Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flannel Sheets and Three Cheese Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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"Flannel sheets are like a hug all night long." ~Di

It happened early this year.  The day I long for, when the chilly daytime air finally warrants wool socks (and leg warmers!) and the night- flannel sheets.

The moment where you finally nod at each other in agreement... it's time.  And you light the fire log (and all the candles) that's been patiently waiting on the hearth all summer and fall long.

It's also a day when I tend to get a craving for all things cheesy... and pasta!  So, I warmed our hearts... and our bellies with some shells stuffed with tons of cheese, chicken and spinach.

Healthy?  Anything but.  But hey, it's just one day a year!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How Wine & Cheese Hour Changed my Life (and inspired my Black Forest Ham & Cheddar Wraps)

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I've been entertaining since I was 15, and not just for friends and family... but getting paid for it!  It all started at a Bed & Breakfast in Santa Barbara, where I found another great passion of mine- Wine and Cheese Hour.

Oh, how I looked forward to wine and cheese hour each day.  Relaxing with the guests on the couch by the fire with the smells of hot spiced cider on the stove and chocolate chip cookies in the oven permeating the Inn.

(The Cheshire Cat Inn's kitchen... on of my all time favorite B&B's in Santa Barbara)

We talked about their days, the best places to see and be seen around town, and the top restaurants to try... over wine and cheese. You see, Bed and Breakfasts are a place of romance; idealistic in a way.  Everyone was always happy, and smiling, and well, at least to this na├»ve 15-year-old, it seemed right up there with the other happiest place on earth (Disneyland, of course!)

And still to this day, one of my greatest joys is making Hors d'Oeuvres, entertaining... well, and wine and cheese!  Little bits of heaven, full of intense flavor and aren't Hors d'Oeuvres just so cute?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dumpling Delights, Day 2- I'd like mine with Pineapple and Cream Cheese!

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Yesterday, we received a beautiful gift of fresh honey from a local client, so I couldn't resist creating a special recipe just for them.

And Honey, these Honey, Pineapple, Cream Cheese Won Tons were almost better than the Tri-Tip last night! What an awesome way to use the leftover won ton wrappers, and man, was this easy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Little Dumpling that Could... (aka the best Tri-tip Asian Fusion Dumpling ever!)

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There's something about dumplings.  Little packages of steamed goodness wrapped around meat and veggies...and typically dipped in a sugary, orangy-pink sauce (I'm in love!)

And ever since the Dim Sum scene in Working Girl, I've had a fascination with them... ha ha, you know you had that hair in the 80's, too- even without the steam!

But instead of heading out and buying a steamer today, I boldly decided to just go for it, and FRY them up... with all my favorite flavors.  

First I added chopped leeks and sweet onions to some olive oil to caramelize.