I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pepperoni Bread A.K.A. Stuffed Bread A.K.A. Anything Bread

This is one of those recipes that you can turn into so many different things that you could almost call it;"Anything Bread".The more colorful the fillings you choose to use the prettier the pattern is when you slice it . My Aunt Jay made hers with italian Sausage, she would use the italian sausage my Uncle Louie made in his butcher shop. His sausage had just the right amount of fennel seed and spices. The only real trick is not overstuffing it, this way you can roll it up into a neat little loaf without it bursting. Even if it does burst a little, it won't harm the taste any.

Pepperoni Bread

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed in refrigerator overnight
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup grated Provolone cheese (other cheeses optional)
1 cup grated mozzarella
3 tbsp. melted butter
3 1/2 oz. pkg. thin sliced pepperoni, quartered

Roll dough out to 9 x 12 inch rectangle. Brush 1/2 of the butter lightly over dough. Combine oregano, seasoned salt, parsley flakes and garlic powder sprinkle over buttered dough. Arrange pepperoni on top and cover with cheeses. Roll like a jellyroll very tightly to look like a loaf of French bread, pinch to close. Lay seam side down on pan. Brush with remaining butter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Big Stuff, Big Food, Big Fun

Supersize fun without the calories. This is a great catalog. The jumbo wristwatch makes a great wall clock. The giant cup and saucer makes a great centerpiece for the dining room table. These giant hamburgers make great chairs for the kids to sit on.
Some great gag gift ideas. Who doesn't love.......

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Comfort Food

My mother liked to cook and I loved just about everything that she made. But there were a few of her recipes that stood out above the rest, one of them being her Beef Stew with Bisquick dumplings. Lots of dumplings steaming in that rich beef and onion gravy, the beef just falling apart it was so tender. I’m salivating now just thinking about it. It’s just one of those dishes that takes you back to your childhood, we all have favorite foods that do just that.

Beef Stew with Bisquick Dumplings

1 lb. stew beef
1 pkg. carrots
4 sm. potatoes
1 can of peas
4 sm. onions
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 pkg. onion soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 8 ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add 2 tablespoons of flour mixed with water to stew to thicken.

2 1/2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cups milk

Combine Bisquick and milk. Drop mixture by spoonfuls onto top of stew. Cook approximately 15 minutes with pot covered.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fried Avocados

When visiting my Aunt and Uncle in California many years ago, I couldn’t get over all the different things they did with avocados. I always liked avocados but for me they usually came in the form of guacamole or a one or two slice garnish on a sandwich. Boy did I ever underestimate their versatility. My family in California used them in hot soup, cold soup, salads they even put avocados in their breakfast omelets. But I have to say one of my all time favorites was and still is the;” Beer Batter Fried Avocado”. The taste is amazing especially when dipped in either a ranch dressing or salsa, I guarantee it will be one of your new favorite snacks or make enough of them and just call it dinner!

Beer Batter Fried Avocados

1-1/2 Cups beer (whatever kind you like)
1-1/2 Cups flour
2 Teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
4 Hass Avocados
Vegetable oil as needed for frying
Salt to taste
Ranch dressing (for dipping)
Salsa (for dipping)

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the beer, flour, paprika and garlic together until well blended.
Let the batter stand for 2 hours before using it.
In a large frying pan, heat oil to a depth of two inches.
Peel the avocados and slice into wedges.
Dip the wedges in the batter. Fry in the hot oil until golden about 3 minutes, turning once. Fry in batches.
Remove the wedges from the pan and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lemon Risotto

Risotto is one of those warm and creamy comfort foods. This lemon risotto has such a fresh flavor. It can be eaten as a main dish as you can with most risottos. But this one I tend to like as a side dish to a nice baked fish or roasted chicken, it just seems to round out the meal.
If serving as the main course this recipe will generously serve 3 to 4 people, if using as a side dish about 7 or 8

Lemon Risotto

6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fennel and Orange Salad

I do not know how many of you are familiar with fennel but it’s something everyone should try. It’s very similar in texture to celery but much crunchier. Celery tends to be very bland; fennel however has a bold licorice flavor.
Fennel was a common staple in Italian- American households. As children we would use the fennel stalks as straws to drink our water or other beverages with. It was fun to see how the drinks flavor would change once it mixed with the licorice flavor of the fennel straw.
Fennel can be eaten raw (very low calorie), steamed, fried, braised. It’s a nice flavor enhancer to most recipes. Its licorice flavor is less intense when cooked.
The fennel leaves or fronds can be used as a garnish or a seasoning.

Fennel and Orange Salad

3-4 Oranges
Olive Oil
A medium-large fennel bulb
Balsamic vinegar
Small red onion sliced thin(separated into rings)

3 or 4 medium sized oranges- peeled and sliced or segments if you prefer.Salt the oranges and drizzle generously with olive oil. Put aside while you cut the fennel to allow salt to bring the juices out of the oranges.Clean and quarter a medium-to-large bulb of fennel and slice it as thin as possible. Toss it with the oranges and season with some more salt and a bit of ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the onions and garnish with the fennel leaves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do you remember "Dump Cake"?

I had forgotten all about “Dump Cake” until a friend served one at a gathering. I couldn’t get over how good it tasted, I can’t believe I have gone so many years without making it. Literally Dump everything in a pan, lightly stir, bake and eat. What’s really great about this cake is that it looks and tastes complicated; it has so many flavors, textures and colors’ going on that it is hard to fathom its simplicity.

Dump Cake

1 can cherry pie filling
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice (do not drain)
1 white or yellow cake mix (dry, straight out of the bag)
1- 8 oz. bag chopped walnuts or pecans (your preference)
1- 7 oz. bag flaked or shredded coconut
1/4 cup butter, melted (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take out, but do not prepare, 13x9 inch baking pan. Dump cherry pie filling and pineapple with its juice into pan. Spread around to combine fruit just a little. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the fruit. Sprinkle nuts and coconut over cake mix. Drizzle butter evenly over nuts and coconut. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until coconut looks toasty. Let cool for 15 minutes or so.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Give me a little "Quiche`"

These are just fun and fancy all at the same time. I love working with egg roll wrappers and won ton skins, they are so versatile. These are great to serve anytime; A Sunday brunch, family dinner or a make your own quiche party.

Egg Roll Quiche`

12 egg roll wrappers
3 eggs -- slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
salt and pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese -- shredded
6 slices bacon -- cooked, drained & crumbled
2 Tablespoons dried parsley

Lightly grease muffin tins. Gently press an egg roll skin into each muffin cup. You can trim the skin to fit the cup if you choose, set aside.Sprinkle cheese into each lined cup. Mix eggs, milk, minced onion & pepper. Pour egg mixture over cheese. Sprinkle each with bacon, parsley & paprika. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pizza Fritte (italian fried dough)

Why wait for a festival to be able to enjoy fried dough. We made this at home when I was growing up. If you do not feel like making a batch of pizza dough you can go to your local pizzeria and ask for a pound of dough, the charge is minimal. Local supermarkets also carry bags of pizza dough, usually in the bakery department (sometimes it’s in the frozen foods section of the store).

Pizza Fritte

3 cups of oil (canola or vegetable)
1 lb. all purpose dough (store bought pizza dough)

For Toppings:
Melted butter, powdered sugar and/or cinnamon sugar (needless to say; I use all three)
It’s also great with butter and Jam (any flavor you like) or how about pancake style with a little butter and maple syrup……it’s all good.

When mine come out of the oil I drain them on paper towel, then I put a piece of fried dough on a plate, slather it with melted butter, sprinkle it with powdered sugar then dust it with cinnamon sugar, good thing I don’t make this on a regular basis.

Pour oil into an 8 inch skillet, until the skillet is half full. Heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, prepare your pieces of dough. Break off pieces of dough the size of the palm of your hand. Flatten each piece with your hands until it is 1/2 to 1 inch thick. With a fork, prick the top of each piece of dough all over.
When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, begin to fry the dough. Cook as many pieces as you can fit in the skillet at the same time. When the pieces become light brown on one side, turn them. When the other side is also light brown, transfer the fried dough to a paper towel to drain. Top with whatever you like,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Onions Neptune

This is one of those really delicious appetizers that you almost want to eat as your main course. I’m not going to lie to you…..I have actually poured this gooey delight over pasta and served the bread on the side. The onions, crab and Swiss really match very well together. It’s a truly great flavor combination.

Onions Neptune

5 to 6 medium sweet onions, sliced and separated into rings
1/4 cup of butter, softened
2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crab meat, drained, divided
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
½ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
12 to 16 slices of French bread (1/4 inch thick) to be buttered or oiled and toasted separately or baked on top of the casserole.

In a large skillet, sauté onions in butter until tender. Remove from heat; gently stir in half of the crab. Spead into a greased 13”X 9” baking dish. Top with remaining crab. Combine the cheese, soup, milk, salt and pepper; spoon over crab.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

There are 2 options for your French bread slices, you may brush one side of them with butter or oil and toast them separately to serve along side the dip or you can place the bread slices buttered side up right on top of the casserole. Baking the bread on top of the casserole leaves half the bread toasty and the underside all rich and gooey with the sauce and cheese. Either way it’s all delicious.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Good Luck To All

In keeping with the food theme and Friday the 13th here are some interesting food superstitions. Most of this information was obtained from Factmonster and HGTV websites.

Food and Superstitions

The ancient Egyptians thought onions kept evil spirits away. When they took an oath (made a promise), they placed one hand on an onion.

The custom of throwing rice at weddings goes back to the time when people thought rice, a symbol of health and prosperity, would appease evil spirits so they would not bother the wedding couple.

In Hungary, salt is thrown on the threshold of a new house because it is thought that salt will protect the inhabitants from evil.

Europeans who believed in vampires sprinkled mustard seed on the roof of their homes to keep them away.

Throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder will prevent bad luck.

Eating carrots supposedly improves night vision. However, a cup of spinach works better.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Here's another fun apple myth: Peel the apple until it breaks and toss the rind. Whatever letter it forms is supposedly the first letter of your true love's name.

For many years, Europeans have used garlic as a charm against the evil eye. Some wore bulbs of garlic around their necks. Others placed wreaths of garlic over their doors for protection.

Garlic Chicken


3 lbs of chicken pieces(thighs, legs, breasts)
1/2 cup pesto
40 cloves of garlic(peeled)
1/2 cup chicken stock

Brown chicken pieces, then place in a pan with pesto and garlic cloves. Add chicken stock. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Last Nights Dinner

I love linguini with clam sauce, I do prefer the white over the red. Last night I decided to make an improvised version using bacon and bell peppers. It was so good it tasted just like clams casino. I know I should have stopped eating at the feeling of full rather than bursting at the seams. But the taste and the aromas were so amazing that I just couldn’t get enough. The only thing I served with it was a little garlic bread. I convinced myself that the red bell pepper would suffice as the veggie part of this meal so I decided not to make a salad. It was starch and carbs all the way...... I'll do better tomorrow!

Linguini Clams Casino Style

2 Tablespoons of butter
4 strips of bacon cut into small pieces
1/3 Cup Olive oil
1/4 Teaspoon of Hot Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon of Oregano
3 Cloves garlic (sliced thin)
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
3-(8 oz) cans chopped clams with liquid
1/3 Cup Finely chopped parsley
1 Small Red Bell Pepper (green would be fine) diced or strips
1 lb Linguine

Place oil, butter and bacon in saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and bell pepper sauté another 5 minutes. Add Clams with liquid, stir in parsley, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Cook linguine according to package directions; drain well. Return to pot; add sauce; toss lightly. Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twice Baked, Double Good

My mother use to always make twice baked potatoes; it’s another great way to use up leftover meats and vegetables. You can use any type of cheese or seasoning not to mention; cream, cream cheese, sour cream, mascarpone I could just go on and on.
While at my grandmother’s for Easter dinner she made blue cheese twice baked they were so good and the flavor matched really well with the garlicky leg of lamb.

Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

4 medium-sized russet potatoes
4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pint heavy cream
1 tsp. finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bake potatoes until fully cooked.
Sauté bacon with the butter for 3-4 minutes in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients; simmer on low heat for 6-8 minutes.
Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise, removing potato from the skin leaving 1/4 inch shell. Set shell aside. Mix potato with the cream mixture until thoroughly combined.
Fill potato shells with mixture either with a spoon or if you like it a little fancier use a pastry bag with decorative tip.
Bake potatoes in 350ºF oven for 12 to 15 minutes until heated through.

Some of my fav's; "Swiss cheese, spinach and mushroom or Cheddar, bacon and Scallion not to mention Crab and Brie with Artichokes (sinful).

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Leftovers

Here’s an easy way to use up all your leftover ham from Easter. Even if you didn’t have ham you could also make this with leftover lamb or turkey.It’s fun food that the whole family can enjoy.

Leftover Ham Quesadillas

4 large flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8ounces or more of your leftover ham (thinly sliced or diced)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (optional)
Pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for brushing tops

Lightly spray a cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Arrange 2 tortillas on the cookie sheet, then evenly top with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Top the cheese with the sliced ham or turkey, the diced tomatoes, green onion, then the other 1/4 cup of cheese.
Sprinkle each with a little pepper, then cover each with another tortilla. Brush tops with vegetable oil and bake in a 425° oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until browned. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with mustard or mayonnaise.Serves 4.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Happy Easter Everyone

This was one of the recipes my grandmother found back in 1973 in either a Woman’s Day or Family Circle magazine. Since we did not eat meat on Good Friday she thought this would be a nice recipe to try. Everyone loved it so much that for awhile it became an every friday night meal. Served with a salad and some type of potato or rice on the side made for a very satisfying dinner.

This photo shows it being served with mayonaise on the side which is good but it's even better with the warm cheese sauce.

Tuna Roll recipe

2 cups tuna, drained (she usually used 6 cans)
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg (raw)
3 hard boiled eggs, shelled and chopped (will be sprinkled on top of filling when assembling your roll)

2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup waterSauce:
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1cup of milk

Mix tuna, cheese, celery salt, pepper and raw egg together,set aside.
Mix Bisquick and water to form soft dough. Roll into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle and spread tuna mixture over and sprinkle hard boiled egg over tuna mixture. Roll up and join ends. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Put soup, milk, salt and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until smooth. Now it is ready to serve with your tuna roll. Makes 4-6 servings

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

I have to dedicate this recipe to John Dodge. He was a cute southern gentleman in his 80’s and cantankerous to boot. He had a great love and appreciation for good food.
He had a particular fondness for Sausage gravy and biscuits, just ask the still red faced waitress at a little restaurant we use to take him to. The waitress no sooner would arrive at our table and Mr. Dodge would say loudly and I quote;” You got any of them damn sausage gravy and biscuits”? Thank goodness she said yes we do. He just loved them.
Then I told my friend Pamm, John’s daughter that I could make some small batches for him to have at home. All he would have to do is warm it in the microwave and I could have the biscuits for him split and wrapped in saran. Pamm told him my suggestion; he was surprised that I knew how to make them.
I got what I needed at the supermarket and went to John’s apartment to prepare them.
He sat at his kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal while I was cooking. All he kept saying
was;” that smells damn good”, a man of few words. When everything was done, before I started to put the gravy in containers I asked him if he wanted some while they were hot and fresh. He said no that he was full but would have some later. So I proceeded to package things up then I heard; “You know maybe I will have some, they smell mighty good”. I plated him up a couple biscuits with a couple ladles of sausage gravy placed it in front of him. I finished cleaning up the kitchen while he ate all the while muttering damn good, damn good.
After I left, his daughter called me and said that I had no sooner walked out the door and he called her to say;” Those were the best damn biscuits and sausage gravy I’ve ever had”!
Thank you John

In Memory of John H. Dodge


2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
½ cup of butter (1stick)
2/3 cup buttermilk


8 ounces breakfast sausage, crumbled
3 tablespoons of butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 450°. For Biscuits, in large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is size of coarse crumbs. Gradually drizzle in buttermilk, and then stir until just moistened. On lightly floured board, gently press into 8-inch round. Using 3-inch biscuit cutter cut out 6 biscuits. Place on baking sheet (does not need to be greased), arrange biscuits. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, for Sausage Gravy, in 12-inch nonstick skillet or large saucepan, brown sausage, breaking up with wooden spoon. Remove sausage from skillet and set aside. In same skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, with wire whisk, stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and return sausage to skillet. Simmer 1 minute or until desired thickness. To serve, top biscuits with Sausage Gravy.

If you do not have the time to bake biscuits store bought or Pillsbury works just fine.
But just remember…..Homemade biscuits are “Damn Good”!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tater Tots beyond the Salt and Ketchup

Okay I’ll admit it; I happen to like tater tots, beyond the normal sprinkling of salt and covered in ketchup way of eating them. I also like to use them as an ingredient in other things such as this “Tater Tot Beef Bake”. Sure the kids will love it but trust me the grown-ups will too. Everything is canned, frozen and prepackaged so there is no need for a lot of prep work. Plus you can modify the ingredients to suit your taste; “change the type of veggies, or use a different meat or no meat at all”. It’s a great way to utilize those leftovers in the fridge. Be creative, you can adjust this to your hearts content.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/4 cups of water
2 envelopes sloppy joe sauce mix
1 can (6ounces) tomato paste
3-1/2 cups frozen green beans
1 can (4 ounces) Mushrooms stems and pieces drained
6 cups frozen tater tots (big bag)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in water and sauce mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Add tomato paste; stir until blended. Add green beans and mushrooms.
Transfer to a greased 13-in. X 9-in. X 2-in. baking dish. Top with tater tots. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese; bake another 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.
This will serve about 6-8 people

Monday, April 2, 2007

A Bis - Quickie

The simplicity of bisquick is astonishing. It really is a magical ingredient.
This weekend my grandmother dazzled us with a French apple crumb pie that she found in her bisquick cookbook. Let me tell you it was as good if not better that some of the apple pies that I have had from some bakeries.
Bisquick really should be a staple in every kitchen. It is inexpensive, easy to use and the end results are always delicious. It’s pure comfort food in a box.
Here is another one of my bisquick favorites it only takes about 25 minutes start to finish.
These are so good warm with a little butter spread on them.

French Onion Drop Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick
1 container (8oz) of French onion dip
¼ cup milk

In a bowl, combine the baking mix and onion dip. Stir in the milk just until moistened. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet coated with non stick cooking spray.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm
Makes a dozen