Archive for January 5, 2011

Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria

“We’ll Save You a Trip to Chicago”

We had so much fun last night!  Date Night lead us to our local Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria to check out their new Tap Room.  Ken, Andrew, Cindy and I have enjoyed Selma’s since it arrived in Rancho Santa Margarita in 2003, and they just seem to be getting better.  Honestly, we’ve been in the habit of ordering their pizza to go.  Old habits are meant to be changed up and I highly encourage you to come visit Selma’s new additional kids’ game room and grown up Tap Room.  The story behind the conception of the Tap Room reads something like this:

The Story of Our Berriphany

     “We were brainstorming in an intense meeting with a few cold beers one summer morning trying to come up with a great add-on to our successful restaurant. 

     What would complement Selma’s?  Donuts?  No, we like to sleep more than that.  Sushi?  Seemed a bit odd.  Coffee shop?  No, the triple mocha latte with 2 shots, sub soy, no whip, non-fat and add two ¼ pumps butterscotch flavoring seemed too confusing for us.  After throwing back a few more, we continued to praise the outstanding flavors of the local brewed beers we were drinking.  Hoppy, full-bodies, rich in aromas, yet smooth on the lips.  Then it came…an epiphany like no other…a beer epiphany!

     Hey, let’s open up a Tap Room!  A room filled with handles of small batch beers from local to abroad to allow other thirsty folks a chance to experience beer as we were that fateful summer morning.  A place of cheer, a place of flavor, a place of beer! 

     We then had the arduous task of sampling as much beer as we could to determine what beers would best represent this beer-iphany.  After hours and hours of “research” our work was completed.  (We have one hell-of-a-beer pong game now too!).  So, with that said, we hope you enjoy our vision to bring to you…Selma’s Tap Room.



Mike & Eric

Cinderella Cakes — a fantasy for the eyes, a fantasy for the senses. Cinderella Cakes, “Where Dreams DO Come True! “

Being food enthusiast ourselves, we love to watch the Food Network for inspiration.   “Ace of Cakes” is one of our favorite programs on The Food Network.  They are always creating the most beautiful cakes and works of art, which prompted us to visit Cinderella Cakes right here just outside of our gate. Cinderella Cakes is thee most quaint bakery and cookie shop that you have ever seen.   They offer you the opportunity to create the cake, cookie or baked item of your own design to make your special occasion truly unforgettable.

The minute Christie, her three boys and I entered Cinderella Cakes, we were all mesmerized by the beautiful, warm, and inviting atmosphere and of course, all of the delicious looking cakes and cookies.  Our visit to Cinderella Cakes was a date that was anticipated by all, and a day that definitely will stand out in our minds.

There were so many beautiful cakes, cookies, and flavors to choose from that we were all in such awe, because as you can probably guess, we wanted to taste them all.  We decided to first try the Brownie Pop.  What a great choice we made!  Christie’s oldest son gave it a rave review, stating that it had the “perfect rich and creamy brownie taste.”  Her middle son with chocolate covered lips, claimed that” it was the good stuff and absolutely delicious!” The youngest, “loved the very chocolaty taste!” The Brownie Pop was such a huge hit, that we knew we had to take one home for my son, who was at soccer practice.  The minute he came home from soccer, he couldn’t wait to try the Brownie Pop and was in “absolute heaven”, the words taken straight from his chocolate-filled mouth! Our boys have been told from another cupcake enthusiast, that they have the most incredible peanut butter and fruit-filled cupcakes that taste “better than a real peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

On an adult level, the Red Velvet Cake, my personal favorite, was a treat that I really shouldn’t be having but was so glad I did.  The cake was so moist and delicious, and the butter cream frosting was absolutely amazing with just the right amount of butter and creaminess.  We were all going to share the Red Velvet, however, I seemed to eat just about the whole thing because it was the best I have ever tasted!

If you are looking for a beautiful cake or would like to design a special cake for an event, then you have found just the place.  Cinderella Cakes has many inspirational books with photos of past cakes and will help you create the perfect cake for any occasion.  The cookies at Cinderella Cakes are a cookie lovers dream and can also be custom designed. We highly encourage you to visit their web site, where you can view the many artistic creations.  Better yet you should visit them right here in our very own Rancho Santa Margarita on the lake!

Food Finds

Carmelita’s, Rancho Santa Margarita – January, 2010

Carmelita’s – Tequila, Cocina y Mexico.  Carmelita’s Restaurant has been serving authentic, Mexican cuisine in the Sacramento area since 1962 and are now open in Rancho Santa Margarita in a beautiful patio setting overlooking the lake.  Their menu features old family recipes from the Heredia family that come primarily from the state of Puebla, Mexico.  Carmelita’s claims that “Food isn’t just a meal.  It’s an experience.  It’s a chance to break bread with people you may not even know.”  The restaurant continues all the family tradition and is now owned by their son, Clemente Heredia —  and don’t be surprised to find Clemente greeting you at the door!

Cindy, Andrew, Ken and I began our date night playing Mexican music in the car, gearing ourselves up for a Mexican cuisine adventure!  We were greeted by Clemente, and were invited into a truly artistic, colorful and tasteful world of Mexico.  Being an artist and designer, I was drawn to the décor right away – warm wall color, great tile designs, beautiful oversized painting of the agave plant (which I learned is where tequila comes from), another colorful and beautiful, oversized painting depicting life in Mexico and a great bar, defined by it’s unique iron designs.  The patio furniture is very cool, and the setting, overlooking the lake, is soothing and relaxing.

Clemene took such good care of us and our waiter, John, was as warm and friendly (someone who truly loved his job – how refreshing!).  We started out with their house margarita – “Carmelita’s Top Shelf “ — made with three ingredients:  100% agave tequila (they make their own tequila!), hand-squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar – we were warned they were strong.  Well, they were strong and made me feel good, just like my husband (did I just say that?  It must be the tequila talking! Ooo la la!).  For every guest, they serve warm black beans and salsa with chips – nice and different and so good!  Next, we ask Clemente to surprise us with his most well known menu items.  We were brought four of thee most flavorful, and enjoyable dishes:

1) Enchiladas De Camaron – green tomatillo enchiladas filled with shrimp, sautéed with salsa fresca, served with freshly sliced avocado and sour cream (I’m salivating just writing about it);

2) Chili Rellenos (which I never have had and was pleasantly surprised!) – they were stuffed poblano chiles served with salsa and tortillas;

3)  Carnitas – their most popular dish.  Crispy and juicy pork, slow roasted to perfection.  The dish included sides of chile de arbol salsa, salsa fresca, lime, guacamole and tortillas (OMG!  Heaven!)

4)  Espada – Swordfish Tacos served with an amazing sauce (my signature order, and I must say I would order it again and again.  Next time I might try their shrimp or lobster taco).

For dessert, we had warm, petite Churros with Mexican carmel (cajeta), served warm with vanilla ice cream (muy, muy bueno!).  It was as warm and comforting as the service and environment.

It is so nice to report that EVERYTHING was sooo enjoyable, tasteful, and, as my husband wants you to know, “the food was truly GREAT!”.  In today’s society, both food and service can be a lost art and Clemente provides the perfect balance of both.  Speaking for all of us, we look forward to coming back to Carmelita’s!  We hope to see you there!

Christie Lynch & Cindy Shapiro

Pad Thai

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Restaurant Reviews
Tags: ,


Pad Thai Taste of Thailand, is a great taste of Thai right her in Rancho Santa Margarita.  Believe it or not I have never truly had Thai food.  Well, I have had Thai spring rolls, but that’s it!  So when Christie and I decided to visit Pad Thai for our next write up I was a little nervous, but changed my thoughts very quickly arriving to a full house at this hidden gem! (You know the foods gotta be good when there isn’t an available table!)

Ok, now I am totally on board with Thai food!  Pad Thai was such an incredible experience for my first official taste of Thai.  We started our meal with the Won Ton Soup, whch has the most delicious chicken won tons, roasted pork and the just the right amount of vegetables.  Next up, Yum Nuea, the name says it all, YUM! The Yum Nuea is a salad prepared with tender beef, lime sauce, roasted chili, lettuce and Thai basil.  This dish was amazing with the infusion of lime and spicy chili.  Then we had the Pik Khing Stir Fry, which was my husband’s favorite of the night.  It is served with Stir-fried fresh snow peas, peppers and chicken with the chef’s special ginger and dried chili paste-the combination was intriguing and delicious.  You can order any of the dishes at Pad Thai with just the right amount of heat according to your spice buds.  The levels are 1-10 with 10 being the hottest!  My husband loves his food EXTRA spicy, but he was kind to us not so spicy food lovers and we ordered our food on a normal spice level.  However, if you are like Andrew, you are in luck because upon your meal being served they bring to each table a spice bar.  The spice bar comes with the chef’s special dried chili peppers (VERY HOT), jalapeno sauce and Nam Plah sauce (which is made from fish water, chilies and lime sauce). Andrew loved the heat from the Nam Plah the best! To end our meal we ordered the Pad Thai Chicken (The Chef’s Specialty).  Which comes with the Thai rice noodles, very tender chicken, egg, tofu, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and carrots with the chef’s delectable special sauce.  This was my favorite dish of the night.  The multitude of flavors upon my first bite is when it happened…  I fell in love with Thai food!!

I had been told from friends of mine that the Fried Banana and Coconut Ice Cream is out of this world and was looking forward to trying it but after consuming the many delicious dishes at Pad Thai we were way too full to enjoy this amazing sounding dessert. Next visit we will all try not to order too much so that we can save room for dessert.   It’s not going to be easy…

It was refreshing to see Chris, the chef and owner coming up to each customer’s table to greet and make sure that they were happy with their meals.  Chris is very attentive as well as an amazing chef and obviously won the hearts of his many loyal customers.  Customer service is key in these times and at Pad Thai you will get the best quality food as well as receive excellent service and value!

Pad Thai is located at:

30486 Avenida De Las Banderas, #C, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA  92688



Posted: January 5, 2011 in Restaurant Reviews

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – August 2010 issue

 What a great name for a sports tavern – Friends.  It reminds me of the fun, accepting tavern and TV show, “Cheers – where everyone knows you name”.   In Friends case, “You enter as a stranger and leave as friends.”  I even love Friends’ tag line:  “Eat, drink and meet Mary!”  Already I’m having fun and it’s just words!  Mary, the owner and a Coto de Caza resident, has really created a fun, inviting place to kick back, have a team meeting, or relax watching summertime sports like the Lakers Finals, the exciting World Cup, Angel games, or the Tour de France and eat amazing “tavern” food.  I believe Mary has redefined a “tavern experience”.

The Setting

Friends is located in the secluded Dove Canyon shopping center (by Gold Gym and the Water District), perched up on the hillside, overlooking Rancho Santa Margarita.  The patio setting is beautiful for a quiet breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch or intimate dinner.   The interior is ideal for any sports fan with a gazillion TV’s, free pool, electronic card games, and special booths with DVD players (so have the kids grab their favorite movie before coming).   

Fine Tavern Dining

 We’ve eaten at Friends before and have always had a welcoming experience.  The staff is very friendly, accommodating and really seems to enjoy their positions at the restaurant.  Our server, Kailea, was a fun personality.  We loved her description of the food there — “All of our appetizers evoke emotion.”  Wow!  OK!  We were ready to have our emotions be evoked!  First, Kailea told us that their Wings are the “top 5 in Orange County”.  Our husbands, Ken and Andrew were the judges:  and yes, to date, “these wings are very good, have great flavor, are easy and clean to eat, there is a lot meat on the bone, and yes, they would order them again.”  To munch on, we also enjoyed their homemade Chips with special seasoning salt.  Another appetizer addition we had was their Tempura Green Beans – green beans lightly battered and deep fried, served with a great Wasabi Soy Vinaigrette – so great and fun to eat!  For our entrees, Cindy enjoyed a NY Steak Special – a nice cut grilled, and topped with herb butter and red wine, served with cauliflower mashed potatoes – the cauliflower was different but we liked it.  I am not a cauliflower fan, but this was a nice way to get my vegetables.  Andrew ordered the Pan-Roasted Salmon – Salmon roasted with citrus buerre blanc and candied lemon, served on garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus — very good and a healthy choice!  Ken ordered the Seared Ahi Sandwich – Ahi, baby greens, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and Mary’s lemon dill sauce — something I wouldn’t expect at a tavern, but something we would order again!  Sooo good!

I ordered their most popular item:  Prime Rib French Dip – oui, oui, mon ami! (yes, yes my friend!); it’s sliced prime rib with provolone, carmelized onions, horseradish cream and au jus — to die for!   Oh, and did I mention that we all shared the Pepper Crusted Seared Ahi Salad?  Ahi seared and laid atop baby greens with kalamata olives, shaved cucumber, red onion, tomato, capers and feta cheese, served with sherry vinaigrette!  {My taste buds are getting evoked again just writing this!} 

For dessert, we shared three amazing creations.  First, the Walnut Cinnamon Apple Crisp (a personal fall favorite of mine) is made up of warm apples, crunchy walnuts and cinnamon crumbs topped with vanilla bean ice cream.  Secondly, the Lavender Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee was a delicate and delicious crème, carmelized and served with fresh berries (oh mother!).  And finally, we tasted the Flourless Chocolate Cake – this decadent treat is served warm with vanilla bean ice cream and honey port syrup.   I’m sorry, but this is not tavern eating like my parents experienced back in the day – did they even know what honey port syrup was?  My emotions are evoking, here!!!!!

Oh and what Orange County kid should have to eat their hot dog on a plain, white, boring bun? Kailea highly recommended the Kids Hot Dog (for adults too!) – served on a pretzel bun!  The kids menu is full of kid-friendly favorites with special extra twists. 

“Friends Cares”

“Friends” is more than just a sports tavern.  Mary has a heart for reaching out to friends, or friends of friends, charities, teams, school fundraisers and causes through her “Friends Cares” program.  Fundraisers are available on weeknights, Monday-Thursday.  Set up the date and time with Mary or her staff and she will donate 10% of that evening’s sales to your special group. 

Happy Hour & Live Entertainment Calendar

There is so much more to write about and so little space.  Check out their web site for all their daily happy hour specials and their live entertainment calendar!

Personally I can’t wait for the U.S. Open tennis match, and football and hockey season to begin!  I ask you sports fans – what could be better than watching your favorite teams and players, with your favorite friends, topped off with great food and drink?  I invite you to come on in, leave your troubles at the door, have fun, relax and enjoy your friends, both old and new!  And when you go, say hi to my new friends, Mary and Kailea, for me! 


Friends — The Sports Tavern

31911 Dove Canyon Drive

Trabuco Canyon, CA  92679

{Dove Canyon Shopping Center}


Canyon Fireside Grille

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Restaurant Reviews

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – June issue

I’d like to introduce you to a warm, generous and very pleasant man – Robert Kissinger – owner of our very own Canyon Fireside Grille, located in the heart of Rancho Santa Margarita (across from Borders, next to Willow Manor).  Over the years, Robert has owned and operated many restaurants in LA and OC.  As it turns out, I used to visit his bistro in Brentwood quite often back in the early 90’s when I worked at the ad agency around the corner. 

I honestly feel that Robert has a gift as a restauranteur who has a genuine interest in our community. For example, he donated special treats to Wagon Wheel Elementary school’s jog-a-thon, was a sponsor at Trabuco Canyon Little League, and in February, he participated in the St. Baldrick’s Charity event at City Hall and afterwards, a slew of young boys from surrounding schools, who got their heads shaved in support of the event, came into “Canyon” with their parents to enjoy a home-cooked meal.  

 With Robert’s gift and his wisdom from years of experience, he created a special place designed uniquely around our very exclusive Rancho Santa Margarita.  For me, this beautiful area allows me to get in touch with my inner cowgirl — I love horses, the country, a great fire overlooking the raw beauty  of our mustard-painted hills, and, of course, good “canyon cuisine” to go along with it all.  

 Sunset Journey

Our journey began around sunset after a long week.  When we arrived at ‘Canyon”, the fire pit was ablaze, and we were seated underneath the richly painted, (realistic mural of the) rugged landscape, and gazed out the window at the sun setting on the hills, nestled in the grand Saddleback mountain.   I love a good setting and “Canyon’s” interior set the tone for the evening.  The only thing that was missing was my loyal dog, Buck.

 As the details of the day faded away, and we became more comfortable and relaxed, enjoying a colorful cocktail brought to us by a wonderful gal who has worked for Robert for years, the aroma from the grille became more apparent and enticing.  We started our meal off by sharing one of my personal favorites:  Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi – Sesame and peppercorn crusted Ahi, served rare with wasabi cream, mango asian slaw, and thai dipping sauce ($13).  We also shared their amazing Corn Bread ($4) – when Cindy and I tried to figure out the ingredients, we became stumped and asked Robert what we were missing and he politely answered “Can’t tell you.  Secrete recipe.”  Trust me, we tried to get it out of him, but he just smiled.  That corn bread can be dessert!  At any good canyon fireside dinner, you have to have Herb-Crusted Rotisserie Chicken – Rotisserie roasted half chicken served over country gravy with their whipped potatoes and fresh fire-roasted vegetables ($15.95) – it was money!  Next we shared, (are you ready for this?) Stuffed Halibut with Bleu Crab – Northern halibut stuffed with blue crab meat and artichokes with a beurre blanc sauce, whipped potatoes and fresh asparagus spears ($24.95) – you really must try it, absolutely amazing!  Then we ordered The California Zone – Grilled fresh Atlantic salmon fillet, prime flat iron steak, or chicken breast paired with fresh char-grilled seasonal vegetables and chilled tomato salad ($10.95) – we had the salmon and it was wonderful!  To round out our meal, we all shared a famous Fireside Prime Flat Iron Steak Salad – Prime flat iron steak served atop mixed baby lettuces, oven-roasted tomatoes, crispy onion strings and balsamic-bleu cheese dressing ($16.95) – so great and satisfying.   For dessert we dove into a Butterscotch Crème Brulee – need I say more?  And please don’t tell my Turbo kick boxing workout instructor, Monica!

Live Evening Entertainment

Because we ate early – sunset in the spring is around 7:00pm, we were tired, full and just went home to “hit the hay”, we missed out on the live entertainment at 9:00pm!  “Canyon” has live music and dancing in their bar section – Thursday evenings beginning at 7:30pm, and Friday and Saturdays beginning at 9:00pm.  .  I hear it’s thee place to go!  Check out their web site for a list of the scheduled entertainers, menu items, etc. – AND you can “friend” them on Facebook!

Tent Dining

I love it!  To add to the experience, Robert installed a cool, safari-like tent in which a larger party of 8 can sit at a round table and enjoy catching up with each other.  It’s a fun little intimate experience with the flavor of the great outdoors – Coto style, of course.

Summertime Patio

This summer, I look forward to going back and sitting outside on their patio and experiencing a “Canyon” warm, summer night.  My Bunco group is actually scheduled to go there soon, and yes, we’re going to play!  Oh, and try their breakfast on a leisurely Sunday morning, served from 9:30-1:00.  Freshly brewed coffee and the smells of a  “Canyon” breakfast, fireside – ahhhhhh…it doesn’t get much better than that.  I can smell the aroma already.

A Message from Robert

Robert is quoted saying, “We are a neighborhood restaurant.  Our goal is to be on a first name basis with each guest.  I look forward to seeing you at your next visit.”  So, next time you go into Canyon Fireside Grille, ask for Robert and introduce yourself, relax and enjoy!

Canyon Fireside Grille

Classic American Food

22312 El Paseo, Suite A

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA  92688

Tel:  949-888-8893

Beach Fire

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Restaurant Reviews

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – October Issue 2010

  I was so excited to be able to report on Beach Fire Grill!  I’ve enjoyed BF from the first moment I tried their food at the Taste of Coto over a year ago.  Once intrigued with their food, I had to check out their location in Ladera Ranch.  What cool, righteous ambiance!!  They have designed the interior with a variety of unique décor. You can dine under a replica of the San Clemente Pier, while fish are swimming at eye-level in a 2,200 gallon fish tank – kids and adults dig it – how cool is that!  Now my husband wants a fish tank (oh great).   Of all things I love their bathroom counter tops, made up of sand and sea shells as well as other little collections of things you’d find on the beach.  Surfboards hanging everywhere as well as tiki huts here and there.  They have over 400 local artists’ original beach-themed paintings hung everywhere for sale.  Being an artist myself, I created a little thank-you painting of the outside of the restaurant for the gracious owners, Dave and Allison Donaldson.  I am, however, inspired to do something bigger now…

The Inspiration

The name for BeachFire drifted to Dave and Allison one beautiful summer evening while driving down PCH with the windows down and the smell of a fire on the beach hit them in the face.  They wrote the restaurant concept on a cocktail napkin that night.

The Service

We were greeted by the manager, Jackson, who took great care of us, and, David, the ultimate server, was beyond great! This guy really enjoys good food and making you feel informed and well looked after.  Ask for David the next time you go in. J

Their Food

Their three BeachFire restaurants are “committed to providing the finest food and service in a really comfortable and fun atmosphere.  They use only the freshest of seafood, make all of their own sauces, dressings and desserts and have never had a microwave at any location.  Sterling Silver beef and quality cocktails and wine lists have always been the standard.  Constant improvements are made to reduce their footprints through recycling, reducing, and sourcing as much local and sustainable product as possible.”  I love their save the beaches/save the planet message – more restaurant should be so consciencious.  BeachFire caters as well!

Our Meal

Dudes and Dudettes, you seriously have to start off with their Ahi Tartare —  Sashimi ahi tuna layered with fresh avocado and mango salsa, served with sriracha, ponzu, cucumbers and crispy wonton.  You don’t know what ponzu is?  I don’t either, but trust me, it’s fantastic!  The four of us shared four mouth-watering entrees.  First, the Panko Crusted Alaskan Halibut – Pan seared (or blackened) fresh Alaskan halibut with a panko crust and jalapeno buerre blanc, served over roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables – yum-mie!  Secondly, we had the Caribbean Skirt Steak – Sterling Silver skirt steak marinated in chimichurri and served on Puerto Rican black beans, zen rice, fried sweet Caribbean plantains and pico de gallo – ama-Zing!  Thirdly, we had Grilled Ahi Tacos  – Blackened sashimi tuna, shredded red cabbage and carrots, topped with wakame salad and soy emulsion – yes, I would order THIS again!  And finally, we enjoyed  Lobster Tacos – Sauteed chunks of Mexican spiny lobster, seasoned and sautéed in garlic butter, cabbage mix and cilantro cumin cream – muy, muy bueno!!!!  I have to note that the prices were very reasonable. 

What’s New!

“BeachFire will always be in an eternal quest for improvement.”  This is a direct quote from their web site.  On that note, “Attention All Sports Fans!  Surfer Dave Donaldson has come up with an out-of-the-surfers-box idea — Beach Fire Grill is now hosting NFL Sundays!”  Check out this quality, classy sports experience with 11 flat screen TV’s, Direct TV boxes for full game coverage, free Wi-Fi for constant fantasy football updates, and a special “1st down menu”!  Nothing like feeling like you’re at the beach with all your creature comforts of a sports bar, games and grill!  Dave, it doesn’t get much better than that!  Don’t forget to have one channel on the Surfing Network!

Community Fundraisers

It just so happened that BF was hosting another community fund raiser Wednesday night (the night we went in for dinner), one that happened to be close to my heart:  Tesoro Football Program.  Whether it’s a music program, charity or sports fundraiser, BF really enjoys giving back (% of the sales on any given day).  Great way to connect with the locals!

Musical Entertainment & Calendar

Check out their weekly live musicians and their ArtWalk in San Clemente the last Thursday of each month (I might check this out!), plus more at  Or “friend” them on Facebook to get the latest updates!



BeachFire – Ladera Ranch

25682 Crown Valley Parkway

Ladera Ranch, CA  92694


BeachFire – San Clemente

204 Avenida Del Mar, Suite D

San Clemente, CA  92672


Historic San Clemente Municipal Golf Course –

Irons in the Fire

150 Avenida Magdalena

San Clemente, CA  92672


Without question, BeachFire is rated one of my personal favorites.  Dave and Allison, keep doing what you do best.  We’ll be back soon.


Happy Boeuf Bourguignon!

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Cooking at Home

I’m going to start off with sharing the wonderful experience of making Ina Garten’s version of hearty Boeuf Bourguignon from her “Barefoot In Paris” cookbook.  I learned that not only was Ina and her husband, Jeffrey, government workers (like Julia Childs and her husband, AND Julie from the movie “Julie and Julia”) who couldn’t wait to get home and cook French food, but I also learned how therapeutic cooking really can be.  Truly it can be a chore or very good for the soul – I pray you feel the latter.  

Ina said,

 “I never really liked beef bourguignon.  After cooking for three hours, the meat was stringy and dry and the vegetables were overcooked.  So, I tried to solve the problem and came up with a delicious stew that cooks in an hour and a half.  The good news is that it’s even better the second day, so it’s great for entertaining.”

I appreciate Ina’s changes to her recipe, because last night, it turned out FABULOUS! 

At the Dinner Table, my boys, instead of using tasty, fresh, “country bread” (as Ina calls it), they preferred cheap, white hamburger buns from Costco.  One kid just ate the bread.  My husband appreciated it, at least I think he did, because I did notice the kick under the table to the boys knees, to which they all exclaimed at the same time, “Yeah, Mom, this is good/really good/amazing/yeah/yeah/blah/blah.”  What is it with kids taste buds.  Are they so used to American processed crap that they don’t appreciate real flavor?!?!?  Sheesh…

Always Share:  I have the perfect family in mind who will benefit from the second-day flavor absorption.  I’m going to buy some fresh “country bread” for them, make a nice salad and let them heat-up bowls of Beouf Bourguignon.  I still have some extra thyme leaves… I want to make it again!  Maybe for the football crowd on my couch on Sunday…

Ina, I appreciate it and I know my friends will too!  🙂  Check out Ina’s “Barefoot In Paris” cookbook or see one of her segments on the Food Network.

Let me know your experience!

Bon Apetit!

Random acts kindness was our theme this year, and rum cakes proved to make recipients very happy 🙂

Always “Believe” in He, who is the reason for the season.

Red and White Hydrangea, also a theme this year.  Such an elegant was to dress up a stair case…

Loved the Hydrangea with velvety red ribbon around the tree…so simple, yet so elegant and striking.

For a more dramatic look, try black velvety ribbon along with red ribbon, accented with red and white hydrangea.

Investing (try to get them 1/2 off at the end of the season!) in a couple oversized, dramatic ornaments can really brighten up a chandelier.

  Door decorations are always a must!  Great rich-red ribbon always looks festive!  And if you find any red flowers (pointsettia, hydrangea, roses, etc.) feel free to add them into the mix.  It will be gorgeous!

Check out these fabulous GINGERBREAD CREATIONS submitted to the Discovery Science Center this past year! 


Can’t wait until December!