Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Menu Planning

After a series of indulgent meals for the past week - it is back to basics.

Monday: Taco Night
Tuesday: Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Wednesday: BBQ Ribs in the Crock Pot
Thursday: Chili
Friday: New Year's Eve party at a friend's house...taking appetizers...think I will pick something out of one of the new cookbooks I received for Christmas.  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The tree

Christmas Tree Permit from the Forest Service - $10.  Days of snow before the hunt -  7.  Feet of snow on the ground - 5.  Snowmobiling in to the deep powder with friends to find the perfect Silver Tip - Priceless.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Menu Planning

What a great week to cook - eat - share with family and friends.  This Mini Carrot Cake from Pampered Chef is easy and delicious.  See recipe below.

Tuesday - it is really snowy and cold here today - white out conditions so I am sticking with the gas stove top.  Chunky White Bean and Chicken Chili. I am going to make this one up as I go so I will post the recipe later this week.
Wednesday - Stuffed Shells, bread and salad
Also to do Wednesday: bake banana bread.  We always have banana bread while watching the Macy's Day Parade.  Prep pie crusts for Thursday.
Thursday:  Going to friends to share Thanksgiving dinner.  I am taking Green Bean Casserole, Pecan and Pumpkin Pie.  YUM.
Friday: I will do a version of our own Thanksgiving - roast a turkey and make the sides. I love having turkey to eat and have for sandwiches or pot pies.
Christmas Tree cutting on Sunday...tis' the season.
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pampered Chef ®Mini Carrot Cake Cups
1 pkg (9 oz/250 g) yellow cake mix
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) allspice
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, peeled, Grated, divided
Filling & Garnish
6 oz (175 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (175 mL) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) thawed frozen whipped topping
Chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray each well of Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan with nonstick cooking spray. For cups, combine cake mix, allspice, egg and oil in Classic Batter Bowl; stir until ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir 3/4 cup of the carrots into batter; set aside remaining carrots for garnish. Using Measuring Spoon, divide batter evenly among wells, filling wells about two-thirds full; bake 11-13 minutes or until cups feel firm to the touch.
2. Meanwhile, in clean Classic Batter Bowl whisk together cream cheese and sugar until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spoon cream cheese mixture into reseal-able plastic bag; secure bag and set aside.
3. Remove pan from oven to Cooling Rack. Press tops of cups with lightly floured Mini-Tart Shaper to make slight indentations. Cool in pan 3 minutes. Carefully remove cups from pan; cool 5 minutes. Trim corner of cream cheese-filled bag with Utility Knife; pipe filling evenly into cups. Garnish cups with chopped walnuts and reserved grated carrots, if desired.
Yield: 24 tartlets

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back of the House Cooking Class #2

My sweet friend gave me a cooking class for my birthday (I should turn 40 more often it's been awesome) and we went on Tuesday night to see what was cooking at Back of the House in Reno.  The class was full and everyone enjoyed a demonstration by chef and owner - Barbara Mills.  She's a hoot.  We have been to her school before and enjoyed it and this time was no different.  She demonstrated a Holiday Stuffed Pork Loin with Apricot Mustard Glaze, Wild Rice Salad with Champagne Vinegar dressing and pomagrante seeds, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis for dipping baked rice balls and Lemon Curd parfait.  Um...yum!
I will be making all of these things again this holiday season - maybe trying chicken instead of the pork for fun and will share the recipes that Barbara shared with us.  If you get to Reno, NV check out the class schedule and enjoy. 

White Gold

It is here - the snow.  We're enjoying a three day snow storm that promises to bring up to 2' of the white gold by Monday night.  We are well on the way.  14" on Saturday morning another 8" this morning and it is still coming down.  Better sweep off that patio furniture and get it in the shed I don't think we'll need it for a few months.  Weather plays a big part of our daily life here in the mountains and this pre-Thanksgiving storm is just what our local economy needs to ensure a good ski season.  Let it snow. 

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce

I tried this recipe last night and it was delicious.  From Giada at Home on the Food Network.  I didn't have cremini mushrooms so I used button and I didn't have mascarpone so I used have cream cheese and half sour cream.  It worked and was yummy over wide noodles.


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
  • 12 ounces dried fettuccine


Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The 40th

I celebrated my 40th birthday this past weekend with good friends.  The only way to celebrate such a milestone.  My best girlfriends and I enjoyed pedicures and champagne and then shared a fabulous meal of seafood Cioppino with our families.  Topped off with Mix Cupcakes in four flavors: Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate and Red Velvet.  Delicious.  The decorations were pink and sparkly and beautiful.  My family called me, sang, sent generous gifts and showered me with love.  My husband and son treated me like a queen for a day.  My favorite is the homemade birthday card from my boy.  What a terrific birthday.  Thank you every one of you - love you guys.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Planning

Sunday - It is cool and rainy here today with a chance of snow that means soup. 
Baked Potato Soup.  I like this recipe from Cooking Light.
Monday- Baseball practice night means dinner around 8 pm so something fast and easy.  Spaghetti sauce and Trader Joe's meatballs with salad.
Tuesday - Beef Fajitas.
Wednesday - Dinner Out to celebrate my birthday week - Sushi.
Thursday - Pan Fried Hamburgers (or grilled if it's nice enough to grill out), Baked Potato and Sweet Potato Fries
Friday - Chicken and Pasta of some kind maybe Chicken, Artichoke Hearts and Lemons.

I also plan to throw some baking in this week.  Pumpkin muffins of bread for breakfast sounds good. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Best Fall Apple Cake

Fall is my favorite season.  So many good things about fall - including apples.  This cake is a favorite of my Mom's and I have made it a habit of making it at least once each fall.  Once may not be enough.  I made it in a rectangular pan - it is so much prettier in a bundt pan but this suited my needs this time around.  Caramel Apple Cake.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Menu Planning

Running a little behind this week but catching up.  That seems to be a running theme lately.

Monday - Chili and Cornbread
Tuesday - Chicken Pot Pies and Green Salad
Wednesday - Spaghetti Sauce and Trader Joe's Meatballs
Thursday -  Pork Roast - Apples - Onions in Crockpot
Friday - Loaded - Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Saturday - My little boy turns 9 years old...Burgers on the grill for his party with Root beer floats and Grilled Steak and Mashed Potatoes for his birthday dinner
Sunday - Chicken and Noodles

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Menu Planning

Tuesday - Grill marinated tri tip steak and baked fries
Wednesday - Pasta - not sure what kind yet
Thursday - soccer night - Hamburger/Green Bean/Mashed Potato Casserole this is kind of like a Shepherd's Pie but with my Mom's spin on it.  Browned ground beef and onion mix with a can of tomato soup, place in a casserole dish, top with green beans (I use frozen) and top the green beans with mashed potatoes or tater tots (my spin) and bake for 30-35 minutes on 350 degrees until bubbly, top with shredded cheddar for the last 5-10 minutes.
Friday - Pizza Friday - grilled pizza
Saturday - Oven Roasted Chicken and seasonal root vegetables - apple pie
Sunday - Chicken Pot Pies - Biscuits

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

Delicious Pumpkin Muffins from Foodtv's Ellie Krieger.  These are easy to make and they make the whole house smell like a spice cake. I sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon on the tops before baking for an extra crunch. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Planning

Back to school, fall in the air and football season - I love September.

Monday - Soccer game tonight so something fast - Chicken Fajitas in the Deep Covered Baker

Tuesday - Ginger Steak Salad by the Pioneer Woman - I am doing mine on the grill though

Wednesday - Chicken, Apples, Potatoes in the crock pot

Thursday - Hosting a Pampered Chef party: Curry Scented Butternut Soup, Caprese Pizza, Mini Carrot Cakes

Friday - Pizza Night - probably homemade

Red Velvet Heaven

A friend from church is getting married in two weeks.  Yesterday was her wedding shower.  Red velvet cupcakes were the order of the day.  They were so goood!  I used the Martha Stewart recipe from start to finish and I recommend it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's a Boy Cupcakes

A friend from church is having a boy and my BFF Alissa and I volunteered to make the cupcakes for the shower.  The invitation was brown and baby blue with bright colored stars, stripes and swirls.  We tried to mimic the theme.

Vanilla Cupcakes + Chocolate Buttercream Frosting were the flavors of the day.

We doubled the recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes by Joy of Baking and had to substitute a bit when I discovered one egg in my fridge vs the six I needed.  A little vegetable oil, a little milk and all is well.

The pre made, pre colored fondant from Michael's was a big help.  All in all - delicious and cute!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Time

Ah the bounty of my deck top garden...aka...three terra cotta pots with tomato plants. I have mentioned before the battle that is gardening in the high Sierra. The soil is slow to warm and critters are many so pots are my best option.  I am bent on raising something for the salad bowl myself.  We have a terrific Farmer's Market but I miss growing things on my own.  And even though the tomato plants weathered frost, hail and deer they produced fruit. And it was delicious in our salad last night.  Totally worth the fight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sa..weet Strawberry Daiquiri

Oh so cool and oh so sweet. Puree some fresh berries in a blender, add a can of strawberry daiquiri mix from the freezer section and some rum.  Yum. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Farmer's Market bounty


I miss my garden. Gardening in the high elevation climate we live in is beyond challenging.  Short growing season, cold soil, frequent temps near or below freezing throughout the year and hungry chipmunks  .  Not easy.  The tomatoes in the pots on my deck can testify to this.  But the Foothills Farmer's Market comes to town twice a week during the summer months.  Hurray.

Here is what I picked up this week.

Roasted new fingerling potatoes and spring onions on the grill.  Delish!

Heirloom tomatoes will go with mozzarella and basil for a salad on Friday night.

Sliced cucumbers just stand on their own.

What are you harvesting and enjoying right now?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fruit Pizza

Happy 4th of July and the Monday after!
Here's a quick easy treat for the season.

2 pkg ready to bake sugar cookie dough (the refrigerator kind)
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 container marscapone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Berries to top with

Spread cookies dough with fingers in a sheet pan or Pampered Chef large bar pan.  Bake as directed.  It took about 20 min.   Meanwhile in a bowl combine the cream cheese and marscapone. Whip the sugar in until combined.  Add the vanilla and mix.  When the cookie is cool spread the cream cheese mixture on top.  Top with your choice of fruit.  Slice and enjoy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Worth the wait

After a really long, cold spring and a delayed growing season my flower beds have finally taken off.  They've decided to put a show on for the July 4th weekend.  Totally worth the wait.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Planning

It is finally summer in the high Sierra so I am thinking of ways to keep the kitchen cool.  That means outdoor grilling.

Here's my plan.

Monday - Grilled Pizza, again I know, we love them and they are great ways to eat all kinds of veggies
Tuesday - Farmer's Market Pasta - the farmer's market is back and I know tomatoes, eggplant and basil will be waiting from me tomorrow morning.  Grill the veggies and toss over your favorite pasta with a little oil and balsamic and snip the fresh basil. Toss in a few chunks of mozzarella for fun!
Wednesday - Grilled Flatsteak Fajitas
Thursday - Grilled Teriyaki Chicken and pineapple
Friday - Shrimp on the Barbie

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Planning

The count down to summer is on!  Only one more week of school and then the swim lessons, baseball camp, camping trips and patio sitting begin!

Monday - Going to the Reno Aces I suspect there may be a hotdog, peanuts and cold beer on the menu.

Tuesday - Grilled Pizza - outside cooking with fresh veggies from first day of the Farmer's Market

Wednesday - Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Thursday - Crock Pot Ham and Beans - out all day and need a quick meal for after the Little League game Thursday night

Friday - Grilled Carne Asada Fajitas

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Twenty Years and Counting!

Today is my 20th Anniversary.  Where has the time gone?  Twenty years ago I married a handsome, soft spoken cowboy.  We were so young.  Today he remains my partner, best friend and knight in shining armor...or board shorts whatever the occasion calls for.  Instead of a horse he more often these days rides a snowmobile or surf board.  He's a man of God, a friend others want to have on their side, direct, sometimes black and white, patriotic and tolerant.  He is a voracious learner, always researching, reading, absorbing new information.  He loves me unconditionally.  He's an amazing father.  I could not imagine my life without him.  I am blessed.  Happy Anniversary. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Menu Planning

Happy end of May.  I have to remind myself that it is May because for the past week we've had snow and cold temperatures every day.  My peonies and crab apple trees are not impressed.  Here's hoping for warmer weather.

Monday - Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday - Grilled Orange Glazed Shrimp from Everyday Food
Wednesday - BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches - from the crockpot
Thursday - Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Pasta
Friday - Grilled Burgers and Avocado Salad

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Planning

In between baseball games, baseball practice, traveling to see a client out of state and more baseball I have not kept up on my menu planning. This week I am back...

Monday - Cool & Crunchy Chicken Tacos from Pampered Chef Seasons Best Spring/Summer 2010
Tuesday - Grilled Burgers and Grilled Potatoes sliced thin and sprinkled with our favorite seasoning (John Henry Caribbean Sun)
Wednesday - Beef Enchilada Casserole - layers of taco meat, black beans, refried beans, onions, olives, green pepper, cheese and enchilada sauce, bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  I am cooking for a friend who just had a new baby so double the recipe and it's dinner for a new Mom and Dad too.
Thursday - Grilled Steak Strips and Marscapone Mashed Potatoes
Friday - Skillet Lasagna

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, Mother-in-Law, Sister, Sisters-in-law and friends.  You are all amazing, strong, creative, inspirational, faithful, beautiful women.  And truly excellent mothers.   A special shout out to my Mom. I love you.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In the spirit of Cinco De Mayo

A little delayed in getting this posted but so worth the me. I have a great weakness for baked, puffy, doughy treats and these Sopapillas fit that bill perfectly.  Try this easy recipe from a contributor on the Tasty Kitchen. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grill Day

Along with spring and summer come Grill Days and demonstrations.  Various days throughout the summer I partner up with a terrific local business that sells outdoor patio furniture, firepits, grills, smokers, outdoor kitchens, accessories, grill spices/sauces.  You get the idea.  It is the kind of place you want to shop and hang out when creating your patio or deck 'rooms.'

Saturday was our first Grill Day.  One of the owners who is a terrific cook usually grills with me. He does all of the grocery shopping and food prep too! We decided to stray away from our usual beer can chicken and tri tip and offer a more diverse menu...too really show off what these grills can do.  Customers get to nosh while browsing the showroom and outdoor showroom.  Grill Days are popular.

On the menu:  Grilled Asparagus spears with Tammy's Herb Seasoning, Grilled sliced potatoes with Mojave Lemon Pepper, Grilled Quesadillas with mushrooms, garlic, spinach and goat cheese (cook the mushrooms, onions, garlic and spinach in a hot dutch oven right on the grill),  Grilled Pork and Apple Skewers marinated in mustard vinagrette, Grilled pizzas in the Wood-fired Pizza Oven (crispiest crust ever).  We even tried a pizza with strawberries, goat cheese and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon.  YUM.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Opening Day

Even though it is snowing again today. Yes, believe it.  We were blessed with a beautiful spring day on Saturday for our Little League Opening Day and Parade.  We're the Durham Bulls this year and have a terrific team of boys (and parents).  You can always tell how the season is going to go based on the float building party and ours was a success.  I love baseball and love that baseball means warmer weather and outdoor cooking.  I am optimistic that the sun will come out tomorrow. So I am planning a grill dinner.  Carne Asada Fajitas using grilled strips of sirloin, grilled onions and grilled peppers.  I have yellow and red so that is what I will use. Fast, fresh and budget friendly goes well with baseball games that usually happen midweek.  This is something I can get cooked and on the table quickly after the game.  Play Ball.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cupcake central

 It was cupcake central in my kitchen this weekend.  Our church was hosting a Celebration event Saturday and Sunday and I agreed to provide mini cupcakes to 'sweeten' the event. I chose recipes for Vanilla Bean with Vanilla Buttercream from Annie's Eats.  Chocolate with Chocolate Truffle Frosting from my own recipe stash and Snickerdoodle from Martha Stewart.  I didn't use the 7 minute frosting for Snickerdoodle but instead used Buttercream and added a generous amount of cinnamon to the buttercream and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.  They all turned out well and not one was left after the event. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Menu Planning

Tuesday - It is snowing here today.  Yes, really.  So one more pot of Chili is on the cooktop. I am trying new Fire Roasted canned tomatoes I found.  We will see. 
Wednesday - BLT Pasta
Thursday - Roast Chicken and New Potatoes with steamed Broccoli
Friday - Cobb Salads
Sometime Friday I am making 300 mini cupcakes for our Church festival this weekend celebrating our new church building.  Vanilla Bean with Vanilla Frosting and Sprinkles and Chocolate with Pink Strawberry Frosting
Saturday - Truckee Little League Opening Day so let's have Grilled Burgers 
Sunday - Meatloaf, Cheesy Potatoes and Baked Beans (all learned in my Mom's kitchen) recipes to follow

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring means artichokes

Cut the bottom off to make it flat. Cut and tops off to get rid of the prickly leaves.  Put them in a pot of water about half way up the choke.  I salt, pepper, add Italian seasoning and juice of a lemon.  Throw the lemons in too.  Simmer covered for 45 minutes or until tender.  

Remove from water, drain and serve with garlic aioli.   I like this one - no raw egg in the recipe.  Tear the leaves off, dip and nibble the meat from the tips.  Waiting in the middle is a heart.  Remove the fuzzy choke and dice the heart, dipping in aioli like the leaves.  

The End.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring is for Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberries at my market are buy one carton get two free right now.  So I took advantage.  Not only are we eating strawberries on our waffles and as snacks for lunch but there are enough for a great spring dessert.  I adapted this from Better Homes and Gardens red checkered cookbook (you know the one) Strawberry Shortcake recipe.  I don't sweeten my berries just slice and enjoy over the shortcake with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream and a little milk.  

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, cold, cubed
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

I combine all the ingredients in my food processor and pulse.  Drop by tablespoon full on cookie sheet . Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes.  Cool, slice, top with berries, ice cream, whip cream, milk and enjoy.
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