Feb 292012












First, I must thank my dear friend for treating us to such a fabulous dinner! I must admit the thought of prunes and olives was not mouth watering at first. If you can get past the ingredients list and just make it, you’ll be in for a delicious surprise, I promise. For those of you looking for the perfect make-ahead dish, look no further. You marinate this the night before and just pop it in the oven the next evening. It’s so easy but will taste like you spent an entire day slaving in the kitchen. Don’t forget to serve it with some fresh Italian crusty bread for dipping in the juices. (the best part) My friend made a fresh green salad and oven roasted asparagus on the side. It was the perfect combination! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

Buon Appetito!









Nov 282011













The other day I was in the kitchen chopping onions in my nifty Vidalia Chop Wizard. (this is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets) Tears were just gushing down my face and it was burning like crazy.  I happened to glance over on the counter where my sunglasses were. I decided to put them on to see if it would help. It totally worked! No more tears! I now store a cheap, but cute pair of sunglasses in my utensils drawer. They’ve worked every time. Yes, it’s a little dark, but only for a few minutes.









Look at these chic glasses I scored for only a buck at the dollar store! They fit perfectly in my kitchen drawer.








Of course, you can always purchase kitchen goggles but you’ll save money and look more stylish my way.

Nov 162011








I’m sharing one of my secret steak marinades today! That’s right. It’ll be floating in cyber space forever now. I rarely order steak out at a restaurant because I think my version tastes just as good, if not better. My secret ingredient is espresso. It adds a subtle earthy flavor, while tenderizing the steak.

My first choice cut of meat would be a rib eye bone-in. Otherwise, you can choose whatever cut is your favorite, just be sure it is a high quality choice. (no slow cooking beefs)

Marinade: (4 steaks)

  • ½ cup espresso (or really strong coffee)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • coarse salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

 What to do:

  1. Salt and pepper your steaks generously.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a shallow pan (like a casserole dish). Place your steaks in the marinade. The longer you let them sit, the better. I usually marinade them 2-6 hours depending on how prepared I was that day. At your halfway point, flip the steaks on their other side in the sauce. Note: If you’re letting them marinade for more than 2 hours, be sure to cover your pan and refrigerate.
  3. My preferred method of cooking the steaks is on the bbq. Nothing can replicate that unadulterated smoky flavor. If you do not have access to a barbecue, you can use the oven or stove top grill pan.
  4. It’s very important to let your steaks rest for ten minutes after they’re done cooking. This allows the juices to stay in. I always finish with a little bit of salt right before serving. It melts perfectly into the steaks. (My mouth is watering as I type this!)

How long to cook your steak:

Every barbecue, oven, and stove work differently. These are just general guidelines. Please adjust as necessary. For a 1 inch thick steak, 4 1/2 minutes per side for rare, 6 1/2 minutes per side for medium and 9 minutes per side for well done. The more “give” or “bounce” you feel when pressing into the steak with your finger, the rarer it is. Try not to cut into the steak to check if it’s done. That will provide an escape path for all those wonderful juices.

Buon Appetito!



Nov 012011











Wine boxes are not only cool looking, but they may hold some sentimental value for us. What can we do with them? My husband had a kinda genius idea. This past year we made a rule to give each other handmade gifts. Since I’m a foodie and a winey girl, he came up with this idea for me. (I’m still having trouble believing he didn’t get some help! wink,wink)

What’s extra amazing is he killed two birds with one stone on this diy project. Check out my old technique for storing my recipes…










Yes, I had recipes on napkins, index cards, Post-it notes, magazine pages and print outs. You could find them in any crevice of the kitchen too. I’m notorious for sticking Post-it’s inside my cabinet doors with recipes. Not exactly the ideal organization technique. Because I would just set the recipe papers next to me while cooking, they are covered in every ingredient imaginable. Just look at my favorite recipe…










I could re-write it at this point, but I love the character it shows from all the years I’ve been making it. Think wrinkles for recipes. In fact one day it might be fun to frame it. But for now, it is protected in one of my binder pages neatly organized under the appetizer section.

















I just store my wine box on my kitchen counter. It not only matches the decore, it’s practical and serves a daily purpose! All this thanks to my genius hub












Tutorial Here


  • This makes a great wedding gift. Gather recipes from friends and family to add to the binder. Mod Podge their wedding invitation on the top of the recipe book or on the inside of the box somewhere.
  • If the box comes from a winery you visited, line the bottom (see tutorial) with a map showing the vineyard location.
  • Add a “take out” menu binder to store in the box along with the recipe binder. There’s plenty of room for both.



Oct 282011











Sorry I didn’t make any soup this week, therefore it’s Sunday supper instead of soup. I think you’ll forgive me after you see what I have in store for you…short ribs! I normally use another recipe, but decided to try out this one from my new cookbook, How To Cook Like A Rock Star. Anne’s recipe has more of a tomato flavor base. It’s very satifying and will have even the pickiest of eaters singing praises!

Short Rib Recipe Here

Changes I made to the recipe:
  • I used 1/2 cup tomato paste only.
  • Instead of short ribs on the bone, I used boneless.
  • I made mashed potatoes for my side, which I think is the perfect compliment. My second choice would be pasta, given the tomato flavors of the dish.








In case you’re wondering why Sunday supper is posted on Friday night, it’s so you have time to get the groceries and plan for Sunday!
Buon Appetito!



Oct 212011













What do you do when you’ve popped open the bubbly and can’t finish the bottle? On the rare occasion this happens to me, I pull out the spoon. Yes, you read that right. Although this method is up for debate, I personally have found that works. Thank you Michael Chiarello who shared this tip with me 10 years ago. I’ve been doing it ever since!








What to do:

  • Avoid letting the sparkling wine or champagne get to room temperature if possible.
  • Insert the handle of a stainless steel spoon into the opening of your bottle.
  • Place sparkling wine or champagne back into the refrigerator.
Oct 192011

I love sharing ways to repurpose different items. Today I’m featuring a classic favorite, mason jars. Here are five ways I’m loving them:

1.Pie In A Jar

Our Best Bites came up with this genius idea. They’re individual serving sizes and can go straight from your freezer to your oven. These pies in a jar are perfect to have on hand for unexpected guests or a sudden craving of sweet goodness! Find the recipe and directions here.

2. Painted Flower Jars

I love this colorful creative way to re-use mason jars. Wouldn’t these make great budget friendly centerpieces for your next party? For step by step directions go to The CSI Project.

3. Bathroom Beauty Storage

Clever! Clever! Clever! Lovely Little Details came up with a great bathroom storage idea.

4. Sewing Kit in a Jar

Whether we sew or not, we all need a mini mending kit. This is a great diy gift idea! Find out how to make these by Martha Stewart here.

5. Soap Dispenser

Heather Bullard made this diy soap dispenser to keep on her potting bench. I think this would be fun in a bathroom or kitchen as well. You could also bring some antibacterial hand sanitizer to a park picnic or party. For a hostess gift, fill a mason jar up with some yummy smelling hand lotion. Find the tutorial on how to make one here.

Oct 072011














I owe this genius idea to my sister. She puts her dish soap in a small spray bottle next to her kitchen sink. I had the opportunity to try it out one night when I so nicely volunteered to clean the dinner dishes. I was amazed how such a simple change like the soap dispenser could make cleaning dishes that much easier. That’s when I decided I had to share this with everyone!


  • You have control over the amount of soap that is dispensed and where it goes exactly.(assuming you can aim 2 inches from something)
  • No soap is wasted which is what happens so often with the common soap bottle.
  • It’s easier than a pump.
  • You can multitask easily holding the squirt soap bottle, sponge and pot all at the same time.
  • It’s easy to store away under the sink, in the sink or on the counter.
  • Save money buying your dish soap in bulk and refilling as needed.















  • Buy decorative spray bottles to match your kitchen if you want to leave it out. I think a stainless steel one would be universal. You can find those at stores like Containers and Things.
  • This makes a great hostess gift. Get a nice spray bottle, large dish soap refill, (I love Method, by Target) new sponges/brushes and those ever adorable funky dish gloves. Wrap it all up in a stylish reusable grocery bag or wire basket lines with raffia. Attach a thank you gift tag and maybe include a little print out of the above PROS.


Oct 052011










What do you buy your foodie friend who has everything? How about a Himalayan salt block.  For my attempt at using one, I tried a simple salmon dinner recipe. Well, maybe I should say my husband did. He’s the expert salmon chef around here. According to my nephew Cameron, he’s never had salmon as good as Ryan’s!

Salmon on Salt- (2 servings)

ingredients needed:

  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon filet (cut into 2)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pepper


  • preheat the salt block in a 350f oven
  • mix together all the ingredients in a little dish
  • rub mixture on salmon filets
  • place the salmon directly on the salt block and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness
  • remove very carefully and serve immediately
  • prepare a simple side of linguine pasta with fresh garlic, olive oil and basil from the garden






Freshly cut from ancient mineral deposits, hand-cut blocks of translucent pink salts can be used for cooking meats, fish and more. They conduct heat beautifully, lending foods a wonderful depth of flavor. Use them on the grill, in the oven, or chill them for a beautiful way to serve sushi, appetizers and more. Himalayan salt blocks are naturally anti-microbial and easy to clean without detergent. Just scrub the surface with a brush, pat dry, then air dry to use again and again.

  • We did not season the salmon with salt ahead of time and found the seasoning to be perfect. I’ve read a lot of reviews saying it comes out too salty. We didn’t have that outcome. It was perfect.
  • The salt block seemed to make the salmon more moist than usual.
  • It’s heavy and very hot to handle so this could be a problem for those like my sister. (wink, wink)
  • Cleaning it isn’t the easiest task. You have to scrub pretty hard with something like a wire brush. I couldn’t get the surface 100% clean. I think in this case, it’s smart to have one side you cook on and the other for cold food presentations.
  • It’s definitely a cool novelty and conversation starter for anyone who loves to cook and entertain. However, the difference between cooking the salmon on the rock and not, may not be worth it for everyone.

Our next adventure with our salt block will be with something chilled. I have a hunch using it in this capacity will be my favorite. Stay tuned…

WHERE TO BUY: I’ve gotten a lot e-mails asking where to buy one. Mine was a gift, but I know a lot of kitchen home stores carry them.

Here is a link to the best priced one I could find.




Sep 282011








Looking for a twist on apple pie? I stumbled across a great recipe, pocket apple pies. This is a perfect example of how to take a simple dessert and make it fabulous! Annie over at Tennessee Sugar is not only sharing her great recipe with us, she’s giving away an apple pocket pie mold from Williams-Sonoma. The deadline is October 1st so be sure to go over and enter to win. Find more fabulous photos and the recipe over on Annie’s site here.

{these would be a perfect addition to “breakfast in a box”}