Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year From Home At Last

Wishing all of you success and happiness in 2010!
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Applewood Bacon Gnocchi

This is one of those dishes created out of fondness for a memory of a favorite vacation.

While vacationing at the Villa La Borghetta Resort in Figline Valdarno, Tuscany, we stumbled upon a neighborhood eatery that made, possibly, the best carbonara, I have ever eaten.

Rich, egg-y flavor coupled with smokey chunks of pancetta; my mouth was amazed by it's fresh flavor and faboulous ingredients. That memory has lingered for three years now and I wonder if I will ever experience this rich, golden goodness again?

My dish features locally cured bacon with a smokey sweetness and some Italian gnocchi!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can We Open Just One Present?

When asked by Santa this year what I wanted for Christmas, I was at a complete loss.

What I truly wanted; one more Christmas with my friend Char, I knew I would never receive. I found myself feeling sorry for myself for a few days. . . missing her FRIENDSHIP! her SENSE OF HUMOR and her CHILDLIKE WONDER at this special time of the year.

Finally out of my funk, I told my hubbie, I KNEW WHAT I WANTED. We decided to go shopping together and made a night of it. We drove along . . .reminiscing about our favorite Christmases with family and friends and finally making plans for the next two days of celebration.

We planned our Christmas dinner -one that we would cook together. We found a few pounds of chestnuts to roast in honor of Ron's family tradition of chestnuts at the holidays.

I pulled out a small, pretty little fake tree and a some favorite decorations; including one from Char and suddenly I was filled with the Christmas spirit. We enjoyed a Christmas Eve breakfast, together-without the stresses of everyday life and worries over the economy. We dug for speakers for the IPOD so that we could enjoy our favorite Christmas songs with our meal tomorrow.

Ron had to run out, as he does every day but returned with the most beautiful bouquet of white roses!
AND, tickets for a night at the movies . . .our holiday date.

I asked if we might open one present from under the tree! We agreed that Christmas Eve wouldn't be the same without at least one present being opened from under the tree.

So, before I go, I wanted to share my beautiful small package from our pretty tree!!

AND, there's about a 100 more from that came from, y'all.
Merry Christmas,  Patty & Ron Gironda
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dinner In Under Thirty Minutes

Topping the list of favorite cookbooks is my 1981 Southern Living Cookbook. Chocked full of useful recipes that yield fabulous results, these hardrolls are a perfectly crunchy roll with a soft, tender inside.

I made an easy dinner of capellini with sweet little Campari tomatoes and goat cheese (another favorite) I drizzled the hardrolls with olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan-reggiano and chopped dried basil. The easy pasta sauce was ready in a quick twenty minutes and was nothing more than wonderuful halved tomatoes and a little olive oil with more basil! Easy, breezy!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Southern traditions are the backbone of my holiday experience. I must have a piece of Pecan Pie around Thanksgiving to jumpstart my Christmas celebration. O.K., a piece of Pecan Pie and a generous helping of Cornbread Dressing and a dollop of fresh cranberry sauce . . .if I am being truthful!

With that said, there are so many other traditions that I have adopted as my own. Pleasant childhood memories and traditions shared by others while growing up in Germany are as much a part of who I am and how I celebrate! Friendly German families eager to share their customs and traditions with me have provided a lifetime of Christmas memories.

At the beginning of December I head to the International Farmers Market in search of Pfeffernusse, Stollen and chocolates from Germany.

In the pictures (above) I have the first four steps in creating chocolate covered cherries soaked in German Kirchwasser. A tradition I first experienced as a young teen in Germany. Another favorite memory shared with me by young German friends around Christmas was a wine fortified with a rum-soaked cone of sugar, called Feuerzange Bowle. The cone of sugar was lit and slowly dripped the rum sugar into the bowl below.

Even my little tool that neatly ejects the cherry pit was scored on my first return trip to Germany as an adult. 

For all things Germany visit
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Bake Me A Pretty Cake"

This and a few reindeer plates can totally evoke the Christmas Spirit in me! The colors and the theme are so cheerful and fill me with a sense of anticipation for the days leading up to Christmas Day.

I sat down with my Mystery Chef Cookbooks today-as well as my Southern Living, mentioned in the previous post!

I have narrowed my holiday baking to a family favorite . . .a rich chocolate layer cake with raspberry drizzled deep into the layers, plumped by layers of fresh whipped cream blended with creamy marscapone. This luscious creation is then draped in a shiny chocolate ganache and served up to delighted guests!

Another Christmas favorite comes from a Woman's Day Cookie Edition from the early 90's. A vanilla sandwich cookie filled with jam and decorated to resemble holly! Easy but festive.

Ron and I have discussed it and think it might be time to pump up the volume on these holiday tasties by dipping them in white chocolate!

What's your favorite cookie recipe?
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Saturday, November 28, 2009


This is MadMaxx, my little rescue raised by Rottweilers. He's a sweet, affectionate male that would rather hang out with Zena, our female Rottie, than other cats.

Thanksgiving evening he came home sick and wailing for his mommy! We weren't able to find signs of trauma or blood so we have to assume he ate something that didn't agree with his tummy.

One of the reasons I bring this up, ibeing a holiday and not really understanding what was wrong, these type of events can lead to panic.

Rather than panic . . I calmly placed a capsule of charcoal and milk thistle down his throat. The next order of business was to get him hydrated, since I had not seen him for twenty-four hours. We let him sleep til morning. The next day, I doubled his water intake and gave him another milk thistle.

On his third day he asked for food and drank on his own. He's still weak but restly comfortably on his favorite chair.

Just a gentle holiday reminder to stock up on pet necessities that might help save your pet's life.

These are safe remedies that are also good for humans. The charcoal moves poisons through the body and milk thistle is a gentle kidney and liver flush. I have started my own daily routine of milk thistle and dandelion tea to aid the cleansing of my own liver and kidneys.

On a final note, another valuable group of volunteers in Coweta County has ask that I share their information with all of you.  Please visit there website and help however you can.  Volunteer, donations, and loving homes are always welcomed at our Coweta rescues!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Favorites!

One of my favorite things about being the Thanksgiving cook is being responsible for everyone's favorites-although my son wants Ron to bake Pecan Pie and he's created his "masterpiece" today and I can't wait to taste it.

Over the years I have shared some of my secrets and easy techniques for getting professional results. Good job, Ronald McDonald.

Colleen, my daughter-in-law loves roasted meats, roasted potatoes and fresh bread. Tuscan-style Roasted Golden Yukons with homemade Sourdough Bread Crumbs and a large golden loaf of my wonderful Italian bread.

Ron loves sweet potatoes, dressing and gravy. For me-it's all about the dressing and cranberries. My mother always made the best cornbread dressing and I continue her methods today.

I realized today that I also have favorite cookbooks that I pull out during this special time of the year. My favorite sitting on the counter today is the 1981 edition of Southern Living. Within the pages are recipes that most closely match my idea of a perfect Southern holiday meal.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Atomic Blueberry Roasted Chicken Wing Sauce

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Don't let the pretty blue color fool you. . .this sauce packs plenty of heat! 

This has proved to be so popular with my hubby, he's making me dinner, these days.  Roasted Chicken Wings with Fruit-flavored hot sauce, crispy fresh celery with my own recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing! 

So, as the holidays loom, Ron and I will marinate our cornish hens in a milder version of this blueberry sauce and offer the bottle to those at the table who can handle the heat!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Blues!

Mixed Peppers and Blueberries

Cranberry Conserve with Pears and Walnuts

Flavored sparkling cranberry adds more flavor than water!
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With such a small family gathering this year, I decided to step out a little and serve an untraditional menu.  The menu is Blueberry Hot-Sauce Glazed Cornish Hens, Tuscan-style Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potato Souffles, Minted Peas, Cornbread Dressing and my Cranberry Conserve with Walnuts. 

I've started several of the components today and the delightful scent of blueberries, cranberries and hot, hot peppers collides with our noses as we enter the house!

Would you believe that my earlier summer batches of Raspberry and Fig Infused Hot Sauces are gone?  I posted the pictures at the end of summer using fellow blogger, Susan Coggins' wonderful mixed bag of peppers.  We created a roast Hot Wing recipe especially for Ron-who is trying to lose a little weight!  The wings are his specialty now and he does them well!

With the success of the wings I decided to create a blueberry hot sauce with a batch of blueberries that I froze at the end of the season.  I plan to butterfly the hens and roast them on my infrared grill for a tender, spicy bird with low fat and high flavor.  The birds will marinade overnight in olive oil and the blueberry hot sauce! YUMMY!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stuffed Roasted Pablanos

This is two-pot cooking at it's best-enhanced by very fresh ingredients!

One pot, one baking dish and you have an authentic Mexican meal with so little effort. The secret lies in the authenticity of the ingredients. Fresh Pablano chiles, cilantro, Anchiote chile flavoring the sauteed chicken, Mexican-style rice, a small amount of salt and Asadero Cheese-one of my favorite Mexican cheeses.

I par-boiled fresh pablano peppers in a little salted water for seven or so minutes. The seeds are removed, the chiles cleaned and split before placing them in an oiled two-person baking dish. Allowing one chile per person, I layer the peppers with Ro-Tel tomatoes, garlic olive oil, the minced chicken flavored with the Anchiote chile, cilantro, Mexican-style rice and a small amount of the Asadero Cheese.

I bake the chiles for twenty minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is melted. It's a good idea to rest the dish before serving. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream, some fresh-chopped cilantro and a little tomato . . . and you'll be dancing around your sombrero!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

These past few months have proved a challenge.  As a woman over fifty-I still believe I have many good creative years ahead- new adventures and challenges at work.  Unfortunatley, these past years  have challenged my good spirits and belief in the power of positive thinking and prayer.  I understand better that a lot of our power and confidence comes from the people and creatures who love and rely on our strength. It is humbling. . .

I am faced with the loss of another old friend, Dunkin, our fifteen year old rescue from Dunkin Donuts-here in Newnan, Georgia.  Dunkin has always been a strong alpha male and even in his twilight years he commands respect and fear from those under him.  Thankfully, he has mellowed over the years and become a mama's boy!

It's difficult to believe his time is near but he faces it bravely and has fought to hold on these past days.  Dunkin stopped eating suddenly and although he was never a big eater he began to consume less than two cups of food.  His ribs are showing through but he continues to go about his life . . .following the family to different rooms and locations, sleeping nearby and making an effort to eat a little more.

I miss the animals I have lost these past three years, Ace, our big lovable bear of a Rottie, Red-my handsome stray rescue, Brother-one of three siblings that picked up his small family and moved to our house and Gypsy, our 19-year old black cat who pretty ruled all of us for ten years!  And although Henrietta has been gone for almost six years, she lived to be twenty-two years old, a westie-mix , rescued from a New Orleans Humane Society!  She was truly the Queen of our household and kept us all in line!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Transformation In Progress

The renovations are almost complete. We have painted, updated and spit-shined a few more spaces in our wonderful old home. Some days I think it will get the best of us-mostly, we seem to be winning. What started out as an impossible situation to some has revealed a comfortable, happy home.

After seventeen years, the past is slowly revealing itself. Hidden documents and online resources shed light on the company dealings, civic involvement and home life for past occupants. Many of them passed on now-but still so many stories unfolding.
The Old Garden Inn Bed and Breakfast enjoyed so many guests in our first seven years. Guests from Russia, Italy, Germany, Japan, England and many from here in America have graced our breakfast table. . . each depositing their energy and creativity into our space.

I can't help but wonder about the lives of future guests of Casa Bella Bed and Breakfast, our new name for our Bed and Breakfast. What will there lives reveal, where will they come from. . .
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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Pizza King Visits Newnan

It's great to be King. . . I imagine.

This is my son, Shane, and he makes really great pizza. By the way, he is a "self-proclaimed" king. . .In his defense, his Pizza Marguerita is really delicious and my favorite - which in my book qualifies him to be king.

I have discovered conflicting accounts of how this pizza came into being but most of the stories include kings and queens so we are going to stick with what makes the story work.

In one version, King Ferdinand was said to dress up as a commoner to enjoy a delicious slice of this Neopolitan delight-banned by his queen.

In another version, a baker created the pizza in celebration of Queen Margherita's visit to Naples.

Thankfully, the popularity of this pizza has spread through-out Italy and is available in just about every pizzaria.
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