Tag Archives: joan

most unbelievable week in review

23 Dec

boy, i’m a very loved person! 

what an incredible week i’ve had to say the least.  if it seems like i’m bragging a little bit, i am.  full force bragging. 

the week started on monday, like most weeks do, but this was not an ordinary monday.  first off, it was raining like the dickens.  not a gentle pour, mind you – the kind of rain where every last leaf fell off the trees and there was a river flowing down our street.  typically, my birthday week includes some sort of girls get together with friends and family from everywhere.  but i didn’t have that going on this year.  why?  maybe i’d grown out of organizing big parties for myself?  nah.  i knew ROF had a lot of tricks up his sleeves so i just didn’t do it.

have no fear – suzanne is here

thanks to suzanne, she put together a small get-together with friends megen, jamie, katie and the 5 of us dashed through the storm to jamie’s new house.  which is an unbelievably beautiful house – and oh so close to mine!  we had crock pot meatballs, cheese, crackers and vino galore.  got some good loot too – a great wine glass, book i’ve been eyeing and an awesome necklace that i had pinned on pinterest.  lucky girl!


and that was only monday

flash to wednesday and this was my first day off of work until jan 3rd.  what complete bliss.  but of course i worked, but it just doesn’t seem like work when you’re laying on your stomach on your bed peddling away on the laptop.  that night…ROF surprised me by taking me out for a pre-birthday dinner at the petroleum club in downtown dallas.  just so you know where this place is… it is on the 40th floor of the building with the big hole in it – chase tower.  this is a private club – you don’t even pay, dahling…you just sign for it.  it’s been around since 1934 primarily for oil men (cue the music from the dallas tv show)  ROF’s friend is a member and this was the second time we went there – the first being the night we got engaged.  here are some pics I snapped.

our table was snug right up against the window and the view amazing.  ROF started with a salad, me with my favorite – escargot !  then i had boston scrod in a lobster sauce and goat cheese polenta, side of lobster mac & cheese and mushrooms.  ROF had lamb and side of sauteed spinach and asparagus.  truly, we were spoiled!  and an excellent bottle of vino as well.  after that we went from high atop dallas to our favorite local dive – louie’s on henderson.  just for a nightcap cuz that’s how we roll.

thursday was the actual birthday of me and the festivities started while i was still in the pjs.  ROF gave me a beautiful new purse  and the new cartier perfume.  spoiled.  rotten.  and loving it.

and i got some fabulous cards (thank you prendevilles & karen!!)  and facebook messages (isn’t that fun?) but then ROF took us both to get deluxe manicures and pedicures at my fave salon down the street.  it was PACKED solid in there.  these little twerps, i mean, adorable kids kept saying:  “MOM WHAT IS A BOY DOING IN HERE?!” which made us giggle.  some people need to realize that not everyone thinks their kids are as cute as they think they are.  geez.  i did snap a pic of ROF with his hands all wrapped up in towels but thought i’d have to run for cover if i posted it.

then we headed over to henderson to go to the porch for lunch.  we love that place.  it is like someone opened up their house to a whole bunch of people for lunch.  we sat at the bar and had a lot of fun together.  we love to laugh and talk.  he’s the best.

then i took a nap.

but the real fun was just going to be underway.  mom and katie came over and we did our christmas with them since we wouldn’t see them on the 25th.  as a surprise, ROF ordered steak and all the fixings from a very awesome steak place in dayton, ohio.  it was a place mom & dad went to a lot in 1967 and 1968 before they had any kids.  imagine the look on mom’s face!  plus the steak was absolutely outstanding.  but wait…back up… first katie’s job was to bring an hor d’oerve.  and she made this from barefoot contessa.

this would be puff pastry with guyere cheese and pepper salami.  seems too heavy but it is not.  it was heavenly.  we had that with an apple martini to start the evening.

and we had steak, noodles with green onion, salad with pine club dressing.

and then as a special surprise to me…  german chocolate cake with amaretto frosting… best cake i’ve ever had….

lastly, was fooling around with a new app and took some pics of the house:

thanks for letting me brag on my most fabulous week this year!!  thank you ROF !  and mom, katie, suzanne, jamie – everyone.

Happy Holiday!!  XXOO

christmas lessons to learn

3 Dec

the holiday season while i was growing up

was always a lot of fun for my family.  we had many traditions and the sense of family was so strong that if i ever wanted to feel warm and fuzzy, i thought to this time of year.  it’s why 4Q (or 4th quarter) is my favorite time of year.

my family lived in several cities.  cincinnati, dayton, cleveland, troy, boston, grand blanc, brookfield, naperville and then southlake.  but in every  one, we had the same christmas decorations that followed us from place to place.  opening the boxes of stuff was like saying hello to an old friend and decorating the house was something that a busy mom with three young kids in a new house probably didn’t want to do but she did.

my lovely grandma always came during this time of year too.  i wish i could go back to the day she arrived and capture that excitement and anticipation even for a minute.  it was overwhelming!  i wish she was still around.  her hands were so soft and wrinkly and smelled like triple lanolin hand lotion.  she had a tuft of tissue peeking out from the bottom of the arm of her sweater.  grandma’s are so cool.  maybe i should go to the old age home and adopt one.  the great thing about my grandma was that she very much “told it how it was” but in a sweet way.   she had a very strong POV, which come to think of it – so do I and so does my mom.  thanks, gran!  having her around the house to talk to and have fun with was always a sign that christmas was near. 

one year,

my mom and grandma decided to wrap all our presents downstairs in the basement together.  i think they had some music set up, perhaps a little hit of chardonnay and a ton of gifts.  we were older – i was a freshman in high school and katie and jim in grade school.  my parents kind of went all out on christmas.  they were really generous.  we had a ton of presents to open typically.  so this wrapping job was intense and an all day affair.  well they didn’t get through it all in one day so they put one piece of scotch tape across the basement door at the top as a “safety” so they could tell if any snoopy kids went down there, and they left it for the night.  well, no one IS as snoopy (to this day) as my sister, katie.  however, i don’t remember her being a part of this escapade.  i knew that i was going to get some of the popular clothing for christmas- all the preppy stuff.  this is when preppy was really huge and i had my handbook and was following it.  izod, pappagallo handbags, topsiders, argyle, wide wale cords – you name it.  didn’t you read:

i truly thought it would help mom out if i were to try on some of the clothes before she wrapped them so that if they didn’t fit, she would have time to get the right size before christmas.  so that night, i peeled back the tape and slowly descended the basement stairs.  carefully i avoided the second to the last stair that had a creek to it when you landed on it.   and wouldn’t you know it – i was right!  clothes all over the place.  excitedly, i stepped in and out of pink, green outfits, tried on grosgrain hairbands and penny loafers.  however, the one benetton  sweater that i probably would have just used to throw around my shoulders was a bit too big.

i thought long and hard how to bring this up to my mom and gran.  i knew that i would be scolded for going in the basement but probably rewarded for finding out early that the sweater was too big and saving them time at the mall in that horrible post-christmas rush to return it.  so i approached it carefully.  both my mom and grandma had (and have) a way at looking at you – a bit sideways with upturned eyebrows – to let you know instantly that you made the wrong decision.  i got one – no two – of these looks.

needless to say, this did not go over well with gran and mom and come christmas day, there was no benetton sweater to be opened at all.  i learned my lesson but good.  it’s ok to look but not tell. 


pesto cheesecake, chili, pumpkin somethin’ & sal

22 Sep

let’s put the cart before the horse, and begin with not one…but three recipes…….

pesto cheesecake……the beginning

1 tablespoon butter-
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs-
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese,
16 oz. softened cream cheese,
1 cup ricotta cheese,
1 tablespoon salt,
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper,
3 eggs,
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce,
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. rub butter on bottom and sides of 9 inch spring-foam pan.  mix bread crumbs with 2  tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. coat pan with mixture.
2. blend cream cheese, ricotta, salt, cayenne and 1/2 cup parmesan in large bowl until light.  add eggs one at a time.  beat well.  set aside 1/2 of the mixture.
3. blend the other 1/2 with the prepared pesto sauce.  pour into the prepared spring-foam pan, smooth the top.  carefully spoon the plain mix over the top, smooth.  top with pine nuts.

bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  loosen sides, release spring, transfer to platter.  garnish with fresh basil sprig.  serve warm with crackers.  yield 16-18 servings.

chili….the middle

5 pounds ground beef,
3 teaspoons cumin,
1 large package frozen onions,
6 one pound cans of chopped tomatoes,
6 one pound cans of chili beans,
4 cans tomato soup,
3 tablespoons salt,
1 teaspoon pepper,
2 tablespoons chili powder (do not drain the liquid from the beans and tomatoes)

saute beef and onions. add seasonings.  add rest of ingredients. simmer 4 hours. do not add water.
serves 20-25

NOTE: the truth of how you do this is make it a few days ahead, open your spice drawer and keep adding spices. add lots more cumin, chili powder, and a ton of lawry’s salt and pepper.

pumpkin somethin……the end

1 cup milk,
3 eggs,
1 cup sugar,
1 teaspoon cinnamon,
1/4 teaspoon ginger,
1/8 teaspoon cloves,
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 large can of pumpkin,
1 package yellow cake mix,
3/4 cup nuts,
1 and 1/2 stick of margarine.

mix well the milk, eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin and salt.  pour in a 13 x 9 inch pan.  sprinkle dry cake mix over the top of mixture. drizzle melted margarine over top.  sprinkle nuts on top.  bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until browned.

my name….sally nilsen….i’m “the appreciator’s” aunt (joan is my sister)

the story…..how does a tradition begin?  i know exactly how this one began.  my husband and i  have lived in california for forty four years.  sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on both sides all lived in other states.  with no “blood” relatives nearby, our friends became very important, especially during the holidays.  we had spent our first five thanksgivings in california with two friends who were transferred to boston.  they vowed to always return for the thanksgiving celebration.  they kept their promise, and to kick off the weekend together, i decided to have a chili party….easy….could make it ahead, and enjoy our “company.”

about forty years ago we started with about 10 people.  now the group has swelled to 75 +.  i triple and half the chili recipe.  lots of oyster crackers, grated cheese, chopped onions and sliced jalapenos are available.

i throw together some large bags of marie callendar’s prepared corn bread mix (add water, bake, it’s done), buy about $100.00 worth of colonel saunders cole slaw, put it in my own glass bowl..nobody knows (expensive, i know, but easy and goes nicely with the chili) and enjoy my guests.  my husband tends the bar, people get their chili dinner whenever they want, some stay a long time, others drop by to have a quick dinner, and say hello.  if there are any leftovers we enjoy them the rest of the weekend, along with turkey sandwiches.

i really have to admit that this is my favorite party to give.

it opens up the holiday season and brings good friends together.  now the event has trickled into other generations.  if a grandparent is in town they come and our children’s friends come with their children. i hear people ask, “are you going to wednesday night before thanksgiving at the nilsens?”  and i sit back, relax, and think about how “the tradition” began.

oh….if you’re in long beach over thanksgiving….give us a call.

ain’t gonna bake

6 Aug

nope, ain’t gonna do it!

our house is 80+ years old and i believe the oven is just as old.  not really, but this thing heats up the house more than it does the food.  that matched with the fact that it is 180 degrees outside – who the hell-o wants to cook?

me. i kinda want to.

it’s the weekend and i want to make something that gets me some “yums”you pickin’ up what i’m putting down?  so i went looking for something i can make today that wouldn’t heat up the whole house.  let’s check them out together, shall we?  tell me what you’re going to make and i’ll tell you what i’m gonna make.  take your pick:

i stumbled upon these a while ago and can’t get them out of my mind. these look so darn good.  thanks to blue-eyed bakers for the salt river bars and to two tiny kitchens for these peanut butter, pretzel mash-up of goodness bites

do you notice how i start with dessert?  just like a kid.  ok, so let’s move on to the ultimate summer food… chicken salad. you do have to poach the chicken which involves boiling water and that may be too hot right now, but heck, go buy some already cooked chicken – big whip – it’s not like you’re beneath that.  Back to the recipe it’s here.  check out those reviews.   makes me want to run out and make it for breakfast.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: