Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Have you ever made chicken pot pie?  I have not.  I don't typically make pie crust, rolls, biscuits, that type of thing.  But I wanted to take a one-pot dish to my sister for dinner and found this recipe in Ann Romney's new cookbook The Romney Family Table.  This is perfect comfort food.  The timing was just right after two days of solid rain here in the Valley of the Sun--highly unusual.

Admittedly, I cheated with the biscuit topping and used Bisquick--I didn't even roll out the dough but chose to use the drop biscuit style instead.  No one complained.

The only tweaking I did was to add more carrots and celery. And I used a combination of butter and olive oil to sauté the veggies.  Everyone loved it! And leftover turkey would be just as good, too.

Chicken Pot Pie

4 cups chicken broth                                             Salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken bouillon cube                                        1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter                                             1/4 cup heavy cream
2 onions, finely chopped                                       1 (9 oz) package frozen peas
2 large carrots, sliced in rounds  (add 2 more)      6 chicken breasts, cooked, and cut into chunks
1 rib of celery, sliced (add 1 more)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the chicken broth and bouillon cube in saucepan until cube is dissolved.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until blended.  Stir in the hot chicken broth.  Add the heavy cream, frozen peas, and cooked chicken.  Stir to combine.  Spoon mixture into 9x13 baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes.  Top with uncooked biscuits and continue to  bake 12-15 minutes or until the biscuit topping is golden brown.

Homemade Biscuits

2 cups flour                                    1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder           1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons sugar                          1 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Work in butter with pastry cutter or hands until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in buttermilk until just blended.  Roll out about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut out with a 3-inch round cookie cutter.  Place biscuits on top of chicken mixture and continue baking 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Biscuits can also be baked separately: Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees 10-12 minutes

Sunday, November 17, 2013

APPLE CRISP - Cooking Light Magazine

I've made a zillion apple crisps,  usually motivated by the fact that I have a 38 pound box of Utah apples and can only eat so many apples a day.  This is another good apple dessert recipe--not too sweet, and would also be great for breakfast with a little Greek yogurt (pretty sure I've mentioned that before).  And my Emma Bridgewater baking dish still makes me happy.

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 7 cups sliced peeled Rome apple (about 3 pounds) (I used Honeycrisp) 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, oats, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.
Combine apple and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon apple mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Finally making soup! Found this recipe and doctored it up a bit.  Easy and good flavor, nothing fancy--even better the second and third day.  Side note: Boy, do I love my Staub pumpkin pot.  It sits atop my stove from late September through November looking so pretty and autumnal (love that word).

2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil or both (I used both)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 chopped zucchini squash
2 cups chicken stock/broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup half and half cream
Shredded Cheddar cheese to top (optional)

Sauté chopped onion in butter/olive oil until soft and transparent.  Add chopped zucchini and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and bring to boil; simmer for 15 minutes until zucchini is tender.  Add seasonings.  Puree mixture until smooth (do it in batches if hot) and return to saucepan.  Add half and half cream adjusting seasonings to taste (I added a smidgen more of pepper and nutmeg).  Reheat but do not boil.  Optional:  add shredded Cheddar cheese to top individual bowls.  (I did not add the cheese but I'm sure it is delicious.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Happy September 1st! Except that it's starting to freak me out how fast this year is going.  Seriously.

But, I calmed down once I realized I had all the ingredients for this yummy pizza and quickly put it together today--loved every bite.  One more recipe to make with Trader Joe's Argentinian Red Shrimp which I had stashed in my freezer. The pesto sauce, flatbread, and goat cheese were all Trader Joe's brand as well and just perfect.
Ingredients for 2 pizzas

12 shrimp
2 whole wheat flat bread
1 tablespoon pesto sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons goat cheese


Saute shrimp in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, until shrimp are cooked (5 minutes)

Spread pesto sauce on pizzas, add cooked shrimp, sprinkle with mozzarella and goat cheese

Bake pizzas at 350 for 15 minutes until cheese melted

Note:  I cannot remember where I first saw this recipe (it is all over the blog world) so I cannot give it proper credit!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Ever been to Lotusland in Santa Barbara?  I hadn't even heard of it but was intrigued when I was reading that hidden in an upscale residential neighborhood was a private garden with 37 acres of thousands of plants from around the world.  And that a visit would require a reservation plus a $35 entrance fee for a guided tour that was offered only twice a day.  Really? 

Lotus Flower
         It was worth it.  But, I wouldn't bring the kids for this two hour guided tour if I were you.

In a nutshell, the owner of the property was Madame Ganna Walska who was a beauty from Poland,  married six times always increasing her net worth as she went along.  She discovered a love of plants and became a collector of rare plants from around the world never satisfied with just one or two of a species but amassing a bundle.  I counted more than 16 separate gardens throughout the property.

                                                                       So, let's go!

                                       One was never enough for Madame Walska.

                                   Five hanging baskets of this succulent on this tree alone.

Pathways all over the estate are lined with this blue-green glass that she had shipped in by the truckload.  It is leftover glass from the Arrowhead Spring Water bottling company.  If Madame Walska liked something she bought it in abundance.

When we were kids, my sisters and I had a badminton set (net and all) and this plant above reminded me of the shuttlecock. Agree?

                                       This beautiful orange cone is from the cycad family.

   More of the "if one bromeliad is good, a hundred are even better" school of thought.  This is just a smidgen of bromeliads.

My sister and I debated the above pic for a bit.  Don't you think all these blooming cacti look like a pack of Meerkats?  Or the periscope in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

   When you live in Arizona, a cacti garden isn't so exciting.  But good for Madame Walska for showcasing the whole lot of them.  Hopefully they came from Arizona....

 I would have liked to tour her home, but no such luck.  It is now the administrative offices for Lotusland.

                               A  pretty succulent sun dial smack dab in the middle of the grounds.

                                                  This was my favorite water feature.

                                                                     Loads of lemons

I can't imagine anyone ever used this shallow pool because getting in and out would be impossible with the abalone shells guarding the entire edge.  Squint your eyes and note the giant clam shell fountains.

Well, that's the tour.  Hope you enjoyed yourself.

                                                 We thought Lotusland was worth a visit.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


You know when you walk into a place, gasp, and think, this is perfection? Welcome to San Ysidro Ranch.  I was perfectly happy at the Four Seasons (I would have to be daft not to be) but had always wanted to see this place for myself.  It was seven minutes up the road from the Four Seasons Biltmore.

                                        Eucalyptus trees line the driveway leading to the property

You may know the history of San Ysidro Ranch--Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier stayed here as did Jack and Jackie Kennedy for their honeymoon. It is a gem of a hideaway.

The pretty reservation office with the nicest staff who didn't mind me roaming around with camera in hand.

This lobby is my idea of a perfect family room--wood floors, white walls, lots of pillows and comfy seating.  Which is why I am now thinking to paint most of my interior walls a soft white (goodbye Golden Gate, you've served me well).

Let's drive back to the guest cottages

Even the parking slips are enchanting

Climbing roses are in abundance

Star jasmine climb the posts and clematis covers the pergola

Another guest cottage

Hydrangeas galore

Herbs planted between the paving stones that lead us through an arbor

So much lavender and rosemary.  The fragrance, colors, texture work so beautifully together that when I returned home I planted a bunch around my pool.

This is the Stonehouse restaurant.  Very swanky dining on the property. 

Vegetable gardens for guest dining (you know, in the restaurants, not for munching away in the garden)

Hydrangeas along the stone steps 

I did grab the opportunity to tour the Laurel cottage. I didn't take any pics but it was what you would imagine.  Four poster bed, stone fireplace, wood floors, comfortable seating area, indoor and outdoor shower. The darling bellman told me everything in the minibar was gratis for guests (which seems only right given the nightly rates start at $600).

Time to leave.  But, I'm telling you, someday I'm going to splurge and stay here for a few nights. Oh, yes.

Friday, July 26, 2013

SANTA BARBARA and MONTECITO--my new faves!

Well, this little vacation was a piece of heaven.  Five days of bliss.  Santa Barbara and Montecito have been on my list to visit ever since my friend, Ashley, and her family have been spending July in Montecito.  We have similar taste in just about everything so I knew it would be lovely.

Took the first flight out of Phoenix and arrived around 9:00 am.  Too early to check-in so we headed over to the Santa Barbara Mission.  And can I just say that the Santa Barbara Airport is now my favorite airport ever.  A bit of style, nice and small, no shuttling anywhere to pick up a rental car.  Loved it.

A very pretty mission, Santa Barbara is similar to San Juan Capistrano Mission (which I actually prefer).  But this is definitely worth a stop.

Yellowed-stone, purple agapanthus, greenery, and little red roofed tile thrown in is a gorgeous combination. Look at that deep window sill.

Next, we drove to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  Picked up a discount coupon at the airport from one of those little visitor brochures displays.

        It was a bright, hot day in Santa Barbara when we arrived.  Still cooler than Arizona, though.

            Love a split log bench.  Someday I'm going to do a post of all the benches I've loved.

Now, time to check-in.  The heavens parted and we walked into the Four Seasons Biltmore.  We could have just stayed at this hotel the entire time.  Staff is friendly and helpful. Rooms are pretty.  Common areas all have that Four Seasons touch. And, see that Moravian light fixture?  I think that's what I want for my entry hall and library.  My only hesitation is how the heck do you change the light bulb?

                                             Love the Santa Barbara design style.

                                                  Nice stenciling surrounding our door.

                                                         Pretty, airy, comfortable room.

I've been wanting to try those acai bowls and vacation is perfect for trying those new-to-me foods. First, how to pronounce acai? Ah-sah-EE  (accent on the EE)--there, now you know.  Backyard Bowls
in Santa Barbara is delish.  The blue bowl above is a SMALL Island Bowl--yes, small.  The smaller bowl is a KIDS size acai oatmeal bowl. If you go, call in your order and pick it up.  It is crazy busy and although we ordered quickly and found a table (lucky!) it took quite a while to receive our bowls of goodness.  Those in the know called in and picked up their orders to either eat there or take away.

This gorgeous building is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.  It ranks #2 on Trip Advisor for things to do in Santa Barbara. Yes, it is worth visiting.

         Here is the view from the top--no charge.  Elevator or stairs will take you to the top for this sight.


                                        Hall off the main entrance.  Reminded me of Istanbul.

Back in Montecito in the lower village, we stopped by Scoop for some perfect gelato.

                        Salted caramel ice cream within walking distance from our hotel.  Tragic.

                                          Butterfly Beach at sundown. Perfect stress reducer.