The Value of Holiday Cheer; Gestures, Thank You’s & Acknowledgments

This is a good time to consider the art of thank-you’s and gestures.

Like it or not, Thanksgiving has passed and we are officially on the close-out of 2017.

Every year about this time I start messages from folks, asking me about our annual Orphans Holiday Party held each year around late December and how will I be managing to pull it off this  year or how do I have all that stuff to prepare for it.

As the summer wraps up, the fall is normally one of my favorite times of the year and the Orphans Holiday Party is one of the highlights of the year to share time with friends.

This year, I seemed to get several inquiries asking me about my thoughts on the customs, gestures, and traditions that go along with being a guest. You know, those commonly held, or historically offered niceties that civil society says is “what polite society” dictates as a way to thank a host.

I started this post as I sat on a flight from DC just before Thanksgiving but got sidetracked catching up till now. So I figured  I would try to jot out some thoughts as I check my “to be answered” folder of questions.

What is the scoop on “Invitation Protocols”?

Frank,   It’s that time of the year when I have started to get invitations to dinners, brunches etc. What do I bring ? Do I need to bring something?  Is there a universal set of gestures I should know?— TK

This is a great question and while I wouldn’t say I am the “arbiter of good taste and manners” all the time –  I have some opinions on what I believe to be common courtesy and reflect a gesture of appreciation for your host. (For the sake of ease when I write “host(s) it is implied as “host or hostess”).

Mostly it’s about three things:

Appreciating the gestures of being invited

Acknowledging the effort and work that goes into that brunch or party

Common Sense understanding that tokens & gestures do matter to some, but doing something needs to not derail the host/hostess’s game plan.

Appreciation

This is key – when you are invited to something – your host(s) has taken the forward thought to plan, design and arrange what they hope will be a memorable time. During the days that lead up even to the smallest luncheon or brunch to the largest open house – tension rises and many last minute “fixes” are in full implantation mode.

Ensuring that your host(s) know how much you appreciated the invite, the time you had, and any special moments that the event made for you. These could include photos, gestures, networking or even a memory made is a great way to appreciate the experience.

3 simple gestures to show your appreciation

Ask: If you know you are going to the store the day of the event. Maybe in the morning (or the day before). Call and ask if you can pick anything up that may have been forgotten. But be prepared to get those supplies back to the host early so that they have time to use them as needed. (Hint: even if you don’t need to go to the store, but you have the free time and willingness to help, the offer to do so is huge)

Offer to stay late to clean up; come the “witching hour” when the bulk of the guest have left, most of us that toss the party, push through on adrenalin alone. So come the end, the energy runs out. Nothing says “appreciation” better than “Frank, We are going to stay and help you clean up; what do you need to be done

Check in after the event; If you aren’t able to attend or have conflicting events, let your host know as soon as possible. then a day after the event, drop the person a call, text or email asking how it went. That lets the host know you valued the invitation and was disappointed at not being able to attend. Who knows you might even get an invite for coffee or dinner to help use up those leftovers.

Acknowledgment

Look I can say how much I love to throw a party – and I do. But being acknowledged for the effort I put is, while it may not look like it’s important, it is.

Those of us that like to entertain and create these moments, feed off the excitement of the planning and staging something that will be memorable. We often take special care to blend in specialties to make everyone feel good. So hearing someone acknowledge the time and effort that goes into it, or noticing the small personal touches go a long way.

For instance, for me, I take pride in creating a menu that includes dishes and options that encompass vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free needs without them feeling like an aside. I use these as a way to “challenges” me to expand my food thinking and try new dishes that I might not generally eat myself.

In fact, some of the results can be stellar, like the gluten-free orange cardamom granola and spinach stuffing I created for a stuffed turkey one year. That recipe has now become a great alternative to my regular “old school” recipe.

One simple way to show your acknowledgment is to let the host know with a simple gesture says ” you noticed something that made them feel special”. One way to send a small token; this could be something fun, whimsical, or useful and in the theme that the host would enjoy. Feel free to ask for the recipe or the brand and where they found it. We generally love to tell you; once the event is out of the gate. For those of you “less creative types” here are a few ideas that I either send or have enjoyed receiving:

For those of you who know how “anal” I can be, will understand why this Magnetic Dry Erase Weekly Meal Planner 11X17 Whiteboard ($12.99) tickled me: 

Many of us make notes for the planning of the next event and your comments, feedback, and notes are ways we know what to keep or use again so journals such as this Refillable Travel Diary Notepad ($15.99)

Another way to acknowledge the effort is to share your own specialty ideas. If you have special food issues and knowledge of brands, recipes (or even well-loved book cook) and ideas for substitutions. Those I keep handy for the future. A great way to do this is making use of mail order or online services that stock your preferred “finds”. In some cases, you may even find them on Amazon.com.

Common Sense

Tokens and gestures to show your appreciation with a thank you are long-held traditions. They may changes from time to time, perhaps with an updated look or trend – but the basics remain the same.

If you are invited to a small dinner party, brunch or dinner:

Cut and arranged flowers, potted plants are perfect thank you gestures. But if you really want the host(s) to know you are excited or had a good time, have them delivered the morning of the event so that they have time to place them in a spot instead of having to figure out a frantic fix while trying the deal with the last minute preparations. (Hint: you really want the host to love you? Call  a few days before and say you want to send over an arrangement to the table or the fireplace and what colors is the room or theme). Or even better, have something delivered a few days after the event for the host(s) to enjoy a lovely personal note inside.

At the holidays (or any time of the year) if you know the host has a fondness for collecting something; I work hard to custom select something for them. In my case, I have a “story tree” at the holidays where most of the ornaments come from friends & family.  So I often get unique ornaments from places I might not have visited as a thank you or clever people found out I keep a “gift” list on Amazon of stuff that I want (and eventually plan to buy but should someone ask – it’s easier to send them to the list)

A few thoughts for those that haven’t got a clue yet:

Resoprocity is equally as important. 

Even the most gregarious and “party loving” host, doesn’t always want play host.  Offering to have the host over for a dinner to say thank you is perfect. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it’s the fact that you took the time to say thank you and take the night off is what matters. If you don’t cook, then offer to take them to dinner or at minimum, send them a gift certificate to a store with a fun personalized note “saying you are happy to taste any new dishes this inspires“.

Larger events like open houses, parties etc

These are less formal or because of the crowd less likely to need something to be given. But special bottles of wine or alcohol is always a nice touch – but remember to add a personal note – with your name and mention why this beverage is significant. Is it a special year or from a vineyard you love. Is it a hidden wonder etc. I know one of my “go to” gifts this year will be a vodka that has a dedication of funds toward dog adoption. Or try your hand at making something. The last few years I have made and jarred gifts to give to hosts; preserved lemons, pickled vegetables are two that get mentioned a lot. Remember to include the recipe tag and hold long they will keep with them.

What about Potlucks? Or invitations to meals or parties held at a restaurant?

Potlucks play a unique role. If you agree to bring a dish, let the host know early on what you are bringing and ask when do they want it. Nothing puts a host on edge more than during a potluck when someone arrives late with a dish and half the food has already been served. You can always drop your dish offer earlier if you think you will be late.

If you aren’t bringing a dish to a potluck – any of the other ways listed above will work – but letting the host(s) know you would like to offer to help out with clean up is always welcome.

Resturant or venue-based dinner parties: If you are invited to a dinner party held at a restaurant and the host has made it clear that you are guests (i.e. they are covering the costs of the meal) can be tricky. I rarely want to bring in a bottle of something or a gift as I know the hosts then have to figure out a way to get them all home.

So try to find out what the host’s plan is.  For a birthday or anniversary held at a beloved resturant or because of the host(s) lack space at home, then it’s likely they may either have a “no gifts” on the invite or will have a place identified to put cards, gifts, and gestures. Just remember to secure your card well so they don’t get separated. I can’t tell you how many times I have ended up with orphan gifts and gift tags after we get them home.

If it is a more casual setting or annual open house type thing, I would lean towards sending your acknowledgment after the event (use any mentioned above – I personally love waking up to breakfast or brunch baskets) and have it delivered to them at home.

When all is said and done  

Whatever you send or do, it should be significant to the host, serves as a way to show you care, and how you felt special about being included and appreciate the effort.

You can blend all or any of these ideas into one “thank you”. Gifting the host with that special dietary cookbook you love, with a note inside letting the host know much that it meant including their food sensitivities into the party menu and you are wanting to share this cookbook… etc. Those personal touches are the part I like best.

Over the years I have had several “thank you’s” that stand out as memorable to me:

One was to find a case of small batch, specialty tomato sauce delivered as a thank you from two guests who had been to a dinner party at my home. the brand was a favorite they thought I would enjoy being introduced too.

Another was taken right from the “Martha Steward school of entertaining” when the morning after a rather large party, my doorbell rang and I opened it to find a box with all my favorite breakfast foods; bagels, lox, cream cheese, hard boiled eggs, a loaf of poppyseed bread, jam, ground coffee ready to be made and savored.

Another was a gift certificate good for brunch at a restaurant we had spoken about but that I hadn’t gotten a chance to try yet. Included with a thank you card reminding me of our chat about how much they liked the food and they thought I would as well.

The common theme here is personalizing it, make it memorable and do it timely.

I have left the comments open on this post so that others can share ideas as well…

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Thursday Date Night at AfterDark

We have been on a binge of late to try and sample some of what is happening locally and AfterDark was on deck.

Last week I shared about out try to the California Academy of Sciences for it’s Thursday night event. This week knowig I was working that day at the office and Pauls office isnt far we thought we would check out After Dark this week at the Exploratorium.

Since I was planning to go into the office Thursday for that late afternoon meeting and the weather was mild, I decided to walk. I arranged to meet a professional colleague at Cafe Flore for coffee first. Lucky me,  I got to see the infamous “Smoking Santa” get ready to take to the roof. It’s amazing to see what is going on around us, when we aren’t in our cars or stuck below ground.

Each week they highlight a few special themes. Last week was food and the food of tomarrow, on Nov 16th the theme also food related is: After Dark: Cooking Contraptions. They have a posted full list of the scedule as a well as the indivudal nights events here

After walking down to the Ferry building or Ferry Building Marketplace as it is officially what they call it (earlier than expected due to a power outage on the Van Ness/Market street area). I took some time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that being in the Ferry Building always offers. The Ferry Building actually has a cool history  to it and what it has become. It is well worth an afternoon or early evening walk through. If you are a cheese lover – the happy hour crowd at the Cowgirl Creamery‘s Sidekick spot is pretty rocken and on the night I stopped they had “oh so good Raclette” and grilled cheese goodness everywhere.Eventually Paul got out of work and we walked over the the Exploratorium. A hint – as long as you buy your tickets for the even by 5:00pm you can save a few bucks off the entry, not can get busy – so you might want to read up on what features it has and what you want to be sure to get in line for early.  

The Exploratorium is a meadering space that makes thinkers out of children and children out of adults! Below are a few of my favorites shots from the night. This is so a “do with your friends kind of place” very hands on and well worth  taking the time for it. After Dark is every Thursday from 6:00 – 10:00 pm. The whole idea of the place is interactivity – some on your own, others with those around you. They even offer a few “trust” activies for you to consider..  Which would you hit?

Sip or Squit; make the choice

This was one of my favorite displays – if you had two fountains and one looks like a toilet – would you still drink from it?

Would you drink from this?

 

Wrapping up the night, we walked back from Pier 15 towards the Ferry Building and ended up deciding to stop at Gott’s Roadside for burgers, people watching and even spotted a few celebrity Food Network folks walking through before grabbing Muni home for the night.

Ahh a day off!

Friday being my day off, that meant I got to do mostly catch up as I prepare for a trip to DC in two weeks, and offer a several hour workshop.. But since the weather wasn’t all that nice, after a quick trip to the grocery store, I tossed togther a hearty pan of “Cowboy Lasagna” which I have raved about before a few times before. This dish has become a real favorite as it takes only 30 minutes to put togther and 40 min to bake. Sure it isn’t my all-day sauce Italian lasagna, but it sure is a great alternative with some homeade cheese bread on the side. The recipe actually comes from the Trisha Yearwood cooking show.

 

 


San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace

Ferry Scedule http://sanfranciscobayferry.com

Farmers Market 

Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop

For a full list of Merchants

SF Exploratorium

Pier 15
(Embarcadero at Green Street)
San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 528-4444

More Contact Info

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Winchester House & Folsom Fair weekend

Yes, that is me! It’s  from a poster promoting FSE some years back

Winchester & Folsom unlikely bedfellows… or not?

Because my life isn’t full enough with what I have to do on a daily basis – we still took some time to enjoy Folsom week and the Folsom Fair last week. Having a guest in town gave us an excuse to go and for me to try a few new dishes. But first, it also meant I had company to make my annual trip to the Winchester Mystery House (aka Winchester House or by its formal name while its owners were alive  “). Each year I go to purchase my annual pass and with the pending movie due out by CBS Films starring Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, Eye in the Sky) and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty) and is being directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Predestination) based on their screenplay.  As with any local favorite – once a film or episode is shot – you can expect crowds – so I really wanted to get in now.

On a side note: because of the film launch, where in the past you could take pictures inside the house – the agreement currently is they aren’t allowing photographs. While a disappointment for first-timers  (I wish they made that fact better known on the websites too)the images I used here are from a 2008 trip and do not include recent upgrades, newly acquired furniture or open rooms.

Winchester House Tours

Since my last trip, in addition to the Mansion Tour, they launched a new tour, called Explore More Tour. This replaces the previous “Behind the scenes” tour and adds several new areas of the house including more backstory on the rooms closed off after the earthquake.  The annual skeleton key pass also gets your guests a reduced rate on the tours! To do both tours will run over 2 hours and 15 minutes. While not exhausting, the tours do include a lot of walking and stairs – so dress accordingly. Either tour offers great insight into this local favorite. For me, Winchester has special significance as it is also a hometown name. New Haven, which is where I hale from,  is the birth (and final resting place) for the Sarah Winchester and her husband. Located right in San Jose, about a 45-minute ride from San Francisco, literally across the street from the major shopping promenade. this afternoon or evening treat ( they offer special night events as we get closer to Halloween) is a perfect “go to” for kids of all ages. If you are curious you can also check out Winchester House’s Blog and/or it’s very interactive Facebook page, Facebook.com/winchestermysteryhouse/. For you thinkers out there – you can also visit the website The Truth About Sarah Winchester I can’t attest to its accuracy -but it does fill in some holes I thought interesting.

Knowing I was going to want to have a simple breakfast on Sunday before the Folsom Fair and did a nice omelet on Saturday for the boys – I opted to try my hand at making this Spicey Cheese Bread. One of the Cooks Country recipes – but if you don’t have an online membership – you can find the recipe here on fellow bloggers site; https://www.browneyedbaker.com/spicy-cheese-bread/

The recipe wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Don’t get too nervous about the amount of red pepper either – you really need it to balance with cheeses. Note: this bread reheats really well and I can tell on its own or alongside a hearty stew it’s a keeper. My next plan is to play with the recipe and add cooked off diced prosciutto or sausage!

I even managed to get a few decorations up!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Ptown Week 2 recap and home again

I can’t believe how fast the second week went. but I can believe how much work I came home too

So how did the rest of the week go?  Pretty much the same as week 1!

Mornings I spent at Joe’s Cafe trying to draft out notes for the first two journal article due at the end of the month.  On several occasions, we enjoyed the great foods from Chach (luckily I don’t mind eating in the same places if I like the food) as the other guys liked it as well., we continued to ride the bikes, sometimes some of our road longer than others. Lots of the time we grabbed lunch at the condo to take advantage of the weather.

From Connie’s Bakery, I scored a day old fresh loaf of bread so french toast made a visit this year on the deck. (FYI: both Connie’s and Joes offer day old parties in the am. the best part is they come wrapped in plastic to easy to grab a quick snack for later). But many of sweets and sandwiches they offer are reasonably priced and great tasting.

Other highlights of week two included a few meals at the Burger Queen shack – while set up as fast carry out food – meets the quality of many of the more formal ones. (or as in the case of the Mayflower; exceeds it) and the Canteen which with its new expanded back area makes for a great casual place to hang out and eat.

We even get everyone to tackle the Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument on one of the few gray days. If you have never been – it is well worth a visit. While the Monument itself is a nice walk – the museum also offers a changing collection of history and art.

We took in a beachside jazz night at Herring Cove and got to enjoy the casual mid week time with vacationers and locals alike that ended with a great seaside bonfire.

Of course, we also saw our pal Varla Jean Merman and her new show Bad Heroine (go see it when it comes to a city new you!)

The trip home on Saturday was mostly uneventful on our part. Just a long process and we were ready to get home. Luckily the folks at the Marriott let us park our bags for a few hours while we took in the sites near the waterfront in Boston, then it was off to Boston Logon airport.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Settling In and stuff

Settling in at the Cove each summer is always a whirlwind for the first few days, but rarely lasts long. On this trip, we also have a few friends here – so its added some fun additional options.

After a very long coach ride into Provincetown on Saturday . It was nice to just sit back and breath.

Come Sunday we were in full vacation mode. Bikes needed to get rented for the next two weeks, as that makes  being able to go to Stop & Shop for groceries much more doable.

So we made the short walk up to the road to PTownBikes   (Address: 42 Bradford St, Provincetown, MA 02657, Phone: (508) 487-8735). After getting our annual “rules of the road” reminders, we were off for a short ride to Herring Cove  to show the boys around that end of the town.

After we got back from the ride, it was nap time for the boys – so I had some time to connect with local friends and get the skinny on the season and the annual “what do you want to do for activities” ticket discussion begins.

Once we were all refreshed and we had enough coffee in us. Yes, I had made sure to run by Joe’s Coffeeshop (170 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) . You can check out Joe’s Facebook page for more on this little slice of Provincetown. It was time for the dreaded Stop & Shop run.

So, empty backpacks ready,  we got on the bikes and took to the store for supplies to get us through a few days. While we always love eating out – being here in a unit with a kitchen allows me the luxury to also cook some of the days. Especially those when we just don’t want to deal with the crowds. (Note: first time to Ptown? Don’t shop on Saturday if you can avoid it – that’s turnover day in town and usually a mad house. We tend to go later Sunday or even better on Monday am when we can).

It was still early when we got back, so everyone hit the deck for some late rays, while I went in to think about dinner. For tonight, we went with marinated (yes – with bottled italian salad dressing, along with some ginger beer added for zing) to toss on the grill, grilled sweet potatoes and quick pickled carrots.

After dinner we took the first official “ice cream” walk to close out the day.

Monday

Come Monday, we were all in “vaca mode”. I tend to wake up early, so generally out with the camera  walking around by 6:15 then heading back to Joe’s coffeeshop around seven. Spent a few hours drafting some notes for a journal article then met up with Brent and Josh before walking back to the house to figure out the game plan for the day.

All in all, it was just a very nice relaxing day at the Cove; lots of sun and catching up. We ended up eating lunch in doing that old standard “make yourself sandwiches” since we knew that evening we will be going to a show and dinner.

After all getting showered we went over to the Canteen (225 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) for dinner, one of my favorite of the small places here in Ptown. A nice assortment of fresh and fried foods and probably the best crispy brussels sprouts we’ve had. They do their brussels sprouts cooked to get fried crispy and then top it with the vinegar fish sauce working with the natural flavor of the smoky sprout. The
other guys went with some basic fish and chips,  I opted for “fish fries”, a.k.a. fried smelts.

After dinner, we walked over the Crown and Anchor where we checked out an early show of the Generations Project (thegenerationsproject.info). Part of a new intergenerational, transnational LGBT queer storytelling project that hopes to serve as a bridge between older and younger folks by sharing different stories frint points in our lives (coming out, risk, dating etc.). Tonight’s specifically highlighted the stories related to Ptwn.

After a really well-done show, we once again took a walk so the men could get ice cream and I splurged at the Portuguese Bakery (299 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) for a pastry; Malasada is  the Portuguese version of a “fried dough” treat. Italians grow up with a similar version serves on Sundays or at street fairs. As they do with the italian version – they cover it with sugar hot out of the grease.

On Tuesday

Paul’s parents were scheduled to come down on the 11 o’clock ferry, so after getting up and doing a few hours of work I went back to the unit and made some breakfast for all of us. 

Then we took a nice leisurely stroll to the ferry for his mom and Eddie. Looking for something to do that wouldn’t require them to walk as much, we decided to make use of the new Provincetown Mayflower Trolley tour.

What a great ride. We were able to get to a bunch of locations with the tour we hadn’t checked out before. While we heard some really interesting stories and history of the people who founded Provincetown. Not to mention learning about the environment & ecological structure.  Overall well worth the money for the $20 tickets and I would reccomemd to anybody who’s never been here to take advantage of it. And I got a recipe to try as well!


We caught sight of some fun street based art that often can be found tucked away in nooks and crannies.
SaveSave


SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Another “Salon” dinner saturday night with the perfect “Cowboy” Lasagna. 

This was a dinner shot during the last visit

A gathering of the tribe last night for a “salon” dinner. A night focused on food, talk and stories. For this month, my old friend Josh and his husband Brent were in town, taking advantage of “retiree” time and visiting the Bay Area. Now Josh and I have been friends, “sisters”, co-facilitators, both ran focus groups and volunteers for local programs for many years and all around were “those two are trouble together” for over 24 years.

Instead of a dinner out like in the past (the last visit we took them to Old Skool for a great meal),  I suggested we eat here and invite some other friends we’ve known for years and just kick back old school style.

For the menu I wanted easy, solid and fun. Years ago Josh and I manned a mens social group called the Social Exchange Network as a way to gather men to get out of the city to camp, eat, remember, heal. This was during a time of great pain and change for us, when so many of our friends were dying or sick with AIDS. So the socials and SEN were an opportunity to “stop the madness” for a few days. We did everything from camping trips to Disney World to house parties.

Often for the weekend SEN events, I tended to do all the cooking (except for the junk food table which often held every sweet treat, salty, sugary snack that we ould pre-buy that would sit on a table for the whole weekend for those late-night munchies) while Josh would serve as the front man-cruise director for the social stuff. On those trips when an oven was available – our first night menu was frozen lasagna dinners with a green salad and garlic bread. As it was easiest meal to get prepared on the day of travel as people rolled in.

With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to recreate a home version, but that wasn’t the old school all day sauce version that I normally would make , which I know he loves. So Trisha Yearwood’s  “Cowboy Lasagna” recipe came to mind.  I originally tried the recipe back in a few months ago  (that post is here) after seeing it on her cooking show to a great success. I recall saying that the mean-sauce was like “crack”, “one spoonful and you couldn’t stop tasting it”. To start the night I re-used another favorite starter; my adapted version of  Roasted Carrot Hummus that I have mentioned back in my February post

When all was said and done –  it was a win for sure.  Two of our other friends Russel (Russell has know Josh almost as long) and David,  brought a fresh baked apple pie (crust and all) incredibly infused with rosemary. Which paired perfectly to the lasagna meal.

Mother’s Day Alternative Tea

Since we didn’t travel to see your own moms, and we weren’t really up for doing a full out dinner we decided to host an alternative Mother’s Day tea today.

We asked everybody to bring something; Just choose either savory or sweet.  We then mixed it up some with a different friends and small crowd to encourage different networking and socializing.

Overall a big success.


At first I dug out the mixed matched and “tag sale find” collection of tea cups and saucers and plates..

And the  always handy multi tiered dessert plate stands


Getting the layout on the tables is always important.

 

And then the menu:

Traditional tea sandwhiches with hearts!

Pinwheels with two kinds of cheese and ham, as well as pimento cheese sandwhiches

Gluten free carrot cake muffins, jicama mango salad and picked shrimp

 

Stuffed peppers and devilishly good peanut butter chocolate and marshmallow cookie.

Trisha Yearwood’s Cowboy Lasagna Rocks The Night!

So needing to make dinner one night for friends; I happen upon Trisha Yearwood’s recipe called Cowboy Lasagna who credits some of it to her husband Garth Brooks.

While I love my lasagna – its way to much work for a casual dinner, so this looked like a great option.

So let me say first of.. Don’t screw it the recipe. It is great as is. So good in fact that had I added beans to the sauce mixture, topped it with cheese I would eat it as is and forget the noodles!

You can get the full recipe here

So little time, but so many ways to make cheesy sausage snacks

So last month I found a Low Country recipe for a cheesy sausage biscuit snack from Hoppin Johns Low Country cookbook; unlike a regular fluffy biscuit these are a much more dense & compact bite that are meant to be a  cross between a savory “cookie” and a snack bite. 

The only change I made after making it a couple times is the addition of a topping of pepper jelly, almost making it like a “thumbprint cookie”. The bite and coolness of the jelly on the dense snack adds a nice break in the flavor.

But there was still a taste of “flour” to it that I didn’t care for, so I kept looking for an alternative which I found in a recent more Italian style version from Valerie Bertinelli’s cookbook.

This cheesy sausage snack uses Bisquick instead of flour, uncooked bulk sasuage and a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce with a result that comes out hot, crisp, dark-golden brown and gooey good

Ingredients

  • Oil, for greasing the baking sheets (cooking spray is fine)
  • 3 cups biscuit mix, such as Bisquick
  • 1 pound spicy sausage (uncooked)

Note: you can use so use a pound of mild or sweet sausage and add in several links of hot sausage or any combination of sausage that meets your preference. The key here us it needs to be in bulk or taken out of the casing).

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces aged white Cheddar, grated
  • 8 ounces sharp yellow Cheddar, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan  cheese, grated (this is in addition I added to the Recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or to taste)
  • Ground pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 baking or cookie sheets and set aside.

Note: I think the oven I use runs hot so 400 actually made them darker than I like, when I cook them in the future I’ll be doing them at 350.

  • Combine the biscuit mix, sausage and rosemary in a large bowl. 

  • Mix with your hands, then work in the white and yellow Cheddars and hot sauce. 

Note: this actually may take longer than you think. Because of the limited liquid, its the fat from the sausage as it warms up with your hands that ads to the binding from  the mixing. So be prepared to knead this until it’s really well combined. One trick is to make sure that your sausage isnt ice cold when you mix it together.  

  • Form into balls the size of walnuts and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Note:  I used a small ice cream scooper to divide them out and I tried both just scooping it onto the tray as well as shaping them into balls with my hands and ultimately they both look the same after cooking. 

  • Bake until cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Date Night is about the food and the man

Traveling so often for work, having our four-legged third, wanting attention along with both of us having demanding work and social time – –  getting time out with just the two of us alone isn’t always easy. So when we can do it, we take it. Last week we wanted to go see the new Meryl Streep’s new film, Florence Foster Jenkins at the CineArts at the Empire and had time to eat at one of my  favorite West Portal resturant; Trattoria da Vittorio. 

I really can’t say much more about them except “just go already”. If you want authentic italian foud with a Calabrian influence you can’t go wrong. 

Home

150 W Portal Ave, San Francisco, CA 94127