Monthly Archives: November 2018

Gift Givers

How I got through Thanksgiving without gaining any weight is a mystery especially since I had pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner the past two days. I read people gain an average of 7 pounds during the holiday season. I put up two trees, the outdoor lights are up and now my focus is on Christmas baking and gift giving. Giving someone the gift of something to eat or drink is a useful gift. Here is a list of some of my favorite things to give from Arizona.

Peanut Butter Americano – I purchased mine at the Scottsdale Farmers Market. You can buy them online too. The cinnamon roasted almond is really good.

Goldwaters – I’ve been purchasing their products for many years. They are at all the grocery stores here in Arizona. and are available online too.

Chateau Tumblweed– I had the opportunity to taste their wines recently at a street fair in Cottonwood, Arizona. The owners were friendly and sweet. Their wine is available at their winery in Clarkdale, at many local street fairs, shops and online. 

Iconic Cocktail – Recently I went to a holiday open house at a lovely store in Phoenix called Urbana. The owners of Iconic Cocktail were making drinks with their inufused mixes. They made me a mocktail with the cranberry thyme. It was spectacular. It is so festive and delicious. Their products are available online.

Queen Creek Olive Mill – Their products are so good. I love the fig balsamic reduction. Their products are available at their main location is in Queen Creek, at Kierland in Scottsdale and online.


Happy gift giving! Here are my ultimate gift givers!

Gift Givers watercolor by Charisse


Fall Cooking

Do you collect cookbooks? This time of year, I like to go through mine and put sticky notes on all the recipes I want to try. This week I made the white lasagna from the 1998 Williams Sonoma Holiday Celebrations cookbook. It was a lot of steps to have ready but was easy to assemble. It’s a perfect recipe for a vegetarian made with butternut squash, mushrooms and lots of cheese. It is delicious. I also baked the pumpkin pound cake from the 2001 The Thanksgiving Table cookbook. Baking is scientific and you never know what you’re going to get. I ended up baking it 20 minutes longer than the recipe instructions. It is dense and moist. I used the rest of the pumpkin pie filling and added it to my vanilla ice cream recipe and omitted the vanilla and added fresh nutmeg instead. The ice cream was soft but is still excellent.

Every year I tell myself I am going to make the croquembouche from John Clancy’s 1982 Christmas Cookbook. This is my oldest cookbook and I adore it. Here’s hoping this will be the year!

Winter White Lasagna

1 butternut squash cut lengthwise, remove seeds and fiber and bake on 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until tender. Let cool and slice.

1 package of oven ready lasagna noodles

6 Tbsp. butter

6 Tbsp. flour

3 cups half and half

½ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ Tsp grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups ricotta cheese

½ cup grated Romano cheese

2 eggs

¾ cup finely chopped Italian parsley

2 Tbsp. olive oil

14 oz. fresh mushrooms cleaned and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

2 cups shredded fontina cheese

Bake butternut squash on 350 degrees for 35 minutes and set aside to cool. Peel and slice into thin slices. Make a béchamel sauce by cooking butter in a sauce pan, slowly add flour, stir in half and half, add parmesan cheese and grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. Set aside. In a mixing bowl add ricotta cheese, eggs and half of chopped parsley. Set aside. Sauté the mushrooms with remaining parsley and garlic in olive oil.  Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10” X 14” baking dish and layer lasagna by placing noodles first, then top with ricotta cheese mixture and slices of the butternut squash, top with another layer of lasagna noodles, top with sautéed mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. Place another layer of noodles and cover with béchamel sauce and sprinkle the top with the fontina cheese. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes and cut into squares.


Holiday Celebrations

White Lasagna

Thanksgiving Table

Pumpkin Pound Cake and Ice Cream

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