Tag Archives: layered

Crab Stacks with Ginger Lime Dressing

If the end of January is approaching then I know I can expect a variety of things:  emails from sites I subscribe to sharing the perfect Super Bowl snacks, bloggers swapping their tried and true party dish faves, and people talking about whether they’re planning on a game day get together or not.  None of it has been discussed in our house yet, because we’ve been busy, busy, busy with life enjoying a long weekend making like tourists in West Hollywood, soaking up the last bits of our youngest’s company before he returns to San Francisco for the spring semester, celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries, and in the past couple of days, nursing one of our cats back to health after a run in with a neighbor’s kitty.  Goodness!  And it’s not over yet.  Any time now, my husband will ask about what’s on our  Super Bowl agenda.  It always seems to be a last minute sort of thing most years, and that’s just fine with me because it doesn’t take too much thought to decide which snacks football fans will expect to have at their fingertips whether they’re for our small family, or a larger group.

I doubt there has ever been a time we haven’t had fresh salsa or pico de gallo with guacamole and tortilla chips.  A pot of chili with all the fixin’s and a salad for halftime eats are also the norm even though the chili recipe varies from one year to the next.  But I’m also known for sneaking in something that may raise eyebrows, causing certain guests to cast one another a nervous glance before pointing and asking, “What is that?” then politely suppressing the urge to continue with, “Do I have to eat it?”  as they reel their fingers back in.  Actually, they now ask, “How do I eat it?” because it seems my food often has rules that accompany it — or must seem like it does.   Is it supposed to be dipped, or layered?  Which of the ingredients on the plate create the best bite?  Is it finger food, or do I need a plate and fork?  To their credit, they seem much more enthusiastic than they did years ago, so I know my risks to encourage people to try something new haven’t failed, and that makes me happy.

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Quick & Easy Hot Deli Style Chicken Sandwich

It’s late afternoon and the day has been more busy than expected.

You glance at the clock realizing you haven’t given dinner much thought and since take out was on the menu last night,  you’re probably going to have to make dinner tonight.  You don’t really want to make dinner because you’re tired, but you’re also hungry and something with all the right flavors would really hit the spot.  A mental scan of the fridge and pantry contents isn’t adding up to much — or is it?

There’s sliced cheese, some deli meat, and a few jars of things like roasted peppers, pepperoncinis, and olives.  You know you always have onions, some salad greens. Maybe even a slice of bacon or two.  Wait.  Isn’t there some left over chicken as well?

A quick stop at the store for some crusty bread and it looks like sandwich night is in order.

No fuss, no muss.

Delicious.

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Fruity Ice Cream Smoothie Pie

"picnic flowers"

Twice this past week, I’ve been asked about our July 4 weekend plans and each time, I felt a bit awkward before responding we had none.  The feeling of awkwardness is more uncharacteristic than any worry of not having plans, because plans are easy to make if I’m interested, or prodded by those who are challenged in this area which is most often the case.

The feeling of awkwardness makes no sense.

It’s been forever since we’ve made a big hoo-haw over July 4th.  Having a child with a birthday on the 2nd has put the focus more on that for 18 years, and this year he’s at school, so we’re without that as well to have an excuse to party.  My extended family feels a bit strung about the country right now, my older boys always seem to work on busy holidays, and my husband’s family is in need of a cheerleader to rally them into one big get together for these occasions.

Before you have any thought of my gearing up for an all out whine, you have to know I’m the last person to feel badly about not having plans, which gets me back to the awkwardness.  I don’t get it.  But I’ve written a list for my husband of what we might do this holiday weekend because he loves having plans for any reason whatsoever.  Call him the original Party Man.

Party Man’s Fourth of July Weekend To-Do List:

  1. Take the beach umbrella & book/iPad/beverage/munchies to the water either this afternoon, tomorrow afternoon, or Sunday afternoon. (Check — Friday evening)
  2. Shopping.  There are lots of great sales on this kind of weekend, and maybe we can find a killer deal on something.  You know, because you always need something, right? (Party Man went by himself Saturday.  Check.)
  3. Picnic dinner (packed in the picnic bag we never use) somewhere for the 4th.  Choose a spot we’ve never been depending on where the fireworks are — like the Embarcadero or something.  We could walk to the Cove again which would be fine with me.  Either pack the picnic bag, or pick a place in town to eat, then walk to see fireworks. (Looks like an impromptu BBQ with family on the 4th.  Check.)
  4. You could rent a beach cruiser and I could finally use the bike Mom gave me to cruise all the way around Mission Bay from Crown Point Drive at the end. I need to figure out how to get that bike in my car anyhoo. (Does renting a sailboat count? Saturday with friends. Check.)
  5. Do the “make like a tourismo thing” on Coronado, in Encinitas, Ocean Beach, or you name it which means “goose necking” in the shops, having lunch,  and enjoying the sunshine.
  6. Choose a place tonight and go on an impromptu road trip up the coast like Malibu or something.  Stay one night.  Nothing fancy.  So, Saturday and Sunday.  It would be fun! (Not — Catsitting my brother’s cat)
  7. Help me figure out how to build a fence for the patio, because I’m pretty sure I can do it.  Maybe. (Check — consulted with someone who had good ideas)
  8. Choose a place in San Diego — like downtown — so I can walk around and take photos.  Balboa Park would even be okay. You can hold the camera stuff. (Does Mission Bay count?  Saturday with friends.  Check.)
  9. Want to see the Padres?  Not high on my list, but relaxing.  I like the ball park. (Not — they’re in Seattle this weekend.)
  10. Walk to the boardwalk when the holiday is in full gear just to gawk at all the crazy beach people.

This is what you get to do when your kids are grown and there are no invitations.  Make your own party.  Freeing, to some extent, and certainly nothing to feel awkward about.  Just different.  We’re not very good at it yet, but we’re working on it.  No sooner had I sent this list to him than he remembered Tour de France begins tomorrow.  Nice.

Because a summer holiday weekend calls for ice cream at some point, I say make it a smoothie instead — or an ice cream smoothie pie.  This one isn’t complicated, but does take a bit of planning ahead.

Happy Independence Day!

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Cassoulet


I think the first time I heard anyone mention cassoulet, it was Martha Stewart years ago in the first version of her television show.  Outside of remembering that the main ingredients were white beans and a huge amount of meat for what could be classified as a one pot meal, I know she described it as one of her traditional holiday party menu items.  I also remember wondering how a preparing a pot of beans could be so involved.  Really?

Now I know.

To say that cassoulet is simply a bean stew or “dried beans and meat” is humorous because I grew up eating what could be called bean stew.  Beans go in a pot with few additional ingredients and not much attention.  Time goes by and a tasty dinner is served.  Bear in mind in this scenario, the bean to meat ratio is in favor of the legumes.  Cassoulet is anything but that, but I’m thinking it shouldn’t have to be.  At the same time, if I set out to make one of the many recipes I glanced at for “easy” cassoulet I’d feel I’d cheated somehow.  Perhaps I’d have something with flavor similar to cassoulet, but I’d miss out on what I often enjoy so much about tackling an involved recipe for the first time:  all the thinking I do.  There’s something very gratifying about methodically working through a recipe that takes some thought and effort.

I’ll confess this all began with a small jar of duck fat I brought back from England recently.  I saw it and knew it would remind me of all the possibilities, so tucked it well into my suitcase until we arrived home, then stored it in the fridge to think about.  Many traditional versions of cassoulet are made with duck fat, but I needed a recipe that wasn’t swimming in it, which means I would need to choose a recipe lacking in, well, duck — or more specifically, duck confit.  My little jar’s quantity wasn’t nearly enough to make that.

Some may say a duckless cassoulet is sacrilege, but I know the recipe I chose, which uses tomatoes and a bread crumb topping, could also invite that complaint.  Cassoulet is a dish originally from the Languedoc region in Southern France, with the towns of  Castelnaudary, Toulouse and Carcassonne all claiming credit for its creation and there are as many variations as there are village cooks in that region.  Originally, I’d considered floundering through a Toulouse Cassoulet until I came to my senses realizing I hadn’t the time I needed to construct it.

I made the cassoulet, but I confess that I did not break the “film” that develops over it while it cooks seven times, so evidently, I did not create anything perfect.  Rich, yes.  Perfect, no.  With respect to all that’s good about home cooking, and for someone like me who truly enjoys the process of constructing a dish like this, it’s a great reason to gather a group of special friends for a special meal just because.

Especially on a cold winter’s day.

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Olive Oil Carrot Cake

 

I can’t remember the first time I had carrot cake, but I’m sure it wasn’t until I was well into my adult years.  It’s strange now that I think about it because my mother used to make a mean carrot salad.  The basic ingredients aren’t all that different except for the mayonnaise she’d dollop in the huge bowl of grated carrots and raisins before stirring in some sugar, and I’ll bet I can find more than one recipe for carrot cake that calls for mayo, too.  Mind you, this would be much to the complete horror of my husband who steers clear of anything that suggests mayo is an ingredient.

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