Nothing Cooking Today

Larry and I are two ships passing in the night once again. He is in Hays, KS for his mother Ollie’s 92 birthday. I wish I could be there to help celebrate but I could not go because today was our first swim meet. So I am not going to cook up something big and fancy for just me. Besides, I am too pooped to cook anything right now. It was a very long and full day.

We had our first duel in the pool for the season, and it was a smashing success. Yes, there were a few hiccups, and a few DQ slips, but my swimmers did a fantastic job, and we won the meet. We are still waiting for the official results, but we already know we won. I have the numbers. The kids all swam their hearts out today. It was so much fun, even though all of of us are a little more colored from the sun today and are sporting red noses and faces as proof. I cannot post pictures of the swimmers. But I can say our Lafayette Seals did an AWESOME job!!!!!! Myself and my other coaches are very proud of all them.

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Seal Animal HD Stock Images | Shutterstock

I was not swimming today; just on deck as head coach for our amazing team.

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Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time

A Summer Chicken Salad with Garlic-Jalapeno Vinaigrette

I am still having fun creating new things from my goodie box from Beyond The Olive. More Goodies To Try This time I made a garlic-jalapeno vinaigrette that I used to top my summer chicken salad. It was yet another very cool and refreshing summer salad. When the temperatures are soaring outside, I want something as refreshing as possible for my meals. In the summer, we eat a lot of salads. They are light and do not weigh us down and they help cool us down when the mercury starts to soar to high.

My inspiration for my garlic-jalapeno vinaigrette came not only from wanting to create a new recipe with my garlic-jalapeno olive oil, but also from one of our very own blogger family members, Gail from https://snapshotsincursive.com/. Gail is one of those “friends” whom I have not yet met in person, but we already know we would be best of friends if we lived close by. There are actually quite a few of you who fall into this category. You all know who you are. One day, we will all get to meet face-to-face. ūüôā

This garlic-jalapeno vinaigrette was super simple to make and only requires a few basic ingredients, that are found in just about everyone’s kitchen, or are easy to find in your local grocery store.

Garlic-Jalapeno Vinaigrette

1-2 oz garlic-jalapeno olive oil

1/3 cup regular olive oil

2 tsp garlic

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

Mix everything together well and let set until ready to use.

This dressing will go over chicken or shrimp very well, or you can use it for just about anything you like. I made a chicken salad using, of course, you guessed it … leftovers. I used my leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco, and the rest of my corn, tomato and basil salad.

Once my salad was “built” it was ready to enjoy, and that we did too. Delicious!

Stay cool. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

A Look Behind the Kitchen Doors

Back in the day when I was running restaurants and professional kitchens, I always used to tell my staff, that NO MATTER what is going on in their personal life, when they are out in the front of the house with customers, they had better be wearing a smile. But I also told them once they were behind closed doors, the could kick, scream, cuss and do whatever was needed to vent and to blow off steam, AS LONG AS NO CUSTOMERS EVER heard or saw anything and no one got hurt. People pay good money for a break from reality, and when they go out to be wined and dined, they are expecting to be treated like celebrities and royalty. It was always our job to do the best we could do with what we had. If something is in house, it is there for the customers if they should ask for it. But now, in the back of the house, well ….. That is a completely different story. If you have never worked in a restaurant, you would be very shocked by what really goes on and what is really said. Working in a professional kitchen IS NOT a place for the faint or weak-hearted, and if you don’t like the use of profanity, you had better wear ear plugs. In the back of the house, there is one favorite word that is universal. I won’t say it here, but it won’t take to much to figure it out. It starts with an “F”.

Here are a few looks behind the scenes that most people don’t see or really know about unless they have lived this life. Each and every one of these sayings is so true. The restaurant life is definitely NOT for everyone. Only the tough survive. I guess that means I am very tough indeed, since I survived the restaurant life for almost 40 years. ( I started when I was very young).

So now you know. It is a tough life. You either have it or you don’t and you either love it or your don’t.

Stay cool, stay safe, and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Garlic Jalapeno Scallops

I am having so much fun creating new dishes and recipes with all the new products I received in my recent goodie box. More Goodies To Try This time I used some of the Garlic-Jalapeno Olive Oil, and I used it to cook my scallops in.

As usual, when I am creating something brand new, I forget things, and add them in later. I play it with it until it comes out just like I want it to.

Garlic-Jalapeno Scallops

1 oz Garlic-Jalapeno Olive Oil

1/4 cup garlic butter

1 1/2 lbs sea scallops, drained, rinsed and patted dry

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced fine

1/4 bell pepper, diced fine – I used a yellow bell pepper

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 red onion, diced fine

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 TBSP garlic

salt to taste

1/2-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

more butter to finish off the sauce

I sauteed my scallops in some garlic butter and my Garlic-Jalapeno Olive oil for about 3 minutes per side, or until they were completely cooked and lightly browned on all sides. I browned the butter, which gave the sauce a rich, rusty color and and a robust flavor.

Once the scallops are completely cooked, remove them from the heat, and set aside. Add the garlic, jalapeno and onions, along with the wine. Stand back and be careful, because once you add the wine, there is going to be a little flambe action going on.

The flame will die down in about a minute, just be careful and be safe.

Once the flame dies down, mix everything together well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cream and incorporate well.

Mix everything together again, then add about 2 TBSP of butter into the sauce and incorporate well to make a nice, smooth and creamy finish.

Add the scallops and continue to cook just long enough for the scallops to reheat all the way through. I served mine over couscous, and added some green beans and pita bread to balance out the meal. Add some of the sauce over the scallops and enjoy. I served it with a cool, crisp chardonnay.

This dish is a definite do-over. It was so good. It had just enough kick that was balanced out with a light creamy sauce. It just melted in our mouths. Scrumptious!

Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

The Early Bird

We do not go out to eat too much while we are home. When at home, I cook most of our meals. However, there are times when we do go out to eat, and when we do, we like to try places than are fun and different. Very rarely do we go to chains. We much prefer small, independent, family owned businesses. We like all the personality that goes into a family business.

On Sunday, after church, we decided to go out to brunch with Jonathan and Priscilla. We chose The Early Bird, in Westminster. The Early Bird is a local restaurant that specializes in “serving up made-from -scratch breakfast and brunch using only the freshest, highest- quality ingredients” and has been doing so since 2012. “Early Bird is a pioneer in the hospitality industry bringing a world-class chef run and operated food establishment to Colorado, offering big city amenities in the comfort of the suburbs. ¬†¬†Early Bird provides fresh, creative, and quality food and beverage executed flawlessly; delivered in an exceptional yet welcoming environment. ¬†Much of the artwork is created by a long time family friend and artist in 30A (Watersound, FL),¬†Allison Wickey.¬†A priority of Early Bird is serving original, healthful breakfast and brunch fare with the emphasis being placed on the freshest ingredients to create modest yet flavorful breakfast and lunch dishes”.

Chefs Daniel and Kristen Cofrades started the Early Bird Restaurant concept with the goal of filling a void in the North West Denver Area‚ÄĒa locally owned and operated food outlet catering to business leaders, singles, retirees, couples, and families alike‚ÄĒto bring a unique and approachable dining experience to the local community.¬†The name, Early Bird was inspired by the Chefs‚Äô daughter, Isabel, who was born prematurely at 33 weeks. ‚ÄúIzzy‚ÄĚ is the beautiful, pint-sized muse behind the restaurant‚Äôs concept and philosophy of providing the best ingredients, preparation and presentation.

The Early Bird Restaurant brand is the result of the dream of a husband and wife chef team, who envisioned a world-class chef-owned and operated food establishment that offers a big city vibe, amenities and sophistication, yet offering small-town comfort, familiarity and friendly service. ¬†Chef owners Daniel and Kristen have extensive experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry including hotels, restaurants, consulting and teaching. ¬†¬†Chef owner Daniel Cofrades studied at L’Ecole Lenore in Paris, and brings over 20 years of experience at world-class hotel and restaurant destinations such as Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts in Spain and Venezuela, the Omni Interlocken Resort, the Michelin starred NOMI Restaurant in Chicago, and most recently, at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder, CO. He also serves on the culinary council for Sterling-Rice Group based in Boulder, CO. ¬†¬†Chef owner Kristen Cofrades obtained her culinary degree at The Art Institute of Colorado, School of Culinary Arts, and brings over 15 years of culinary expertise. She worked for Omni Hotels, starting as a pastry cook while in culinary school and worked her way up to task force chef out of the corporate office in 8 years time. Most recently, Chef Kristen was an instructor in the Culinary Department at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, CO where she also obtained her MBA in Hospitality in 2015. Chef Kristen also serves on the culinary council for Sterling-Rice Group based in Boulder, CO.

The Early Bird is decorated with fun and family in mind and delicious, and offers nothing but the best, most mouth-watering foods. It is a very comfortable family dining place, no matter if you are dining solo or with a bunch of family and friends. It is very welcoming and inviting to all. It is very much a family friendly restaurant, to both all its customers as well as its staff. Many of the employees have been at the restaurant for years and everyone has become part of the family.

The place was packed and we waited for about 40-45 minutes before getting seated. But believe me, it was well worth the wait.

Once we were seated, it was time to peruse the menu and make our selections. We all chose something different.

Larry ordered a standard breakfast platter, with eggs, bacon, and a huge pancake, and thinking that wasn’t going to be enough, he also ordered a side of potatoes. Surprisingly, he ate it all too.

Priscilla and I both ordered their specialty omelettes with one of their giant homemade, delicious biscuits. The omelettes were open, and more like fritattas, and were very, very good. Mine had prosciutto and tomatoes. Everything came with a little arugula salad as well. I forgot what kind of omelette Priscilla ordered, but she was very pleased with it too.

Jonathan decided on the biscuit and gravy with eggs.

Everything from the food on the plates to the ketchups, sauces and gravies are made from scratch, in-house everyday. And the portions are HUGE. When you go, you definitely need to bring your appetite. We had quite a delectable feast for the day. I am ready to go back again, very soon. Thank you Kristen and staff, for a fabulous dining experience.

The Early Bird is located at 11940 Bradburn Blvd., #400, Westminster, CO 80031. They are open at 7:00 AM. It is probably a good idea to make reservations, because the place is always hopping. You can call them at (303) 568-9297 of find them on Facebook or Instagram. too. You will be taken care of very well and will be fed deliciously.

A Cool Summer Fruit Salad

I love fruit and I love salads. It seems summer is the perfect time for both. I created a summer fruit salad to compliment my new Pineapple White Balsamic Vinegar I just received in my new goodie box from Beyond The Olive. More Goodies To Try

I started off by making a pineapple jalapeno vinaigrette and let it set overnight so all the flavors blended together just perfectly. Then I made a tossed fruit salad with jalapeno bacon and Prosciutto and mixed the pineapple jalapeno vinaigrette in with all my other ingredients. This salad is a perfectly cool summer time salad to help beat the heat.

Pineapple-Jalapeno Vinaigrette

2 oz pineapple white balsamic vinegar (from Beyond The Olive)

2 oz white balsamic vinegar

1 large jalapeno, diced fine

1/4 either fresh cilantro, lemon verbena and/or basil, chiffonade very thin

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp honey

Combine everything together well and let set for awhile. I let it set overnight.

Pineapple, Blueberry, Prosciutto, Jalapeno Bacon Salad

1 1/2 heads lettuce, chopped small – I used Romaine

1 container fresh blueberries – toss some in with the salad and save some for topping if you like.

1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1 cup pineapple, diced small

1 3 oz package Prosciutto, sliced very thin and into small strips

4-5 sliced jalapeno bacon, cooked and cut into small strips (regular bacon will work just fine too)

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

Toss all the ingredients together and then pour in as much dressing as you like, and toss it all together once more. Pour the dressing on right before serving so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

Once everything is tossed together, it is time to enjoy this cool summer salad and help take away some of the heat. You can serve it as a side salad or as a main salad. Either way, I promise you are going to love it.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay cool. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – Ebony and Ivory

It used to be whenever I would see the cormorants out and about, they were alone and solitary. But this year they have been much more social and are making friends with the pelicans and egrets a lot more than they have before. They are also on lake one a lot more than usual as well. I love it. Life is, after all, much more fun with friends.

He has claimed his throne

and he is telling everyone

he’s sitting on top of the world and this is HIS rock!

The egrets are ready to challenge him on his reign though and are busy plotting their takeover.

He is coming in to make his move.

I think he is claiming victory. The cormorant is gone.

Nope. He changed his mind and doesn’t want it after all.

Enjoy your day. Take it all in. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

More Goodies To Try

I feel very honored every time a company reaches out to me, asking me to review their products. And I LOVE testing and trying out all these new products too. So, please, keep them coming. I will gladly try them all out for you ūüôā

Yesterday, I received a goodie package in the mail from Beyond The Olive located in Pasadena, California. Beyond The Olive is owned and operated by Lisa Grabow. I spoke to her and thanked her for my fabulous goodie package, and you can just tell from talking to her that she takes great pride in her olive oils, vinegars, and all of her products. I love her enthusiasm. Not only do I love supporting small businesses, but I especially love supporting small businesses from my hometown of Pasadena. WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!! Go Pasadena!!!!!! ūüôā

Beyond The Olive is a Southern California customer favorite and recognized as a premier reliable source for quality California Extra Virgin Olive Oil,¬†vinegar and other delectable products. With A Gold Medal at last year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition, the only North American Olive Oil to win a medal at Toronto‚Äôs International Olive Oil Competition, 6 ¬†consecutive wins as Best Specialty Food Store, four medals at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition and being named “One of the 10 best places in the World to buy EVOO”, customers have grown to love and trust this local, family business, founded in 2009. As part of the Los Angeles artisan food movement [they] strive to not only contribute exceptional products, but also support other local food innovators. [Their] values are simple: Integrity in everything [they] do, provide quality products and service with commitment to community, and build strong relationships.”

My goodie package contained all kinds of fun stuff. There was a jar of Green Olive Tapenade, a jar of Artichoke and Olive Tapenade, and 4 small sample bottles of fun, unique olive oil and balsamic vinegars, including a Barrel Aged Fig Balsamic Vinegar, Jalapeno Garlic Olive Oil, Smoked California Olive Oil and a fun Pineapple White Balsamic Vinegar. Don’t those all sound fun and exciting? I am already coming up with some great recipes that highlights all these fun flavors. Lisa even sent me the recipe of the month to try as well. It is for Orange Olive Oil Cupcakes. Yum! And you know I will definitely try that one out very soon.

The olive oils and vinegars.

The tapenades

The Beyond The Olive products are sold in many different areas and states, with more and more locations being added all the time. Next time you are in Pasadena, go check them out and give them a taste. But if you are not in Pasadena, give them a call at 626-844-3866 (EVOO) or you can contact them either online at INFO@BEYONDTHEOLIVE.COM.

Thank you Lisa for such a fabulous, fun gift. You know I am going to have a great time trying out all these fantastic items. I can hardly wait. In fact, I think I will be surprising you all with something tomorrow. ūüôā

Enjoy the day. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Orange and Spicy Again

Normally I don’t have the same or similar flavor combinations two days in a row, but every now and then it just happens. I really like the spicy-orange combination that I created for my chicken kebabs, and there was a salad recipe I had been wanting to try for quite some time, and they just happened to be similar in flavors. Lots of Lemon¬†Verbena That’s OK. One time I made it with chicken and the other time with steak, and one was over couscous and skewered and one was a salad, so totally different, right?! I served this delicious spicy-orange steak salad with some cheese bread and of course, wine, and it was too beautiful a day to enjoy it any other way but out on the deck.

Spicy-Orange Steak Salad

The dressing was very similar to the marinade I made for my kebabs, only I added some white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and jalapenos as well.

Spicy-Orange Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena, chiffonade, or cut into very thin strips

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 TBSP garlic

1-2 tsp spicy orange seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

salt to taste

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3-1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

Mix everything together well and set aside until you are ready to use it.

I also used some of the dressing as a marinade for my steak. I let the steak marinade for about 3-4 hours.

The Salad

1 head of lettuce, you choice, shredded or cut into bite sized pieces. I used Romaine this time, but red leaf lettuce or arugula would be fine too.

1-2 lbs cooked steak, marinated in spicy-orange dressing

1 orange, peeled and sliced very thin

1/2 lb of fresh asparagus, cooked and cut into pieces about 1-1 1/2 inches long

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

1 can baby corn, drained and cut into pieces

croutons, optional

I made this as a composed salad. A composed salad is usually either a layered salad or a salad that is neatly and/or decoratively arranged on the plate. I started off with the lettuce, then added the red onion and orange slices.

Next, I added the asparagus and corn pieces, then topped it all with the cooked steak, croutons and dressing. I added my homemade croutons on top. When the Bread Gets Crusty, Turn It Into Croutons

Priscilla was over for dinner, and said she would have never thought of the spicy-orange combination with steak. She loved it. To me, I was just throwing together something that was quick and easy. It was delicious, that’s for sure. I love salads like this in the summer time. Just throw things together and keep it cool and keep it easy. Then enjoy the rest of your day.

Enjoy your weekend. Stay safe and stay well. “Til next time.

Lots of Lemon Verbena

It is lemon verbena season again in my backyard. Every year it takes over my backyard. It always smells so good and fresh and lemony. I do my best to use as much of it as I can, though there is no way I could ever use it all up, and every year I get more than I had the year before. So with so much lemon verbena, every year, I try to get very creative with it. I use it for everything from salads to sauces and dips to pesto.

This time, I added it to my sauce for my chicken skewers to make a citrusy sauce. My sauce was super easy to make. Once I mixed everything together, I cubed my chicken and marinated it for about 3-4 hours, then skewered it all and put it on the grill. I made it like a Mediterranean style meal, and served it with couscous and green beans topped with garlic and shallots and some Peruvian peppers on the side, and pita bread. I served a cool, crisp chardonnay on the side. Perfect!

Orange Citrus Chicken Skewers

1 1/2-2 lbs chicken breasts cut into large cubes

1 cup oragn juice

1/4- 1/2 tp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 TBSP garlic

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp spicy orange seasoning, optional

1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena, cut in a thin chiffonade or very thin strips

Combine all the ingredients thoroughly, then add the chicken. Let it marinate for about 3-4 hours before putting it on a skewer. Coat with a little additional sauce, if you like things nice and saucy like I do. Place them on the grill and cook until the chicken is completely cooked. Once everything is cooked, serve it up with your favorite side dishes, along with a cool glass of wine, and your are all set for a perfect, quick and easy summer meal.

Stay safe, stay well, and make the most f our day. ‘Til next time.