14 August, 2015  |   Comment

It’s Chili Cook-off Time

A whirlywind week with a chili cookoff to host.
It’s pretty straightforward now.
Just the beans, ma’am.

We do it yearly, nine years to be exact.
Can you believe we’ve been hanging out so long?

Let’s hear it for this year’s all-lady cast of winners!

2015 Chili and Corbread Cook-off Winners!

They each won themselves a sweet hand-painted (thankyouverymuch) safari hat.


If you brought something to enter the competition, you’ll have to sign in. We’ll give you a small cup for voting. You’ll set that up next to your chili. We put out jars of Sharpies on the table so entrants could label their chili right on the table.


Drawing a big circle around your chili can help you clear a little space for your creation. If you brought sides, you can put the sides and the voting cup within your chili circle.

Just here to taste?

Grab a bowl, a spoon and two beans to vote for your favorites.
Get to tasting!


Make your way through the chilis bowl by bowl. This year, we had about 18.


I taste by putting different chilis in one bowl. One year we tried individual tasting cups, but the ladles didn’t work so well with the small opening. By the end of that year’s competition, everyone had chili-hands. The bowl below has 4 different chilis in it.


Then taste, taste, taste.





When you’ve decided on your favorite, leave a bean in the cup and get back to your bocce team! You still have a game to play!
(Sadly, we lost the match to the Paisans.)


When most of the chilis are empty, it’s time to count the beans!


Our awards ceremony is totally solemn and terrible.


Just kidding. It takes 5 minutes and everyone gets back to their game as quick as can be.

Chili up!

12 August, 2015  |   1 Comment

Repost: For dinner tonight, make this Eighties Stuffed Chicken Breast recipe

I posted this recipe a few years ago, but it’s so good, I’m dusting it off again. Also, because we’re having it tonight for dinner and I’d just like to have it easy to access.Sun dried tomato and feta stuffed chicken breasts

One of the perks of being a dissatisfied child of the 1980’s was the development of a rich fantasy life.

My fantasy life included dreaming of my life as a Baby Boom Keaton, a thirtysomething striver.

The oldest 10 year old in the universe, I dreamed of a career in advertising, of arguments with my handsome bearded husband and dinner parties where everyone told the truth.
(P.S. Go me!)

Thirtysomething cast photo. I never saw the show but I was obsessed with the lifestyle.

Some of the most exciting parts of all that dreaming included the introduction of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese as mainstream ingredients. Add them to bagels! Add them to your mixed green salads! They’re exotic! They’re for yuppies!

Eager to jump on culinary trends, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own.

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cups bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper them on the inside with 1/2 the pepper and 1/2 the salt (1/2 tsp, 1/2 tsp). Fold in half and put on a cookie sheet, set in the fridge while you make the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium high heat until they start to bubble, add the chopped onion and stir through – keep stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.

Add bread crumbs, stir through.
Add the garlic, stir through.
Add the sun dried tomatoes, stir through.
Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir those through too.

When the bread crumbs are a nice toasty brown color (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and let mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then stir through the shredded Parmesan cheese and the crumbled Feta cheese.

Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge. Unfold each breast, put about 3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the middle, and then fold the rest of the breast over the top of the stuffing. Put back in the fridge.

Wash out the pan you made the stuffing in (any extra stuffing is yours, by the way)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in the large, clean sauté pan.

Remove as many chicken breasts from the baking sheet that fit comfortably in the saute pan and put them in the sauté pan.

Closeup view of 80's Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Brown the stuffed chicken on each side, being careful not to spill too much stuffing out of the folded breast. It’s a little bit of a messy process, but it’s worth it.

Clean off the baking sheet and cover it with foil.

When the chicken breasts are browned, put them on the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.

After I put the chicken breasts in the oven, I heat up water to cook the angel hair pasta I serve alongside. (And now I have The Angel Song in my head. Thanks Great White.)

We served 80s Stuffed Chicken Breasts with this Girard Sauvignon Blanc. But I bet a light red would have also done the trick.
2012 Girard Sauvignon Blanc

My handsome bearded husband put on the Diana Krall Pandora Station, because there’s something about lady jazz that screams sophisticated eighties dinner party.

Truly, a testimony to knowing what you want out of life.

Pinot, no, you can’t have any.
Pinot wants to get some food. Nope. Nuh uh.

Happy 80’s Stuffed Chicken Day!
80's Stuffed Chicken Recipe

11 August, 2015  |   Comment

We went camping

Don’t you hate it when your plans to post every day are interrupted by a vacation? No? Me neither.


Last week, we went camping up by Mt. Shasta at the tippy top of California. It was magical.


We had kids and teens and grown-ups. We had light-up balloons.


We had all the luxuries of home.


We made some music.


We made breakfast.


We made fires.


All the cool kids played in the water.


We ate marshmallows for breakfast.


And made new friends.


It was a restorative time.


It was a relaxing time.


We decorated.



We made some delicious food.




We lounged. And lounged some more.






We maybe even learned to play cricket.


We wore our fanciest clothes.


We even went paddleboarding.



7 August, 2015  |   Comment

Poetry Friday: A Strange, Wild Song by Lewis Carroll

He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
‘At length I realize,’ he said,
‘The bitterness of life! ‘

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister’s Husband’s Niece.
‘Unless you leave this house,’ he said,
‘I’ll send for the police! ‘

he thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
‘The one thing I regret,’ he said,
‘Is that it cannot speak! ‘

He thought he saw a Banker’s Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
‘If this should stay to dine,’ he said,
‘There won’t be much for us! ‘

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a Coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
‘Were I to swallow this,’ he said,
‘I should be very ill! ‘

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
‘Poor thing,’ he said, ‘poor silly thing!
It’s waiting to be fed! ‘

He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postag e Stamp.
‘You’d best be getting home,’ he said:
‘The nights are very damp! ‘

He thought he saw a Garden-Door
That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
A Double Rule of Three:
‘And all its mystery,’ he said,
‘Is clear as day to me! ‘

He thought he saw a Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
‘A fact so dread,’ he faintly said,
‘Extinguishe s all hope! ‘

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