Wednesday, August 20, 2014

143.0…Romaine Salad with Tiny Tomatoes and Creamy Basil Dressing

For Bunco last week, I made Romaine Salad with Tiny Tomatoes and Creamy Basil Dressing. The dressing is out of this world. I imagine it would be good on chicken with breadcrumbs on top or as a veggie dip. Hmm…note to self….

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Romaine Salad with Tiny Tomatoes and Creamy Basil Dressing (Serves 8)

Recipe from Phillis Carey



1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup mayonnaise 

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

3 green onions with tops, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/8 tsp. dried tarragon


2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

2 cups tiny multicolored tomatoes

1 hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced


1. For dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours.

2. Toss the lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber and red onion in a large bowl. Add enough dressing and toss to coat well. Serve immediately. 

Printable Recipe

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I was still pretty full from my cheeseburger and fries at Ruby's for lunch, so I wasn't in the mood for a big dinner. I made a quick salad using some of the Creamy Basil Dressing leftovers. 

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Breakfast this morning was pineapple Chobani yogurt, Strawberry Vanilla Almond Granola (the last of it!) and strawberries. 

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I took the kids to their first day of school! I now have a 2nd and a 4th grader!! Crazy how time flies!!!!

After heading back from the school, I went to the gym for some cardio and weights. Lunch was a turkey sandwich, veggies and ranch. 

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I have my annual doctor appointment next (fun) and then it's off to pick up the kiddos from their first day of school!

Do you make your own salad dressings?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pesto Pasta Salad

If you've wondered where I've been, I've spent the last two days at Disneyland with the family, enjoying the last couple days of summer. School resumes tomorrow! I can't believe how fast this summer flew…..

I have another Bunco recipe to share with you before I get to all the Disneyland fun. This one is for the Pesto Pasta Salad. It was fabulous and tasted great as leftovers! Sorry the picture is blurry….it's the only one I have. :(

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Pesto Pasta Salad (Serves 8)

Recipe slightly adapted from All You Magazine, September 2008



3 cups packed fresh basil

1 cup packed fresh parsley

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbsp. lemon juice 

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup olive oil 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1 pound gemelli or other short pasta

1 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Salt & pepper to taste


1. Make pesto:  In a food processor, puree basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and pine nuts until smooth. With motor running, add olive oil and process until a thick paste forms. Add Parmesan and pulse twice. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Make salad: Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.

3. In a large bowl, combine pesto, Greek yogurt and lemon juice and stir until well blended. Add cold pasta and toss to coat with dressing. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Top with tomatoes. Serve salad at room temperature or cover and refrigerate to serve chilled. 

Printable Recipe

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Saturday night we barbecued hamburgers. They were awesome…will share recipe soon! To go with the burgers, I had extra dressing leftover from the Romaine Salad with Tiny Tomatoes and Creamy Basil Dressing so I made a quick green salad with it. 

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Sunday morning's breakfast was scrambled egg beaters with salsa, onions, cherry tomatoes and cheddar cheese. 

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We got packed up and hit the road for Disneyland! We checked into our hotel and stopped for lunch at Naples Ristorante in Downtown Disney. I ordered the Contadina Salad (chopped romaine, radicchio, endive, salami, provolone cheese, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumber, pepperoncini, red onion and Italian vinaigrette):

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It was very good. After lunch, we went to both Disneyland and California Adventure. The park wasn't very full so we were able to go on a ton of rides! 

We stopped for dinner at Tortilla Jo's. I had the steak fajitas. 

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It was probably the chewiest steak I've ever had. Blech. My husband had the chicken fajitas and said they were good so I probably just ordered the wrong thing. After dinner, we went back to the park and stayed until it closed. We were dead tired when we finally got back to the room.

Yesterday morning we were up early and out the door when the park opened. I had a Cascadian Farms Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Bar for breakfast.

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The park was a lot busier yesterday. It was Monday…go figure. We still were able to get a lot of rides in before stopping for lunch at ESPN Zone. My husband and I split some Buffalo Hot Wings. 

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They were pretty darn good wings!

I ordered the fish tacos:

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They were really good. I would order them again for sure! 

Dinner last night was at Rainforest Cafe. I had the steak which came with cole slaw and mashed potatoes. I have had a big craving for steak lately!

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It was just ok. Probably wouldn't order that again.

After dinner, we called it a night. We were all exhausted. I wear a FitBit to monitor my steps and hit a personal record of just over 23,000 steps yesterday. 

Breakfast this morning was another Cascadian Farms bar and a latte from Starbucks. 

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We packed up and headed home. We stopped at Ruby's on the Oceanside Pier for lunch. I had a cheeseburger and fries. 

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I figure my diet can start again tomorrow.

Do you wear any sort of pedometer? What's your "stepping record"?

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

141.8…Tomato Feta Salad

The Bunco recipes continue….this one for Tomato Feta Salad is an oldie that I've made several times. It's easy to throw together (missing cutting all those little tomatoes in half!) and is always a hit.

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Tomato Feta Salad (Serves 12)

Recipe from Ina Garten


4 pints grape tomatoes, red of mixed colors

1 1/2 cups small-diced red onion

1/4 cup good white wine vinegar

6 Tbsp. good olive oil

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 1/2 pounds feta cheese


Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley and  toss well. Dice the feta in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes, crumbling it as little as possible. Gently fold into the salad and serve at room temperature.

Printable Recipe

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Last night, I had some of the leftovers from Bunco: Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil and Pesto Pasta Salad. 

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Breakfast this morning was peanut butter on toast. 

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My brother and law and his kids are in town for the day so we ordered Leucadia pizza for lunch.

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I almost forgot to take a picture until I was half done with my pizza and salad. 

Tonight we are barbecuing burgers and hot dogs. It's a beautiful summer day!

Did you try a new recipe this weekend?

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Friday, August 15, 2014

143.2…Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil

One of my favorite things I served Tuesday night at Bunco was the Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil. I loved how I could make the crust ahead and just put the filling and tomatoes on top when it was time to serve it. Such a great way to showcase summer's delicious tomatoes!

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Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil (Serves 8)

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma



For the dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed


For the filling:

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 cups grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 lb. heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Sea salt for finishing

Small basil leaves for finishing



1. To make the tart dough, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse 2 or 3 times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 1/4 cup ice water and pulse 3 or 4 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a 5-inch disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

2. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick to fit a 10 1/4-inch round tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang around the rim. Fold in the excess dough and press it into the sides so they are thicker than the bottom. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.

4. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the dough and fill the pan with pie weights. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the parchment and weights and continue baking until the crust is baked through and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the tart pan.

5. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Using a small offset spatula, spread the mixture into the cooled tart shell. Top with the tomato slices and sprinkle with sea salt and basil leaves. Serve immediately. 

Printable Recipe

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Last night we went to Currant American Brasserie to celebrate our friend Jessy's birthday.

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We al shared the Garlic and Chive Tots (habanero ketchup, chive buttermilk ranch):

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These were basically little fried balls of mashed potatoes or, in other words, amazeballs.

We also shared Honey Roasted Mission Fig Toast (grilled levain, caramelized fennel, Laura Chenel goat cheese):

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This was a little plate of goodness. We all loved this!

My husband and I shared The Wedge (baby iceberg, red onion, gorgonzola, maple reduction and ranch dressing). It also came with maple-pecan bacon which came on the side because my husband doesn't eat bacon. Therefore, all the bacon was mine!

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For my entree, I ordered Steak Frites (grilled Brandt beef hanger steak, wild mushroom-spinach sauté, thyme fries, bordeaux sauce and a side of béarnaise):

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Excellent. Reminded me of Paris. :)

Jessy's wife Renee brought a red velvet cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes for dessert.

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I cannot get over how good this cake is. 

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I thoroughly enjoyed Currant American Brasserie. The food was outstanding and the service was excellent. I'd return for sure. 

Breakfast this morning was scrambled egg beaters with salsa, green onions and cheddar cheese. 

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I took the kids to camp then went to a dentist appointment. 

For the past week, my kids have been attending a cooking camp where they have been learning to make various tacos and salsas for their "taco truck" presentation today. The parents come and the kids serve the food. It was the cutest thing ever. The food was fabulous! I had two pollo tacos and one veggie taco.

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I'm looking forward to a quiet evening home tonight with the family!

Have you ever tried any of the Williams-Sonoma recipes? This was my second one and both have been great! 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

141.8…Bacon and Olive Cream Cheese and Chive Finger Sandwiches

One of the appetizers that I served at Bunco Tuesday night were the Bacon and Olive Cream Cheese and Chive Finger Sandwiches. Be careful when you make these…you'll want to eat the entire plate.

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Bacon and Olive Cream Cheese and Chive Finger Sandwiches (Makes 32)

Recipe from Phillis Carey 


1-8oz. package cream cheese, softened

8 slices bacon, finely diced and cooked until crisp

24 pimento-stuffed olives, chopped

4 Tbsp. fresh chives

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

16 thin slices white bread (or half white and half wheat)


In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, bacon, olives, chives and pepper. Spread one side of 8 slices of bread with the mixture; top with remaining bread slices. Trim off crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 small squares.

 Printable Recipe

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Last night my husband was out and I was not in the mood too cook. I had leftovers of the Trader Joe's Turkey Bolognese and spaghetti so that was dinner. 

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Breakfast this morning was scrambled egg beaters with salsa, tomatoes, green onions and cheddar cheese.

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After I took the kids to camp, I went to Great News for a cooking class. The class was taught by Phillis Carey and was entitled: Corny Cooking. Everything had corn in it, if not obvious by the title. :)

The first recipe was Mexican-Style Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Spices and Cotija Cheese:

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Talk about taking corn to a whole new level! Fabulous!

Next was Cajun Rubbed Top Sirloin with "Maque Choux" Creamy Corn and Bacon:

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Also excellent! The creamy corn was divine on the steak.

The third recipe was Grilled Shrimp and Polenta Cakes with Grilled Corn and Green Chili Salsa:

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The salsa was outstanding. All the flavors were fabulous together!

Dessert was Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Fresh Blueberry Sauce:

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So good. Perfect summer dessert!!! I love having all these new recipes to try at home!

What's your favorite way to enjoy corn?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

143.8…The Watermelon Keg

Whew! I did it. I hosted Bunco last night and it was a great success. I can't wait to share all of the recipes I made with you. I have to say, the one I was most excited about was my Watermelon Keg!

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Yep! I turned a watermelon into a keg and put a delicious cocktail in it using the watermelon from the inside! 

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The Watermelon Keg (Makes 10 to 12 drinks)

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, August/September 2009



4 ounces Alize Red Passion or other fruit-flavored liqueur 

8 ounces vodka

2 cups sour mix

Sparkling Rose


Cut a lid from the top of the watermelon and scoop out the fruit. Drill a small hole near the bottom, then use a knife to widen the hole until it's slightly smaller than a keg shank. ($30 for kit; Attach the shank, then fill the melon with this cocktail:

Puree 4 cups watermelon chunks; strain. Stir in 4 ounces Alize Red Passion, 8 ounces vodka and 2 cups sour mix; chill. Add sparkling rose before serving.

Printable Recipe

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Before I get to the rest of the Bunco highlights, I'll fill you in on what's been going on.

Monday's breakfast was pineapple Chobani yogurt, Strawberry Vanilla Almond Granola and mixed berries. 

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I took the kids to camp, got some groceries and starting prepping the food for Bunco. I chose to make a bunch of "summer salads". It's amazing how much work salads can be….

Lunch was tuna salad, veggies and ranch.

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Since I had been cooking all day, I wasn't in the mood to cook much else when it came time for dinner. Based upon a recommendation from my sister in law, I had purchased Trader Joe's Turkey Bolognese for nights like this.

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It was pretty darn good and easy too!

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While the sauce and pasta was cooking, I whipped up a Caesar salad and dinner was done.

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Yesterday morning's breakfast was scrambled egg beaters with salsa, tomatoes, green onions and cheddar cheese.

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After taking the kiddos to camp, I came home to finish cooking and prepping for Bunco. Somewhere along the way, I made a turkey sandwich for lunch.

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 All of a sudden it was show time! Time to get the appetizers outside!

Bacon and Olive Cream Cheese and Chive Finger Sandwiches:

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Greek dip (from a mix) with veggies:

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Everyone began to arrive and we all hung out and enjoyed a beautiful summer evening outside. 

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The good thing about serving mostly salads is that most of it can be done ahead. All I had to do was bring everything out. 

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Basil:

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Tomato Feta Salad:

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Pesto Pasta Salad:

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Romaine Salad with Tiny Tomatoes and Creamy Basil Dressing:

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Curried Rice Salad:

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Time to eat!

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After a little bit, I brought out the desserts:

Butterscotch Pudding with Cream and Toffee:

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Double Lemon Curd Cheesecake Pie with Sugared Blueberries:

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Just like that, Bunco was over. Now I have a ton of leftovers to remind of me it. :) Stay tuned for all the recipes!  (Special thanks to Lisa and Cathi for helping me prep yesterday!)

Breakfast this morning was Honey Nut Cheerios and almond milk. I wasn't in the mood to cook ANYTHING. 

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Along the same lines…my lunch was Bunco leftovers. I might be eating this stuff for awhile. Good thing it tastes great!

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Ever made anything creative with a watermelon? This was a first for me!

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