Archive for December, 2010

This is a family favorite … Grilled Herb Shrimp served with Mango Salsa.  Both recipes are from Barefoot Contessa.   I make this as an appetizer instead of a main course.  And, it’s an appetizer that you can “make ahead” — which I love.

When I’m in a time crunch, I buy the Mango Salsa from Trader Joe’s. But honestly, this Mango Salsa recipe is much better.

Grilled Herb Shrimp

Serves 6


3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 medium Yellow Onion, small-diced

1/4 cup minced fresh Parsley

1/4 cup minced fresh Basil

1 tsp. Dry Mustard

2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

2 tsp. Kosher Salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper

1/4 cup good Olive Oil

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 lbs. Jumbo Shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled, tails left on and deveined

Mango Salsa (Recipe follows)


1.  Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.  Add the shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2.  Prepare grill, brushing the grilling rack with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking.  Skewer the shrimp.  (Use 5 or 6 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for a dinner serving. If making the shrimp as appetizers, you can place each shrimp on a 6-inch skewer OR you can fill 12-inch skewers to grill, then remove the shrimp for serving.)  Grill the shrimp for 1 1/2 minutes on each side.  Serve with the Mango Salsa.

Mango Salsa

Makes 2 cups


2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1  1/2 cups diced Yellow Onion (2 onions)

2 tsp. peeled, minced fresh Ginger

1  1/2 tsp. minced Garlic

2 ripe Mangos, peeled, seeded and small-diced

1/3 cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice

2 tsp. light Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper

1 to 2 tsp. minced fresh Jalapeno Pepper, to taste (1 pepper)

2 tsp. minced fresh Mint Leaves

Saute the olive oil, onions and ginger in a large saute pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the mangos; reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes.  Add the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and jalapenos.  Cook for 10 more minutes, or until the orange juice is reduced, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the mint.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTES: The Mango Salsa is enough for 3 batches of the shrimp.  So, if you are doubling or tripling the shrimp recipe, there is no need to make additional salsa.  The leftover salsa is great on grilled fish or soft tacos.


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Merry Christmas to All

May you keep the reason of Christmas in your heart as you celebrate with your family and friends!

Merry Christmas!

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Last night, we made sugar cookies and gingerbread men.  It’s become an annual tradition for our family to decorate sugar cookies at Christmas.  It brings back fond memories for me, as my sister and I used to help my mom decorate sugar cookies.

We use my mom’s sugar cookie recipe.  It’s our favorite and makes great tasting sugar cookies!

Most years Jeff even helps frost and decorate the cookies.  His are actually the most detailed and artistic of the bunch!

Each one of us gets our own rimmed baking sheet and we set up all the frosting and decorations on the kitchen island.   It’s a fun family tradition!

Now, our cookies are not as beautiful as my friend Jennifer’s.  But she’s in the cookie business.  Aren’t these beautiful?

Happy Baking!

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This year was challenging as far as creating floral arrangements for our Christmas party.  I usually find beautiful red roses at Costco and a nice variety of greenery at Trader Joe’s and throw some beautiful arrangements together.

When I went to buy red roses last week, I couldn’t find them!  I did end up buying flowers at Costco, but the roses were primarily white and pink with a few red ones thrown in.  I did find an interesting mixed arrangement with a few red roses, the green poms, leucadendron, and greenery.

So … these are not my best examples of Christmas floral arrangements, but they are the flowers I put together for our Christmas party.

This was the centerpiece for our dining room table – where we served appetizers and desserts – buffet style.

In our bathrooms, I like to add a small floral arrangement … or even a single rose in a tiny silver vase with a few sprigs of greenery.

And, I like to tuck small arrangements in bookcases, on end tables — any area that could use a touch of color and fresh flowers.

When I hit the antique flea markets and stores like HomeGoods or Marshal’s … I’m always on the lookout for tiny silver containers and white ceramic pitchers.  They make great anchors for fresh flowers.

And, my trick that I learned years ago — use Oasis (the green floral foam) for everything — even the tiniest of containers.  The end results are so much better and you have flowers that stay put.

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Often overlooked, staircases and banisters can be a great place to add some holiday touches.  Draping garland, berries, ribbon and bows is an easy way to start.  You can also add decorated packages, pillows, candles or lanterns on the stairs — to provide some interest and depth.

These banisters above are from the Censational Girl – a favorite blog of mine.  Both of these banisters are one and the same — different years and a bit of paint and remodeling.

There are many different holiday styles.  From very traditional … (a Feather’s client below)

to a coastal and beachy theme with the starfish and boating rope (Coastal Living) …

to a very simple strand of garland with glass balls (Janelle Beals) …

there is a decor style for every staircase.

Happy Decorating!

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As far as appetizers go, Bacon-wrapped Scallops are always a favorite with our friends and family.  This recipe is from San Francisco Flavors (a Junior League cookbook).  While the original recipe calls for pancetta instead of bacon, I tend to use bacon.  It’s easier to work with (and less expensive) when making a large number of appetizers.

I love this recipe for parties because I can make them a day ahead.  Read the NOTES below, for some time saving tips.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Papaya

Makes 30 Appetizers


30 slices of Bacon

15 Sea Scallops, halved crosswise

1/2 ripe Papaya, peeled, seeded & sliced

3 Green Onions, including green tops, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch slices

Mustard Cream Sauce:

1/2 cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbs. Dijon Mustard

1 Tbs. minced, fresh Dill (or 1 tsp. Dried Dill)

1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper


1.  Lay out the bacon on a cutting board.  Place a scallop half on the end of each slice of bacon.  Lay a slice of papaya and some green onion slices on top of the scallop.  Roll up the bacon.  Skewer the bacon through the scallop to secure the insides.  Repeat with the remaining bacon.

2.  To make the sauce:  In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix to blend.

3.  Preheat the broiler.  With a pastry brush, coat the bacon pieces with the cream mixture.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top of the foil.  Place bacon pieces on the rack and broil for 8 to 10 minutes, watching carefully, until lightly browned.  Serve hot.


  • For large parties, I use the frozen bag of scallops from Costco.  Most of the scallops are large enough to slice in half.  If I am making a smaller number of appetizers, I use the frozen scallops from Trader Joes.  These scallops are smaller, so I generally use them whole.
  • I make the cream sauce in a glass pyrex measuring cup.  Instead of brushing the sauce, I drizzle (pour) the sauce on the scallops.  I also make the sauce a day ahead.  It actually tastes better, as the dill and mustard are absorbed.  Be sure to mix the sauce well before using. 
  • When making a large number of appetizers, I use the partially-cooked bacon from Costco.  It’s very easy to work with; however, I often need to trim the bacon, as it’s too long.
  • Use fresh dill, if possible.

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This week we’ve been getting ready for our annual Christmas party.  Believe it or not, I was still decorating yesterday (the day of the party)!  Where did the time go this year?

We did get three Christmas trees up and decorated this year.  The tall one in our living room is our standard tree with the kids’ ornaments.  But this year, we added a small noble fir in our dining room (decorated in snowflakes) and a tiny one in our family room with bright, vintage ornaments.

I’ve posted some quick snapshots of Christmas vignettes throughout our home.

I  love hanging decorative wreathes on mirrors.  The picture above left, is our bar and the picture on the right is our entry table.

In our hallway, we display a collection of old vintage santas.


In our family room, we traditionally decorate with snowmen.  Since my maiden name is “Snow”, I have collected snowmen and snowflakes for years.


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