Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy 2012! Champagne Cocktails

Good-bye 2011!  Invite over some friends, pop a cork or two, pass around the munchies, and find someone to kiss when the ball drops!

These recipes will help make the last night of this year more memorable. When making Champagne cocktails it isn’t necessary to use the good stuff. Any sparkling wine will do. Chill the champagne flute first. Always pour the mixers in first and then top with the Champagne. These cocktails don’t need to be stirred.

Raspberry Royale:  Add 1 ounce of Chambord to a chilled flute and then top off with Champagne.  Garnish with frozen raspberries.

Mimosa:  Add 1 ounce of orange juice and ½ ounce of triple sec to a chilled flute.  Top off with Champagne and garnish with a twist of orange.

Poinsettia:  Add 1 ounce of cranberry juice and ½ ounce triple sec to a chilled champagne flute.  Top off with champagne and a few frozen cranberries. 

These munchies, much of which can be made ahead, will compliment the cocktails and make your guests very happy! These quick bites also contain protein, which will keep your guests from becoming too happy.

Pecan Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dip
Baked Egg Rolls with  Sweet & Spicy Hoisin Sauce
Roasted Baby Peppers with Herbed Goat Cheese
Cranberry Bacon Cheese Spread with crackers

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Rib Roast

You cannot go wrong with a rib roast. Ridiculously simple to prepare, your guests will be impressed and very happy! Merry Christmas!

Servings: 8
Time: Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 2 ½ -3 hours
Hardware: roasting pan, meat thermometer, a plate, tinfoil, cutting board, knives

  • 5 lb Prime Rib Roast
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Allow the rib roast to rise to room temperature. This is very important, because it allows the roast to cook evenly.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 425°.
  3. Place the ribs in the roasting pan fat side up. Rub the cut ends with butter and sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the roast in the oven and allow it to cook for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 325°.
  5. Cook for 20-30 minutes per pound. Remove the roast from the oven when the thermometer, inserted into the middle of the roast, reads 135° for medium rare, 145° for medium, 155° for medium well, and 165° for well done. (Please do not cook this beautiful cut of meat to well done. Just eat something else!)
  6. Place the roast on the plate and allow it to rest for 20-25 minutes loosely covered in foil.

To carve, place the roast on a cutting board, fat side up. Remove the meat from the bones by slicing horizontally. Then cut slices vertically from the fat side down. The pieces closer to the end will be cooked more then those toward the center, so guests that want less pink will be happy, too. 

Serve with horseradish cream sauce. So good!

Suggested menu:
Prime Rib Roast
Caesar Salad
Feta Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli
Black Forest Cherry Cake

Horseradish Cream Sauce

God is in the details.  Having a good sauce often elevates an ordinary dish to something amazing.  This sauce will make your steaks .....I'm at a loss for words.

Servings: 1 ½ cups

Time: prep: 5 minutes; rest: 4-24 hours
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, a bowl, a storage container with a lid
Uses: Excellent on steak or prime rib roast

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk everything together. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Stir before serving. This can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You got your cheesecake in my pumpkin pie.
Well, you got your pumpkin pie in my cheesecake.

Two great tastes that taste great together!

Servings: 6-8

Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, spatula, pastry brush, mixing bowl, mixer, foil
Time: Prep: 20 Cook: 45 minutes

  • 1 + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1-8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1-15ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling-I use Libby’s)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 deep dish pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Bake the pie crust for about 5 minutes. Brush the inside of the pie crust with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. (This is to keep the pie crust from getting soggy.)
  3. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, syrup and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Blend in the egg. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Spread evenly with the spatula.
  4. Mix the pumpkin, remaining sugar and eggs, sweetened condensed  milk, and spices together and beat until smooth.
  5. Pour the pumpkin mixture carefully over the cheese mixture.
  6. Cover the edges of the pie crust in foil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center of pie is set. Remove the foil the last 5 minutes of baking.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold. Top with caramel sauce to make this sinfully wonderful.

Easy Caramel Sauce

This is super simple and yummy!

Servings: 1 cup

Hardware: Heavy sauce pan,measuring cup, spoon
Time: Prep: 5 Cook: 10-15 minutes

  • 1-14 ounce bag of caramel chews
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream.

  1. Unwrap the caramels.
  2. Place the caramels and the cream in the saucepan on low. Heat until the candies are melted. Stir frequently.
Serve warm.  Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.  Goes great with pumpkin cheese cake.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks

We have lost many close relatives this year.  My step-father and Jeff's uncle both lost their battles with cancer.  Remember to be thankful for every moment.  This Thanksgiving sit down with your family and let them know how much you care.  One way to show your love is with this feast.

Cranberry Bacon Cheese Spread
Phyllo Bites

Side Dishes:
Simply Stuffing
Maple Glazed Carrots
Green Beans
Orangey Cranberry Sauce

Main Dishes:
Baked Turkey

Apple Crisp
Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Maple Glazed Carrots

My mom made these all the time when we were kids. They always remind me of home.

Servings: 6
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 30 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons, cutting board and knives, a saucepan, a colander

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon orange preserves
  • S&P to taste

  1. Wash and slice the carrots. Bring the carrots and broth to a boil and cook until the carrots are tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain them.
  2. Return the carrots and the remaining ingredients to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugars are melted and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Serve warm.

Simply Stuffing

This is a very basic recipe that you can tweak to make everyone very thankful.

Servings: 8-12 side dishes
Time: Prep: 15 minutes, cooking: 30 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, knives and cutting board, skillet, wooden spoon, large mixing bowl, and 8.5” x 13” glass dish

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion chopped onion
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 cups of stale bread cut into 1 inch cubes (1 ½ pounds). I use a variety of bread including white bread, cornbread, and left over croutons
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Spray the dish with cooking spray.
  3. Wash the veggies and herbs. Dice the onions and celery and chop the herbs.
  4. Heat the butter on medium. Sauté the herbs for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery and onion and cook until soft. Remove from the heat.
  5. Stir the herbs, veggies, butter from the veggies, chicken broth, salt, and pepper together in the mixing bowl.
  6. Gently toss the bread in the broth.
  7. Place the stuffing in the casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve warm with gravy.

No turkey is complete without stuffings
You can stir in any 2 of these:
½ pound cooked crumbled sausage
½ pound cooked crumbled bacon
8 ounces sautéed mushrooms
1 chopped green apple
¼ cup craisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Phyllo Bites

Every party needs a few finger foods to whet guests’ appetites. Phyllo cups provide a crunchy base upon which you can build the perfect bite. My appetizers are delicious, lovely, and really easy to create. For added flair, I like to place my phyllo bites in miniature muffin cups after I have prepared them. After you try my recipes, you can get creative and try your own.

Sunny Brie Bites

Servings: 15 appetizers
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Bake: 8-10
Hardware: Measuring spoons, mixing bowl, spoons, baking sheet

  • 15 ounces of brie (rind removed)
  • 15 mini phyllo cups (I use Athens Mini Fillo Shells)
  • 8 teaspoons orange preserves
  1. Defrost the phyllo cups according to package directions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Place one ounce brie in each cup.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Top each bite with ½ teaspoon orange preserves.
  6. Serve warm.

    The perfect bite

Curry Goat Cheese Bites

Servings: 15 appetizers
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Bake: 8-10
Hardware: Measuring spoons, mixing bowl, spoons, piping bag*, baking sheet

  • 8 ounces chevre
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 15 mini phyllo cups
  1. Defrost the phyllo cups according to package directions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Mix the cheeses, sour cream, and curry powder until thoroughly combined.
  4. Place the mixture in the pastry bag. Pipe about one ounce of filling into each cup.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve warm.
*If you don’t have a piping bag, spoon the mixture into a plastic bag. Snip off a tiny edge of the corner. Works in a pinch.

Mediterranean Cheese Bites

Servings: 15 appetizers
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Bake: 8-10
Hardware: Measuring spoons, mixing bowl, cutting board, knife, baking sheet

  • 15 ounces of tomato, basil feta cheese
  • 15 mini phyllo cups
  • 8 teaspoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  1. Defrost the phyllo cups according to package directions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Place one ounce crumbled feta in each cup.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Top each bite with ½ teaspoon pesto.
  6. Roughly chop the pine nuts. Garnish the bites with chopped nuts.
  7. Serve warm.

Honey Nut Bites

Servings: 15 appetizers
Time: Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 8-10
Hardware: Measuring spoons, mixing bowl, spoons, small skillet

  • ½ stick salted butter
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 15 walnut halves
  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin
  • 15 mini phyllo cups (I use Athens Mini Fillo Shells)
  1. Defrost the phyllo cups according to package directions.
  2. Heat the butter, honey, and the brown sugar in the skillet on medium high. Stir until everything melts. Then turn the pan to medium low and add the walnut halves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool.
  3. While the nuts are cooling, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Mirin.
  4. Evenly divide the cream cheese mixture in the phyllo cups.
  5. Top each bite with a walnut half and some of the honey mixture.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beer Cheese Soup

This soup is wonderful: the sweet milk, the bitter beer, and the salty cheese meld together to make your mouth very happy. The creamy texture is complemented perfectly by the crunch of croutons. So the next time the day is blustery or the night is dark and cold, warm up the people you love with this hardy, simple soup.

Servings: 4-6 (depends on your appetite)
Time: Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 20 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a bowl, a large soup pot, an immersion blender (or a food chopper, or food processor), a whisk, a wooden spoon, a ladle, serving bowls
Optional: a small frying pan, a plate covered in a paper towel

  • ½ stick of butter
  • ½ a leek
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 2 cups of brown ale (I used New Castle)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 cups of shredded cheddar (the best you can afford)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Black pepper and sea salt croutons
  • 4 pieces of bacon (optional)
  1. If you are using the bacon, fry it until it is crisp. Put it on the paper towel covered plate to drain.
  2. Slice the leek as thin as possible. Separate it into rings. Place the leeks into a large bowl of cool water and swish around to remove any dirt. Drain.
  3. Clean and dice the celery, carrots, and garlic.
  4. Place the butter in the pot and melt on medium. Add the veggies to the butter and cook on medium until the veggies are soft, about 7 minutes. Purée the veggies.
  5. In the soup pot, whisk the puréed veggies and the flour until it is the consistency of paste. DO NOT allow the mixture to brown.
  6. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly stir in the broth and the beer. When the foam has disappeared, turn the soup up and allow it to boil for 2- 3 minutes.
  7. Turn the soup back down to medium and stir in the the milk. DO NOT LET THE SOUP BOIL FROM THIS POINT ON!
  8. Add a cup of the cheese. Stir until it is completely melted. Continue to add the cheese by the cup, stirring, and melting until all the cheese has been added.
  9. Allow the soup to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls, place 2 grinds of black pepper onto each serving. Place a few pieces of crumbled bacon and a few croutons in the center of each bowl. Serve right away.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tex-Mex Pot Pie

I wanted to make a pot-pie, but my husband doesn’t like many of the traditional veggies found in a pot-pie recipe. Carrots? No. Peas? No. Mushrooms? No. So this is my compromise. Everybody wins!

Servings: 8
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 35 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board and knives, a can opener, a large pan that can be used on top of the stove and in the oven (I use a cast iron frying pan), a wooden spoon, a mixing bowl and spoon, a small bowl and fork

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of your favorite chunky salsa (I like Desert Pepper Trading Company)
  • 1-10 oz jar of Ro-Tel Diced tomatoes and green chilies-drained
  • 1-15 oz can of whole kernel corn-drained
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cups yellow corn meal
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Open and drain the tomatoes and corn. Set aside.
  3. Wash and dice the onion, green pepper, and celery. Peel and crush the garlic.
  4. Heat the pan on medium high. Add the veggies, spices, and ground beef. Cook and crumble the ground beef the meat is brown and cooked through (7-10 minutes). Drain the fat from the beef.
  5. Return the meat mixture to the medium high pan. Stir in the salsa, tomatoes, and corn. Allow the mixture to come to a boil then reduce the heat. Let the beef mixture simmer while you prepare the crust. Stir occasionally. S&P to taste.
  6. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the mixing bowl.
  7. Beat the egg in a separate bowl.
  8. Stir the egg, milk, and oil into the flour. Stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
  9. Spread the cornbread crust over the beef mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown.

  Serve warm.
Everybody Wins!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Gooey Love
Sundays are for relaxing, curling up with a good book, and resting up for the coming week. Sundays are for comfort. Nothing is more comforting than macaroni and cheese.

Servings: 6-8
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a whish, a wooden spoon, a pot, a sauce pan, a colander, and a 2 quart glass baking dish

  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
  3. While the macaroni is cooking, place the butter in the sauce pan on medium and whisk in the flour. You are now making a roux. Continue to whisk until the roux is a golden color. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the onion, mustard, and soy sauce. Whisk until the mixture has no lumps. Slowly stir in the milk. Allow the milk mixture to reach a simmer, but DO NOT BOIL.
  5. Add the grated cheese to the milk mixture and allow the cheese to melt. Stir often. This should take about 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the macaroni and fold it into the cheese mixture.
  7. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.
  8. Place the mac-n-cheese in the baking dish. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the mac-n-cheese.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes.
 Allow the mac-n-cheese to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Hint: I often make macaroni and cheese out of the odd ends and pieces of cheese in the fridge. Only 1 ½ cups of the cheese actually need to be cheddar. I have used gouda, Swiss, provolone, parmesan, chevre, and even a little bit of blue before (of course not all at once). Experiment and you might turn something ordinary into something magical.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Even though it is still very warm in the afternoons, the mornings are beginning to be cool. Football season has begun. School is in session. This means that fall is here. Red beans and rice is a perfect fall dish: warm, savory, filling, and delicious. Warm your body and your heart.

Servings: 6-8
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a large soup pot with a lid, a wooden spoon, a potato masher
Time: Soak: 8-24 hours, prep: 20 minutes, cook 2-3 hours

  • 1 pound bag of red beans, soaked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3-4 pieces of cheap bacon
  • ½ pound cooked ham
  • ½ pound smoked sausage
  • 1 large onion (1 cup)
  • 1 small bell pepper (½ cup)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (I use Zatarain’s)
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leafs
3 cups of hot, cooked white rice
Diced green onions and hot sauce

  1. Pick over the beans and place them in a large soup pot. Cover them in cold water, place a lid on the pot, and soak them for at least 8 hours or over night. Drain the beans and discard the soak water. Set the beans aside.
  2. Wash the onion, celery, and garlic and dice them, the smaller the better. Remove the seeds and white ribs from the bell pepper. Dice it. Wash and chop the parsley.
  3. Dice the ham into small pieces.
  4. Cut the smoked sausage into 1 inch pieces then cut them in half length wise.
  5. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot on medium high.
  6. Chop the bacon. Add the chopped bacon to the soup pot to render the fat. Remove when the bacon gets crispy and save it for another dish.
  7. Add the ham and the sausage to the fat in the soup pot and allow it to sear, stirring often for 2-4 minutes.
  8. Add the onion, garlic, celery, green pepper, and parsley to the soup pot. Turn the heat down to medium.
  9. Stir and allow the onions, etc to sweat for 4-5 minutes. The onions should be bubbling, but not browning. Stir occasionally.
  10. Stir in the beans and the liquid and bring to a boil.
  11. Stir in the Creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Add the bay leafs.
  12. Turn the beans to low. Simmer the beans, uncovered, for 2-2 ½ hours or until they are tender. Stir occasionally. You may need to add more liquid while cooking.
  13. When the beans are tender use the potato masher to mash up some of them. Stir them and continue to cook until they are creamy, about another ½ hour.
  14. Remove the bay leafs.
Serve right away over rice, garnished with chopped green onions. Offer hot sauce to your guests.

Warms your tummy and your heart

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crazy Good Banana Nut Bread

This has not been the best month: summer ended, received some very sad news about a friend, the economy sucks, and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is very depressing. The world feels as if it were going bananas. When I’m stressed, I cook. Here is my quick and simple version of banana nut bread.

Guaranteed to make you feel better
Servings: 1 loaf
Time: Prep: 10 minutes, cooking: 65 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, 2 mixing bowls, a mixer, and a 9”x 5” glass loaf pan

  • Butter and flour for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (6-7 bananas)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees°.
  2. Grease and flour the loaf pan.
  3. In one bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In the other bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until well blended.
  5. Stir the banana mixture and the nuts into the flour mixture. Do not over mix; it will make the bread tough. Stir until the flour is just moistened.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  7. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container or plastic wrap for 3 days.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunshine Peach Cobbler

My friend Kathy has been bringing peaches to work for lunch all week. I have also seen them for sale in the grocery store. So I have peaches on my mind. The fact that I live in Florida means that I have access to fresh Georgia peaches. Georgia peaches come to market in May and last until around the end of August. Sadly, peach season is ending. So you should make this dessert right away. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait another year to enjoy summer in a bowl.

Servings: 8-10
Time: Prep: 15 minutes, cooking: 55 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, knives, cutting board, wooden spoon, sauce pan, mixing bowl, and a 13”x 9” glass baking dish

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups fresh peach slices-5 to 6 peaches
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons orange preserves

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°
  2. Put the butter in the glass dish and put it in the pre-heating oven to allow it to melt.
  3. Remove the glass dish from the oven.
  4. Combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; add the milk, stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
  5. Pour the batter over the butter. DO NOT stir.
  6. Mix the corn starch in the orange juice until it dissolves.
  7. Put the peach slices, brown sugar, orange juice and orange preserves in the sauce pan and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
  8. Pour the peaches over the batter. DO NOT STIR.
  9. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is golden brown.
 Serve the cobbler warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It also tastes great at room temperature.
Hint, Hint:  Learn how to peel a peach here

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saint Marta's Sauté

Marta was the sister of Mary of Bethany and Lazarus. The name Marta means mistress of the house. When Jesus came to visit, she happily cooked for Him. Because of this she is sometimes referred to as the patron saint of cooks and entertaining. This dish is named in honor of Marta.

Servings: 4
Time: Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 15 minutes
Hardware: measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a large heavy bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a large pot, a colander, a wooden spoon, a serving bowl

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 ounces of portabelloa mushrooms-two large mushrooms
  • 3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil-this is about ½ cup-drained 
  • 6 ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts-do not drain.
  • ½ pound (31-35 count) shrimp (You can usually buy these from your fish monger already cleaned. It saves so much time.)
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 ounces of uncooked fettuccine
  • Salt
We eat first with our eyes
  1. Put 4 quarts of salted water on to boil.
  2. Mince the garlic. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms. Chop the tomatoes. Rinse the shrimp and remove their tails. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in the skillet on medium low. Allow the butter to melt. This should take 2 minutes or so.
  4. The water should be boiling by now. Place the pasta in the boiling water. Allow the pasta to return to a boil and cook for 11 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. When the pasta returns to a boil you can start on the sauce. Turn the heat under the butter up to medium and add the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, and the entire contents of the jar of artichokes, including the liquid. Adjust the heat until the dish is bubbling. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms begin to give up their liquid. Nothing should be browning. This should take about 5 minutes. Stir this occasionally.
  6. When the mushrooms begin to look soft, add the shrimp to the pan. Cook this just until the shrimp turn pink. This should take 2 or 3 minutes.
  7. When the shrimp is no longer translucent remove the pan from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
  8. Drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Place the pasta in the serving dish and toss with the butter sauce. Crumble the feta cheese over the dish.
    • Never rinse pasta.  The outside of cooked pasta is starchy and will quickly absorb the flavor of the sauce you add it to.  If you rinse the pasta, you rinse off the starch.  Also, you should try to get the pasta into the sauce as quickly as possible.  It will soak up the sauce faster.

 Serve immediately. Offer your guests more crumbled feta at the table.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sausage Cheese Grits

Last spring, I took my niece Allie to New York City as a thirteenth birthday present. One morning we decided to eat at a brunch buffet. Allie went from hot pan to hot pan searching. “Can I help you find something?” a friendly server asked. “I’m lookin’ for grits,” Allie smiled back. The server made a face like he had just sucked a lemon, “We do not serve grits.” “Well,” Allie looked him square in the eye, “Ya’ll are makin’ a mistake.”

She was right.

Servings: 4 main course or 6 side dishes
Hardware: knife and cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, no powder latex gloves, a large heavy skillet with a lid (preferably cast iron), and a wooden spoon
Time: Prep 5 minutes, cooking 15

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Italian sausage link (¼ pound)
  • 1 small onion minced (½ cup)
  • 1 small jalapeño
    • The seeds and the white ribs of a pepper contain capsaicin, which is the chemical responsible for the heat. So remove these if you prefer less heat. Always seed and chop peppers using gloves.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup quick grits
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • S&P
These are slap your mama good!

  1. Wash and mince the chives. Set these aside.
  2. Mince the onions,the smaller the better.
  3. Wearing the gloves, seed and chop the pepper.
  4. Heat the oil in the skillet on medium. Remove the sausage from the casing. Put the sausage, onion, and pepper in the skillet. Cook and crumble the sausage, until it’s no longer pink. This should take about 7 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the milk and water. When the mixture has begun to boil, slowly stir in the grits.
  6. Allow the grits to return to a boil, stirring the whole time.
  7. Reduce the grits to low, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stir often.
  8. Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter, and chives.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
 Serve immediately. Garnish with more cheese and a sprinkle of chopped chives.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gurkensalat (Cucumber Salad)

My friend Pat’s mother is from Germany. She has served this many times at picnics. It is creamy, bright, and refreshing. I tried to recreate her dish. This isn’t quite as wonderful as Maria’s, but it is still tasty.

Servings: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, a vegetable peeler, cutting board and knife, a colander, a bowl

Das schmeckt sehr gut.
This tastes very good.
  • 1 English cucumber, these are long, skinny, and seedless (You can substitute 2 regular cukes, but you must seed them.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Fresh black pepper
  1. Peel the cucumber. Slice it into very thin 2 inch strips.
  2. Place the cucumber in the colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow it to rest over the sink for 15 minutes.
  3. While the cucumber is resting, mix together everything but the pepper.
  4. Squeeze as much of the water as possible from the cucumbers and mix them into the dressing.
  5. Top with a few grinds of pepper.
You can serve this right away or place it in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simply Squash

I realized that I haven’t given you very many vegetable dishes. Today, I am going to begin to correct that oversight. Squash is plentiful this time of year and I think it is best served with as little interference as possible.

Simply Squash

Servings: 4-6
Hardware: Measuring spoons, cutting board and knives, a skillet with a lid, a wooden spoon
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 30 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound zucchini
  • ½ pound summer squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  1. Wash and slice the squash. Cut the squash into medallions or coins, discarding the ends. Try to make the cuts the same size.
  2. Heat the oil on medium high.
  3. Add everything but the oregano. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until the squash begins to get soft. Stir often.
  4. Reduce the heat and cover placing the lid at a tilt to allow steam to escape. Cook until the squash are completely tender and beginning to turn golden brown around the edges. Stir occasionally. This should take about 30 minutes.
  5. About 10 minutes before the squash is finished, chop the oregano and stir into the dish.
Serve right away.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Red Sauce with Meat

Italian-Americans call this gravy. Once upon a time on Sundays, an Italian-American mama would start working on this dish early, right after Mass. The house would fill with the aroma of pungent garlic and sweet basil. In the evening, her whole family would gather at the table and talk and shout and laugh. And eat. This ritual bound them to one another like a sacrament.

Next Sunday, gather your family together and spend sometime reconnecting. And mangia!

Servings: 6-8
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a large Dutch oven (or other big pot with a heavy bottom), a wooden spoon, a can opener
Time: Prep: 15 minutes Cooking: 2 hours (or more)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onions diced (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium green pepper (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, diced
  • 8 oz portabello mushrooms
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound Italian sausage (mild or spicy)
  • 3 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes – do not drain
  • 1-14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1-15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
  1. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven on medium.
  2. Remove the sausage from the casing.  Cook and crumble the sausage and beef, until they are no longer pink. (About 7 minutes)
  3. While the meat is cooking prep the veggies. Dice the onion, pepper, and garlic. Wash and slice the mushrooms.
  4. Drain most of the fat from the pot. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms to the Dutch oven.
  5. Stir and allow the onions, etc to sweat for 4-5 minutes. The onions should be bubbling, but not browning. Stir occasionally. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  6. Add the Italian seasoning. Add the beef stock, wine, and tomatoes. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and then turn down to low.
  7. Simmer the sauce, uncovered for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.
  8. 15 minutes before serving stir in the basil and oregano.
Serve over spaghetti with toast. Offer your family shredded Parmesan and a nice glass of Chianti.
This freezes nicely.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Meatballs don't need a great deal of discussion.  Yum!

Servings: 25 meatballs

Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a mixing bowl, un-powdered latex gloves, a large heavy pan, a fork
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 1 hour

  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Braising liquid (stock, sauce, wine, soup, whatever strikes your fancy)
  1. Put on latex gloves. Combine all the ingredients (except the oil and the braising liquid) in the bowl and mix with your hands. Make golf ball sized meat balls.
  2. Heat the oil on medium. Brown the meatballs on all sides for about 8 minutes. Turn them ¼ time every 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the fat from the pan.
  4. Add enough liquid to the pan to cover the meatballs about 2/3 of the way. Simmer them for about 45 minutes, turning them over at the 20 minute mark. Check the largest meatball to see if it is done.
You can also drop the meatballs in sauce or soup and cook them that way.   You can serve these as an appetizer, on a sandwich, cut them in half and put them on a pizza, drop them in red sauce, or serve them over noodles with a white sauce.

You can cook the meatballs, allow them to cool, and place them in a single layer on a plate. Freeze them for about an hour and then freeze them for long term storage with a food saver system.  Whenever I have free time, I make two batches of them and freeze them for later.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apple Crisp

This week America celebrates her Independence. Apple Pie has always been seen as the quintessential American dessert. But pie crusts are hard to make and in another great American tradition, I’m taking the easy way out and making Apple Crisp instead. Believe it or not, because I don’t add sugar to the apples and only to the crisp this has less than 300 calories per serving. Also very American to eat Apple Crisp and claim to be dieting. God bless the USA.

Servings: 6
Time: Prep: 15 minutes, cooking: 45 minutes
Hardware: Measuring cups and spoons, peeler, knives, cutting board, wooden spoon, 2 small bowls, large mixing bowl, and 8”x 8” glass dish

  • 6 medium tart apples~ about 2 pounds (I like Granny Smiths)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 6 tablespoons of sweet butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  3. Peel, core and chop the apples. Toss them in the lemon juice.
  4. In the mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, pumpkin spice, flour, and oats.
  5. Pour the butter over the oats mixture and blend until the mixture is crumbly.
  6. Spray the glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the apples in the baking dish then sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon.
  7. Sprinkle the oat crumbs over the apples
  8. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until apples are soft and the crisp is crispy.
 Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra decedent dessert.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pear and Feta Salad with Pecan Crusted Chicken

People tell me often that I am creative. So, I sat down and tried to think of how creativity works for me personally. Usually, I will get an idea-for a recipe or a poem or a painting-and it will float around in my head for a while. The idea will gather other ideas and snowball (or mushroom?) until I must purge myself by creating. Most often the creation pours out of me whole. To an outsider it must appear as if the end result just sprang out at that moment and therefore seems more spontaneous than it really is. But trust me, there are many threads floating around in here….

I don’t know where the inspiration for this recipe came from. It has just been floating around in my head for a week or so. I think I read (Facebook) about a maple pecan encrusted chicken dish, maybe? Who knows? Who cares? I did this. It tastes marvelous.

Serves: 4
Time: 10 minutes
Hardware: Salad bowl & salad tongs, measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board, and knives, a bowl, 4 serving dishes

  • 1 bag of pre-washed Italian salad greens
  • 2 slices red onion, separated into ring
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1 pear
  • 1 cup of your favorite vinaigrette (or make my Pear Infused White Wine Vinaigrette)
  • ¼ cup + 4 teaspoons crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ pound pecan crusted chicken pieces (you can substitute chicken fingers)
  • ¼ cup candied pecans (optional)
  • Dash of S&P
  1. Soak the onion slices in the bowl of cold water. This will make them less pungent.
  2. Peel, core and slice the pear into ¼ inch chunks. Toss the pear pieces in a tablespoon of the vinaigrette. This will help prevent browning.
  3. Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  4. Roughly chop the pecans (if you are using them)
  5. Drain the onions. Roughly dice half of them set the other half aside.
  6. Toss the greens with ½ cup of the vinaigrette.
  7. Add ¼ cup feta, the chopped onions, pears, and a dash of S&P and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette.
  8. Place the salad in serving bowls. Top each serving with onion rings, a tablespoon of candied pecans, 1 teaspoon of feta and the chicken slices.
Serve right away.
Seriously good food!

Candied Maple Pecans

These things are addictive. I mean really, before you know it you will be stealing from your grandmother to feed your habit.

Servings: 1 cup
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Cooking: 10 minutes, Resting: 30 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons, a pan, a wooden spoon, parchment paper (or a silicone baking sheet), a baking sheet, an airtight container

  •  3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (real-not artificially flavored)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  1. Cover the baking sheet in the parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Put all the ingredients in the pan and stir. Heat over medium high until every thing melts, stirring often.
  3. Then turn the pan to medium low and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. This should take 8-10 minutes.
  4. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet and allow them to cool completely.
  5. These can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a week.

Sprinkle these on salads, over ice cream, stir them into waffles, or eat huge handfuls of them when you think no one is looking. 
Use these as a garnish on my Pear and Feta Salad or when you make my Cranberry Bacon Cheese Spread.

Pecan Crusted Chicken

Pecans are plentiful in Florida. In fact, the land my grandparents lived on used to be a pecan grove. I remember picking up bushels of pecans when I was a child and we would spend the whole day shelling them. By the end of the day our hands would be black. I recall the day I was strong enough to crack two of them by squeezing them together in one hand. I was so proud of myself. I remember the bitter taste of the little paper hull inside.  I remember pecan pies! Pecans always make me think of home.

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 20 minutes
Hardware: A cutting board and knife, measuring spoons and cups, a food chopper, 2-1 gallon plastic zip bags, a baking sheet

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Rinse the chicken in clean water and pat dry. Cut into serving size pieces for dinner or bite size pieces for appetizers.
  2. Grind the pecans into fine crumbs.
  3. Put the egg, water, and corn starch in a plastic Ziploc bag. Massage the bag until completely mixed. It may foam up, that is okay.
  4. Combine all the other ingredients except the chicken in the other plastic bag. Shake this like crazy to mix.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  6. Place each piece of chicken into the egg mixture and toss to coat.
  7. Then place each piece of chicken into the flour mixture and toss to coat.
  8. Place the chicken in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  9. Allow the chicken to bake for 20 minutes for dinner pieces or 15 minutes for appetizers.
Serve warm.

This can be made through step 7, placed in a single layer on a plate, wrapped in plastic, and stuck in the fridge up to 3 hours early. Take them out 30 minutes ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven when guests arrive.

If serving this as an appetizer, stick each piece with a toothpick and offer honey mustard dressing for dipping. You can also serve this over my Pear and Feta Salad.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pear Infused White Wine Vinaigrette

Pears infuse this dressing with a delicate fruit flavor
I enjoy making my own dressing. Homemade dressing is much tastier than store bought dressing and can come in as many varieties as you can dream up.

Servings: 2 cups
Time: 10 minutes
Hardware: Cutting board and knives, pot, measuring spoons and cups, a blender, a glass jar with a lid (or a salad dressing bottle)

  • 2 ripe pears
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar (you can use champagne vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 ½ cup light extra virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
  • S&P

  1. Peel, core, and chop the pears. Boil them in the ½ cup of white wine. Simmer the pears until they are very soft and most of the wine is absorbed. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pears from the heat and allow them to cool. Strain the pears.
  2. Put the pears and all the other ingredients except the oil and the S&P into the blender and pulse until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. With the blender running, SLOWLY pour the olive oil in so the dressing will emulsify. Salt & pepper to taste.
  4. This can be made ahead, placed in an airtight container, and stored in the fridge for up to a week. Shake well before serving.
You can use different fruits for different flavors. Peaches, a cup of strawberries, apricots, apples, or a cup of raspberries would also work. If using berries (raspberries, blackberries,  strawberries) mash them up in the wine after boiling them. Strain the wine and use the wine rather than the berries themselves.

Serve this over my Pear and Feta Salad.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Black Pepper and Sea Salt Croutons

These croutons are so much better for you than the boxed, processed mess you buy in the store. They are baked, not fried and they contain no partially hydrogenated soybean oil or no soy lecithin.  Although I do enjoy some good soy lecithin.

Black Pepper & Sea Salt Croutons

Servings: 2 cups
Time: Prep: 5 minutes Cooking: 10 minutes
Hardware: Cutting board and knife, large bowl, measuring spoons, baking sheet

  • 1 loaf of day old French bread cut into 1x1 inch square (2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 350°.
  2. Toss all of the ingredients in the bowl until the bread is evenly coated.
  3. Spread the bread in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
These can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for 3 days.  You can change these up by adding 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite savory spice/spices (rosemary, thyme, sage.)

These go great atop Caesar Salad.

Caesar Salad Dressing

This salad is most often attributed to Caesar Cardini, an Italian-Mexican (Could there be a better combination??) He lived part of the time in California but worked in Tijuana to avoid Prohibition. (Okay, a pro-alcohol, Italian-Mexican-Can this guy get any better????)

The original recipe didn't contain anchovies, but I don't care. I like anchovies.

Servings: 1 cup
Time: 3 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons & cups, a blender

  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/8 cup FRESH lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 anchovies
  • ½ teaspoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
  • S&P

  1.  Put all the ingredients except the oil & the S&P into the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. With the blender running, SLOWLY pour the olive oil in so the dressing will emulsify.
  3. Salt & pepper to taste.
This can be made ahead, placed in an airtight container, and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stir again before using to make a wonderful Caesar Salad.

* There is a slight risk of salmonella from using raw eggs. If you prefer you can substitute 2 tablespoons of GOOD mayo for the eggs. However, unless you or your guests are pregnant, children under the age of 10, or have a compromised immune system, I’d use the eggs.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mactastic Macaroni Salad

Tomorrow is the first day of summer-picnic season!  Macaroni salad is as necessary to a proper picnic as is a striped blanket, a lovely day, and ants.

This salad is so easy that you might not wait for the ants.

Servings: 8
Time: Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 9 minutes, Chill: 2 hours
Hardware: measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a mixing bowl, a pot, a colander, a large storage container, a small storage container

  • 1 cup olive oil based mayonnaise (you can substitute lite mayo)
  • ¾ cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until they are all completely incorporated. Set aside ¼ cup of the dressing.
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ small onion (¼ cup)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ½ small bell pepper (¼ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickles (use dill or sweet~whatever you prefer)
  • Dressing
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper
  1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain.
  2. Boil the eggs.
    • You can cook the eggs and the macaroni together to save time.
  3. While the macaroni and eggs are cooking prep the veggies. Wash and dice the celery, onion, and pepper. Dice the pickle.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the eggs.
  5. Mix everything but the reserved dressing and pepper. Refrigerate the salad for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  6. Mix in the reserved dressing and a few grinds of black pepper just before serving.
    • Pasta is thirsty and will soak up most of the dressing. The reserved dressing will ensure that your salad is creamy.
You can also try one of these variations:

Italian Mactastic Macaroni Salad
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (mixed in dressing)
¼ cup chopped pepperoni
2 tablespoons chopped black olives
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Clucking Good Mactastic Macaroni Salad
Replace the pickle juice in the dressing with lemon juice
½ cup chopped chicken
¼ cup peeled, chopped tart apple
3 slices of fried crumbled bacon

Macaroni of the Sea Mactastic Macaroni Salad
¼ cup thawed English peas
1 small diced carrot (¼ cup)
¼ cup rinsed tuna

Hamtastic Macaroni Salad
4 eggs instead of 2
½ cup diced ham
8 oz cheddar cheese cut into cubes (mix this in with the reserved dressing)

Mactastic Shrimp and Macaroni Salad
Substitue 1 cup of  Lemon Dill Mayo for 1 cup of mayo
Replace the onion with green onion
¼ cup rinsed canned salad shrimp

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Beef Kabobs

Florida is on fire right now. As of this morning, 250 wild fires raged throughout the state. For weeks now smoke has hung heavy in the air. This happens every year. Wildfires are so common, in fact, that a species of pine tree found here, the Marsh Pine, has evolved to only release its seeds when burned.

All this smoke has made me think of grilling. I know. I’m weird like that.

Few things are more satisfying than food on a stick
Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep: 15 minutes; Marinade time: 2-6 hours; Cook: 40 minutes
Hardware: A grill, measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board, a zester, a gallon Ziplock bag, a large glass bowl, a small plastic container with a lid, a pot, a paper towel, skewers, tongs, an old dish rag, a grill, a microwave, a brush, 2 plates

  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice and the zest of one lemon
  • ¼ cup limejuice and the zest of one lime
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
 Shish Kabobs
  • 1 pound beef (sirloin, top sirloin, filet)
  • 10 baby potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 10 large white mushrooms
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • cooking spray
  • oil for the grill

  1.  If you are using bamboo skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes. This will prevent them from burning. Weight them down in the sink with a plate.
  2. Cut the meat into bite size chunks. Try to make the chunks the same size so that they will cook evenly.
  3. In a large glass bowl, mix all of the marinade ingredients. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade. Store it in the fridge in the plastic container. Put the steak in the Ziploc. Pour the remaining marinade in the bag too. Place that in the fridge. (I always put this in a bowl, bag and all, because sometimes those zippers unzip. Not fun.) Marinate the steak from 2-6 hours, turning the bag over every once in a while.
    • Don’t marinate the meat for too long or it will become mushy.
  4. Wash the potatoes and boil them for 10ish minutes.  They should be completely cooked, but still firm enough to be skewered with out falling apart.  Drain them.
  5. Remove the steak from the fridge and allow it to sit out for 30 minutes. This allows it to return to room temperature and helps everything cook evenly.
  6. While the meat is resting wash and prep the veggies. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. (Chop these up and toss them in a salad.) Seed the peppers and remove the white ribs. Cut the peppers and onions into 1-1 ½ inch squares.
  7. Spray the skewers with cooking spray.
  8. Drain the steak and pat dry. Discard the used marinade.
  9. Create the kabobs by skewering the meat and veggies.
    • Vary the order that you add the ingredients. I like to put the tomatoes on the ends so that they don’t over cook and fall off.  Try to put the potatoes toward the center to make sure that they are completely cooked.
  10. Spray the kabobs with cooking spray.
  11. Warm the reserved marinade in the microwave.
  12. Prepare the grill by using the old rag and tongs to coat the grill with oil. This will ensure that the kabobs don’t stick and that you get those groovy grill marks.
  13. Start the fire.  You should grill the kabobs on an uncovered grill over direct flames. Grill for them for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating ¼ turn every few minutes. Cook 10 minutes for rare, 12 for medium rare.
  14. Remove the kabobs from the grill to a clean plate. Brush all the kabobs with the warm reserved marinade. Allow them to rest for 5 minutes.
 Serve with a salad.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All Love Veal with Olives

The history of olives and that of humans are intertwined. The olive tree is the oldest fruit tree known to man. We have cultivated them for at least 6,000 years. The trees themselves are extremely long lived, some of them growing for 1,000 years. Olives were used for everything: lamp fuel, lubrication, food, and wood. They were so useful that they became sacred. Athena won the right to be the patron of Athens by giving the people the gift of the world's first olive tree. Odysseus blinded the Cyclops with an olive branch and thus avoided being eaten. During the ancient Olympics the winners were rewarded with a crown of olive leaves. Noah realized that the great flood waters were receding when a dove returned to the ark with an olive branch. God sent the dove to make peace with humans and this is why “extending the olive branch” means making peace to this day.

So tonight, I offer you a meal featuring this sacred fruit. Peace.  Enjoy.
Sweet wine, earthy mushrooms, salty olives, happy diner
Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 15 Minutes
Hardware: measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a gallon Ziploc bag, a heavy bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a wooden spoon, tongs, a plate, tinfoil, a whisk (I use a flat whisk)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (maybe more)
  • 2 oz pancetta (or two slices of bacon)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion (¼ to ½ cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 1b veal scalloppini (you can use chicken)
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 4 oz button mushrooms
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons sweet butter (no salt)

  1. Dice the onions and garlic.
  2. Wash the mushrooms and roughly chop them.
  3. Rinse the olives under running water.  This is very important otherwise this dish will be too salty.  Roughly chop the rinsed olives.
  4. Dice the pancetta.
  5. Place the flour and cornstarch in the plastic bag. Put the scallopini in the bag and shake it like crazy to coat the veal. Set aside.
  6. Loosely tent the plate with foil.
  7. Heat the olive oil in the pan on medium high.
  8. Add the garlic, onions, and pancetta to the pan and cook for a minute or so.
  9. Push the onions, pancetta, and garlic to the side.
  10. Shake as much flour from the veal as possible and add it to the pan a few pieces at a time. Don’t crowd the veal.
  11. Because it is so thin, scallopini cooks quickly. Only allow the veal to cook for 1- 1 ½ minutes and then turn with the tongs. Cook for another minute or so on the other side.
  12. You may need to add a little more olive oil if the pan becomes dry.
  13. Remove the veal from the pan and keep it warm in the tinfoil tent.
  14. Turn the pan down to medium and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the olives and mushrooms. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid.
  15. Add the wine. Use the whisk to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  16. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes. Using the whisk, stir often, scrapping the bottom and sides of the pan as you do.
  17. Whisk in the remaining butter and simmer for another minute.
  18. Add the veal to the sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through.
    • You will NOT need to add salt to this dish.
Serve with risotto and a baby spinach salad.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tarragon Chicken Salad

This salad is quick, simple, and addictive.

Servings: 2-4
Time: Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 2 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoon, a small skillet, a plate covered in a paper towel, a can opener, kitchen scissors, a bowl, a mixing spoon

Sweet, buttery, crunchy, chickeny goodness
  • 1-9.75 oz can white chicken breast (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • ¼ cup mayo
  • Fresh cracked pepper

  1. Toast the almonds in the butter over medium heat. Watch them carefully because they burn quickly. Remove them when they are golden brown.  Drain the almonds on the plate and allow them to cool.
  2. Cut the grapes in half. This is easier to do with kitchen scissors than it is with a knife.
  3. Drain the chicken.
  4. Mix the chicken, grapes, toasted almonds, tarragon, and mayo. Top with a few grinds of black pepper.
  5. Refrigerate until ready you are ready to serve.

 Serve this salad on potato rolls if you can resist eating it right out of the bowl.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a popular Southern dish. They can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, and believe it or not as a sandwich. They are so quick and easy that I often just eat them by themselves as a meal. However it doesn’t matter how you eat them just that you eat them.

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep-10 minutes, Cook-4 minutes
Hardware: Cutting board and knives, measuring spoons, two bowls, a fork, a heavy skillet, a plate, a paper towel

  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • 2 large green tomatoes
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup oil for frying
  • Feta cheese, balsamic glaze

When you crunch into these you'll believe you're down home!

  1. Fry the bacon in the skillet to render the fat. (Eat the bacon or save it for another dish.)
  2. Wash the tomatoes and slice them about ¼ inch thick. Discard the ends.
  3. Mix the flour, corn meal, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in one bowl.
  4. Beat the egg in the other bowl. Stir in the buttermilk.
  5. Cover the plate in the paper towel.
  6. Heat the oil and the bacon fat over medium heat.
  7. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture and shake off the excess, then dip them in the milk wash, and dredge them in the flour again.
  8. Place the tomatoes in the hot oil without allowing them to touch. Fry them until they are golden brown and then flip them. This should take about 2 minutes. When they are golden brown on the second side (another 2 minutes) remove them to the plate to drain on the paper towel.

Serve them warm, sprinkled with feta cheese, and drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shrimp and Surimi Salad

“What is surimi?” you ask. To tell the truth it is Krab with a “k”. Most people think that eating Krab is a joke. Joke’s on them.  This salad is wonderful with a “w”.

This is the perfect summer salad

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep: 20 minutes; Cooking: 2 minutes
Hardware: Measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, 2 large pots, a colander, a bowl, a mixing spoon

  • ½ pound 31-35 count shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Ice
  • ½ pound surimi “Krab legs” (I use Kanimi Crab Smart Sticks)
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • Salt to taste

  1. Zest and slice the lemon. Set the zest aside.
  2. Place the lemon slices and Old Bay in a pot. Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  3. Fill the other pot with ice and water.
  4. Drop the shrimp in the boiling water and cook for 2-2 ½ minutes.
  5. Drain the shrimp and place them in the ice bath to stop them from cooking. When they have cooled, drain them again.
  6. Peel and clean the shrimp. Cut each shrimp into three pieces.
  7. Cut the surimi sticks into ½ inch slices.
  8. Wash and slice the green onion.
  9. Wash and chop the dill.
  10. Mix the yogurt, mayo, onion, dill, and lemon zest.
  11. Fold in the shrimp and surimi. The surimi should separate.
  12. Salt to taste.
  13. Refrigerate until you are ready to use.

This salad is great on a bed of Bibb lettuce. You can also make really tasty sandwiches by serving this on crusty bread with slices of fresh tomato and shredded lettuce.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spinach & Shrimp, White Pizza

I love shrimp.  I love spinach.  I love this pizza.  You will, too.

Servings: 8 slices
Time:  Prep: 15 minutes; Cooking:  12-15 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring spoons, a pan, a bowl, a spoon, a spatula, and a pizza stone or baking sheet

  • 1 -12" pre-made pizza crust (I like Boboli)
  • ¾ pound large (31-35 count) shrimp
  • 4 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pesto (I use Classico or I make my own)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded cheese

Before                                       After

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. 
  2. Wash the spinach and remove the stems. Peel and clean the shrimp.
  3. Heat the butter in the pan on medium. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so. 
  4. Add the shrimp and lemon juice and cook until the shrimp are just done (2-4 minutes). Remove the shrimp from the heat.
    • You might want to undercook the shrimp a little, because they will cook more in the oven. 
  5. Mix the pesto, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the shrimp until blended.
  6. Spread the ricotta mixture over the pizza.
  7. Top the pizza with the spinach leaves and then with the shrimp.
  8. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake the pizza for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. 
Serve warm.  This goes great with Caesar Salad.