Monday, December 31, 2012

Vintage Cookie Decorating Supplies

I found these at the back of my cupboard. Could be more than 25 years old. They contain REAL silver.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Snails Like Raspberries?

But kiddos don't like to find snails in their raspberries. Guess this is why they were on sale at Albertsons?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

My husband made this based on a CopyKat recipe for Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi. I love this soup. The homemade version is better than the restaurant one, by the way.

Ingredients - recipe adapted from

  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart half and half
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 14 ounce cans of chicken broth if you enjoy thick soup, use one can
  • 1 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (we used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 package gnocchi, small sized, cooked  (World Market always has it, if you have trouble finding it)
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley


Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux - which is a gravy-like consistency. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions in a separate pot.

Into the roux, add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup is heated through.  Before serving season to taste by adding additional salt. I like a big splash of pepper on this one after it's ladled into the bowls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finally! The First Batch is All Mine

Directions: Lightly rinse seeds and pick out extra large pieces of pumpkin. Leave some strings and meat. Boil in salted water for 5-7 minutes. Drain. Toss with melted butter and roast at 400 degrees, turning and shaking seeds a couple of times to prevent burning. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poblano Experimentation

It was really fun to hold these over the open gas flame of my stove and hear the skins "pop." I peeled the plastic-like covering off after they cooled, covered with plastic wrap to help sweat the skins away. What's next? Not sure yet. The standard is to stuff with cheese and fry in an egg batter, but I'm exploring a baked option.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sauce Simmering: Color Doesn't Matter

Before the killing frost, I clipped as many tomatoes as I could from the vines. My idea was that some would ripen in time, and I would experiment with green tomato recipes. But, I had to go out of town, so my window for green tomato projects became small. I decided to just dump all the tomatoes not-quite-ready-eat in a pot and simmer them into sauce.

Saute three cloves of garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil. Add tomatoes. Notice that I don't peel them and only roughly chop the larger ones. Simmer until they become a sauce. I added a little sugar because some of the fruit wasn't quite ripe. The sauce was excellent and I couldn't taste a difference between the batches I did when the fruit was all ripe. It went into the freezer - to be used in future recipes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saving Garden Tomatoes

I'm not into canning, so I simmer my garden tomatoes into a sauce to freeze. Saute a little garlic in olive oil, add chopped onion (I don't always do this, but I had some from the garden), add roughly chopped tomatoes and summer until reduced. I don't even take the skins off the tomatoes. Sometimes, I add chopped fresh basil - but I'm saving my limited supply of garden basil for Caprese salads. I pour this into freezer containers and we use this sauce to make spaghetti meat sauce later.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Believe in Peanut Oil

An unintentional hash brown cooking experiment Sunday morning. Potatoes on the left fried in vegetable oil. On the right, peanut oil. Peanut oil wins.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Caprese Salad

All ready to assemble. Tomatoes and basil from the garden, along with fresh mozzarella. Layer the ingredients, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar - or Italian salad dressing. I know the salad dressing isn't traditional, but it's what we had and it was awesome.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From the Garden to the Grill

Onions, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash - tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano. The best of summer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Molten Lava Cake

Picture perfect. My hubby made this and was just like what's served up in restaurants. Incredibly chocolate-ly.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hunts Ketchup Gets Tricky

My husband specifically starting purchasing Hunts ketchup last year because it didn't contain high fructose corn syrup. We don't know at what point they changed the recipe, but the label now has HFCS as the second ingredient. Attention Hunts: Get rid of the HFCS.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taste Test: Pringles vs. Pringles

My kiddo used to love these "cheese" Pringles, but she said they tasted wrong the last time we purchased them. The label said "Bursting with More Flavor." So, we found a non-"Bursting with More Flavor" can and did a taste test. Sure enough, the recipe has changed and I agree that it's not for the better. There's a petro-chemical off-flavor going on. A check on the label shows the big difference is a boost in sodium content - as if Pringles weren't already high sodium!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Idaho French Fries

Fresh-cut Idaho potatoes, deep-fried. It doesn't get any better than this. These fries were served up in Eastern Idaho at the Opal Country Cafe. Eastern Idaho is where most of the state's potatoes are grown. Nom. Nommity. Nom.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Taste Test: Habanero Pizza at Flying Pie

Habanero pizzas are only available in August at Flying Pie. It's the 19th year they've been offered and I got my first taste last night. I chose the "single" - you can get up to "triple," if you're insane. Single was perfect. Hot, yes, but not enough to make me sweat or swear, and there were no tears. The hot doesn't linger, either. Yummy pizza that's also topped with cheese, grilled chicken and black olives.
Highly recommended, but be warned. Both Flying Pie locations are extra busy during habanero season because folks love these pizzas!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Taste Test: Starbucks Refreshers

A drink that's confusing to me: it contains green coffee extract. It doesn't taste like coffee. It has caffeine, but not as much as coffee. It's fizzy and slightly sweet. I understand it's supposed to compete with "energy drinks," however, I've never tasted an energy drink before. Bottom line: I like it, but not right out of the can. It has to be over ice. $1.99 for the size shown.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

"Almost" homemade. The chicken pieces were already breaded, so they were simply baked. The sauce is ketchup, white vinegar, brown sugar, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and sliced onions. Measure these things to taste. Bring to a simmer to thicken. Serve with jasmine rice.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spiral-cut Dog

I was among the millions who saw that viral video about spiral-cutting a hot dog. It makes it easier to stuff in the extras. Plus, even kids who don't want anything on their hot dogs think it's cool. [directions: skewer the dog and use a knife to cut to the center and twirl the dog around for spiral-cut]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Corn Guacamole

Kernels scraped from leftover corn-on-the-cob, chopped grape tomatoes, minced onion, minced garlic, diced avocados and salt. Corona on the side. Cheers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Alaskan Raspberry Wheat Taste Test

I'm taste-testing fruit beers for the next few weeks. This is my second raspberry beer: Alaskan Raspberry Wheat. When I poured it, I smelled sweet raspberries, but I didn't ever really taste any raspberries. There was a slight fruitiness of some sort, but mostly I thought I tasted hops. Although this is a darker-colored brew, it feels light. Because I couldn't taste any raspberries, I added a few from my garden. [probably violated some kind of beer etiquette, right?] I'm judging beers on their fruit-flavors, so this one is behind Purple Haze on the fruity scale.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Raspberry Beer: Patio Pig-Approved

I've never been a big beer fan, and used to joke when I was younger that I would like a cherry or raspberry beer, whenever anyone asked me what kind of beer I wanted. Well, I recently discovered that there now are several raspberry, and even cherry, beers available. The one pictured is Abita Purple Haze. And I liked it! I purchased two other raspberry beers for taste-testing and will post when they're fully tested.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Baked Scallops

A long, long time ago, I was visiting friends in Maine and we went to a tiny restaurant and had baked scallops for dinner. The end. I've tried for years to recreate the dish and never succeeded. I tried again last week and still no deal. For my attempt, I put scallops in a single layer, then dotted with a little butter, sprinkled with granulated garlic, a little shredded parm and panko crumbs. They were O.K., but nowhere near my food memory.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tickled to be Pickled

Like I needed a new food addition! My mom brought me these from Arizona, and oh boy. Interesting. They start off tasting like a sweet pickle, then they turn "dilly," then you feel the heat along with a sweet finish. I sure hope a local store stocks them. Although the label says "pickles and peppers" - there are just pickle chips.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cioppino Experiment

Cioppino is such a treat, but rarely seen on restaurant menus around here. I plunged ahead with an experimental recipe and....I liked it better than the last restaurant cioppino I had. Details:

Saute 1/2 onion and 1/2 shallot in olive oil. Add garlic and cook briefly. Then...I cheated a little. I had a jar of cioppino sauce I found at World Market. I added that and about a 1/2 cup of dry, white wine and brought it to a simmer. Added a jar of clam juice and a tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Added 1 tsp of sea salt. Simmered for 20 minutes. Add in whatever fish you like. Clams are usually in this fish stew, but I couldn't find any live clams in Boise, and canned wouldn't be right - so I skipped them. I added bay scallops, chopped tilapia and raw shrimp and cooked until they were opaque. Stirred in about 2 tablespoons of butter and served topped with snow crab.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Strawberry Smoothies

Strawberry yogurt smoothies with berries from the garden. Macerate the prepared berries with about a 1/2 cup of sugar. Add 1 cup of vanilla yogurt and a bit of milk. Add ice cubes. Blend until desired thickness. Add more ice, if needed.

We had leftovers, so tomorrow, we'll have frozen strawberry treats.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vegetable Tian

Can't wait for a repeat of this dish. Yum. Saute chopped onions with garlic. Brush baking dish with a little olive oil, and spread onions on the bottom. Layer summer squash, zucchini, potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and thyme. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for about 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake another 30 minutes or so.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mexican Rice

I thought I had a special recipe for Mexican rice that I had clipped from Cook's Illustrated a few years ago, but my husband discovered the recipe was about the same wherever he looked. I won't post the details since we mashed up several versions and I don't remember the details, but I don't think you can go wrong once you have the basics. The rice is finished in a Dutch oven. Two cups of rice is an awful lot for my family, and I will note that this rice doesn't hold very well as a leftover.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fish Tacos

Homemade version. Apologies for the lack of measurements, but I really do just throw this together to taste.

Breaded cod, or other white fish, pieces (I like Schwan's)
Green cabbage
1 lime
Pico de gallo (I prefer the fresh kind in the refrigerated case)
Garlic powder
White vinegar
Chili Powder
Small white corn tortillas

Shred green cabbage and squeeze a lime over the shreds. Toss with sea salt and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Bake fish. Whisk up the sauce: mayo, white vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, ketchup. Warm tortillas a few at a time in the microwave between damp paper towels. Place a couple of pieces of fish in tortilla, dribble the sauce on top, top with shredded cabbage and pico de gallo.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Old-Fashioned Burgers

Actually, we attempted to copy Smashburger with these. Pretty darn close. Ground beef, 15% fat, rolled into balls of about 1/4 pound each. Melt a bit of butter on a griddle warmed to 400 degrees. When butter sizzles, add meat and smash it down thin with a spatula. Let burgers cook until there's a brown crust. Flip and cook for just a couple more minutes. They'll be done quickly after the flip. Butter soft buns and place butter-side-down on the griddle until browned. Add your favorite burger goodies. For us, it was a little bacon, mayo-ketchup mixed, tomato, lettuce and onion. Butter is magical.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Leftovers Salad

Chopped grilled chicken, tomatoes and corn - all leftovers, tossed with grated cheddar cheese and chopped Romaine. We topped wtih ranch dressing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strawberry-Blueberry Trifle

Layers of diced angel food cake sprinkle with orange juice, sliced strawberries, blueberries and freshly-whipped cream.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Leftover Pizza Dough

 I thought it might make nice pretzels. Kinda. The dough rose a lot more than I thought it would when baking. I brushed the formed pretzels with butter and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. They tasted right, but were too puffy.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pot Roast Weather

Rain. Rain. Rain. Good week to simmer feel-good smells in the crockpot. Every time I make a pot roast, I always wish I had added more carrots. They might be the best part of the pot.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tomato Bisque

I need to get my hands on a reliable tomato bisque recipe. This is a Schwan's frozen soup. Very tasty in a pinch, but I'm sure homemade would be even better.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taste Test: Popchips

I think I was punked. Friends told me they loved these new snacks, which are healthier than potato chips. Too good to be true? Did I somehow buy two bags that were bad? These tasted similar to rice cakes, except I prefer rice cakes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lobster Ravioli for Valentine's Day Dinner

Sun-dried tomato pasta with a lobster filling. Tasted O-K, but I couldn't detect any lobster. I really need to learn how to make home-made ravioli.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Did I Miss This Super Bowl Food?

I didn't even really "see" this until I looked at the food photos. I would have eaten one. Can I get a do-over?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Taste Test: Apple Tea

The third of three tea "taste tests" today. Apple tea my mother brought me from a recent trip to Turkey. She says everyone drinks it. Of course, I expected it to taste know, apples. No apple flavor at all. I can't even describe the flavor. Peppery? Not my favorite of the day.

Taste Test: Ooo-long Tea with Plum

Tasting three teas today. The second is Ooo-long with plum. Cute packaging. This is a stronger tea than the first oolong I tasted. The plum is more of a finish and adds a juicy bite to the tea. Very good.

Taste Test: Revolution Dragon Eye Oolong

I'm taste-testing 3 teas today. First, Revolution Dragon Eye Oolong, which my friend so graciously gave to me. She says this is the tea served at P.F. Chang's. It has a fruity aroma and finish. It's a very light, easy-drinking tea with a low caffeine content. Lovely. Although, my friend says it isn't easy to find. She had to order it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Inside-Out Pizza

Hubby's experiment. After adding toppings, he rolled it up. Turned out pretty good - although some of the interior dough didn't cook thoroughly. Maybe use smaller pieces of dough for the roll-ups next time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012