Sunday, December 17, 2017

October 22, 2017

We met at my house.  I originally picked a theme of pumpkin spice but then I simply thought SPICE and switched to Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Chicken Tacos.  I used my grill pan for the chicken and it turned out very tender and juicy.  It was as if cooking on the grill surface kept the chicken from having full contact to the pan and thus not over cooking.  Or, I could have been watching it very carefully because it was for company.  

The chicken had a nice flavor, not too spicy, and the cream sauce would dilute any heat, thus you are encouraged to add a sriracha and honey sauce.

Our side was Angelica's top secret Spanish Rice.  It was very tasty and the grains of rice were fluffy and non-sticky.


1 cup of dry long grain rice
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Cube Chicken Broth Bullion Crumbled
1 Dash of Salt
1-2 Tbsp. of oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 handful of sliced or diced green bell pepper
1-2 sprigs of fresh cilantro
2 cups of water
1 - 2 Tbsp. of tomato sauce (flavor & color)
1 - 2 Tbsp. of chopped tomato w Mexican blend spices.

Add oil to pot and heat to medium heat.  Lower heat and add rice, onion and bell peppers and fry the rice opaque. Add tomato sauce and chopped tomato and mix. Add the 2 cups of water and put in all the seasonings. Bring to a rolling boil 3-5 minutes and taste the broth, add more seasoning if desired.

After 1 last stir of the ingredients put heat to a simmer, add the sprigs of cilantro and COVER the rice to cook for 20 MINUTES. 

DO NOT TOUCH, or uncover. After 20 minutes, turn off and remove from heat and leave the top on for 5 extra minutes. After 5 minutes fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

To accompany our tacos we sipped on pineapple margaritas.  I like to make big pitchers of cocktails ahead of time for several reasons:  

1.  The flavors have time to blend.
2.  I'm lazy.
3.  We get our drink on faster!

These cocktails, while having plenty of vitamin C, where just ok. 

Our appetizer was prepared by Mary, Garlic Knot Chicken Alfredo Ring.  Make sure this is baked all the way through or it will adhere to the pan something fierce!  The recipe calls for serving this with Alfredo sauce though I think it would be really good with a marinara sauce.  Then it would be like chicken pizza pull apart bread!

Tonya baked Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie for our dessert.  This dessert seems very complicated with the flaky layers and creamy filling however it is simplified by the use of refrigerated crescent rolls. These bars are delicious and I have made this recipe before to rave reviews at the office  

And speaking of desserts, Tonya recently made the most delicious brownies. She followed the recipe other than adding a handful of pecans.  Also, these are a Blondie despite being called disappearing marshmallow BROWNIES.  I could not stop eating these!  The melted marshmallows make the texture very chewy and irresistible.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

September 10, 2017

We met for our first post Harvey gathering at Mary's.  Despite some drama at the entry gate we were in great spirits!

We started our evening with a Kentucky Storm cocktail that Mary "cleaned up the calories with diet ginger ale, regular bourbon and ginger syrup" and Mexican shrimp cocktail.   Later with dinner we also enjoyed Amarula Cream Liqueur.  Yum.  It has been a traumatic month, don't judge.

Angelica prepared the appetizer and served it with tortilla chips.  This was a really flavorful shrimp dip that tasted both like shrimp cocktail and salsa.  You can use frozen shrimp to make it easy to throw together.

Tonya’s Mexican Citrus Salad with Avocado was both sweet and savory with many textures thanks to the jicama and citrus slices. 

The Roasted Chili Lime Cod had tons of flavors from all the spices which crusted the fish.  For our side dish, Mary threw together cilantro lime couscous.  It was a nice cool contrast to the spicy fish.  To prepare, mix lime juice and chopped cilantro with hot, cooked couscous. Simple and delicious.

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I baked Hurricane Cake in honor of Hurricane Harvey.  This cake will make you forget floods, refugees and even your name due to its richness.  There is a bottom layer of nuts and coconut (but not for Tonya) then a moist chocolate cake with dollups of cream cheese and finished with chocolate syrup because WHY NOT.  This is like German Chocolate upside down cake because the nuts and coconut (not for Tonya) are on the bottom and there is no need for icing.  Easier and I think more delicious than German Chocolate cake.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

August 6, 2017

The four Gourmet Gals met at Tonya's for our August gathering.

For the appetizer course I highlighted lemons to compliment the lemon pasta.  I made lemon hummus served with cucumbers, bell peppers and cauliflower.  Hummus is so versatile and you can easily change the flavor by adding an ingredient to the basic recipe of chickpeas and tahini. It is also very healthy!

The second lemon appetizer I prepared was a bit more indulgent:   lemon basil ricotta crostini.  I "cheated" and bought the crostini from Sprouts.  The little toasts are perfectly seasoned and crisp.  The ricotta spread is creamy and a blank canvas desperate for flavor.  It needs a lot of salt and the basil is not only a garnish but flavor.  It is light and creamy and a delicious contrast to the crostini. 

Angelica's salad had a lemon vinaigrette that was simple yet very tasty and also featured lemons!  She made a salad with kale, green leaf lettuce, cucumbers and red bell peppers.  It was a perfect summer salad.

The main dish was lemon pasta with roasted shrimp.  To the recipe, Tonya added Parmesan cheese and parsley.  There is not a sauce just the flavor of lemons in the pasta.  I did not taste a "roasted" flavor in the shrimp and I think the shrimp could have been cooked in the pasta water or tossed with the pasta at the end since shrimp cook so quickly.  I would make this again because I do love spaghetti, butter and shrimp.

Mary's peach buttermilk pie was one of the more delicious desserts that I have ever eaten.  The recipe actually calls for apples and she decided to switch it up and use summer peaches.  What makes this pie so perfect is it has three wonderful things.. fruit, custard and a struessel topping. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July 9, 2017

We met at my house and all were here except for Mary, who was a bit under the weather.

Tonya prepared a most delicious appetizer of Goat Cheese and Fig Jam Crostini.  She intended to use fresh figs but just missed the season.  The jam was sweet which went well with the goat cheese.  Tonya toasted baguette slices in the oven, then spread on goat cheese thinned with a little cream, spooned the fig/lemon marmalade on top of that and finished with a sprinkling of toasted pecans. I really enjoyed these and they would be perfect for a party.

Our cocktail was Watermelon Sangria.  I think any fruit would work in addition to the lime and orange.  The blueberries are just for show or eating after you finish the drink.  This was a mildly sweet, refreshing cocktail that is perfect for summer..

The Greek Salad was prepared by Tonya and it was another winning recipe!  There were so many fresh, crisp vegetables and the olives and feta add a salty bite.  The salad was even more flavorful the next day as the dressing continued to marinate the vegetables. 

The main dish was Tomato Spinach Chicken Spaghetti.  It was another great summer recipe featuring fresh basil and spinach.  I think mushrooms could have also been added, especially if you wanted to leave the chicken out and make a vegetarian version.  The sun dried tomatoes add nice color and a bit of tang.

Angelica completed our meal with a Summer Tart.  It had a dairy free custard made with almond milk that was silky smooth.  The tart was covered in fresh berries and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  This was a light dessert for our summer menu.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

April 23, 2017

We were hosted by Mary and Vence. Mary requested a low carb menu. Not following this directive was Vence, who prepared for us the most deadly yet delicious cocktail. It was a Colorado Bulldog with this Kahlua that tasted like a sinful chocolate milkshake that will kick your booty if you drink it too quickly.  I KNOW. 


Angelica started us off with some beautiful peppers, cherry tomatoes, salami and multiple varieties of hummus. 

I made this caprese salad and left out the chicken and added red bell peppers.  Any salad with bacon and cheese is ok in my book.  The balsamic dressing is sweet and yet I think I was within the guidelines of LOW CARB.  A little sugar from vinegar cannot be bad for you.

While we are cooking experts, it still takes many hands to prepare one recipe.   We were chopping and stuffing and rolling and pinning these stuffed chicken breasts.  The colors of the stuffing, including the basil and sun dried tomatoes, were beautiful and the flavors were amazing.  This is a dish of simple ingredients yet ends up being quite fancy. 

Served with the chicken was a side of simple, roasted asparagus with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese. 

We finished our meal with a lemon cheesecake baked by Tonya. Since Tonya follows rules, except when at Michael's cake decorating classes, this cheesecake is low carb, gluten free and uses a sugar substitute.  The crust has almond flour and the nutty flavor not only tasted great it also had a crunchy texture.  The dollop of freshly whipped cream on top perfectly complimented the lemon flavors of the cake and crust.  I really love fresh whipped cream and neither the tub nor can can compare.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Winning guacamole and salsa!

Angelica and I participated in our office guacamole and salsa competitions.  Angelica won first place for this guacamole!

Guacamole Dip


5 ripe avocados
1 tbsp. of fresh onions, finely diced
3 tbsp. cilantro leaves, finely diced
1 sm. - med garlic clove minced
2 tbsp. of salsa*- , use your favorite with traditional spices,stew salsa for 5-7 minutes to enhance the flavors
1 dash of cumin
1 lime juiced
1/4 tsp. salt
For extra kick add fresh seeded jalapeno or a dash of cayenne pepper


In Large bowl mix and mash well, add extra lime and salt to your preference

Top with your favorite garnish

* Traditional Salsa


1-4 diced tomatoes,
1/4 cup tomato sauce, you can also add 1/4 cup of chicken broth
1-2 jalapeno, diced
1/4. onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 cilantro leafs, diced
1 dash cumin powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
1 tbsp. of oil


Chop and Mix to your preference, chunky or saucy. Stew all ingredients in 2 quart saucepan for 5-7 minutes. Taste and add lemon, lime or salt to your preference.

And I prepared this pineapple salsa, which earned second place in the salsa category!  The key to my winning was I served it in the pineapple which makes it seem complicated and fancy.  Also, so many of the other salsas were just alike so my sweet variety stood out. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 12, 2017

We met at Tonya's and we were joined by Angelica's friend, Rendy.  

Cocktail, Mojito - Tonya
Appetizer, Cajun Shrimp Guacamole Bites - Angie
Salad, Spinach Salad - Mary
Main Dish - Stuffed Bell Peppers
Dessert, Strawberry Shortcake - Angelica

We started with a mojito made by Tonya.  She added some lemon basil and made a simple syrup instead of using just granulated sugar.  The lemon basil came from Tonya's indoor grow house.  It is a nifty contraption that can grow all sorts of plants in the house!

Next up was the appetizer of Cajun Shrimp Guacamole Bites.  I thought I would go with a vegetable heavy appetizer to mimic the stuffed bell peppers.  These were tasty though I should have crisped up the sweet potatoes more. I think mine did not crisp because I both cooked them on parchment paper plus used too much oil.  The guacamole is unique in that it has red wine vinegar.  I would not add that to guacamole I was eating on its own but I liked it sandwiched between the sweet potato and spicy shrimp.

Mary prepared our salad and it was a thrown together Spinach Salad.  I liked the crunch from the carrots and almonds and the tangy blue cheese.  The dressing was creamy and went well with all the flavors of the salad.


Bundle of spinach
Julienne carrots
Sliced almonds
Dried cranberries
Blue cheese crumbles
Mandarin oranges
White balsamic vinegar
Olive oil or similar
Sugar-- about a tablespoon
Garlic-- minced about 2 cloves
Italian seasoning-- season to taste
The dressing can be more zesty than sweet depending on how you adjust the ingredients.  Make the dressing in advance to allow the flavors to fully develop.

The main dish was stuffed bell peppers.   This was a great version of the classic recipe.  The filling was full of vegetables and the cheese makes it rich.  More cheese on the top makes it even more delicious.

We finished our meal with Angelica's strawberry shortcake.   The biscuits were sweet and flaky and the whipped cream was like a sauce with a hint of lemon flavor.  It was very good and made fancy with more of Tonya's herbs as garnish.