Cranberry-and-Pecan-Salad-from-Great-Day-Cafe-2

Great Day Cafe is one of our favorite little cafe’s in the heart of downtown Overland Park.  It’s a quirky little cafe with a cool menu of sandwiches and panini’s with vegetarian and gluten free choices, a new soup for each day of the week, quiches, and my favorite, this Cranberry and Nut salad which comes with your choice of pecans or walnuts. You can’t beat the charming staff or the black board specials where you might find something new to tempt your palate!  A very tiny space with an outdoor patio featuring artwork and a small band in house for a unique experience.  Located next door to the Farmer’s Market, Penzey’s and The Tasteful Olive, it’s safe to say I’ve been there a few times.  After my last visit I came home and made a Cranberry and Pecan salad at home with a homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette. I don’t have a house band to entertain you but the salad is great!
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Shrimp-and-Pasta-with-Lemon-Cream-Sauce-11

Times are changing, my nest has recently become empty and I now only need to make meals for two.  My boys have both tested their independence at different times but also returned for a while.  This time feels more permanent somehow.  While Josh moved across town to his own place, Cameron made a move across country leaving me with a range of emotions.  With only having two to cook for, my habits will have to change.  I’m going to try to cut down my recipes to fit two people and also try to create more simple and frugal recipes that Josh and Cam can make.  This shrimp pasta is a good recipe to start with.  It makes a great meal for 2 – 3 people. And if shrimp is a little pricey for your wallet, boneless chicken breast or thighs would be a good alternative.  In the time it takes to boil pasta, you can make a lemon cream sauce that tastes just like you ordered it from a restaurant.  Serve alongside a garden salad and a hunk of french artisan bread and you’ve got a complete and flavorful meal!

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French-Laundry-Apple-Cake-10

The first time I saw this Apple Kuchen from The French Laundry” I was pretty much in love. Such a pretty cake decorated with apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  This cake has a delicate moist texture within a crisp outer crust.  The cake itself is not overly sweet but melts in your mouth when you drizzle a bit of warm Vanilla Cream Sauce over top.  A simple dessert that looks like you fussed for hours.  But once you find how easy it is to prepare, you’ll want to make it again and again!
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Red-Wing-Cookies-24

Hockey season is back!  Finally. . .  after a long summer break, the Wings are about the hit the ice for another year of Red Wings Hockey.  I can’t wait until tonight when they open the season full of excitement and high expectations for a successful season.  For 23 years straight my Red Wings have made the playoffs, gone to the finals 6 times and won the Stanley Cup 4 times in 17 years.  Last year I watched HBO’s 24/7 which featured behind the scenes with the Red Wings organization and players leading up to the outdoor Winter Classic on New Years Day. There was a scene where the Wings were flying to a road game and while on the plane the guys were served sugar cookies with their jersey names and numbers.  They were so COOL!!  I searched online and found a jersey cookie cutter then sent off for some winged wheel edible icing images to decorate the white jerseys.  I used icing tips to write their name and numbers on the home red jerseys.  They were so much fun to make, a lot of work but worth every minute. I’m especially looking forward to this season because we are flying to Detroit in January to see the Wings play at Joe Louis Arena!!  I can’t wait!
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Lime-Ice-Cream-with-Candied-Hatch-Green-Chile-3

It’s Hatch season and I just picked up my first green chiles of the season.  I’ve had this recipe in mind for such a long time and waiting on chile season to try it out.  I have a cookbook from The Museum of New Mexico Foundation, “Dulce, Desserts from Santa Fe Kitchens”.  In it there is a recipe for lime ice cream with caramelized green chiles.  Every time I flip through it I wonder how this combination will taste.  You might think it sounds like an odd combination but I can vouch that it’s really quite tasty.  Think of candied jalapenos paired with cream cheese. . . yummy huh!  Well, this sweet and hot combination tastes like frozen key lime pie with some chile jelly on top.  It’s sweet with a back heat that tempts your taste buds and leaves you satisfied.  Now you could go with a mild green chile, but the hot chile is tamed considerably by the sweet syrup.  And to top it off I added some crystallized lime zest which added another layer of sweetness.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
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Tabasco-Red-Pepper-Sauce-12

I’ve always wanted to make my own red pepper sauce like Tabasco brand but I rarely find good and fresh cayenne peppers.  I just happened to be shopping for jalapeno’s last week when something red caught my eye.  Beside the jalapeno’s were a few habanero peppers, some ghost peppers and a tray of fresh cayenne peppers.  The cayenne’s were long and curly and crisp and I felt compelled to bring some home.  Not knowing how many it would take to make a batch of sauce, I took a wild guess and estimated about a pound of peppers would do.  The ingredients listed on the back of a Tabasco brand bottle are distilled vinegar, red peppers and salt.  I basically made it the same way with the addition of some water.  I had to play around with the amounts and do a lot of taste testing to get it just right.  When you’re taste testing something so hot and spicy it takes some time in between tastes to make an accurate assessment.  The coloring of my homemade batch turned out much more vivid and bright than the original but the Tabasco brand sauce is fermented which would definitely affect the coloring.  Also my sauce was a little bit thicker but the taste was very close.  My taste testers (Joe and Josh) found one difference . . . they both tasted a variance in the vinegar.  I used an apple cider vinegar (which was what I had on hand in the pantry) but probably should have used white vinegar.  It didn’t even occur to me at the time, but next time I’ll be sure to make it with distilled white vinegar.   If your family goes through bottles of Tabasco red pepper sauce the way mine does, you might try making it yourself, if you can find the cayenne peppers that is!

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Grilled-Shrimp-Tacos-3

I’m still on an Aussie kick, this time I’m having summer shrimp tacos with a fresh jicama salsa and jalapeno cream.  The medley of colors, textures and flavors are so appetizing starting with the salsa which is made from fresh ingredients with a bite of crunchy jicama.  And topped with sour cream with roasted jalapenos to add a bit of spice.  Everybody loves finger foods that you can pick up with your hands to eat.  These were no exception literally being wolfed down in minutes.  Portion control just went out the window!
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