Green Quinoa with Pepitos

Green Quinoa with Pepitos

Few foods are as polarizing as cilantro.  There is no middle ground here.  Ask a group of people if they like cilantro and one half will say they LOVE it, the other will say they HATE it. No “take-it-or-leave-it” attitudes on this one…

Me?  Love it.  Bring it on.  A cilantro candle?  Sure!

Cilantro bath salts?  You mean I can soak in it?  YES!

Cilantro on my toast?  Please and THANK YOU!

Husband?  Hates it.  Thinks it tastes like dirt.  Or soap.

When asked if she’d eat it, Julia Child said “Never! I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”

One friend said it tastes like a penny.  Another added “a bad penny at that.”  (Is there a “good” penny taste!?).  Another said it tastes like perfume…  There’s even an “I Hate Cilantro” Facebook group, with the motto “Cilantro is disgusting and ruins everything.”  There are currently 2,990 members.  What an angry lot!

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Ice, Ice Baby! {Amp up your summer beverages!}

flavored ice cubes

Summer means outdoor entertaining {finally!}.  I, for one, love to enjoy a tasty beverage on the deck – but too often it gets diluted from melting ice.  Add a little “zip” to your beverages with flavored ice cubes.

I’ve just experimented with a few combos today – but this is where you {and your kids} can have lots of fun.

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Mini-Reubens {These will make you very popular}

mini reubens

If you ever want to make a cook’s day, request a favorite dish of his or hers.  Speaking from experience, we’re so thrilled that we’ve had a “hit” we’ll gladly oblige!

For years, I hosted Husband’s annual office Christmas party at our house.  The guinea pigs (God bless ’em!), who attended year after year, apparently had their patience rewarded with a few memorable offerings. That, and there was plenty of beer and wine…

As a result of those “experiments,” the one thing I’ve had more requests for really isn’t a “dish” – it’s a sandwich.  And a mini-sandwich at that.

These Mini-Reuben Sandwiches are pretty much the perfect party food.  You can make them well in advance, they’re easy to eat, and they’re “guy friendly.” And I don’t just make them for parties.  For all the reasons above, if you stop by during football season, it’s a safe bet I’ll have some of these on hand.

This week, though, I learned that a friend’s wife (one of our frequent party guests) had undergone an emergency surgery, and I offered prayers and anything else that might help.  His response?  “Prayers are great!  As for food, I could never refuse Mini-Reubens.”  

Coming right up!

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Grilled Vegetables {and 10 ways to enjoy ’em…}

veggies - platter c

My favorite farmers’ market is finally in full swing, and there’s nothing better than spending a weekend morning, coffee in hand, strolling from booth to booth.

Sometimes I go with a plan, other times I go looking for inspiration.  I always come home with what looks good that day – and it’s fun to see how the offerings change as the season progresses.  No matter what I pick up, there’s a good chance it’s going on the grill!

Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness.  Other than a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, they don’t need anything else.  One of the great things about a platter of grilled veggies is that it’s an easy make-ahead buffet item or side dish that is wonderful served at room temperature.  If I’m asked to bring a dish to a picnic or summer dinner with friends, this is it — I’m not taking up their oven space, and it’s ready when they are!  And isn’t it gorgeous?!

The grilling can be done a few hours before, leaving the grill free for burgers, and you free to enjoy your guests.

Added bonus:  a big batch of grilled veggies can be used in a number of other simple summer dishes.

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Cowgirl Turkey Burgers

cowgirl turkey burgers

Greetings from Couer d’Alene, Idaho! I’m spending a few days with my best friend and her horses, and we have worked up an appetite! (Those stalls don’t muck themselves, now, do they!?)

While I love spending time in the kitchen, spending a few gorgeous days in this beautiful place with these precious ponies takes priority on such a quick trip. So when we get back to the house at night – exhausted, sore and filthy… we want something delicious, but easy!

On the menu? Cowgirl Turkey Burgers! Maybe you’ve had a bad turkey burger experience. I’ve been there! I’m betting the burgers you’ve tried were either dry or flavorless or both. Several versions I’ve experimented with were too. But when a friend introduced me to these… WOWZA!

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Placido Domingo… and some sort of pork dish

placido - rosas night

I’ve had a number of memorable meals at Rosa Mexicano, but one stands out above the rest.

It was early 1994, and Husband and I were in New York for some event or another, and as always, we made to book one dinner at the original Rosa’s on 58th and First Avenue.   We were shown to a cozy spot in a little alcove that had just two tables, way in the back of the restaurant.

We were too busy enjoying a beverage and narrowing down the fabulous menu options to pay attention to the group sitting next to us.

But then the singing started …

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Apped’oeuvre Place-Cards {Entertaining Tip}

 

appetizer placecard

One of my favorite kinds of gatherings to throw is a cocktail party.  I like being able to serve a bunch of different apped’oeuvres, and not be tied to the timing and formality of a sit-down dinner.  (Yes, I know “apped’oeuvre” is not a real word.  But I want it to be…)

Since I usually mix up tried-and-true recipes with some “experiments,” I want to let guests know what they’re eating.  So I make place-cards to identify what is on each tray.  You might have noticed one of these in a recent post.

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Chicken Enchiladas w/ Salsa Verde

chicken enchiladas with salsa verde

Hola amigos!

While I’d love to commit to a big ol’ Mexican feast with homemade tortillas and an authentic mole sauce, this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration falls in the middle of an absolutely crazy schedule.  {I’m not even Mexican anyway, so I don’t feel obligated…}  This weekend, I’m going for another one of my it’s-so-simple-I-could-make-it-in-my-sleep recipes.

Start the evening with some sliced jicama sticks, chips and guacamole or a make-ahead dip…  Serve the enchiladas with rice, and maybe a side of black beans, roasted corn and tomatoes*, and you’ve got yourself a meal.  Pour your favorite tasty adult beverage, turn on your favorite background music {that’d be Gypsy Kings for us}, and you’ve got yourself a fiesta!

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{Throwback Thursday} Magic Marshmallow Puffs

marshmallow puffs - iced1

This one comes with a guarantee… these little pockets of naughty won’t last long in your house!

And… I should say right up front that this is an exception to my typically healthy repertoire.

Years ago, I had moved into this cool warehouse apartment – great for entertaining. But one of brothers asked why I just didn’t make the kitchen into a library or something, since my “talents” didn’t land me anywhere near a kitchen. There was one thing I could make. Magic Marshmallow Puffs. While I know they aren’t the reason Husband married me, I can safely say these kept him interested!

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Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

I can eat this like it’s popcorn.

If you’re not a raw cauliflower fan, I understand.  Raw “cruciferous” vegetables, as they’re called, can be a little off-putting.  (For you, and those around you, if you get my drift.)

But just like with onions, roasting or caramelizing them changes some of their chemical properties, producing a wonderfully rich, almost sweet flavor.

But enough from “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

Are you trying to get more vitamin C and fiber into your day?  This is a good option.  Preparing it is fast and easy, and makes a great substitute for a higher carb side dish.  It’s versatile too –  like a perfect pair of black pants, you can “dress it up, or dress it down.”

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