Whole Fruit Margarita

For our Cinco de Mayo party this year, my friend brought her Vitamix to make this healthy, Whole Fruit Margarita, and it was amazing!  Tastes better than any margarita I have had before and its healthier, how can you go wrong with that?

Whole Fruit Margarita

Whole Fruit Margarita

Whole Fruit Margarita

1/4 c. water

6 oz. tequila (I like Silver Patron)

2 oz. Grand Marnier

1 med. orange, peeled and halved

1 lime, peeled and halved

1 lemon, peeled and halved

1/4 c. + 2 T. sugar

6 c. ice cubes


Place all ingredients into the Vitamix and put on the lid.

Select variable 1.

Turn on machine and increase speed to variable 10 and then to high.

Blend for 45 seconds, tamping down the ingredients while blending.

Pour into salt rimmed margarita glasses and enjoy!


Kid-friendly tip: Replace alcohol with orange juice or lemonade.  Great summer drink!


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Potato and Truffle Soup

Down in Pike Place Market in Seattle, there is a shop that sells oils and they always have potato soup with truffle oil in little tasting cups.  My kids always insist on stopping by there to get some.  So, last night I started messing around with my own version of potato and truffle soup, using a small amount of cream, since we have a few lactose intolerant family members.  This was delicious and creamy, even without a lot of heavy cream.

Potato and Truffle Soup

2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks

2 quarts chicken broth

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. onion powder

1/4 c. heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

white truffle oil

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add 1 quart chicken broth and the potatoes.  Simmer potatoes until very soft and breaking apart.  Take off heat, mash potatoes until smooth. Add onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Put back on heat, add heavy cream and more chicken broth to desired consistency. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reheat.  Serve in bowls with a couple of drops of truffle oil in center.




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Tart Crust Recipe

I have used this tart crust recipe for fruit tarts and for chocolate tarts.  It works great for all of them!

Tart Crust Recipe

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

pinch of salt

ice water

dried beans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor place flour, butter and sugar.  Pulse a couple of times to mix.  Then add egg and pulse till blended.  Drizzle ice water in while pulsing until dough comes together.  Remove from food processor and press into tart pan, evenly.

Place aluminum foil over tart dough, covering all the edges and hanging over.  Pour dried beans onto foil and place in oven on cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes and remove from oven.  Let set for 5 minutes before removing beans.

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Mussels in White Wine

Mussels in White Wine

Mussels in White Wine

My husband loves mussels and we are always looking for a broth that he is excited about and not just “ok” with.  I finally found this recipe for mussels in white wine, based on an Ina Garten one, that he loves and has enough broth to dip bread in, a must on my husband’s check list of approved recipes.

Mussels in White Wine

3 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed

2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. olive oil

1 c. chopped shallots, about 4-5 large ones

1 1/2 T. chopped garlic

14 oz can chopped tomatoes, drained

1/2 t. saffron threads

1/3 c.  chopped flat leaf parsley

1 T.  chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 1/2 c. white wine (I’ve used Chardonnay)

2 t. kosher salt

1 t. freshly ground pepper


In a large stock pot, heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for three minutes more.  Add the tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, stir, cover with lid and cook over medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until all the mussels are open.  Discard any unopened ones.  While the mussels are steaming, shake the pot a few times so mussels don’t burn on the bottom.  Pour the mussels in a large bowl and serve hot.


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Sausage and Kale Soup

Sometimes we have leftover kale after making kale chips and I wanted to find a soup recipe that my kids would eat.  I found some great basic sausage and kale soup recipes and tweaked it to fit our tastes.  It tastes even better the second day!

Sausage and Kale SoupSausage and Kale Soup

1 T. olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

hot sauce to taste (we like Siracha)

2 lbs waxy potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 in. chunks (for a creamier broth use the russet because some of them will break down and thicken the broth, that’s what we like)

2 quarts chicken broth

1 bunch (12 oz) kale, stemmed and torn into bite size pieces

12 oz smoked sausage (chicken, pork, etc.) cut into 1/2 in half moon chunks

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

salt and pepper to taste


In a large stock pot, saute the onions in olive oil, till tender.  Add garlic and saute for 1 min.

Add potatoes and broth, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Add black beans, kale, sausage and cook until kale is wilted, about another 10 to 15 minutes.

Wait to season until the end, depending on the type of sausage you chose.  Then add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.



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French Onion Soup

This French Onion Soup recipes is one of my favorite winter soups, with it’s rich broth and crunchy,cheesy bread.  Sometimes we’ll serve it as an appetizer and sometimes we’ll just have it with a hearty salad and extra bread for dipping and make it a meal.  My sister gave me these little le Creuset mini-cocotte pots for Christmas and my first thought was how perfect these would be for French Onion Soup!

French Onion Soup

2 medium or 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced in half moon shapeFrench Onion Soup Recipe

3 T. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. flour

1 quart beef broth

1 c. white wine, I like Chardonnay but have used off-dry whites too

1 bay leaf or 1/2 t. dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

french bread, sliced thickly and toasted

Gruyere cheese, shredded


In a large sauce pan, saute onion in butter until soft.

Add garlic and flour, then saute until onions are lightly brown.

Add beef broth, white wine and bay leaf.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

There are two ways to serve this:  You can put the soup in oven proof bowls, put the toasted french bread slice on it and sprinkle the bread with 2 T. or so of shredded Gruyere.  Then you put it in the oven and broil it till the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

The other way, is simply to broil the bread and cheese separately on a cookie sheet and put it on the soup as you are serving it.


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Duchess Potatoes

I was watching a cooking show where they made Duchess Potatoes and since I love to entertain I thought they would be a more elegant way of serving mashed potatoes for my guests.  I started comparing different recipes and I think this is the way that my family and I like them best.  Believe it or not, one recipe called for 8 egg yolks!  I couldn’t do it but I had no trouble with a stick of butter. 🙂

Duchess PotatoesDuchess Potatoes

3 lbs russet potatoes

1/4 t. baking powder

1/2 c. heavy cream

pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 stick (8 T.) butter, room temp & cut into chunks

2 egg yolks


Prick potatoes and bake in 400 degree oven till easily pierced with fork, about 45 min to 1 hour.  I also find that microwaving them for 20 min or so works well too.

Slice open hot potatoes (I hold them with a towel) and scoop out potato into a bowl.  Mash potatoes until no lumps or push through a ricer if you have one (ricer is better!).  Add butter, heavy cream, baking powder, nutmeg, egg yolks and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly, then let sit till cooled.

Once it’s cooled, spoon into piping bag, fitted with large decorative tip.  Squeeze out in a circular pattern, while gradually moving inwards and forming the shape in the picture above.  You can also get more creative if you have some skills, which I do not. 🙂

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, based on how big you made them.  They should be lightly browned around the edges when done.

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Creamy Buttermilk Dressing

My neighbor had mentioned making a BLT salad and I wanted to make something similar for a dinner party I was bringing a salad to.  After reading a ton of recipes I decided this dressing recipe by Ina Garten would taste the best.  I served it with crumbled bacon and cherry tomatoes on whole romaine lettuce leaves.  This tastes like ranch dressing but is more lemony, which I really like.

3 scallions, white and green parts, choppedCreamy Buttermilk Dressing

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon good olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise

1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken


Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.


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Chewy Coconut Cookies

When we were on vacation last week, the restaurant we had breakfast at was giving out fresh from the oven coconut cookies.  They were amazing and even though my kids don’t typically like coconut, they loved these, so here is my version of those delicious cookies!

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Chewy Coconut Cookies

3 c. sweetened shredded coconut (fill cup lightly, don’t pack it in)

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. baking powder

1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled salted butter, cut into pieces

1 egg

1 t. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. flour

granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place coconut, 1 c. sugar, salt and baking powder into Cuisinart, process until finely ground.  Add butter and process until just no lumps remain.  Add egg and vanilla, process until smooth.  Then add flour; pulse until dough comes together but still crumbly.

Using a 1 T. stainless steel scoop, gather dough, roll it into a ball then roll it in the sugar.  Place on cookies sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  They are done when the bottom is golden brown and it’s just starting to brown up the sides.



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Freezable Christmas Cookies!!

Every year we are subjected to Christmas cookies that someone has baked at the beginning of December and have frozen whether they should have been or not.  They end up dry or have a weird texture from being frozen.  For my Christmas cookie baking this year, I wanted to only make cookies I knew were still good to eat after being frozen.  So here are my tried and true favorites!

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts – Although I make these year round, I knew that they froze well when earlier in the year I made too much and had to freeze them so they didn’t go to waste.  When I thawed them, I really couldn’t tell the difference from when I had made them fresh.  So I decided they would make the cut this year for my Christmas baking.

Fairy Cookies – I grew up with these.  Not sure where my mom originally got the recipe but we have made these every year since I can remember.  It makes a ton so we have had to freeze them over the years and they are still just as good as when freshly made.



Chocolate Peppermint BarsChocolate Peppermint Bars – This is a new favorite of mine.  I tried it last year and really liked it but wasn’t sure it would freeze well.  I made some the other day, kept it in the freezer for a week and then served it to some friends that we had over for dinner.  It was a huge hit!





Spritz Cookies – These cookies are a Christmas classic and lucky for us, they freeze well.  They just add that old school feel when served at our Christmas parties.



Ginger-Molasses Cookies – These cookies are another of my favorites year round but with the sparkly, demara sugar coating I knew they’d be perfect for for the holidays.  I have frozen these over the years and they always thaw beautifully.


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