Baking, Dinner, Grilling


“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  Doug Larson

Outside my window there is a drizzly rain, a cloud covered sky and cool temperatures. Just a few days ago it felt like summer – the temperatures were in the 70’s and the daffodils, restless from a long winter’s sleep, pushed their way into the world and spread some much needed cheer. It has been a crazy start to spring!

A boy, bubbles, and a ball

This time of year is always busy. Work has been crazy busy with traveling, hosting, managing, playing, concertizing, and rehearsing. Just the usual madness of March. Home has been equally as busy with welcoming, hosting, cooking and conversing. Has it been fun? Oh.hell.yes!

I have been a risk taker lately. I veered off course and used pure inspiration and my own imagination for a few dishes. Dilema number 1: What to serve for a quick weeknight meal that will leave you free to catch up on all things related to trombone for the past 10 years? Make a tortilla pie. Easy to prepare ahead of time, assemble and bake until it was warm, melty and gooey. Serve a little salad on the side and dinner is served!

Black bean and corn tortilla torte






I have been on a cupcake kick lately. Joy the Baker sent me my latest gift…which happened to be a fabulous box of goodies from King Arthur with a recipe from Joy . I made up a batch of Mocha Chocolate Espresso cupcakes.

Mocha delight

After the trombone ensemble left town I was busy gearing up to leave town to manage a band of 120 students for a music festival. Unfortunately, I was starting to get a little under the weather. I refused to believe it (out of sight, out of mind?) and pushed through. And I made the “Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake” from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook. I mean, surely the chocolate would cure anything that ailed me, right?

Chocolate medicine

By the time I got back into town I knew I was on the losing side of this. I carried on, I worked, I felt terrible and finally admitted defeat. Sometimes you need to just let some things go…and it was a great decision. I rested, made a come back, rallied and was ready to go!

Some V.I.P guests were in town. You see, Sweet Z’s parents came to visit. There were stories to uncover, childhood memories to remember and recall and I couldn’t wait to hear all about it from the two wonderful people who raised such a sweet son!

I hosted a little dinner party of 6 and had to decide on a menu. With the warmer temperatures the grill was going to be easy and fast. I grilled up vegetable kabobs with a few lemon wedges too. Note: squeeze grilled lemon wedges over anything and prepare to be dazzled…unless lemon is not your thing, of course. Some tempeh was marinated in a soy, maple syrup, garlic, cayenne mixture for a day or so. Quinoa was cooked up. (Note to Self: do NOT double the quinoa recipe unless you would like to feed an entire town. I have a bag of cooked quinoa in the freezer. Was this a smart idea? Stand by and I shall tell you when I attempt to use it!). A salad was tossed together. Oh…and some steak tips were also marinated in the soy mixture. I had some meat eaters in the bunch. The result? Well…have a look.

Quinoa and Grilled Vegetables

Just as Sweet Z had filled  up his plate and ready to head to the table…I made him freeze…he is used to this by now.

Sweet Presentation

Dessert this night was a chocolate ginger orange cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It is vegan friendly. It is crumbly as my Uncle Doug noted….yet he ate it all!

Chocolate Orange Ginger Cupcakes

These are best made a day ahead to give these flavors time to marry. I could have used more of a ginger flavor – next time I am swapping out some candied ginger for the freshly grated ginger called for. I also think I overbaked them by a minute or two…yet they were still moist…ahem…despite the crumbles.

There you have it. My last few weeks in a nutshell. Busy? Yes! Fun? Yes! I always take a moment when everyone is gathered at the table to take a memory picture. There is nothing better, I believe, than lovingly preparing food and sharing that with people you adore. As I take a few mental memory pictures I am reminded just how thankful, grateful and lucky I am as my heart is filled with warmth and a smile spreads over my face.

Spring 2012 has started off full of blossoms and buds, rejuvenation, and some relaxation. Things are slowly waking up around here. I just know there are more beautiful things to come our way! Thanks for reading!! Happy Spring!


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