Monday, March 24, 2008

Strawberry Lemonade

Hubby and I love Chili's Strawberry Lemonade and I have been trying to find a copycat recipe. Most of the recipes I found contain either strawberry syrup or frozen strawberries. Fresh lemons and strawberries are so abundant right now in Arizona it's a shame not to put them to good use. I played around in my kitchen today and although it's not exactly like Chili's - it's pretty tasty.

Strawberry Lemonade

2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 quart very ripe strawberries, leaves removed
2/3 to 1 cup sugar - depending on the sweetness of the strawberries and your taste
8-10 cups of water, divided

Disolve the sugar in the lemon juice. Put in blender with the strawberries and 1-2 cups of water. Process until strawberries become liquified. Pour into a 2qt beverage container and add the remaining water and stir. Add more sugar if desired.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Gracious Hospitality is having a Tea themed Blog-a-Thon!

Share tea from the perspective of literature. Post a tea quote, a verse or poem, or story. Tell about a favorite tea book. This would be a good time to share how you use tea to encourage others. Do you minister to others by sending them tea themed cards to friends and shut-ins? Or another way you use 'tea' to share joy with others? I know some of you do --- so tell your story!

My favorite tea related reading and recipes books. . .

Special Teas by M. Dalton King is indispensable if you plan to have a simple or ambitious tea themed get together. Filled with sumptuous recipes and gorgeous photographs, this book has menus and party suggestions challenging enough for the most experienced hostess but plenty for the beginner as well. Special Teas is on my list of top 10 cookbooks to own.

Eating Royally: Recipes And Remembrances From A Palace Kitchen was a Christmas gift from my husband. He ran across the book in the library one day and being well acquainted with my fascination with the royal family, he checked it out and brought it home. I wasn't one chapter into the book when I was putting it on my Amazon wish list. Chef Darren Mc Grady's account of his years in service to the royal family is heart warming and insightful without being gossipy. The focus of the book is on the time the author spent as Princess Diana's personal chef, but the book contains traditional British recipes along with favorites of the royals. One of the surprising things I learned from this book is the relationship between the royal family and the food they eat. All menus and food are prepared according to what is in season and grown locally. There is as little waste as possible. The majority of the fresh items are grown at the estates and game and fish are obtained on Her Majesty's land as well. The strawberries grown at Balmoral are made into enough jam to last the family an entire year (the recipe is included). You'll come away with an enlightened view of the British monarch and her family. Chef McGrath's antecdote about the Queen and her scones is worth the price of the book.

Park Avenue Potluck: Recipes From New York's Savviest Hostesses was a birthday gift from my husband. Proceeds from this book are donated to charity. Although the title sounds intimidating, the recipes are actually quite simple and yet delicious. While this should not be considered a book about tea parties, many of the desserts would be perfect for afternoon tea nibbles. Even the Creamed Artichoke-Spinach Casserole is wonderful the next day, chilled and served on crackers or sourdough. Anne Grauso's recipe for Paris Iced Tea is a sweet, fruity beverage that is just perfect for hot Arizona summers.

Tea and Sympathy: The Life Of An English Teashop In New York is simply hilarious reading for any anglophile. The book consists of wickedly funny tales of this New York teashop, but chock full of traditional British recipes too. Forget the hat and white gloves, this ain't your Grandma's afternoon tea party. If you've ever watched "Friends" and wondered what went on in the back room at Central Perk, this is the book for you!

Click here for more Teacup Stories at Gracious Hospital-I-tie's Blog-a-Thon!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


It is a tradition on my mother's side of the family for the ladies to be gifted with a tea set for their 21st birthday. My favorite teacup is a cup from that set. The teacups, teapot, saucers and cake plate are white with gold trim and painted with purple and blue flowers. The teapot to this set can be seen here.

Since we are of British descent, the tea sets in the family made their way to the U.S from the ancestral homeland across the pond. My mother traveled to London when I was a senior in high school purchased two identical tea services for eight, one set for me and one for my cousin Tiffi who is just a few years my junior. Tiffi and I both love purple and this set was the obvious color choice. No expense was spared to see that the delicate pieces arrived in the colonies without being damaged.

It wasn't until a few years later my mother and I discovered the very same tea sets could be purchased in the states. When my mother visits us in Arizona we often see this pattern among the antiques in the downtown Mesa shops. We have a good laugh. At least I know I can pick up the odd piece in the event of an accident.

Click here for more Teacup Stories at Gracious Hospital-I-tie's Blog-a-Thon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

5th Friday of Lent

I just finished making a meatless dinner for DH - he will reheat it tonight while I am at work. This works well for him since this is one of those dishes that tastes better as leftovers.

Leanna's Tuna Casserole is a twist on the traditional Tuna Casserole. I don't like mushrooms or peas so I substitute chopped red bell peppers, onions and celery which retain some of their crunchiness. Yum!

Leanna's Tuna Casserole

Leanna's Tuna Casserole

My mushroom and pea free, lower in fat tuna casserole. Enjoy. :-)

1-12oz bag whole wheat no yolk egg noodles, cooked al dente
2 cans tuna
1 can fat free evaporated milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups grated low fat cheddar cheese, divided


2 cups crushed potato chips, french fried onions, panko or bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 qt casserole dish.

Cook egg noodles until al dente and set aside in the same pot they were boiled in.

In a med bowl - mix evap milk, spices, parsley and worcestershire sauce. Pour over noodles in the pot. Add diced onion, celery and red bell pepper and 2 cups of the grated cheese.

Stir and pour mixture into greased casserole dish.

Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and sprinkle with topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Let it set for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Easy Caramel Tarte Tatin

Easy Caramel Tarte Tatin

2 tbsp butter
2 cups sugar

12 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and halved with center seeds removed

1 sheet puff pasty dough
2 tbsp sugar

Put puff pastry on the counter to thaw.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet and add sugar - let carmelize on med low - stirring occasionally. When carmelized, turn heat to low and add apples - standing them on ends or laying down flat - your choice. The object is to get as many apples in the pan as possible. Cook the apples as they are - do not stir - for 25 minutes.

Unwrap puff pastry and press seams together with your fingers. Sprinkle with sugar and roll out until it is larger than your pan.

Place puff pastry over the top of the pan and carefull tuck the excess pastry down into the hot pan. Do not worry about neatness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes then carefully invert pan onto serving plate.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What's For Dinner?

Sweet and Sour Meat Balls

Sweet and Sour Meat Balls

Note - Do not be alarmed by the pungent odor while these meatball are cooking. It’s the cider vinegar. This recipe can be doubled.


1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 tsp Dijon mustard

Meat Balls, combine in a large bowl:

1 ½ lbs ground beef
½ lb ground pork (I use bulk breakfast sausage)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cracker crumbs (I use Ritz)
½ cup or ketchup or BBQ Sauce
¼ cup milk
½ small onion, coarsely grated
½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp salt

Roll meat mixture into inch or inch and a half meatballs. Place on a jellyroll pan.

With a basting brush, dab sauce on each meatball and pour the remaining sauce into the jellyroll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Plaza Hotel NYC

The legendary Plaza Hotel in New York City reopened today after a 3 year $400 millon dollar renovation and restoration.

DH and I were in New York city in February of 2005 and were lucky enough to have lunch and tea in the Palm Court dining room. This photo of us (with my Mom) was taken just a few weeks prior to the hotel's closing. I can't wait to get back and see the changes.