Sunday, January 20, 2019

2019 52 Recipe Challenge

The 52 recipe challenge is way of bringing together our friends far and wide who love to cook and share their successes and failures in the kitchen. The challenge; to make 52 new recipes in a single year. This is our eight year of sharing food, recipes, kitchen catastrophes, and culinary creativity with friends far and wide. Our Facebook group, which started with 7 people, is now over 200 foodies.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

2018 52 Recipe Challenge

The 52 recipe challenge is way of bringing together our friends far and wide who love to cook and share their successes and failures in the kitchen. The challenge; to make 52 new recipes in a single year. This is our seventh year of sharing food, recipes, kitchen catastrophes, and culinary creativity with friends far and wide.

2018 Top 5
Rosemary Focaccia Stuffing

  1. Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs: This is an all-time best recipe. It is a heart attack in a pot, and worth every artery clogging bite. Make enough for leftovers, which taste amazing in a breakfast hash, mac and cheese, or just reheated. (#51)
  2. Bangers and Mash Casserole: What's not to love about mashed potatoes and bratwurst, but when you combine them with caramelized onions and gravy, magic happens. Bring this to a pot luck and you'll be an instant star. (#24)
  3. Rosemary Focaccia Stuffing: Tired of the same old boring stuffing that's been on the Thanksgiving table for generations? This recipe is so good even the most ardent traditionalists will love the change. (#49)
  4. French Silk Pie in a Jar: Way easier than making real french silk pie, tastes just as good. (#29)
  5. Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings: All the crisp of a fried wing without actually frying them. They take a little bit more time than just throwing wings in the oven, but worth it. (#8)

Honorable Mention

  • Crock Pot Pulled Pork: Dry-brining is key, but it is time well spent. This is delicious, easy, and versatile.  (#39)
  • Creamed Spinach: The simplicity of this recipe, and the ability to "set it and forget it" makes this a keeper. It's nice to have something delicious and easy for holiday gatherings. (#48)
  • Caesar Salad Dressing: Easy, go-to creamy Caesar dressing. (#17)
  • Gougeres: Very easy way to impress your guests. (#6)

  1. Chevre with Herbs, Olive Oil, and Lemon Zest +
  2. Sauteed Lamb Chops with Herbs de Provence +
  3. Baked Brie -
  4. Instant Pot Fish Stock
  5. Bouillabaise
  6. Gougeres (Cheese Puffs) +
  7. Crock Pot Apple Crisp
  8. Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings +
  9. Frozen Chocolate Mousse (Marquise Au Chocolat) +
  10. Crab Dip
  11. Neapolitan Pizza Dough
  12. Ranch Dip
  13. Hot Bacon Dressing
  14. Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
  15. Couscous with Seven Vegetables
  16. Sesame Semolina Lunetta
  17. Caesar Salad Dressing
  18. Crab and Artichoke Dip +
  19. Instant Pot General Tso's Chicken 
  20. Hoisin Sauce +
  21. One-Dish Baked Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes -
  22. NYT Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies
  23. Joy's Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  24. Bangers and Mash Casserole +
  25. Cheddar Cheese Scone -
  26. Grilled Short Ribs
  27. Bitter Greens with Crispy Shallots -
  28. Lunettas +
  29. French Silk Pie in a Jar +
  30. Quick Bread -
  31. Cucumber Salad
  32. Herb Marinated Flank Steak +
  33. Chopped Caprese Salad +
  34. Mustard and Tarragon Grilled Chicken +
  35. German Potato Salad +
  36. Watermelon and Tomato Salad +
  37. Herbed Potato Salad +
  38. Braised Pot Roast +
  39. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork +
  40. Three Cheese Artichoke Dip +
  41. Reverse Sear Ribeye +
  42. Carrot Oatmeal Muffins -
  43. Grilled Chicken Drumsticks with Savory Caramel -
  44. Winter Squash Panzanella +
  45. Braised Chicken Thighs with Squash and Greens +
  46. Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
  47. Hasselbeck Potatoes
  48. Crock Pot Creamed Spinach +
  49. Rosemary Focaccia Stuffing ++
  50. Roasted Delicata Squash and Onions +
  51. Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs ++
  52. Perfect Apple Pie -

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

To-Done List

Clinton Inauguration, January 1997
(First Published: 9/2007, Last Updated: 5/2018)One issue with our hectic lives is how much we focus on our everyday to-do lists, feverishly working day in and day out to get things accomplished and forgetting what it actually is we got done. The only time we spend remembering and recording our accomplishments is when it is time to apply to college or write a resume. It is important to have goals to strive for like a 100 things to do before you die list, but it is equally important to reminisce and celebrate everything completed; check off those things on your to-do list and record the unplanned, spontaneous accomplishments. A life to-do list is inspirational; motivating action. A life to-done list is rewarding; a chronicle providing reminders of everything achieved long after the memories become fuzzy and gray. It took months years of talking to friends and family to remember and compile the following list of accomplishments from my first 32 42 years; sad how easily we can forget vacations, concerts, celebrations and life experiences. Hopefully the following “to-done” list (by verb, not date accomplished) will spark inspiration for your to-do list or memories of what you need to record for memoirs:

  • Yankees 1998 World Series victory parade in Manhattan
  • Christmas in Sydney and Walt Disney World
  • Independence Day on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in Disney's Magic Kingdom, in New York City and Philadelphia
  • the King's Birthday in Bangkok, Thailand
  • New Year's Eve in Paris, Disney World, Sydney, DC, Minneapolis and New York City
  • the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial
  • Breaking the Snuggie Guinness World Record in Anaheim, California

  • the luau at the Old Lahaina Luau
  • at the Waldorf Astoria
  • the Flamenco in Madrid
  • on top of the bar at Red Rocks West
  • at the weddings of too many friends and family members to count
  • as an extra in "Spandex, The Musical"

  • at Boudro's on San Antonio's Riverwalk
    A memorable meal with a perfect view in Capri, Italy
  • at Emeril's in New Orleans
  • Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois in Vegas
  • at Ghiradelli's in San Francisco
  • at Le Bec-Fin in Philly
  • on Pizza at Geno's East in Chicago
  • on Beignets at CafĂ© DuMonde in New Orleans
  • on Cheesesteaks at Geno's, Jim's and Pat's in Philly
  • on Eli's Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake on a stick at the Taste of Chicago
  • in Lidia’s kitchen at Becco NYC
  • on ice cream while sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (ala In the Line of Fire)
  • Cabana Las Lilas in Buenos Aires, Argentina (although La Brigada was much better)
  • at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival
  • Mario Batali's OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria and Carnevino
  • on a meal made by me at a cooking class
  • on Pizza and Gelato in Italy
  • Dumplings in Shanghai
  • Peking Duck in Beijing
  • Sichuan Hot Pot in Chengdu
  • 1789 in DC
  • Mai Tai, Honolulu, Hawaii

  • beer at the Hofbrau House in Munich
  • Frosty drinks at Sloppy Joe's in Key West
  • Mai Tai's at the Princeville Resort Bar in Kauai and the Pink Palace in Honolulu (photo on right)
  • Vodka at The Astoria and Katherine's Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Hurricanes at Pat O'Briens in New Orleans
  • my way around the World Showcase in Epcot Center
  • wine in Sonoma, California; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Missouri River Valley, Missouri; Hunter Valley, Australia; Marlborough, New Zealand; Mendoza, Argentina
  • High Tea at Lady Mendls Tea Salon at New York's Inn at Irving Place
  • a Celebrity Cruise ship out of Champagne with friends
  • Wine in the homes of two Tuscan Vinters in Italy
  • The Beer Trail in Germany
  • Scotch in Scotland
  • Wine at a vineyard that shares my last name

  • true friendships
  • driving on the wrong side of the road in Ireland, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland
  • delivering the farewell address at the Carle Place High School Class of 1993 Graduation
  • delivering the farewell address to over 5000 attendees at the Mary Washington College Class of 1997
  • a Cuban Cigar (or two)
  • brownies in Amsterdam
  • serving as a Capitol Hill, Gubernatorial, and White House intern (before intern became a bad word)
  • serving as Class President in High School and College
  • serving drinks as a bartender
  • living on my own
  • asking a stranger out on a date
  • toilet papering school grounds
  • bonfire and sleeping on the beach
  • eating a meal, seeing a movie and taking an overseas vacation… solo
  • dating a much older man
  • making beautiful music with a violin
  • marching half-naked in a gay pride parade
  • the very chilly David Letterman studio for a show taping
  • flying through the Costa Rican rain forest on a zip line
  • riding a mechanical bull
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce National Park
  • Couscous cooking class in Morocco
  • Curling

  • Thanksgiving dinner for 18 26
  • Royal Wedding Celebrations for William and Harry

  • a townhome before my 25th birthday
  • a brand-spanking new single family home
  • a pair of earrings (or necklaces, my new passion) on every foreign trip
  • an authentic Coach purse (and so started the obsession)
  • a hot pretzel on Fifth Avenue
  • Christmas decorations at the Christkindlmarkt in Munich
  • lederhosen 
  • my dream car; a purple Jeep Wrangler

  • The Iliad
  • Great Expectations
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Pit and the Pendulum
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Little Prince
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Glass Menagerie
  • more books on the politics of the US, England, Germany, Italy, France, The Former Soviet Union and many other countries then anyone ever should

  • my High School Diploma with honors
  • my Bachelors Degree in Political Science
  • a few promotions
  • a big raise (that should remain a to-do as well)
  • an ancient Thai Massage at the Wat Po
  • a lap dance
  • a princess cut engagement ring from a good looking blond (along with the matching wedding band)
  • Mary Washington Commencement, May 1997

  • 2 people from drowning
  • 2 dogs from choking
  • many lost dogs find their humans
  • a stranger from a bad blind date
  • people through donating blood
Disney World, 1978
    Saw a ball game at:
    Yankee Stadium, September 2001
  • Yankee Stadium in New York (old and new)
  • Legend's Field in Tampa
  • Cooper Stadium in Columbus
  • Metrodome in Minneapolis
  • Wrigley Field in Chicago
  • Fenway Park in Boston
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore
  • Coors Field in Denver
  • Miller Park in Milwaukee
  • Safeco Field in Seattle
  • ATT Park in San Francisco
  • Rogers Centre (aka Sky Dome) in Toronto
  • Veterans Stadium in Philly (RIP)
  • Shea Stadium in New York (RIP)
  • Angel Stadium in Anaheim
  • Target Field in Minneapolis
  • PNC Park in Pittsburgh
  • Chase Field in Phoenix
  • CitiField in New York
  • Nationals Ballpark in Washington, D.C.
  • Petco Field in San Diego
  • MLB All Star Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis

  • the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
  • Neuschwanstein Castle
  • Burg Eltz
  • Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum
  • Seurat’s "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" at Chicago’s Art Institute
  • Sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum
  • the Vasa at the Vasamuseet in Stockholm
  • exhibits from every Smithsonian
  • the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia
  • the Hoover Dam
  • the grassy knoll from the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas
  • the floating apples at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma
  • the Anne Frank House
  • Las Mininas at the Museo del Prado in Madrid
  • animals at the Bronx Zoo, San Diego Zoo and Central Park Zoo
  • the Southern Cross
  • Coliseum in Rome
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting
  • stars arriving on the red carpet for the Oscars in Hollywood
  • Fairy Glen in the Isle of Skye
  • Pandas in Chengdu, China
  • the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, China
  • the bunkers in Albania
Took in a show:
  • Billy Joel, Elton John, Prince, Paul McCartney, U2, Madonna, Tina Turner, Edwin McCain, Dave Matthews, Poison, Warrant, B-52s, Sugar Ray, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bare Naked Ladies, Live, Semisonic, Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Ethridge, Bryan Adams, Lady Gaga, Motley Crue, Guns n Roses… in concert
  • Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker from the front row in Broadway's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (and Matthew's fly was down half the performance)
  • Matthew Broderick on Broadway in "Night Must Fall" (Front row: "I was christened in the spattle of Matthew Broderick)
  • Nathan Lane in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
  • Donny Osmond in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
  • "Beauty and the Beast" at the Kennedy Center
  • "Shear Madness" at the Kennedy Center
  • Carol Channing in Hello Dolly at the Kennedy Center
  • Original Cast Rent on Broadway from the front row
  • Oliver on London's West End
  • Avenue Q in Minneapolis and London
  • Sebastian Bach as Riff Raff in "The Rocky Horror Show" on Broadway
  • Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz in "Waitress" on Broadway
  • Tony Shalhoub in "A Band's Visit"
  • Cirque Du Solei's O and Zumanity
  • a ballet and a show at The Sydney Opera House
  • Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain Live
  • being rear ended at a high speed
  • my car rolling into a ditch
  • being hit by a 40MPH car as a pedestrian
  • falling out of a moving car when I was 4 1/2
  • being dropped on my head as an infant (darn cousins!)
  • learning to drive on a stick shift
  • a broken heart
  • getting 2 puppies through potty training
  • picking up and moving half way across the country
  • Mary Washington's Politics of the Soviet Successor States
  • a rave in Pamplona, Spain
  • my 10 year High School and College reunions
  • my 15 year College reunion
  • my 20 year High School reunion
  • my 20 year College reunion
  • NYC Flying Trapeze School
  • sinking a jeep on a Mexican beach
  • hitchhiking in Mexico
  • Costa Rica Zip Line Tour
  • Zip Line over the Mississippi River
  • blind dates
  • Alcatraz
  • being laid off
  • The Tough Mudder
  • Memorial Day Murph
  • air pollution in China
  • eating street food in Marrakesh 
  • Padleboard pub crawl

  • Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
  • Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas
  • the University of Mary Washington fountain
  • in the Caribbean on horseback
  • under a waterfall
  • on a deserted beach on Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

  • in a European Sleeper Car
  • in a Chinese Sleeper Car
  • on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
  • Kauai’s Waimea Canyon by Helicopter
  • to the floor of the Grand Canyon by helicopter
  • Australia’s Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles
  • the Baltic on a cruise ship
  • first class
  • down Abbey Road barefoot
  • by private car through Mendoza wine country in the Andes foothills
  • through the Panama Canal
  • 125 MPH on the Autobahn in the driver's seat
  • Route 66 through the desert in a convertible
  • On a camel through the Sahara
  • St. Petersburg, Russia, August 2005

    Visited 40 Foreign Countries:
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Germany
  • England
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • Thailand
  • St. Lucia
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Russia (photo to left)
  • Estonia
  • Norway
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • New Zealand
  • St. Martin
  • Puerto Rico
  • Belgium
  • Argentina
  • Honduras
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Columbia
  • Cayman Islands
  • Italy
  • Vatican City
  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Croatia
  • Albania
  • Scotland
  • China
  • Morocco

    Visited 34 US States (and DC):
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

    Visited the top of the:
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Empire State Building
  • Arc d'Triumph
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • CN Tower in Toronto
  • Sky Tower in Auckland
  • Space Needle in Seattle (photo below)
  • Washington Monument
  • John Hancock Building in Chicago
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Jefferson National Expansion Monument (aka, the Gateway Arch)
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral in London
  • St. Peter's Church in Munich
  • Chitzen Itza Pyramid
  • Great Wall of China
  • Seattle, Washington, July 2006

  • the Northern Lights from an airplane
  • three Space Shuttle launches (including the first)
  • the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, Buckingham Palace and Stockholm's Royal Palace
  • a Volcano Eruption
  • Cal Ripken not play a ballgame on September 20, 1998, ending his consecutive games streak
  • the sun rise and set over both the Atlantic and the Pacific
  • friends become one of the first Gay couples in Minnesota to marry
  • a total solar eclipse
  • the Women's March on Washington 2017
  • Prince Memorial Street Party on First Avenue in Minneapolis the night of his death

  • the second grade spelling bee
  • a few creative writing awards
  • high school shot put and triple jump medals
  • a jalapeno eating contest
  • an arm wrestling competition
  • wadE’s heart, said yes, and "I do"