Thursday, November 24, 2011

The best start to Thanksgiving - on the rocks

     Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" like a morning cocktail of Fulton's Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur!  My dear friend (and confidant) Margaret surprised me with this lovely gift.  Oh, she knows me so well.  I am very thankful for her this morning.

     I quote from their label -

     "An enticing blend of pumpkin, brown sugar and nutmeg combine for a smooth, creamy liqueur that is reminiscent of homemade pumpkin pie."

     May I confirm, it does taste like a pumpkin pie on the rocks!  As a girl that LOVES anything pumpkin, I believe those boys in Kentucky made this with me and my sisters in mind.  The second one was even better than the first. So good, that as I sip my third cocktail this morning, I have decided to skip the laborious task of baking all those pies, and I'll just serve my guests a glass of this.  If there is any left...

Happy Thanksgiving!  And please shop locally tomorrow!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Goodness, gracious - great balls of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner - quick and easy!

     It's almost the "most wonderful time of the year".  While I should be spending what little free time I have shopping for the perfect gifts, planning my holiday meals, and decking my hall with boughs of holly - I'm not.  Instead, with only 33 days till Santa squeezes thru our front door (they don't allow chimneys in Florida), our house is in full tilt chaos.  We've decided to completely renovate the guest bathroom (and I mean gutted to the studs), and the Babe thought it would be the perfect time to paint the entire exterior of the house.

     Did I mention how grateful I am for him?

     Thankfully, I don't have to prepare the Thanksgiving feast.  My awesome brother, Dennis and his gorgeous wife, Helen, are hosting us once again.  Now that is something to truly be thankful for, and I am.

     We love the holiday, and the bird.  Turkey is one of the Babes favorites, so I came up with a creative way for us to get a taste of the feast without all the fuss. By combining the turkey in with the stuffing and baking them in the perfectly sized balls (genius!) you can have Thanksgiving dinner done within an hour.  Well, sorta anyhow.   Forget the mess of brining the bird.  Who has time to bake a turkey for 13 hours?  Why go thru the stress of worrying if your fowl will be moist?  These are like a to-go holiday fiesta you can carry in your pocket.  Like a spherical Thanksgiving meal the whole damn family will love.  I even made a healthier version of faux candied yams, that went perfectly with the Thanksgiving Turkey Balls.

     After all that construction work and painting, the Babe certainly deserved to be rewarded.  He throughly enjoyed his pre-turkey day meal - all three helpings.

Thanksgiving Turkey Balls

1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1  medium red pepper, chopped
1  large onion, chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stick butter
1 package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2  eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese
2 t crushed red pepper
1 t Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
1 1/2 t poultry seasoning
2 lb ground turkey - jennie-o brand

Heat your oven to 375*.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a heavy saucepan melt the butter and add the celery, red pepper, onion, carrot and garlic.  Saute for 5-7 mins, stirring frequently.  Turn heat off.  Stir in stuffing and chicken broth.  Mix well.  Allow to cool for 10 mins.

In a large bowl mix ground turkey, fresh parsley, eggs, cheese, crushed red pepper, and seasonings.  Gently stir in the stuffing.  Try not to over mix.  Use a standard ice cream scoop and place balls on cookie sheet.  Bake for 40-45 mins, until deep golden brown.

Serve with a side of cranberry sauce, my super easy "candied" yams, and Aunt Bethany's green bean casserole.  Be glad she didn't bring her jello mold.

Faux "Candied" Yams

Bake yams in a  375* oven for 45 minutes.

Split open.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Top with 2 marshmallows.

Return to oven and broil for 1-2 mins to toast marshmallows.

Pretend you are exhausted to your family.  Maybe they will remember all you do for them 33 days from now.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Have a ball!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Not for the faint of heart - or cardiologists...

     My oldest son, Mick, is one of those unique kids that makes me often realize how lucky a parent I am.  He fortunately takes after his mother in the ways that really matter in life - an eclectic taste in music, a fascination for all things vintage, a respect for Mother Earth, a passion against corrupt government, and a love of chocolate that is absolutely genetic.

     Mick is a free spirit, an incredibly talented musician (please check out their amazing reggae band - SPRED THE DUB), and as of yesterday, a twenty-five year old man.

Spred the Dub

     Birthday traditions run deep in our family.  Growing up with Principessa (my Mom), our birthday was almost as celebrated as Christmas.  It was our special day, and we got to choose whatever we wanted for dinner and dessert.   Some traditions you just don't mess with - and this in one of them.  Mick choose Beef Stroganoff for his dinner, and left it up to me this year to "surprise" him with dessert.

     Coming in a very close second to chocolate in his favorites category, is bacon.  Thick cut, maple cured bacon to be exact.  The kind of bacon that, as it's cooking, fills the house with an aroma that attracts neighbors I haven't seen in months.  The kind of bacon that makes a vegan salivate. I think I came up with a perfect culinary treat that combined Mick's favorites.

Now quit making that face, and try it for yourself.  Seriously.  You are gonna love it!

They may look spooky, but they taste amazing.  Just ask Mick.

Mmmmickster Pretzels

1 lb bag of Snyders of Hanover Sourdough Specials pretzels
1 lb Maple Cured Bacon - cooked till Elvis Presley well done, then broken into small pieces
1 bag Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips - melt gently in double boiler
1 bag Heath Toffee Bits (optional)

Dip the pretzels, one at a time, in the melted chocolate.  Place on a parchement paper lined tray.  Generously sprinkle on the bacon pieces, and if you are so inclined, add some of the Heath Toffee bits as well.  Set the tray in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to set, one hour.  

Now, I dare you to eat just one.  

Happy birthday, Mick.  I love you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Vineyard? In North Carolina??

      I am not a wine snob.  The cost of a bottle has nothing to do with whether or not the the grape juice is pleasing on my palate.  I have experienced very expensive wines that didn't entice a second sip, and some cheapo wines that absolutely delighted my taste buds.  So, with that being said, I am always eager to try new wines.  As my dear brother-in-law, Greg would say - why wouldn't I?

The Babe fondling the grapes

     I first learned about the North Carolina wine industry about six years ago.  My initial thought was "I really dislike sweet, Muscadine wines."  (sorry, no offense to any Muscadine wine enthusiasts) they are just not my thing.  My second thought was "how can they grow decent grapes on tobacco land?"  The only way for me to truly know,  I figured, would be for me to try as many different North Carolina wines as humanly possible.

     Note that I am always up to that type of challenge, especially in the name of "research".

Our first bottle of Raylen's Carolinius

     And so I did.  Not only was I impressed with what those North Carolina grapes are squeezing out, I was excited to find a couple of my new favorites!  The vineyards, especially those in the Yadkin Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area), located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are dadgum good!  There are currently 109 vineyards in the state, growing spectacular grapes from Cabernet Francs to Viogniers - and these good ole winemakers are turning them out into award winning, impressive Pinot Grigios, Cabernets, and wonderful Meritage blends.

     Take that, Napa.

     This summer, the Babe and I visited one of our top favorites - Raylen Vineyards, owned by Joe and Joyce Neely, in Mocksville.  I'm not sure if it was the drive in, passing thru the beautifully tended to grape vines, or the anticipation of the delicious wines, but we found ourselves instantly transported into another time and space.  A place of peaceful relaxation.  A time of slowing down and enjoying the moment...

    And so we did.  We greatly enjoyed every moment of our glass of Category 5.  Vintner Steve Shepard is a master at blending five different grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot, and magically transforming them into a spectacular, full-bodied wine that demands the respect of any American vineyard.  The finish is smooth with caramel undertones, and a delight to our palates.  

      Did I mention that red wine is proven to keep your heart healthy?  And what's better than a happy heart?  Maybe a second glass...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nectar of North Carolina

     Each summer we are lucky enough to spend time in the great state of North Carolina.  I fell in love with this state in 1989, on my first visit to Beech Mountain.  I was consumed with an incredible peaceful, easy feeling there.  (yes, I just borrowed some lyrics)  Over the past 22 years, that feeling comes back, even stronger, each time I cross the state line.  Can't explain it.  Quite magical.  Always wonderful.

     And each year, at the end of our summer vacation, the Babe and I load up the truck with the "nectar of North Carolina"-


According to the Cheerwine website...

Born in the South. 

Created in 1917 in Salisbury, North Carolina by a general store owner named L.D. Peeler, this singular soft drink with a hint of wild cherry and a bubbly effervescence became an immediate hit. Folks from all around the county came to LD's store to give it a try. 

Soon cold cases all over North Carolina were filled with the "Nectar of North Carolina." It was known to put a smile on everyone's lips who gave it a try, and the Legend was born. 

Raised in a glass. 

Generations later, the Legend has grown larger than life. Family and friends in every state of the Union clamor for this taste that always surprises. Cheerwine is regularly spotted in such far flung places as the great wall of China. The fjords of Northern Europe. The battlefields of Iraq. 

Today, L.D.’s great grandson Cliff Ritchie leads the company, as Cheerwine officially expands to new parts of the country and continues to win loyal fans with just one sip.

     Since we cannot buy Cheerwine in South Florida, and the withdraw symptoms begin just about when we cross the Georgia border,  this year we brought home five cases, and eight 2 liter bottles.  It lasted less than a week.

     But back to this past July, while sitting on the back porch enjoying the Carolina summer, I had an epiphany (it happens once or twice a year), and came up with this awesome pairing, and one of my new favorite cocktails!

Cheers to Jack Cocktail

Pour 1-2 ounces Jack Daniels into an ice filled rocks glass.  Top with a big splash of Cheerwine.  Garnish with a lemon or lime, or even better a cherry.  Close your eyes and sip, pretend your on the back deck and still on vacation.  And if you are one of the lucky ones that can buy Cheerwine at your local grocer, know that I am jealous.

Drink happy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation...

I'm baaccckkk!  Did ya miss me?  I thought so.

We had an incredible summer, and even though the temperature is still in the mid 90's here in balmy South Florida, I like to think that Summer is coming to an end, and Fall is just around the corner.  Gives me something to look forward to, like balmy mid 80's weather.

Rafting in Cocktail Cove with great friends, Lisa & Ken

We spent much of our summer in the most beautiful state, North Carolina.  The sky was big and blue.  The lake was cool and refreshing.  And the farmer's markets were beyond my expectations of all things good and good for you.

The Babe and our dogs on the hiking trail.

The Babe started a raised bed garden for me last Fall, and I excitedly planted my seeds in the Spring.  Prayed for rain, and for the deer to find their dinners elsewhere.  When we arrived this summer, we were thrilled to find that we actually grew somethings edible!

My first zucchini!  No, not a watermelon, that's a zucchini.

Next year, I've got to convince the Babe to expand my triple it.  We may need to invest in a horse and plow.

And so, this Summer, for the first time in my life, I decided to try something I always wanted to do, but fear kept me from ever attempting it.  It was the thing that always caught my eye (and my cash) when visiting Farmer's Markets or festivals.  The thing that was a complete mystery to me, but my love for it's contents were so attractive  I couldn't resist them...

My very first preserve - North Carolina Peach Jam!

Yep,  that's right.  I taught myself the art of canning!  You know, preserving, "putting up".  Believe really is an art.

Once I started with the simple Peach Preserves, I was hooked!  I rushed out to buy another book on canning, more canning jars, labels, and those colorful little squares of cloth that make your jars look so damn cute.  Next on to the fruit and vegatable stands - buying loads of pickling cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes (the best are grown in North Carolina, I swear they are), blueberries, and cherries.  The Babe thought I lost my mind.  Again.

Next thing you know....

I couldn't stop myself.  I canned for hours.  I canned for days.  And I loved every moment of it!

If you are a novice "canning artist", I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

This book was my go-to guide, and perfect for beginners.  The recipes were delicious, and the canning instructions were very easy to understand.  As my confidence grew, so did the ideas in my could I incorporate my love for good wines and cocktails into my new found obsession passion?

I hate to keep you in suspense, so I will soon share my most recent bright idea - you guys are going to love it!

How was your summer?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'll have my cake and drink it too

     I had a great birthday, and received the best gifts -  My family is healthy.  I'm in love with my husband.  My kids are kind, maturing into awesome adults, and usually fun to be around.  I enjoy my work.  I live with the sweetest dogs.  And, I get to share my birthday celebrations with an incredible woman, Amy June!

     As Jim's mother, she was an automatic bonus as soon as we said our "I do's".  Amy's quick smile draws you in, she has the most beautiful animated eyes, and an incredibly infectious laugh.  Reminds me of a young Shirley MacLaine.  She is the first to offer help, the one that you know you can confide in, and, more importantly,  she welcomed me with genuine warmth and her Canadian hospitality.   I just adore her!

     Amy's favorite dessert is "anything chocolate", my kind of gal.  As a fellow Gemini, I could relate, and knew the perfect cake...

     Chocolate and stout - an amazing combination!  Please forgive my mint forest that adorned the top of the cake.  I had one too many glasses of wine (it was our birthday party, after all).  In my drunken stupor, I thought it looked like something the Cake Boss would design.  Yeah, I know...

     Thank you to our hostess with the mostest,  Leslie, for a delicious dinner.  Happy birthday, Amy June!

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Serves 12Hands-On Time: 20m Total Time: 2hr 40m


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more, at room temperature, for the pan
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with the cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and stout. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, add 8 ounces of the chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars on medium-high until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate mixture and sour cream. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from heat, add the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate, and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Set the cooling rack with the cake over a baking sheet. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let set before serving.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Close to perfect...but far from normal

     And so I begin my 49th year, and what better place to celebrate than the tranquil key of Islamorada.  The Babe and I have been going there, every long weekend chance we get, for years now.  Usually the boys join us, and we spend the weekend fishing, drinking, and eating the best locally caught saltwater fish you've ever tasted.  The keys are wonderfully different from South congestion, usually happy people, and never a hurried pace.  Laid back...relaxing...and best of all, it is the sport fishing capital of the world.  

The Babe and our pet egret, "Fred"

     We all love to fish - love, love, love to fish.  We have gone in the shallow back waters for shark, permit, and the all elusive tarpon.  We have gone out in the the deep waters of the Atlantic on our quest for black fin tuna, grouper, and mahi-mahi.  The boys and Babe always do well.  I, on the other hand, seem to be jinxed.  I have not caught a fish in ages.  It's become the running joke. The Babe has been kind enough to catch a fish and quickly hand me his rod to reel it in.  It is exciting, but I miss the thrill of feeling that first tug, setting the hook, and then hearing the sound of my reel spinning as the line is pulled.

I knew, for certain, that this year, on my birthday, I would definitely catch one.

The stars were aligned.

The Babe bought me a beautiful new rod and reel.

The tides were in my favor.

I could feel it.

The anticipation was overwhelming.

Yep, that's me...with absolutely nothing on my line

Bupkis...nada...nunca...not a damn nibble.

     Just wait till next year...I'll be turning 50 and no fish is going to want to piss me off then.

     We didn't catch it, but we sure did eat it - Morada Bay's Blackened Grouper was outstanding!  I can't wait till next June 4th when I will be cooking up 40 pounds of this after my day of fishing - Enjoy and eat happy!

Birthday dinner on the beach at Morada Bay - it doesn't get any better.  Thank you, Babe.

Blackened Florida Keys Grouper

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 lemon zests, dried

Mix together and keep in an air tight container.

Brush 4 grouper fillets with melted butter.  Generously rub the blackening seasoning on to both sides of fillets, set aside as you heat your cast iron skillet for 10 minutes.  Heat 2 T of grape seed or peanut oil in the pan, then add the fillets and cook for 3 minutes each side.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges.  

Pretend your feet are in the sand, and they will taste even better.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't wait for your ship to come in - swim out to it.

  18 years ago, my youngest son, Anthony entered this wonderful world with a cry that woke all the other babies in the nursery at Bethesda Memorial Hospital.

He hasn't stopped talking since.

     Today he graduates from high school, achieving another of life's momentous ocassions.  It's hard for me to believe that 18 years have passed, but as I reflect back on his life, the flood of memories amazes me.

     For a moment... he is still the little, shy boy reluctantly letting go of my hand in his kindergarten class.  He is the sweet innocent six year old boy wanting to sleep with a flashlight to keep the monsters under his bed at bay.

     He is the defiant seven year old, hell bent on beating up his 13 year old brother over a Jedi sword.  He is the sweaty 8 year old in full Army uniform, filming a war movie in the backyard. 

      He is the pain-in-the-neck 10 year old younger brother, that copies everything Mick does, but also enjoys the quietness of being in his shadow.

     He is the compassionate 12 year old that is overwhelmed with grief when we had to put his ailing dog to sleep.  He is the 13 year old that is obsessed with radio control cars, and Britney Spears.  He is the 16 year old that fell in love for the first time with the sweetest girl.

     He is the 17 year old leaving alone in a car for the first time having just passed his driver's license test.

     He is the young man that has a love and kindness for his grandmother that makes my heart smile.

He is my beautiful son, and I love him with all my heart.

     Congratulations, Tony - may the next sail on your journey be filled with happiness, good times, good grades, and more than you can dream!


 ~ Dr. Seuss

Friday, May 20, 2011

I can't take the heat, so I'm getting out of the kitchen

It's official.  Summer has arrived in South Florida and unfortunately, the incredible heat and humidity will be staying with us for the next six months.  One would think, that after living here for thirty two years I would be accepting of this fact.  Well, I'm not.  My Pennsylvania blood still courses through my veins, and I will always miss the changes of seasons, and never get used to 147% humidity.  I don't like it.  Not one bit.

The challenge of cooking in this inferno is one thing I can deal with, and overcome.  I try not to turn the oven on - take a dip in the pool, do more grilling outside - take a dip in the pool, and tricked convinced my family that a salad really can be a meal.  This is one of the Babe's favorite - Pasta Salad Primavera!  I make a huge batch and we have it as our main dish on Saturday,  then devour the rest on Sunday as a side dish.  The flavors marinate and it becomes even more delicious the next day.

This goes perfectly with a nice Pinot Noir - try La Crema Sonoma Coast 2008, which offers "brooding, earthy aromas of dark cherry and forest floor, with a touch of spice. Flavors continue with ripe, black plum, hints of coffee and cocoa surrounded by a soft, velvety texture that ends in a fleshy, long finish." - Melissa Stackhouse, La Crema Winemaker 

You won't be disappointed.

Pasta Salad Primavera
(recipe can be easily doubled)

1 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente', rinsed under cool water and drained well
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, any color, chopped
4 stalks of celery, sliced
1 lb feta cheese, chunked
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro - you can use parsley, basil, mint or your favorite fresh herb
1/2 cup great extra virgin olive oil
2 T of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Can it get any easier?  This salad can be served at room temperature, or chilled.  Serve with a good crusty bread, and a nice glass of feels cooler already.

Eat happy - even in the heat!

Friday, May 6, 2011

"M" is for the million things she gave me

Mother's Day

      I myself, think the holiday should be celebrated on a monthly basis.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a stay-at-home Mom.  She was always there when I got home from school.  She made dinner every night.  She made all of my Halloween costumes, and prom dresses.  She taught me how to tie my shoes, how to cook, how to sew, how to grow roses, the closeness of family, and how devoted a wife could be to her husband.   She successfully raised five healthy and happy children, and she loves her grandchildren immensely.  We all respect her, love her, and are grateful.

A letter to my boys:

     Love your Mother - you only get one, and you guys really lucked out.   This Sunday you have the chance to treat your Mom like a queen, bow to my every wish, do all my chores, and then leave me alone to enjoy a day of peace and quiet.  If you know what is good for you, you will be bringing me my Eggs Benedict in bed Sunday morning, along with the Sunday paper, and then shutting my bedroom door on your way out.   What a perfect way to show me you love me!


Mommie Dearest

This is one of my favorite recipes from Principessa's recipe file.  She would make these every year for Valentine's Day, and sometimes in the shapes of shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day.  They are the best oatmeal cookie - ever!  I carried on this tradition, and thought they would actually be great for Mother's Day as well.  Show her the love...

Principessa's Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Mix together:
2 1/2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C soft butter
3/4 C sugar
2 T milk
1 egg
1 t vanilla

1 cup oats

Beat for 2 mins, then stir in 1 C oats.  Roll to a 1/4" thickness, cut into heart shapes.  Bake at 375 for 12-15 mins on greased sheet.

Allow to cool completely.
Icing - 1 T melted butter, 2 T milk, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 3-6 drops of red food coloring.

Spread icing on cooled cookies.  Take a big plate to your Mom and tell her you love her.

Happy Mother's Day - eat happy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Little Mashugana

The Babe and I were invited to our first Passover Seder.  Gentiles that we are, we had no idea what to expect or more importantly, how to behave.  So, naturally, I called my sister Debbie in New York - the closest expert on yiddish, and all things Jewish.  She was the first gentile accepted into a Jewish sorority at Penn State, quite an honor, so we knew we could turn to her for guidance.  At this point, the only word the Babe knew was "mashugana", which means crazy.  We needed help.

Debbie gave us a crash course.  Our Seder hosts, Ken and Tara, were wonderful.  The dinner was delicious.  And the Babe and I were able to not make putzs of ourselves!  We are very much looking forward to our next Passover...if we get invited back.

Debbie was so proud, she sent us this incredible gift of MashugaNuts - "pecans wrapped in an outrageously  gorgeous coat of cripy cinnamon meringue". D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!  They went perfectly with our Crystal Head Vodka on-the-rocks martinis.  We couldn't get more spiritual.  Well, we could, but it was Happy Hour.

Drink happy, you little mashuganas!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


When I think springtime culinary ingredients, I think asparagus.  This is the time of year I can go to the farmer's market and find the tender, sweet perennial, which is a welcome change from the normal tough, tree trunks our grocery stores try to sell us during the rest of the year.  I made this dish to celebrate Principessa's (my Mother) 89th birthday.  She loved her party, and the dinner, but mostly enjoyed the presents.  I hope my kids celebrate my 89th with me the same way.  

The Birthday Gal and her grandson Jimmy!

Otherwise, it will just be the Babe and I, sneaking martini's at the old folks home...and that will be just fine.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic Topped with Pancetta Chips

For the pancetta chips:
6 thin slices pancetta

To prepare pancetta chips: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the slices of pancetta onto the paper. Bake for 3-4 minutes each side or to desired crispness. Remove to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.  Allow to cool, then break into generous bite size pieces.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

   2 pound asparagus
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Trim asparagus. In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, zest and paprika and stir with a fork. Lay asparagus side by side on the grill and brush with oil mixture. Cook to desired tenderness, turning frequently, and season with salt and pepper.  Do not overcook!

Happy Birthday, Princepessa!  Eat happy!