December 29, 2010

Why I Blog

...and Coulibiac of Salmon.

As a year comes to its end I always start reflecting on the past 12 months. What decisions did I make that effected myself and those around me for the better? What did I do that was a total bomb? What changes should I make in the next year???

December 26, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

Warm Crab Tartlets.

Some things never change.  I love crabmeat; I have always loved crabmeat.

When I was a little girl, I thought The Red Lobster was the fanciest restaurant on the planet. I mean, only a truly elegant restaurant would offer grown-ups special bibs so their clothes wouldn't get dirty!

December 22, 2010

Christmas Cookie Lineup & WINNER!

I'm excited to announce, the WINNER of the Bosch Tassimo T20 Coffee Brewer is:

 Comment 150, AKA High Plains Drifters! (Generated by

Congratulations HPD! Email me right away with you shipping information.

December 19, 2010

Tassimo T20 Review and GIVEAWAY!

I was recently given the opportunity to review a Tassimo T20 Single-Serve Coffee Brewer, made by Bosch. As I was planning to buy my husband just such a contraption for Christmas, I jumped at the chance to try it!

December 15, 2010

When All Else Fails~BAKE!

Almond Sandwich Cookies.

I'm trapped in my house due to snow.

No...we don't have white drifts blanketing the landscape like many friends up North. Snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a novelty. We see it on the mountain tops. We drive up to it to ski. We even get enough in the valleys to sled once or twice each year. But drive in it? Live functional lives in it?

NO. We don't do that.

December 12, 2010

Merry Shortbread!

Orange Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread.

I told you I had a thing for shortbread. While nibbling any cookie, I think to myself, "You know what would make this even better? More butter and a touch of salt!" In my mind, chocolate chip cookies would be better as crispy shortbread. Oatmeal cookies would taste better if they had more butter and less (meaning NO) eggs. Macaroons...yep, they are in desperate need of butter.

December 08, 2010

All or Nothing

Sumptuous and Speedy Beef Stroganoff

Sometimes I watch my little girl in wonder. She will decide that we are having "party night" and goes about the house making decorations, invitations, signs, and appetizers (cheese and crackers and cereal mix). She'll even make or find little trinkets to put in goodie bags! Then after dinner the rest of us are herded into the living room to join her party.

December 05, 2010

Christmas Cookies UNLEASHED!

Molasses-Spice Marshmallow Cookies, a.k.a. "Kona" Cookies.

After displaying a picture of my sweet dog a few posts back, I decided  I haven't given him the recognition he deserves. So this post is dedicated to Kona.

December 01, 2010

Kitchen Invaders Detoured

Apple-Cheddar Palmiers.

I often feel like a military commander in my kitchen, on the day of a holiday dinner party. Barking orders, protecting the sacred cargo, holding down the fort from invaders.  

November 28, 2010

Catch The Spirit!

Dulce de Leche and Nutella Thumbprints with Sea Salt.

I'm that girl. The one who can barely wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to crank UP the Christmas music. The one who pulls out the Christmas boxes the moment the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. The one who allows the kids to decorate the tree, then rearranges it after they've gone to bed. I can't help myself.

November 24, 2010


Chai Latte Cupcakes.

I have a lot the be thankful for. No, I'm not a prodigy in any area. I'm not famous. I don't drive a Bentley or have spare homes in exotic lands. I'm not dripping with jewels and my closet is surprisingly small. There are mornings I wake up and sigh at the potential monotony of life. There are days I argue with my husband on purpose. I get impatient with my little guys at times. I'm a regular girl/wife/mom with regular problems.

November 21, 2010

Have a 12 Bones Thanksgiving!

Damn Good Corn Pudding. I'm not being feisty--that's what it's called!

I like to feature local restaurants on occasion, and this is one I'm very excited to share!

November 17, 2010

Kickin' Cranberries!

Pom-Apple Cranberry Relish.

Adding a simple twist to classic dishes can really give your Thanksgiving meal an appealing BOOST! Take cranberry sauce for instance... As a little girl I remember it being something that slide out of a can in a jiggling gelatinous mass (sorry mom for tattling). On a good year, whole cranberries were simmered on the stove to create a flavorful, yet mushy jelly.

November 14, 2010

Count Down to Thanksgiving

Twice Baked Bourbon-Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes.

Thanksgiving can be a little overwhelming for first time hosts. Heck, Thanksgiving can cause anxiety in award-winning chefs...don't feel bad if the thought of it gives you hives!  Here are some helpful tips to get you off on the right track:

November 11, 2010

Gear Up for the Holidays!

Vanilla-Orange Candied Cranberries.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is only six weeks away, can you believe it?

November 07, 2010

Snooty Foodie Boycott

Broiled Pear and Prosciutto Toasts.

We all have pet-peeves, right? Well, I have a real problem with elitist know-it-all attitudes.

Of course, I used to think I could manage the whole world with one hand tied behind my back. But now? Marriage,, have humbled me. (Thankfully.) There's a fine line between having confidence and "putting on airs". Why do we so often feel we need to prove to others that we have all the answers?

November 03, 2010

The Aftermath

Halloween Recovery = Pasta Athena.

Well friends, Halloween is over. Decorations are coming down. The litter is off the lawn. The grass is rebounding from a hoard of spiked heels tromping through. The recycling bins are overflowing. Excessive makeup and hairspray have washed away. The neighborhood is quiet. My head has stopped spinning.

October 31, 2010

Labor of Love

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Whiskey Cream Sauce.

Human beings are fairly predictable. We generally do things for others, for one of two reasons--to GIVE or to GET. It doesn't really matter what the action is; giving or getting is always the underlying motivation.

October 27, 2010

Perfect Party Bites

Jalapeno Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa.

This is my last post before Halloween night. I wanted to squeeze in one more party food before the weekend!

October 24, 2010

News, Apple Bread, & Giveaway!

Hey Friends, I'm a ball of SHEER EXCITEMENT about the three topics I want to discuss in this post. Bubbling with feverish bliss, Gleefully Ecstatic, overcome with ELATION...happy.

October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Paradise

Creamy Choco-Pumpkin Bars

Halloween is just around the corner. That means decorations are going up! We always wait until the morning of October 31st to put up the outside decorations. That way, they will be a surprise for the neighbors. But the inside of my house is getting a spookier and spookier!

October 17, 2010

Time and Tamales

Time, my ultimate love-language.

Some women want gifts or sweet talk. Those things are nice, but all I really crave is ample time with the people I love.

October 13, 2010


 Roasted Fish Bruschetta

After rambling on about Chinese Fusion Food, Halloween and Corn Mazes last week, I thought I'd cut you a break today with a quickie write-up and a quickie dinner!

First, a few fun quotes for your reading enjoyment...don't you just love quotes?

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good, is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.  ~Dennis Wholey

October 10, 2010


Brandy-Apple Mini Pies with Cornmeal Crust.

Fall is my favorite season by far! Vibrant fiery colors blanketing the slopes, crisp air, jackets. I love jackets.

I also love all the "fall activities"...hay rides, apple picking, corn mazes. Ever been through a corn maze? Oh, you should! Although I must say, I had a little toughening up to do the first time we tried it.

October 06, 2010

1 Pumpkin, 3 Milkshakes

Pumpkin-Snap Milkshake*Java-Squash Milkshake*Ban-umpkin Milkshake

October brings a whirl-wind of crisp cool air, leaves, and HALLOWEEN...

October 03, 2010

REAL Chinese Fusion Food

Spicy Uighur Street Meat and Buttered Naan.

As a mom, I look back on all the travel I experienced--apart from my family--before ever graduating from high school, and wonder if I'll be as brave as my parents to entrust my children in the hands of a non-profit organization in some developing nation? Hmmm...

No, my parents were not inattentive loons. They were always watchful and wise. This is how it all went down.

September 29, 2010


Pepita Crusted Chicken Salad with Sweet Adobo Vinaigrette.

Maybe you've noticed a trend here on ASP...dessert, healthy dish, dessert, healthy dish, dessert, healthy dish.

Well, to offer full disclosure the REAL cycle is:  dessert, SCALE, workout, healthy low-carb meal, dessert, scale, *SIGH*, workout, low-carb meal! I know what you're thinking...silly girl, just stop eating dessert.

September 26, 2010

Roller Derby Pies

Blue Ridge Roller Girls, Oatmeal Cream Pies, and a GIVEAWAY Winner.

What was your favorite childhood treat? Swiss Cake Rolls, Twinkies, Ding Dongs? I was a Oatmeal Cream Pie kind of girl.

How long has it been since you had one??? Sadly, they may not be quite what you remembered. Maybe we've matured beyond heavily preserved, factory processed baked goods.

Nostalgia isn't quite what it used to be. ~Peter De Vries

September 22, 2010

Hold the Cream

Mulligatawny Soup.

Friends you can rely on are an essential part of having "the good life." If they happen to be able to cook...bonus!

Our friends that came to stay with us have gone home, but not without leaving their mark. During their visit I was introduced to Mulligatawny Soup. A south Indian dish literally meaning "Pepper Water" in Tamil. My friend, Bethany, made us a lovely rich creamy version, but after researching this soup a bit, I discovered there are MANY varieties. Some are brothy, and some thick. Colors also vary from recipe to recipe. But the key ingredients are veggies, rice, protein, and curry powder...or other Indian spice blends.

September 19, 2010

Addiction Cured

Apple Cider Cinna-Knots.

Confession~ After I tried the apple cider donuts at Sky Top Orchard, I haven't been able to stop thinking about them! You may remember, the ones I mentioned in my Curried Apple Turnover post?

I've been craving them for a couple weeks. To be a bit more accurate, I physically ache for them morning, noon and night. I lay in bed at night and see floating golden rings of heaven, covered in sugar crystals...and they're smiling at me. This has been going on for days. It's become a bit of an issue. I'm seeking therapy.

September 15, 2010

I'm a Saucy Mama! GIVEAWAY

Generally speaking, I'm not much for contests. I just don't have a strong competitive nature! But after I was contacted by Saucy Mama to participate in the "I'm a Saucy Mama" contest, offering bottles of all their wonderful products to work with, and the chance at a cash prize...I gave in. Always a sucker for cash!

The goal of this contest was to create crowd-pleasing party recipes. As someone who throws parties--and often on short notice--I know the importance of having easy recipes that look and taste great, but don't take a lot of time.

September 12, 2010

Apples for All!

Curried Apple Turnovers.

My family always looks forward to apple picking this time of year. The kids enjoy climbing up on daddy's broad shoulders to reach for juicy autumn orbs tucked beneath leafy branches. They get even more excited about all the other glorious things you find at an apple animals to feed, hay rides, play areas, and decedent apple treats!

September 08, 2010

Sukiyaki for the Soul

Pork Sukiyaki.

We've had friends staying with us for the last 2 1/2 weeks. With belly laughs over old stories, conversations to carry on, places to visit, and kids streaking around in circles...I haven't really felt like blogging much lately. Sorry about that! Thankfully I had a few extra posts stored up for just such an occasion, that have carried me through the last couple weeks.

Our friends Bethany and Jimmy, recently moved home from Japan. They have lived there the last two years with their little girl, teaching English in the small mountain town of Funehiki and immersing themselves in the culture. Japan offered gracious new friends, new experiences and foods, a bilingual 5  year-old, and at times...hard life lessons. They are truly thankful for their time overseas, and find themselves a little culture-shocked to be back in the states!

September 05, 2010

Too Late for Blueberry Pie?

Of course not! That's the beauty of living in the mountains--we still have wild blueberries growing all over the slopes!

A couple weeks ago, we took our kids up to a wonderful little spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway called Graveyard Fields. It's a popular stop for casual (kid friendly) hiking and berry picking. Acres of wild blueberry varieties grow in nearly every direction. So when one of my oldest, dearest friends came to visit last week with her family, we headed up the parkway again for more blueberries!

September 01, 2010

International Sign of Friendship

Village Chai and Yakhni Pulao. AND GIVEAWAY WINNERS!!!

Often when a friend wants to show you that you are important to them, they give you a signal. In the states that might include a card, a small personal gift, or helping you in some way. In different countries the signs of true friendship often take different forms. 

It's been 13 years since my last trip to India, but certain friends are still very close to my heart. Friends, that despite differences in culture, language, beliefs and age, were generous with their time and thoughts. I'm always amazed at how simple it is to find common connections when you are looking for them. These individuals extended a hand of friendship in many ways, but most effectively by offering sustenance.

August 29, 2010

A Double Comfort Dish

The Little Italy Burger...and last chance to get in on a fantastic GIVEAWAY!

We Americans like our comfort food. We are always trying to turn the unfamiliar into the familiar. You have to agree, this is a better than the old tradition of shunning the unfamiliar altogether! American fusion food is a great example of this new-found fascination. Dishes such as Mexican pizza and Asian-style hot dogs are just the beginning of our efforts to bring world flavors into the main stream. You can hardly go out-to-eat without seeing menus with ingredients from all over the globe. What an exciting time in culinary history!

August 25, 2010

A Peachy Encounter

Peach and Basil Salad.

After moving to the South,  I quickly noticed an abundance of road-side produce sellers. Some with little wooden shacks, others selling out of the back end of their pickup trucks. I would drive down the road and suddenly see the most glorious melons or deep purple heirloom tomatoes piled high in a gravel turn-off. On one of these occasions, there was a little old man with picnic baskets full of peaches cascading out of the back of his truck! I made a quick u-turn, and parked next to him.

The peaches were radiant! Enormous, flawless...bashfully blushing peaches. Ready to be taken home and devoured in silent dripping reverence!

August 22, 2010

A Grand Party and 7 GIVEAWAYS!

Today, I present you with my FIRST giveaway and I'm SO EXCITED!!!

Last weekend a couple good friends and I went to the Asheville Food and Wine Festival sponsored by WNC magazine. It was belly-bulging day of tasting! We sampled regional wines, dishes from local restaurants, and many specialty food made right here in Western North Carolina.

August 18, 2010


Gingersnap Ice Cream Cups with Fresh Blueberry-Lavender Sauce!

You know the story of the ugly duckling. Well, I would NEVER address my beloved frozen treat as ugly or undesirable...but there ARE ways to make a good thing even better!

August 15, 2010

An Ode To Ina

Grilled Tuna and Avocado Salad and Panna Cotta with Balsamic-Black Pepper Strawberries.

As a child I was enamored by cooking shows. You might remember my favorites. Of course, Julia Child on The French Chef. How could you not love Julia? But I also eagerly watched Wok With Yan, mostly focused on Asian stir-fries and The Cajun Cook, Justin Wilson, who seemed to shove whole garlic cloves into just about everything. I'm showing my age, aren't I? These shows were delightfully quirky and on some level...enlightening!

Now days there are two people I always stop to watch:  Bobby Flay and Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. As I have already given away my feelings for sweet Bobby in Ready For A Throwdown, I'd now like to take a moment to pay Ms. Ina her proper respect.

August 11, 2010

Free yo' mind, and the rest will follow

Seared Scallop and Watermelon Salad with *Sparkling* Mint Vinaigrette!

Need a little Va-va-voom in your life? Something to help you break out of the mundane? Every now and again, I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. Same schedule, same clothes, same workout, same thoughts, same conversations, same meals...BLAH! Of course by nature, I'm a planner so I like schedules. Yet, even we planners need a little excitement in our lives!

Sometimes, one tiny change can get the ball rolling for transition out of dreary gray routine. One minuscule shift can starts the domino effect in ALL areas of life!

August 08, 2010

Chai Pani~ A Dream Incarnate

If you had to reinvent yourself...if your family's future, and your personal joy, depended on a new career choice, what would you do?

In the last couple years, many have had to ask themselves this question and resolved that life can be different. No, life can be BETTER than it was before. The brave have pressed a mental reset button and haven't looked back!

August 04, 2010

Can't Beat The Heat?

Mexican Chile Pops and Cantaloupe Cucumber Chop Salad.

Before my last post, Adobo Grilled pork and Esquite Stuffed Onions, I went to a small Latin market to shop for chiles. I knew our grocery store would have ancho chiles, but I wasn't sure about the dried pasillas. Plus, I love these kind of markets! They always have such wondrous diversity and great deals!

After wondering around, dreaming of the infinite possibilities with the unique ingredients piled high on shelves, I found exactly what I needed and headed to the resister. In front of the counter was a freezer case filled with Mexican popsicles. The kiddos looked up at me with pleading eyes. It was a hot day after all, and there were so many to choose from! I started reading the flavors to the kids...coconut, pineapple, tamarind, lime, watermelon, banana, sour orange. Then I saw one simply labeled "Chile."

Now up to this point I wasn't craving a popsicle, but I had to know! What would a chile-flavored popsicle taste like? I had that inkling it might be something special! We walked outside and unwrapped our pops.

August 01, 2010

A Granted Birthday Wish!

Abodo Grilled Pork with Esquite Stuffed Onions

People often ask me where I like to eat, as if I have some magical ability to find the best restaurants. Ok...maybe I do! You could call it my secret super-hero power. (Wink, wink!) Along with the galactic ability to pull a party together in moments, I have "flavor-sonar" for sniffing out the best food around.

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. My husband wanted to know where we should have dinner, as if he had to ask. I simply replied, "You know where." For as many incredible independent restaurants Asheville has, there is ONE that I place on a pedestal, Curras Nuevo Cuisine.

July 28, 2010

Snarly Photos, TASTY BITES!

I've been blogging now for approximately 6 months, and have learned a LOT in the process!

                                           Month 1                                   Month 3

Month 6

First of all, I have learned (or have remembered) how much I enjoy writing. I totally forgot, in all the hustle and bustle of family life!

I have learned many techy-tricks that a computer misfit like myself, never thought possible.

I have learned that blogging is just as much about making friends as it is about sharing recipes!

And I've learned that no matter how great your recipes are, PEOPLE WILL NOT TRY THEM IF THE PICTURES ARE TERRIBLE!

July 25, 2010

Charming Chimichurri

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri and Summer Veggies.

Even for those of us that love to tinker around our kitchens, there are days...dare I say it out loud? Days I just don't feel like it! Days I'm either so busy or so focused on something else, the idea of cooking dinner just hangs over me like a wet blanket.

July 21, 2010

An Inspiring Find!

Hibiscus-Ginger Iced Tea...and Martini.

One day in the grocery store, I strolled past an enormous pile of crispy burgundy objects. They looked like little dried sea the produce department?!

July 18, 2010

Philosophical Salads

Tomato Stack and Beet Stack Salad.

Sometimes the best, most flavorful things are the simplest.

This philosophy seems to cover, well, life in general. Legendary artist Hans Hofmann once said, The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. I know many of us have been hanging onto the life-raft in this wild economic time. But through this, a bouquet of  lovely realizations have blossomed.