Cranberry Cream Tartlets

123When you are done with my Thanksgiving dinner….

015You believe that you cannot eat another bite of anything in your lifetime.

020The button on your pants is about to fly across the room like escargots in a Julia Roberts movie. Slippery little suckers.

029You can hear the grommets on your chair weep for reprieve from the extra weight of your rapidly expanding bod.

032But that’s what stretchy pants are for.

033Oh, you don’t wear them all year long at dinner?


055Anyway, this is a perfect serving size dessert that will help save your pants buttons. And your chairs. And your love life.

064And if you are still clinging to the belief that Martha Stewart might stop by your house to make all of your dreams come true and hire you as a recipe developer so you can quit your day job…

074Use some leftover cranberries to make pretty napkin rings.

080Perfect portion little tarts….

116If you don’t eat six of them.


At the same sitting…

Cranberry Cream Tartlets

To make the napkin rings, just cut a small piece of craft wire and string the cranberries through. Twist to close. You heard it here first.
  • 2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (about 30 cookies)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2⅔ cups water
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⅓ cups sour cream
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 1 recipe Double Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • 24 sugared fresh cranberries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl stir together crushed gingersnaps and melted butter; press onto the bottoms and up the sides of eight 4-1/2-inch individual tart pans. Place tart pans on a baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring the water to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in dried cranberries. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. In another medium saucepan combine sour cream, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt. Stir in the water-cranberry mixture. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and the ½ teaspoon orange peel. Spoon evenly into prepared tart shells. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.
  4. Spoon Double Vanilla Whipped Cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe whipped cream onto the tarts. Remove tarts from pans; if desired, garnish each tart with three sugared cranberries and additional finely shredded orange peel. Serve immediately.
Double Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine whipping cream and vanilla paste. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until soft mounds form. Add powdered sugar; beat on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).
Sugared Cranberries

  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  1. Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cranberries until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack; let dry for at least 1 hour.
  2. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining 1½ cups sugar until well coated; let dry for at least 1 hour.


Honey Sesame Chick Peas


Tonight we went to see the movie “Gone Girl”.


And that’s pretty much what happened.


I fell asleep.


Not a doze. A deep, Titanic REM sleep.


It’s not all Ben Affleck’s fault.


Although he still owes me $8.50 for Gigli. And Daredevil. And Jersey Girl. And Man About Town.  And the J-Lo years. And what he makes next.

081I did eat a massive tub of popcorn however that equaled this month’s electric bill. That may have contributed to the nap.


I think I’ll make these honey sesame chickpeas for our next movie night.


Which will be starring Matt Damon Ryan Gosling.


Honey Sesame Chick Peas

Know this: this is not an easy recipe. Much like Ben Affleck movies, it is going to take a while to get it right. You have to make sure your chick peas are totally dry before you start roasting and to do this, you should start with dried chickpeas, not canned. If you do use canned, drain and pat away until these suckers are bone dry or you will be stuck with soggy chick peas. Which are not a good movie snack.
  • 2 {15 ounce} cans Chickpeas {aka garbanzo}, drained and rinsed or I bag of dried chickpeas (soaked)
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  1. Arrange the chickpeas on a large, rimmed metal sheet pan. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together honey, toasted sesame oil and salt.
  3. Once the chickpeas are roasted, remove and drizzle with the honey mixture and toss around. Sprinkle with the sesame, stir to coat the chickpeas and then slide them back into the oven for 10 more minutes or until caramelized.
  4. Allow to cool (honey will harden to a candy coating) before serve.




Pumpkin Spice Latte


As John Oliver said, we tolerate pumpkin spice because we like fall. Fall is the best season because we get to stop thinking about how weird our legs look in shorts.

007The Huffington Post said pumpkin spice is the gateway drug of autumnal pumpkin edibles.

012I say, it’s amazing how polarizing a coffee beverage can be.


Sure, the whole cast of CSI would be hard pressed to find even trace elements of pumpkin in “pumpkin spice” but who cares?


It’s not like any California grapes were harmed in the production of my last Fanta. And not a Florida orange casualty in a whole vat of Sunny D.

036So I decided to travel 10 feet to my nearest Starbucks to try out the beverage that has 96,000 Twitter followers. About 95,999 more than me. (Thanks mom)

046And the verdict?

053It absolutely does taste like an overpriced yuppie candle.

060Try this version. Made with real pumpkin and way less humiliating.


Pumpkin Spice Latte

This recipe makes 2 servings. Because until they figure out what Pumpkin Spice really is, you probably don’t need any more than that.
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 to 2 shots espresso or about ¼ cup strong coffee
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form
  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
  3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  4. Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
  5. Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.



Pumpkin Focaccia with Gruyere and Walnuts

030 One of these days on an episode of the Walking Dead…………

001They will find a whole truck of pumpkin puree and all of their problems will be solved.


Their “hunt for food” problems anyway.

010They will still have a significant number of “zombie apocalypse” problems.

023I digress.

024Canned pumpkin is amazing and it can last forever.

043I don’t know what makes pumpkin shelf-stabilize so well.

035  I don’t ask questions I don’t want to know the answer to.

054With how good this bread is, you won’t want to know either.

Pumpkin Focaccia with Gruyere and Walnuts

  • ¾ cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 3½ cups bread flour, divided (about 15¾ ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1.5 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups (3 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes.
  2. Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2¼ cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
  3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese and nuts evenly over dough circles; press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size).
  4. Preheat oven to 400°.
  5. Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (shield loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.




Idaho Potatoes Rule

079I’m kind of a big deal in Idaho. You read that correctly.

171Since I just won part of a photo competition for Idaho potatoes.

082I worked verrrrrrrrry hard eating all those carbs. So did Joe. 106So did the buttons on our pants.

093So, if you find yourself in Idaho, it’s OK to name drop. It’s my new favorite state.

You can check out the winning photos here….




Tomato and Goat Cheese Scones


It’s a lazy day at the dog park.

054Not for Grendel, who is running around like he just escaped from prison.


035But we don’t mind.

063Grendel is a 70 pound pit bull. We like it when he’s tired. Reeeeeally tired.

024All of Grendel’s friends are here. Lulu, Finley and Razzle. And Clive. Hi, Clive.


Tearing him away from the dog park is hard because he tries to run away from us when we try and take him home. I think I literally heard him say “Catch me if you can, suckers.”

DSC_0130But we have warm tomato and goat cheese scones waiting for us at home.


Look how beautiful.

DSC_0145They taste better than Grendel’s ball. Guaranteed or your money back.


Tomato and Goat Cheese Scones

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, chopped into small cubes
  • 4 ounces chilled goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, baking soda, and mustard powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the butter over the flour and pulse until the butter has become the size of small peas, about 5-6 pulses. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley, and pulse until the mixture just begins to combine. (It should still look shaggy and dry, but squish together when you press it with your fingers.)
  2. Turn the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper sheet. Pat the dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to the freezer to firm up, about 30 minutes. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise into 1¼-inch strips, then cut 1¼ inch strips crosswise to form squares. Cut each square diagonally to make triangles. Pull them apart just a little bit (to allow room to expand) and transfer the pan back to the freezer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of thirty minutes, or overnight. (To make large wedges, pat the dough into two equal round discs, then cut into wedges.)
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly brush the dough with egg wash and bake (on the same pan on which they were frozen) until the scones are golden and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


The Perfect Bloody Mary


We took Joe’s mom Nancy to the St. Regis this week for high tea.


We’re so fancy.


They have a lovely tea service.


But the St.Regis is also known for something else.


The Old King Cole bar …which is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary.

090In those days, no one liked the name “Bloody Mary” so they called it the “Red Snapper”.  Newsflash- naming a cocktail after a fish is equally poor.

So, I was inspired to make my own Bloody Mary this week, with homemade tomato-infused vodka.

Tomato vodka, meet your brothers and sisters.


The best Bloody Mary’s are actually made by my friend Susana. But since she is lukewarm about coming down to my apartment every time I would like one, I decided I had better perfect my own version.


The real secret is adding Bloody Mary ice cubes so it doesn’t water down the drink.


It’s as close as you can get to the perfect Bloody Mary …


Other than having Susana come to your house and make it for you..


The Perfect Bloody Mary

I infused the vodka in this recipe for 2 weeks. I don’t actually think that makes a difference in the taste other than in my own head. Oh well. Tomato, tomaaahto.
  • 1¾ pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and dried
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 6 ounces tomato vodka, recipe follows
  • Tomato Vodka:
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle 80 proof vodka
  1. Remove the stems from the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and salt into a blender, cover and blend on high speed for 1½ minutes.
  2. Fill an ice cube tray with about 2 cups of the juice and freeze overnight. Pour the remaining juice into a lidded container and reserve, on the counter, overnight.
  3. Just before serving, put 3 frozen cubes into each of 4 Collins glasses and add 1½ ounces of vodka to each glass. Stir the reserved juice, pour 4 ounces into each glass and serve immediately.
  4. Tomato Vodka:
  5. Cut each of the tomatoes into 8 pieces and put them into a large glass jar. Add the vodka, stir to combine, and cover. Put in a cool, dark place for at least 5 days and up to 7 days, stirring every day. After 7 days, strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. To store, pour the tomato vodka back into its original bottle, and keep in a cool, dark place.



Vote for me!!!

I have seen a lot of duck over the last few weeks.

Thats not a euphemism for something, I have entered a Duck Cooking Contest.

And I need your vote to win.


From now until Oct 11th, please click on the link to vote for my duck dish.  You can vote every day.

If I win, I promise I will make this for you all.


Or, if you don’t like duck, I promise I won’t.




Zucchini Butter

155We were thrilled to be able to attend this year’s Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival.

082But more excited to be able to attend the private brunch at Marble House before the event with dazzling French winemaker Sacha Lichine.  Who makes the most amazing wine we have ever tasted.




Incidentally look how comfy Joe is starting to look at these shindigs. Oh nevermind, I think he’s just drunk.

115I mean, this party was faaaaaancy.

098How do I know?125

Dudes in ascots.  Tool.167

The food was divine.



Handmade truffles? Yes, please.

212And the wine….oh the wine….



147152The best wine by far was made by our new friend, Sacha Lichine. Do yourself a big favor and find a few bottles.  They are all phenomenal but The Whispering Angel and the Garrus are beyond spectacular.


Oh, and there was one other reason for attending the festival.

157I almost forgot. In all her matching denim glory, the queen…………..

photo (1)“I’m your number 1 fan”…………..Shit, is that too Kathy Bates??

247Probably. Since all she wanted to do was chat with Joe.

228I accept it. For those who know me, this is about as far as the police will let me stand near Martha.

174 Although that doesn’t stop me from dressing like a bush and hiding behind a tree to see her.


This is the zucchini butter recipe I imagine serving to Martha when she pops over for brunch.

004013038034This is the way I use zucchini butter in an appetizer when Martha comes over to my parties.003029This is the zucchini butter I will slather on toast and top with a fried egg for breakfast when Martha asks to crash at our pad after drinking too much Garrus.268

And when she stays for dinner, this is the zucchini butter pizza I will serve her.056I think I hear the authorities knocking. Enjoy the zucchini butter.

Zucchini Butter

  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • ¼cup olive oil or butter
  • 2minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.
  2. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the shallots or garlic briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor — you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.


Peaches with Cava


There’s something unnatural about fruit desserts.


It’s like watching Toddler’s and Tiara’s.

005There’s something about it that’s just not quite right.

009But if you add some wine, it makes it all better.


Suddenly realizing why I never became a school teacher.


But at least I’m not a pageant mom.

Cava with Peaches

Just to make sure your waistline really suffers for the sacrifice of eating a fruit dessert, add some fresh whipped cream and nuts.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Cava or other sparkling wine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 cups sliced peaches (about 2 pounds)
  1. Combine lemon zest and Cava in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add sliced peaches; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and chill.



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