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Summer days…

My sister and I recently threw a baby shower for our other sister, planned the menu and prepared the food. After a lot of discussion, we decided to make a variety of simple foods that everyone would go for. All in all we found that entertaining for a large amount of people can be managable with some planning. However, that planning should take place over drinks, with food that other people have cooked for you. And also, that “food” should be nachos.

(Above) Mini-strawberry shortcakes, using a shot glass, cut circles out of premade or homemade pound cake. In a bowl, mix fresh, chopped strawberries (I used about 20 large strawberries for 20 shortcakes), juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of sugar. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, then place a poundcake circle in cupcake paper, add spoonful of strawberry mix, and some juice, letting the poundcake soak it up, top with whipped cream and mint leaf.

White cake (use any recipe), filling is Nutella mixed with chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Icing is buttercream - 1 stick butter, 2cps. powdered sugar, 2 TB milk. Whip butter and sugar together in mixer, after totally creamed together, add milk. Can also add vanilla or a splash of liquer for extra flavor. *Fresh hazelnuts produce the best flavor, buy them whole, if they still have the husk (not shell) on, boil them in a couple cups of water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. After a few minutes, when you rub them under cold water, the husk will peel right off. Toast in 350’ oven for 10 minutes, then chop fine.

Delicious little sandwich created by sister and her boyfriend - Arugula, farmhouse white cheddar, chipotle aioli, various Italian deli meats - Peppered Salami, Prosciutto, Coppa.

Wraps - Tortilla, cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes.

This dip has become my pot-luck contribution standard. It’s simply a 16 oz. container of fat-free cottage cheese, 16 oz. low-fat cream cheese, juice of half lemon, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, fresh pepper and herb of your choice - I like to use fresh oregano or chives. If you have a handblender, use it to mix everything and blend until it’s creamy like goat cheese.

Caprese skewers, the easiest part: Grape tomatoes, fresh basil, small fresh mozzarella (“Ciliegine”), repeat. This never gets old for me - can add different things, olives, prosciutto, I like thin slices of fresh garlic on there too. Drizzle balsamic, olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper over top.

This is just a plate of fruit, hey, who doesn’t like fruit?



Tequila Shrimp

Lately, I’ve been anticipating summer and using my grill more often. I recently made some skewers with shrimp, red bell pepper, fresh pineapple, red onion and chimichurri. (See all recipes below).


Very versatile - both used in marinade and in my drink!

Need help choosing a ripe pineapple at the grocery store?

Look for a pineapple that is more golden than green and one with a sweet, pineapple scent. If it has little to no smell, and is all green, it’s probably not the most tasty, you could buy it and save it for another day - let it ripen on your counter, not in the fridge. If it smells like pineapple wine, and is all brown and mushy…then it is rotten and you should spike it on the ground, right there in the produce section of the grocery store. Because, what are they thinking having rotten fruit on display? You’ve just made a touchdown for food freshness.

Shrimp, bell peppers & onion in marinade.

All grilled with chimichurri on top!


1. Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple with Chimichurri

2lbs of shrimp with shell on, 1 Pineapple, 2 Red Bell Peppers, 1 Red Onion - cut pineapple and vegetables into large chunks.

**Side Note-Shells on are a matter of opinion, I like the flavor that the shells give to the shrimp…but then everyone will be peeling the shells off with their hands, I don’t mind, unless they’ll be walking around and not sitting to eat. Also the size of the shrimp is optional - the bigger, the less you get per pound, too small and it will be hard to skewer them. 

2. Toss in bowl with marinade:

1 bunch cilantro, 1 jalapeno sliced thin, 1/4 cp. olive oil, 1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Cumin, 1/2 tsp Oregano, 1 tsp salt, 3 limes - quarted and squeezed, 2 cps. good quality Margarita Mix, 2 shots Tequila of your choice, 5 cloves Garlic - smashed & peeled, but not cut up.

**Grilling Tip-Fresh garlic tend to burn on the grill, if you want garlic flavor, crack the whole garlic cloves lightly with the side of a large knife, peel and leave the root end intact to hold most of the garlic in - it will be easier to fish out of the mix after marinating.

Put all ingredients into plastic bag, squeeze out extra air and seal, so the marinade is touching everything. Let it sit for 1-3 hours in the fridge, with a dish under in case the bag breaks. Meanwhile soak wooden skewers in water - I used about 15-20. And make Chimichurri.

3. Chimichurri

1 bunch of Cilantro, 4 Garlic Cloves - smashed, peeled and root end cut off, 1/4 cp. olive oil, 1/4 cp. fresh lime juice, salt to taste. Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor, blend until everything is chopped fine and mixed well.

After shrimp and vegetables are marinated, put a mix of everything on wooden skewers (including pineapple). Place on heated grill (may want to brush the grill with a little oil) and cook with lid closed for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Shrimp will be pink, but tender when done. Drizzle chimichurri over the top of each skewer or brush on and serve.



Up On Apple Hill

Last weekend I visited Apple Hill in Placerville, CA for the first time. I was more than happy that our trip not only included lots of new tastes and sights, but plenty of rain and crisp weather - making it finally feel like Autumn, my absolute favorite season.

There are many farms on Apple Hill, most apple producing, but also pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, wineries, a juice production and a brewery. Many apple farms have other goods like baked apple desserts, apple donuts, caramel apples, cider, apple wine and much more. The farm with the best selection of goods is Boa Vista Orchards. They also had plenty of parking and lots of samples to try. 

Farm at Apple Hill.

It was pouring rain…

Maple Walnut Fudge…


Changing Maple tree.

Fuji Apples.

Sitting by the warm fire.

Wait, it gets better…