Saturday, December 29, 2007

Leapin' Lemons!

When we moved to our new home 7 years ago, I told our landscaper that I loved lemons and roses. Much to my husband's dismay, they planted over a dozen rose bushes and two lemon trees in our small backyard. This means weekends in January are busy spent pruning back bushes and trees that have taken over our backyard. Of course, on the positive side, we have plenty of pretty roses to look at in the summer and we are overwhelmed with lemons in December/January.

Looking for something different, I stumbled on this tasty recipe from Everyday Italian, Lemon Ricotta Cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container

I made these for the holidays and they were a nice change from traditional Christmas cookies. The ricotta makes them very moist. They are almost a cross between a ake and a cookie.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine - GREAT DEAL

For months now I've been debating whether or not to subscribe to Rachael Ray's magazine. Instead of subscribing a periodically sneak a copy into my grocery cart and try not to watch the cashier ring it up at full cover price. Today I finally subscribed for only $5.32 for 10 issues. And, yes, the $5.32 is not a typo.

Here's the great deal I found:

- Go to
- Click on Deal of the Day
- Add Every Day to your cart
- At checkout, use SANTASALE18 in the promotion code box

The price will probably go up after today, but will still beat the cover price! also, if you go through, you will get a 6% rebate.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

BBQ Smoker Over 10 Years Old!

The other day Craig and I were talking about BBQ smokers and realized ours was over 10 years old. Here is a picture of Craig with my Dad on the day they put it together. I get a kick out of seeing Craig with a mustache :-).

Today is Father's Day. Craig is smoking the ribs in a much older looking smoker. While we miss Dad, we are happy for the many wonderful memories, including eating bbq and drinking beer and wine with him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Be a pepper. Drink Dr. Pepper ~ or marinade with it

Dr. Pepper Ribs was the first recipe we tried using our smoker. Just like good BBQ, Dr. Pepper combines peppery with sweet. It's a great marinade, use 3 cups in this recipe and drink the rest of the liter over ice. It also makes a great sauce that is good on grilled chicken too!

Country-style ribs are a good economical cut. If you don't want to pay for traditional ribs, you can find country-style ribs for as little as $1 per pound. They usually have plenty of meat and very little bone. Costco also has delicious boneless ones.

This recipe is from Where There's Smoke There's Flavor. I've changed a few things, for example, the recipe causes for parboiling the ribs. This is unneccesary step. Also, if I double the recipe, I double the amount of Dr. Pepper I use to marinade the ribs. It's not necessary to double the sauce. It already makes plenty for 2 batches of ribs and you can still use leftovers for chicken later in the week.

Dr. Pepper Ribs

3 to 4 lbs country-style pork ribs
3 cups Dr Pepper, divided
3 cups catsup
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 tbsps. chili powder
4 tbsps. ground black pepper
2 tbsps. dry mustard
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Marinate ribs in Dr. Pepper overnight.

About 61/2 hours before dinner, start the smoker and take the ribs out of the refrigerator. Once the coals are ready, add well-soaked hickory to the coals. Set a pan filled with hot water in the smoker (below the grate). Smoke the ribs at about 220 degrees F. for 3 hours. Add coals and wood every 30 minutes or so to keep the temperature constant.

Note: We start with a chimney lighter full of coal and depending on weather add 8-10 coals and 1 -2 pieces of wood every half hour or so.

While the ribs are smoking, prepare the sauce. Pour remaining ingredients into blender or food processor. Mix until smooth and well-blended. You do not need to cook it until after ribs are basted with it. After the last basting of ribs, simmer in sauce pan over low heat until thickened.

After 3 hours, turn the ribs, slather them with sauce and continue cooking for another 3 hours. Turn ribs every 30 minutes and slather them with sauce. Before removing ribs, make sure they have reached the internal temperature of 160 to 170 degrees F.

Serve the ribs with the Dr. Pepper sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Southwestern Slaw

Sunday we had some of our favorite relatives over for BBQ and watching the Coca-Cola 600. Since, I wanted to spend time with the newest member of the family, 2-month old Michael, I kept to easy recipes. One recipe I tried for the first time was from Ellie Krieger of Healthy Appetite on the Food Channel. She has very simple, uncomplicated recipes. Plus, she's great at taking a traditional recipe and making it healthier. Click here to see her recipe. The nice thing about it is it's not too mayonnaisie for me or vinegary forCraig. Here's my quick version of her southwestern slaw recipe:

1 - 10 oz bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage)
1 - jicama sliced into thin matchsticks
1 - thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt (can substitute mayonnaise)
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl toss together vegetables. In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk, yogurt, lime, cumin, salt and pepper. Add mix to large bowl and mix well. Can be used immediately or refrigerated for future.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sideways note: This was the first time I used jicama. At the grocery store I had to ask for help finding it. Apparently it doesn't come in thin white slices :-). I did get a little embarrassed when I realized I was standing right in front of it! So, others can be spared embarrassment, here's a picture:

Great description of jicama can be found at All I did was peel it then cut it. I've eaten jicama before and love the crispness and sweetness of it. Now that I know where it is in the produce section, I'll be sure to buy it more often.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Easy Baked Beans with Crispy Bacon

Put away the catsup, mustard, brown sugar, assorted cans of baked beans. Here's a recipe that takes alot less time but gets just as many raves as the crockpot version with 10 different ingredients that cooks all day.

Rachael Ray's Baked Beans with Crispy Bacon

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup plain bread crumbs
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans prepared barbecued baked beans, about 4 cups

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, brown bacon but do not fully crisp the pieces. Remove the skillet from heat and toss bread crumbs in the pan with the bacon and drippings. Add scallions to the bread crumbs and bacon and season the mixture with cracked black pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add 2 cans of barbecued beans or extra spicy beans to a shallow casserole dish. Top with bacon and bread crumb mixture and place in oven. Bake 15 minutes or until top is crispy and beans are bubbly.

Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Memorial Day = BBQ

Time to get out the grills and the smokers, Memorial Day is one of the biggest BBQ days of the year. We have our menu already planned:

* Dr. Pepper BBQ Ribs
* Grilled Corn on the Cob
* Rachael Ray's Baked Beans
* Sweet Potato Salad

Stay posted for pictures!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Toogood Winery

For the kielbasa recipe below, I opened up a bottle of Toogood Winery 2003 Zinfandel. The best part of using wine in a recipe is you get to drink the rest of the bottle!!

Toogood Winery is a great boutique winery nestled in the Sierra Foothills. The wines are very drinkable and the winery itself provides a fresh, innovative, fun approach to wine drinking.

The 2003 is drinkable now. Very fruity.

Kielbasa and Cabbage Recipe

Occasionally I go shopping with recipes in mind. More often, I go armed with a list of items that are at "rock-bottom prices" per the grocery game. Then when I get home I have a kitchen full of food with not a clear idea of what to do with it. This week Fresh Express coleslaw mix was on sale wfor $1 a bag and kielbasa was buy one, get one free. After searching the internet, I cobbled together a couple of recipes and came up with this:

Not Quite Coleslaw & Sausage
Serves 2-3 people
Prep. Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 10 min.

1 med. onion
1 lb. kielbasa sausage (sliced in 1-inch pieces)
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken stock
10 oz. coleslaw mix (in produce section, shredded red & green cabbage and carrots)
splash of red wine
dash of red pepper flakes (1 packet from Round Table Pizza works :-))
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in butter until just tender. Brown sausage with onion. Add chicken stock and coleslaw mix. Cover and cook on med. heat for about 10 minutes. Add a splash of red wine, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

The Internet is cooking!

Today's Taste section of the Sacramento Bee featured food blogging. There are over 48,000 food bloggers in the United States. It's fun to be part of a community 4x larger than my hometown! The article also features writers of 3 of my favorite Sacramento blogsites, Cakegrrl, Vanilla Garlic and Everything Rachel Ray. All three sites are warm, funny and friendly. The adorable picture on the left is of Kristy, also known as Cakegrrl.

What a great community to be part of!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chili with Smoked Brisket

A 4-lb brisket for 2 people can last quite awhile. After 2 meals and 2 lunches, it was time for something new. Craig discovered this great recipe for chili beans on the BBQ Institute website. We love chili. We have had good chili, we have had great chili, we have had outstanding chili, but none compare to the incredible flavor of this chili. The smokiness and spice from the brisket add a wonderful depth of flavor.

Of course, the best part, was it was a great team effort on both Craig's and my part :-). Next time, we plan on saving a little more brisket to add to the chili.

Craig & Malinda's Chili

2 cups dry pinto beans
2 large onions
6 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock (Canned works fine)
1 to 2 cups water depending on how soupy you like your chili
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/4 cup dark chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Chipotle powder (smoke and heat) or cayenne (just heat)
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1 small can green chiles (drained and diced)
2-15oz can tomato sauce
1 to 2 pounds seasoned left over BBQ smoked beef brisket
Adjust salt and seasoning to taste with Kosher Salt

Step 1. In an 8 quart oven-safe pot (with lid) add 2 cups of pinto beans to 8 cups of hot water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Let stand for 4 hours covered, adding water as needed to keep beans covered in water. Drain off water. (Or soak overnight for less work)

Step 2. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Sauté 2 large minced onions and 4 to 8 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the onion is translucent. Add one 15oz can of tomato sauce to deglaze the pan and pour on top of drained beans. Add rest of ingredients (except for brisket), stir, cover, and bake for 2 hours.

Step 3. Add brisket and cook for half hour or more at lowest heat, stirring occasionally. Test for seasoning, adjust and enjoy. Garnish with grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fish Tacos Quick

What do you do if you have a lb. of white fish that needs to be used that night and less than 30 minutes to prepare it, cook it and eat? Knowing that I also had some corn tortillas in the fridge, I googled "fish taco recipe" and one of the first sites listed was a great local Sacramento blog, Simply Recipes. Elise has written up a simple and easily adaptable recipe for fish tacos.

Using her recipe as a guide, I threw together my own version in less than 10 minutes. Ate quickly and was only 5 minutes late for setting up a book fair at my daughter's school. THANK YOU ELISE and Simply Recipes!!!!

This is what I did:

You will need:

1 lb. tilipia (or any white fish)
olive oil
corn tortillas
garlic salt (optional)

Soak the fish in cold water for about a minute. Heat up 2 pans, one for the tortillas and one for the fish. Add about 1 tbsp. to each pan.

Remove fish from water and pat dry. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook in pan until almost translucent (less than 1 minutes for thin slices, more for thicker). Turn and cook for about another minute.

Heat up tortillas in other pan. About 15-20 seconds per side. Oil is option but does add good flavor to store bought tortillas (I learned that from Simply Recipes :-)) and since my tortillas were getting a bit old, the oil helped greatly.

Assemble at table with any salsa. I just used a jar of Pace I had in my stockpile.

Next time I'll add coleslaw.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And Finally . . . BBQ!

On Sunday, we finally were able to enjoy our bbq dinner. The brisket was fork-tender. Notice the great smoke ring. The Boarding House Macaroni Salad and the beans complemented the brisket perfectly.

The macaroni salad is perfect for a large crowd (we had lots of leftovers). It's simple to make, flavorful and inexpensive. I made it directly from Smoke & Spice cookbook. However, I did omit the pimientos.

Boarding House Macaroni Salad
Source: Smoke & Spice; by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, (c) 1994.
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound Macaroni *
6 ounces To 8 oz mild or medium -
Cheddar cheese -- cubed small
1 1/2 cups Baby peas -- fresh or frozen
1 medium Green bell pepper -- chopped
1 medium Onion -- chopped
2/3 cup Sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Plain yogurt
1/4 cup Chopped pimientos
White pepper to taste

* Preferably small elbows or shells, cooked and drained.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour to develop the flavors. The salad keeps well for several days.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


In honor of BBQ month, we decided to bbq our first brisket of the season. We dug out our well-used 10-year old copy of Smoke and Spice and decided to make the tried and true Braggin-Rights Brisket recipe with the recommended side dishes of Boarding House Macaroni Salad and Cowpoke Beans. We went to the store the day before and picked out the perfect piece of meat. Friday night I made the rub and vigorously massaged the meat with it. Saturday morning, around 11:00, we placed this wonderful meat on the bbq.

At a little over 4 lbs, smoking for 1 - 1/2 hours a pound, we figured dinner would be around 6:00. Around 12:00, the internal temperature was around 150 degrees. We only needed it to get to 190. Dinner might be early. Soon the meat was at 160 degrees, and there it pretty much stayed.

6:30 p.m. came and went with our brisket at around 160 degrees. Around 7:30, we ordered pizza and at 10:00 p.m. We finally took this off the grill:


We wrapped it up in tin foil, put it in the cooler and went to bed.

So, my next post will be about my wonderful Mother's Day BBQ Dinner.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Diet 7UP Taste Test

Thanks to cakegrrl, I just found out about a great deal from 7 UP. Go here now and receive a Taste Test kit. It is limited, so go soon. The nice thing is if you are too late for the kit, they will still send you a coupon for 2 free liters of 7UP.

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Love Loompya!

If you are looking for homestyle filipino food, Loompya's in Roseville is the place to go! Nothing fancy, even if you are eating there, you are served in takeout containers. It would be perfect takeout for a picnic lunch or an at home movie night. Go hungry. Both my husband and I ordered the BBQ combo. It came with choice of rice, noodles, 2 chicken thighs, 2 hefty-size pork skewers and loompya. All this for only $5.95 each! In fact, it was so cheap, we "splurged" at the end of the meal and got 10 loompyas for $1.99 to give to the friends babysitting for us.

The best part, it was NOT a chain!! Roseville has an over-abundance of chain restaurants. We are blessed (or cursed) with every type of restaurant chain you can imagine. Mom and pop places are few and far between. Sure there are a few exceptions like Amigos on Woodcreek Oaks and Mangia's on Douglas, but for the most part, there's alot of chains and franchises. So it was with relief that we stumbled on Loompya's.

P.S. Advertising in the back of a church bulletin works. At least it did for Loompya's :-)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sandwiches

My sandwiches didn't win, but since they made the finals and I thought they were pretty tasty, I thought I'd share the recipe :=). This way you won't have to wait until the recipe is published in the Sac Bee 2008 recipe book. If you try them, let me know what you think.

The smokiness of the chipotle combined with the sweetness of the strawberries, make for a great spring sandwich!

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
½ c. seedless strawberry jam
¼ c. tequila (optional)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice & zest from one lime (optional)
1-2 pints fresh, cored strawberries
1 c. chicken broth
cooking spray
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
Romaine lettuce
Thinly sliced red onions
6 sandwich rolls, split, buttered and toasted

Heat oil in small saucepan. Add onions and sauté until soft. In food processor, combine chipotle peppers, jam, tequila, lime juice and zest, chicken broth and ½ the fresh strawberries. Blend until smooth. Add to saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Put ½ the sauce aside and use the remainder to baste chicken.

Spray chicken with cooking spray. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes on one side. Turn and baste with sauce. Grill another 4 minutes , turn, coat with sauce and grill another 3 minutes.

Slice remaining strawberries. Slice grilled chicken at an angle.

To assemble sandwich, layer sliced strawberries and chicken on roll. Drizzle sauce on chicken and then top with sliced red onion and lettuce.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

From the Ashes, A Grill

Craig has repaired our gas grill! व्हिले I love the flavor from charcoal, it's nice to be able to grill a quick chicken breast without waiting 20 minutes for coals। Here's his description:

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, my grill is back! I replaced the heat shield, ceramic coals, handle, and re-attached the front panel. The project cost me around $50 - which is hundreds less than buying a new grill! My grill turns 8-years old this Father's Day. Hopefully I'll get another 8-years out of it now. All I need is propane, which we'll be buying tomorrow. ....and it could use a bath. I drilled two holes in the front panel and used tie-wraps to reattached it to the grill frame. Added a new heat shield and ceramic coals. My dad made the handle for me.

The old heat shield, or what was left of it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Verrines: Next Big Thing or Passing Fad

Lately I've become obsessed with researching verrines. Apparently they are very popular in France right now. After spending too much time surfing the web for information, I now realize there's not much out there abut them. There's not even a Wikipedia definition for verrines. Most articles I came across refer back to the LA Times article by Betty Hallock, Layered luxury in a glass.

So what are verrines? They are layers of food served in individual glasses. In some ways, a fancy parfait. Each layer is distinct but easily complements and blends with the other layers. They can be appetizers or desserts. They can be savory or sweet.

They seem to be the "in" g in LA's finest restaurants. What a great way to serve a little bit of food at an outrageous cost to people who don't really eat anyway? :-)

Since I'm more of a margaritas and mexican food girl, the recipes I found feature French layers, didn't really appeal to me. I think I'll try my own version this weekend. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

It's Artichoke Season!

Yesterday I bought 2 jumbo artichokes. I am thinking that artichokes are the perfect convenience food. There easy to prepare and filling. I've been surfing the web looking for a good recipe. Some of the stuffed recipes look delicious. Maybe I'll try one over the weekend. But tonight, I'm just going to keep it simple. I have a Cookie Lee party to go to tonight.

I'm just going to microwave the artichokes for about 8-10 minutes and serve them with melted butter for me and mayonnaise for Craig.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Strawberry Festival

Here's a nice article from the Sacramento Bee about the Strawberry Festival Recipe contest. I didn't win, but at least the writer thought my sandwiches were delicious :-). The winning recipe does sound delicious. The winner had donated beautiful cookies for our gift bags. Mine was delicious.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

I had an open can of chipotle peppers and a chocolate cake mix, so I thought I'd give Vanilla Garlic's Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcake recipe a try. Wow, surprisingly yummy. It reminded me of a chocolate hot tamale candy. Definitely not something I would have thought of on my own. The only thing I changed was I added some vanilla extract to help detract from the cake mix taste. I'll post a picture later.

Grilled Flank Steak Crostini with Greens

Of the many things in life I love, two are finding a good deal at the store and the recipes from Easy Entertaining by Michael Chiarello. So imagine how happy I was when I found a flank steak at Safeway at 50% off AND used it in one of Michael's recipe! I figure the meal cost us less than $8. Less time and money than a trip to McDonald's. Here's the recipe:

Grilled Flank Steak Crostini with Greens
1 flank steak
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
12 cups greens, such as mustard, chard or spinach, washed ( I use spinach)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Hot sauce, optional
1 baguette, sliced on the bias into long thin slices

Bring the flank steak to room temperature.
Prepare an outdoor grill or preheat a stovetop grill pan.
Season both sides of the steak with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on 1 side of the meat and lightly rub it in.
Sprinkle half of the oregano on top and place the steak on the grill, herb side up.
Grill on 1 side for about 5 minutes or until the juices of the meat come to the surface of the steak. Turn the steak once and continue cooking for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until done to your taste. Let rest for a few minutes.
Meanwhile: In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until hot. Add the garlic and saute about 1 minute, or until light brown. Add the greens and toss occasionally.
After about 3 minutes, the greens will have cooked down. Season with a large pinch of salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. Cook another 3 minutes. Splash greens with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and hot sauce, to taste, if using. Transfer the greens to a plate.
For the crostini: Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the slices on the grill or grill pan and cook until crispy, about 1 minute on each side.
Cut the flank steak across the grain in 1/4-inch slices. Place a slice of steak on top of each crostini, top each with the greens and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and hot sauce, as desired. Can be served warm or at room temperature

This is one of the easiest recipes I've tried from his show. Craig and I working together can have it on the table in less than 20 minutes. One thing we noticed with this recipe is that the flank steak, spinach and bread by themslves are a bit blah. But put them together with a little olive oil and you have one outstanding meal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Welcome to Our Blog

This is a first for us. Neither Craig or I have ever blogged. However, for many years we have taken pictures of our food creations and shared them with our friends and family. It was an eye opener for me when I met Cakegrrl at the Roseville Strawberry Festival and found her blog. She iinspired me to give my own blog a try.

Her blog is at Cakegrll's Cakery. Great site, fun to read and lots of pictures. Check out her award-winning recipe for Strawberry Avocado.

She's got some great links to other great foodie sites, including Vanilla Garlic. I don't know if I'll ever make any of his cupcake recipes, but I love looking at the pictures.!