Creating the Perfect Appetizer

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love… and our very special recipes come out to play.

My special recipe is called “Maroon Bells”, named after the beautiful mountain peak in Aspen.

The recipe comes from The Junior League of Denver’s cookbook called, Creme de Colorado.

The base is just grated white cheddar cheese, grated onion and mayonnaise.

Spread Raspberry Preserves and garnish with fresh raspberries and mint!

Here are the preserves and crackers I like, but you can serve it with sliced baguette. The recipe calls for Triscuits, but I like thin wafer crackers best!


Looking through old photographs, I seem to bring it to parties quite a bit! It’s so good and so easy!!!

A perfect appetizer for Christmas or Valentine’s Day!

Maroon Bells

2 1/2 cups Shredded New York White Cheddar Cheese (10-12 ounces)
1/3 cup Grated Onion (white)
2 T. Mayonnaise (Best Foods)
1/3 Raspberry Preserves (Bonne Maman)
Wafer Thin Crackers (Water Wheel)
Fresh Mint and Raspberries for Garnish

In mixing b0wl, combine cheese and onion, add mayonnaise. Mix well. Form into flat mound on serving dish and top with preserves. Garnish with mint and fresh raspberries.




A Cherry on Top!

Cherry Sundaes with Chocolate Cherry Sauce!

It’s as good as it looks! Scarlett certainly thinks so!!! Cherry Sundaes with Chocolate Cherry Sauce…

Last year my friend, Sandy, made these amazing Chocolate Cherry Sundaes for my birthday. I had to ask for the recipe… she was so wonderful to share!

This is Sandy’s go-to dessert she found in Bon Appetit years ago!

Go to recipe section to print recipe.

So when cherries came into season this summer and I needed a great dessert for a little girlie get together… I knew just what to serve!

I used vanilla bean gelato and Lindt Sea Salt Chocolate when I made them.

I did a trial run freezing the entire sundae but found I didn’t like the cherries frozen… notice my freezer has lots of frozen martini glasses!

To save time, you can make the chocolate one week in advance and then just heat it up!

Thank you Sandy for my new favorite dessert!


















Over the Top… Not Over the Hill!


Our dear friend, Brian, just celebrated his 60th birthday last week and I was among the lucky guests to attend this momentous occasion!

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This was beyond the “Perfect Experience”!!! His partner, Thierry, created the most amazing soiree.  I felt transported… a truly magical event!


An alfresco summer party that was fit for a King!


The birthday boy never looked more handsome!


Cocktails on the patio before the sit down dinner!


Special touches!


Thoughtful, loving speeches!


Unbelievable food catered by St. Clair’s in Burlingame…


Lovely wines and champagne!


Gorgeous arrangements!

Just breathtaking!!!


Special guests carried the celebration into the night!


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All the beautiful gifts!


Such fun had by all!

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I’m always in awe at the beauty Thierry creates!


Curiosities abound!



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So honored to feel the love on this special night…

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Happy Birthday Brian!!!!






“Pam Says” Poipu is Paradise


“Pam Says” Where to Go in POIPU

The original inspiration for my blog came from a song my friends’ kids made up on their trip to Kauai. I gave them a list of where to go and each day they would ask “Mom what are we doing today?” and she would answer, “Well, Pam says…” and the kids would sing “Pam Says, Pam Says”… the rest is history.  We own a little place in Poipu on the beautiful island of Kauai so I’m lucky enough to go often. Here a few of my favorite “Pam Says” things!



Brenecke’s Beach: Great for boogie boarding, you can rent boards at Nukumoi’s across the street from the beach (Breneke’s Market, also across the street, has “good” shave ice)

Poipu Beach: Good for families and snorkeling

Waiohai Beach: In front of the Waiohai Hotel, good to take beginning surf lessons… nice calm waves…Ole Hay!


Shipwreck’s Beach: To the left of the Hyatt, not always safe to go in the water. But it’s a pretty beach and fun to watch the locals jump off the cliff



Da Crack– A little hole in the wall Mexican place next to the old Kukuiula Market on Poipu Road, great take-out to take to the beach


Captain’s Bar at The HyattThe upper bar at the pool is a casual spot for lunch with an amazing view.


Puka Dogs– A must go! Located in the Poipu Shopping Village, I love the polish sausage with spicy sauce, mango relish and lilikoi mustard, but get whatever you want… they are all good! And try a lemonade with half the sugar.



Savage Shrimp– In Kukuiula Marketplace. Super casual, really great, peal the shrimp by hand. If you’re staying in a condo, get it to go and have it for lunch or dinner!

Duke’s Canoe Club– It’s not in Poipu but it’s my favorite lunch on my last day on the way to the airport

Lava’s on Poipu Beach– Open air dining at the Sheraton, the food is very good!

Keoki’s Paradise– Best fish sandwich!! The fresh fish is always good!

Brenneke’s Beach Broiler– The Kama’aina Pupu Platter is delicious for lunch! But I don’t recommend the restaurant for dinner.


Old Koloa Fish Market– Unbelievable fresh Poke… get the Ahi and Avacado


Taro Ko Chips Factory– If you get poke from the Koloa Fish Market be sure to drive up the road to Hanapepe and pick up some freshly made Taro Chips from this little hole in the wall right at the beginning of town on the left. Yummy! Buy a few bags and Stanley will always throw one in for free!!




Stevenson’s Library in the Grand Hyatt- Sushi. Make your reservation right at 5:30 when they open and you will have the best chance to sit out on the balcony and watch the torch lighting ceremony and have an amazing view. Get the Tai Chi, Mai Tai!

Tortilla Republic– In the Kukuiula Marketplace. Upstairs is casual, downstairs is very casual- both delicious food. I like upstairs the best. Get the guacamole made to order at your table

Keoki’s Paradise- In the Poipu Shopping Village, eat in the bar area. It’s touristy but fun and there’s a band, the fish tacos are really good and the hula ice cream pie is worth the trip


The Beach House– go before sunset and take pictures out on the lawn. The restaurant is hit or miss and somewhat pricey for the quality, so we like to go to the bar and get snacks and a drink


Merriman’s RestaurantIt’s delicious… get the house Mai Tai with the lilikoi honey foam! Share appetizers and an entree! It’s a nice restaurant to see the sunset!


Eating House 1849- A Roy Yamaguchi Restaurant in the Kukuiula Marketplace. Everything is delicious. The menu has an old Hawaiian feel updated with Portugese flavors. Loved the whole fish!

Red Salt- The food is sophisticated and delicious. It’s fun to get there early and watch the sunset at the front of the Koa Kea property, grab a drink at the pool bar!

Plantation Gardens– Old guard restaurant that’s beautifully Hawaiian! Get there early and walk the gardens and be sure to have a Panini, this is where this delicious banana drink was invented!

La Spezia– In the old town of Koloa. Delicious Italian food… it’s hard to consider eating Italian food in Hawaii but this is good for a change of pace… love the lasagne!

The Dolphin Sushi Bar Love the sushi here!



Kuluiula Village Farmers Market– Wednesday’s from 3:30-6, small but very nice… fun to go before you have a dinner reservations


Poipu Kai Tennis Center– Very nice facility. You can join for the week at reasonable prices


Outfitters Adventures Kipu falls, zip-lining, kayaking-the best adventure tour ever!!!


This is my favorite adventure tour…you start with a kayak ride up the river…



then zip-lining!




and then lunch and swimming in beautiful pools!


Anara Spa Day at The Grand Hyatt– Since we have a condo we don’t have the luxury of a hotel so we always book a treatment at the Anara Spa. With the price of one treatment you can use the exercise room, take yoga classes and use the spa pool for the day and order lunch!

Waimea Canyon-long drive up there, but it’s beautiful and there are some great hikes

Kauai ATV Tours-Mud Buggies

Kipu Ranch Adventures-ATV’s

Kauai Back Country Adventures-Tubing Down a Lava Tube River

Grocery Shopping


Living Foods Market and Café – Gourmet Market


Sueoka’s – Full Grocery Store with more specialty items, buy Popo’s Cookies-shortbread cookies made in Kauai (better than Kauai Kookies). All flavors are delicious, buy Auntie Lilikoi’s Passion Fruit Jelly (don’t get Passion Fruit Guava – just the Passion Fruit) and serve on English Muffins!

Big Save – best price for basic groceries, wine etc. in Old Koloa Town

Where To Stay

There are many beautiful hotels, but for an all inclusive experience, I like the Grand Hyatt… the spa, the restaurants and the fun water slide make it my top choice!




The Lodge at Kukuiula An all-inclusive luxury resort

North Shore

Even though I titled the blog, “Poipu is Paradise”, you have to go to the North Shore for at least one day. It’s one of the prettiest places in the world. I love…

Queen’s Bath, Secret Beach, Lumahai Beach (where they filmed the scene “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair” in South Pacific), Kalalau Trail at the end of the road, the town of Hanalei, Hanalei Pier for surf lessons, Tunnels Beach, “Tropical Taco” or  “Tahiti Nui” for lunch, “Wishing Well” for Shaved Ice and a Napali Coast boat tour


The Beginning of the Kalalau Trail at the end of the road on the North Shore…

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It’s a beautiful hike with spectacular views of the Na Pali Coast!


Secret Beach


Tunnels Beach


And… be sure to notice King Kong’s profile on your way to the North Shore (On the way back on Hwy 56, just before Kapaa on the right side, mile marker 14)

Chris’ Famous Mai Tai- The Don Ho Show


The Don Ho Show (serves 6)

2 oz. Orgeat (Almond Liqueur)
2 oz. Orange Curacao (Orange Liqueur)
Juice of 3 Limes
Juice of 1 Lemon
6 oz. Pineapple Juice
6 oz. Passion Orange Juice
6 oz. Sweet and Sour
6 oz. Light Rum
Meyers Dark Rum (floater)

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice with a float of Dark Rum and an umbrella garnished with lime and pineapple! Soooo good!!!



It’s an old Hawaiian tradition that says, if you throw your lei into the water it means your coming back!!!

So this is where it all started. “Pam Says” was the heading of the itinerary I would hand to my friends when they were taking a trip to Poipu on the island of Kauai.  We have been coming every year for about 30 years and this is one of those places I have been trying to “create the perfect experience”!!!


Johnny A’s Mafia Meatballs!

Chris has always loved our friend Johnny A’s famous Mafia Meatballs, so Chris made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he came over to teach his secret recipe! We set a date and had an incredible dinner party!


It was so great to having Johnny in the kitchen… he is not only a really great chef but a sweet, warm man and a complete character… The Godfather of comedy!

Johnie A’s Mafia Meatballs


1 lb. ground round
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. ground veal
2 yellow onions
Parsley and fresh Basil
Parmigiana Regiano (a lot) Grated Cheese (a lot)
Bread Crumbs
2 eggs
Fresh Packed Tomatoes- Di Napoli San Marzano Style Peeled Tomatoes with Basil
Salt and Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes

Go to the recipe section to print complete recipe.


Start with your ground meat… and some serious attitude!


Sautee the onion… How you doin’?


Add the Parmesean Cheese…


And lots of fresh parsley and basil…


Add the Bread Crumbs and  Tomato Sauce and start mixing…


Form into baseball sized meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes…



Pour your sauce over the top to keep warm and moist…

I used the beautiful Di Napoli Tomato cans for our centerpiece… they are almost as amazing outside as in.







It was a spectacular dinner!!! He really knows how to cook for the mob… I mean our mob!!! Thank you Johnny!!!



Above is the recipe for the meat sauce he makes.


I’ve got the Holidays all Wrapped Up!


Mrs. Clause has been very busy wrapping gifts for the holidays… stylish parties require stylish gifts!!!! Right?


These little rolls are my new favorite wrapping technique because you can make your own box. It seems I never have a cute box for all the “finds” I pick up for my friends and family! From cute little gifts I find at Filoli or something found at an estate sale or an antique store… I always need a cute box to wrap it up in. Here’s how to make it…


Just roll a piece of cardboard.


Wrap it in tissue and tie off the ends with ribbon.


Cut a piece of fabric (I had some velvet left from a chair I reupholstered) Glue it to the roll.


Glue gun ribbon to finish the edges. Add buttons, jewels or stickers to embellish.


Fringe the ends and your done!






Linda and Hector from lulu Pom did an amazing job decorating for this fabulous party!


And Linda even made her famous French Onion Soup (go to my recipe section)!



Such a beautiful evening!!!!




Lisa’s Yummy Salty Caramel Budino Dessert


Just in time for the holidays… my friend Lisa brought the most delicious salty caramel Budino (Italian for pudding) to our party! The recipe comes from the restaurant, Barbuzzo in Philadelphia. Lisa found the cutest little jars at Sur la Table and presented these little gems… and they tasted better than they look! Even though I shouldn’t be eating dessert right now with holiday dresses to zipper and a vacation where I’ll need to don a bathing suit, I managed to eat it all up!


I loved it!!!!


Oh what fun.. After dessert we did a gift exchange!!!




  • Cookie Crust
  • 1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Budino:
    • 3 cups whole milk, divided
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 teaspoons dark rum
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Salted Caramel Sauce:
      • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
      • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
      • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes:
      • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      • Lightly sweetened whipped cream


        For Cookie Crust:

      • Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2 tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or ramekins.
      • For Budino:
      • Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside. To make caramel stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until thermometer reads 210°F-220°F.Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and an instantread thermometer registers 175°F, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and salt. Pour through prepared sieve only if lumpy.
      • Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar, Cover; chill until set, 4-5 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
      • For Salted Carmel: DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled in glass jar and heat up in a pan of warm water on the stove before topping.
      • Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Set aside.
      • Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until deep amber color forms, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove fromheat; whisk in cold butter and salt. Strain ingto a heatproof measuring cup. Let cool slightly.
      • Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Sprinkle each budino with Maldon Finishing Salt. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over each.

img42oLisa told me about Maldon Finishing Salt, I don’t have this, it’s just for finishing and it’s beautifully flaky! You can buy it at William Sonoma.


Luxe-urious!!! Greystone Showhouse-WOW!

Maison de Luxe, the 2015 Designer Show House being held at the Doheney Greystone Estate in Beverly Hills this year is a must see, you only have one more week to go, so if you can’t make it, here is a little taste! Twenty-three renowned designers showcased the forty-six thousand square foot stone mansion to perfection!!  Here is a bit of what I saw, technically you were not supposed to take photos, but every time I asked I was told, “Sure!!!” Some of you that know me will assume I didn’t ask, but I promise, I did!


You enter the mansion through the courtyard and being that we were in southern California, of course it was a beautiful day! But all that bright sun through the windows made it a challenge to get good pictures.


So pretty, but truly it’s sooo much more beautiful in person…


Mark D. Sikes did the first floor halls that he transformed into a garden conservatory using gorgeous blues and greens that were both whimsical and elegant.


One of the best rooms was the library by Timothy Corrigan. It’s a juxtaposition of serious and playful. I loved how comfortable it felt… like you could really live there, not so “decorator showcase house” like you see at some of the shows.


He also did this upper landing, these antique french chairs were sooo special!


I loved Patrick Dragonette’s “Room Without A View”, he had a room with relatively no views but he created a fabulous space with a bar, a lounging area and a custom Caesarstone ping-pong table that he let us play on!


Andrew Brown from Birminham, Alabama was such a pleasure to meet and hear about his masculine “moody” space, there were so many renowned designers on hand that talked about their accomplishments.




This room!!!!


What a lovely day to enjoy the mansion!

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Seeing a room designed and executed by Nina Campbell was truly a pleasure, seeing her vision while using her own wall coverings and fabrics in an installation was inspiring!




Wallpaper, wallpaper, wallpaper… I’ve never seen so much beautiful paper…

de Gournay, Gracie and Montgomery!!!! Just to name a few!


So pretty, this designer decided to keep the original wallpaper in this dressing room!


The gardens around the mansion are spectacular and are open year round to the public, if you can’t make it to the showhouse, plan a hike to and around this beautiful estate! And.. there is a fascinating history of the mansion that you must read… Murder, Mystery and Mansion!!!


Maison de Luxe is so special because you are taken back to that gilded age of architecture with stately rooms and beautiful halls all transformed by amazing designers. Such a treasure, be sure to see it!!!!

Maison de Luxe continues to run November 18th-22nd, buy your tickets online.







Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken with Guacamole/Nectarine Salsa


There is nothing better than grilling in the summer, especially when most of the ingredients can be picked from my garden or picked up from the Farmer’s Market. I have been raving to all my friends about how amazing this chicken turned out… so here is the recipe!!!


Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken with Guacamole/Nectarine Salsa

For the Chicken:
4 (5-6 oz.) Bone-In Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 T. Lime Juice
Zest of 2 Limes
5 T. chopped Cilantro
3 T. Olive Oil, more for grilling
2 T. Bill Baron’s Jamaican Jerk Rub-(or any spicy chili powder based rub)
A Sprinkling of Vignalta Salt
For Salsa:
2 medium ripe Avocados, pitted and diced
1 1/2 Nectarine, pitted and diced
2 Jalapenos, seeds removed and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped Cilantro
2 Scallion Onions, chopped
3 T. Red Onion, chopped
1 t. Sugar
2 t. Champagne Vinegar
2 T. Olive Oil
Wash and dry chicken breasts, place in Pyrex dish and rub with oil and lime juice. Cover with rub and toss in remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with the Vignalta Salt. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate up to a day and a half. Heat the grill to medium-high and grill on well oiled grates. Grill for 25 minutes (approx). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Combine all ingredients for salsa. Serve with chicken. (you can add fresh corn or replace the nectarine with peaches or tomatoes)


Brush vegies with olive oil and sprinkle with pink salt and grill. I used zucchini and jalapenos from Bunny Acres.


Scarlett is ready to try all of this deliciousness!


Martini and a Burger!

Whenever we happen to have a Friday or Saturday night without  plans and find ourselves without a dinner reservation…

We steal away to The Village Pub in Woodside and sit at the bar and get a martini and split a few things including their delicious Pub Burger.


They only list the burger on the bar menu, so if you are in the proper dining area, you can still order it! It is definitely worth it!!!


We were very lucky on our last trip up there and were seated in the bar at this lovely table by the fireplace!

Be sure to also order the butter lettuce salad!

The salad sits on a tarragon mousse and is tossed with a walnut vinaigrette, it reminds me of an elegant green goddess dressing!


The burger comes with duck fat fries and homemade tomato catsup!


Chris ordered a martini called the Grey Houndstooth, it’s made with Benedictine and the bar manger, Brandon Clements, won first place with this drink when he submitted it to the Benedictine Bartenders Challenge. The drink is absolutely delicious! Look he practically drained the glass before I was able to take the picture, it was that good!!!  I was able to procure the recipe… I’ve included it below!


We also ordered the olive oil poached halibut! Sooooo good!!

It’s such an amazing restaurant… the food, service and ambiance are simply wonderful. It’s always a perfect date night!!!

The Grey Houndstooth

A pinch of Superfine Sugar

1/3 oz freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

6 dashes of Grapefruit Bitters

3/4 oz Vodka

3/4 oz Benedictine

3/4 oz freshly squeezed Grapefruit Juice

4″-5″ length Duke’s peal of  Grapefruit for Garnish

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a martini shaker, add next 3 ingredients add ice and shake, double strain the pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with grapefruit peal.

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