(Initial recipe from Ina Garten with my own twist)


• 6 whole (12 split) Chicken Breasts, roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil (Roasted for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cut into 1 inch pieces after cooled.)
• 2 cups of celery, chopped
• 2 cups of fennel, chopped
• ½ cup of currants (put into a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes, then drain)
• 5 tablespoons of chopped tarragon
• 1-1/3 cup of mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)
• 2 cups of grapes, sliced in half
• Salt & pepper to taste


• Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

• You can make one day ahead and put in the fridge.



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recipe: chocolate ganache cake

May 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

• ¼ pound unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 16 oz can Hersey’s chocolate syrup
• 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• ½ cup heavy cream
• 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
• Raspberries or edible flowers for decoration (optional)


• Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

• Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

• Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

• Add eggs one at a time.

• Mix in the syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined.  Don’t overbeat, or the cake will be tough.

• Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle.  Don’t overbake!  Let cool thoroughly in the pan.

• For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

• Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides.  You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze.  Decorate with candied violets, if desired, or gently crumble the gold leaf and place it on the center of the cake.  Do not refrigerate.



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This is Ree Drummond’s recipe but I make it with two cakes, so I double the cake recipe (recipe doubled below).  My family loves this cake!


• 2 Sticks + 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
• 3 cups Granulated Sugar
• 6 whole Large Eggs
• 1 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
• 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
• 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
• 6 Tablespoons Cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon Salt
• 2 teaspoons Baking Soda

• 2 pounds Strawberries, Hulled & Halved
• 6 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

• 12oz of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (1 1/2 packages), Room Temperature
• 3 sticks Unsalted Butter
• 2-1/4 lbs Powdered Sugar, Sifted
• 1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
• 1/4 teaspoon Salt



IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans.

• Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.

• Cream butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.

• Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

• Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

• Make icing: combine cream cheese, butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

• Spread strawberries evenly over each cake, pouring on all the juices. Place cakes into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

• Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining icing around the sides.

• Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!



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spring urns

April 30th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

Today’s planting, a light pink foxglove surrounded by ranunculus, ivy, ghost ferns, lupines, hellebores, hyacinths, spurge, and nemesia.




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flowers for spring

April 29th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

Hellebores, a great pick for spring pots!




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This is a wonderful recipe in this months Bon Appetit.  A light tasty pasta featuring leeks and arugula, two of my favorites.  I served this with a simple but delicious piece of baked salmon.  Enjoy!


• ½ pound pappardelle or fettuccine
• Kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 leeks, white and pale greens only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
• ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
• 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus more for serving
• 1 bunch arugula, thick stems trimmed, leaves torn (about 4 cups)
• 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan plus more for serving
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 3 ounces prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces


• Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

• Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.

• Add pasta, chives, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and ¾ cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid by 1/4-cupfuls as needed, until a glossy sauce forms that coats pasta, about 4 minutes.

• Add arugula and 1/3 cup Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Add prosciutto and toss again. Top pasta with more lemon zest and Parmesan.  (Add the prosciutto at the last minute to preserve the pretty pink color.)

Serves 4


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spring container

April 26th, 2013 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

I am so ready for spring!  We had a wonderful day at our favorite nursery and then planting a few spring containers.  We used perennials because they are gorgeous, full of soft colors and texture, and will be able to handle this unpredictable weather.  To give height we used forsythia.  These large containers become their own individual gardens.



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table dressing: spring

April 26th, 2013 | Posted by admin in TABLE DRESSING - (0 Comments)

Spring is in the air!  I love green with a pop of deep pink for a beautiful spring table.  Stop by Material Possessions for beautiful table settings.



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How do you say thank you… and goodbye in the same breath?  I apologize for this post to those of you who really just want to read about food, flowers, and entertaining.   But food for me has always involved relationships and family.

I have learned that food, entertaining and the happiness it brings opens you up to new friendships and that is why we need to make sharing a meal with friends at our own tables a part of our lives.   I am fortunate to adore my clients… I really do enjoy working with and for them.  But there are a few people who seem to shine so brightly.  The friend and client I am speaking of had a combination of truth, kindness, brilliance, and she touched my life in a very special way.  And of course she was a dog lover like me.

I started cooking for this amazing woman who encouraged me to go down this path.  We started talking about her style, her favorite flavors and spices, the way she wanted to entertain, and the importance of enjoying her home and sharing her home with others.  This relationship morphed into weekly cooking and special diners for family and friends.  And then we became friends, good friends, and this is the gift that food gave me a wonderful, honest, caring, reciprocal friendship.  It was like an angel landed into my life because as much as I did for her she gave back to me in encouragement, honesty, laughter, and support.  I cannot say enough about how special Elizabeth Cheval was.

We never know where life will lead us, it is a journey and on the way if we meet one or two truly exceptional people how lucky are we.

If we can call them friends then we are even more fortunate.  So I am a very rich person because of “food”.  It has brought me these treasured friendships and it has warmed my soul when family gathers, and it has opened up roads for me yet to explore.

One of Liz’s favorite guilty pleasures were my Brownies.  She would call me to make a batch to bring to the office for a special meeting or to bring as her dessert addition to a friend’s home for an evening… or just the need to have a few in the freezer to sneak and enjoy when she needed a bit of sweetness in her life!   I am reworking them as “Liz’s Best Turtle Brownies”.  I will forever think of her when I make them.  Thank you Liz for your inspiration!

I use this brownie recipe, placing ½ of the brownie mixture into the pan.  I make homemade Carmel sauce.  The recipe is Ina Garten’s and referenced below.  I put about ½ cup of pecan halves on the brownie mixture. Then I pour ½ cup of the Carmel sauce on top. Next I spread the rest of the brownie mixture on top and bake.  The final step is to place in fridge for an hour cut and serve!



RECIPE: Caramel Sauce


• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


• Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

• Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir.

• Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly.

• Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don’t worry – the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

• Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.



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recipe: rhubarb crisps

March 29th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

It’s spring I think!  It’s lighter out longer, the sun seems to be shining a bit more, and temps are in the 40’s… so I’m thinking it’s spring.  When I think of Spring I think of Rhubarb in any dessert.  I saw the gorgeous red stalks and I had to make something.  So I decided to clean it and slice it, toss sugar, flour, and cinnamon on it, then fill some ramekins.  I was out of oatmeal in bulk but I did have packs of instant oatmeal so I used the 3 maple flavored oatmeal packs, ¼ stick of butter, ¾ cup of flour, and 1/3 cup of brown sugar to make my crisp.  I mixed those ingredients together and pressed them on top of the rhubarb.  I baked them for ½ hour at 350º (remember to preheat your oven).   Place them on a lined cookie sheet as the delicious fruit does boil over.  I would add rhubarb to bread or just sauté it and use over ice cream or yogurt.

If you see it at the store pick some up and get creative.



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