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Archive for the ‘appetizers/first courses’ Category

Now that the holiday entertaining season is in full swing, I’ve been thinking a lot of about some new appetizer ideas. Last week I posted some really great antipasto squares, a mix of Italian meats and cheeses sandwiched between crispy layers of pastry. Delicious! This week at a friends Thanksgiving festivities, I actually squealed when he put out a platter of stuffed mushrooms. They are one of my favorites and while I tend to favor a traditional sausage stuffed mushroom, to be honest, I’ll go for any damn kind you put in front of me. I started thinking about a new spin and having made french onion soup a few weeks back, I thought that might make a good stuffing – caramelized onions and melted cheese. Brilliant.

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Folks, the season is upon us. From here on out it’s all eating and drinking and nibbling and grazing. Dig out your elastic waistband pants and find all those wine bottle sized gift bags you’ve been hoarding all year. It’s also time to think about some good recipes – things to serve, things to bring, things to gift. Holiday-ish recipes that are delicious and festive, impressive but not too complicated or time consuming. (Nothing will crush your holiday spirit more than holiday stress.) As much as I love a pinecone cheeseball, I needed some new ideas for festive appetizers that rang all those bells but let’s be real, are there any truly new appetizer ideas or has everything been done to death? I started googling and came upon several “lists” – compilations of the best holiday appetizers to make this season. Nothing really blew me over (how many version of meatballs can there be??) but one did intrigue me … Antipasto Squares.

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Back in the day, when I was a corporate young’un, I would often meet a friend for lunch at a nearby restaurant where we would commiserate about our horrible clients and general misery. She’d call me from her office with urgency – “11:30. Houston’s.” This was usually around 11:15 so I would run the few blocks over to the restaurant to get a big cozy booth just before the lunch rush. We always ordered the same thing: hot spinach artichoke dip and off-the-menu chicken club salads, easily the two best things on (or off) the menu. Then one day the restaurant closed, replaced with a fancy boutique hotel and it’s corresponding hip restaurant serving $29 burgers. We found other lunch mainstays but none had spinach dip like that. I miss that spinach dip.

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A few months ago, suffering from a terrible bout of jetlag, I decided to sort and rearrange my cookbook collection. I purposely avoided counting them (some things just don’t need to be known) but let’s just say I have a lot. In the course of sorting, I found quite a few I haven’t cracked in years and were happy reintroductions, others left me perplexed as to why I had them and yet others made me laugh out loud. One of the later was The Northern Exposure Cookbook: A Community Cookbook From the Heart of the Alaskan Riviera. I’m sure it was a gift though I don’t recall from who. I loved that 90’s show about small town Cicely, Alaska and all the characters that lived there. Plus DJ Chris Stevens was hot. (When has John Corbett not been hot?) While the DVDs are readily available, the show doesn’t seem to be streaming anywhere. That’s a shame.

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I am extremely prone to jet lag. Back in February, after a particularly long overseas flight, I had the worst bout yet. At one point, a day or two after arriving home, I was wide-awake for a good 36 hours with surprising amounts of energy. It was strange. So I did something I’ve been meaning to do for months – I reorganized all my cookbooks. I have hundreds of cookbooks and over the years, they’d gotten a bit messy. I prefer to organize my cookbooks by subject but they were willy-nilly all over the apartment. The pile next to my coffeetable was taller than the table. It drove me crazy but I hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about it. Now I had the energy so I decided to attack the piles.

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One of those Facebook memories popped up in my timeline recently, reminding me of a Napa Valley trip I took several years ago. Looking out the window at yet another freak April snowstorm, there was no place I would rather be. If ever there was a time to have a Star Trek type transponder, it was in that moment. I was sick of this never ending Midwest winter with it endless grey afternoons. I was bitter.

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Hey! So I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, but nothing really blog worthy. More so, just some old favorites, many that I’ve already posted. With Easter coming up, there are some good things in the archives for your holiday brunches and dinners so let’s recap today.

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