Sunday, April 20, 2014

Raspberry Jam & Buttercream Sandwich Cookies | Secret Recipe Club

Sometimes there is nothing better than a great cookie.  Cookies are often the connector that makes people smile from ear to ear.  Baking is my way of sharing my passion and the shear joy it brings to people resonates back to me ten fold.  My biggest fan is my hubby and his eyes lit up when I let him know I was baking cookies.  Over the weekend, I said to him that I was making him a surprise cookie for the Secret Recipe Club and I knew he would love them.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

English Pea and Bacon Crostini | Friday Night Bites

Inspiration can come from anywhere or anyone.  This week’s Friday Night Bites came from someone I completely admire for their artistic flare, creativeness, abounding talent and is at the same time, a completely real person.  This person is Paul Lowe and you might know him better as Sweet Paul.  I was first introduced to this culinary and artistic master by way of his online magazine and blog called Sweet Paul  If you have not had the pleasure of feasting through the online couture of food and styling, then I highly encourage you to take a few moments in your day to simply have a visual feast.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Baby Kale, Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Crostini | Friday Night Bites

It is Crostini time.  You know how I simply adore a brilliant Crostini that is packed with flavor and color.  Have I got a treat for you today?  I was super excited when the wonderful folks at Dole Salads reached out to me and asked if I would like to try some of their new salads.  I did not even have to hesitate and in turn quickly replied with a resounding YES.  I have partnered with them before and I have to say that their products are brilliant, fresh and exemplify the utmost highest quality.

Once I opened the large box that was delivered to my office, I was immediately intrigued by the Baby Kale.  I mean I love, love, love kale and in a miniature format, I am all over that.  I debated a bit about how I would use this lovely green and then it came to me – a Crostini for Friday Night Bites.  First, let me quickly share with all of you what other goodies came in this large box.  Dole just came out with 2 new flavors for their Chopped Salad Kits – Sunflower Crunch and Sesame Asian – both were supreme and full of crunch and packed with flavor.  Hubby and I did not add anything extra but I can only imagine either with freshly grilled chicken or salmon.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wild Mushroom Bites | Friday Night Bites

Life has been quite hectic lately.  Some of you may have noticed that last week the Friday Night Bites series took a hiatus.  The good news is I am back and super excited to share this week’s Friday Night Bites.  I had envisioned this little delight for sometime and finally I am able to share with all of you.  The idea of creating a little box or package out of bread and then serving a delectable mushroom duxelle that adorns the top of each one simply made me smile.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Crab Cake Sliders with Jalapeno Aioli + "Paying it Forward"

It was a beautiful weekend in the Bay Area.  The skies had hues of crystal blue along with a few hints of cirrus clouds hanging around at 50,000 feet above ground.  No wind in sight and my flip flops made it out of the closet and on to my feet.  Spent Saturday in San Francisco at a leaders retreat workshop for a professional organization I belong to.  It was a stunning day to spend the day in the city.  San Francisco is known for its perfectly sweet crab and the season in full swing.  On the way home, I picked up some Chicken of the Sea lump crab from Trader Joes since I promised hubby I would make my Crab Cake Sliders with Jalapeno Aioli.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Chunky Chicken and Beer Chili | Secret Recipe Club

It is that time again.  Hard to believe that time goes by that quickly. When I say time, I mean for the Secret Recipe Club.  I am sure you are familiar by now what all the fun is about, but if not, please click here to learn more about it.  This month I was honored to have Melissa from Melissa's Cuisine. Melissa is a twenty something who married the love of her life Mike and resides in West Michigan. Oh and they have an adorable doggie named Champ.  She stays active with a baby girl Summer and running races and marathons.  She loves cooking and documents her cooking adventures on her blog.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Perfect Italian Soup | Friday Night Bites

Growing up there was a special family style restaurant called Bancheros.  It was completely old school Italian but we loved going there as kids.  Often my parents would call ahead and pick up dinner to enjoy at home.  My absolute favorite item on the menu was their soup.  It was nothing fancy but the flavors were just supreme. Several years ago I learned that they closed their doors and it was like a really good friend who moved away or worse passed on.  I would never be able to enjoy that special soup. 

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Spicy “Chicken of the Sea” Potato Croquettes + The Great American Gratitude Tour

The famous Mermaid on the can of Chicken of the Sea is turning 100 this year.  Boy she doesn’t look a day over twenty nine. Wink. Smile. Seriously, the Chicken of the Sea brand is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and is kicking it off by bringing the first ever Chicken of the Sea American Gratitude Tour.  It is a six month, 56-city journey across the country along with honor local non-profits and heroes who are making their communities great.

When companies give back it is one of the highest honors and gifts they can give as an organization in my opinion.  You can play a part in this philanthropic effort by nominating a deserving friend or non-profit organization for a $10,000 Gratitude Award.  Chicken of the Sea wants to pay it forward by investing $1 Million dollars in up to 100 public service minded individuals and non-profits across America.  Your nomination will recognize those special Americans who continue to “Ignite and Unite” with the priceless gift of community service and volunteerism.  Simply click here to nominate a worthy friend or group that is doing outstanding work in their community.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Deviled Eggs with Bourbon Bacon Jam | Friday Night Bites

Okay it is almost Friday night and I could not be more excited for the end of the work week. Simply just need to unwind and let go of stress.  As you probably already figured out, I am on a deviled egg kick and just had to share another fun recipe with all of you.  I have an immense affinity for condiments – whether it is jam, pickles or salad dressings.  I am simply fascinated with making them and purchasing them.  They are the adornment to a dish and add that extra “wow” factor.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Salted Caramel Bars

I crave caramel over chocolate.  I am not one of those self proclaimed chocoholics but if there is such a thing as a caramel-holic, then I would fall into that category.  Give me a bowl of really good vanilla ice cream and some warm homemade salted caramel and a spoon – I am in heaven for sure.

Not sure if you are a dog lover, but I am.  Hubby and I have had Max our 14 ½ year old Lhasa Apso since he was eight weeks old.  We affectionately refer to him as the senior citizen these days although he has quite a bit of "pep in his step".  Last week, hubby heard him barking at 2:30am, which is quite unusual for him.  We got up to see what was going on and found that he was struggling to use his back legs.  As his doggie mommy, I was quite distressed and worried.  We finally got him comfortable and in the morning, I was able to secure an appointment and bring him to the vet.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

French Onion Soup Deviled Eggs | Friday Night Bites

One of hubby’s favorite things on earth is the Deviled Egg.  When I make them, his eyes light up like a Christmas tree and I swear his mouth begins to salivate like a dog.  I believe the deviled eggs of the seventies are making a resurgence onto the food scene with a vengeance.  The flavor profiles are quite creative now and make a wonderful appetizer for a cocktail party or simply enjoying at home.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Petite Sage and Gruyere Biscuits | Friday Night Bites

Back in December I made the most magnificent biscuits.  After visiting the biscuit bender 6 months ago in the San Francisco Ferry Building I was on a quest to create biscuits as good as his or better.  I believe I accomplished my task with these heavenly biscuits. 

Since the end of last year when I hosted our annual food bloggerscookie exchange and lunch, I promised I would post my recipe for the biscuits I served.  Finally that day has arrived.  I know that Patti, Liren, Jean, Azmina, Lisa and Gina will be thrilled to be able to make these at home.  Knowing these talented ladies, they will put a twist on the recipe and come up with a fun variation.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Greek Yogurt Handmade Granola Parfait + Tillamook Farmstyle Brunch Highlights

When an invitation came via email from Kelly at SodaPop PR to attend a Farmstyle Brunch sponsored by Tillamook at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in the Mission district in San Francisco, it was an instantaneous YES! Tillamook is one of those well respected brands that I have enjoyed for years.  I have long associated them with their infamous medium sharp cheddar cheese and learned quickly that they have expanded their brand into other products.  The focus of the brunch was to introduce their new Farmstyle Greek Yogurt.  By the way, Tillamook makes butter, sour cream, yogurt and ice cream.  Note to self, need to buy some of their ice cream pronto.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oven Fries with Sriracha Ketchup | Friday Night Bites

My inspiration for this week’s Friday Night Bites came from my hubby.  He adores ketchup with his French fries and on his scrambled eggs. My cooking bucket list has had homemade ketchup waiting a long time to be crossed off – now I can take that black sharpie and cross it off.  I could not just make simple ketchup but had to kick it up a notch with Sriracha.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lemon Currant Cream Scones | Secret Recipe Club

Weekend mornings at our house are sometimes quite frankly lazy days.  Hubby and I work long hours all week and come the weekend, it is time to let our hair down, keep our pajamas on, sip on some freshly brewed coffee and enjoyed a handmade breakfast.  Lately I have been on a Steel Cut Oatmeal kick and can’t get enough.  The hearty flavor with a touch of brown sugar is simply love in a bowl.  Albeit, the time (almost 30 minutes) one must put into coking this bowl of love, it is very much worth the time for tasty and healthy reasons.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mini Grilled Cheese with Jalapeno Apricot Relish | Friday Night Bites

Last weekend I was invited by Tillamook Cheese and Soda PopPR to attend a Farmstyle Brunch at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco’s mission district.  I love a great grilled cheese sandwich and have long admired the Tillamook brand, so it was a no brainer – I needed to attend.  Who knew Tillamook made more than their famous medium cheddar cheese?  Well they do. In addition to cheese, they make ice cream, butter, sour cream, yogurt and their latest product launch is for their Greek style yogurt.  By the way, it is different than the typical Greek yogurt and quite frankly I am now hooked on it.  I will have a detailed post highlighting the brunch and yogurt coming in about a week.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Deviled Egg Cups | Friday Night Bites

I had every intention of making deviled eggs.  However, after I realized something went astray from my cooking process with the eggs and peeling each one was going to take 10 years – I went into plan B.  Today I am sharing “plan B” with all of you.  The age old phrase – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Thinking quick on my feet, I went into my impromptu plan B – the Deviled Egg Cup.  The end result was simply divine and it will be a repeat appetizer for sure.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Walnut, Honey and Chèvre Crostini | Friday Night Bites

Have you ever made something that instantly you say to yourself – this is absolutely one of the best things I have had in a long time?  If you are like me, you like to cook a variety of dishes which are great.  But then you have those certain dishes that you make that just stand out and make your taste buds do the happy dance.  This Crostini was dancing like the stars for me.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Pepperoni Caprese Bites with Basil Vinaigrette | Friday Night Bites

What an incredibly busy week.  So hectic that this weeks Friday Night Bites is actually appearing on Friday.  With work kicking into high gear along with hosting my direct reports for the annual team appreciation lunch at my house plus some other events, this week whirled by.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mini Meyer Lemon and Strawberry Bundt Cakes | Secret Recipe Club

I am elated that it is Meyer Lemon season.  This lemon is a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange and is native to China.  I couldn’t be happier that they made their way to the United States back in the early 1900’s.  Several were ready to be picked from my tree on the patio and just needed to find that perfect recipe to highlight these little yellow gems.

After an extended holiday break from The Secret Recipe Club, we are back up and running.  I missed the monthly reveal and exploring another bloggers site.  If you are not familiar with The Secret Recipe Club or want to join, simply click here to learn more.  Essentially each month you are paired with another food blogger and you can choose any recipe they have posted.  You make it and post it.  Yup – it is that simple.  The fun part is finding out who had your blog and what they chose.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wild Mushroom Crostini | Friday Night Bites

I am a Crostini enthusiast! I am consistently creating new combinations in my head – often when I am driving or falling asleep. This holiday season was a time for entertaining at my house and that naturally means appetizers will be part of the event.  If you know me or have followed me for a while, “the Crostini” will make an appearance on the blog.  It is that time again.  This Wild Mushroom Crostini was a complete hit at one of my parties, especially since one of my dear friends is a vegetarian.  I actually had her in mind, when creating it.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Roasted Shallot Dip | Friday Night Bites

Getting friends together and making them smile by cooking some of my favorite things along with trying out new recipes, brings me much joy.  Over the holidays, I was a frequent entertainer – which suited me just fine. My hubby is always amazed that I will make a new recipe for friends who are coming over. I guess it never really fazes me.  It gives me the opportunity to test out a new recipe and make tweaks to enhance the overall taste. I must admit that looking back, I have vastly improved my cooking prowess and I can evaluate a recipe quickly and make adjustments.

While browsing the web, I came across a recipe for Roasted Shallot Dip on  Southern Living .  My mouth began to salivate immediately.  Besides the ultra creamy texture, the process of roasting the shallots in their skins was a unique technique that sparked my interest.  Okay, the pile of bacon bits on top certainly had an allure that was unmistaken. A typical onion dip has sour cream and perhaps some cream cheese or mayonnaise added in for good measure.  This particular recipe has mascarpone cheese.  You heard me right – mascarpone cheese.  This was the secret weapon in this masterful dip.  I topped with crumbled crispy bacon and finely chopped scallions – it was perfect.  I made a few changes to the recipe but found it to be a keeper.  Next time I would add some dry roasted pecans to the top and can just imagine how over the top delicious that would be.  Note to self – buy pecans.  Smile.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Salted Butterscotch Haystack Cookies

Happy New Year! I want to give a huge shout out to all of you, my loyal readers.  I appreciate each of you.  Each time I receive a comment on my blog, a like on facebook, a tweet on twitter, a pin on Pinterest, a like on Instagram or a nice personal email, I am reminded that writing this blog is more than posting recipes.  It is a platform for building a community around something I have a passion for – Food, Wine and Entertaining.  Thank you and look forward to making 2014 a great year!!!

Back to work on Monday.  After sixteen days away from the office, I must admit it rather shocked my body to abound to a 5:30am alarm clock.  One can certainly get use to sleeping in until 8:30 each morning then enjoying a piping hot cup of coffee while watching Good Morning America with hubby.  Oh, hubby was on vacation too – yeah!  We filled the time with working out every other day, doing a ton of organizing, entertaining, drinking wine, spending time with family and friends, eating in and dining out, baking, shopping, watching movies, catching up on our favorite television shows and general relaxation.  Overall, it was one great vacation in my opinion – just wish it did not go so fast.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bacon and Orange Marmalade Canapés | Friday Night Bites

A couple weeks ago I had the ultimate Friday Night Bites with great friends.  My long time friend Denise came up from San Diego for the Holidays.  We reserved a date for the get together back in September and it seemed like it would be forever until I saw her, but then the holidays appeared.  I had about a dozen folks over to enjoy an evening of wine, appetizers and many laughs. 

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Parmesan Thyme Shortbread + 20 Appetizer Recipes for New Years Eve

Happy, Happy New Year Everyone!  Thank you for following my beloved blog and enjoying my journey with me.  I truly appreciate each and every visit, comment, pin, share, tweet and Google +.  I look forward to a fantastic 2014 and hopefully some fun surprises to share with all of you.

Tonight Hubby and I are enjoying a quiet evening at home – which is simply perfect in my book.  Our two week vacation from our careers has been marvelous, relaxing and simply perfect.  We have spent time entertaining at home, eating well, shopping, catching up on movies and doing some nesting & cleaning around the house.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs | Friday Night Bites

Are you looking for that perfect little bite for the holidays?  If so, I think I may have the perfect answer to your question – Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs.  I found this recipe on Dole’s website and decided to give it a go along with kicking it up a tad.  The result was a perfect little bite for a party.  In fact, I served it at our Annual Ornament Exchange last weekend along with enjoying it the night prior for our Friday Night Bites (just made a tad extra).

I have been a busy entertaining bee this holiday season which suits me just fine.  It simply brings joy to my life to entertain for my friends and family – most importantly seeing the reaction on their faces and the large smile that follows.  I always love having a dinner party on the books to plan and look forward to.  Creating the menus and décor let’s my inner Martha escape and my guests are often the recipients of the creativity that gets unleashed.  It simply makes me happy.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Traditional Shortbread with White Chocolate, Cranberries and Pistachios

It is almost unimaginable how quick this year flew by and that the holidays have officially arrived.  Oh how I love this time of year.  As of Friday at 5:30pm my vacation has begun.  Did I say how much I love this time of year? Smile.  Hubby has also taken the same timeframe so we can truly enjoy the holidays and won’t need to return to work until January 6th.  Although we are never 100% on vacation, just need to simply check email and be ready for any urgent requests.  Typically a quiet time of year, but always want to be able to support my team and clients.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Smoked Brown Sugar Almonds | Friday Night Bites

A few years ago I made one of the most unique discoveries.  While shopping at the Napa Farmers Market held at Oxbow Public Market, I stumbled upon “The Smoked Olive”.  I soon learned that this award winning couple from Napa created a patent pending process for literally smoking olive oil which infused the earthy smoke flavor right into the oil – the result was spectacular.  Then to push things over the top, they had smoked brown sugar – I know – shut the front door – right?  I can literally eat a spoonful of the brown sugar and be in foodie heaven.  The combination of the rich sweet flavor and the hint of smoke is so over the top divine.  You can find all of their products on their website along with the brown sugar at Sur la Table and the olive oil at Williams Sonoma.  Both products are worth purchasing – trust me.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Butterscotch and Toffee Shortbread | Food Blogger Brunch & Cookie Swap

It is raining cookies during this time of year. Okay, maybe not literally but ovens around the country are firing on all cylinders.  I can only imagine if you flew low over towns across America, the air would be filled with the sweet scents of holiday cookies.  My house is no exception during this time of year. For the last several weeks, I have been filled with excitement in anticipation for my food blogger brunch and annual cookie exchange.  Granted it is only our 2nd year, I can confidently say it is an annual event now.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Olive Tapenade Crostini | Friday Night Bites

When it comes to appetizers, simplicity is sublime.  Often the limited number of ingredients combined together creates the most spectacular flavor profiles.  My Olive Tapenade Crostinis are a perfect example of this theory.  Between the salty, savory tapenade and the smoky flavor from the red pepper along with the sweetness from the reduced balsamic on top of a crunchy carbohydrate – this is heaven in a two bite delight.

Hubby and I attended a holiday party last weekend in San Francisco which was rather beige unfortunately, but one that we needed to attend. We had great guests at our table, so the event was several shades more enticing.  With any type of mass catering, sometimes the finesse of tasty food is lost in production and as hard as they tried, it was a lack luster attempt.  Perhaps because I have such an affinity for food, I am being a bit too critical and I am sure others were thrilled and I am hapy for them.  Be that as it may, there was one bright light shining at the event and it was on the appetizer portion of this party - thus my inspiration for this week’s Friday Night Bites.  I always try to find the positive in any situation.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jeweled Ornament Sugar Cookies | 3rd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Happy Holidays Everyone!  Honestly it is hard to fathom that it is already that time of the year.  For me baking cookies during this time of year is a natural activity and brings such joy to see the looks and reactions to folks faces when they receive them.  Speaking of cookies, it is time for the 3rd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  I have been excited to be participate for since the inception and we are able to part of giving back by supporting a national non-profit called Cookies for Kid’s Cancer through simply being involved in the great cookie swap. I can’t think of a better event than one that involves delicious cookies and being able to help others.  To learn more about particpating in the event for 2014, simply click here.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chive & Parmesan Popcorn | Friday Night Bites

We are experiencing a bitter cold snap here in the Bay Area.  Our temperatures are on par with New York and Chicago at this time of the year.  We are expected to dip into the high 20’s tonight and for the next few nights – for us Bay Area folks - that is cold.  Our heater is running along with our fireplace and the blankets are abounding while we watch television.  It sort of cozy to have these low temperatures and just sets the stage for snuggling and enjoying comfort foods.  Not great for the waistline, but a few days won’t be that big of a deal.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chutney and Cheese Stuffed Dates | Friday Night Bites

Happy Thanksgiving Day Everyone!  What a special day in our country’s history.  It is a day where we gather together with our family and friends to reflect on what we are thankful for along with enjoying great food, laughs and restful moments.  Hubby and I head to my parents house for a day of food, fun, and laughs with my family.  As you can imagine there is an abundance of food. 

It is a day to see my sister, brother in law, brother, sister in law and my four adorable nephews and my lovely parents.  My parents just remodeled their kitchen and it should be fun to cook the turkey and sides in the newly updated kitchen. It just got finalized last week and I had a sneak peak last weekend. It is simply stunning and makes me want to remodel my own kitchen, yet it really doesn’t need it – perhaps in a few years. Smile. Believe it or not, I have never cooked a turkey.  I know – “shut the front door”!  It is probably time for me to take the plunge.  I look at the turkey roasting task as being simply a roasted chicken on steroids.  Smile.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mushroom Pizzettas with Reduced Balsamic | Friday Night Bites

Over the last couple days we FINALLY had our first real rain storm of the season.  The Bay Area has been extremely starved for rain and now we hopefully have the start of a good rainy season to prevent a drought come summer.  It is a funny thing, once it rains people forgot all the things they have learned about driving.  It is like they have driving amnesia. There are more accidents along with more bad drivers – it just amazes me while I commute to work each day.  Perhaps after this first rain, folks will adjust.  Smile.

With rain, the air is crisp and fresh smelling along with the hills begin to blossom with green foliage versus the dry brown landscape – that is a welcomed sight.  It is time to pull out the various boots for winter and put away my beloved sandals, unless the weather becomes mild enough, which we do have even in the winter months.  The nights have been quite chilly as of late and our fire place, albeit gas, has been on every night.  I am beginning to settle into the fact that fall and soon winter is here.  Oh and not too mention the holidays are quickly approaching. Are you enjoying the fall season?

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chocolate Chip, Pecan and Coconut Brittle Cookie | Secret Recipe Club

This is my last Secret Recipe Club post for 2013.  How did the year whirl by so quickly?  It is almost unfathomable, huh?  In any event, the group I am in will reconvene in January and I am excited to see who I will be assigned to.  This month I was matched with Denise from Creative Kitchen Adventures.  If you feel out of the loop and want to learn more about Secret Recipe Club and how to join in on the fun, simply click here to learn more.

In the meantime, I enjoyed browsing through Denise’s food blog and learning more about her.  She met her hubby while they were both in the Navy and is now a Mom to three wonderful daughters.  She lives in suburbia but enjoys the outdoors and the beauty of nature.  She enjoys cooking, baking, travel, bike riding, blogging and reading along with spending time with her family and friends. She began her food blog a few years ago after discovering the joy of browsing and commenting on the vast beautiful food blogs in the blogosphere.

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