Happy birthday freebies to you!

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Free cowboy cookie from Black Angus. (Sorry, we had blown out the candle by the time we rememberd to take a photo.) This was in addition to a free birthday dinner, available by signing up on the restaurant website. (Sorry, the dinner was already eaten, too.) Photo by Laura Groch

Who doesn’t like free stuff on your birthday? This family sure does. Let’s see — on or around my birthday recently, I got a free steak dinner from Black Angus, a free seafood meal from Rubio’s, a free chicken dinner from El Pollo Loco — are you starting to see a pattern here?

 

If you sign up for the birthday gig — sometimes it’s called “the birthday club” — at your Continue reading

App for dinner: Put antipasto into play

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Create an appetizing antipasto-for-dinner plate using goodies from the fridge, and “special” snacks from the pantry.

Sometimes you get tired of figuring out what’s for dinner. Sometimes  it’s just too dang hot to cook (or even think about cooking). Sometimes you aren’t up to preparing a meal, but don’t want to drag yourself out to a restaurant (or even to the phone to order in).

So — what’s for dinner? Time to put out an appetizing dinner of appetizers. More Continue reading

Berry simple, summery dessert (and gluten-free)

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

I recently brought this cool and easy fruit dessert to a warm-weather dinner party, where, I was happy to see, it was polished off, except for the “polite” spoonful left in the serving dish.

With berries and stone fruits in season now, this is a versatile option, especially if some of the guests, as in our group, must avoid gluten.

The dish started as a trifle — layers of liqueur-soaked pound cake, pudding, fruit — but I Continue reading

Instant karma, cooked to order

This is only a little bit food-related, but I wanted to share it. You tell me whether this is karma or not:

We recently marked a birthday weekend with lunch at a local restaurant. I thought it would be a nice tradition to share some birthday with another diner, so we decided to pick up someone’s check anonymously. We enlisted the help of our waitress and she brought us Continue reading

Save your green with easy-to-mix salad dressing

Inexpensive ingredients for a delicious salad dressing are already in your pantry. Photo by Laura Groch

Inexpensive ingredients for a delicious salad dressing are already in your pantry. All you need is a simple recipe like this one. Photo by Laura Groch

If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know I keep returning to certain themes: Thrift in the kitchen. Eating real food. Preparing food yourself so you know what’s in it.

So in this season of salads and cold dishes — and especially for the picnic-happy holiday that is July 4 — I wanted to bring you a recipe that hits all those notes.

It’s a simple recipe for an oil- and vinegar-based salad dressing (not the kind of white Continue reading

Clip it: Computer fix from the kitchen

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

Worried about someone peering at you through your computer’s built-in camera eye? Don’t mess with sticky tape-and-paper solutions. Just grab a chip clip from the kitchen drawer and pop it over the camera! Easy to remove and easy to remember — just clip it to something else you’re using (like your carry bag or sunglasses strap) to keep it nearby.

(c) copyright 2016 Laura Groch

Will you like lychees? You’ll have to find them first

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Lychees are a delicious fruit, hidden behind a nubbly reddish-brown shell. Photo by Laura Groch

If you’re a fan of the Honeymooners (and I hope you are), you might remember the phrase, “sweet and sour leechee nuts.”

That was the treat Ralph Kramden offered his long-suffering wife, Alice, as the finale of dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant, Hong Kong Gardens.
I thought “leechee nuts” were a figment of someone’s imagination until I ran into

Continue reading