Month: January 2010

Baby Shower Ideas: Elegant, Lavender, Shower for Baby Girl

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Here are some ideas for planning an elegant baby shower for a baby-girl-to-be (based on one my mom and I gave a few years back for my cousin).  It’s soft and pretty with lavender as the primary color and accented with white, green, and pink.

   The menu: chicken and grape salad (accented wtih an edible flower), tea sandwiches made with dyed bread, and multi-layered purple and lavender Jello slices (see below).


Favorite Quick and Easy (Premade )Dinners

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My husband and I like to cook, and most often our cooking involves the barbecue.  But sometimes we just want something quick and easy (such as on lazy rainy days like today).  Here are some of our favorite instant/premade meals.

 Chinese Chicken Salad

Okami Chinese Style Chicken Salad Kit (available at Costco) comes in a plastic bowl container and features two packages of each: grilled chicken; wonton strips; sliced almonds; crispy noodles; and sesame dressing.  You just add lettuce and mix it up.  You can get two meals out of it (the package says 14 servings total, broken into two servings of 7, but realistically, if you’re going to make a meal of it, it’s more like 8 total servings, or two servings of 4, which is still great especially considering that this kit costs under $15).


Okami Fully Cooked Sushi Delights (also at Costco) is a quick and easy way to satisfy your sushi cravings.  The package/tray contains 40 pieces of non-raw sushi (shrimp and various takes on the California roll), with Wasabi, soy sauce packets and some other sauce.  You might want to serve this with Okami Edamame (steamed and seasoned soybeans in the shell), which you can eat cold or heated up in the microwave.

 Pasta Meal

Bertolli frozen pasta meals (available in grocery stores’ freezer sections) are really good and authentic, just as their commercials claim.  They come in many varieties, although Bob and I especially like the shrimp scampi and linguini (served with roasted peppers and garlic sauce).  These are really easy to prepare: just toss the package contents in a pan on the stove, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  Sometimes we’ll embellish it with some steamed broccoli and/or additional shrimp.

 Thin Crust Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Thin Crust frozen pizzas (available at most groceries) are light and delicious.  The thin crust and the sauce/seasonings are outstanding.  Our favorites are the Garlic Chicken (featuring grilled chicken, roasted garlic, onion, Italian parsley, white wine and garlic-shallot butter sauce, mozzarella cheese), and the BBQ Chicken (white chicken, spicy-sweet barbecue sauce, red onions, smoked gouda, and mozzarella).  It also comes in Sicilian, with Italian sausage, ham, salami; Margherita, with ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil; and White, with four cheeses, spinach, and garlic.

 Shrimp Stir Fry

For a very light meal, try Eating Right Shrimp and Vegetables (again, in grocery stores’ frozen section).  The package contains shrimp, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, water chestnuts, red bell peppers and mushrooms and a packet of sweet soy sauce.  You just stir fry the shrimp and vegetables for 7-8 minutes, then add the sauce and cook for another minute.  This meal is fat free with 4 grams of fiber and 130 calories per serving.  The flavor is delightful.

 Chicken Fajitas

We also really like Eating Right Chicken Fajitas (also frozen), which feature white meat chicken, onions, bell peppers, and spicy seasonings.  You prepare this much the same as the stir fry above.  You can eat this on its own (which has only 130 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 14 grams of carbs per serving), or with tortillas (we really like Mission Carb Balance Whole Wheat Fajita Size tortillas), and sauce (such as La Victoria Green Taco Sauce, medium).

Prime Steakhouse in Ventura

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I’ve been meaning to give a nod to Prime Steakhouse in Ventura since eating there about a month ago with my husband and some friends.  What a fantastic restaurant.  We were all impressed by the ambiance, service, wine, and food. 

As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted by the very personable owner who showed us to our table.  We were soothed by the romantic and relaxing mood set by the dim lighting, charming arty décor, and talented jazz trio.  Our waiter was very friendly and helpful, and guided us in our food and wine selections.  We all ordered the special – a four course meal that included choices of appetizer, salad, entrée, and side dish.  I chose the grilled shrimp appetizer and my husband had the tuna tartare (ahi tuna with avocado and spicy Thai chili sauce).  Mine was good, but I recommend the tuna tartare.  I had the Steak House Wedge (iceberg lettuce, hickory bacon, tomato, red onion and blue cheese dressing); my husband had the Caesar Salad.  For my entrée I ordered the filet mignon, and my husband ordered the prime rib.  For our side dishes we both had the twice baked potato (other choices of side dishes include Smokey Six Cheese Mac & Cheese, fresh asparagus spears, creamed spinach, and more).  It was all outstanding.  The four of us also shared two bottles of red wine from an extensive wine list, and, even though I can’t recall what they were, they were wonderful.  The owner and wait staff is knowledgeable about the wines on the list.  We were too stuffed to order dessert, but I imagine it is great too.

I look forward to dining at Prime Steakhouse again in the near future, and highly recommend it as a top dining establishment in Ventura.  Visit

The Best Brussels Sprouts Ever (from Sunset Magazine)

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This recipe for Brussels sprouts is to die for!  I found it in the November 2009 edition of Sunset Magazine, and I’ve since made it four times (including on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve).  I altered it a little (left out the anchovies because I’m not a fan; I don’t add salt to the water when boiling the Brussels sprouts because the capers give it just the right saltiness; and I use more garlic than is called for because I love garlic).  I also let the sprouts cook longer in the pan so they get nice and crispy/browned.

Whether you like Brussels sprouts or not, you will love this dish!  Thank you Sunset Magazine.

Quick and Easy Appetizers

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Here are some quick, easy, and pretty appetizers just in time for New Year’s Eve.

Above: Celery filled with a mixture of cream cheese, minced garlic, chopped black olives, pine nuts, and black pepper (you can also add other ingredients such as chopped red and green bell peppers, onion, etc.); prosciutto-wrapped string cheese halves.

Above: Antipasto platter with rolled up salami, olives, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes.