Friday, May 22, 2009

Chile Rellenos

I did one more thing that I can scratch off of my to-do list. I learned to make Chile Rellenos!

My friend Claudia R heard me talking about it one time and she said she would teach me how to make them. I took her up on it! Karen wanted to learn too, so we planned on meeting at Karen's house - which by the way, is a great place for a cooking class :) Claudia's mom, Rosario, was part of the teaching crew as well.

So here is my not-really-a-recipe for chile rellenos. Yumm!

Poblano Chiles (preferably with stem)
Oaxaca cheese, grated (or Monterey Jack)

  1. Place whole chiles in a hot iron skillet turning until skin blisters on each side. Place charred chiles in a plastic bag to steam. Peel skin off of chiles, careful not to break open the flesh.
  2. Make a small incision at the top of the chile and clean out seeds (about an inch and a half or two from the stem area straight down).
  3. Stuff hollowed chili with grated cheese. If the slit opens too much, secure with a toothpick or two.
  4. Use electric mixer to beat whites until they hold a stiff peak like meringue. Gently mix in eggs.
  5. Pour 1-inch of oil into a heavy deep skillet over medium to medium high to heat. When you think the oil is hot, test the edge of a chile-it should sizzle vigorously.
  6. Fill pie plate with flour and dredge stuffed chile on all sides. Shake excess flour. Dip flour coated chile into egg mixture, pulling out straight up by the stem.
  7. Carefully lay batter coated chile into skillet and baste with spoonfuls of hot oil. When they’re golden underneath, gently turn the chiles over. Fry until the other side is richly golden.
  8. Place cooked chiles on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil until ready to serve.
Fill with cooked chicken or ground been instead of or in addition to cheese.
Smother with green chile or Tex-Mex tomato sauce.

I like rellenos smothered with green chile. Claudia is from Texas and says they don't really eat green chile there. She made a simple sauce with sauted onions and bell peppers simmered with crushed tomatoes. But they are also good just as they are.

Thanks Claudia!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A busy Mother's Day...

I cooked my bootie off for a Mother's Day Brunch!

♥ Baked Ham (Mario & Karen)
♥ Potato Crust Quiche (missing from photo - darn!) w/Sour Cream & Chives
♥ French Toast Casserole
♥ Craisin-Orange Cream Scones w/Cream Cheese & Orange Marmalade
♥ Chocolate-Hazelnut & Vanilla-Coconut-Craisin Biscotti
♥ Cheese filled Crepes w/Strawberry Compote
♥ Banana Bread
♥ Fresh Fruit Plate w/Yogurt Strawberry Dip
♥ Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Claudia)
♥ Mimosa's & Fruit Juices

I'm not gonna lie... I was exhausted - but I was happy to see that I got it all done and in time too! ... and, I think all the moms enjoyed themselves.


I barely had time to rest before we were off to see David Copperfield at the DCPA. I had a chance to see him perform live when I was in high school and he is just amazing. A little stranger than I remembered, but amazing.

It was awesome to see Darren's reaction. He said excitedly "I don't know what I'm going to do if he does this one!! I just don't know if I can handle it!" Of course, it was the same expression with each trick. We had great aisle seats and at several times, David Copperfield came up right by us. For the one where he made himself disappear right off stage and appear in the audience - he appeared three seats behind us. And for the last trick, where he brought audience members up on stage to make them disappear, Mondo was chosen as a "witness" and got to go on stage too. I loved it and would do it again in a second. But it was just over an hour - I wish it would have been a bit longer :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kisssss my griiiiiiiiiits..... and a banana cream pie!

I am not a huge fan of diner food. I guess I think it's kind of boring. A step up from cafeteria food - maybe.

I'm not talking about the diners that Guy Fieri visits on his Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I'm talking about the local diners that I know. Carnation. Barry's. Breakfast King. Rosemary's. They remind me of a place I'd go for a 2am breakfast after a night out at the clubs. Would someone just place a 3 feet wide platter of pancakes with a side of hashbrowns right in front of me please.

No. No. No. I don't think so. And on top of that - they never have peanut butter for my pancakes! argh!

That being said, I have to say - Newbarry's has THE BEST BANANA CREAM PIE ever!!!! Crust. Filling. Topping. The Best. I'd post a picture - but I already ate it all! <<muah hahahaha>>

They also have pretty good rice pudding. And just right brewed iced tea.

2995 W Jewell Ave
Denver, CO 80219
(303) 935-5503

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pray for Tay!

I'm Relay'n people! Friday, June 5th to Saturday, June 6th

My Reason to Relay

I Relay because I want to see an end to cancer during my lifetime.

I Relay in memory of those who did not live to see that. For my Godmother. My uncle Ronnie. My Grandpa. My Uncle Sonny. For Coleman...

I Relay in honor of amazing Survivors who inspired me and gave me great hope in my own battle. For Matthew. For Heather. For Sammy. For Heller. For Tracey. For Nadine...

I Relay for those who are still fighting. For Taylor. For Jeanine. For Audrey...

I Relay for the families and friends and anyone else affected by this horrible disease. That's YOU! because, cancer affects EVERYBODY!


My Relay for Life Page:

Taylor's Story:


Sunday, May 3, 2009

French Toast Bake

I am still practicing recipes for our Mother's Day Brunch. So last night I put a make-ahead-casserole together for the French Toast Bake.

I've made one of these before, and I knew I would have done a couple of things different with it if I ever made it again. The recipe I used this time had me cut up the pieces of bread into 1 inch cubes - which is definitely something I liked. It made for more uniform cooking to the dish. I also added a pecan topping that was out of this world - not sure why I opted out on that last time. I must have been out of my mind!

Word to the wise... the recipe notes that you should place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Do it. I forgot to do this, and true to the note - the casserole puffed like magic and spilled out over the sides a bit, all gooey in the oven. Oops!

I got the recipe from my fave Cook's Illustrated magazine, the Make-Ahead Recipes Edition and I will be happy to share with you - just let me know if you'd like a copy and I will type it out.

So I am happy with my menu and my recipes. Now I am just worried about the oven. Wish I had two. Awe well, I will make do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Best Sampler Platter

I have been wanting to hang out with my little cousin Taylor for a long time now. She comes to Denver every other week from Pueblo to get chemotherapy treatments. And she's been doing this for a long long time - too long.

Well, I am happy that we finally set something up...

We (Mondo & Darren too) went for pizza first at Pizzicato's Gourmet Pizza in Capitol Hill. This place is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Their pizza is great (and so are their salads) - but they are also soooo freaking nice!
  • They let us order late one night and didn't freak out about it, even though we offered to go somewhere else if they were already closing down.
  • They heard my son talking about how weird it was to not see Parmesan cheese out on the tables, and brought him a little cup of freshly grated!
  • They let us leave one car (in their six-car parking lot) while we went to a Mammoth game, and then pick it up after closing.
And - I love love love their Sampler Platter with Roasted Garlic, Caprese & Hummus appetizers for $7.50! Yummmm!

After dinner, we went to D Bar again. I had asked Tay if she wanted to go out for dessert, but since I had a half day off from work, I was able to squeeze in dinner. Anyway, she was excited about it because she says they watch Food Network Challenge all the time too! Keegan Gerhard wasn't in (they're actually filming a challenge here in Denver this week) and I didn't think the staff was as friendly this time, but the desserts were still just as good. Tay and Darren really seemed to like it. I told her we'd try again when Keegan will be there for sure, so hopefully I can find that out.
Pizzicato Gourmet Pizza
1300 Pennsylvania St
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 957-2550

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More biscotti

Macadamia Coconut Biscotti tonight...

Not as good as the Chocolate Hazelnut ones from Sunday, at least in my opinion. These ones were softer. More crumbly. Not dunkable.

I may compare recipes and adjust. Still wanting to make at least two kinds for Mother's Day brunch.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gotta love a lazy day...

I'm a planner. Seems like I always have something going on - even if it's just hanging out with the family.

Today, I was supposed to go to the Rockies game. My plans changed and I ended up not going. There were probably plenty of things that I could have done, but I didn't. I woke up, goofed around. And then took a nap! (Boy it's been a long time since I've taken one). I can't say it was a great nap... I kept tossing and turning, probably because I was feeling guilty that I wasn't doing anything. When I got up, I got comfy on the couch and watched several episodes of Food Network Last Cake Standing.

I had been telling my dad to go to the grocery store for me - not thinking for one second he would - and was surprised when he asked for a shopping list. He went and picked up some items I needed to make Biscotti and Scones.... some recipes I want to test out for Mother's Day Brunch. I'm glad he went, because since he picked up the stuff I needed, I was obligated to do something with them. I tried two new recipes and now I don't feel like the day was totally wasted, but I also feel like I got a good rest too!

And, I was happy with both recipes, which I will post below. Let me know if you try them out and what you think!


Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti


* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup blanched hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
* 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a large baking sheet.
  • In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in hazelnuts and chocolate chips.
  • On prepared baking sheet with floured hands from dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.
  • On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and , frozen, 1 month.

Cranberry-Orange Cream Glazed Scones


* 2 Cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 Tbs Baking Powder
* 3 Tbs Sugar
* ½ tsp Salt
* 4 Tbs Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
* 1 tsp Grated Orange Zest
* ¾ Cup Dried Cranberries
* ¾ Cup Heavy Cream
* 1 Egg, lightly beaten

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Whisk together or process with six 1-second pulses.
  • Remove the cover and distribute the butter and orange zest evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with twelve 1-second pulses. Add the cranberries and quickly mix in or pulse one more time. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.
  • Stir in the egg along with the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
  • Transfer the dough and all dry flour bits to a countertop and knead the dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Following the directions below, cut the scones into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Glazed Scone Variation
Follow the recipe for Cream Scones, brushing the tops of the scones with 1 tablespoon heavy cream and then sprinkling them with 1 tablespoon sugar just before baking them.

Shaping Cream Scones
1. Press the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
2. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 wedges.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Off to sew I go...

We had our second sewing club tonight! I decided not to go home and then back to the studio, so I had to stop and get some more fabric. So, I still haven't finished my apron, but I did start and complete a new project - a bag.

I thought it was soooo cute!

Claudia is amazing. She put this group together so we could work on our own or on a group project - not to teach... but she ended up helping all of us instead of working on her own. I think I need to just go in and take a basic class so I can figure out what to do to keep myself busy without having to ask her for so much help. I don't care if it's making something simple - it's been fun just to hang out with friends, have a little wine and be creative. I'm definitely gonna put more thought into next months project!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Put my elbow where?

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about this or not. But one of my first entries this year was talking about some things I want to try out this year. Not necessarily New Year's Resolutions, but new things. This wasn't on the list, but it is definitely new.

Last week my bookclub reviewed Breakfast with Buddha - a story of a happy-with-his-life Christian man who ends up re-evaluating his life while on a cross country road trip with a "buddha". One of my comments during our discussion was about how it made me want to try meditation. Want to try yoga. What?!? You're talking crazy Tommy. I was surprised to hear some of my friends agree - not that I was crazy, but that they felt somewhat inspired to try something "meditationy" too. And I almost fell on the floor when, by the end of that part of the conversation, Mondo and I had planned to try a yoga class.

Our friend Mary just happens to love yoga and even taught for a while. She mentioned a class she takes called Bikram Yoga. The recommended temperature for Bikram yoga is minimum 105F degrees and about 40% humidity. Mondo and I actually were aware of this when we followed through and met up with her tonight. I still can't believe it. There are twenty-six posture exercises and I admit, I had to sit and rest through more than a couple of them. I could feel my heart pounding and was sure you could see it beating right through my shirt.

I don't know exactly what I expected... To find out I am not flexible? Check! Haha! Really, although I haven't decided if I will go back yet, I am not totally opposed to it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hanging out with AG

We were picking up tickets for a show at the DCPA and browsing through a rack of pamphlets advertising current and upcoming shows. Mondo picked one up and said "Adrian wants to see this." Adrian is my super athletic, super smart 15 year old nephew, who also happens to be my Godson. I looked over and said "Really? He wants to see Macbeth?".

I have never read Shakespeare by choice. I studied what was required in High School and I've seen a few movies. I have even visited Juliet's balcony in Verona. That's about it. Reading Shakespeare made me dizzy. But I was pretty excited to hear that Adrian was interested on his own accord. I grabbed one of the flyers with an intention of asking him about it.

A few days later, I'm sitting on the couch and Adrian (AG) comes over beside me, holding the pamphlet. I said "Oh yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. Uncle says you want to go see Macbeth." AG says "Yeah".

So fast foward to this evening...

I came home straight from work and met AG at the house. I asked him where he wanted to go eat - his choice, but it had to be kind of fast because we wouldn't have more than an hour. "I like the place you and uncle took me for lunch that one time... for noodles" "Noodles & Company?" "Yeah." "You've only been there once? Where do you guys eat out? Mexican food huh?" "Yeah, that's pretty much it."

We found a Noodles & Company just a few minutes away from the DCPA. A sushi house called Sonoda's was right across the walkway. Adrian had just tried sushi for the first time at his 15th birthday lunch celebration in February and he said "We can try this. I'm okay with that. It's something different." I have never thought of my nephews and nieces as being into trying something different... my family for that matter with the exception of my brother Mario and his wife Karen and my brother Mondo. I was all for introducing AG to a new food experience. Even short on time. I said "We'll rush okay?"

He had a little bit of everything! Sushi! Tempura! Terryiaki! And he liked it which put a big smile on his nina's face (I am his"nina"; the Spanish reference and a term of endearment for "Godmother"). We also got out of there right in time to make it to the show. Or so I thought...

The parking garage entrance I usually use, wasn't open. I intended to drive around the block to get to the alternate, but saw that there was parking space on the street on 13th & Champa for with a 4 hour meter. Score! I could scrounge up three dollars in change and that should be plenty. Plus, it would save me seven bucks. We walked across the bridge to pick up our tickets at Will Call - just 10 minutes before curtain! There was a line, but it moved rather quickly. When I got to the counter and said "Rivera for Macbeth" the ticket agent smiled and said - "Ok. You'll need to go back out the doors, cross the center to the west, to your left, down the stairs, back around to your right and then across the street to the Red Brick Building, down the hall to the elevators to the third floor..." I looked at my watch. 6:27 - 3 minutes to curtain. "Will we make it? Will they let us in?" "Ah sure, you'll be fine."

Now the DCPA is a complex with multiple venues for shows. I have been to many of them; The Buell, Boettcher, The Galleria, The Stage... but apparently not the Conservatory Theatre. I had no idea there was another building outside of what I had always considered the DCPA complex area. Good Lord!

We kicked it into high gear, a string of several people who had just been behind us in line doing the same thing. As we crossed the street we noticed a lady on a radio getting information from the box office "just sent two more..." The elevator took forever and we did not see a stairway nearbye. We got to the ticket booth for the show and waited in line another 10 minutes for the group in front of us to take care of their tickets (not sure what that was all about). Regardless, it appears that the DCPA acknowledges that this type of fiasco happens and the show started after all were accomodated.

There were at least three high school aged kids directly behind us and I could hear them talking about having to attend for school - and not very happy about it. There was a point during the show that one of them put their shoe up on my seat, but quickly removed it when I turned around to ask him to take it down (smelly!). During intermission they talked about how cool they were and I thought to myself, I'm glad your not a hooligan AG. Not that they were hooligans, but they just didn't seem as open to the experience as my Godson was and I was happy to be there with him.

I thought the show was good too. I love going to plays, musicals and performances anyway, but I was afraid I wasn't going to understand it. I was trying to think back to the time we went over it in school. Yeah, way way way back then :) and I remembered a little. But it really came together when I saw it right there in front of us. I thought the ensemble was great and I was happy to have another memory with my Godson. Hopefully it sparks his interest and he'll want to go again sometime!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Best. Monday. Ever.

I think I just had the best Monday ever. I know. Sounds like an oxymoron huh?

This morning was tough. I was exhausted from the weekend. Lot's of family fun, but can you say wiped out. When I went out to my car, a sheet of ice fought to cling to the window as I worked my bootie off to scrape it away - only to find it also iced over on the inside! What the?! At work, as I sat at my desk I thought to myself...Do I really need to be here? I had planned on leaving early, but I was kicking myself for not just taking the whole day off. And since I was so tired, I was worried I might make a bad impression at the lunch. I know, doesn't sound like a great day so far does it.
It's that time of the year when the Board of Trustees for my son's school interviews potential Board Candidates. This is when the day started to look up. We met at a local restaurant just down the street from the school. As a board member, this is still new territory to me. As a parent, I couldn't help but be moved at the level of passion this amazing group of people have for these kids. I continue to be overwhelmed by their true caring.
A few years ago, our friend Eden gifted my brother with a copy of Honeymoon with my Brother, and then he recommended it to me. Mondo and Eden have traveled the world, so I know that they were able to relate to it in a way that I probably couldn't, but I still loved the book. I was excited when Kurt & Franz came to Denver in October 2006 and invited a group of friends to the signing they held at the Tattered Cover downtown. When I got an email from them saying they were coming back to promote their new book I couldn't wait to attend.

So, this evening, my bookclub did something a little different. We met up at the Tattered Cover on east Colfax to have a bite at Chipotle and then attend a book signing by the authors of our next selection.

The brothers have just released a new book called How the World Makes Love and that is our next read. We had a great time at the book signing. Franz was really funny and picked out some great selections as teasers.
After the signing, we (Mondo & I) had already agreed to stop for dessert. Mondo remembered me mentioning D bar and he wanted to try it out - I was definitely game for that. The group wanted to go somewhere to finish our discussion on our current read, so they joined us.

We walked in to the small venue and tried to work out between us if we could fit. As we did, I noticed that Keegan Gerhard was behind the counter and I tap tap tapped on my sister's shoulder - Hey, look. It's the guy from Food Network. From the Food Network Challenge show. Cakes cakes cakes! Candy candy candy! Okay, if I was being honest, I would have mentioned in my entry, In response to Audrey's Enquiring Mind, that another obsession of mine is the Food Network. I could watch that channel all day long. It's horrible. And wonderful. The first step is admitting you have a problem right? Well there ya go. Anyway, my total dorkdom became apparent as I walked up to the counter and said "I just wanted to say hi and tell you that I am a complete Food Network junkie. I watch your show all the time. Can I take a photo of you?" He was so nice - he said "sure, why don't you come back and take one with me?" I had no idea it was his shop, I guess I thought maybe he was visiting or something.

Anyway, the staff there was great too. They kindly asked a few customers who had just been seated if they would mind scooting over to the next table so that we could all sit together. They kindly did (thank you!).
We ordered cappucinos, espresso, crème brûlée (wow. creamy. buttery. mmmm.), cake (triple layer - yikes!) and shake (with little chocolate covered crunchy pieces) and p.b. d bar. I can't wait to go back. Mondo mentioned doing a progressive dinner and it will be the perfect place to stop for the dessert portion. But - they also serve lunch, dinner and WINE! So heck yeah, I will be back.
If you visit, you should let me know what order and what you think! I'd love to know :)
1475 E 17th Ave
Denver, CO 80218
(303) 861-4710
Oh yeah - the conversation on Breakfast with Buddha . Almost forgot. Good one. The more I think about it, the more I liked the book. In fact, I am going to take my 30% Borders Coupon and go buy it and re-read it.

You hear people say all the time, I'm spiritual, not religious and I guess this sort of captures a little bit of maybe what a true meaning of that statement might be. I don't think you have to betray yourself or betray your beliefs by opening up your mind to some of the thoughts that are released in the fictional writing. Might even inspire you - if that's the right word.

I don't know, maybe some people might be scared to read something like this. Either they might be the defensive non-practicing (insert religion here) or they might be the opposite - I am a firm (insert religion here) and I don't believe in blah blah blah. But if you open up your mind and see (lalala, thanks Jason Mraz) - then you might get something more out of it. You might find some good stuff. I think we all did.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In response to Audrey's Enquiring Mind

I was tagged by Audrey at Stage 3! Who, me? for the following Q and A. Audrey, you're amazing. I Am a Green Parakeet!

Okay, so here are the guidelines for this Q and A :
1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own.
2. Tag eight other un-tagged people.

What is your current obsession? Cook's Illustrated. I have always loved cookbooks, but this year I decided I would try to learn to cook new stuff... My friend Claudia introduced me to a great cookbook by Cook's Illustrated and now I have been “craving” the magazine edition. Of course, last month my obsession was making crepes. I think I made them every other day. And then there is the Colorado Mammoth - my long term obsession. Wow, I didn't even realize I was an obsessor!

Best restaurant? Kevin Taylors. Not an everyday trip for me, but the overall best nice one I've been to.

Do you nap a lot? I wish! I did when I was on leave of absence. I always intend to get to bed by 9pm, but I'm never asleep before 10:30pm. I am always tired.

Who was the last person you hugged? My brother Mario. My family are a bunch of huggers. I work with my brother – he gets a hug everyday.

What’s for dinner? Leftover Chinese take-out.

What was the last thing you bought? Cook's Illustrated magazine and groceries.

What are you listening to right now? This obnoxiously loud fan on my computer!

What is your favorite weather? Perfectly not too warm, not too cold, not windy, beautiful Indian summer nights.

What’s on your bedside table? A 3-wick candle, a glass of water and a bunch of papers that shouldn't be.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you. Audrey- you seem to write about things I have felt... am feeling. I am so sorry that you are going through the bad stuff, but I hope you know that through your writing, you provide comfort and understanding and I am grateful for that. Your positive attitude is lifting.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? I guess right here in Colorado, 'cause that's where my family is. And not to mention, it's a beautiful place.

Favorite vacation spot? I loved Italy and I would go back there in a second. But I haven't been anywhere else international and I hope to have more choices from experience the next time someone asks me this question. On my list... China, Japan, Australia, Argentina, India, Thailand, Alaska (I know, that's not international - still want to go there!) – pretty much anywhere!

Name the things you can’t live without. Family, friends, laughter, faith, hope.

What would you like to have in your hands right now? The cure to cancer. (I stole this from Audrey, who stole if from Laura but ditto, seriously, I wish that I had the cure for cancer in my hands right now!)

What is your favorite tea flavor? I like good 'ol Lipton Tea. In the summer I like a fruity blend like passion-mango or peach-mango. I love trying new teas though. There's even two tea-houses I hope to try out soon.

What would you like to get rid of? Anxiety.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Tahiti, I think.

What did you want to become as a child? An astronaut or the President. Didn't everybody?

Where would you like to be in five years? At my son's high school graduation... top of his class ;)

What are you reading right now? Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo for my bookclub and Phantom by Susan Kay with my son since we just saw the musical, Phantom of the Opera.

What's your favorite brand of jeans? Ooh, not so much a name brand shopper for jeans - or clothes for that matter. I like quality, but I like bargains too.

What designer piece of clothing would you most like to own (new or vintage)? A vintage Opera Cape.

Who inspires you? Darren (my son), my whole family, Taylor (my little cousin, 13, cancer warrior) ... and so many more.

What's your favorite book? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Phantom by Susan Kay – but you already know that. It's my question. Not original, but something I like to now about people.

I tag: Audrey, Claudia. And Lori, 'cause if anyone will do this - it'll be you sister! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Busy Bee...

After my day of cooking, I was in a rush to get out of the house and go to my first sewing class. Well, it wasn't really a class - a few friends decided to get together for a sewing club. Since I don't really know anything about sewing, my dear friend Claudia gave me a quick lesson and extra attention during the evening.

For my first project, I am attempting to make an apron for my niece Sophia. I didn't use a pattern, so we'll see how well that turns out ;) but here's a picture of it in the works. I still have to add the straps and finish the edges.
The get together was a lot of fun. It was a few girls from high school and then another that Claudia knows from a class she's taught at Fancy Tiger. We each brought in some snacks to share and Claudia brought in a bottle of wine too! My kind of club! I'm looking forward to learning this new craft and already have plans for stocking stuffers!

Darren's Faves....

I was out of the house bright and early yesterday to take Mondo to the airport. The snow was coming in fast and thick, so I made a quick stop at the grocery store on my way home. Darren has been asking me to make potstickers and coconut shrimp (from my cooking class) for a while now and I thought, what the heck. So when I got home, I made the potsticker filling (which was a whole lot of filling) and used up all the wrappers I had bought. I made some right then and froze the rest (they freeze quite nicely). I told Darren he could have potstickers and coconut shrimp for lunch today.

It was a beautiful day today - the sun shining bright and the roads were nice and clear. But there was a blizzard just yesterday (welcome to Colorado) and I guess I kind of acted like I was still snowed in. I didn't mind cooking all day at all.

Anyway, Darren held me to it too. It was the first thing he asked me for this morning. But before anything, I made a batch of dough for pizza for dinner this evening. It came out really nice and I even added some herbs to the mix. The coconut shrimp was great - but I want to find a good dipping sauce to make with it next time. We had the pizza for dinner. Darren was in heaven and told me "I can't wait until you take your next cooking class!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Club: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls.

We met on it tonight and had hours of conversation. Mary joined our group and so did Sue's daughter, Stephanie. I think we all agreed how writing this memoir must have been therapeutic for the author - but I left finding how therapeutic it probably was for us just to be able to discuss it and open up with each other. I can't recommend this read enough for a Book Club.

Next read is Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Phantom of the Opera

If you know me, then you know I don't sing. But when Darren was born, I guess I wanted to try to do the motherly thing and try to sing him. I knew the words to about three songs and one of them was The Phantom of the Opera. So that's what I used to sing to him. Poor kid!

When he was about three, my dad said "Darren, will you sing a song for me?" and Darren said "What do you want me to sing Grandpa?" My dad said "How about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?" and then Darren said "How about Phantom of the Opera?" and started to sing.

I love love love the Phantom of the Opera. Susan Kay wrote a book called Phantom that is a prequel to The Phantom of the Opera. I've read it at least a dozen times and I had seen the musical 4 times. So this year, when it came on tour to Denver again, I decided to take Darren to see it.

We got tickets with Mondo, JJ and Denise and their family. Before the show we went to dinner at the Aquarium. Darren liked it (probably not quite as much as me) and now we're reading the book together.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I heart 5280 Week

Can I just say I love love love 5280 Restaurant Week? And that the Capital Grille is one of my favorite restaurants!

Our 3rd through 5th's couldn't make it, so Mondo called our friend Mary at the last minute who was down to join us no questions asked. When we met up with her at the restaurant, she had a friend with her. Mary had just (like hours before) picked up Haley from the airport. She just moved to Colorado from California. Never even been here before. Crazy huh? She actually had never met Mary before either, they just have a mutual friend somewhere along the way. Well, whatever - it was a fun story and they were great company.

I have to note, on top of all the food that came on the 5280 menu, we also ordered a side of Lobster Mac and the Crème Brûlée for dessert. Thee-Best.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Pasta Dinner

My brother and some of his friends from CCU used to get together for "Friday Dinners". I don't know how I got invited, or if I just showed up, but somehow I got in on the loop. I remember one time we had one planned at Mondo's apartment and his back went out. Everyone still came over and Mondo was laid out on his futon mattress in the middle of the floor while we all ate around him. We watched a few episodes of Flight of the Concords that night too. It was fun. That was a year ago.
I finally made some plans with Debbie and asked Mondo to extend the invitation to the rest of the group. Everyone was able to make it. I was pretty psyched to try a new dish. A pasta with white cheese cream sauce.

I came home early to get a good start and make sure everything was ready on time. But - the stove didn't cooperate! It kept blowing the circuit when I had more than one burner on! grrr! Fortunately, I was able to have dinner on the table at the right time... I just ended up having to make dessert.

It's been a while, but here are some "not really a recipe" notes...
For the pasta sauce:
I sautéd shallots for a minute and then added chicken broth. Simmered for a bit before adding grated gouda cheese and heavy whipping cream. Once that got to a consistency I liked, I added wilted spinach, cooked chicken and sautéd mushrooms. I poured the sauce over fusili pasta cooked al dente, mixed and topped with toasted pine nuts.

The next time I will probably use white onions and garlic instead of shallots. I might add some bacon or procuitto and I might try a different white cheese too - although, wouldn't be sad to use gouda again. The fusili pasta was hard to find, but I would definitely take the time to look for it again.

For desert we had Bananas Foster:
I melted butter and added brown sugar. Once that melded together, I added sliced bananas and stirred the mixture for a bit before adding some spiced rum. It didn't flambé for me, so we just ate it like that (yumm). I rolled the ice cream in the crepe, with sliced bananas and then covered with the sauce.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dessert Crepes...

This morning I decided to give crepes a go. It's something I've been wanting to try for a long time - but have always been afraid of. They seem so delicate and precise.

The ingredient list is very basic, and I had everything on hand, so I thought "what have I got to lose". I hadn't planned on it, but I had Nutella (something I have also never tried before) and bananas, so I decided to make a sweet version.

The recipe is super easy and fast to make. On the first crepe I noticed the batter was a little bit thick and lumpy, so I added a drop more milk and mixed it another minute. The outer edges were crispy, which is an unusual texture in a crepe to me, but I don't think it was a bad thing. I noticed that as I stacked them, the moisture from the steam softened them. One small batter made about 18 crepes.

I spread a thin layer of Nutella with sliced bananas on the inside and then rolled them. I drizzled some with chocolate syrup (I preferred them without). They were a hit. Even my dad liked them, and he's not much into trying "different" food. The next time, I would like to dust with powdered sugar and top with fresh strawberries. I am also looking forward to making Bananas Foster with the extra ones I ended up storing. And, I can't wait to try savory crepes!

A Super Easy Crepe Recipe

✔ 1 1/2 Cups Milk (I added a couple more Tbs)
✔ 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
✔ 2 Eggs
✔ 1 Tbs Cooking Oil
✔ 1/4 tsp Salt (savory) -OR- 2 Tbs Sugar (dessert)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a rotary beater until well mixed. Heat a lightly greased (I used buttery cooking spray) 6 inch non-stick skillet to medium (almost medium-high). Remove pan from heat and (quickly) ladle 3 Tbs of batter into center of the pan. Lift and tilt the pan to evenly spread the batter. Return to heat.

The directions I have said to brown on one side only, but I turned mine. Could be why they ended up a bit crispy (and not like chip-a-tooth crispy). A spatula was more of a problem than it was a help - and they were easy enough to lift with my hand. Tip - work quickly!

To store, place a layer of waxed paper between crepes and freeze them. Let crepes thaw at room temperature for one hour before using.