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, December 31, 2007

Hope It's Great In 2008

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you and in you, may contentment answer all of your wishes.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh and may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day, a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion, so that you have much to share. May mirth be near you always, like a lamp shining brightly upon the many paths that you travel.

May you truly love and be loved.

Author Unknown

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Me at My Absolute "Wurst"

It was the best of times, it was the wurst of times, it was the age of mustard, it was the age of pumpernickel rye, it was the epoch of thinly sliced onion……..okay now I’ve just gone way too far. I am sure that Charles Dickens would greatly appreciate me turning “A tale of Two Cities” into a parody about liverwurst. If blame must go to anyone then by all means blame my mother for planting thoughts of liverwurst in my brain.
Each week I bring her something special to eat (of her choosing). During a visit with her yesterday she said that she had a request, she said the next time that I come she would like a liverwurst sandwich on rye with mustard and sliced onions. Then it hit me how long it had been since I had a liverwurst sandwich. I hated liverwurst until I was in my late teens, then later developed a taste for it. So needless to say my mother will not be the only one getting a treat next visit.

I really didn’t think that anyone needed a recipe for a liverwurst sandwich so I perused the web for a nice recipe that has liverwurst as an ingredient, hope it’s good, if not just make the sandwich.

Liverwurst Dip (This actually sounded pretty good)

1 lb. liverwurst (any)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 teaspoon of beef bouillon granules, diluted in 1 cup of warm water

Mix all ingredients together well.

Serve with bread or crackers

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Woman Bursts Somewhere in NY

Help! Help! I am surrounded by mountains of sugary carbohydrates….. did I mention that they are extremely delicious sugary carbohydrates?
Right now sitting on my kitchen counter I have; "almond paste cookies, oatmeal cranberry cookies, chocolate almond bars filled with sponge cake and almond paste, sour cream chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cookies with white chocolate chunks plus my grandmother’s peanut butter balls”. That does not include the lemon mascarpone Italian cream cake we had at my cousins Christmas Eve or the 7 layer bars and ice box cake we had at my grandmother’s Christmas day. I just felt another pound stick to me just typing their little sugary names. On top of that for the last two days we have been feasting on linguini’s and lasagna’s with seafood and cheeses and meatballs, pork hocks, Italian sausage…….if you see a huge mushroom cloud off in the distance don’t worry, that is just me bursting right out of my skin!
I had better pull myself together so I can be ready to refill over the new years holiday…..
While I am doing that, I just wanted to share one of our holiday cookie recipes with you.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in oats, dried cranberries and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

As Paula Deen would say: " Love and Best Dishes, Y'all! (I just love that)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just Nuts!

What would a holiday be without some good things to nosh on while making merry. This one is quick, easy as well as delicious and addictive. Just don’t forget to save room for dinner!

Nuts Italian Style

4 cups of nuts (any)
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 envelope Good Seasons mild Italian

Sauté nuts in butter for 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Remove pan form heat and stir in salad dressing mix. Place nuts in single layer to cool.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Feast of How Many Fishes?

One of the things I think we all looked so forward to on Christmas Eve was the seafood table. Everyone would make their contributions to the table. Instead of feast of the seven fishes some times it would end up being more like feast of the twelve fishes. We always had shrimp two ways; cocktail and fried. Then my mother would make two types of calamari, my grandfather and aunt would make their famous clam’s casino. My aunt Lena always made her linguini with red clam sauce. When I was very little and they were more affordable my grandmother would also make lobster dainties with drawn butter. Some dishes would vary from year to year sometimes there would be a seafood chowder or this one here which is so delicious and can encompass a variety of delectable’s from the sea, feel free to make this with the sea foods that you prefer.

Christmas Eve Marinated Seafood Salad

3 pounds of shrimp (30 count size)
3 pounds of large scallops
1 pound of squid
1 small onion diced
10 large cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced, just not too fine
1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
Juice of 4 lemons
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 bunch Italian parsley leaves (half will be chopped, the other half will be whole)

Some more delicious but optional suggestions; “olives, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper strips, celery. Some mussels or clams would be lovely as well with or without the shell.

Peel and devein shrimp. Wash and boil in 4 quarts salted water and 10 stems from the parsley. Cook 3-5 minutes. Drain shrimp and shock in cold water, reserve 1 quart of water.
Bring shrimp water to boil. Add scallops. Simmer about 10 minutes. Remove scallops. Cut shrimp lengthwise, cut scallops in half or if large in 4 pieces.
Slice squid into very thin strips or rings. Blanch in boiling shrimp water for 1 minute. Remove, add to shrimp and scallops. Cool boiling liquid a bit, and then pour over seafood - just to cover, in a large shallow pan.
Pick 1/4 cup parsley leaves from stems. Chop up half, keep other half whole. Add olive oil and lemon juice, black pepper, garlic and onions. Mix well and pour evenly over seafood. Shake pan so marinade mixes with seafood and stock. Keep at room temperature 1 hour. Refrigerate 2 days. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before serving, should not be very cold when served.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Red and Green For Christmas

Little bits of red and green make these a perfect cookie for your Christmas table. You can make this cookie dough in advance and have it waiting in your freezer to bake up fresh for the holidays.
I love to make these cookies into little ice cream sandwiches, just put a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or pistachio (my favorite) between two cookies and press gently. You could do up a bunch of these little ice cream sandwiches wrap them with saran and store them in the freezer in a container or freezer bag.

Red and Green Ice Box Cookies

1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 beaten eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 small jar red maraschino cherries, drained
1 small jar of green cherries
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of chopped almonds

Cream shortening, butter add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt, cut drained cherries quite fine. Add along with nuts. Make into rolls. Wrap in wax paper or foil. Chill well or freeze and bake later. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Do not over bake.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snap, Crackle, Popular

This one is a classic loved by young and old alike and it only takes about 20 minutes to make. Rice Krispie treats are a real crowd pleaser whether presented at your holiday table or given as gifts, this one is sure to make anyone smile.

Rice Krispies for Christmas

1/4 cup butter
4 cups marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies

Food Coloring (however many drops it takes to reach your desired color)

Just double this recipe and make one batch red and one batch green. Feel free to add in any type of decorative sprinkle or candy.

Melt butter and marshmallows together; remove from heat (this is when you would stir in your food coloring). Add Rice Krispies (also add candies or sprinkles now, if using) and stir until Rice Krispies are well coated.

Press into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Simple Sugar Cookie

Everything has to start somewhere even cookies. Sugar Cookies are the foundation for so many other cookie recipes to build upon. As simple as sugar cookie dough is the number of variations to the recipe over the years is staggering. As a child just gliding that little finger along the inside of the bowl and grabbing some of that sweet gooey batter you knew you were going to cookie heaven.
I have tasted many different sugar cookie recipes over the years (many, many, many different sugar cookies over the years) just ask my waistline! I would have to say this recipe here is my favorite, I really think that the sour cream plays a huge part in the taste and texture of this cookie. It’s a nice combination of crisp and tender, buttery and lightly sweet.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla or flavoring of choice
5 cups flour

Roll out to about a quarter inch thickness and cut. Bake at 325 to 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly golden. This recipe will make anywhere from 2 to 4 dozen depending on the size you make your cookie.
This recipe will make some great Christmas cut outs with icing, just have fun and enjoy.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Peppermint Twist?

Have you been following any of the recent findings stating that the aroma and taste of peppermint can kill our cravings and possibly help us to cut down on our food intake? What about after dinner mints? Are they after dinner mints for a reason is the reason that once you eat the mint you no longer want food or does it suppress our appetites long enough to make it to breakfast without snacking somewhere in between. I guess that explains why there are no “Before Dinner Mints” we’d all starve to death. I was under the assumption that after dinner mints were strictly to refresh our breath after eating………but was there something of much greater significance to human kind lurking just beneath the surface.
So now I am wondering if by adding peppermint to all our chocolate, cheesecakes, cookies, ice creams and even our daily cup of coffee it will enable us to safely consume more because ultimately we’ll consume less…………………..something deep to ponder. Perhaps I better study this further by making and eating things containing peppermint and get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Super Moist Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup self rising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (opt.)
1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candies to decorate the top or to mix in (this would normally be optional but adding more peppermint might just stop us from eating these brownies all together).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with mixer one minute, after each addition. In small mixer bowl, combine flour, cocoa and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat well. Fold in nuts, if desired. Pour into a well greased 9"x9"x2" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

She's Got A Lot of Balls!

The first time I ever got tipsy I was the ripe old age of four. When I was little we would stop and visit friends and family during the day on Christmas Eve to spread and share some holiday cheer.
Apparently as it has been told to me over and over again throughout my life at one of the houses we went to I got into a batch of rum balls. I did not know that’s what they were; to me they were chocolate candy and very good chocolate candy at that. Everyone was so busy chatting that they did not notice this four year old covered in chocolate swaying and silly in the corner. I guess I had eaten quite a few and she had made them exceptionally strong not intending for a child to eat them. I slept very well that evening and well into early afternoon on Christmas Day. My families lecture about the effects of alcohol and eating so much candy ended in laughter. You see in order to explain why I had eaten so many I innocently said; “Because that lady had a lot of balls”!

Rum Balls

2 boxes (12 oz ea.) vanilla wafers, crushed
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup light or dark rum (also great with bourbon or other spirit of your choosing)
2 cups light or dark corn syrup

Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, shredded coconut or jimmies for coating
Stir vanilla wafer crumbs, nuts, confectioner’s sugar and unsweetened cocoa. Stir in light or dark rum, corn syrup and citrons (optional) until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls.
Roll in coating of your choice, makes 8-9 dozen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

That' s The Fastest Turtle I've Ever Seen!

My grandmother has started to do her holiday baking this week she is making her date nut breads, next week it will either be the pizzelles, sesame cookies or some type of candy. My grandmother has to pace herself with her baking these days because she tires more quickly than she use to but still loves it because it keeps her busy.
I think for most of us this time of year can be quite tiring given the quantity of baking, cooking and candy making most of us will be doing. Probably with the economy the way it is it would be in all our best interests to give more gifts from the kitchen.
So over the next few weeks, I thought I would sneak in some really fun, quick and inexpensive holiday treat recipes that you can make a lot of with the least amount of effort and that have a pretty good shelf life. So even if you start making or baking now they’ll still be fresh for the serving, eating and gift giving later.

Easy Turtles Candies

What you will need:

1 bag of Rolo candies
1 bag of Snyder's of Hanover square shaped butter pretzels 1 bag of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Unwrap Rolo candies and place in bowl for later.
2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
3. Lay down the pretzels onto the cookie sheet. You can get approx. 50-60 to a cookie sheet.
4. Set a Rolo on each pretzel.
5. Place in oven to soften Rolo’s, approximately 3 minutes. Check occasionally, do not let them melt.
6. Take out of oven.
7. Push a pecan half on top of each Rolo
8. Set in a cool area or fridge to harden.
9. Remove from wax paper and store in bag or container, they stay at their best when kept cold.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sage Advice

I love the color of sage; I actually just painted my kitchen a lovely shade of sage green. But I can’t say that I have always loved some of the foods that I have had that have been made using sage. Prime example; “Stuffing”, this thanksgiving the stuffing mix purchased from the store that was used to fill our holiday bird was actually medicinal. I’m not sure how much sage they put into those bread cubes but I can guarantee you that it was way too much.
My grandmother gave me a little sage advice on the usage of the powerful herb. My grandmother would say; “always use about a quarter less sage than what the recipe calls for and the taste should be perfect”. I have actually taken her advice and she was right. If a particular recipe calls for a teaspoon of sage I will cut that back to 3/4’s of a teaspoon. When it comes to using sage in a recipe less truly is more.

Sage Buttermilk Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
3 tablespoons of minced fresh sage or 1 tablespoon of dried sage or my grandmother’s way….2 -3/4 tablespoons fresh or 3/4 of a tablespoon dried.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Make a hole in center. Mix buttermilk, eggs, butter and sage; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Yield 1 1/2 dozen.