s Day Inspiration


When I reflect upon the quintessential “
Valentine Lovebirds,” I think of my mom and dad who lived a loving, healthy and happy marriage, on par with few I have seen. My parents met at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park in 1964. An unlikely duo from the outset, he being 14 years her senior with a wild past and she being a mere girl of 18 who always followed the rules. He was a Lieutenant at the time and she was a secretary to the Chief. I’m pretty certain my dad visited that office more than was actually necessary. They fell head over heels in love and were married in June of 1966.

June 4, 1966

“The Glass Chapel” in Palos Verdes, California – June 4, 1966

 They were a true fairy tale couple who were the personification of love for 45 years (my father died unexpectedly in 2008). Both of my parents were fiercely proud of their heritage and my sister and I were raised with the same pride. My dad the dark Irish, and my mom, the beautiful “Jackie O” look-alike with strong Mexican roots, somehow grew into the perfect couple.

My loving family

My loving family (my sister being goofy and me, obviously with a full diaper)

This recipe is a tribute to the uniqueness that gave me my Irish Mexican heritage and to the love that bloomed in Elysian Park, California in 1964. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients
1 pound organic ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced cooked corned beef (have corned beef shaved thin in the deli)
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed) and finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb country Dijon mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tb Jameson Irish whiskey
Three-pepper Colby cheese, thinly sliced
1, 14 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
1 small head of Frisee lettuce
Fresh Rye bread
Olive oil
Sugar
Butter

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Directions
Preheat grill. Add all ingredients through the Jameson Irish whiskey to a large glass bowl. Gently mix all ingredients together (use your clean hands if desired). From ground sirloin mixture, form three 1/3 pound patties. Lower grill heat and place patties on aluminum foil on the grill and grill about 4 minutes on each side. Once grease has melted off, place burgers directly on grill for another two to three minutes per side.

In a sauté pan, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the drained sauerkraut to the pan and sauté until browned.

Brush each side of the Rye bread with olive oil and a little melted butter and grill for about 1 to 2 minutes per side (don’t overcook).

Grilled Rye lightly brushed with Olive oil and butter

Rye bread perfectly crusty after being brushed lightly with Olive oil and butter and grilled

Add burger to bread and top with three-pepper Colby cheese, browned sauerkraut, and frisee lettuce. *You can add extra dijon to the grilled bread if desired.

Chow down. Seriously amazing burger. A shot of whiskey or tequila is optional BUT highly recommended.

polka dot love cake

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Ingredients:
2 boxed white cake mixes (plus oil, water and eggs to make them according to the package)
Your favorite buttercream frosting
Sprinkles or decorations
Food dye
Cake ball maker or pans

Directions:
Make one of the cakes according to the package directions. Separate the batter into different bowls and use food gels to dye it the colors you want your balls to be.

Following the directions on your cake ball maker, make cake balls in different colors using your dyed batter. When cake balls are done, set them aside to cool. Set your oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spray 3 – 6 inch round cake pans with oil and set a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each one.

Make the other cake mix following the directions on the box.

Spread a thin layer of cake batter in the bottom of each pan, place cake balls on top in any pattern that you choose. Divide remaining batter evenly over cake balls so that they are completely covered.

Bake cake layers at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I used a toothpick inserted into the middle to check for doneness.

When cakes are done, flip them over onto a clean towel to cool.

Trim the cakes so that they will stack flat. Frost your completely cooled cake and decorate.

Slice your cake and sit back and listen to all the oohs and ahhs.

Compliments: easybaked.net

 

PicMonkey Collage

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[gal]entine’s day love, lunch and friendship

Galentine's Day Recipes 2

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” -Jane Austen

Our post this past Wednesday talked about celebrating “girlfriends” this Valentine’s Day. Christi and I hosted a luncheon in honor of some special ladies in our lives. For details, photos, setting and decorative ideas click here.

Today we are sharing our Galentine’s Day Luncheon Menu and the recipes. Revel in Cupid’s inspiration and create something special for your gal pals!

Galentine's Menu Lead 1

 

 

Caprese Fruit Skewers LeadCaprese Fruit Skewers
Ingredients
36- strawberries, cleaned with tops taken off
24- fresh basil leaves, rinsed and carefully dried
24- bocconcini balls, drained
12- wooden skewers
1 bottle of store bought balsamic glaze

Directions
Clean strawberries and set them aside to dry on a paper towel. Rinse basil and gently remove the leaves from the stems. Carefully thread a strawberry, basil leaf, bocconcini ball-repeat once, ending with a strawberry. When all 12 kabobs are completed, lay them onto a platter and drizzle the top with the balsamic glaze.  12 servings

 

Fusilli LeadFusilli & Heart-shaped Pasta Salad with Green Beans, Pistachio and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
Ingredients
8 ounces uncooked fusilli or gemelli (can substitute gluten free pasta)
1 cup (1- 1/2 inch) cut haricots vert
1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
2 Tb fresh thyme leaves, divided
2 Tb grated lemon peel, divided
1 Tb minced, shallot
2 Tb Champagne vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 ounce shaved, fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions
Cook pasta according to the package direction, omitting salt and fat.  Add the haricots vert during the final two minutes of cooking. Rinse the cooked pasta and haricots vert under cold water until cool, then drain.

Place the pasta, haricots vert, pistachios, 1 Tb thyme and 1 Tb lemon rind in a large bowl; toss gently to combine. Combine remaining 1 Tb thyme and 1 Tb lemon rind, shallots, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl, mixing well with a wire whisk. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Drizzle over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Top with Parmesan cheese. 4 full servings or 8 side servings

 

Turkey and ProvoloneSmoked Turkey & Provolone on Baguette with Bacon & Avocado Mash
Ingredients
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
8 slices bacon (can use turkey bacon)
1 Hass avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 rustic baguettes, cut in threes and sliced in half for sandwiches
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 carton sprouts
12 ounces thinly sliced deli turkey breast
1/4 lb Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 small English cucumber, sliced very thin

Directions
Toss the onion with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, cook the bacon as the package directs.

Mash the avocado with the yogurt in another small bowl until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay 4 halves of the sandwich rolls on a cutting board and spread with half of the avocado-yogurt mixture. Add a layer of turkey breast, bacon, Provolone slice, cucumber and red onion. Top with tomato, sprouts, salt and pepper. Spread the left over avocado mixture on the remaining 4 roll halves and place spread-side down on top of sandwich. 8-10 half sandwich servings

 

Galentine's Day Desserts

For dessert we made Duncan Hines Creamy Red Velvet Cupcakes (click here for recipe) and Emeril Lagasse’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding (click here for recipe). The Valentine’s Day sugar cookies were ordered from Lizy B. Bakes. We had her bake the “love bird” cookies that had small holes at the top so we could hang them from branches we added to our floral centerpiece.

This menu is easy and delicious and perfect for a ladies luncheon. Everything was topped off with Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne. Let us know about any fun GALentine’s celebrations you create – we would love to hear about your special plans.

 

 

 

superbowl bloody mary bar

Bloody Mary Bronco Style

Across America this weekend, Superbowl Sunday is sure to be filled with scrumptious gut-busting food and lots of beer (can’t wait for this year’s commercials). In honor of Sunday’s “big game,” we veered off the beer path and created a Bloody Mary Bar that pays homage to each football team. I love the Bloody Mary because there are no rules. Start with a base of tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix and vodka and layer in your creativity from there. I used Mr. & Mrs. T’s in regular and in a Bold and Spicy version. Create your own specialty Bloody Mary or stick with the traditional – you really can’t go wrong with this festive cocktail that personifies a relaxing Sunday.

Colorado and Denver are known for a lot of things in the way of cuisine, especially good meat and spicy food. Our “Denver Broncos” Bloody Mary features Mr. & Mrs. T’s Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary mix, Greygoose vodka, a crisp piece of center cut bacon paired with a sliced yellow pepper, a mini vine-ripened orange tomato, a crisp celery stalk and then lightly sprinkled with a pinch of black Alder Smoked salt.

Bloody Mary Denver Broncos Style

Bloody Mary – Denver Broncos Style

Washington and Seattle are known for equally delicious food traditions with the focus falling on seafood. Our “Seattle Seahawks” Bloody Mary features Mr. & Mrs. T’s regular Bloody Mary mix and Greygoose vodka which is then garnished with a green tomato, Pacific Sea salt and a mini shrimp corn dog (so yummy and easy – mini shrimp corn dogs are carried by Trader Joe’s). Serve a side of Sweet Chili dipping sauce with the mini shrimp corn dogs.

Bloody Mary Seattle Seahawk Style

Bloody Mary – Seattle Seahawks Style

Bloody Mary Basics

Whether you choose to theme your Bloody Mary bar or not, there are some basic Ingredients to include:
Bloody Mary Mix or Tomato juice
Vodka
Crushed ice
Tabasco
Hot sauce
Horseradish
Garnish of your choice: fresh cut celery, cornichons, pickles, stuffed olives, pickled green beans, lemons, limes, capers, small tomatoes and salt
Stirring sticks
Large wooden toothpicks
Straws

Final Bloody Mary Collage

eggstraordinary deviled eggs

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Traditional Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:
7  large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 Tb sweet pickle, chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sliced olives for garnish

Directions:
Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolk. Place the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, pickle. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well.

Spoon the yolk mixture into a small zip lock back and cut off a small  corner from the bag. Pipe the yolk mixture into each egg cavity. Garnish each egg with an olive slice.

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Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon and Dill

Ingredients:
1- 1/2 Tb light brown sugar
Cayenne pepper
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/8 pound thick-cut bacon (4 strips)
8 large eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tb finely chopped fresh dill, plus some for garnish
1 Tb cider vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, a pinch of cayenne and the cinnamon. Place the bacon on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice of bacon with some of the spiced sugar and bake about 10 minutes. Flip the bacon, sprinkle with the remaining spiced sugar and continue to cook until crispy, about 10 more minutes. Remove the bacon from the oven and allow to cool. When the bacon is cool, chop it up very small and set a quarter aside for garnish.

Put the cold eggs in the bottom of a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil for 3 minutes then remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and rinse with cold water. Let the eggs cool for a bit then peel. After they are peeled, you can store them in the fridge.

Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, the scallions and the minced bacon in a medium bowl. Season with salt.

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks  from the eggs and add to the mayonnaise mixture. Mash together using a fork or a hand held mixer.

Put the mixture into a zip lock bag. Cut one end off and pipe the filling into the egg white cavity. Sprinkle with left over chopped bacon.

Recipe courtesy of: Kelsey Nixon 

 

ancho chile dusted shrimp cobb salad

IMG_9062Ingredients

Marinade
1/4 tsp Ancho Chili Pepper (kick up the spice by adding 1/8 tsp more)
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 Tb Italian Parsley, chopped
3 Tb Olive Oil, divided
2 Tb Butter, melted and slightly cooled

Salad Ingredients
8 large, tail-on raw shrimp
5 pieces cooked bacon
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 avocado, diced
6-7 teardrop tomatoes, cut in half
1, 15 ounce can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Crumbled Blue cheese
1 bunch of fresh Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Accompaniments
1 jar Trader Joe’s Corn & Chile Tomato-less Salsa
Tortilla chips
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Directions
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a bowl, making sure melted butter isn’t too warm. Use 2 Tb Olive oil in the marinade and set 1 Tb Olive oil aside for your grill pan.

Add 1 Tb Olive oil to grill pan and heat over medium high. While oil is heating, add shrimp to whisked marinade in bowl. As soon as Olive oil in grill pan is hot, add shrimp. Grill for 2 minutes on each side (4 minutes total). Once shrimp are grilled through, remove from heat and add to a clean bowl while you assemble the rest of the salad.
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Layer from the bottom up using the chopped romaine. Add bacon, egg, avocado, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and Blue cheese. Drizzle with a dressing of your choice (I prefer a light vinaigrette) and top with four shrimp.

This recipe makes two large servings.

 

southwest breakfast bowl

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Ingredients
1 package of low carb tortillas (I used La Banderita Carb Counter)
1- 32 ounce carton of  liquid egg whites
1-20 ounce bag Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes (diced with onions)
1 bag Jimmy Dean Turkey Crumbles
Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
Jalapeno slices
Fresh Pico De Gallo (recipe below)

Directions
Cook the potatoes following package instructions.

In another large skillet sauté the turkey crumbles in two tablespoons of oil. When the turkey sausage is done, add the carton of egg whites to the same pan with the sausage. Cook the egg whites and sausage until cooked through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take four tortillas and gently place them in your Norpro Nonstick Tortilla Bowl Makers. When oven is 350 degrees place your tortillas in oven and bake until crispy.

Place cooked potatoes in bottom of each tortilla shell and top with the egg white and sausage mixture. Top with shredded cheese, diced avocado, jalapeño slices and Pico De Gallo.

Pico De Gallo Ingredients
3/4 cup sweet onion, minced
1- 1/2 cups plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tb jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 Tb freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper

Directions
Mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

PicMonkey Collage

vegetable lasagna

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I am always looking for meals that will feed a crowd. My husband and I enjoy having our friends over with their kids for dinner, so recipes that please the young and the old (well not so old…ha ha) come in handy.While most lasagna recipes are pasta noodles layered with beef, cheese and marinara sauce, this lasagna recipe is completely different. I used the vegetables that I had on hand, but you can substitute any of your favorites. This is a crowd pleaser, and I promise you won’t miss the meat. Greek Salad (found under our recipe tab), makes a tasty accompaniment to this main course.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (5 cups)
2 (8-ounce) packages of pre sliced baby portabella mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1- 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
5 cups Mezzetta Homemade Marinara, divided (or any other marinara)
12 precooked lasagna noodles (can use gluten free)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with 2 Tb olive oil. Add bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and mushroom liquid evaporates. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.

Combine 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and egg, stirring well.

Spread 1 cup marinara over bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with three noodles. Spoon 1 cup marinara evenly over noodles. Top evenly with one-third of ricotta mixture and one-third vegetable mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Top with remaining one cup of marinara. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/4 Parmesan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Compliments: MyRecipes.com

PicMonkey Collage

cake and cocktails, american hustle style

Lead CakeWith the People’s Choice Awards just past, the Golden Globe Awards scheduled for this Sunday, and that special man “Oscar” not far behind,  Tinseltown’s Awards Season is in high gear. And with that I say, “TIME TO ENTERTAIN.” What better excuse to host a group of friends for food and drinks. One of my personal favorites nominated for “Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical” this year is American Hustle. You can’t beat the setting, the cast or the era – 1970’s New Jersey with Bradley Cooper in perm rods, Amy Adams as the sexy mistress and cunning business partner to the bloated, side-hair parted Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence as the crazy wife and Jeremy Renner, the do-gooder politician with Mob ties.

What better way to celebrate the Golden Globe Awards than with cake and cocktails. And what better representation of the 1970s than the Harvey Wallbanger. Invented in the 1950’s but wildly popular in the 1970’s, the scrumptious base of ingredients includes orange juice, Galliano, and vodka that can be easily baked into a moist and yummy cake or shaken into a crisp cocktail. My mom was over and helped me “sample” the cocktail. We laughed as she remembered the Harvey Wallbanger era and how every hostess gift she received was a bottle of Galliano because she once mentioned that she liked it at a party. The cake was devoured by my family (it goes great with fresh berries for breakfast) and the cocktail…well, that was taken care of too!

You don’t need to always feel compelled to serve a full meal. Host a fun Golden Globe Awards party or Oscars party and do a Cake and Cocktail theme, with each person bringing an item in the theme of one of the “Best Nominated Movies of the Year.” My take on American Hustle and the 1970’s is apparent…disco and gold baby!

Cake Collage Final

Harvey Wallbanger Cake
Ingredients

One package yellow cake mix (16.5 ounces)
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 fluid ounces Galliano liqueur
2 fluid ounces vodka
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 10 inch tube/bundt pan. Combine cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Blend in eggs, vegetable oil, 4 ounces Galliano, 1 ounce vodka, and 4 ounces orange juice. Mix batter until smooth and thick and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack. Spoon glaze over cake while it is still warm.

To Make Glaze: Combine the remaining 1 ounce Galliano, 1 ounce vodka, and 1 ounce orange juice with the confectioner’s sugar and blend until smooth. Spoon glaze over warm cake.

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail
Ingredients
3/4 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz orange juice
1/4 oz Galliano
orange slice for garnish or
maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions
Pour the vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass with ice cubes. Add the Galliano. Garnish with an orange slice or maraschino cherry.

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chicken parmesan meatballs

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As I sit down to write this post, I reflect on my resolutions from a week ago and realize that I’ve failed. I had hoped to tell you that I was fitting back into my skinny jeans and was considering some swimsuit shopping, but I have to confess, none of this is true. My Christmas tree came down and all signs of the holidays disappeared, but my family’s social schedule stayed at full speed which unfortunately, involved lots of eating. On January 1st, didn’t I swear I  was never eating again?  So, starting today, I’ve decided it’s time for some changes.  I’m saying goodbye to bread, cookies and cake, and……maybe even rice (boo hoo)! It seems that when I cut out carbs, the weight has a better chance of coming off.

I’m sharing a great recipe that I found from another awesome blogger, Peace Love Low Carb. It is a terrific recipe for those watching their carbohydrate intake or for someone like my daughter who is a Type 1 diabetic. I sometimes make these bite-sized meatballs, freeze and serve at impromptu gatherings.

So, I have one low carb day behind me….woo hoo! Wish me luck because being a food blogger makes this goal extremely difficult. Now, off to make some low-carb egg dishes. Keep your eyes out for some eggstraordinary egg recipes in the near future.

Ingredients
1 lb. ground chicken ( I have also used ground turkey)
1- jar marinara sauce, divided ( I use Dell’Amore)
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
3 Tbs Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
Directions
Preheat oven to 350°
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, 3 Tbs marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic salt, and black pepper.
Form chicken mixture into 12 equal meatballs.  Bake for 25 minutes, on middle rack in an 8 x 11 baking dish.
Remove from oven, spoon marinara sauce over top and around each meatball and top with Mozzarella cheese.
Put meatballs on top rack under the broiler until cheese melts. 4 servings.
lowcarbpyramid1.IG

 

A toast to 2014

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Brad Paisley said it best, “tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, so write a good one”!
Cashmere Apron raises our glass to you, to wish you and your loved ones a year filled with good health and happiness, surrounded by those who you hold dear. Soon, 2013 will  be behind us and while we want to treasure those memories that were created, we look forward to what 2014 has in store for us. Cheers!

Ingredients:
1 bottle of your favorite champagne ( just like James Bond, we fancy Bollinger Champagne)
1- 10 ounce bottle cranberry juice
1 package fresh mint
1 small package of fresh raspberries

Directions:
Gently tear up the mint and place it into 6 of your favorite champagne flutes.  Fill the flutes with the champagne and top with a splash of cranberry juice and three fresh raspberries. Serves:6

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herb roasted tenderloin filet

Filet Final 1We have all been there…trying to serve a picture perfect holiday meal while sashaying through the kitchen with ease and elegance (that’s how I always see it in my head anyways). Sipping champagne, passing appetizers, and telling your guests, “Of course I don’t need help. Just relax. I’ve got it covered,” as sweat slowly trickles down your back, the oven timer starts beeping incessantly and the burners on the stove are in full flight. I know you can relate!

There is a solution to this overachiever mentality. It is the “Herb Roasted Tenderloin Filet.” I have made this many times and I promise you, it is simple and a delicious and beautiful meal. The roast goes into the oven and you do nothing but wait. When you take it out, it has to rest so you have time to toss your salad, sauté mushrooms and pull an easy side dish out of the oven (roasted potatoes, mac-n-cheese, baked potatoes, buttered noodles-all compatible options). Once the roast is ready, you will find it easy to slice and amazingly tender. Serve the roast with your accompanying sides and Voila, a sophisticated and scrumptious holiday meal that will keep you relaxed and enjoying the evening with friends and relatives.

For the tenderloin filet roast pictured above, I was lucky enough to be given Italian Basil and Rosemary right out of a friend’s garden. The smells, flavor and freshness of the herbs elevated the finished roast. My son just peeked at what I was working on and said, “When do I get that again???

Happy Holidays!

Ingredients
1, 2 1/2 to 3 pound whole tenderloin (I found a great selection of grass-fed prime at Vons Pavilions)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 Tb ground up fennel seed (should be very fine)
1 tsp fresh Rosemary, diced
1 Tb fresh Basil, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Directions
Mix all of the herbs together and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rub the tenderloin with olive oil and sear for about a minute each on all sides. Remove from the skillet and put directly into a roasting pan (no rack needed). Spread the herb paste across the top of the filet roast. Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees (a good meat thermometer is a must). I cooked this filet for about 45 minutes before it reached 135 degrees. The time can vary depending upon the size of the filet, altitude, etc., which is why the meat thermometer is important.

Remove from oven and cover roasting pan with foil or a lid. Let the filet rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. It will continue to cook and should come out a perfect medium on the ends and medium rare toward the middle.

No sauce is required but my personal favorite is a whipped horseradish with dill for a little extra kick and amazing flavor.

Depending on the size of your crowd, you may need an additional roast. Plan on about 1/2 pound per serving, so a three pound roast will serve 6 adults.

christmas pretzel crisps

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This is the most simple holiday treat that even the busiest person can make. Everyone loves chocolate covered pretzels, and I think these are the best because we used Pretzel Crisps. What could be better than a crispy, salty pretzel dipped into a sweet chocolate covering then topped with an array of embellishments? I bagged our treats in cellophane baggies, and tied them off with a pretty holiday ribbon. Don’t forget to ask your kids to get in on the fun because they will love making them along side you this holiday season.

Ingredients
2 bags Original Pretzel Crisps
1 package white chocolate almond bark
1 package chocolate flavored almond bark
1 small bag chopped pecans
1- 10 oz bag Andes Peppermint Baking Chips
1- 8oz bag Heath Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee
Miniature chocolate chips
Holiday sprinkles
Parchment paper

PicMonkey Collage

Directions
Melt the almond bark on top of a double boiler or in the microwave over low heat. When the chocolate has melted, stir to make smooth. Dip one side of each pretzel crisp into the melted chocolate and sprinkle with your favorite topping. Lay each dipped pretzel onto the parchment paper to harden.

PicMonkey Collage

honey soy grilled salmon

Honey Glazed SalmonWith the holiday season in full swing and the selection of sweets at their peak, this is the perfect weekday meal to re-boot your healthy taste buds.

Honey and soy together have to be the perfect pair. Add in lime and fresh ginger and the flavors are elevated that much more. My kids love this salmon preparation and usually gobble it up before I can sit down with my dinner plate.

This recipe is also versatile because it delivers a grilled flavor without ever stepping outside to your grill (a benefit in the chilly winter months). If you are short on time, you can skip the herbs and simply baste the salmon with the yummy marinade and your prep time is even quicker.

Ingredients
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 scallions
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 center cut skin-on wild salmon filets
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
Garnish: lime (optional)

Directions
Finely chop the cilantro and scallion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

Place salmon on foil-lined baking sheet. With the skin side down, cut two, 3-inch long slits lengthwise through the salmon going about halfway into the salmon meat. Evenly stuff the slits with the herb mixture and season the top of the fish with salt and pepper.

Turn your oven to broil and position the oven rack about 4 to 5 inches below the heat source.

Stir together the lime juice, soy and honey until smooth. Baste the salmon with marinade and put in the oven to broil. Broil salmon, basting about 3 times (every 2 minutes) until the salmon is just cooked through. Total broil time should be about 7 to 8 minutes.

Garnish with lime and serve over Jasmine rice with a side of Edamame.

Courtesy of The Food Network, 2010

soppressata and cheese in puff pastry

Soppressata Lead PictureIt’s the day before Thanksgiving which, in my house, means we are probably ordering Chinese take-out or indulging in Mexican food. If you have a house full of guests, you might have the same idea. Or, you may want to serve something quick and easy, curl up in front of the fireplace and have a movie night.

I’ve made this dish several times and it’s always delicious. Cut the pieces smaller and you have an appetizer. Cut the pieces a little bigger and you have a main course. Serve with a side of tomato bisque and create the perfect comfort meal.

Ingredients
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, defrosted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
12 thin (not paper thin) slices soppressata salami (3 1/2 inches in diameter)
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Soppreseta collage

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Lay one sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and lightly roll into a 10-inch square. Place it on the sheet pan and brush the pastry with all the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the soppressata in overlapping layers on the mustard and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on the soppressata, also avoiding the border. Brush the border with the egg wash.

Lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Lay the pastry directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges. Brush the top with the egg wash, cut three large slits for steam to escape, and chill for 15 minutes.

When the pastry is cold, trim the edges with a very sharp knife to make a clean edge. Bake the pastry in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once while baking, until puffed and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut in squares, and serve hot or warm.

Serves 8 for cocktails or serves 6 for main course

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Recipe from 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

 

pancetta crisps with goat cheese and pear

Pancetta Pear Lead

Two days and counting…I love to picture all of the homes across America preparing for Thanksgiving. Different traditions…different ways of preparing the big bird…different homemade “favorites” that make our mouths water. Although the Thanksgiving meal itself eliminates the need for any appetizers, we always feel compelled to serve something “light,” to kick off the occasion. It’s part of our custom to have a fun little cocktail hour – sparkling crystal glasses, whimsical cocktail napkins, a snazzy drink, football on in the background and that special holiday feeling in the air.

This appetizer looks gorgeous on a beautiful tray. The crisps are airy and flavorful with a hint of sweetness from the lightly drizzled honey. We paired a decorative platter of Pancetta Crisps with Grapefruit Basil Martinis (click for our recipe) made from freshly squeezed grapefruits picked right off the tree. Champagne always works too. Enjoy your holiday cocktail hour!

Ingredients
12 thin slices pancetta (about 1/3 lb.)
1 Bartlett pear
1/2 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, crumbled
Freshly cracked pepper
Honey
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Pear Pancetta 2

Directions
Arrange pancetta slices in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack using a spatula. Let stand 10 minutes or until crisp. Core pear with an apple corer. Cut pear crosswise into 12 thin rings. Arrange on a serving platter. Top evenly with pancetta and goat cheese; sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle with honey just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Created by Sheri Castle, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Southern Living
November 2007

grapefruit basil martini

Striving for Tommy B’s perfection…Christi and I visit the California desert together every year for the big tennis tournament held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. We are fortunate to be the guests of a dear friend who offers us her beautiful guest casita in Indian Wells. We never say NO (who would?) and we seem to follow the same patterns every year. A visit to Tommy Bahamas is always in order. We love the vibe. We love the food. We love the Pink Grapefruit Basil Martini. We spend every year trying to emulate that drink. Maybe its the ether of the desert or a few days of complete freedom from routine and responsibility but that drink is one of the best cocktails ever.

The original at Tommy Bahamas

The ORIGINAL at Tommy Bahamas, Palm Desert

After much experimentation, our version follows:

This recipe makes a single serving

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons Agave nectar (Trader Joe’s carries our favorite organic raw blue agave)
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
Our version served poolside, of course

Our version served poolside, of course

Muddle a few of the fresh basil leaves with the Agave nectar in the bottom of a martini shaker. Add the other ingredients plus a small scoop of crushed ice. Shake until very cold and pour into a martini glass. Float a basil leaf on top of the drink.

Serve and enjoy

Serve and enjoy

 

 

love this sugar-free pumpkin pie

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Type 1 Diabetes has played a significant role in my family’s life. It started back in the 80’s when my 17 year old brother was diagnosed with this disease. Telling a teenage boy that he must check his blood sugar every few hours, monitor his diet and take insulin injections multiple times daily was not something that went over easily. I can remember my mom reading every book she could get her hands on regarding life with diabetes, and the frustration she went through trying to get my brother to comply to his new way of life.

I didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of my brother’s diagnosis, and what it really meant until August 17, 2000 when my baby girl was rushed to the ER, slipping into a coma with a blood sugar over 1000. Yes, my precious 17-month-old baby girl was also diagnosed with this terrible autoimmune disease. My world was rocked, and  after a week in the hospital, we were sent home with this child who now had a life threatening illness that my husband and I were in charge of managing. Imagine pricking your baby’s fingers up to 10x a day so that you know their blood sugar level,  or watching your baby have a seizure because their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low. Imagine……… insulin shots 4x a day and hugging your baby after each one because they don’t understand why a mommy and daddy who loves them so much would hurt them.

My daughter is now almost 15 years old and is healthy and completely responsible for her diabetes. Sure, my husband and I still check on her during the night, and we still take an active role in her health, but she has learned to manage her diabetes and be responsible for her own health. It has been a long road filled with many tears of frustration and sleepless nights, but she is truly a hero in our eyes. She is a straight A student, athlete, and musician who has not let diabetes hold her back. Our dream is for a CURE! Diabetes is a disease that never takes a break. It is a 24/7, 365 days a year disease.

November is National Diabetes Month, and I am sharing with you this tasty sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe that has been in my family for years. Everyone wants a piece of pumpkin pie on turkey day so why not make this for your favorite diabetic or someone that is watching their sugar intake. My family supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and appreciates their efforts in raising awareness of this fast growing disease. If you want more information on diabetes, you can visit: stop diabetes.com or jdrf.org.

Ingredients:
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup Splenda granular
1- 9 inch unbaked pie shell

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all pie ingredients and pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes. Cool and top with whipped cream. Serves:8

a classic cocktail from a page in history

Lead Willard CocktailMy girlfriend and I recently had the good fortune to accompany our husband’s on business to Washington, D.C. While they were working during the day, she and I explored the city. Located just two blocks from The White House is The Willard Hotel. It has a storied history dating back to 1820. Charles Dickens was a guest in 1842. President Franklin Pierce lived there at one time and “Mr. Lincoln’s  [temporary] White House” was used to conduct business while renovations were being completed on The White House. Ulysses S. Grant stayed at The Willard four times while in command of The Union forces in the 1870s. President Calvin Coolidge called The Willard home at one time and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inauguration was hosted there. Mark Twain and Walt Whitman graced the hallowed halls of The Willard Hotel. I could go on and on about this living treasure of American history that has been illuminated by luminaries for almost 200 years.

The first day in town, we strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue hoping to sink into plush high back chairs and indulge in High Tea at Peacock Alley. Unfortunately it was a Monday and High Tea is a Friday to Sunday kind of thing. So we opted for the bar instead. We were a bit early and ran into the bartender, Jim. He was an engaging man who let us bend his ear about our day’s plans. He provided suggestions for sightseeing, one of which was the original Post Office Pavilion. The building is worth the visit as the Clock Tower boasts a stunning 360 degree view of the city. Apparently, Donald Trump has acquired the building with plans to make it a grand hotel and city center for political events.

Round Robin Collage

After a few hours touring the sights, I dragged my girlfriend back to the Round Robin Bar. Very early afternoon is fine for cocktails, right???? There were two other patrons in the bar which validated that we do NOT have a problem. We talked to Jim a bit more and learned that he has been working at the Round Robin Bar for 27 years. Jim Hewes has been written up many times over the years and has a drink to represent each of our 44 presidents (he put his own twist on the Blue Hawaiian to represent our current president). Imagine the people, the political deals and the history that have graced the Mahagony Walls of that bar. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay was visiting Washington, D.C., in the Eighteenth Century when he originated the Southern Mint Julep at the Round Robin Bar. Chocked full of fresh mint, powdered sugar and Maker’s Mark Bourbon, it is not for a weak palette. I tried Jim’s recommendation, The Willard Cocktail. I figured it was a true classic made by the man who created it. He gave me the recipe which you will find below.

Ingredients
1 part Gin
1 part Apricot Brandy
A dash of fresh lime juice
A dash of Rose’s fresh lime juice
A dash of Triple Sec

Directions
Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry, lemon peel and a lime wedge.

The Willard collage

If you visit Washington, D.C., you must visit The Willard Hotel, The Round Robin Bar and the affable Jim Hewes. The magic is in the history and all who carry its torch – past, present and future.

 

parmigiano crisps with chocolate & sea salt

Parmigiana Crisps LeadTomorrow night we are invited to an intimate dinner party at our neighbor’s home for a “Pre-Thanksgiving,” Thanksgiving meal. Last year they treated us to a homemade Oktoberfest dinner but October schedules this year were insane for everyone so we switched gears and rolled our tradition into November.

As my neighbor and I chatted in the street one evening, we talked about their native Michigan and a wonderful cooking school she and her husband attended several times. The cooking school gained so much popularity that attendees can now only register for one class per year. When the Thanksgiving themed course came to their attention, there was only one spot available and the husband took it immediately. My neighbor painted a mouth-watering picture of a golden turkey so divine we will be begging for the recipe. They have used that coveted cooking school recipe time and again. And, the rest of the menu is apparently just as amazing. Needless to say, I will be starving myself all day tomorrow so I can indulge tomorrow night!

I am bringing the appetizer and this recipe came to mind. I found it a while back on The Whole Foods website and love it. The recipe is simple to make but is sophisticated and looks so elegant on display. The Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps marry the salty and sweet in a flavorful crunchy bite. The crisps aren’t heavy so everyone will still have room for the feast. Serve the crisps with a good bottle of Prosecco and you will have the ideal starter for any dinner party (especially during the holidays). And if you are looking for a unique homemade gift during the holidays, wrap these up in wax paper in a decorative box and give them along with the Prosecco.

Ingredients
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
6 Tb finely chopped dry roasted whole almonds (skins on)
4 ounces good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 scant teaspoon vegetable oil
Sea salt for sprinkling

Parmigiana Crisps Collage

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss cheese and almonds together in a bowl. Form 12 mounds of cheese mixture on each lined baking sheet, spacing them 3 inches apart. Using the back of a spoon, press down on each mound to form a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place one baking sheet at a time on middle oven rack. Bake rounds 6 to 8 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let crisps cool on baking sheets.

Once crisps are cooled completely, line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Toss chocolate with vegetable oil in a small bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip about one-third to one-half of each crisp into melted chocolate, hold a few seconds above chocolate, then place on the lined baking sheet. Immediately scatter a tiny bit of sea salt over chocolate. Let chocolate set before serving. You can put crisps in refrigerator or freezer to speed setting.

This recipe is from Whole Foods

 

kale salad with currants and feta cheese

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When did kale get so popular? I don’t remember it ever being on the menu or the dinner table when I was growing up. Is it a cross breed of some sort? Did one farmer’s cabbage get planted with another farmer’s spinach (remind me to look that up!). I remember the first time I ate kale. It was on a road trip up the coast of California to San Francisco. We stopped at this cool little hipster lunch spot/coffee bar/henna salon (don’t laugh…..that’s what it was) outside of Santa Cruz, and Kale Salad was the special of the day. I’m not sure that it was love at first bite, but I did find it interesting enough to make my own version when we returned home. I can honestly say that after much experimentation, I am a kale fan and maybe even a kale fanatic!

This gorgeous plant is one of the healthiest foods on our planet and has only 33 calories per cup. It can be eaten in a variety of salads, soups, and casseroles. I love to roast this veggie and make kale chips. It’s said this super star vegetable will lower your cholesterol and is a cancer fighter when eaten on a regular basis. I am sharing this kale recipe with you because it is one of my favorites. I hope you will love this salad as much as I do. I’m off to do some research on this interesting plant and hopefully, answer my questions.  Stay tuned……..

Salad Ingredients
6 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped small
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Arrange all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour salad dressing on top of salad and massage dressing into the kale. This salad tastes better if it sits about 5 minutes before serving.

Salad Dressing Ingredients
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tb agave nectar
1 tsp salt
1 large shallot, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well.

eat-more-kale

 

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apple orchard cobb salad

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This Apple Orchard Cobb Salad is a unique twist on the traditional cobb salad. The Apple Cider Vinaigrette is heavenly on this salad and is also delicious tossed into a spinach salad. Apples are one of the only fruits I can think of that most people like. Didn’t we all grow up on apple juice, apple pie and apple sauce? It just seems like the All American fruit. Speaking of All American… Monday is Veteran’s Day, so why not invite your favorite veteran for dinner and make this salad? Serve it with a lean protein and veggie and raise your glass in a thankful toast.

Ingredients:
2 large apples seeded and chopped
3 Tb fresh lime juice
2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cup watercress leaves
3 cups shredded romain lettuce
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
4 ounces shredded white Cheddar cheese
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Spiced Apple Pecans (recipe to follow)
Cider Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

Salad Directions:
Arrange all of the salad ingredients on a large platter. Top with the cheese and the Spiced Apple Pecans. Drizzle with Cider Vinaigrette.

Spiced Apple Pecans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 2 cups of apple juice over 1-1/2 cups pecan halves in a small bowl. Let stand about 15 minutes; drain. Stir together 3 Tb sugar, 1 tsp. apple pie spice, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper in a medium bowl; add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes; separate pecans with a fork.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 shallot, minced
1 Tb Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup canola oil

Directions:
Cook the first two ingredients in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until cider is reduced to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

Transfer cider mixture to a bowl, discarding cinnamon stick. Whisk in vinegar and next 6 ingredients. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.

PicMonkey Collage

 

 

 

crock pot apple butter

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One of my favorite things about picking apples is going home and making apple butter. I hope you enjoy this easy recipe as much as I do. Below are some ways to eat this yummy spread.

Ingredients
7 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped. (I used a variety of organic apples that Terry and I had picked from the apple orchard in Julian)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1-1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Directions:
Place the apples in your crock pot. In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients and sprinkle over the apples. Add the vanilla to the apples and gently stir to combine all ingredients.

Cook the apples on low heat for 10 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Remove the top of the crock pot, and using an immersion blender, puree apples until smooth. Cover and cook another 2 hours.

Allow the apple butter to cool and spoon into canning jars. Store the apple butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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roasted butternut squash soup with leeks

Butternut Squash Soup LeadIngredients
2 to 2 1/2 pounds roasted Butternut squash
3 Tb butter
2 leeks; white and soft green parts, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cut up Granny Smith Apple
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
sprinkle of thyme

Optional toppings
sour cream, chives, basil and bacon

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds and string (you can speed up the process at this point by placing squash cut side up in a microwave safe dish and cooking on high for 12 to 15 minutes).

For roasting, drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast uncovered for about 45 minutes. Cool slightly, remove skin and cube.

Butternut Squash 2

In a stockpot, melt butter and sauté leeks for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and puree with an immersion blender. Let simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with condiments.

To save time
1. Purchase bag of Butternut squash already cubed and ready to be roasted or microwaved. I like the Butternut Squash found at Trader Joe’s.

2. Roast Butternut squash in advance so it is ready to be pureed when you are ready.

This recipe is compliments of our Gluten-Free friend Sarah!

 

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