“In My Kitchen” March 2021

By the time this posts, I hope that I have seedlings of tomatoes and peppers popping up in the green house.   I cannot wait to get out and garden especially after the two weeks of snow and below average temperatures here.  (We were below freezing from February 9 to February 19.)

Notice the time is 7:50 AM!

We had ten days below freezing which was, of course, a new record.

The sun finally broke through!

I don’t want to dwell on the state of February.  Thank goodness it was the shortest month of the year.  I am grateful that we did not lose power or water so I need to quit griping because I know a lot of people endured much worse.


Let’s start off  by talking about Valentine’s Day.  Of course, we stayed in and I wanted to cook an unforgettable dinner.   I revisited a memory from long ago.

In 1992 or 1993, I made Champagne Chicken for my new boyfriend.   I believe it was one of the first meals I cooked for him.  I was teaching HS English at the time and I went to the Home Ec. teacher (now called the Family and Consumer Science teacher) for some ideas.  She handed me a Southern Living cookbook and told me that she was sure I could find something romantic in it.  I went to the “February” section and found “A Champagne Dinner for Two.”  (Confession, I apparently never returned the book because I recently found it again during a cookbook organizing day.   Sorry ’bout that.)

Here’s the full menu from our Valentine’s dinner.  Most recipes were taken from Southern Living 1986 Annual Recipes.

Chicken with Champagne Sauce

Almond Wild Rice

Steamed Green Beans with Butter

Ciabatta Rolls

Amaretto-Chocolate Mousse

OK–to sum up, this meal was OK but was not as I remembered.   First of all, the instructions for the chicken dish were a bit convoluted.  By the time the chicken was done, the mushrooms were cold.  I started the rice too early and it was a bit on the chilly side as well.  Honestly, the best dish was the “steam in the bag” green beans that I tossed with butter and balsamic vinegar.  Ooh, and those ciabatta rolls.  They were delicious.   

This photo shows a terrible messy plating.   I was just uninspired by the time the meal was done.

I started the Amaretto-Chocolate Mousse recipe before realizing it contained totally raw eggs.  I stopped and morphed the melted chocolate into Amaretto-Molten Lava cakes.

All in all, The Hubs was a good sport and he did state that he remembered the long ago meal.   I do want to revisit the chicken recipe and get it right.  And, those lava cakes deserve a posting at some point.


My BFF sends a care package on most holidays and Valentine’s Day is no exception.  We’ve been mailing books back and forth since last March and she returned some to me and sent me some new reads.   Stuffed among the books was this lovely tea towel set.  

She is the best!

Look what I scored recently.  Our local grocery store had them.  

Do you know how hard these are to get?   I am stocking up for summer preserving.

I’ve been participating in a lot of virtual Yelp events.  I’ve been introduced to some great people, places and products, the latest being The Té Spa.   This small company out of Boston focuses on inventive herbal teas made with the very best and freshest ingredients.  I was lucky enough to win a $100 gift card to Té  and I ordered up some delicious brews.

I received their Golden Chai (a totally herbal blend that contains chamomile and bay along with some more traditional spices), Lavender Té  (lemon balm, lavender, hibiscus, jasmine flower, and ginger),  BeauTé (lemon grass, lemon balm, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, hibiscus, rose hips, chili flakes and stevia), some butterfly pea flowers, and mint tea.  The coolest thing is that Alexis, the owner, not only gave great tips on brewing tea, but she also made cocktails.    Here’s the Double Mint Mojito she presented:

Double Mint Mojito

Alexis Jones of The Té Spa

This is a tea-infused cocktail that can be adapted to your tastes.  I used superfine sugar in my cocktail.


  • 1 t. Double Mint Té (or one bag of your favorite mint tea)
  • 8 oz, boiling water
  • 2 oz. liquor (Double Mint Té blends well with white rum, gin and tequila)
  • 1 t. lime juice
  • ice (optional)
  • 2 t. sugar.  I used superfine sugar.
  • flavored sparkling water (optional)  I used a key lime sparkling water.
  • mint (optional)


  1. Steep tea in water for 2 minutes. Remove tea and allow to cool before mixing. (Tea can be steeped at least 20 minutes ahead of time to allow to cool.)
  2. Blend tea with 2 oz. liquor, 2 t. sugar, and 1 t. lime juice.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint if desired. Flavored sparkling water can be added for a non alcoholic option or to top off the cocktail.

Yield: 1

I had no fresh mint and no fresh limes to garnish.  🙁  This was still a very refreshing drink.  I think it will make a great mocktail for summer.The coolest thing she showed us was a cocktail using the butterfly pea flower.   When you add lemon juice to butterfly pea tea it turns purple!   (Did you know that matcha and Butterfly Pea flowers are in the same family?)

If you’re a tea aficionado, I hope you check out The Té Spa.


Recently, I found out that for $35 you could order a $50 Penzey gift card.  As soon as I found out, I bought one.  The strange thing was that they actually mailed you the card—kinda’ retro.  As soon as I got the card, I went shopping on their website.  Someone had given us a Penzey gift box when we got married and I have sporadically shopped their site (but it’s been a LONG time).  The most exciting thing was they had their Justice spice blend on sale for $1!!!!   I also ordered hot chocolate mix, epazote, tandoori seasoning, dried shallots, California sweet basil, Pico Fruta, sandwich sprinkle and pasta sprinkle.  I have been wanting to try epazote in beans for a long time.  I thought I might have to wait until another trip to NM to pick some up.

BTW, that Justice spice is amazing.  It’s a powdered blend of shallots, garlic, onion, green peppercorns, chives, and green onion.  I used some last night in some guacamole.  I used it on scrambled eggs this morning.   I’ve also topped baked sweet potatoes with it.   I will be sprinkling it on everything!  We can always use more Justice in the world.


We kept them watered and fed.

For my curve ball today, I wanted to post this photo from our recent snow storm.


Be safe and well!  See you in April!


In My Kitchen” is hosted by Sherry’s Pickings.   Please hop on over there and check out what’s happening in kitchens around the world.


26 comments to “In My Kitchen” March 2021

  • Liz

    I think we’re all ready for spring! Your temps look even worse than ours!! Your romantic meal sounds delicious despite your trial run not being perfect. Hope you’re having a nice weekend.

    • Our weather this weekend, however, has been beautiful! I worked outside most of the day pruning grapes in a T-shirt. I am so ready for Spring.

  • At least the lava cakes turned out what you expected. The chicken actually looks pretty decent to me. That’s a very beautiful bird!!
    Early this week was so warm that I thought spring has arrived. Suddenly winter hit again…this morning it was -4C. Freezing cold!

    • Spring’s coming. We must all rely on hope! 🙂 The chicken was OK and that recipe does merit a revisiting and revamping.

  • Really admiring your Penzey products, esp the epazote which is hard to find in Wales. The last time I got some was from a friend and a Mexican shop when i lived in Glasgow of all places. The dried shallots look stunning like edible confetti and Pico Fruta – err what is that, got me curious. Also those Tea’s sound so amazing, so curious about the butterfly pea flower – I have heard of it on other peoples blogs, but not come across it in the UK yet. It will be a craze no doubt when it hits our shores! I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the summer with preserving!

    • The Pico Fruta is a blend of chili powders and citrus. I’ve seen it called Tajín in some places. There’s a great recipe on the Penzey site for a spinach-watermelon-strawberry-pear salad. I can’t wait until fresh fruits are in season. I may have to morph that recipe to one of spinach and pears only.

  • Mae

    I keep meaning to put together a Penzey’s order, but not getting around to it. I also like their “Parisian” mix of herbs, and many of the single spices (not blends) are very high quality. Your kitchen looks good this month — too bad you were not entirely pleased with the one special meal.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Any time I see a recipe for onion powder, I’ve been subbing in the Justice spice. I really do love that stuff! Good to know about the Parisian blend.

  • i love the sound of that justice spice mix, and i love the red cardinal! we have a fairly local gin distillery near here, which has been making gin with butterfly pea flowers for ages. of course when you add tonic, it goes a beautiful pinky purple. just gorgeous. those 70s and 80s cookbooks are hilarious to us nowadays aren’t they? thanks for being part of IMK.

    • I wonder if there’s a type of gin like that available here? Regarding the cookbooks, it’s funny how tastes change.

  • Debra, I loved your intentions regarding your Valentine’s dinner and I’m sure your beloved did, too. Some meals turn out like that, no matter how experienced you are “IMK.” (Been there, done that.) It still looked tasty to me! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… increased hunger levels while “waiting” help. 🙂 I question some of the directions in early cookbooks too, but ya never know until you try. Thanks for the tip on mint Te’ as a sub for fresh mint in mojitos. I’m dreaming of warmer days to enjoy iced cocktails outside SOON. Your yard looked like ours! Thank goodness it melted and the thermometer is beginning to rise now. Great buy on the Penzey’s spices — that Justice combo sounds flavorful and amazing! Pretty cardinal pic, too, xo.

    • I see a lot of revamping needed with old recipe directions. I will revisit these recipes and tweak them a bit. Soooooo glad the snow is melted and it seems like spring now!

  • Liz

    What a wonderful idea to recreate first meal for Valentine’s Day. The thought alone must have made him happy. My mother used to get those magazines, I may even have one of her old cookbooks around somewhere that I inherited when she passed away, it’s difficult to get rid of things that contain so many taste memories.

  • A messy plate is usually mine…any photos I get from Doug’s well plated and arranged meal. Wow on the snow and cold! So glad you didn’t lose electricity, what a misery.

    • I feel like I have to snap on the fly at times. Plus, I was just so bummed about this not being exactly how I remember, I almost didn’t even take photos. I’m very glad we didn’t lose power or water.

  • Pam

    Our weather has been just like yours and I’m definitely ready for Spring! Your meal sounds delicious, I’ve done about the same thing though, if only I’d pay closer attention to the recipes! I have that SL book and many more of them, hate to part with them. I’ve been seeing a lot of the Ball jars around here lately and was kind of surprised with it and got some for jam, etc. The Cardinal is gorgeous, great pic! Take care

  • We have a Penzey store not too far from us, although at the moment I’d forgo the pleasure of visiting (COVID!) and order through their website. I remember some of my early dinners — not disaster, but rough around the edges. Really, really rough. 🙂 Fun read — thanks.

  • I’m sure that home-ec teacher developed a lesson on “keeping track of the cookbooks you lend out” after that incident! Still in all, champagne chicken sounds delicious.

  • Ten days below freezing! That can get old fast. Beautiful picture though. We had 2 days below freezing and not much snow. So was very thankful for that. Thanks for the info on Penzey’s. They opened up one here, but I haven’t been there for more than a year now. Thank goodness I had stocked up. Love the tea and using it for a mojito was a brilliant idea!

    • I love the mint tea mojito. I have a lot of peppermint tea on hand after the Double Mint Te runs out. I’m going to have to give that a try too.

  • The colour of that bird is phenomenal! So impressed by your planning for planting when it’s so cold 🙂 I’m new to gardening so I’m just learning more about it every week and every day!