Quick- 2 Days Only! Enter for Virtual Wine Tasting Kit. Winner to be announced this Monday (May 2nd) ...

Sunday May 1st  ~ 

9PM Pacific Time (DRAWING is now CLOSED) 

Thank you entering 
 everyone !!

Winner will be announced Monday, May 2, 2011.

It's a virtual wine tasting and pairing hosted by Bertolli on Wednesday May 4 (at 7pm Central Standard Time.)  The wine tasting and pairing will be led by Sommelier and vino Italiano expert Stacie Hunt, certified by the Association of Italian Sommeliers.

As the winner you will be provided with a wine tasting kit so you can follow along with Stacie as she guides you through the tasting process, allowing you to define the flavors found in Italian wines and how the complement an array of delectable Italian meals. You'll also get the full story of Italian wines and even a few great tips for using them in cooking!


Here's what you'll get if your name is drawn:

Stainless Steel Wine Aerator

Rebate for a bottle of Cavit Italian Wine

Wine Bottle Opener and Foil Cutter

Tasting certificate for your favorite Bertolli Frozen Meal

Coupon for a free Bertolli Sauce

And of course, you'll get to attend the virtual wine tasting and pairing on May 4th!

The winner's gift kit will be sent by Bertolli via FedEx Overnight 
(in time for the event.)


~Here are the details ~

1.)  If you will be free to join in on May 4th from 7 to 7:30PM (CST) and want a chance to win, just leave a comment here stating the name of your favorite flavor of pasta sauce.

2.)  If you are a Google-friend follower of my blog (see upper right column), state so in your comment for an additional chance to win.

3.) If you follow me on facebook, let me know in your comment for another chance to win.

4.) Click "like" on the Bertolli facebook page for yet another chance.


Drawing entries will be closed on Sunday, May 1st at 
9PM (Pacific Time.) 
Winner will be announced Monday, May 2nd.

The fine print:

Continental USA only for this give-away, sorry!
Void where taxed or prohibited by law
I'll be participating in the event so Bertolli will be sending me the equivalent
kit as well.

NOTE: I'll need the winner to email me your delivery address immediately so the kit can be sent out on time for the tasting event.

Good Luck! ~m.


Individual Fresh Pineapple Up-Side-Down Cakes with Coconut Ice Cream, and Macadamia Nut Brittle

If you grew up in the 1950's or '60's, chances are your mom or grandmother made a Pineapple Up-Side-Down cake on occasion.  Most everybody I knew who made the cake used canned pineapple as it was more readily available than fresh then.  
Canned will do in this recipe ~ but fresh just moves it up a notch.

When I saw a version that Tyler Florence serves at his San Francisco "Wayfare Tavern" restaurant I was reminded that I hadn't made this cake in a long time.

I wanted to make individual cakes but the dilemma was finding the right size baking containers.  I have seen recipes where the cake is baked in jumbo muffin tins, but unless you get an exceptionally small pineapple, you have to trim the pineapple rings to fit.  That idea didn't appeal to me so much, so I ended up using these little Chantal® crockery pie dishes. They hold about 11 ounces.  If I had smaller suitable containers, perhaps an 8-ounce size, it would have worked out better as I felt this size portion was a little too large, we ended up serving 1/2 cake for each serving.  

To me what makes this dessert really special is the combination of tropical flavors ~ so quite honestly, the next time I'd skip the hassle of making individual servings and just make the cake the usual way ~ in an 8 or 9-inch baking pan.

You'll get the same luscious flavors with a fraction of the work!
I'm all for that.

The Macadamia nut brittle is a nice extra touch, but it certainly could be omitted. It provides a nice counterpoint to the not-too-sweet coconut ice cream.  For the brittle I just used my favorite nut-brittle recipe, substituting toasted macadamias and sprinkled a little Fleur de Sel on top while it was cooling.

To make assembly of the dessert easier, I made the brittle two days ahead and stored it in an air-tight container.  I made the Coconut Ice Cream the day before, and baked the cakes the day of. 

If you're looking for a great recipe for coconut ice cream, look no further... and it is as easy as can be.

I always use 'Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut'® (yes, the same ingredient that makes killer piña coladas.)  I've tried other brands, but this one is the best, in my opinion.  And even though it is sweet, sweet, sweet straight out of the can, by the time it is mixed with the milk and cream, it is just perfect and not cloyingly sweet at all.

You can also add toasted coconut to the ice cream, but this time I thought there was enough going on with cake and the nut brittle, so I left it out.


About the cutter for fresh pineapple ~

I've used the plastic pineapple cutter, but unfortunately a plastic part broke after only a couple of uses, rendering it useless ... money wasted.

I like that this one is made entirely of sturdy metal, PLUS it cores and cuts the pineapple flesh into a hollow cylindrical shape so you can cut the pineapple into thick or thin rings or spears. For the cakes, I cut them thicker than canned pineapple rings, a delicious improvement!

It also leaves the pineapple shell in tact which allows you to serve tropical drinks in it (or use it as container for fruits, desserts, etc.)

Other suggested uses (from the label): 

"Use it to chop & mince fruit, vegetables & hard boiled eggs. Great for breaking up ground meat as it browns. It can cut better into sugar/flour for recipes. Also great as a cookie/donut cutter"

AND, it is proudly made in the USA!

So, the verdict regarding this dessert?

1.) These are fabulous flavors that were meant to go together.
2.) Canned pineapple is okay, but fresh is far superior.
3.) The Macadamia Nut Brittle is delicious,  and a nice extra but definitely not a necessary component.
4.) The Coconut Ice Cream put this over the top... (it has been a family favorite for years.) I urge you to try it even if you skip the cake. 

And # 5...  Ice Cream is a PAIN to photograph. Thankfully the room temperature was not too warm. :)

If you would like printable copies of the recipes, please check out my recipe blog HERE.

Thank you for stopping by today, friends!


~ Wishing you A Blessed Easter ~


Crab & Cheese Fondue with Fennel-Oregano Breadsticks

As much as I like Crab & Cheese Fondue, to my mind the stars of the show here are the Fennel-Oregano Breadsticks.

And the bonus is they are so simple to make and go together quickly, mix the ingredients in either a big bowl or your food processor. No tedious shaping, you just roll out the dough and cut into thin strips, place cut side up on oiled baking pan, allow to rest 10 minutes then bake off in a hot oven for 7 to 10 minutes.

You can actually have them on the table in a half hour to 45 minutes. Or you can make the dough ahead, wrap airtight and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, then bake them when you're ready.

For the Crab and Cheese Fondue, I just make my favorite fondue recipe ~like THIS one as shared by David Lebovitz~ then, when the cheese is melted, add as much fresh Dungeness, (or other crab meat) as you want, just stir in to the hot fondue to heat through.

Or, if you're not in the mood to make your own fondue, try one of the good quality imported kind, (sold in an airtight pouch in a box.)  I've been very pleased with the quality of the brands which are imported from Switzerland. 

The recipe produces breadsticks which are not dry and rock-hard, rather they have a crumbly and tender crumb, comparable to the crisp crust edge of a good pizza.  

They make a top-notch accompaniment to soups, salads, or as a little snack along with a glass of wine (or your favorite beverage.)  You can swap out the herbs/spices in the dough for variety.

I've posted about these before (click here), and I can honestly say they are the easiest, fastest and most tasty homemade breadsticks I've ever tried. (A keeper!)


For a printable copy of the recipe, please click here to go to the Once Upon a Plate recipe blog.


Angel Eggs with Crème Fraîche

If you make Deviled Eggs you probably have a favorite recipe as I do, but this time I wanted to try them prepared just a little differently. I was intrigued when I saw the recipe from Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern incorporating Creme Fraiche into the whipped egg yolks. I had to leave out some of the stronger flavors from the recipe to make these more 'kid friendly', but never the less they were still fabulous.

So here is my take on deviled eggs as served in Tyler Forence's Wayfare Tavern located in San Francisco's financial district.

Photo Credit: House Beautiful

At the Wayfare Tavern they are called Jidori Eggs (Jidori is the breed of Japanese hens which provide the eggs.) I simply use eggs from our chickens ~ and since I've never tasted a Jidori hen egg, I cannot tell you if there is any difference in flavor ~ but I rather doubt it. ;-)

At another of his restaurants, "Rotisserie & Wine" located in Napa, California a different version of deviled Jidori eggs are offered, but with maple, sherry, candied bacon and celery.

At the tavern the egg yolks are whipped and seasoned with mustard and crème fraîche then garnished with radish, celery and bottarga* crumbled over to finish. Evidently the Wayfare Tavern deviled eggs have had a bit of an evolution since the opening (or perhaps change according to the season) as I've seen different versions served. Sometimes garnished with fried capers instead of the bottarga.

I happen to like anchovies, however they are not popular with everyone at my house (I can imagine bottarga would not be appreciated either), so this time I omitted both the capers and the anchovies, as well as the bacon. And since bottarga isn't readily available to me, I omitted that as well.

You can see, I took some liberties when I made them this time. I left out the stronger flavors so everyone could enjoy them. (Naturally, if you omit one or all of the salty ingredients, you'll need to salt the yolk mixture to taste to compensate.) I grow sprouts so I garnished with little alfalfa sprouts ~more information below. I just love the little touch of freshness they add.

However, what puts these over-the-top is the addition of the Crème Fraîche; it makes the yolk filling taste lighter on the tongue (though not lighter in calories by any means!) 

If it sounds good to you, I hope you'll give it a try the next time you make Deviled eggs.

Incidentally, if Crème Fraîche isn't readily available where you live (or it is outrageously expensive), I've included the simple (2 ingredient) recipe for making your own, over on my recipe blog.


*Bottarga (Italian), also called Botargo (Spanish), Boutargue or Poutargue (Fr.), Avgotaraho (Greek) is the roe pouch of mullet, tuna, or swordfish which is dried and cured in sea salt for a few weeks, during which time it turns into a solid, hard lump, and is encased in melted wax.

About the sprouts . . .

Sprouts:  I use this (click)  Easy Sprout Sprouter ~ it's so simple to use and if you buy two you get free shipping. I have many kinds of sprouters ~ by far this style is the one I reach for time after time. Just follow the directions and in a couple of days you'll have beautiful, healthful and flavorful sprouts like these alfalfa babies. Sprouts for health!


If you would like a printable copy of Tyler's recipe (and my changes), along with the easy recipe for making your own
Crème Fraîche, please click HERE to go to my recipe blog.

Thank you for stopping by today, and for any comments you'd like to share.

I hope you're having a great day! ~m.


Wordless Wednesday ~ Forget Me Nots


Thank you for stopping by today! ~m.


Tiramisu Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

First a warning.

Under no circumstances should you make these unless you are:

 A. Having company over. 
B. Taking them to a party. 
C. Have friends/family/neighbors you'll share them with. 

 Why? Because if you LIKE them, you'll want to eat more of them than you should.

Lots of rich Mascarpone & whipped cream frosting, with a last minute dusting of cocoa.

Okay . . . You've been warned. :D

It's the first time I've made Tiramisu Cupcakes; although there are PLENTY of recipes for these hanging around out in cyberland

I sort of have a gauge by which I judge recipes (and some other things as well) ~  it's a simple one. You know when you find something you really, truly like ~ you STOP looking any further? 

 Well, with a few changes this is one of those recipes (at least that's the way we're leaning at my house.)

See the coffee syrup down in the cake?  Yum. You can use Marsala, Rum, Brandy or your favorite liqueur . . . like Kalua. I used Franglico (Hazelnut Liqueur).

I adapted this version from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
cookbook. They are VERY good. 

I must admit, I read through the reviews about this recipe on Martha's site and made a few changes after seeing a few comments about the recipe as originally written.

If you don't care to make the cupcakes from scratch, I suggest substituting a good quality white or yellow cake mix ~ they won't be quite the same but I'm sure very delectable. I promise I won't tell Martha. (It's the frosting and the coffee & liqueur that make these stand out, anyway.)

If you'd like a printable copy of the recipe (with my changes, and a wonderful alternative for mascarpone) you can find it HERE.

Thanks for stopping by today, friends!


Postcard ~ From the Garden

A few random shots from around the garden ~ some soft, some vibrant . . .

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend, friends!


Asian-style Pan Seared Salmon Filets with Peanuts and Lime

Because of its known health benefits, I try to serve salmon about once a week. In order to avoid repetition I switch out the method of preparation, and the seasonings.

This happens to be an easy and flavorful way of serving it ~ inspired by a couple of Asian-style recipes I've used in the past. 

I make my own thick teriyaki sauce as it only takes a few minutes to combine the ingredients and reduce them in a saucepan,but if you want to skip that step, use any commercial (thick) teriyaki sauce that you like. 

Look for the thick kind that is brushed on during the last few minutes of cooking, rather than the thin "marinade" type, as the latter won't produce the right results for this method.

You can cook the fish almost any way (broiled, baked, grilled, poached, or pan-seared like I did here) ~ Then just spoon the warm teriyaki sauce over, garnish with chopped, roasted & salted peanuts and serve lime slices or wedges on the side so each diner can add their own.

Incidentally, you can use nearly any fish instead of the salmon ~ it just happens to be one of my favorites.

Easy, peasy! If you would like a printable copy of my "Thin or Thick Homemade Teriyaki Sauce", you can find it HERE on the Once Upon a Plate Recipes site.

Thanks for stopping by today, friends!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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