Pasta with Pumpkin Cream – Not Just for Fall!

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage - my version of a delicious dish we had at Villa Toscano from Chef Tim Benham.

Several weeks ago, the Vineyard Vixens had a pasta dish for lunch at Villa Toscano that we all just loved. Executive Chef, Tim Benham, explained his process to us and told us the ingredients but didn’t give us any specific amounts. I played with the recipe and tweaked it until I came up with a version that I find quite yummy. I’m calling my version of this delicious dish Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage. The original dish had an even longer name! One of the ingredients of the dish is soy sauce soaked, roasted pumpkin seeds. There weren’t any on the portion I got from the buffet at Villa Toscano so I didn’t get to taste them. I thought this sounded like an odd ingredient but, what the heck, he’s the chef, right? So I made them. You just might want to make up a bunch for…

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Most Viewed Posts of 2016

A look back at 2016 and my most viewed posts of the year. There were a few surprises and some things I knew would be there.

It’s the beginning of a new year and I’ve been reflecting on the blog, looking back at old posts and setting some goals for 2017. Even though the blog hasn’t been in operation for a full year yet (my first post was published on March 7th), I thought you might be interested in knowing what my most viewed posts have been since then. 5 Most Viewed Posts of 2016 I was a little surprised that my Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent Review (September) came in fifth. This post gets most of its traffic from search engines and Pinterest. I like that a nuts and bolts review is doing so well. My most popular recipe for the year was 5-minute Microwave Fudge (December) which came in fourth. This post got a lot of views in a very short time — it has been up for less than a month. It is the quick and easy version of my Vino…

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5-Minute Microwave Fudge

Here is the microwave version of my Vino de Mocca fudge as promised. I think you'll love this quick and super easy microwave fudge.

For a while now I’ve been promising a microwave version of my Vino de Mocca fudge. I love that old-fashioned version but I learned the hard way why it is considered an “expert” level recipe. The first time I made it, it was perfect. The second time, my arms started giving out and I didn’t stir it the full length of time. It turned out like a brick! That really spurred me on to work on this microwave version. I had this 5-minute microwave fudge recipe ready a while back but I’m so glad I didn’t get the post finished until after I visited Allspicery in Sacramento. The habanero sugar I purchased there added such a special touch. This microwave fudge recipe is a version of a recipe my mom used for years — probably since microwaves were invented in 1947. Well, maybe not that long, but I had no idea that…

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Everything Nice at Allspicery

The Saucy Sisters cooking group recently took a foodie field trip to Allspicery, a new spice shop in downtown Sacramento. We were like kids in a candy store.

Recently, the Saucy Sisters cooking group took a foodie field trip to Sacramento to visit, among other places, Allspicery. When Jan, the organizer of the field trip, told me the Allspicery story, I knew I would want to tell you about it. As a cook, I enjoy experimenting with herbs and spices. I used to buy my herbs and spices in bulk online which can be a great money saver but isn’t all that great an idea unless you cook a LOT! Herbs and spices don’t really go “bad,” they just lose potency. Some people recommend replacing them every six months but 2-3 years for ground spices and 1-2 years for dried herbs is more realistic. I have to admit, lots of my spices have been hanging around for many years and I still use them. That’s why I concentrated on the things I don’t have when we went to Allspicery. Allspicery Allspicery…

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It’s All In My Head! – Food, Wine and Travel

A preview of what's coming on the blog in food, wine and travel - a field trip to Allspicery, some wine tasting and a couple of terrific recipes.

It seems I’ve been on a bit of an unintended hiatus from the blog. I’ve been so busy doing research, photograpy and coming up with ideas for content that I haven’t had (taken) the time to write it down. Now I have so many things in my head it is almost overwhelming but I will start getting it written! Here are some of the things I’m working on in food, wine and travel that you can expect to see on the blog in the next few weeks. When I wrote about my Wine Lovers Vino de Mocha Fudge, I promised an easy, microwave version. I’ve made several batches, including one I took to Thanksgiving dinner, and am very happy with the results. I’m also making a batch of it to add to a gift basket for the Motherlode Newcomers’ Christmas luncheon coming up on December 1st. Every month at our luncheon, the Newcomers raffle off baskets or other…

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Don’t Throw Out Your Sourdough Starter – Dutch Baby Pancakes

Instead of throwing out your sourdough starter when you feed it, try these moist, creamy Dutch baby pancakes. They are great for any meal and dessert!

I enjoy each and every one of my Saucy Sisters meetings but when I learned that we were going to be doing sourdough I was kind of excited. I haven’t done sourdough since I was in my 20s. Hmm, is that a theme? So many things I haven’t done since I was a young woman that I’m starting to reconnect with. Anyway, as I was saying, I was pretty excited about our sourdough meeting. I first started doing sourdough after a trip to San Francisco and bringing home a San Francisco sourdough starter kit. Like most things I do, I jumped into it with both feet, and started making sourdough bread almost weekly. And then I remembered why I quit doing sourdough. In order for your starter to be ready for you to use, your container has to sit out on the counter and you have to feed your starter daily. As someone on another…

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Alternate Ways of Baking Pizza

Ever since I got to make pizza in a wood-fired oven I've been craving it. I didn't want to turn on the oven so I researched alternate ways of baking pizza.

Ever since the Saucy Sisters baked pizza in a wood-fired oven for one of our meetings, I’ve really been craving pizza. I hardly ever have pizza for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t the most low-calorie food. Second, as a single person, I always have so much left over. I do like leftover pizza but baking pizza fresh is so much better. I don’t have an outdoor oven yet, and probably won’t get one until next spring. It’s been so hot I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven so I experimented with a couple of other ways of baking pizza. The Pizza Dough To make this a really simple process, you could buy already made pizza dough or frozen dough but I like doing things from scratch — most of the time. Ever since I discovered the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day way of making bread, I…

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Outdoor Pizza Oven — Fun and Practical

An outdoor pizza oven is fun and practical. Everyone can make their own pizza the way they want and you keep your kitchen cool while enjoying the outdoors.

When it’s hot out, who wants to turn on the oven and heat up the house? I don’t have air conditioning so I know I sure don’t! But there are lots of alternatives to cooking your meals in the oven. I lived in a ghost town in Nevada for five years. When we moved there, there was a gas (propane) stove and a propane tank that hadn’t been used since who knew when. I refused to have it filled and connected to the stove. So for three years, until we got an electric stove, I got to experiment a lot with many of those alternative methods. The microwave became my friend. I used it to cook a big portion of the majority of our meals, but I also had: a small electric skillet a large electric skillet/griddle that could “bake” things like meatloaf a Farberware electric rotisserie two electric sandwich makers two…

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