Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Party Prep In The Kitchen

This year I decided that I wanted to make picadillo as an appetizer for the party, however I didn;t want to use it as a stuffing for empanadas but as a dip. I have made it before but for a filling and cooked beef and pork in liquid with onion and garlic then shredded it before adding. This time I wanted to make it with ground beef. I consulted with two Foodie friends, Sonia and Pepe who are both originally form Cuba to learn how they make theirs using ground meat. I then took their ideas, and incorporated what I love about Mexican picadillo and created my own.

For each pound of ground beef I used 1 chopped onion, 1 red or green bell pepper chopped, 6 garlic cloves minced, 1 can of diced tomatoes drained well, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup cup sultana's (golden raisins), 1/4 cup sliced pimento stuffed green olives, 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 2 tablespoons Splenda or sugar, 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cumin and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
I will serve it in a chafing dish and have Tostito Scoops to serve with it. I am thinking of sprinkling toasted slivered almonds on top to serve. I made a triple batch and I have to say it turned out vcery good. In fact I had a hard time staying out of it. It is now safe from me in the freezer.

I also made some fudge that will be one of the offerings on the dessert table. The basic old Fantasy Fudge recipe. Adding chocolate chips to sugar, butter and evaporated milk that has been at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.

Stir in marshmallow creme and vanilla, pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish sprayed with Pam, and let cool before cutting into serving size pieces.

Mmmmmm, it turned out creamy and yummy. Everything else I will make the day of the party. I also made it easy on myself this year and have purchased many hot appetizers from Sam's Club. They are so good so I do not feel guilty. Only 7 more days! Had a lot of fun creating the picadillo this afternoon.

Friday, November 28, 2008


A gift for Jacob so he can be Santa at our holiday party.

I made wine journals as gifts for friends.

David's grandfathers pocket watch. His Aunt Vaden had borrowed it, had it cleaned and fixed, and sent it back to him for his birthday. He is thrilled, this watch means so much to him. Thanks Vaden!

Wrapping Christmas gifts today.

Poopie helping me; I am trying to curl the ribbon, and he grabs on to the end and I can't move it.

He had a great time. so did I. I love to watch him play because he doesn't do it all that often.

Gifts for local friends.

Gifts ready for friends who are coming to the party from out of town and state.

Gifts ready and waiting for Christmas in Truckee. with family.

A wonderful Thanksgiving gift from my brillantly creative friend Kelli. She not only presented them in a special way but she hand made the tags too!

She sewed me market bags using a vintage tablecloth! I swear I look forward to what she comes up with to make next. She fuels my creativity.

I love them, what a teasure. And I will use them all the time. Thank you Kelli!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving- The Blessing of Friends

David and I shared a lovely Thanksgiving at our friend Rose's house along with her family. Did we pull out our camera? No, we were too darn busy enjoying the company, food and drink. It was a wonderful time and meal of turkey, ham and all the trimmings prepared by Rose's daughters Fran and Beth. We are so blessed and grateful for our family of friends.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anais Nin

An open home, an open heart, here grows a bountiful harvest. - Judy Hand

Wishing you love, joy, and an abundance of blessings on Thanksgiving and every day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

David's Birthday Celebration Lunch at The Firehouse

David and I had a lovely birthday celebration meal at The Firehouse in Old Sac this afternoon. We were seated in the main dining room next to the fireplace in a booth. We started with 2 appetizers; the Dungeness crab cakes with Meyer lemon and coriander confit and crisp pancetta frisée salad and black pepper aioli and the Drunken Balsamic Steak which was pan roasted with white balsamic-bourbon glaze and onion-thyme marmalade oven-warmed grape tomatoes, and spinach with crumbled Valbreso feta. Both choices were to die for. David's favorite was the crab cakes and I leaned towards the steak.

For entrees we both had the special which was macadamia crusted baramundi. (Not sure of my spelling of the fish.) There was a grilled polenta cake (which was the moistest polenta cake we have ever had, beautiful texture) which was topped with grilled asparagus. The fish a top of it all. It all sat on a plate of cream sauce that I can not for the life of me remember what it was made of but I think there was sherry in it, some lovely clear green chive sauce and drops of a blackberry reduction. It was all wonderful, and when eaten with a little of everything on the fork it was divine. We brought a bottle of VJB Cab to enjoy with our meal.

We decided to go all out and ordered dessert as well. The birthday boy went the Chocolate Decadence; bittersweet chocolate cake with silken ganache,raspberry coulis and crème anglaise. I as usual went with the dessert choice offering Meyer Lemon which was a Meyer Lemon Napoleon; layered sponge cake with lemon curd and tart lemon mousse, raspberry coulis and crème anglaise. The meal, service atmosphere, and our seating was a real treat.

We arrived early and walked hand-in-hand along the high wooden sidewalks of Old Sac browsing through a few of the shops. Unexpectedly we found a few Christmas gifts which was nice to get done.

Thanks to my sister girlfriends for the gift certificate last Christmas. We had an absolutely delightful time!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine Tasting, Gifts From the Kitchen, Cork 'n Fork

Friday night we attended a benefit wine tasting at Mc Connell Estate winery for the elementary school of friends of ours who's grandchildren attend. The tasting room is in Elk Grove and has been around for quite a while, though new to David and I. The owners have children who attend the school as well. It was limited to 30 people. Our friends Verona and Bill bought 7 tickets at the schools harvest festival a while back. We each paid them for the donation cost of the tickets we used. There were 6 wines for us to taste throughout the 2 hour event. There was a table of hot and cold appetizers as well. The tasting room was filled with unique Christmas decorations, wine related items and jewelry to purchase. It was a lovely start to the holiday season spent with good friends.

This morning I put together cookie mix in jars to complete my homemade food favors for the holiday party and as gifts. I was determined to stick with the spirit of using what I have already on hand, so I did chocolate chip cookie mix, chocolate and peanut butter chip cookie mix, mint chip cookie mix, chocolate/caramel swirl chip cookie mix and Christmas shapes and chocolate chip cookie mix. I used wide mouth quart canning jars that Eva (Grandma Hoekman) gave to me.

Holiday candy representing party prep I did this weekend as well.

Tonight was the Elk Grove Cork n Fork which was at The Brickhouse restaurant in old downtown Elk Grove. We have enjoyed this restaurant before with friends and we took Theresa and Shawn here for Theresa's birthday celebration. The woman on the far left is Norma, the president of the Newcomer's club and that's Helen to her right who is the 1st vice president.

The handsome smiling man on the right is Ed, Helen's husband. I promised I would take a picture of him facing the camera and smiling since he said I got the last shot of him with his head turned. (And I thought women were vain.)

The Dunlops. He has managed (or is that coached? I am so bad at this sport stuff) many major league baseball teams in his time. They are avid golfers in retirement.

Rosalyn and Ed. They have such a zest for life.

The group.

Who is this nice looking couple?

Group enjoyment.
That's pretty much my weekend other than other projects around the house. Tomorrow the grocery shopping begins for the holiday party at Sam's and Costco.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Containers, Red, Flaming Food, Firemen, Squash, Buffet

Wednesday evening I attended a Tupperware party at my neighbor Deborah's house. I hadn't been to one in years.

Always impressed with their ideas for food storage.

I bought an 8-piece set of these. They will keep fruits and vegetables farm-fresh picked for weeks, some even months. Yep, you read that right. The best part was they were being offered bu the consultant at a low price.

I was busy minding my own business yesterday afternoon making red pepper jam to can.

When I had barely finished the doorbell rang. When I answered it there was a young woman I didn't know standing there.

She is staring me in the eye and tells me that there was a fire behind my backyard fence in a gated area owned by the county. She said she had called the fire department. She explained that it looked like a cup-of-soup container that was on fire, that someone threw it there from over a fence perhaps after catching it on fire in the microwave.

I was shocked to say the least, and it was very clear she felt I was the culprit! I asked if the firemen were still there and she said yes. Then she walked back to her car, at this point I think she was reconsidering her belief that it was someone in our house to tossed it there.

As she walked to her car, I walked around the corner of my house towards the back, when I ran into two very young and very handsome firefighters. I explain that a woman came to my door and what she said, and we talk. At first I could tell that they thought it came form our house too. However as we spoke it was apparent they were changing their minds. I explained I was making red pepper jam and canning it for holiday gifts and didn't even hear anything. I thanked them for coming out and how scary it is to think my fence could have gone up in flames as well as my entire garden because someone did something so foolish. Then one of them said it was a good thing it wasn't me because they would have had to give me a bad time. (Little bad-girl inside the back of my head filled my head with this thought; go ahead you hunky firefighters, punish me!) After they left David and I went back to see where the flaming food had been. It was very close to our fence, however the angle it had to have come from was right out the path of the slider of the people on the street behind us. For us to have thrown it out there we would have had to go through our slider, walk the path from it, turn to the left and walk another path for a while and then toss it over the fence. Now why would anyone walk that far with a flaming container of food? Trust me, I am not blaming the people back there until I talk to them and find out what happened. It could have even been the people on the side of us as well. What I will say is if that woman wasn't driving by and saw the fire, we could have lost our fence and everything growing in our garden. So thank you anonymous woman, even if you came to my door accusingly.

Spaghetti squash for dinner last night. Cut in half and seeds scooped out.

Baked in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes for this size squash.

I heated up some store-bought mushroom-garlic pasta sauce while the spaghetti squash was in the oven.

With a fork I scooped out the spaghetti like flesh and tossed it with the sauce.
Presto! A healthy, simple, delicious meal prepared effortlessly and quickly.

I spent a little time working on the buffet tables for the holiday party yesterday.

The bags of non-perishable food items that guests will be bringing to donate to "Food For Families" will go under the longest buffet table to be out of the way and not take up room I need for guests to be. The number one priority on my list yesterday was to finalize the menu for the party, then make the grocery list so I can get started shopping. I almost have it written in stone. Almost. There are a few things I want to change. I had better run. This morning I have a hair appointment and I am going to be late if I don't get moving. Have a great day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SIX - Erin Complete

Erin's Six facts about herself are on her blog. Click here.

In Loving Memory - Ruth Provance

Last evening at 8:15 PM a dear Foodie friend passed away after a very long battle with breast cancer. We lovingly called her Big Ruthy and in the realm of baking she was famous for her homemade breads and pizza. Ruth taught me so much about battling such a horrible disease as cancer with dignity, grace, a sense of humor and a strong faith in her God. She leaves behind her husband Paul, and sons Matt and Timmy. May God hold them in the palm of his hands. Big Ruthy you will be terribly missed and never forgotten my friend. Until we meet again..........

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fun In Truckee

We went to the new house when we first got in to town. It is really looking great.

The paint color choices on the interior walls are beautiful. Gives the house some extra warmth.

This is my favorite wall color. Sadly I did not do justice to the warm cinnamon tone of the wall. I am trying to decide where I can use this color in our house.

Pretty sage green tone on the walls of the great room.
Jacob with his sippy cup.

And eating dry Cheerio cereal. Like most little ones he loves them.

Playing in his Bounce Bounce Baby. He is so fun to watch and play with.

Grandad making Jacob laugh. Jacob gave Grandad a kiss afterwards too.

Jen's table. These dishes belonged to David and I and we brought them up to Jen and John. They are Denmark by Franciscan and made in England. they were our every day dishes when we lived in San Mateo. Our kitchen and dining room was done in delft in that house. They match so many things Jen and John have.

Centerpiece of gourds.

Justin scrubbing the little red potatoes for dinner.

All done and ready to be added to the pot.

Corned beef and potatoes cooking.

Jen slicing cabbage to add to pot as well. She made a delicious corned beef and cabbage dinner with potatoes.

Hanging in the kitchen while dinner was cooking. We had a great time!