Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!


We took the easy way out; big take-out order from our favorite Indian restaurant.

Good food, and a Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon, to close out the year.

Wishing you all a happy 2006.

Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto


Wow...what an easily prepared, and darn good, dinner.

Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto; walnuts, parsley, garlic, olive oil, S&P, and Parmesan coarsely 'pulsed', tossed with cheese tortellini, butter and a bit of cooking liquid.

Simple ingredients, comes together quickly, and filling.

How do ya like that?

Tune in tomorrow for January's Blog Party announcement!

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Little Bites: Christmas Eve with the In-laws


I wouldn't think I'd need to tell you just how much I love appetizers, but just in case? I'm always happy to sit down to a meal of small bites!

So when Matt's parents set up a small meze bar Christmas eve, I knew I was in for something good.

In the above photo, dolma filled with an herbed yogurt "cheese", pita (the good stuff from the Near Eastern market), Greek meatballs (this is Matt's plate), and mini-spanikopita.

A heavily-spiced pumpkin puree.


There were also giant white beans in a tomato sauce, which apparently didn't make it onto Matt's dish.

A very good, very light, meal...just what we needed to get us through tree-trimming and present-opening.

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Recovery Soup


I don't know about you guys, but after three straight days of baking, and a flurry of house cleaning and cooking Christmas dinner; well, let's just say meal prep is the last thing on my mind.

Sure, we have some left-overs, but it's mostly turkey. Good for Matt. For Alex and me? Not so much.

Deciding that neither starvation nor Papa John's on speed-dial was the answer, I did a little search and explore mission in the kitchen.

Thanks to my enormous new freezer, I have room for lots and lots of vegetable stock. Ok, good. That's a start.

A few loose potatoes, escapees from Sunday's dinner. That'll work.

Onions which won't last much longer; chop that up.

Both red and green bell peppers in the fridge; purchased for some planned recipe, but apparently forgotten. More chopping.

Olive oil in a pot, veggies dumped in and sauteed. Plop goes the stock (it really did make that sound...the stock was still frozen!), and simmer until TNT's weekday airing of Alias reruns is over. Add cans of cannellini beans and a wild rice mix; and cook till done.

So, how was it?

Decent. Matt threw in some sausage, and I added Bacos (which, funny enough, are made of soy) to mine. A nice soup, hearty and filling. And it made tons, so I won't have to channel my energy kitchen-ward for a few more days.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Maybe it's just me, but...


I find it odd that someone in Rome, Italy, is coming to my blog to find how to make the perfect lasagna.

I mean...c'mon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas; A Recap in Pictures


Still exhausted...seven hours cooking and cleaning would wipe anyone out for a good 48 hours. But, I'm conscious and upright, so here comes the promised write-ups.

Our tree, before the tearing of pretty paper.

Christmas Eve; Alex reading a library book with his Aunt Terri. See those red cheeks???!

Christmas Eve again; Alex getting assistance from his Grandmom, opening a really cool block/construction vehicle toy.

Christmas Eve; Alex receives a fabulous 2-disc set of Putumayo hits from Granddad. And check out the box of cardboard bricks in the background! Thanks, Aunt Terri and Uncle Ben.

Still Christmas Eve; a funky flashlight from Uncle Andrew...changeable discs reveal dinasaurs and butterflies!

Christmas morning: Alex's brand-spankin' new kitchen set, complete with all the fake food you can stand.

Including play sushi, tea set, wok and bamboo steamers!

Grammy and Grandpa sent down this cool horse.

A shiny new trike...Radio Flyer, too!

Pretty good haul, for a 2 1/2 year old. Two train sets, paint, paper, crayons, books, an enormous snake...

Matt did well, too. An Indian home cook's cookbook, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman novels, bamboo steamer, the Complete New Yorker collection, and a Pope Innocent III action figure.

I must have been a very good girl this year; mini-cheesecake pans, a deep fryer, silicone glove, Elvira's Box of Horror, a couple Dashiel Hammet novels, the Law & Order game, Hungry Planet, The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, as well as a reproduction of the very first seal of the city of Dublin, from 1297. I don't think I've had a better Christmas!

Dining room mantle, decorated for Christmas Day dinner. The greenery came from the bushes around the house.

A lovely Salsa-Baked Goat Cheese appetizer, with three kinds of tortilla chips...the red bean and rice are my favorite.

Black Bean and Sausage Soup; I'll find the recipe later. Very simple to make, a bit spicy, and very good.

A Spicy Citrus and Jicama Salad (let me know if you'd like the recipe).

Cheddar-Jalapeno Corn Sticks; lightly spicy, with chopped pickled jalepeno in it.

A dish Alex made for Christmas dinner; Potato and Poblano-Chile Gratin. Lots and lots of Gruyere!

Mole-Spiced Roasted Turkey. Another one you'll have to ask me for, if you'd like the recipe.

Double-Dark Choclate Cake, drizzled with Dulce de Leche. This time, I used Lindt 85%!

And, my cookie platter. I had to cut my planned recipes in half. I just had too much going on.

Starting at 12:00; Chocolate-Pistachio Fingers, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Cups, Chocolate Kahlua Snowmen, Kolachy filled with Lemon Marmalade and Port Wine Jelly, Chocolate Snow-Topped Cookies, Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Chocolate Caramel Cookies, and Brandy Lace Cookies in the center.

Hope you all had a great day!!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!


Last week, our favorite grocery store, Earth Fare, held a Christmas party for the kids. In a community room off the cafe seating, about a dozen and a half kids, as well as their respective parents, we were served lunch (hot dogs, veggie dogs, and Brats, crudites and dips, chips, punch and more). The kids got to watch a couple of Rankin & Bass movies (which are my favorite Christmas flicks), did some crafts and coloring, and had a visit from Santa!

Alex had a great time (and Matt found a new Brat to try), interacted with other kids, and walked away with some lovely gifts. But the best part was sharing some Christmas cheer with my little boy and husband.

See those cheeks?? Sure sign my little guy is so ready for a nap...

"Yeah...I'm not so sure about this, Daddy"

Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate), Everyone!

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Amid the Hustle and Bustle


When's a girl supposed to find time to eat dinner? And when she does, what's she supposed to eat that won't require much time or effort.

A quick meal of sliced Purple Potatoes and Veat Bites, fried in butter, with garlic and onion, cayenne and chili powder.

Warm, and comforting. And hey...I got to eat purple potatoes!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just 5 Shopping Days Left!


If you're struggling with those last-minute gifts, or the oh-so hard to buy for, here's some foodie-related gifts, found in the January issue of Vegetarian Times.

Badger Balm

Badger Balm sells a variety of rubs and balms, all for specific needs. There's one for the feet, for sore muscles, for babies, and of course, something to help you sleep. Their products are mostly organic, and a portion of the profits benefits children's charities. Plus, they never test their products on animals!

Good Cook's Monarch Collection

(pictures unavailable)

To quote VT: "This new line of kitchen tools is so ergonomic, you'll wonder why you're keeping your old gadgets around. The cheese grater's comfortable knob makes it easy to hold in place. The pizza wheel applies pressure from above to cut smoothly through crust, and the apple wedger has easy-grip, no-slip handles. The peeler's adjustable head allows you to hold it at the most comfortable angle for you.

Montecito Country Kitchen's Hot Spice Set

A selection of 'hot' spices...Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Turmeric and Tellicherry peppercorns...in clear-topped tins. I love being able to see my spices! They sell other spice collections, as well as jams, chutneys, marmalades and jams; they also sell some gorgeous copper cookware.

Klutz's Hemp Bracelets Craft Book

You can't forget the kids! Klutz's hemp bracelet kit includes 150 feet of hemp, lots of beads, and instructions with photos. And remember: growing hemp is good for farming! I quote: "Unrestricted hemp farming could give the US economy a healthy boost, not to mention our forests. Hemp is a fast-growing crop that doesn't rob the soil of nutrients and doesn't need pesticides. Forest take years to replenish; hemp, by contrast, is an annual plant that grows in four months. Once acre of hemp equal four acres of trees in terms of pulp production." (source, VT, January 2006)

So, happy shopping!

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Minty Fresh Puppies: WDB #14


So, this weekend, Sweetnicks instructed us to submit photos our dogs and food. Ok...I can do that!

Originally, I was going to take pictures of the three mutts digging into some rejected peanut butter cup filling. But, it was so bad (bad PB choice), even they wouldn't touch it!

Instead, I give you the Three Pups of Christmas; Doolin, Wicklow and Donegal enjoying Matt's candy canes!

(and please ignore the dirty floor; three dogs, an active toddler, and pre-Christmas rush...I may be cutting corners!)

And I need to send a huge thank you to Sweetnicks; in addition to all the packages I'd ordered, bills, and Christmas cards my very nice mailman brought to the door, I found a small box from one of my favorite food bloggers: a box of cookies!

Thank you so very much...what a welcome surprise!

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Vegas, Baby! Blog Party#5; the Round-Up


It's a shame, really. Clearly, not enough of our foodie friends took this month's Blog Party theme to heart. Tonight is all about saying STOP. Telling the world, 'I'm going to step back, relax, and take some time for me'.

I suppose the craziness of the-week-before-Christmas got to everyone. Everyone but our special Blog Party guests, that is!

This month, Blog Party was all about indulgences...foods, drinks, other things...ehem. If it makes you happy, go for it. Because in a few short days, we're all going to be living like Puritans! At least for the first couple weeks of January...

In keeping with our 'go all out' theme, I've turned to some people who know how to throw fabulous, themed, parties; Shindigz is a company I first became aware of about five years ago. They kept sending me their Prom catalog...I couldn't figure out why.

But I took a look at their stuff, and found myself wishing I knew enough people who would be up for a fantastic theme party...and that I was independently wealthy!

Shindigz will sell you everything you need for a memorable night, except for the food and guests (!); decorations, table settings, balloons, you name it.

And they just happen to have a Casino Night section...imagine a gigantic mural, with the Blog Party logo emblazoned across!

Or these humongous dice? And giant playing cards?

And I know I can always count on the uber-cool Plum Party to set the mood.

They have a great Casino Pack; with plates, cups, tablecloth, and more.

How about a Roulette Wheel Chip 'n Dip Set? Or Chocolate Dice? Either way you go, you'll be set for your very own Vegas, Baby! party!

Now that we've got the house decked out, let's get on to the tunes (one of my favorite things to do...cleaning the house? Not so much!).

And I look no further than one of my favorite music publishers, Ultra Lounge.

A CD I've had for some time, and absolutely adore, the appropriately titled Vegas Baby!

And because Christmas is coming, why not throw on their Ultimate Christmas Carols?

Ok, now it's time meet our guests, and taste the food!

So happy to have you back, Glutton Rabbit! Oooh...look: sushi! One of my favorite foods, as I think you all know...and Rabbit's brought us Ebiko and Unagi Sushi. Ok, maybe I won't eat it, since it's fish, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate how gorgeous it is! And I may take you up on that vegetarian offer one of these days...
Rabbit's also brought along Jasmine Green Tea with Lime...sounds so good!
Thanks so much for coming to the party...

Cathy took our theme to heart...she's been crazy busy, teaching cooking classes and baking wedding cakes (repeat after me, Cath: Never Again); so a little time out for some decadent treats was most welcomed!
Cathy is a converted Vegas fan (for those who've never been? I highly recommend at least one visit...), so she knows what kind of spread to bring to our party. Let's see, there's the Saffron Crisps, which I think I'll position right here next to me,
Grilled Lemongrass Beef and Onion Rolls
(Matt's called dibs), and Phyllo Cups with Seared Duck and Blueberry Cassis Reduction...ooh; classy! And I'll gladly take a flute of that Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade. I'm so glad you took the time to come to the party!

Always happy to have Kai at the party; and wait till you see what's she's brought! She's also gotten into the spirit of things, realizing we do so much, for so many...it's a good idea to stop and be (dare I say it?) selfish for this one day!
Kai totally had me at Cream-O Cheesecake...Cream-O's are her local version of Oreos. And from her description, I might just like the Cream-O's better.
See, cheesecake is really one of my favorite favorite favorite things. I love it. Which is why I never eat it. But tonight? Hand it over, and no one gets hurt!
Kai's also brought us Mango Parfait to drink...how wonderful to have a backyard overflowing with mangoes! It's all perfect, Kai; thanks for coming.

One of the reasons I love hosting Blog Party is the chance to meet new foodie bloggers. This month, we have a new (to the party, at least) guest: Celia, it's great to have you here!
It turns out Celia and her hubby were celebrating 15 years together (can we get her a round of applause?), so she set out a grand, indulgent, feast. The big star of the evening was Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Skewers...and they are almost too gorgeous to eat! Ok, I said almost. Celia also incorporated some Parma Ham, and more of the Smoked Salmon, into other some short-cut appetizers...smart thinking! She didn't forget the kids, either; wings, grapes, chips and more keeps them occupied.
A bottle of Cava to keep up the celebratory mood...not too bad for your first Blog Party contribution, thanks; and we definitely hope you'll come back next month!

Our earliest guests (which I love), Johanna went Vegas, Baby! crazy for us. She didn't just bring a dish or two; no, Johanna decided to bring eleven kinds of appetizers to the party! Wow..is all I can say.
Perhaps the most interesting dish would have to be her Spoons of Marinated Soba Noodles with Crab Meat & Sesame. I go crazy for anything served in spoons...it's just so cute!...and these are no exception. And be sure to check out all the other, just as amazing, dishes Johanna's made...we'll not go hungry tonight!
And of course, she brought Champagne...what could be better? I'm so happy you could join us for Blog Party this month!

Sarah knows that any good party is judged by it's desserts, so thank heaven she's brought along the omigosh; I'm going to die (happily), Kahlua Fudge Cheesecake Brownies! As if Kai hadn't already done me in, Sarah obliterated the last vestige's of self-control with these multi-layered, I'll-need-a-new-pants-size bars. But that's exactly what this event is all about!
Maybe I'll eat two...sure, why not!
And she's even serving up Kahlua & Coffee, to help those cheesecake bars go down a bit easier; yum.
Sarah, I'm thrilled you could come, and if I ever make it back to LA, or you find yourself (gawd forbid) in Knoxville; we'll do this for real: promise.

Now, what kind of hostess would I be if I didn't prepare some of my favorite things???

A very, very bad one. That's what kind.

And you're what? Shocked and surprised? I'm a sushi-addict. First up, beautiful little Kappa Maki.

For the carnivorous, some Smoked Salmon with Caviar...yep, you guessed right. Matt created that one!

I love those slightly-sweet Inari...

Because it's so difficult to find around here, we just had to include these oh-so perfect Tomago

We do eat more than sushi, though...one of our favorite snack-like foods: Miniature Crouqe Monsieurs; slices of baguette, sandwiching chunks of Gruyere and prosciutto (or, for the vegetarians, fake ham), lightly grilled. Heavenly.

Again, with the decadence! Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Caviar. Very simple to make, but oh my...what a presentation!

And please help yourself to the Caramelized Brie; sugar and water cooked till amber, and poured over a wheel of Brie. Press in some pecans, and serve with toast or crackers.

I also know the value of a good dessert, and so I gave in and made myself a batch of Peanut Butter Cups. A mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (Ghiradelli), with a sweetened peanut butter filling. Yum.

And my drink contribution? Well, one, I don't drink alcohol (mainly for taste reasons), and two, this is about what I want, right? So...anyone care for a Shirley Temple, made with our house-made ginger syrup???

Ok, folks; that's a wrap. Enough talking, let's get down to the eating! Everyone's brought amazing dishes and drinks, and I think we've had a pretty good time. And hey; a smaller crowd means better conversations...and more food for everyone!

I thank you all for coming; it's been a blast. We've all taken a little time to reward ourselves for a heck of a year, made some friends, and shared some recipes.

Stay as long as you like, after all...it's Vegas, Baby!

Check back New Year's Day for January's theme, and have a great night.

And remember: What happens at Blog Party, stays at Blog Party.

(sorry Sarah, but I'd had that planned for weeks!)

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