Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Big Four Oh

It is my sweet husband's 40th birthday today. Happy Birthday! We are having a few friends over for a simple dinner party to celebrate. On the menu....Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, Caesar Salad, Fresh Bread and Ice Cream Sundaes. The sauce is a recipe my Grandmother handed to my Mom and my Mom handed down to my sister and I. Even though we live on opposite coasts - we can smell it simmering in our kitchens when we put a pot on. It's the sort of recipe that you can evolve and change. In fact I don't follow the recipe anymore and I'm sure neither my Mom or sister do either. Somehow it comes out the same - fabulous every time.

You need one big pot that can simmer on the stove top all day. Dice one yellow onion, saute slightly in the big pot. Add 2 lbs ground beef or sausage or a combination. Brown, season to taste. While the beef is browning I add 3-4 crushed garlic cloves and a generous amount of Italian Seasoning - whatever you like or have in the spice cupboard. Once the meat browns add a quart or more of diced mushrooms - stir. Add 1 large can of tomato juice, 1 large can of tomato sauce (32 oz or so) and 2 small cans of tomato paste (12 oz or so) - stir. Let this simmer all day, stirring ocassionally.

Serve it over spaghetti or use it in a lasagna or manicotti.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Menu Planning

Monday - Cheesy Chicken Chilaquiles from Pampered Chef
Tuesday - 40th Birthday Party for my husband - his favorite is Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Black Eyed Peas and Banana Cream Pie
Wednesday - Beef Satay and Fried Rice
Thursday - Grilled Shrimp and Skewer Veggies
Friday - Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

Friends, birthdays and cucpcakes

Some girlfriends and I gathered to celebrate a birthday. Even big girls like cupcakes. These were Chocolate and Coconut. YUM. Here is the recipe from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa. They are indulgent and because these are girly girls - only pink coconut would do.

Coconut Cupcakes
1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Marshmallow World

Living on the eastern side of Donner Summit in Truckee has many advantages. Terrific mountain views, deep winter snow and outdoor fun. When we get a big snow the whole landscape turns into a marshmallow world. The bluebird days that follow a big snow storm are the best. Kids love it, dogs love it and I love it.

Powder Hound

This is Chili Dog. He is suppose to love chasing cows but there aren't any around here. We do have snow - feet of it and he loves the snow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sweet Treats from SF's Kara's Cupcakes

Lucky me. I got to take a two day trip to San Francisco this past weekend. Walk, shop, eat. It is always good to spend a little time in the city - for me at least. My friend and I found our way to Kara's Cupcakes in Ghirardelli Square and brought a selection to take home and share with our families. I brought home Karrot Cake, Meyer Lemon, Chocolate Velvet and Sweet Vanilla. The results are in - our favorite was Karrot Cake. Moist, spicy and the perfectly sweet and tart Cream Cheese frosting. We liked the Meyer Lemon filled cupcake too. Tough to pick a favorite. Any way you slice them and share them you can not go wrong with a cupcake right? Yum.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fly me away

It is time to fly away. I always get a little antsy this time of year and feel the need to travel. This time I have a free ticket. This past May my good friends (who else would do this but good friends) and I competed, using the term loosely in the annual Bay to Breakers 12k in San Francisco. Part of the fun of the race is that you can dress up - or not - there were a few who run in the buff. That is for another post. We dressed up as the Real Housewives of Truckee and WON the Most Creative Costume Contest and a free ticket on Southwest Airlines. So with temperatures low and snow covering the ground I need a little sand and surf fix, or city fix, or foodie fix. Help. Where should we go?

Menu Planning Monday or Tuesday 01-11-10

Monday - Grilled Tri Tip, grilled sliced potatoes with sliced cantaloupe
Tuesday - Crock Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wednesday - Grilled Carne Asada Salad (from the class)
Thursday - Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
Friday - Homemade Pizza with various and sundry toppings from the fridge

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back of the House Cooking School Rocks

I have discovered a great new (new to me) cooking school nearby in Reno, NV. Back of the House Cooking School with Barbara Mills chef/owner. Notice the glass of wine in the corner of the table by Barbara - you have to love an instructor who will drink a glass of wine with you while sharing all of her culinary secrets. My BFF and cooking co-conspirator went to class last night and were really impressed. It was a demonstration class called Trader Joe's Winter Wonders - a combination of Trader Joe's prepared food and Barbara's creativity. A few of my favorite things...Trader Joe's and cooking class.
The result was Carne Asada Sales with Lime Ranch Dressing. It featured TJ's Marinated Carne Asada - grilled quickly on an indoor grill pan + Corn and Chili Salsa and Frozen Brown Rice all layered with your favorite (or on hand) ingredients....lettuce or spinach, black beans, avocado, tomatoes....you get the idea. All topped with a quick blend of Mayo, Sour Cream, Buttermilk and spices to equal a homemade version of Ranch Dressing. Include lime and serrano chili and you have a nice spicy version to compliment the beef salad.

Another favorite from the evening was Beef Brisket Pizza with Smoked Gouda, Red Onion and Blue Cheese crumbles. The idea was to use the prepared TJ's BBQ brisket and TJ's pizza crust and build from there. Amazing flavor when baked altogether in a hot oven.

We also enjoyed Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries + Omega Fruit Mix, Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and Raspberry and Lemon Curd Parfait with Triple Ginger Cookies. All based on ingredients found at Trader Joe's and designed to be the foundation of a great, fast, delicious dinner.
Fun, light, entertaining and educational + great tasting food. Oh yeah I am a new fan of this cooking school and will be back.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sierra Sunrise

It is easy for me to get caught up in my everyday life and schedule and forget to take time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. This morning, I took the time. Amazing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Planning Monday 1-4-2010

Monday - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Night - GO HORNFROGS. We are having football game food. Homemade Stromboli Sandwiches and Veggies with Buffalo Wing Dip.
Tuesday - Chicken Piccata (Barefoot Contessa Recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chicken-piccata-recipe/index.html ) with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Salad.
Wednesday - Going to cooking class - more on that later.
Thursday - Shrimp Scampi with Fettuccine
Friday - Pepper Steak and Rice

Happy New Year - Welcome 2010

I have a feeling that I am not alone when I say - welcome 2010 - see you later 2009. Not just because it has been an incredibly challenging year but because there is something uplifting about a fresh start, a new year, a new decade, a clean slate so to speak.

I open a new calendar to transfer birthday, anniversary and event dates into. Although I keep it all in my iCal I like writing it down too.

I set new goals for myself - spiritual, physical, work related and personal. Resolutions of sorts to read more, run more, pray more, listen more, observe more and get involved more.

There are some things I would like to accomplish in 2010. Scratch that - I will accomplish.

Join me.

Happy 2010.
Related Posts with Thumbnails