DIY Candle Holder ~ the perfect Hostess Gift


As I sit here and ponder my to-do list for our upcoming 3rd Annual Elfin’ Pasta party in December, I can’t help but feel a little  for the Host & Hostess of this upcoming Thanksgiving feast. All I have to do is bring a few appetizers and drinks while said Host & Hostess no doubt is getting the house ready, running multiple trips to the grocery store and making sure all sleeping arrangements are made so accommodate guests. Just to name a few things…! The same could be said for other kind and welcoming souls across the country who are also opening up their homes to friends and family to sit back, relax and be Thankful.

So hear me out fellow Thanksgiving House Crashers – let’s make sure we are good guests and bring a little somethin’ somethin’ for the folks hooking us up this year! Booze and or fresh flowers are always (at least for most) a fantastic idea. Then there are candle crazies such as myself, so that is what we are bringing this year in addition to these Pumpkin Pie Martinis; a DIY Candle Holder with Dried Beans and Raffia.

  • Glass vase
  • Beans, Popcorn kernels, glass beads ~ whatever you have lying around the house. I used Anasaxi beans from a Southwestern Colorado farmers market that we never ended up cooking
  • Candle
  • Raffia
  • A few beads ~ optiona

Fill vase with beans, then wedge down the candle to desired height. Tie raffia around vase, and if using beads tie a few into the raffia strings for some added pazzaz. Done!



Booze Roundup ~ 5 Cocktails to kick off the Holidays

Here in the US the Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner and recipes for  best turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing are flooding any and all food blogs and websites. I say first things first – let’s grab a holiday cocktail while planning this menu! Here are 5 scrumptious drinks to help with any stress that might arise while browsing the web and old cookbooks for new creations to fill our Thanksgiving table.

 The Frozen Turkey
By The View from Great Island


Hot Buttered Rum & Cider
By Joy the Baker

hot buttered rum

Gingersnap Cocktail
By Popsugar


Pumpkin Pie Martini
By The Drinkblog


Candied Kumquat Bubbles
By The True Spoon


Tuscan White Bean Salad with Garlic & Rosemary


A few years ago I had the absolute pleasure of spending a few weeks in the Tuscan country side, and thinking back on that experience always brings a smile to my face. Days were spent working, while evenings were filled with great people, food and wine. Work actually also included great people, and most of the time lots of food and some vino as well. Love that aspect of Italy!

There are so many meals that come to mind when thinking “Italian”, but there is one in particular this week as I was taking inventory of what was in the fridge/pantry and would work well for a weeknight meal. The simplicity of putting this together makes this salad fool-proof and is a nice twist to my usual green salads.  I remember the first time that I tried Tuscan beans as if it was yesterday…. I headed over to a colleagues home for a lunch meeting, laptop and notepad in hand ready to get to work. She was running a bit behind, and as I walked through the door she showed me the kitchen, a can of cannellini beans, olive oil, garlic and some rosemary.

“Cook those up, please”

“Okidoki… how, exactly, would you like these cooked?

“Just heat up the olive oil, add rosemary, garlic, beans, salt and pepper”

How easy is that?! Indulging in these fragrant beans during our meeting on the deck overlooking the Tuscan rolling hills did not suck at all. I later learned that this is a very common side dish in Tuscany and is available as an appetizer at most restaurants. Ah… reminiscing makes me feel as though I am sitting there right now. Some photos to add to the daydream…

Me making fresh pasta

making fresh pasta

 Iconic Poppy growing in the side of an old wall

Iconic Poppy

Rolling Tuscan hills

rolling hills of tuscany

Olive bread at the market

olive bread



 While browsing the internet for some other White Italian beans I came across this recipe by The Splendid Table; Warm White Bean Salad with Fragrant Garlic and Rosemary. The similarities in the recipes are pretty much spot on aside from some ratio’s, but this recipe steps it up with toasted breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and wilted warm greens. Sounds delicious too!! Remember that this recipe can be very easily modified to fit your own taste buds. If you feel there is too much oil, just reduce it a bit – same with all of the other ingredients. The intensity of the flavors are all up to you!

Tuscan beans

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 4 1/2 cup


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • two springs rosemary
  • 1/2 to 2/4 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Heat olive oil, smashed whole garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs over low heat, about 10 minutes. If garlic starts to brown, remove pan from heat and let cool down for a few minutes. Slow and steady wins the race here as the olive oil is slowly infused with the fresh garlic and rosemary.
  • Add drained and rinsed beans to warm olive oil, gently stir to make sure beans are all coated with oil.
  • Keep on low heat for about 5 minutes to warm beans through, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve warm as a side to any meat, in a salad or with some bread.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

CALORIES 130; FAT 9g (mono 7g, sat 1g, poly 1, trans 0g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 11g; FIBER 3g


Salt & Vinegar Crispy Potatoes


Earlier this summer we took a trip back to the Old Country {Sweden} for my little sister’s wedding, and I was reminded of the Oh So Mighty Potato! Because I’ve developed a  mild intolerance to nightshades, the occasions we indulge in the ‘Tater at our house are far and few between (I know ~ some kind of bad Swede I am!) but being back home I found myself surrounded by the miracle of this comfort food veggie. Mashed, boiled, Hasselback style.. you name it.

So what is one to to do when back in the US and feeling a little homesick for family, friends, and, well… potatoes? Take a Zyrtec to prep for minor allergic upcoming reaction, then cook some up of course :). I like this Swedish / American twist to the classic Swedish boiled potato ~ its boiled AND pan fried. Woot woot! All better now… I will enjoy these with a cold beer, browsing through some photos snapped during vacation. Here are some for your enjoyment as well.

 It’s Girls Night Out at Restarant Pelikan in Stockholm and I ordered Meatballs with Brown Gravy, Lingoberry Sauce and Pickles. See the size of those balls? You’d think I was in Texas! Soo good and my mouth is still salivating by the mere thought of this delicacy.


 Stockholm by Water – this is  Tivoli Gröna Lund, a small but famous amusement park right on the waterside of Djurgården island.

Grona Lund

Swedes are environmentally friendly folk. Here is my brother on one of the “loaner bikes” his apartment complex has available to all renters and home owners within the complex. We put the kids in the box and took a ride through the global city of Malmö.


After a busy few weeks including flying around the country, we found reprieve at the family lake house, also referred to as “Landet”. My grandfather, who by the way turns 90 next year, built the little cottage when my dad, aunt and uncle were little kids. I have a lot of really special memories from this place, and am so happy that my daughter now gets to create her own as well. Oh, and if you can count all of the birdhouses Farfar (my grandpa) put up around the place you get extra credit!


My Fabror (Uncle) Bosse and G threading freshly caught worms on the hook as bait. This is serious business.


Or not! 


Kiddo caught a (giant!) Perch. Can you see it? 


Better this time ~ big Perch! Someone please unhook this thing!


And last but not least, a photo of the gorgeous bride and handsome groom exiting the church where they tied the knot. Throwing rice grain on them for good luck was fun!



And now for the recipe to the potatoes ~ almost forgot!

Salt & Vinegar Crispy Potatoes


  • 1 pound Yellow Baby Idaho Potatoes
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 three finger pinches of kosher salt, or 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and largely diced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste


  • Add potatoes (skin still on), salt, vinegar, onion, rosemary and enough water to cover potatoes by an inch to a large pot.
  • Bring to a boil and let cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes from the boiling water and set on a cutting board. Let cool for a few minutes, so not too hot to handle.
  • Using the back of an olive oil bottle, the palm of your hand, or other flat device (I used the bottom of my Pyrex measuring cup) and give each boiled potato a firm squeeze to crack the skin and flatten a bit, but not too hard to where the potato is completely flat. No thinner than 1/2 inch 'tater is a good rule of thumb.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter and one rosemary sprig. After butter has melted, sizzled up and then subsided add smashed potatoes to hot pan in a single layer.
  • Pan fry potatoes for about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Work in batches if you need to.
  • During the last few minutes of cooking time on the second side, pour two tablespoons of red/white wine vinegar to pan. Keep your nose away from the pan unless you want a sinus cleanse ~ hot vinegar can smell quite potent.
  • Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

CALORIES 209; FAT 12g (mono 6g, sat 4g, poly 1, trans 0g); PROTEIN 3g; CARB 21g; FIBER 1g




Chicken Salad Wrap & Hiking in the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness Area


It’s the freakin’ weekend… time to get out and play! They say that people move to Colorado for our world renowned powder snow and back country skiing, but end up staying for the absolutely gorgeous summers. I agree. With the Rocky Mountains as our back yard the opportunities for outdoor recreation are endless; hiking, mountain biking, floating the river and boating on on of many large lakes or reservoirs and not to mention camping, are just a few choices offered up by Mother nature herself. Last weekend held a 6 hour excursion up and over Willow Pass to Willow lake  in the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness Area with great friends and my new pup, Daisy.

The trail starts at popular tourist destination Maroon Lake below the Maroon Bells, the most photographed peaks in North America according to Stay Aspen Snowmass. Hike for about 50 minutes up to the Crater Lake / Snowmasss Trail sign and take a right towards Snowmass Trail. A rather steep climb will take you to,  through and out of  Minnehaha Gulch which in turn leads you through a beautiful mountain meadow. If you are lucky enough to do this hike during wild flower peak season any fatigue you may feel from the tough climb fades in comparison to the absolutely stunning scenery. About 1/2 mile into the meadow you will come across a sign that reads Buckskin Pass / Willow Pass.

Stick to the right and start climbing switchbacks through shrubbery terrain until you reach a basin. A few creeks will be crossed while making your way through the basin. Willow Pass can be seen ahead and will be climbed with another set of switchbacks until you reach the summit. Willow Lake is visible to the right, and sits 1 1/2 mile on the other side of the pass. This is where we enjoyed the lunch wraps I’d made the night before our adventure: Chicken Salad Wrap with Walnuts and Dried Cherries. This specific recipe was very slightly modified from Jeff Mauro’s (you know, the Sandwich King) Lemon Roasted Chicken Salad Wrap I love to indulge in meals such as a wrap or pasta salad while out on longer hikes as it provides the necessary energy to keep on going.

Chicken Salad Wrap


  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 3/4 cup 2% Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 6-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 12-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 pint micro-greens


    For the salad:
  • Prepare all of the ingredients; shred chicken, dice celery ribs, onions and so on.
  • Mix all together in a large mixing bowl - chicken thru chopped water chestnuts.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Build the wrap:
  • Layer whole wheat tortilla with micro-greens, top with chicken salad, then wrap it up.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

CALORIES 427; FAT 25g (mono 3g, sat 4g, poly 6, trans 0g); PROTEIN 10g; CARB 39g; FIBER 3g

It took us about three hours one way, different sites report the hike to take anywhere from three hours to a full day. Camping is allowed by the lake and we ran into some fellow hikers who were spending the night up there. Note that parking is becoming an issue at the base of Maroon Bells due to increased popularity of the area. It is recommended that you park by at the Highlands parking garage just outside of Aspen and hop on one of the many shuttle buses that run hikers up the mountain to Maroon Lake. In fact, if you arrive after 9 am this is the only way to make it through the Forrest Service gates as personal vehicles are not allowed up the road past that time. If you do decide to drive your own vehicle and hope to find parking there is a $10.00 fee per car. Visit the US Forest Service website for more detailed information regarding the Maroon Bells Scenic Area.

Creamy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and Salad in a Jar

Cover Photo

The “Salad-in-a-Jar” concept has been featured on Pinterest, blogs and prominent foodie websites for some time now, with good reason. It works! The idea is to build your salad in layers, starting with the most “juicy” item on the bottom of a mason jar then working your way up ending with the lettuce on top. The seal of the mason jar helps keep the salad just as crisp and fresh on Friday as on Sunday after noon when you set yourself up for meal planning success.

With the convenience of these pre made “fast food”  salad jars it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, and one way to always keep the taste experience fresh and new is to put a new spin on the salad dressing. This Creamy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit  is a bright and refreshing addition to any salad, I make quite often and takes less than 10 minutes to whip together.


Creamy Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Yield: 12 servings


  • 1/4 cup good quality red or white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper


  • Add all ingredients thru garlic in a mixer or food processor, blend until smooth. Keep the motor running and slowly add vegetable oil, then extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

CALORIES 109; FAT 12 g (mono 7g, sat 1g, poly 2, trans 0g); PROTEIN 0g; CARB 1g; FIBER 0g



Rice Bowl with Fried Egg, Bacon & Avocado

breakfast rice bowl

As you may have noticed, things have been a little quiet around here as of late. Since October, to be specific. Holy cow how time flies… But just because the curtains have been closed… the drapes down… however one was to word the radio silence, it doesn’t mean things have not been going at a mach 10 speed at our house. Winter came and went with all that entails here in the Rocky Mountains with skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding. Spring was spent hiking some then muddy trails, and then summer was kicked off with a visit to the old home country; Sweden.  In the midst of our busy but fun packed days, I’ve been adding new family favorites to our little black book of recipes and am more inspired than ever to share those with you. And what a better way to kick off, than a  breakfast recipe to start the day with.  This Rice Bowl with Fried Egg, Bacon and Avocado has become a go to start for me that keeps the hunger at bay well into the day. Well… until almost lunchtime anyway! And if you have some salsa, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro or whatever else may sound good to you go ahead and toss it in the mix! The  beauty of  “The Rice Bowl” is  you can make it however you want.


Rice Bowl with Fried Egg, Bacon & Avocado

Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 cups cooked, brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup micro-greens


  • Mix cooked rice, red wine vinegar and scallions in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, fry bacon slices to desired crispiness. Set on paper towel to drain.
  • Remove excess grease from pan then crack eggs into skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook until whites are set around the edges, about 1 minute.
  • While the eggs are frying, chop bacon and set aside.
  • Flip eggs and cook to desired doneness, about 30 seconds for a runny yolk.
  • Divide rice among bowls; top with micro-greens, egg, avocado, bacon.

Nutrition Facts per Serving:

CALORIES 303; FAT 15 g (mono 6g, sat 4g, poly 2, trans 0g); PROTEIN 14g; CARB 27g; FIBER 5g


Enchanted Candy Corn Cocktail ~ get in the Spirit of Halloween!

Halloween is a busy time with costume planning, spooking out your house and planning for not-s0-sugary snacks for the kiddos to bring to school. Somewhere along the way its easy to get a little stressed out, and so a little extra magic potion can go a long way in getting back into the “Spirits of Halloween”. Enjoy this fun and easy Enchanted Candy Corn cocktail for adults only, slightly adapted from One Martini at a Time !

Enchanted Candy Corn Cocktail ~ get in the Spirit of Halloween!

Serving Size: 4 1



  • Add chilled Candy Corn infused Vodka to a champagne flute
  • Top off flute with prosecco
  • Drop pieces of candy corn in cocktail and serve


Candy Corn Infused Vodka



candy corn infused vodka
Infused vodkas are easy to make, and serve as a great base for many mixed drink cocktails. This Candy Corn infused vodka is great for Halloween inspired drinks such as this Enchanted Candy Corn cocktail, the options are endless on what you can use it for. Just let the creative juices flow and mix as you wish!  Two of our favorite sites for mixed drinks are Boulder Locavore and One Martini at a Time. Both have recipes for candy corn infused vodkas, ours has taken inspiration from both.

Candy Corn Infused Vodka


  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 1 pint vodka


  • Add candy corn to a pint size mason jar
  • Fill jar with vodka
  • Seal mason jar and let sit until candy corn is dissolved, shaking every 30 minutes or so. Candy corn should be dissolved in 3 or 4 hours.
  • Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out any remaining bits and pieces to end up with a bright orange, clear candy corn infused vodka.



5 Things to do with an Abundance of Zucchini

Its September, which for gardeners ring the word Harvest in a big way. Speaking of big – yesterday we harvested 12 pounds of zucchini alone. Holy smokes! This raises the question “What do we do with this abundance of zucchini?!” Here are 5 great recipes to put this versatile vegetable to use. Zucchini bread and frittata freeze well, while pizza bites, salad and sticks are best enjoyed fresh.

Do you have a favorite Zucchini recipe? Post comments below to share with us!

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