Sweet and Salty Mixed Nuts

It happens every year ~ I buy more nuts than I actually need for holiday baking... 'just in case'.  I bag and seal the excess and store them in the freezer.  By mid-summer it occurs to me that I better figure out a way to use them up before the next holiday season.

I don't do as much baking in warm weather, but we do like to have smaller meals, and sometimes just a nibble . . .

A little treat to go along with cool, refreshing beverages when it's just too hot to eat ~ or cook.

A particular favorite here is icy water with a twist of lemon or lime, it's so refreshing.

Though this recipe is new to me, it's been around since at least the early 1990's.  It is an adaptation from those served at San Francisco's Fog City Diner.  

They only take a few minutes to put together, and that can be done in the cool of the morning. 

The bonus is there is no need to turn the oven on ~ no baking or roasting involved. The preparation is a simple 3 step process; put the nuts in a pot of water, bring it to a boil then drain. Toss with some powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar) and shallow fry for just a couple of moments in an inch or two of vegetable oil, then drain and place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher or sea salt and allow to cool.  As they cool they crisp up very nicely.

And they'll be all ready to enjoy with your favorite cold drink as the day heats up.

They are exceptionally good!  
The bad thing is, they are addictive.

You can use your favorite type of nut, or mix up any combination you like ~ I used almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and pecans.

This one is definitely going into my 'keeper' file.

If you like nuts, I hope you'll give this one a try ~ and keep it in mind for your next party or get together.  They would make a fine little gift from your kitchen, too.

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe ~ you'll find it HERE on my recipe blog.

Thank you for coming by today!


Lavender Blossom Martini

Lavender ~ I love it!  Do you?

It has been blooming for the past couple of weeks, and I enjoy harvesting it early in the morning, then tying small bundles to dry.  

It smells heavenly, and I cook/create with it occasionally; Blueberry Lavender ice cream, Lavender Sugar Cookies, Lemon muffins with Lavender glaze, in a home blend of Herbes de Provence, Lavender-scented Lemonade, etc.

This time I experimented with Lavender Blossom Martinis, inspired by a local bistro.  The St. Germain Elderflower
Liqueur adds a very nice flowery and slightly citrusy background flavor, as does the French Lavender flower syrup (if you cannot source it, I have a top notch substitute on my recipe blog; see below)

You can use your favorite vodka ~ I used Rain's Organic Lavender-Lemonade vodka; all natural & organic ingredients, and filtered 7 times so it's very smooth.

If you don't drink hard liquor, I'm sure you could omit the vodka and just make it with the Lavender Syrup and Elderberry Liqueur.

A nice little weekend cocktail.

This is my entry for "Foodie Friday"
(BTW, the beautiful silver beaded tray is a gift I received from Michael @ Designs by Gollum, our host of Foodie Friday, in a recent drawing she hosted. She knows what I like!) 
Please go by her post and say 'Hi!'

~ And ~

"Yummy Fridays".

Do you have a favorite recipe or way of using lavender?  I'd love it if you would tell us about it.

If you would like my recipe, please click HERE, it will take you to the Once Upon a Plate recipe blog.

~ Thank you for stopping by today ~

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Greek-Style Salad (With mostly local ingredients)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes locavore this way:

lo·ca·vore noun \ˈlō-kə-ˌvȯr\

LOCAVORE: one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible

Origin of LOCAVORE

local + -vore (as in carnivore)
First Known Use: 2005

* * * * *

I try to challenge myself to prepare local ingredients for our meals whenever I can, other times I incorporate local produce and products into a meal. This is infinitely easier to do during summer when the herbs and veggies can be plucked from the garden, or purchased from local vendors at the Farmers Markets.

One evening recently it was too hot to cook ~ a Greek-style salad seemed like just the thing, and I was able to make it with almost everything grown/produced locally. Yay! 

Home grown/made:

Basil & Herbs (for the vinaigrette) from my garden
Homemade red wine vinegar

 Locally grown/made:

Feta cheese from the local goat dairy

Sourdough bread baked by a local artisan bakery (using locally grown wheat, too.) 

Tomatoes, Cucumber and red onion from the Farmers Market

And a good bottle of red wine from one of our local wineries.

 (Bet you can guess which elements I couldn't source locally...)

 Yes, the Kalamata olives, olive oil, salt/pepper, and of course the imported water. :)

How about you? Are you a locavore, or do you try to eat that way once in a while? 

I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day everybody. ~m.



Fresh Spinach & Berry Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

I don't know about how it is at your house, but more often than  not, I don't do much extensive menu planning unless it is for a special occasion (or if someone has a particular craving, or request!)

Usually I'll just buy what is in season and the freshest at the grocery store or farmer's market then create what will be on the menu. So meal 'planning' is just a matter combining fresh food with staples I generally always have on hand.

The weather has been rather hot, so I use the outdoor grill nearly every day, and usually accompany whatever we're grilling with a salad of some kind. But recently it was even too hot to be outside to grill.

When that happens, salads become the main course ~ and this is the one I came up with, using what was in the kitchen:

Baby spinach, blueberries, blackberries, celery slices and toasted pumpkin seeds . . .

And bacon. :)

Crispy, flavorful Applewood smoked bacon.


The warm, sweet and tangy Bacon Dressing.

I serve it on the side so each person can add their own.

This combination got enthusiastic thumbs up around the table, and that always makes me happy!

Of course, if you want a healthier version ~ you can omit the bacon and serve the salad with a flavorful Blueberry or Blackberry Vinaigrette, that would be delicious as well.

If you would like a printable copy for the warm bacon dressing, you'll find it HERE on my recipe blog.

Thank you for stopping by today!  ~ Mari

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Spicy 'Buffalo Chicken' Mini-Meatballs

Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop  demonstrated these spicy chicken mini-meatballs on a recently aired Martha Stewart program, they looked good so I wanted to give them a try.

All the flavors of Buffalo Chicken wings, but without the bones.

The key to the authentic "Buffalo" (as in Buffalo, New York) is the hot sauce and Frank's Red Hot  Original is the one to use.  Mixed with a little melted butter, it is perfect.  Rather than tossing the meatballs in the sauce, I drizzled just a little over (keeping in mind those who are sensitive to the heat) and offered additional sauce on the side for those who like it spicier.

Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce

~ The meatballs ~

The ingredients and method for the meatballs are fairly typical of many meatball recipes; the raw ground chicken meat, bread crumbs and eggs, minced celery, salt, mixed together, formed into 1-inch balls then baked.

You can buy ground chicken (preferably thigh meat, because it contains a little more fat so the meatballs will be moist and tender.)   I had skinless, boneless chicken thighs on hand so I just ground my own meat using the Kitchenaid stand mixer food grinder attachment.

I use the grinder attachment more frequently than I thought I would when I purchased it years ago. When you grind meat in your own kitchen you can be assured of the quality, plus you know just what you are eating. It's easy to use and I like that two plates are included, one for fine grinding, and the other for coarsely ground meat -- Chili grind.   Optional accessories make the grinder even more versatile.*

Of course you can also chop the chicken meat finely using the metal blade in your food processor, but I prefer the texture  the KitchenAid attachment produces.

Tip: If you cut the chicken thighs into approximately 2-inch pieces, then chill the meat in the freezer for several minutes you'll have an easier time of grinding or chopping it.

I made homemade Blue Cheese dip/dressing with 'Crater Lake Blue', from our local  Rogue Creamery with lots of crumbled chunks. :)  Store bought dip would be perfectly acceptable (if you don't care for blue cheese, Ranch Dip is a good alternative.)  You might want to offer celery sticks for dipping, too.

If you would like a copy of the recipe,  please click  HERE.

* Optional accessories: Sausage Stuffing device, Pasta Plates/Discs for making extruded pasta such as spaghetti (thick or thin), flat noodles, macaroni & lasagna noodles, and also a fruit/vegetable strainer attachment.

Thank you for coming by to take a look today!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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