Peanutty Dumpling Salad

So, I made this Peanutty Dumpling Salad months ago and I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s the perfect Springtime dish and, while I love dumplings in all forms, you have to eat a lot to fill you up. This dish, combines salad and veggies with the dumplings, making it seem like a pretty healthy choice for lunch.

I used Trader Joe’s Shrimp Goyza and for this dish and steamed them. I also used Trader Joe’s frozen edamame and, to make it even easier to whip together, I used Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Vinagrette. Pea tendrils and chopped cilantro would be welcome additions to this yummy salad.

This recipe serves 4, so I cut it down accordingly since my husband isn’t a big salad eater. I also added some chopped cabbage to it, for more crunch, as well as some black sesame seeds and chopped Thai Basil. The Trader Joe’s Shrimp Gyoza are 180 calories for three. I put five on my salad.

Peanutty Dumpling Salad

Recipe by Real Simple MagazineCourse: Garden, Healthy, RecipeCuisine: AsianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 14 oz. frozen dumplings

  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

  • 2 tsp granulated sugar, divided

  • 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

  • 3 scallions

  • 1 5-oz package mixed salad greens

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick slices

  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed

  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

  • Toasted sesame seeds for serving (optional)


  • Cook dumpling according to package directions, preferably pan-frying.
  • Whisk oil, soy sauce, vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour half into a separate small bowl. Add peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons cold water, and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar to first bowl of oil mixture, stirring to combine.
  • Chop scallions, reserving 1/4 cup of green part for serving. Place salad greens, carrots, edamame and remaining scallions in a large bowl. Add oil mixture and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or plates.
  • Top salad with dumplings, chopped peanuts and sesame seeds; garnish with reserved scallion greens. Serve with peanut butter mixture for drizzling.


  • If you use Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette, skip step 2 and just drizzle over assembled salad.

Up Next: My Last State!

Sparkling Oaks Lily Cocktail

So I was in line at The Kentucky Derby to get a pink drink I’d seen going by called the Lily, as I was sick of the Mint Juleps. Sacrilegious at Churchill Downs, I know! A gentleman in line gave me a hot tip on a horse- #8. I left the long line for drinks for a shorter line to bet and bet $10 on Mage- the winning, long-shot horse. Yipee!

That part was good, but I never got my Oaks Lily cocktail, so I looked up the recipe and made it for myself for Mother’s Day. It’s pretty much a Cosmo, but served in a stemless wine glass and garnished with blackberries and a lemon wheel. I had pickled cranberries (which is more in keeping with the drink) but I realize most people don’t have these around. Regular cranberries would be too bitter and, of course, you could just skip the garnish. I also added Rose Prosecco, to make it a sparking drink.

Here’s the recipe, followed by a short video of me making the drink, shot by my daughter A.J. I’m wearing my Kentucky Derby baseball cap and Britto T-shirt. Please forgive my annoying voice and chubby cheeks. Like Popeye- “I y’am what I y’am!”

Sparkling Oaks Lily Cocktail

Course: CocktailDifficulty: Easy






  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka

  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

  • Ice

  • Garnish: Lemon wheel, 2 blackberries (optional)

  • Sparkling Rose Prosecco


  • Fill stemless wine glass with ice.
  • Add all ingredients and stir together.
  • If desired, top with Rose Prosecco.
  • Garnish with lemon wheel and skewered blackberries.

Recipe Video


  • Please don’t buy simple syrup! It’s so easy to make. Put qual parts water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. That’s it. Keeps in the fridge for a while.

A Cosmo by any other name would taste as sweet!

Up Next: Peanutty Dumpling Salad

Bucket List Trip

So, freshly back from a trip of a lifetime to the Kentucky Derby!

I didn’t want to mention it before, lest I jinx it. It all started at Elise’s Birthday Dinner at Kelley’s where someone mentioned the Kentucky Derby and my Mom said it was on her Bucket List and we all agreed. Kelley said she had a client in Louisville that she would e-mail to see if he could help her get tickets. Fingers crossed.

Here's where it all started.

Kelley’s client said he would find a way to make this trip happen for my eighty-something year old Mom (it was a Mother’s Day present to her), so we were hopeful, but after that email, dead silence for a while. Unbeknownst to us, the person in charge of getting the tickets had two friends killed in a bank shooting in Louisville, so he was obviously otherwise occupied. Still, he assured us it would happen, so Elise and I booked flights (Spirit) and hotel rooms at a Days Inn by the airport. The best Elise could say about the hotel was: “The reviews aren’t too bad.”

I’d wanted to stay at the Brown Hotel, where the Hot Brown Sandwich and Derby Pie were invented, but obviously, it was all booked up. It’s a beautiful, historic hotel in Downtown Louisville where Zeke and I had stayed during Covid and it was reasonably priced, at the time. But a month before the event, it was slim pickin’s. Some people had been planning their trip to the Kentucky Derby for years, as it’s on the Top Ten Sports Bucket List Trips.

As the week before the Derby approached, we still didn’t have our tickets, but we all had our hats and outfits picked out. My Mom shipped our hats to the hotel and I began to pack. Finally on Thursday, the day before we left, our tickets arrived, via text, for seats in the Clubhouse. My Mom had thought we’d be in the cheap seats in the infield, but now she said “We’ll be with the rich and famous.”

Our flight was early out of Fort Lauderdale on Spirit. Elise’s friend, who only flies First Class said: “I’ll pray for you” when she found out we were on Spirit. LOL. Our flight was delayed, but we eventually arrived in Louisville and the airport was bustling. A large fleet of private planes lined the runway at Mohammed Ali International Airport and ladies in dresses and hats handed out Bourbon Balls as a Bluegrass Band played. There was even a place to take your photo in front of a race horse statue and scads of red roses, in vases, lined the airport halls.

Dinner that night was at The Eagle, a fun and funky place that specialized in Fried Chicken. The Kentucky Oaks, the horse race with fillies, was that day and there were a lot of people still dressed in their outfits and hats dining at the restaurant. We all got lemonade, the Fried Chicken and Salads (it’s all about balance); it was all delicious. My favorite part was the Biscuits we ordered as an appetizer, that came with butter and delicious Blackberry Jam.

The restaurant was located in The Highlands, a fancy part of Louisville where they held a big party that night called Unbridled Eve. Our Uber driver asked us if we were going to the Derby and gave us some tips. His number one tip was to wear comfortable shoes. When we returned to our hotel rooms, we studied the racing sheets to pick our horses. Kelley tried on her 4-inch heels and walked around in them. “They’re not too bad,” she said. Not too bad walking a couple steps in the hotel room is different than the hike we eventually had to travel to make it to our seats.

I woke up on Derby Day to find out my Mom’s pick- Forte– had scratched from the race, due to an injury. This changed all the odds. A lot of horses, unfortunately, had died in the run up to the race and one trainer had been banned from participating in this year’s Derby, leading to lots of last minute entries. I was unsure of which horse to pick, but was strictly going by the names I liked- Two Phils, Hit Show & Reincarnate. I also recently finished a book (Hollywood Park) that said “Favorites never win,” so I had no desire to pick the favorite.

We Ubered to the area where you walk to Churchill Downs and then there was a LONG walk, over a bridge and through preaching evangelists with megaphones, to get to the entrance. Kelley was starting to crumble with her shoes and lost a bottom to one of them. We finally arrived around noon, had someone take our photo while we were semi-fresh and proceeded on to the Clubhouse entry. In a happy coincidence, Herbert Britto was the artist for the 149th Kentucky Derby. Anyone from Miami is familiar with Britto and his colorful, happy designs.

As I walked in, there was a gentleman handing out freshly made Mint Juleps with chipped ice and mint sprigs.

“Are these free?” I asked.

“Yes m’aam,” he said. “Everything inside is free.”

Wowsa! What can I say? I tipped him and entered the hallowed ground of Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Derby lived up to the hype. The fashion! The hats! The history! The excitement! The happiness of everyone gathered there. The collective energy. It was the best people-watching I’ve every experienced in my life, without a doubt. The outfits and hats- on girls and guys- were amazing, one better than the other. I could’ve gone around all day, just gazing at the spectacle, but some of us were anxious to get to our seats.

Our seats in the Clubhouse were great- right near the finish line (kind of like being on the 50-yard line for a football game). Kelley and my Mom, feet hurting, were happy staying where they were. Elise and I went to get lunch. We all wanted hotdogs, so we waited in line and got them.

The food in the Clubhouse, while free, was like what you’d get at a football game- hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, nachos, chicken fingers, B-B-Q pork sandwiches and the like. I tried to see if there was a favorite item going by, but there really wasn’t; it was like the predictions for the winning horses- all over the place. There was also popcorn that looked good that I never located. The hot dogs were your basic boiled hot dogs, but they hit the spot. We also got an order of chicken fingers and waffle fries later in the day that were pretty good.

Elise wanted to go see the horses in the Paddock, so I went with her, but as she made her way in, I told her it seemed everyone going in had a pass. As she waited to watch the horses from outside the paddock, I went to the gift shop. I returned with my purchases and a gentleman came out and said “It’s your lucky day” and handed out passes to get into the paddock. I gave mine to Elise, as she’d been waiting and is crazy about horses. She got to see the horses parade by a couple times, then they walked by with their light-as-a-feather jockeys atop them. She even got to go out on the field to watch the race. She waved to us from the field. She was in heaven!

Meanwhile, Mom and Kelley were busy betting, as there are races throughout the day. My Mom, whose Dad was a horse trainer and grew up on race tracks, taught Kelley how to bet. I made three bets on three different horses in the Derby to win and got myself dessert- a strawberry, banana, brownie skewer covered in chocolate. As I waited to get a drink (I wanted a Lily) an older guy in front of me said “Nice hat”, which I think must be the biggest pick-up line at the Derby. He asked me who I liked for the race. I told him I really didn’t know and he said “Bet on number 8. That’s a good horse.”

Which was how I ended up ditching the drink line and waiting in line to bet $10 on #8, Mage. Kelley had surrendered to the inevitable and bought flip flops at the gift shop. When she returned, my Mom quietly said that she needed some too, so Elise went to get two pairs of flip flops. Her smalls were too big, so when she went to return them, I asked her to get me some too. Which is how we all ended up wearing flip flops at the Kentucky Derby.

As the final race approached- “the most exciting two minutes in sports”- more and more people filtered into the Clubhouse and the excitement and energy was papable. Cutie Patrick Mahomes called for “Riders Up!”, Navy men in white uniforms ushered out the garland of roses for the winning horse and the University of Louisville Marching Band played “My Old Kentucky Home”.

“And they’re off!” We cheered & screamed like crazy while watching the magnificent creatures with jockeys in colorful silks speed by the track in front of us and then… it was over. Two minutes goes by fast when you’re having fun.

Mage ended up winning, with Two Phils second and Angel of Empire (Elise’s pick) coming in third. Tapit Trice– my Mom’s pick and one of the favorites, finished second from the bottom. I went to cash in my ticket, thinking I’d won about $30 and I could hardly believe it when I saw $157 ring up on the register! The man paying out at my window was blase about my winnings, understandably, as I watched a guy next to me collect a large stack of $100 bills. But, I was happy and my Mom was thrilled that someone in our tiny group of betters actually won, and on a long-shot. So thanks to the guy in line who gave me the tip.

Getting home from the Derby wasn’t easy, with 170,000 people exiting at the same time and there was a torrential downpour we narrowly avoided, but, eventually, we made it back to our hotel room. The airport the next day was nuts (it’s the busiest day of the year for that airport) and even more so, as there had been rainstorms that morning delaying all the flights. Tired and worn out, we finally made it back to Miami, with memories of the 149th Kentucky Derby that will last a lifetime.

If I ever were to return to the Kentucky Derby (and it’s still on Zeke’s Bucket List) my tips would be:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, like flip flops and carry your fancy shoes for once you enter the stands.
  • Get a driver to transport you to and from the Kentucky Derby.
  • Hit the concession and betting lines early, as they get very crowded as the day goes on.
  • If you’re drinking Mint Juleps (or anything alcoholic) pace yourself. The gates open at 10 a.m., but the Derby’s not until almost 7. We saw an over-served Derby-goer wipe out and get whisked away by the Louisville police.
  • Have fun! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime Bucket List trip.
  • Consider booking your flight home for Monday and visiting the Derby Museum (which is closed Friday and Saturday for the Oaks and the Derby). You will avoid the most crowded day of the year at the airport and all the dated merchandise is 50% off at the Museum store.
  • And maybe, just maybe, take a tip on a horse from a stranger in line for a drink. Ya never know!

Up Next: The Derby Lily

Ketchup, I hardly Knew Ya

I often comment in this blog about Mercury Retrograde, a time when the planets align to set communications into flux- disrupting computers, messages, phone calls- etc… but never has it actually linked to a food-related story. That has all changed, as Wendy’s now has a Mercury Retrograde menu!

Mercury Retrograde is from April 21st to May 14th and at this time Wendy’s is offering a special menu, where you can get free food items and BOGO’s. There are a couple catches. You need the Wendy’s app to order from and a purchase is required in order to get the free deals. I don’t eat Fast Food often, but when I do, it’s usually Wendy’s (hello Florida Turnpike!). I like their burgers, salads and Frosties. And what other Fast Food place offers a Baked Potato (which is sometimes the perfect lunch) and Chili? I also recently tried (and liked) their Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

I read an article that talked about foods that incorporate four or five of the tastes- sweet, salty, sour bitter and umami. Ketchup is, surprisingly, one of these foods! Ketchup is a good base for certain sauces- such as cocktail and Bar-B-Que but I’ve also seen it used in dishes you wouldn’t expect, like Pad Thai. Who knew ketchup was so sophisticated? Other foods listed were Thai Red Curry, Worcestershire Sauce (it gets its flavor from fermented anchovies) and Tamarind.

I was prepared for a normal week when Tuesday, I woke up with a sore throat; the rest of the week, I was felled by the flu. I survived on Hot Tea and Chicken Noodle Soup from CasaCuba. Nurse Emma suggested I test for Covid, which I did. Negative, but I did feel awful all week. Headache, pressure, sore throat, dripping and a horrible cough.

I have to blame my youngest grandson Phoenix for this, as I slept with him last Thursday and Friday night while his parents were away in St. Augustine and he coughed in my face all night. He’s too big for a crib, but too small for a normal bed so he clung to me all night, like a little rhesus monkey.

Lauren arrived Friday. She’d booked the flight for a wedding that got postponed and we also got a last-minute visit from Christopher, Courtney, Liam and their dog Maggie. Lauren stayed with Emma at her new house, but Chris and Courtney were here and I got to spend some good, quality time with my middle grandson Liam, who is a very happy toddler. He loves the pool, Paw Patrol and trucks. I just wish I had felt better but good news!- Chris and Courtney have another baby on the way, due the end of October. This Gigi is thrilled!

Christopher had never tried our homemade Pizzas on our Ooni, so we made some different ones Friday night, with Publix crust from the Bakery. For Courtney, a veggie, with sauce, mushrooms, peppers, onions, jalapenos and fresh mozzarella. Lauren choose a Pesto pizza with mushrooms and cheese (shredded mozzarella and Parm) and Christopher choose Pepperoni, which he insisted on dousing (1/2) with anchovies. I made a big salad to go with it, but honestly I couldn’t really taste much, due to my cold.

Cooking Pepperoni Pizza with Anchovies on the Ooni. My voice sounds awful!

Saturday night we were home alone, so we made a Hello Fresh Emma had donated to our Empty Nest cause. It was Pork Chops with BBQ seasoning, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans with Lemon Zest. It was really good and I like how easy Hello Fresh makes it to whip up a healthy dinner. I also like that you get the exact amount of food you need, so there’s no waste. The pork chops had Hot Honey drizzled on top, which is definitely trending.

Sunday, since it was a rainy-ish day, I decided to make my grandmother’s Pasta Sauce and let it simmer on the stove a couple hours. Even with my cold, I appreciated the aroma, which always reminds me of my childhood. The secret to my grandmother’s Pasta Sauce is the Salt Pork and, indeed, she always said you need some type of pork in the sauce to add flavor. I usually use a combination of sweet and hot Italian sausage, but this time, I only had hot. It was a brand I’d never used before and it was really spicy! In fact, it turned my sauce spicy, something that had never happened to me before. But it was still good.

I also made Eggplant Parmesan (a labor of love!), Meatballs with pork and beef, Sauteed Peas and a big Salad. Christopher made Garlic Bread from roasted garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese, which was delicious. Zeke made Foccaccia on the Ooni, with tomato Bruschetta and I had some pickled eggplant, caponata and pepperoncini for appetizers. Dessert was Chocolate Chip Cookies and Ice Cream. My Mom, Bob, Emma, Lauren and Gui joined us for dinner.

Chris and Courtney left Monday. I’m finally feeling better, but still have been subject to erratic coughing fits. If you want to clear a room quickly these days, just start coughing! On the mend now and ready for my next great adventure.

Now that my life is so prearranged, I know that it’s time for a cool change.

Little River Band

Up Next: Big Weekend for the Rice Gals!

Ways to be Happy, Part One

I’ve always gobbled up articles on ways to be happy and so I read, with interest, an article in the Sunday Miami HeraldTry One of These Suggestions to make you SMILE. I made a note of the ones I thought I could easily accomplish- drink peppermint tea, go outside, color in a coloring book, say hello to a stranger, choose one drawer to empty, dance to a favorite song, phone a friend, paint your nails.

Tamales make me happy!

These served with scrambled eggs, black beans and sliced tomatoes.

There were other suggestions that were more difficult- Do What You Dread (I’m awful at this, but it feels really good), Forgive Someone, Click Unfollow (ie. Get off Social Media). The suggestion to “find a good knock-knock joke” made me think of Wyatt, as he’s at that age where knock-knock jokes are big. As are farts and boogers, but I digress.

Anyway, while I’ve always looked for ways to be happy, I’m really trying to be especially prepared for this big avalanche of sadness that I fear will descend on me in June, when A.J. and her family leave. I’m trying to prepare, but is it really possible? And A.J. is preparing too, going through stuff she has at our house to pack or give away before she moves. But she has a big adventure to look forward to and I will have an empty house.

I have toys in almost every room of my house. The biggest pile is in the breakfast/dining area, where a big basket sits where I usually am with the kids, but there’s also a bucket of trucks and board games in the Family room and other toys, books and stuffed animals in my bedroom, where they sometimes sleep.

My bathtub is adorned with J & J’s Lavender Kid’s Bubble Bath, a yellow rubber duck (with HOT on the bottom to tell the water temp) and a variety of squeeze toys of marine animals. I have a little bathrobe hanging there that says “Slugger” that was my Dad’s, then mine and my siblings, my kids and now my grandkids. I wrap them in this after they emerge from the tub and then rub lavender lotion on their little bodies before bed. I can remember my grandmother giving me a bath and scrubbing behind my ears (which apparently I never did on my own) before wrapping me in this same bathrobe.

I’ve already thought about moving all the toys into one room, maybe the upstairs bedroom that’s been Brad, Christopher and A.J.’s room over the 18 years we’ve lived in this house. Still, I am sad and well-meaning people have told me “St. Augustine’s not that far away” (Liam is in Tallahassee), which is true, but it’s just not going to be the same.

I won’t be picking up Wyatt from school once a week for tennis or reading him Charlotte’s Web on my bed. I won’t be making him chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (with three syrups!) before I drive him to school, which is right down the street, or watching our favorite show- Bluey– on T.V. We won’t have snuggle sessions where he says “I love you Gigi” right before he goes to sleep, like he did this Friday, after we went to a U.M. Baseball game. How I will miss that.

I won’t have Phoenix squealing “Gigi!” before running into my arms when he comes over, or seeing his sweet little face light up when I give him a “bunny” (his word for little candies). And I will miss hearing the adorable way he says “Baby Shark”, in person, not on Face Time.

Baby Shark. He was saying Mama Shark and Dada Shark but, of course, didn’t when I recorded him. And then he coughed.

I moved away from Miami to Tallahassee when I was 35, taking my children A.J. and Christopher with me; My Dad was devastated. Kelley and John had moved there four years before and my parents had a going away party for them (with a Green Acres theme). It wasn’t at all the same for me, as their’s had been a move for work and ours was because we thought Tallahassee was a better place to raise our kids. My Dad didn’t handle it very well and now I’m coming to understand his point of view.

When I asked A.J., who was packing in the upstairs bedroom, if there were a lot of memories there, she shrugged and said: “It’s all a little hazy” and that she was too busy to think about it. One of the reasons I wanted to move away almost 30 years ago was because I wanted to separate from my family and have my own life, which I believe is what A.J. wants as well. I get it, I get it and I’m happy for her. It’s what our children do, what they are supposed to do, right? Give them wings to fly and all that Kahlil Gibran crap.

And, at any rate, I have my own new adventures ahead. Our trip to Alaska is less than a month away! It’s the last state, of the 50 states I’ve seen, for me to visit, so a big deal. And there’s another exciting, “bucket-list” trip coming up that I’m afraid to mention, as I don’t want to jinx it. Fingers crossed.

We had our last meal of Stone Crabs (courtesy of John Schild and his stone crab traps in the Keys) on Sunday. The claws weren’t very big, but they were sweet and delicious. I think the smaller claws are actually sweeter than the Jumbos or Colossals. I served them with mustard sauce, a lower-calorie version of Joe’s Tomatoes and air-fried Steak Fries, which turned out very good. Stone Crab Season lasts until May 1st, so get ’em while you can!

I found a show to cheer me up called Somebody Feed Phil. In this series, on Netflix, it follows Phil Rosenthal (creator of Everyone Loves Raymond) around the globe, as he eats the local cuisine and meets the people there. It is virtually impossible to be sad while watching this show, as Phil is a bubbly, energetic person who has an ever-present smile and does actual happy dances when he eats something he likes. Instead of Everyone Loves Raymond, it’s like Phil Loves Everyone. I wonder how anyone can be this happy? The show ends with a famous comedian on Zoom telling jokes.

There are six seasons of Somebody Feed Phil, so at least I’ll be happy while this show lasts.

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Boo hoo?

Don’t cry, it’s just a joke!

Up Next: Spring Peanutty Dumpling Salad

My Spring Garden

I like to photograph my little garden in each of the four seasons.

Every year is different, every season is different and every year I plant different things. I used to keep a record of which plants did well in which spots, but now I just plant what I want and see how it goes. Sometime certain herbs and vegetables flourish, other times they don’t and are taken over by more hearty plants; kind of like life itself. For example, the orange marigolds that did so well in the Fall have all died, but are now replaced by deep orange nasturtiums and brilliant purple butterfly pea flowers.

These photos were taken March 20th, 2023, the First day of Spring.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. It’s loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness but still will keep a bower quiet for us and a sleep.

John Keats

Up Next: Grilled Lamb Chops

Grilled Lamb Chops

So, I made Glazed Ham for Easter (quite typical) but my sister Elise made Lamb Chops on the grill, which is a very Spring-y dish. I can just see the little lambs roaming the countryside with the little bunnies, so pastoral. Come to think of it, serving lamb for Easter is kind of depressing, similar to as if you were serving Rabbit (which I’ve only eaten in France). While ham is traditional, you never think of an Easter Pig. At any rate, her making this dish made me think of a recipe I’ve used for a long time for Grilled Lamb Chops with Gorgonzola Butter.

I didn’t used to like lamb at all, as it sometimes has a gamey taste and smell when you cook it, but I do quite like the little lamb chops (known as lollipops) served as appetizers at parties. This recipe was actually collected by Jennifer, Zeke’s first wife, and I found it in a blue notebook of recipes she had, which I wrote about in my first Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love. The story was called Getting to Know Jennifer.

It’s a Bon Appetit recipe from a restaurant in Seaside, Florida (where The Truman Show was filmed) called Bud and Alley’s, which is actually still around, although I didn’t find these lamb chops on their menu. The recipe was from the April 1993 issue. I like this recipe because much of the work can be done ahead- marinating the lamb chops the night before and making the Gorgonzola Butter up to a week ahead- making it perfect to serve at a dinner party. Best of all, it doesn’t taste too “lamby”. Costco is a great place to get lamb chops, where they’re more reasonably priced than Publix.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Gorgonzola Butter

Recipe by Bud and Alley's RestaurantCourse: EntreeCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Cooking time




  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled

  • 2 1 1/2 lb racks of lamb, cut into 8 double chops

  • Butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temp

  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place lamb chops in baking dish. Pour marinade over. Turn chops to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat grill or broiler.
  • Grill or broil lamb chops to desired doneness, about 6 minutes on each side for medium rare.
  • Transfer chops to plates and add one butter slice on each chop.
  • Butter
  • Melt 1 teaspoon butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add shallot and garlic and saute 1 minute. Set aside.
  • Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and cheese in medium bowl until fluffy.
  • Add shallot mixture, oil and lemon juice; beat to blend
  • Roll up in plastic to form 1-inch-wide cylinder. Chill until firm, about 3 hours. (Can be made 1 week ahead.)


  • Sometimes I skip the butter part, but it certainly elevates the dish.
  • The restaurant also serves the lamb with a red wine shallot sauce.

Up Next: Foods that Hit 4 or 5 of the Tastes

Life is (bitter) Sweet

I need to do a corrections corner!

The Last Chance Saloon is NOT CLOSING. I repeat: the Last Chance Saloon (right before you get on the aqua highway to the Keys) is NOT CLOSING. Zeke went there to get a drink last weekend and found this out the hard way. He told the server he wanted to get one last drink before it was gone and she went off on him, saying it’s NOT CLOSING, that they’ve lost a lot of business due to that rumor, that the affordable housing that’s going to be built, is going to be built around them and that her brother is thinking about suing The Miami Herald for printing that the Last Chance Saloon property was sold. So, I got that out of the way. Go have a drink there if you’re so inclined, as apparently they’re losing business due to false rumors. Foodie in Miami regrets having helped spread this rumor. Ahem…

Another corrections corner, apparently the recipe I published as Jennifer Aniston’s Salad (June 21, 2022) was not the actual salad the three stars of Friends ate every day for lunch. Aniston stated the salad was a Cobb and that she wouldn’t have put as many garbanzo beans in her salad as the one published, for digestive issues. It’s still a good salad, though.

Emma had a bunch of ground meat of different varieties leftover from her Hello Fresh meals that she didn’t use that she deposited into our freezer, so I had a ground meat dilemma. Our freezer was already packed so, I desperately tried to think of ways to use up the ground meat. I’d picked up a section of the New York Times on food to feed picky kids, but surprisingly, many of the recipes sounded good and used ground meats so I picked out a couple recipes to try.

I made Korean Meatballs for dinner Monday night with ground pork. It was an easy recipe and I would make it again, but feel it would have been better with a little sauce on top. It said to serve with white rice, but due to the Great Weevil Invasion of 2023, I was all out of rice in the pantry, so used some Trader Joe’s brown rice from my freezer (another contribution of Emma’s). I usually don’t like rice from the freezer, as it seems wasteful and expensive, but it was easy. You just put the plastic bag in the microwave and cook a couple minutes. I served it with Ginger Miso Soup (Trader Joe’s) and an Asian Cucumber Salad.

The next day for dinner I made a Homemade Hamburger Helper with Ground Beef. It was a definitely a more gourmet version of Hamburger Helper, with smoked paprika and white wine, but I can’t say it was a recipe I’ll make again. While delicious, it had ground beef, bacon and cheddar cheese (so, high in calories) and it took a while to make. When the first direction was: carmelize onions for 20 minutes, I knew I was in for a cooking marathon. Zeke, who grew up on the actual Hamburger Helper, loved it. It also makes a lot and since it’s only Zeke and I, there’s only so many times you can eat the same leftover. I tried to pawn some off on Emma and Gui, but they said they already had a ton of leftovers.

I saw the play El Huracan at The Gables Stage on Thursday night, as a Villager’s Fundraiser for the preview before the play started its run. I went with Kelley and Allison and we had dinner at La Fontana. We all got homemade pasta, mine a ravioli with creamy pesto and split a Fritto Misto. It was all very good and we luckily sat inside as the rain started and it was a deluge, perfect weather for a play about a hurricane in Miami. I enjoyed the play, written by a Miami native and Academy Award winner (for Encanto), Charise Castro Smith.

Saturday was the Historic Hunt for The Villagers. I volunteered to be on the committee at Kelley’s urging, but it occurred to me I should’ve actually done the Hunt one time before volunteering. The theme was Florida Female Pioneers and it took place in the Gables, Grove and Downtown Miami at 3 p.m. Hunters returned to the meeting spot, a Villager’s Home, after 5, for cocktails and appetizers. Shorty’s catered a BBQ dinner of Ribs and Chicken, Cole Slaw and Baked Beans. Fookem’s Fabulous Key Lime Pies was served for dessert.

A side note about Fookem’s- this is a guy (Josh Abril) in the Grove who started his Key Lime Pie business when the pandemic hit, since his reality TV show job halted and he couldn’t get unemployment due to Florida’s crashed system. He started making the Key Lime Pies with their signature Sea Salt Graham Cracker Crust and selling them in front of his house on Oak Avenue and on his bike/cart in the Grove.

They were a big hit and now he makes more flavors and also provides desserts to various restaurants. The Key Lime Pie was delicious- chilled, light and bright, with just a touch of salt and no eggs, for those with allergies (Kelley). My friend and faithful Foodie in Miami reader Peggy Rigsby sent me an article about this guy awhile ago and I’m so glad I finally got to try his pie! They are $25 and it’s best to order ahead.

Fookem’s Fabulous Key Lime Pies 3081 Oak Avenue, Coconut Grove 305 699-2122.

I went home, exhausted and got a good night’s sleep to recharge for Phoenix’s 2nd Birthday. As you may recall, Phoenix had his 1st Birthday at our house last year but Zeke and I were unable to attend due to the fact we both had Covid. We had to watch the festivities from the balcony above, so I was very excited to be hosting his party this year, IRL.

A.J.’s idea was to do a Pizza Party, with a bunch of toppings, where everyone makes their own pizza and we cook it on our Ooni Pizza Oven. I explained to her that making a homemade pizza isn’t as easy as it looks- it’s more of an art. The pizza dough and peel (the apparatus the pizza goes on) has to be room temperature, you need to make sure it’s not too cold or too warm, or it will stick. You need lots of flour and do a test run on the peel to make sure the pizza dough can move freely. Also, you can’t overload the pizza with toppings or it will be too heavy. So it’s a delicate balance and I didn’t feel like it was a good idea for strangers (and family) to be in my kitchen, willy nilly, throwing toppings onto pizzas.

I made four pizza doughs from scratch, bought three at Publix and made homemade pizza sauce (from the Ooni book). Justin grilled Chicken Wings, Sausages and Chicken Hearts (?) which he served with dipping sauces. They were really good and I had an appetizer platter of Pickled Eggplant, Pepperoncini and Caponata with crackers.

My first pizza was a Margherita (sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil), keeping it simple. My second pizza was a Pepperoni with mozzarella, basil, Parmesan Cheese and Mike’s Hot Honey, modeled after a pizza I had at Krust in Tavernier. A.J.’s pizza was a fig jelly, blue cheese, caramelized onions and mozzarella pizza, with arugula salad tossed on after it came off the pizza oven. It was a fan favorite, as was my last one, modeled after Miami’s Best California Dreamin’. It had pizza sauce, artichoke hearts, goat cheese, plum tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella. Surprisingly, my party-goers preferred Publix’s Pizza Dough to my homemade one. I’m taking notes for my next Pizza Party.

Everyone had a great time at Phoenix’s Birthday, including Phoenix. I’d gotten him a Baby Shark cake from Publix Bakery which he LOVED. He squealed in delight when I showed it to him and then sat in a chair at the dining room table, right in front of his cake, looking at it in dizzy admiration. “Baby Shark, Daddy Shark, Mama Shark” he said, over and over. Wyatt showed him how to get a little finger full of icing to taste. That’s what big brothers are for! I made homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream to go with the cake and another partygoer brought Ice Cream Sandwiches. We then sang Happy Birthday, which happens to be Phoenix’s favorite song.

It was a wonderful party, but soon everyone was gone and it was just Zeke and I. One of A.J.’s friends said “I guess next year we’ll be celebrating in Saint Augustine”. And soon they’ll be gone and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. It’s not like I think being a grandmother is the end-all-be-all of my life, but I am happiest when I’m with my grandsons. I’ll adapt somehow, I’m sure, but for now I’m sad and the party was bittersweet because I don’t know when we’ll all be together like this again.

But, first things first. I’m babysitting Wyatt and Phoenix this Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday, while his parents go to a concert with another couple in Saint Augustine. You can be sure this Gigi will enjoy each and every exhausting moment spent with my two little charges.

T.V. shows I’ve watched lately: Pamela Anderson: A Love Story (Netflix)- interesting. Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage (Netflix) where he addresses Academy Award Slap. Rom/Com Your Place or Mine with Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, which I thought was totally stupid and predictable. I was surprised, because Reese usually makes such good choices, career-wise. I guess they can’t all be gems. I watched the movie People Like Us, with Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis Dreyfus, which was really pretty funny, but I didn’t care for the ending. I started watching Working Moms (sitcom on Netflix), really funny and have been watching the first season of Arrested Development, which I always heard was funny but never watched until now.

Lastly, Zeke and I started watching Pretty Baby, a doc on Brooke Shields on Hulu. It’s good, but certainly sad to see how she was taken advantage of by her mother, Hollywood, the media, etc… A cautionary tale, for sure. I have to say I didn’t care for her movie- A Castle for Christmas– which I watched last Christmas. Totally predictable, Hallmark-esque. Not that Brooke was bad in it, it was definitely the script. It made me think I could write a better one, so maybe that will be my empty nester career move. Better Hallmark movie writer.

In good news for my writing career, the editor of Coral Gables Magazine emailed me that he was bumping up my pay for the Morris Lapidus article Lapidus Legacy because he thought I did an excellent job. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on that article and it was a labor of love, so I’m glad it’s finally been published. My story for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: “Yes, Lets!” (they changed the title) will be coming out in July of 2023.

I have a bag full of fresh Stone Crabs to eat (courtesy of John Schild) and a bunch of Tamales from Homestead (courtesy of Zeke), so we have good meals to look forward to this week. And I’ll have my two grandsons for the weekend. Life, as of right now (and what else do we have?) is sweet.

Up Next: My Spring Garden

Simple Roasted Asparagus

Does any vegetable say Spring more than asparagus? I don’t think so and it seems to be a requirement at any Easter meal. This is the recipe I used for our Easter Dinner this year and the one I turn to the most when cooking asparagus. Sometimes, I’ll also grill asparagus or steam it, but this is my favorite method; it is simplicity itself.

When choosing asparagus, look for tips that look fresh- not dried out or slimy. To store asparagus, cut off the woody stems, place upright in a glass of water and put in the fridge. Before cooking, I break the bottom off where it naturally snaps. You can also peel asparagus to remove the tough exterior. For this recipe, the thin asparagus spears work best.

Roasted Asparagus

Recipe by Joy of CookingCourse: SideDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 pound asparagus

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, tarragon and/or chives

  • Lemon wedges


  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Snap off the bottoms and peel the lower halves of asparagus.
  • Arrange the spears in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and drizzle olive oil over them very lightly.
  • Toss the spears to coat lightly. Roast until tender but still slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and herbs and serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe Video


  • This dish can be served hot or at room temperature, making it perfect for a dinner party side.
  • Joy of Cooking recommends serving this as a first course.

Up Next: My Spring Garden

Home Sweet Home, Miami


Easter is over and hopefully, all traveling is over for me for a while. This is kind of sacrilegious for me to utter, but between all the places I visited in March and April, I’m exhausted.

We went to San Francisco for Lauren’s birthday in March; I’d barely come home when it was time to head to Saint Augustine, to watch Phoenix while A.J. and Justin checked out neighborhoods and schools with Wyatt.

And then, I caught my breathe for a moment before we headed to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to visit Doug and Heidi- friends who moved there over a year ago. We bookended that trip with stops in Tallahassee, to see Chris, Courtney and Liam and The Villages, where Zeke played golf with Brooks and I caught up with Sharon.

And, we finally got our condo back in Key Largo last weekend. The three months went by quickly and our tenants left the unit in good shape. A glitch occurred with the housekeepers, so I spent the weekend cleaning tubs, toilets and doing laundry. We did get a chance to go out on ‘Bout Time and even saw some (lucky) dolphins. I’m ready to be at home, eating healthy food, getting back into an exercise regime and some kind of a normal schedule.

We came home from San Francisco to find our new neighbor had removed all the landscaping that was on her property. This was expected, but to see the reality of our cleared-out yard was a major jolt. No privacy and, worse, when she pulled up the fence she cut our AT&T cable. So we returned on a Monday to find NO TV, NO INTERNET, NO LAND LINE. A real nice welcome home gift, indeed. And worse yet, it was The Bachelor’s Fantasy Suite night on TV, which I had to miss, and went to bed grumbling and cursing my new neighbor.

Zeke called AT&T and they said they’d be out Thursday (this was Tuesday), so he waited around all morning only to find out they’d meant the FOLLOWING Thursday, which would have left us without cable, TV and Internet for TWO WEEKS!!! Luckily they came and fixed it the next day. The AT&T guy said it looked like someone mutilated the cable- that it was in a thousand shreds.

From my bedroom window one morning, I spotted a guy in the neighbor’s yard, dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks. I ran outside to confront him. I told him how hard it had been as a writer who values peace and quiet, to be living by a noisy construction site for a year and a half. I told him when I first met the owner she told me, our property was on HER property, with no apology for the construction and chaos. I told him our cable had been cut and babbled on in outrage for about five minutes when it occurred to me to ask this guy who he was. He was the landscaper and a very nice guy. He said he’d told his client if they pulled out the fence it would cut our cable, as well as another neighbor’s.

What did she say?

I asked.

Apparently, she didn’t care. What a way to make an entry into a neighborhood! Needless to say, I won’t be dropping off any welcome-to-the-neighborhood Banana Bread to her in the near future.

Upon my return from Alabama, I found little black grasshoppers had decimated the Milkweed plants I’d just planted, leaving limp, bare stumps. Roaming peacocks also made a dent in my herb and vegetable garden and lastly, I discovered weevils had infested my pantry. This led to a major Spring Cleaning Event, tossing rice, pasta and crackers along the way. There isn’t much left.

I then noticed they’d migrated to my Spice Drawer, but honestly it’s hard to tell a weevil from a black sesame seed until they move. Then you know. So now my spice drawer is cleaned out. The culprit there were some spices I’d brought from Bulgaria years ago, so they got pitched. Spices don’t really last over a year. They won’t kill you, but the flavor will be gone, so toss, toss, toss.

It feels good to be home again, even with the grasshoppers, peacocks, weevils and soon-to-be new neighbors.

In sad news, The Last Chance Saloon may be closing as the land was purchased for affordable housing, which is desperately needed in the Keys. This is a bar located right before you get on the Overseas Highway. I always contended that if you need to get a last drink to hold you over the 20-minute stretch to the next bar in Key Largo, you may have a drinking problem, but they do have excellent Bloody Marys.

In even sadder news, iconic Biker Hangout and true Dive Bar Alabama Jacks is closing. Frequented by locals, tourists and bikers alike, this rustic spot on the water was a great place to come, have a drink and listen to some music while on your way to, or from, the Florida Keys. My Dad would bring us there and I remember one time (after my divorce) him scouring the crowd trying to pick out a guy, among the biker dudes, for me to date. This was a joke, of course, but my Dad was all about the “local color” and Alabama Jacks is full of it!

It was featured on Bloodline (for it’s rotten fish tacos that don’t exist on the menu) and Kathie Lee Gifford raved about their Conch Fritters on Regis and Kathie, but I love their Lima Bean Soup– an unexpected find in a seafood restaurant. Mostly, it was a fun atmosphere to eat and drink by the water, although they have seem understaffed lately. I’m not sure if the staffing was the problem and I’m honestly not even positive it’s closing, since I can’t find anything about it online. It was information passed along to me by a Sanctuary neighbor.

But, the point is, we do need to support these South Florida and Miami institutions while they’re still around or they won’t be anymore. On the home front, after visiting a couple houses for sale recently in Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay, we’ve gotten totally discouraged about moving. I didn’t like anything we saw as much as I like my house, and everything is (still) so expensive! So for now, it’s Home Sweet Home (but not in Alabama).

When all else fails, cleaning house is the perfect antidote to most of life’s ills.

Sue Grafton

Coming up in Foodie in Miami: Finally trying to index my recipes, Whipped Feta Dip, Grilled Lamb Chops with Gorgonzola Butter and Easy Roasted Asparagus.