Virtual Cookie Exchange Blog Hop

Have you ever been to one of those cookie exchange parties? The ones where you take several dozen cookies to someone’s house and inexplicably come home with thousands of cookies. Seriously, the math on this never works out. Or I’m hoarding someone else’s Christmas cookies.

Anyway, this here’s a virtual cookie exchange. Which means the participants post a recipe and tag four more people and the following week, they all post a recipe. And this time, I probably won’t steal your cookies. (No promises, the ones Mia Marshall made look realllly good.)

It was hard to choose, but I think my favorite Christmas cookies are Nut Cups. These little delights are a must-have for the holidays. I’m pretty sure my family would boycott the celebration if they weren’t on the cookie tray.

Thanks, Linda Poitevin, for organizing this virtual exchange! What a great idea! And thanks, Mia, for including me on the fun!

Nut Cups


3 oz cream cheese

1 cube butter

1 cup flour

Mix together and press dough into mini-cupcake pan.


1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla

1 tbsp melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

Spoon filling into the crust-lined cups. Sprinkle with chopped nuts (walnuts are my favorite, but pecans would work). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

One note:  I can never make the crust and filling work out to the right proportions, so you may want to keep supplies on hand to make extra, in case you end up with too much dough and not enough filling. You’ll probably want to make extra anyway.

For next week’s round of recipes, I’m tagging the following people:

See what my amazing critique partner, Debra, is posting over at her blog. Debra is an accomplished baker and I’m really looking forward to her recipe!

And check in with my fellow Gemma Halliday Publishing authors — Gin Jones, Dane McClaslin, Kerri Nelson, and Diane Bator to see what goodies they’re sharing!


End-of-summer treats



Caprese Salad

I am really ready for fall, but I will sure miss the tomatoes. Farewell, caprese* salads. Until next year!

* Yes, I realize that real caprese salad doesn’t include balsamic vinegar, or even the extra delicious fig balsamic vinegar from Lucero in Northern California. But it’s extra delicious, and you should try it.


It’s supposed to look that way

Don’t adjust your screen, those tomatoes really are black. They’ll turn into lovely heirloom tomatoes that are black and red, when they’re finally ripe. I also have a bunch of really boring green tomatoes on the other plants. Growing tomatoes here is the best ego boost you could possibly give yourself. The things practically grow wild on the side of the road. Yet, I’m always so proud when the first fruits start to show.

blacktomatoesAre you growing anything in your garden this year? If so, what did you plant?

Vegan Paella

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. The dish I made tonight deserves to be shared. This was an experiment, but one that turned out great. Once I learned that there was such a thing as soy chorizo, I knew I had to try making a meat-free version of one of my favorite recipes:  paella.

Last summer, I stopped eating meat. Gradually, I’ve also cut out most dairy and egg from my diet, also. I’m not always as strict as I’d like to be with my diet, but meals like this one make it easy to stay on track.

Paella is one of my favorite dishes, but it’s not one that I made too often because it was so much work and took so much time. This adaptation of my usual recipe is easier, and I have to say, it’s tastier, too. I don’t miss the seafood. And I like the soy chorizo even more than regular because it tastes exactly the same, but without all the grease.

Vegan Chorizo with Chick’n and Chorizo


Saffron stems (pinch)
1-1/2 boxes vegetable broth (32 oz boxes)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 cup or so chopped bell pepper (red, green or yellow)
1 15-0z can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Mahatma saffron rice pkgs
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
1 pkg Chick’n scallopini (Gardein brand)
1 12-0z pkg soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s is great)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges
Flat parsley, chopped


Sprinkle saffron stems into 32 oz of vegetable broth and set aside.

In paella pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil or bran oil. Cook chorizo until a little crispy. Put aside on plate.

Cook chick’n patties in same pan, 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, but into bite-size pieces.

In same pan, sauté onion, garlic and peppers until slightly caramelized. Add tomatoes. Cook for several minutes until flavors meld. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add rice and stir to coat.

Add 32 oz of vegetable broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chorizo, chick’n, and artichoke hearts.

Simmer until rice is nearly done. Add broth if necessary. This could take another 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle peas on top of rice.

Cook additional 5 minutes to heat peas through. Fluff rice and serve with parsley sprinkled on top. Lemon wedges optional.

Serves many. I’m not sure how many. Maybe 6-8? There’s a lot of leftovers in my fridge right now.

Late Summer harvest

Peaches Aug 2013 025
They smell so sweet.

It is the end of peach season, my cousin tells me. This is why he only has one lug of peaches for me. Then he puts two in my car. The second one, he says, can’t be sold because the fruit is just past its prime. I can’t see any difference and I suspect he is pulling a fast one on me. It wouldn’t be the first time. He won’t accept any money for the peaches.

Somehow, a half dozen tomatoes ended up traveling home with me, too. And a large bag of unshelled almonds that I picked in the orchard just as the sun was starting to set.

I love my family. They’re generous and fun and talented. And I’m terribly lucky that they’re also farmers.

From Garden to Menu

I’m still editing like crazy and am probably about 3/4 of the way through the manuscript. Of course, this morning I realized I’m probably going to have to kill someone. Not a real person, of course. So now I’m trying to figure out who gets the ax. Probably not a real ax. Although…

In the meantime, I’m thinking about what to cook tonight with the following ingredients:

Cherry tomatoes  4326

Lots of cherry tomatoes. Lots and lots of these.

Basil  4325

A bushel of basil. (And some mint peeking out from behind. I have enough mint to open my own mojito stand. Note to self: Mojito stand is an awesome business idea.)

Peppers  4324

Peppers. Many, many peppers.

They will probably get minced and tossed with pasta, but I’m exploring other options. Perhaps a pizza, cooked on the grill. With mojitos on the side.

The Chip Shot

ChipShot 019The Chip Shot

1 ounce Tuaca (citrus-vanilla liquer)

1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Creme

Hot coffee

Whipped cream



(Just because it’s only Tuesday and I’m already thinking about liquor doesn’t mean my week is going bad… No, wait. It does. It totally means that.)

Well, that’s … interesting

WTF Veggies Mar 2013

Sometimes, I think my CSA is just messing with me. This one had a name, though, so I didn’t have to resort to the internets to figure out what was lurking in the bottom of my CSA delivery box.

Behold the Maitake mushroom.

No idea what I’m doing with it yet. If anyone has suggestions, please share.

The best … broccoli

WTF Veggies  4248I live with someone who could probably eat broccoli at every meal and never tire of it. I like the stuff, but I need a little more variety. Then I tried this recipe for the best broccoli ever.

I used the romanesco broccoli from my CSA delivery, which was flavorful and fractal-shaped. This recipe is one of my absolute favorites and it is so easy. I added some pine nuts to the mix and topped it with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. It was a huge hit.