Archive for the ‘Savory Food’ Category

Christmas Dinner Party

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!!!  I had a wonderful time with all of my family and now am on a vacation in June Lake, CA.  We are loving the beautiful white mountains and braving the slopes.  I found out that I am not cut-out for snowboarding after experiencing quite the wipe-out my first day, but I was determined not to stay inside the cabin and just eat all day so I tried cross-country skiing with my father-in-law today and loved it.  It is more controlled than snowboarding and yet quite the workout…I am sore all over!  Well, as I pondered about what to blog about I found myself looking at all of my Christmas photos and realized that I had forgotten to share a wonderful dinner party that I had with a bunch of friends a couple weeks ago.  We had a fantastic time and loved trying out each other’s recipes.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the yummy recipes at the end of the post.  

One of my best girfriends, Kate, made an easy and yummy appetizer.  She cooked some dried cranberries in a little Grand Marnier and brown sugar and then place it over warm Brie cheese.  We devoured it!

I prepared the salad and dessert for everyone.  The salad had a Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette and tasty add-ins like blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins, apples, and mandarin oranges. 

My friend Matt made the Pomegranate Margaritas for the night!  They were sooo good and definitely a special treat for the night!

Brian made a delicious soup for us to enjoy for dinner.  It was a new recipe he tried out for the first time and I thought it was quite tasty.  It was a hearty Butternut Squash Soup that had Chorizo and Pepitas in it along with a bunch of other delicious ingredients.

For dessert I made one of my all-time favorites…Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Gingersnap Crust.  The recipe is a little time-consuming, but well worth it!

Here are a couple more photos from the fun night!

And of course I couldn’t leave you without a couple of the delicious recipes…both from the lovely

Anasazi Butternut Squash Soup with Chorizo and PepitasBon Appétit | October 1999


Yield: Makes 6 servings


3/4 cup dried kidney beans
1 pound beef chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled seeded butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup shelled pepitas, toasted


Place kidney beans in medium bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.

Sauté chorizo in heavy large pot over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels; drain, leaving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 3 cups water, broth and beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer until beans are tender, 1 hour.

Add squash to soup. Cover; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, corn and chorizo; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl Bon Appétit | November 1993


Yield: Serves 10


1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.
For Filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.


Citizen Cake & Tartine Bakery

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Two of the places I knew I would have to visit during my trip to San Francisco were Citizen Cake and Tartine Bakery.  I have both of their cookbooks and have devoured them both page by page.  I was so happy I got the chance to dine at them and as you can see from the photos I enjoyed every moment of it.  So sit back and relax and drool over my lovely foodie photos from Citizen Cake!

Normally I don’t really like most of the breadsticks that restaurants put out at the beginning of the meal, but Citizen Cake changed my mind…these were delicious!

This was AMAZING!!!  Sadly I didn’t get any good photos of the mushroom risotto I had for dinner, but let me tell you…it was one of the best tasting dinners I have had in a while.

Of course I had to get my favorite dinner…A MOJITO!

This dessert was so yummy too!  It was their version of a deconstructed Red Velvet Cake.  

Now onto Tartine…basically the best place for breakfast & dessert at the same time!

Now for a bite of pure heaven order one of those…their Pain Au Chocolate.

Their savory food is just as scrumptious!

And of course we had to buy those two little treats to eat back at the hotel!

Well, I have one more treat in store for you….I also stopped by a local gourmet grocery store since I heard that their homemade ice cream is to die for.   So here it is, the most delicious ice cream I have ever put my lips to from Bi-Rite Creamery!!!

It was soooo good!

I just wish I could’ve tried all of their flavors.

Just so you make sure you get the name…Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate!  You have to try it!




Fun, Food, & Great Friends

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Well, after some pretty busy work weeks I found myself with a free weekend night (a rare thing for me) and so some friends and I planned a last minute summer BBQ. We all love good food so instead of buying in lots of stuff we all brought dishes…it was so much fun!  I made a total of four things with the help of my friend Kate. I tried a new recipe from Food & Wine magazine and absolutely loved it.  The recipe is from Sue Zemanick, who was voted “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine a few months back.  The recipe was Chile-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato & Avocado.  I highly recommend trying it out and not skimping on the the quality of the ingredients.  This salad is so fresh and tasty, but must have top quality ingredients for you to get the full experience.  


Like I said, we had a fabulous night and of course I had to fully document it with fun photos.  I also have to thank my friend Matt for providing some great eye candy for you too…I can always count on him for good photos!  So to let you in on the rest of the menu we had Crostini with Burrata, Olive Tapenade, Arugala, & Prosciutto, a delicious Farro, Cherry Tomato, & Arugala Salad made by my private chef friend, Jonathan, homemade grilled pizzas by my chef friend, Brian, and two desserts by yours truly…I will describe more later!  So I hope you enjoy checking out the photos!

And for dessert I made Sour Cream & Lemon Sorbet with Gingersnap Cookies and Pichet Ong’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.  Both desserts were extremely yummy! I will be doing a full post on the Reese’s Bar to come so watch out for them because they will knock your socks off!

Thanks for checking them out! Here is the recipe for the Chile-Lime Crab Salad!

Chile-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato & Avocado

adapted from Sue Zumanick

Serves 4

  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced ( 1/2 inch)
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt and pepper.

Cooking Class Menu Plus the Cookbook Winner

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Last Friday night I taught a class at Prep Kitchen Essentials and we had a great time.  The class was on Fresh & Easy Dinners and it turned out to be a fabulous night!  But before I share all the delicious details from the class with you I wanted that thank you all for you for your great inspirational ideas. I loved reading each and every one and couldn’t pick a favorite, so instead I let the random number generator choose the winner (I know…I’m pathetic)!  Anyways, the winner is BRANDI!!! Congratulations Brandi and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do!  

Well, onto the menu…

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette


Rigatoni with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Feta Cheese

Bake Pork Chops with Radicchio Slaw

Creme Fraiche & Lemon Sorbet

Here are some photos from the class…First off is the Rigatoni with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Feta Cheese!

Next is the Bake Pork Chops with Radicchio Slaw & Panzanella..

And the last dinner item was my favorite…the Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette!

And sadly I didn’t get any good photos of the delicious Creme Fraiche & Lemon Sorbet, but here is at least one photo of the bowl!

Well, I couldn’t leave without sharing one recipe with you so here is my favorite from the night…enjoy!

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette 

adapted from Cooking Light

4 servings 

4 cups chopped cooked shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds)

5 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, divided

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 large limes)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

Dash of salt

8 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup chopped peeled mango (about 1 large)

1 cup julienne-cut radishes

1/4 cup diced peeled avocado

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons unsalted pumpkinseed kernels 

Combine shrimp, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and chili garlic sauce in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill 1 hour. 

Combine remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. 

Mix together the spinach, shrimp mixture, mango, radishes, avocado, green onions and pumpkin seed kernels.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.  








Beau-Coup Winner Plus a Recent Cooking Class

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Thanks so much everyone for the comments you left on the last post…you are too kind!  I am so glad that you all enjoyed Beau-Coup and I loved reading about your favorite finds!  The winner of the $50 gift certificate is Landa from the All-Purpose Blog!!!  Congratulations…hope you buy something fun!

Well, two days before that huge cookie order was due I actually had a cooking class scheduled that I would be teaching at Prep Kitchen Essentials.   The class had been scheduled a while back and while at first it didn’t sound like I would be able to make it through it with a smile on my face (since my legs were about to go out on me) I ended up meeting a lot of great people, cooking some fabulous food, and enjoying the night. Here are some photos from the class and of course I have to share at least one recipe with you too!  

The class was titled: Romantic Italian Date Night for Two and the menu was…

Crostini with Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella and Black Olive Tapenade & Pesto
Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup with Pesto Croutons
Pork Tenderloin with Mint Pesto
Ricotta Beignets with Chocolate Dipping Sauce
Here is the homemade Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup with Pesto Croutons.

Here is the Pork Tenderloin and Mint Pesto.

And finally here are the Ricotta Beignets with Chocolate Dipping Sauce.

We definitely had a great time at the class!

Well, as promised here is one recipe from the class…enjoy!  Also if you are interested in coming to some of my classes you can check out Prep Kitchen Essentials new class list and sign-up!

Ricotta Beignets with Chocolate Dipping Sauce

adapted from Fiamma by Elizabeth Katz

(makes 6-8 servings)

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all- purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 cup finely crushed amaretti cookies (about 16 cookies)
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (5 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar for garnish

Whisk the ricotta and eggs together in a medium-size bowl until
smooth.  Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, and amaretti and stir
until well blended.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

While batter is chilling, put the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  In a
small saucepan, bring the cream to a bowl and then pour the hot cream
over the chocolate.  Let it stir for a couple minutes and then stir
until smooth.  Keep warm or re-warm in microwave for a few seconds in

Fill a medium-size pot with at least 3 inches of oil and heat until
the oil reaches 360 degrees.  Carefully drop the crochette batter by
the heaping tablespoon into the hot oil and cook, turning once, until
brown on all sides, about 3 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove
them and then place them on a paper towel to drain.  Dust them with
powdered sugar and serve immediately with chocolate sauce.

Mexican Fiesta Time!!!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week, but life has have crazy…fun, but crazy.  Last week I took on the role of Super Auntie and watched my sister’s three little girls for 3 days while she vacationed in Mexico. Right when she returned I had a dinner party that I was catering that very day.  I worked for 12 hours straight and although I was dead tired I had a lot of fun.  I have been doing dinner parties for a group of three couples for their date night out.  We choose a different theme for each dinner party and this one was “A Mexican Fiesta”.  I had a great menu planned and the night was a hit!  We started the night off with Blue Corn Blinis that were topped off with Crab, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado crema.  Next I pulled out a hot Mexican layer dip that had refried beans, group beef and onions, green chile, cheddar cheese, taco sauce, and homemade guacamole.   

I then made the most delicious margaritas ever…Prickly Pear Margaritas.  Yes, they are pink AND delicious! The recipe will come soon in another post!

For dinner we went casual with grilled fish tacos, mexican rice, and fresh fruit.

And for dessert I made chocolate churros with milk chocolate peanut butter and chocolate ganache dipping sauces and flan.  Both desserts were out of this world yummy!  Homemade churros are so much fun to make and are a sure hit for a dinner party.  This flan I got off of and I loved the recipe.  It was more of a twist between a creme brulee and a flan…creamy all the way through.  Definitely a keeper!

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