Sweet, Crunchy, Salty! Halloumi, Red Pepper and Pineapple Appetizers!

Halloumi, red pepper and pineapple skewers are too easy not to make for a tasty appetizer on the fly!

Halloumi is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goats’ and sheep milk, and sometimes also cows’ milk.

It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled and has a salty, chewy, rich flavor that makes it a great compliment to sweet and tangy flavors.

Warm the Halloumi in the oven at 250 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 minutes then just chop and skewer the ingredients.

I kept mine small; about 1/2 inch square makes petite and tasty little bites.

These work great with cocktails as hardy appetizers.

Try a cilantro, olive oil dipping sauce for a little added flavor.

Colorful skewers make these festive for entertaining and I could even see putting this together like a salad or as a side for rice and beans; almost like a salsa.

Try this for early Easter snacks and the perfect way to usher in the bright and sunny flavors of Spring!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for Brunch at Prairie Fire in Chicago!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

These pancakes were the star of the show.

Fragrant Lemon; light and fluffy, golden and warm with just a hint of sweetness!

Lemon Ricotta pancakes were heaven.

We shared these like dessert.

Smoked Salmon Benedict Two Poached Eggs, Smoked Salmon and English Muffin with Herb and Lemon Hollandaise

Brunch with wonderful friends in Chicago found us at Prarie Fire in the Loop.

A comfy and cozy atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon was a perfect backdrop for delicious food and yummy morning cocktails!

This is a comfort food hangout with a sophisticated twist.

Signature PGC Benedict Two Poached Eggs over Saut├ęed Spinach, Crumbled Bacon and English Muffin Roasted Tomato Hollandaise

Greek Omlette Feta, Tomato, Spinach and Onion

Look at how fluffy and moist this omlette is!

Fresh Raspberry Preserves and Whole Wheat Toast

The raspberry flavor was so fresh and…..raspberry-y!

This is a great brunch spot.

A must see when in Chicago!

Dinner and Drinks at Sugarcane in Miami!

335yellow mango cocktail at sugarcane
“Spice of Love”, fresh jalape˝o, passion fruit syrup, mango essence, Svedka, Cointreau.

Sugarcane in Miami is simply beautiful!

The plantation style decor and the outdoor patio dining area are absolutely amazing.

But I have to say that the food was disappointing.

Items were undercooked, bland or simply less than interesting.

Or, even worse, the dishes were too fussy with too many ingredients.

329hibiscus cocktail

“Hibiscus Blossom”, citrus essence, native mint, hibiscus infused cachaša.

I do, however, have no complaints about the cocktails!

These lovely concoctions were fresh and tasty!

Mint, mango, cucumber and spices were perfectly combined to create delicious libations of heavenly proportions!

327green cocktail at sugarcane

“Eden”, japanese cucumber juice, fresh cilantro, Herradura Tequila, aromatic celery bitters.

325peppers at sugarcane

Roasted Peppers.

These peppers were actually quite good.

411duck confit with waffle at sugarcane

Duck Confit with Waffle.

405grilled sweetpotato at sugarcane

Grilled Sweet potato with Maple and Soy.

397cauliflower at sugarcane

Caulifower.

384squid at sugarcane

Grilled Octopus.

361octopuss and watercress at sugarcane

Pan Seared Squid.

350fried goatcheese at sugarcane

Goat Cheese Croquettes.

344broccoli rab at sugarcane

Broccoli Rab.

This was another favorite.

340fish with papaya at sugarcane

Crudo with Papaya.

433ricotta cheesecake with nutmeg icecream at sugarcane

Ricotta Cheesecake with Nutmeg Ice Cream.

430ricotta cheesecake at sugarcane

This ricotta cheese cake was, also, very good and I learned something.

This cake was smooth and creamy.

The cakes which I have made in the past were always a bit dry and lumpy.

This one was wonderful and I am going to try to make it myself!

Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps and Beautiful Cheeses with Friends!

313cheese and crackers

What is better than cheese and crackers with friends on a sunny afternoon?

307afternoon snacks

Fruits and olives, beautiful cheeses and fresh whole grain bread and crackers take this afternoon snack to a whole new level!

308afternoon snacks

Fresh ripe papaya taste like honey and sunshine!

303cheese and crackers

These crackers are melt in your mouth fantastic. So much flavor in wholesome ingredients makes this guilt-free snacking at it’s best.

296afternoon snack

Lesley Stowe, Raincoast Crisps are my new favorite cracker!

These are unique, delicisious and worth the trouble to find!

302cheese and crackers

These photos with the sun streaming in bring back memories of great conversation and joy with friends.

301cheese and crackers

Fine dining does not have to be complicated.

Some of my finest culinary moments have been born of the simplest ingredients!

312cheese and crackers

Don’t forget to put the love into it to get the most of your food and friends!

Without a Doubt The World’s Best Mai Tai!

132mai tai glass

It is no exaggeration to say that these are the best Mai Tais of all time…ever!

095Mai Tais limes

With spring and summer right around the corner you may be looking for a special cocktail to celebrate the season!

To quote the creator, “This elixir is to be consummed in Miami, poolside!”

With special friends, I might add!

103Mai Tia Ingredients

But if you aren’t in Miami and don’t have special friends, you certainly will be feeling the magic if you make this cocktail!

105Mai Tai works

The recipe:

8 oz dark Gosling’s Rum

12 oz light Mount Gay Rum

4 oz Cointreau or Triple Sec

4 oz almond syrup

8 oz fresh squeezed orange juice

8 oz pineapple juice

4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Just a splash of Heering Cherry Liqueur

4 oz Key Lime soda if you want

Lots of ice!

Fiddle with the rums. Add more if neccessary to taste.

106Mai Tai Man

116mai tai juice3

111Mai Tai Lime juice

130Mai Tai Limes 4

134Mai Tai glass and pitcher

Beautiful Cheeses at The Truffle Pig in Steamboat Springs Colorado!

214truffle pig cheese plate

Dried fruit, artisanal cheeses, fig compote and candied walnuts make up this cheese plate at The Truffle Pig.

209truffle pig Steamboat Springs co

I had a great view of the ski lift and the mountain where snow boarders and skiers came crashing into new snow!

220truffle pig cheese plate

There was a lovely selection of goat, sheep and cow cheeses.

The First Snow was a local sheep cheese; mild yet piquant and delicious with fruits.

223truffle pig cheese plate

All theese great cheeses and beautiful fruits yet the bread was less than mediocre.

A hardier nutty bread would have been nice.

227truffle pig cheese plate

An afternoon of wine and cheese? No problem!

231truffle pig cheese plate

Warm Crab Dip with Yellow Pepper and Green Onion is a Party Favorite!

012crab dip

This easy, yummy dip can be whipped up just minutes before guests arrive and served warm with crusty bread or crackers.

017crab dip

This has become my new favorite dish to take to friends or to serve at parties.

IMG_2705crab dip

Ingredients:

2 cans lump crab
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 cup mayonaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 chopped yellow or red pepper
5-6 chopped green onions
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp or to taste garlic salt

Mix the ingredients well and top with some extra shredded cheese.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm with bread or crackers.

IMG_2709crab dip

IMG_2715crab dip

IMG_2718crab dip

017crab dip

023crab dip

014crab dip

More Ways to Love Pinnacle Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka! With Ke Beach, Key Lime Creme Liqueur!

005pinnacle whipped cream flavored cocktail

I just can not say enough about Pinnacle Whipped Cream flavored vodka!

We love it around here and have turned cocktail hour into an artform!

012pinnacle whipped cream flavored vodka cocktail

Ke Beach Key Lime flavored Cream Liqueur has taken the original pineapple coconut recipe to a new level!

001 pinnacle whipped cream vodka cocktail

If the photos are a bit fuzzy it is only because I have to work so fast to get my shots before the cocktails dissapear!

013pinnacle whipped cream flavored vodka cocktail

The photo does say it best regarding amounts. This recipe makes two large drinks:

1/2 cup lite coconut milk

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup Ke Beach liqueur

1/2 to 3/4 cup Pinnacle Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka

1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks ( I cut and freeze my own; freshness is key!)

008pinnacle whipped cream flavored vodka cocktail

Just pour into the blender, mix well and enjoy!

015pinnacle whipped cream flavored vodka cocktail

Pink Girlie Cocktails and Hot Smoked Salmon Spread!

097salmon spread

Hot smoked salmon is the key ingredient to this light, savory dish that is tasty and sooo girlie!

We topped whole wheat crackers with the delicate creamy and sublte flavors of the salmon spread.

096salmon spread

My dear, BFF shared her favorite recipe with me and I will share it with you.

Ingredients
6-8oz hot smoked salmon finely chopped
1 Tbspn fresh dill finely chopped
1 Tbspn fresh parsley finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
1/4- 1/2 cup of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
1 large garlic clove crushed
A sqeeze of fresh lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

The real secret to the success of this recipe is to mix the mayo, garlic and lemon together very well before adding to the salmon.

Mix well and serve chilled!

063girls getting ready to party

Pink and girlie all around when friends just want to have fun!

090girlie cocktails are delish

This delicious pink cocktail was inspired by a magical elixir we had at Le Colonial.

We tried to approximate the light tropical flavors of the passion fruit martinis we ordered and serve them “family style”!

We mixed a high quality, low sugar coconut pineapple juice with a light berry juice mix, and added vodka and fresh lime.

The result was sublime!

093salmon spread

Crab Ceviche with Lotus Chips, Mango and Roasted Red Pepper Puree!

001crab ceviche

Tartine Bistro never fails to impress. And the wine list has a life of it’s own; getting better all the time!

Crab ceviche with avocado, roasted pepper puree, mango, lotus chips.

This was amazing and the best part were the lotus chips! So easy and light and crispy.

These are a new favorite.

This fresh and light appetizer was fantastic with a Monterey red by Muirwood.

Avocado adds a creamy, rich texture and buttery flavor. Absolutely delicious.

009ceviche with chips

Grilled pita with chipotle hummus, cucumber yogurt, tomato-olive tapenade.

005hummus tapenade tzaziki

Ingredients

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup drained capers
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

008tapenade with sun dried tomato

Ingredients

1 pound lotus roots, peeled
Peanut or vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Directions

Using a mandoline or other mechanical slicer, slice the lotus into very thin rounds. Soak in a large bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration and to remove excess starch.

In a large heavy pot, heat enough vegetable oil to come halfway up the sides of the pan to 350 degrees F.

Drain the lotus completely and pat dry with paper towels. Add in batches to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels. The chips will crisp as they cool; serve at room temperature.

010chips on ceviche

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