Thursday, July 14, 2011

What do Peanuts and Summertime Have in Common?

Ahh, summertime. Living is easy...screech! STOP! Not this summer which has felt like hanging out with the Tasmanian Devil on Groundhog day. So I need some delicious, easy meals that use what is growing in the garden and doesn't require the oven. Doesn't everyone? Well, this is my favorite new fantasy meal (since I broke away from my daily peanut butter and butter sandwich, ummm, well, many years ago.)

 So, I'm sorry to say, I do not have any pictures of the scrumptious dish I made for dinner a couple nights ago. Someone (ok, Me!) was too hungry to remember to take a picture but I loved this enough to think you must have the recipe NOW and I couldn't wait for you, so, believe me, it not only tastes delish, it also looks fantastic too! I have also tried it out on my Bunco girls, and they are a tough bunch (right, just kidding, they would tell me I looked skinny in a Muu-Muu, they're so nice). But I really believe they enjoyed it very much (some skinnies even had seconds, gasp!)

 Here it is....

Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing

Bobby Flay
Show: Boy Meets GrillEpisode: Chicken
Rated 5 stars out of 5

Total Time: 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy


  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (you can buy this in a jar at Trader Joes or freeze fresh in chunks some for times when you need a little)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper puree (I actually used chipotle cubes one time when I couldnt find puree', it worked! Look in the Mexican food section of your grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, julienned
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (or boil some chicken breasts for about 15 to 20 minutes, DON'T overcook!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (I didn't do this)
  • Chili oil, optional (not really, unless for kids!)
  • Grilled lime halves, for garnish


Whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, chipotle pepper puree, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and canola oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Combine cabbage, lettuce, carrots, snow peas, cilantro, and green onion in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

Transfer to a serving platter and top with the shredded chicken, chopped peanuts, and mint. Drizzle with chili oil, if desired. Garnish with grilled lime halves.

See, easy!
Also, if you have leftover dressing (or even if you just want to secretly make some more), you will want to make this a second night. So change it up so your family doesn't realize how little you've slaved over dinner and serve it over chinese noodles (those straight white ones that are a little flatter and thicker than spagetti and cook in 5 minutes) with some chopped up snow peas, carrots and red bell peppers. Sprinkle some peanuts on top, and ouila, another yummy, delicious meal of lovely peanut butter for adults!

The Big sister

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh, how I've missed you!

Well, so much for the lazy days of summer; nope, mine has been anything but lazy! So sorry I've been MIA, but can I entice your love with this little sweetie? I really wouldn't mind receiving this from my love. I can see it on a nice satin or velvet (?) ribbon. Love the sentiment!

Antiqued Dark Brown French Round Charm Brass
1 Brass Hand Patina round Pendant from

Reads:  Je T'aime Plus Qu'Heir Mons Que Demain
(I love you more today than I did yesterday but not as much as tomorrow)

xoxo, the Big sister

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dining in Style

That china, crystal, silver, etc. collecting dust in your cabinets should be used and enjoyed.  
That is exactly what we did this weekend.  To celebrate Kendra's birthday, I invited everyone over for a formal dinner party.  We all donned our best bridesmaid dresses, prom gowns, vintage tuxedos, and fine jewels.  
Everyone pitched in.  Kelly sourced the most amazing garlic bread from a market in the Haight; Doug spent all week creating a music playlist to set the perfect mood for the evening; Barbara cooked up the best corn fritter appetizers; and Mitch transformed two huge blocks of ice into a conversation starting sculpture!  
The meal started with a peach, red onion, and basil cold salad.  In the fine French tradition, the salad was followed by a refreshing palate cleanser, a Meyer lemon sorbet was served to all guests.  Then on to the main event:  macaroni and cheese, roasted asparagus, and a tomato, cucumber, and onion salad.  Yes, I realize mac and cheese is not the most sophisticated dish, however, it can be pulled together the night before which allowed me to spend my time at the party enjoying the company good friends as opposed to slaving away in the kitchen.  
And no birthday party is complete without cake, and this is no ordinary cake!     

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake 


  • 24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted


  • 1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Scharffen Berger)
  • 4 large eggs


  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Bittersweet chocolate curls
  • *If unavailable, substitute another high-quality bittersweet chocolate.



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.


  • Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.


  • Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.
  • Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.
Recipe from Bon Appetite 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Time in Nature

We are so lucky to live in California!  A summer weekend trip to Yosemite has become an annual tradition among my group of friends.  This year record levels of water are cascading over the many falls and even creating some new ones not on the map.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Time to get outside and BBQ!  I remember the special treat of getting to drink soda and eat chips and dip on this day every year growing up.  The soda may have been replaced by beer at some point but the sour cream and onion soup dip is irreplaceable.  And of course there's the patriotic music, fireworks show, and sparklers.  To make a great holiday even better, it's a sunny 80 degrees in San Francisco!