by Marianne on 04/16/2014

in Eat, Home


I still have a ridiculous amount of Meyer Lemons on my tree out back.  This is just one of several attempts at using up a bunch before they go bad.

I found a recipe for Limoncello from Giada, and she doesn’t call for the traditional 40 or so days of steeping, so I went with that.  Her recipe calls for just 4-5 days of sitting, and then a few hours of chilling.  So what if it’s not old-school authentic?  It’s good!

First off, you need to gather a shit-ton of lemons.

Meyer Lemons

Actually, you just need 10 good-sized lemons.  They don’t necessarily have to be head-sized, like mine are.   I’m using Meyer Lemons from my tree, and they are HUGE!  They have a ton of juice too, which isn’t needed for this recipe, but you should definitely save the juice.

Only the peels are used in this recipe.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove, and then scrape the pith off with a spoon (because it’s bitter).


Those peels are going to steep in an entire bottle of Everclear for 4 (or more) days. Giada actually uses Vodka, so take your pick. Put it in an airtight container, and tuck it away in the pantry.   I ended up leaving mine for about 10 days, just because that’s when I got back around to it.

Next, you’ll make a kind of simple syrup, by heating up 2 1/2 cups of sugar into 3 1/2 cups of water for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let this mixture cool to room temperature, and then combine it with the peels and liquor.


Cover that with plastic wrap or a lid, and then let it hang out overnight. Finally, strain out the peels using a mesh strainer, pour into bottles (this will fill two 750ml bottles) and chill for at least a couple of hours.  Keep it in the freezer if you can.. and serve it very chill-y!



I’m already busy dreaming up some recipes to use with some of this, unless I drink it all first.

Recipe type: drink / liqueur

Adapted from Giada’s recipe at
  • 10 large Lemons (I used Meyer Lemons)
  • 1 bottle (750ml) Everclear
  • 3½ Cups Water
  • 2½ Cups Sugar

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels from the lemons.
  2. Scrape down the peels with a spoon to remove as much pith as you can (it’s bitter).
  3. Place the peels in a container, and pour in the Everclear.
  4. Seal the container, and let the peels steep in the liquor for 4 or more days (in a pantry or cool, dark place.)
  5. Then, make a syrup by heating 3 /12 cups water and 2½ cups of sugar in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Let this mixture cool to room temperature, then combine with the peels and liquor.
  7. Cover this mixture, and let sit overnight at room temperature.
  8. Strain the mixture through a wire mesh strainer and discard the peels. Pour into bottles, and chill for several hours.
  9. This will fill 2 750ml bottles.





A pup named Novella

by Marianne on 03/15/2014

in Dogs, Home


Meet my foster pup, Novella. Isn’t she a cutie?

Novella is looking for a new family that will love her like crazy, with the help of the wonderful people at Red Collar Rescue.  And she’s crashing at my house in the meantime.

You see, Novella’s story hasn’t always been happy, and unfortunately, far too many other animals have similar stories.  Novella was tied up outside, ignored, and not fed.  She was finally taken from her bad owner as part of an animal cruelty investigation. That’s where Red Collar Rescue stepped in.

The picture below is from Red Collar Rescue’s Facebook page (Facebook\REDCollarRescue).  The one on the left just breaks my heart, especially after getting to know this sweet girl.

(photo: BH Studios)

Since being saved from horrible conditions, Novella had been staying in boarding.  While this was a much better situation for her…a safe place to sleep, food, water, and people to show her love… it’s still not ideal.  This is where a foster family can help. It feels so good to be able to share my space with her.

Novella is such a funny little girl – sweet and spunky – my favorite qualities! It did not take her long (mere hours) to figure out that the kitchen is the place to be.  It’s a place where amazing things happen! Her first day here, I kept finding her in there… just waiting at the cookie place. Smart girl!


She gets along well with my 2 fur-babies, Maggie and Molly, but they don’t really like to  play much.  So, she made fast friends with Rusty (a Red Collar alum) when he came to visit! She and Rusty had tons of fun running around the yard.  Novella is super-fast, and extra pouncy!

Novella and Rusty

I love just watching her play.

Novella Playing

In just a few days, she has mastered napping in the yard:


and sitting for cookies:


She’s also pretty good at taking walks, and is really getting the hang of going potty only outside.

I have a feeling someone wonderful will fall in love with her and scoop her up pretty soon, and I’ll probably cry a little.   But until then, I’m enjoying her kisses and snuggles, petting her velvety-soft fur, getting lost in her big brown eyes, and laughing at her silly antics.


Stay tuned for more!

In the meantime, visit the Red Collar Rescue Facebook page for updates on their pups, and more:

Also, check out Ema’s blog (another Red Collar foster Mom) for more stories!


Herbalicious Steak Bowls

by Marianne on 02/14/2014

in Eat, Home

SteakBowl I have been on a complete steak bender for the past few weeks.  I think it must have something do to with the extra long runs on the weekends.  Nine, ten, eleven miles.. and now twelve miles tomorrow!  Not that I’m sailing through all these miles with ease and grace, but I’m getting through them.  And I’m ravenous.

The reason for the extra miles is the Disney Princess Half Marathon, coming up in 9 days!!!  I’m not nearly as ready for it as I’d hoped, but I’ll cross the finish line.  Maybe not at a time my 7-years-younger self would approve of, but I’ll cross, nevertheless.  Hopefully, I’ll cross with Jenn, or at least that is the plan.   She may very well run some circles around me, and then move on ahead.   Based on recent experience,  chances are I’ll be freaking C-r-a-n-k-y starting around mile 9 or 10.  Yep, pretty sure I will be wearing my Cranky-pants,  even at the Happiest Place On Earth.  But, after I drag my cranky ass across that finish line, reset with a shower and maybe a tiny nap… I’m going to continue enjoying the heck out of my first ever trip to Disney World!  I’m sure I’ll have some funny stories to narrate for you after that,  but until then, I bring you steak!


And because it’s been too damn cold to go outside and start that grill up, I’ve been working on trying to perfect my “indoor steak”.  And ok, I do feel really guilty complaining about the cold when the lows here are 30 to 40 degrees above the highs in half of the country, but my cold-wimpiness is well-documented, so please just roll your eyes and look the other way! Indulge me.

After a few fails (I did not take pictures of those) and some googling, what I’ve determined works best for me is a room temp steak and a super-hot cast iron pan. I also have the oven on to 375 just in case I need to finish it in there. Get the pan super hot.. turn on a flame under that bad boy for 10 or more minutes (no oil yet!) while you get everything else going… then maybe a bit of oil just before you set the steak in (something with a high smoke-point, like grapeseed or coconut oil. Do not use olive oil.. you want something that doesn’t burn easy.)  About 3-4 minutes on each side, until there is a nice char.  If it’s still a bit rare, then you can throw it in the oven for a few more minutes.   The thing I need to remember is to take it out right before I think it’s done. Otherwise, it’s over-done.

The best part of this though, is the herb-y green sauce.   I got this from watching Jamie Oliver the other day while I was waiting on my car to be inspected.  He was making this beautiful blackened chicken salad, with quinoa and this yummy-sounding herb sauce (only he says “Herb”, like some guy’s name.. I just love that!).  So, I stole his Herb sauce, or at least what I remembered, kept the quinoa, but swapped in steak and some different veggies… red & yellow peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, avocado.  Whatever you have and whatever sounds good.  That’s the beauty of bowls.

GreenHerbSauce The yummy “Herb” sauce is a handful each of spinach, cilantro and parsley, with some green onion, garlic, lemon juice & zest and a spicy red pepper.. salt, olive oil. Whiz it up in a food processor.  Very yummy.  And very Herby.

SteakBowl MMM.. Meat.

Ahem… now, if you’ll excuse me… I have a tutu to make.

Herbalicious Steak Bowls
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 2-4

  • 2 steaks (ex: Strip Steaks)
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to season
  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 1¾ Cup Water
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 8-12 stalks Asparagus
  • 1 Red or Orange Pepper (or 5-6 mini peppers)
  • 1 Cup Cherry Peppers, sliced in half
  • 1 Avocado, cubed
  • ½ Cup Feta, crumbled
Herb Sauce
  • 1 handful Parsely
  • 1 handful Cilantro
  • 1 handful Spinach leaves
  • 3 Green Onions
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • Juice and zest of 1 Lemon

  1. Set steaks out for 30 min to an hour to bring to room temperature. Season with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder, or your favorite steak seasoning.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees/
  3. Bring the 1¾ cup water to boil, then add ⅛ tsp salt and the quinoa (rinse first if not pre-rinsed). Simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.
  4. To make green sauce, place parsley, cilantro, garlic, pepper, green onion, salt, olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice in food processor, and pulse until a rough/ chunky paste.
  5. Toss sliced peppers and asparagus in some olive oil or cooking spray, and place in oven for about 10 minutes to soften.
  6. Start heating up a cast iron skillet on the stove.
  7. Add a drizzle of high-heat oil (coconut, grapeseed) to the skillet, then add the seasoned steaks. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip, and cook another 3 minutes.
  8. If steaks are too rare, place in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes. Remove the steaks and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.
  9. In bowl, combine quinoa, vegetables, feta, steak and green sauce.


Candied Citrus Peels

by Marianne on 01/21/2014

in Eat, Home


For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been trying to eat my way through the bounty of fruit that I picked off my citrus trees in preparation for the “polar vortex” that had the rest of the country covered in ice and snow.  Here, we just had 2 nights where it briefly dipped below freezing.  Still, being new to this gardening stuff, I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen to my citrus trees.  The trees are too big to cover, and of course, I waited until 5:00 pm the day before the first freeze to start worrying about it, so I just picked a couple of bags of oranges, Satsumas, Meyer Lemons and grapefruit and hoped for the best.  The trees did fine, but there is still a ton of fruit on them that I need to start picking and sharing.


I thought I’d make some candied orange peels, and then also made some candied grapefruit peel.  Personally, I like the grapefruit better, but they both were really tasty.  Just the right little bite at after dinner.

To get the peel off, first cut the top and bottom off of the fruit, and score the peel into four sections.  Then just peel the pieces back, and slice into strips. Use the rest of the orange (or grapefruit) however you want.

OrangesInColander.   OrangePeelsSimmer

You’ll want to boil the peel 3 times to remove the bitterness of the pith.  Bring water to boil in a saucepan, and then place the peels in and boil for 1 minute.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and repeat 2 more times.

Then you will simmer the peels in a sugar and water mixture for about 30 minutes.  The peels will start to turn translucent.  I added some slices of ginger root also and candied those at the same time.

CandiedOrangePeel7    CandiedOrangePeel2

Next, they need to cool on a sheet of parchment paper for about an hour, and then roll them in sugar, and let them sit out for a couple more hours.


You can use them just like that in recipes – cookies, breads, cheescakes, chocolate tarts — or dip them in a nice chocolate for enjoying whenever you feel like being a little fancy.


I felt like being fancy.

Next up… what to do with about 400 Meyer Lemons?

Candied Citrus Peels
Recipe type: Candy

  • 3 large Oranges or Grapefruit
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2/12 C + ½ cup Sugar
  • 4-5 slices Ginger Root (peeled)
  • 1 bag Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips

  1. Cut the bottom and top off of the fruit to just slightly below the peel. Score from top to bottom through the peel into quarters. With your fingers, peel back the pieces of peel to remove.
  2. Slice the peel in narrow strips.
  3. Bring about 2-3 cups of water to boil in a saucepan, and place the peels in. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Drain the peels and rinse in cold water.
  4. Bring water to boil again, and repeat boiling the peels for 1 minute, then draining and rinsing. Repeat once again for a total of 3 boils.
  5. Bring 2 Cups of water and 2½ Cups sugar in saucespan, and heat over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
  6. Add the peels, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until peels start to look translucent.
  7. Remove the peels using tongs, and place on a sheet of parchment paper to cool for an hour or more.
  8. Roll the cooled peels into the ½ cup sugar, and place on parchment paper for a couple of hours.
  9. If desired, dip into melted chocolate. Melt 1 bag of chocolate chips (keep one handful of chips to the side) in a microwave by cooking for 30 seconds at a time and stirring after each, for a total 3 times 30 seconds. Stir in the reserved chips until melted. Pour into a small narrow cup for easier dipping.
  10. After chocolate has set, store in a sealed container, and refrigerate if keeping longer than 2 or 3 days.



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The Story of Blue Puppy

by Marianne on 12/25/2013

in Create, Dogs, Home


This is the story of a puppy named Blue.  Blue is Jessica’s very lucky puppy who just celebrated his 1 year birthday on December 21st.  I finished his portrait just in time.

BabyBlueWe don’t know how the tiny spotted puppy ended up at the city animal shelter, but most likely through a series of very unfortunate events.  But he had the good fortune to be at an adoption event at the Galleria at the very same time that my Jessica was there shopping for a business shirt.

Jessica has always had a soft spot for puppies in need of a home.  When she was little, we would sometimes go out to Traders Village, and it was always the same… Jessica would insist we go see the puppies first, and so we’d spend an hour looking at and holding all of the puppies.  Then, every time, she’d throw a huge tantrum when we made her leave without one.


This time, there was no tantrum.  I’m not sure if she even she got the shirt she was after, but one little spotted puppy found his forever home.

A few days later, the puppy got sick.  Really sick.  They said it was Parvo.  The poor little puppy spent a few nights in and out of the vet, and one stay at the emergency after-hours clinic. He’d get better, then get worse.  It was pretty tough going.  But finally it seemed like he turned a corner and started feeling better.


He got over the Parvo, but then he got sick again less than a week later.  This time, they said it was Distemper.  According to online research, the outlook didn’t look good at all.  Most sites said the same thing… there isn’t really a cure, just supportive care… so more of the same, expensive treatment he’d just been through, but with even gloomier odds.

BluePuppySick       Rust&Blue2

Then we found some articles about a (somewhat controversial) treatment using a serum, called Newcastle or NDV, that only a few veterinarians in the country are doing.  More about that here.  We found a vet, actually right in our neighborhood, who was doing this treatment.  We went to see Dr. Huddleston, at Westheimer Animal Clinic in Bellaire, and he administered the first dosage via injection, and sent us home with the rest.  Blue puppy started feeling better by the next day!  Well enough even to play-fight a little with Rusty.

Rusty&Blue3         BLuePuppyFight

Once he started feeling better, he started eating more… and growing… (apparently ears first!!)

BluePuppyBig  BluePuppyWalk

… and growing!

BluePuppyInCar  BluePuppyBig2

Now he’s 68 pounds of big, goofy dog.  He’s sometimes very serious:

BluePuppyCar        BlueSerious

and sometimes a little silly:

BluePuppyCar2  BluePuppyHalloween

And he’s all the time just happy to be alive!  Happy Birthday, Blue Puppy, you lucky dog!  BluePuppyPainting1

(In case you’re wondering, Blue Puppy is a Catahoula breed, at least mostly.  Catahoulas were bred as working/herding dogs in Louisiana.  Their big, webbed paws help them to navigate the swampy areas.)


Baklava Cheesecake

December 22, 2013

Well, another Fraser family Christmas has come and gone.  As per our tradition, we do our family thing early because it’s just easier to get everyone together. This year I hosted, and all 5 of the Fraser kids were together again.  It would appear that we haven’t changed a bit in the past 35 years: [...]

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An airport story

November 24, 2013

    I stepped out into the concourse at Chicago Midway Friday night for a layover on the way home, exhausted from the long week, and my mood immediately darkened.  It was one of those bull-pen type areas, where gates 20 through 900 are all packed into a 20 square foot nook at the end [...]

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Stop Killing Coleslaw!

November 10, 2013

I’m talking to you, every grocery store in the country.   There are 2 things in every grocery store deli that just set me off: 1)  Coleslaw in a bucket, that looks like anemic grass flakes floating in mayonnaise soup 2)  Potato Salad in a bucket, that looks like unnaturally square chunks of potato swimming in [...]

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(Oh my Damn!) Habanero Sauce

November 9, 2013

Hey there, spicy food fans!  Ready for your next addiction? Enter my newest creation.  For lack of a better name, I’m calling it (Oh My Damn!) Habanero Sauce.  It’s food’s new best friend. I’m already hopelessly addicted to this Hot Pepper Mix that my family lovingly calls Pepper Crack. So, if that garlicky, vinegary Serrano [...]

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Orzo and Chicken Sausage Stuffed Peppers

October 10, 2013

I have this unwritten, but strictly followed rule, that whenever I see red bell peppers on sale for a buck each, I must buy them. I adore them, but when they start going for as much as $3.99 each, I just keep on walking.  Last week I found not only red peppers for $1 each, [...]

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