Why Hash Browns? Because I'm lazy!

I had some friends coming over for cocktails and a light dinner last night and, frankly, I was not up to a big meal production. It was a last minute invite to thank them for some help and a bit of a farewell as they are moving back to California tomorrow. (Sniff, Sniff).  At this time of year I'm really busy with all my online stores & businesses and I don't have a lot of time to cook but I had some spicy Italian sausage and I thought I would do a variation on my Tuscan Soup ripoff recipe from The Olive Garden that I love so much.

Unfortunately, I didn't have kale, I didn't have any bacon and I didn't feel like peeling and dicing potatoes!  What I did have in my fridge was frozen broccoli pieces (accidentally picked up instead of florets), mire poix and - thank you food fairies! - a package of shredded hash browns I keep on hand for a quick breakfast! Hallelujah!

So I threw together this soup and the guys loved it so much they had seconds, so did I, and I only had enough left for a bowl at lunch!

Here's the recipe:

 1 Lb. of  Bulk Spicy Italian Sausage
1 - 20 Oz. Package of Shredded Hash Browns
(Next time I'm using 2 packages - I like potatoes!)
1 - 12 Oz. Package of Frozen Broccoli
2 Large Onions, Diced
1 Cup Mini Carrots, Sliced in Half
4 Stalks of Celery, Sliced 
Olive Oil
12 Cups Water
4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 Tsp. Pollen Ranch Chef Bernard's Blend Fennel Pollen
Fresh Chives for Garnish
Salt & Pepper To Taste

  • Brown the sausage in olive oil on medium heat in a medium soup pot until the it gets a nice, caramelized crust on it.
  • Remove the sausage and drain on a paper towel, then place in the fridge but LEAVE IN all those nice little bits of sausage and the fat in your pot! These will add lots of rich flavor to the base of your broth!
  • Add a little more olive oil to the pot then toss in the onions, celery and carrots (mire poix) and sweat them on low-medium heat until translucent - usually about 20 minute to half an hour depending on the size of the pieces.
  • Remove half the mire poix and set aside with the sausage for later.
  • Add the crushed garlic and cook for an extra minute or so to bring out the garlic.
  • Pour in 10 cups of water, reserving the other 2 to add as needed.
  • Add your spices and bring this all to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to lo and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.  I did mine for 4 hours, adding more water as needed. What you're doing here is creating a broth for your soup and broth takes a little time to develop it's flavors!
  • 1 hour before serving pull out the cooked veggies with a large slotted spoon (you can toss these) then put in the other veggies from the fridge.
  • Add the frozen broccoli and simmer for 1/2 an hour, then add the hash browns and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour to an hour, checking the potatoes and broccoli for tenderness.
  • Keep on lo until ready to serve then dish up & sprinkle on some fresh chives
I served this up with some whole wheat crackers because I didn't have any great, crusty loaves of bread which would have been my preferred side!  No one seemed to care, they crumbled in the crackers and scarfed up nearly the whole pot of soup! I wish I'd made a bigger pot!

If you like a creamy soup you can add some half & half at the same time as you add the second group of veggies or just top off the soup in the bowls with some sour cream!

P. S. I also served up my newest Pumpkin Cream Pie Martini for dessert. You can find it over at The Martini Diva Blog this morning.

 ENJOY & Let me know how you like it!

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EASY APPLE DUMPLINGS for National Apple Dumpling Day

Here's a recipe I found and tweaked a bit using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and - get this - Mountain Dew! It sounded to weird I had to try it.  Now I keep the ingredients around all the time for an easy and delicious dessert!  It's amazing! Whoever thought of this recipe is a food genius, lol.
2 Good Baking Apples*
2 - 8 Oz. Cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
2 Sticks of Butter
1-1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
1 - 12 Oz. Can Mountain Dew Soda
Measuring Spoons, Medium Saucepan, 9x3 Baking Dish
Peel and core your apples then cut into 8 even slices.
Roll each apple slice in a Crescent Roll and place in your baking dish.
Melt your butter in a saucepan then add the sugar and stir slightly.
Add the vanilla, stir then pour this mixture over the apple "dumplings".
Pour the Mountain Dew around the dumplings in the pan.
Sprinkle on your nutmeg and cinnamon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
*I did this recipe with Gala Apples because that's what I had on hand. Feel free to use whatever baking apple you prefer!
Now, head over to The Martini Diva Blog for my APPLE DUMPLING MARTINI RECIPE!

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A lot of my recipes come from what is hanging out in my larder and my fridge. This is one of them.  I had a taste for some nice fish that wasn't heavy or fried and I wanted something a little sweet.  I happened to have some coconut cream in my bar fridge, coconut milk and about a cup or so of some Sunny Delight plus my frozen Tilapia fillets, Basmati rice and my spice rack so I was off and cooking.

Because I'm not cooking for a family, I always buy fish in individually vacuum sealed frozen packets so I can take out one or two for a meal.  The nice thing about that is that you can quickly defrost the fillets simply by putting them in some warm water and you'll be ready to go in less than half an hour or so.  Yes, I buy frozen fish because true fresh fish is pretty hard to come by in desert areas, plus I like to have a variety of fish available for the whim of my palate.  I also stock up when varieties are on sale or in season. 

Feel free to use the fish of your choice - I would have done this one with catfish (which I love) but I didn't have any so next time I might have to call it POACHED BOTTOM FEEDER FISH, lol.


1 Cup Sunny Delight Original Juice
1/4 Cup Cream of Coconut
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
1/4 Tsp. Fresh Ginger
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
Dash or Two of Chipotle Hot Sauce
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt

DIRECTIONS: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low until it coats the back of a metal spoon. Keep an eye on this and stir often so it will not reduce too much and/or burn.

2 Mild White Fish Fillets
(I used Tilapia)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Saute fillets over a medium heat in a combination of EVOO and butter until lightly brown on the surface. Pour in the poaching liquid/sauce. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to continue to reduce as the fillets poach in the liquid.

1/2 C. Basmati Rice
1 C. Coconut Water
Dried Cranberries
Dried Apricots, Diced
Toasted Pistachios, Chopped
Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Fleur du Sel

DIRECTIONS: Bring coconut water, salt and rice to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer according to the package instructions. When the rice is fully cooked add in your cranberries, apricots, pistachios and sunflower seeds, mix in and fluff rice.

Bon App├ętit

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I had a huge bag of tortilla chips that were going stale and I hate to waste food so I decided I would use them in a Mexican Lasagna Recipe.  Normally I use regular corn tortillas as the "noodles" for the lasagna but hey, tortilla chips are tortillas just crispier and salted, right?  Feel free to use regular tortillas as your noodles if you choose!
 I didn't have any canned enchilada sauce though and I almost abandoned this whole idea until it dawned on me I might be able to make my own!  So I Googled for some Enchilada Sauce Recipes and went from there.  I rarely use a recipe as is, I am always putting my own little twist to it.  In the case of my Smokin' Sweet Enchilada Sauce I changed up the spices (a lot!) and added some agave syrup.  I never make marinara sauce or any tomato sauce without added a little bit of sugar or sweetness of some kind to balance the acid in the tomatoes so here I used agave syrup!  BTW, you can make enchilada sauce without any tomatoes or tomato sauce at all but I like the added body it lends to the finished sauce.

I also added Italian Sausage instead of just using ground sirloin/hamburger because I love that in this recipe for the best Taco Salad ever!

Smokin' Good Mexican Lasagna

1 Large Bag of Corn Tortilla Chips*
1 Lb. Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 Lb. 80% or higher Hamburger/Ground Sirloin
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Medium Onion, Diced
2 Anaheim Chilies, Spit and Seeded, Roasted, Diced
1 Pint Low Fat Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta!)
8 Oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 Slices Smoked Gouda Cheese
Smokin' Enchilada Sauce*

TOOLS: Large Non-Stick Saute Pan, Baking Sheet, Measuring Spoons, Large Baking Dish


Here's exactly the steps I took in order to create my Smokin' Good Mexican Lasagna:
  • Grease your Baking Dish and set aside.
  • Split and seed the Anaheim Chilies then place them in the oven on a baking sheet at 450° to roast while you prepare the Smokin' Sweet Enchilada Sauce - Recipe Below* and cook your meats.
  • Put the hamburger (sirloin) and the Italian Sausage into a very large non-stick skillet.  Brown to get a nice bit of caramelization on the meat then reduce heat and cook through. You don't need to add any oils here as the meats will produce their own fat.
  • Remove the cooked meat and set aside in the fridge, leaving the drippings in the pan.
  • Add your diced onion and sweat down in the savory fat from the meats, then scoop out the onions and set those aside with the meat.
  • Pour a third of the sauce into the greased baking dish.
  • Crush your bag of tortilla chips into fairly large chunks and layer half of the bag on top of the first sauce layer.
  • Then LAYER in half the cooked meats, black beans and onions.
  • Then all the cottage cheese (or ricotta) and all the Anaheim Chilies.
  • Then another third of the sauce.
  • Then layer on the slices of smoked Gouda.
  • Then the rest of the crushed chips.
  • The rest of the meats, beans and onions go next.
  • Then the whole package of shredded cheddar.
  • Top the whole thing off with the remainder of the enchilada sauce and set in the refrigerator to "marinate" and to allow sauce to soak in.
Bake at 350° for an hour and serve with a nice green salad and some of my Tangerine Salsa or Pico de Gallo, Avocado, Sour Cream and bowls of additional toppings like chopped Jalapenos, Sliced Olives, Extra Shredded Cheese and whatever else you can think of to dress it up.
*Smokin' Sweet Enchilada Sauce

2 - 14 Oz. Cans Tomato Sauce
2 Cans Water
6 Tbsp. Chili Powder
2 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
2 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Marjoram
1 Tsp Coriander
4 Tbsp. Flour
2 Tsp. Sea Salt
Black Pepper to Taste
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil*
  • by adding the 4 tablespoons of flour to the meat drippings in the skillet. *I added only 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil here because the drippings were about a tablespoon of fat. Blend the flour into the oils until smooth.
  • Add in all your spices and blend into the roue of flour/fat.
  • Add in your can of tomato sauce, stir in.
  • Fill tomato can with water and stir that in.
  • Heat this together over a medium heat until all is well blended and smooth.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes on lo, stirring occasionally.
Your Anaheim chilies should be nicely roasted by now with a nice bit of char on them so remove from the oven and chop in to chunks about 1/4" in size. (I tossed mine into a Bullet blender and gave them a couple of pulses, shaking in between each pulse)


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I don't know about you but I am always ending up with tail ends of loaves of bread.  Those last 2 or 3 pieces that are too dry to use for a sandwich.  If the bread is plain I'll dry it more in the oven, grind it up and use it as bread crumbs.  (Seriously? You're still paying for bread crumbs??) If it has seeds or nuts or whatever on the crust I'll freeze it until I get enough to turn it into a strata!

What is a Strata? It's a layered casserole dish similar to a quiche or frittata, made from a mixture which mainly consists of bread, eggs and cheese though it may also include meats or vegetables. The usual preparation requires that the bread be layered then the custard mixture poured over it - hence the name "strata".

I prefer using a method more similar to a savory bread pudding where the bread is broken up into pieces and soaked in the custard mixture before placing it in the baking dish. It's just a personal thing, I think the bread crust gets more evenly distributed this way.

A strata is traditionally served warm, right out of the oven BUT since I am into "tiny foods" and always looking for new happy hour snacks, I have been known to cut a strata cold.  I simply cut pieces into 1" cubes, poke a cocktail pick in them and serve them up chilled with a matching dipping sauce for a cocktail snack!

Strata Trivia: The earliest strata recipe known is a 1902 recipe for Cheese strata, a gratin of layers of bread, white sauce, and cheese, but no eggs.

My latest strata recipe is my
(Why sexy? Because it makes you feel all warm and happy inside and afterwards you're very satisfied!)

1 Loaf "Dead" (Dry) Bread
4 Eggs
1-1/2 C. Milk
3 Sweet Italian Sausage Links
1/2 C. Diced Onions
8 Oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
8 Oz. Shredded Cheddar
Any Leftover Cheese*
3 Tbsp. Melted Butter
2 Tbsp. Yellow Mustard
1 Tsp. Pollen Ranch Spicy Fennel Sea Salt
Black Pepper to Taste
Spray Cooking Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Measuring Cups and Spoons
Large and Medium Mixing Bowls
Large Saute Pan
13x9x2 Baking Dish
  1. Spray a 13x9x2 baking dish with cooking oil spray.
  2. Break the bread into large chunks.
  3. Spray your saute pan with some cooking spray, crumble in the Italian Sausage and cook until nicely caramelized.
  4. Remove the cooked sausage to drain on paper towel, set aside in the fridge but leave sausage grease and bits in pan.
  5. Add your diced onions to the sausage fat, add about a tablespoon or more of olive oil and cook until caramelized, remove and drain on paper towel.
  6. Beat the eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper and mustard in a large bowl.
  7. Fold in the shredded cheese and the cottage cheese. *(I will also usually add any slices or parts of packages of shredded cheese I have as well just to get rid of my odds and ends!)
  8. Next fold in the sausage and caramelized onions and gently blend all the ingredients until well incorporated.
  9. Pour, scoop or spoon into your greased baking dish.
  10. Cover your dish with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to soak a minimum of four hours, best overnight.
  11. To Bake, preheat oven to 350°F then bake your Strata for 50 minutes to one hour or until a knife tip comes out mostly clean.
Serve this up with a lovely fresh Spring greens salad with a honey mustard dressing (which I also use as a dipping sauce for the strata) and one of my yummy Champagne Martinis!

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(Pot de Creme au Chocolat)
with Chocolate Covered Mandarin Oranges,
Orange Zest, Fleur de Sel & Pink and Black Pepper

I absolutely crave a nice Pot au Chocolat every once in a while. It's like a gourmet pudding on chocolate crack!  It's so rich, thick, creamy and decadent that you can actually feel your halo floating away from you as you indulge in the sinfulness of each spoonful.
Pot au Chocolate is not hard to make but I have an even easier recipe for whipping one up that, frankly, I use most of the time!  It requires only a few tools and ingredients and just a few minutes to make - though you will need a few hours (at least 4) for it to properly set up.
I often take my basic Pot de Creme au Chocolat recipe and doll it up depending on my mood of the moment. Sometimes I add a little espresso, salted caramel, sometimes a bit of booze, maybe a few candied nuts - whatever happens to strike my taste fancy of the moment.
Last night I wanted orange infused chocolate so here is what I came up with:
Recipe for The Diva of Tiny Foods
1/2 Tsp. Orange Zest
6 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Pieces
3/4 Cup of Half & Half
One Egg
1/8 Tsp. Fleur de Sel
Pinch of Pink Peppercorns, Ground
Pinch of Black Peppercorns, Ground
1 Tbsp. Sugar*

6 Mandarin Orange Slices, Drained and Dried
1/3 Cup of Dark Chocolate Chips or Pieces
Whipped Cream
Dusting of Black Pepper & Fleur de Sel
Measuring Cups & Spoons
Small Microwavable Glass
Small Microwaveable Cup
2 Custard Cups
1. Put the 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips, the egg, the orange zest, the 1/8 Tsp. of Fleur de Sel and the two pinches of the peppers into your blender. If you want it sweet you may also add the sugar here. I do not use the sugar as I prefer the slight bitterness of the semi-sweet chocolate.
2. Heat your half & half in the microwave to scalding. This is about 2 - 3 minutes depending on the power of your microwave. You do not want the cream to boil but you want it steaming.
3. Turn your blender on to grind and slowly (through the hole, do not remove the lid) pour in the hot milk. Once the milk is all in, bring the blender up to puree.
4. Mix until the chips are completely melted in and the mixture is smooth, mine takes about 2 minutes or less.
5. Pour into your custard cups and place in the refrigerator to set up for a minimum of 4 hours.
6. Prepare your chocolate covered mandarin slices by melting the 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips/pieces in a small cup then dipping in half the mandarin slice. Place on waxed paper and refrigerate until serving time.
7. At serving time top your Peppered Orange Pot au Chocolat off with some nice whipped cream, place your chocolate covered mandarin slices on top then dust the whole dish with a bit more of the peppers and the salt and serve!

This recipe makes 2 really full custard cups of yummy chocolate sinfulness, with a little extra left over.  (I poured the extra into a shot glass and had a little "sneak" taste after an hour.) You can also fill 4 espresso cups with this recipe which is a perfect serving for after a meal as it's very rich!

This is a really easy and impressive dessert to serve your guests and it takes you only a few minutes to create!  Try it out and let me know about some of your versions!

"God gave the angels wings, and he gave humans chocolate." ~ Author Unknown


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SALAD PIZZA - Why dirty two dishes??

THE SALAD (Margharita) PIZZA
Say what? A salad pizza? Why not, we eat pizza, we eat salad and lots of times we eat them together, right? So, why should I mess up two plates to enjoy them? Besides, if you've read this blog at all you know I'm a "lazy gourmet", I love good food but I don't like to spend all day making it or cleaning up after it.  I'm single, I'm self-employed and I work practically 24/7.  I'm always looking for cooking shortcuts.

Last night I was really hungry, it was 8:30 pm, I wanted to settle down to watch the premiere of the tenth season of Project Runway and munch on something good while I did it.  I wanted a Margherita Pizza but, because I'm lazy and work all the time, I didn't have the exact ingredients to make one. What I did have on hand was a great store brand garlic rosemary pizza dough, an assortment of shredded cheeses, some nice baby spinach, my fresh basil plant, a leek and some cute little heirloom tomatoes. Close enough!

Here's what I did:

Preheated the oven to 450 degrees.
Spread the pizza dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
Sprinkled a nice layer of cheese on top.
Popped it in the oven for 12 minutes.
Chopped up the baby spinach and fresh basil leaves.
Sliced up some nice thin pieces of leek.
Quartered up my baby heirlooms.
Mixed the greens up with some EVOO, Balsamic, splash of  orange juice.
Seasoned with sea salt, pepper & a dash of dried oregano.

By the time my salad was chopped up and ready and I had turned off the computer and turned on the TV, my pizza bread was baked and ready.  I was planning on putting the salad in a bowl and eating the pizza bread with it but when I cut the bread I took a small piece and threw some of the salad on top for a taste and it was a perfect little bite! Why bother with a fork? I tossed the salad on top of the pizza bread, grabbed my Project Runway "Make It Work" Martini and settled in to watch my beloved Tim Gunn and enjoy the cat fights on the runway.

 Tim, you would have been proud of me, I "MadeItWork" !!

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Grilled Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Recipe

A little midnight snack to make your tummy smile.

At 11:30 pm last night I was starving.  I wanted something sweet, salty, crunchy and chocolate-y and I didn't want to go to the trouble of making cookies or turn on the oven for cupcakes either.  So I dug around in my cupboard and saw a jar of peanut butter (didn't want a PB&J) and a lovely jar of chocolate almond butter (light bulb is now over my head) and I decided a quick little grilled sandwich sounded really good!

It was quick, easy and delicious and satisfied all the cravings mentioned above. In just a few minutes you have a really yummy snack on your plate!


Cut the crust off of two slices of bread. Spread the peanut butter on one piece of bread and the chocolate almond (or hazelnut chocolate - Nutella, anyone?) spread on the other and slap them together - with the flavored butters inside, of course!  Don't spread it to the very edge or the butters will leak out all over your pan as you cook.
 Melt some butter in a non-stick skillet and sprinkle on just a bit of salt then place the sandwich into the pan on a medium heat to grill - just like a grilled cheese sandwich.
Add a little more butter and flip the sandwich to grill the other side.
When your sandwich is nicely brown on both sides, cut it into small triangles and plate up with a nice slice of orange or some other fresh fruit, shake a little powdered sugar on top and drizzle your fruit with a little chocolate sauce - or not, whatever floats your midnight craving boat!


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CHEESE CRISPS - Easy, Tasty & Fillable!


If you have shredded cheese, a non-stick saute pan, a spatula, a wooden spoon (optional) and five minutes you have a great snack option!

I was having a little fun with cocktails for World Gin Day (June 9th) and decided to deconstruct a classic gin martini for some fun.  There isn't much to a gin martini so when it was torn apart and presented in a different way my plate looked a little bare and I decided I needed a little snack alongside the elements of the martini.

I wanted something salty, crisp and really quick to do so I could get my photo done and the easiest, fastest little snack I know is Parmesan Crisps.  You simply throw some shredded Parmesan in a non-stick saute pan and melt it until it starts to crisp up then you pull it out, fold it into a fun shape and voila, snacks! (P.S. You can also throw some shredded cheese in piles on a silpat and bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 5 to 6 minutes.)

Only one problem, I didn't have any shredded Parmesan cheese!  But I did have shredded cheddar and it will do the same thing - in fact most hard cheese will!  And you know what's really cool?  If you roll them into a cylinder you can fill them with stuff!!!!!

Here's the process, step by step, in photos:

Over a medium-high heat,
drop in the shredded cheese, let it be loose and lacy!

Let this sizzle away for about 3 minutes or until you
can see the edges start to brown and bubbles appear
on the top. You'll see a lot of fat oozing out of some
cheeses like cheddar! (Added benefit, this sweats out
some extra calories!)

Check one edge to see if it's browned enough to slip
your spatula under. If not wait a few seconds more.

When you can get the spatula under the whole crisp,
slide it under then flip and cook on the opposite side
for about another 30 seconds - 1 minute (depends on
the type of cheese you're using.)

Your cooked crisp will look somewhat like this - even
a little browner won't hurt but the more you cook them
the less mallable they are when you pull them out to 
shape them, so keep that in mind.

These are going to be hot so be careful, but grab your
cheese crisp out of the pan, dab it on some paper towels
to get the extra fat off and immediately roll it 
around a wooden spoon or dowel for a cylinder. For
a free form snack like the one at the top of the post,
simply scrunch it by hand into a fun shape.

You can fill the cylinder shaped crisps with any kind of
interesting stuffing that goes well with cheese!  Here I
stuffed it with some chicken salad, but I can imagine
putting in potato salad, mashed potatoes with chives
and sour cream - the list is endless!

 Now you have a fun shaped, crispy Cheese Crisp to
serve up for Happy Hour or as a nice crunchy element
to any soup or salad.  Repeat until you have all the
crisps you want!

Check out my
which inspired these little nuggets of yum.

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National Donut Day - Donuts from Biscuits??

AND.....You can make this a savory snack as well!  Tonight I'm going to wrap the biscuit dough around a small piece of cheese then roll it in some salt and fun savory spices!!!


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It's National Coq Au Vin Day!

May 29th is
Coq au vin (pronounced Coke-O-Van) is basically a braised chicken recipe with burgundy wine, lardon (salted pork or bacon), mushrooms and garlic.  It is French for "cock (rooster) with wine" and is a classic French dish with multiple variations depending on what part of the French countryside the recipe comes from.

Considered a peasant dish originally, because the traditional recipe often made use of any old barnyard fowl, the wine the poultry was marinated and cooked in was used to help break down the toughness of the aged bird.

It is said that there were versions of Coq Au Vin from as far back and ancient Gaul and that Julius Caesar was said to have brought the recipe for "Gallo al vino" back from the Gallic Wars! In modern history this dish is most often associated with the iconic Julia Child.

I do this most often these days in a crock pot but I do use Julia Child's recipe - it just seems somewhat blasphemous not to!


Before dinner a nice Pomegranate Martini and, another classic comfort food, Hot Cheese Puffs would be a nice starter for this meal!

Happy National Coq Au Vin Day - now you can eat like an Emperor!

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No - Not Cherry Cola - Cherries AND Cola, and it's fabulous! The cherries and the cola along with the seasonings made the very best beef broth I've ever had!  Obviously, this has a sweetness to it from both the cherries and the cola so I did add a pinch of cinnamon along with more traditional beef roast seasonings to pop that up a bit.

I actually made this twice in one week so I could get more of the broth and use it for a soup (which I'm calling Cuba Libre Soup and will post soon.)

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Happy National Strawberries and Cream Day!

It's National Strawberries and Cream Day and what better way to celebrate than with Mini Strawberry and Cream Cheese Pizzas?  These are easy and great little bites that would go perfectly with this Strawberries and Cream Martini!
You can download the Free, full sized 5x3 recipes cards here.
Buon Appetit!

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I'm not the world's greatest baker.  I don't have tons of time and I am one of those "pinch of this, dash of that" type cooks which is not the way to approach baking, a culinary art that relies heavily on exact measurements.  I do, however, like to eat baked goods - a lot - and I don't like store bought goodies so I am constantly looking for new ways to do home baked easy.
The advent of those rolled pastry sheets that you can buy were a blessing for me.  They're not perfect but they work great in a pinch and they are pretty good for making a very easy and fairly quick galette!

For this apple galette I simply peeled, cored and sliced 4 apples (I used Galas sliced about 1/8" thick, but you can use your favorite baking apple), arranged them in an even later on top of the pastry sheet leaving a good 2 inches uncovered to fold over the top of the apples, sprinkled them with sugar, folded the edge of the pastry over the apples, then baked at 400 for about 30 minutes.
You'll notice my apples aren't artfully arranged in a circular pattern and that my folds aren't perfectly pinched - I told you I like easy, didn't I?  I already peeled 3 apples and I was making this for myself, it tasted just as good with the apples all haphazard and a funky folded crust!

These pie crust sheets are a little thinner than a crust I would roll out so I took 5 minutes off my normal baking time for a home made crust.

Tip:  If you like you can glaze the top with apricot preserves for a glossy look and some additional flavor.

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Happy National Coffee Day


Coffee is showing up in a lot of other places besides cups and glasses these days. Ground coffee is being rubbed into meats, coffee, espresso and beans are getting the sweet treatment in desserts and coffee cocktails are all the rage.

I guess we just love finding different ways to caffeinate ourselves! So, just to help everyone out:

Some Fun Coffee Food Recipes from Folgers
Creative Coffee Food Recipes from Epicurious
Recipes with Coffee from The Food Network

and from my sister site, TheMartiniDiva.Com:


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Click the Mini Recipe Cards to Download the Free, Full Sized, Print Quality Recipe Cards

I love baked rigatoni and one day I wanted to make it but I only had a can of diced tomatoes with Mexican spices and chilis in it so I figured what the heck and went with the whole South of the Border Theme.  It turned out great and now I do it all the time only with regular diced tomatoes.

You'll see I've used Italian Sausage along with the ground sirloin. That's because I always do this mix of meats for my regular Italian version and I also do it with my special Taco Salad and I love it. There's something about that fennel in the Italian Sausage that works even with the Mexican spices!

You can go with Spicy Italian Sausage and hotter green chilies if you like to bring the heat and feel free to mix up the cheeses, I've often added Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, whatever!

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