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 22, 2008

The Gift of A Lifetime

At this time of year as the temperatures grow ever colder the human heart appears to grow ever warmer. It is as if people have been holding their breath through life’s challenges all year long managing with nothing more than the promise that at this magical time they will be given the gift of exhaling. That one cleansing moment in time when expressing our humanity is not only expected but equally shared by all. The spreading of friendly hello's and seasons greetings to any and all we meet no matter what walk of life become more contagious than any disease known to man or womankind. Feelings seem to be so magnified at this time of year, so much so that even the loss of a human life takes on a far deeper meaning that at any other time. I can personally attest to this as I have lost many loved ones during this time, most recently the woman who greeted me into this world with a full heart, loving smile and the promise that all things good in life are possible.
Death always seems to be defined as the end of something but I am beginning to learn with each passing that death is actually the beginning. The beginning of a renewed promise of hope that brings with it possibilities. The chance to right old wrongs and better our less than perfect souls.

Yes, Virginia their is a Santa Claus! His red suit the color of our hearts rich with love for life and all humankind. His meaning a simple one; “Merry Christmas to all and to all...... a good life"!

My wish for this post is not to convey sadness but instead to lighten all our heavy hearts and honor all those amazing souls who have touched us with love and the ability to go on..... Merry Christmas everyone

Christmas Brie

2 lb. wheel of brie
5 tbsp. minced parsley
5 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
10 sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil), minced
2 1/2 tbsp. oil from sun dried tomatoes
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. basil, minced
3 tbsp. pine nuts, chopped

Chill brie; remove rind from top. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Spread on top of cheese. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand 24 to 48 hours in refrigerator.
Serve with crackers.
Serves 30 to 40

Flickr/P. Sto

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank you, Mom

On September 29th, 2008 we celebrated the life of a woman who battled some of life’s darkest moments with the humor and heart of a champion. As a daughter I was not always able to see past the surface of the day to day goings on. I did not always agree or understand why my mother did or did not do some of the things that she did. As with most children I was more focused on how what she did or did not do affected me. We as children tend to forget that our parents are human beings struggling with their own flaws and misconceptions while making their own way through this often time’s unfair world.
I am happy to say that I was able over time to grow as a person and learn to appreciate my mother and her ability to do her best especially when the odds were working against her. I am humbled to recognize my own flaws and fears that have guided some of my less than perfect decisions and have led me to greatly appreciate my mother even more.
Sadly on November 18th, 2008 my mother fought her last battle in this life with the same dignity and humor that she had always possessed. My mother is finally at peace and I will always cherish the gift of humor that she instilled in me. To be able to laugh in the face of adversity with a loving heart and a head held high….. Thank you, mom you will forever be remembered.

In honor of my mother I am including the links to her favorite food posts.

Spanish Rice

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's Inside Your Grandmother's Purse?

There were two types of cookies that always made there way home from a wedding in my grandmother's purse. The first one an almond paste cookie rolled in pignola nuts, sliced almonds or topped with a halved maraschino cherry. The second was that wonderfully spicy round chocolate gem known as The Italian meatball Cookie at least that is what we always called them as kids. They are more commonly known as; “chocolate pepper cookies or Italian Spice Balls”. You will always find these traditionally at Italian weddings but these are also a traditional cookie to be served during the holiday season. This cookie does have a lot of ingredients compared to most others but together they create a flavor that will keep generation after generation remembering and wanting more.

Italian Meatball Cookies

1 1/4 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
2 drops red food coloring
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 & 3/4 c. cocoa
1 tbsp. orange rind
1 c. chopped nuts
3/4 c. sour milk
4 eggs
5 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. raisins, soaked in 2 tbsp. of warm water

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs and beat well. Add dry ingredients, orange rind and juice with milk and food coloring and mix well. Fold in raisins and nuts. Roll into walnut sized balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 370 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool cookies and frost.

FROSTING: Beat 4 egg whites with 1 teaspoon cream of tartar until foamy. Add 1 pound confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla and beat well. Spread on cookies. Yield: 12 dozen.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Spirited Apple Butter

As promised in the previous post, here is the recipe Chrissy’s grandmother used to make her apple butter. It is one of the best tasting apple butters that I have ever tried, she found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website. Since her first batch she has played around with it a bit and tried some different spirits such as peach wine which was absolutely delicious. I really hope that you will all give this a try, you will not be disappointed. This would be perfect for gift giving this holiday season.

Spirited Apple Butter
Brown sugar, spices and sweet red wine give this apple spread lots of spirit.

Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 3 hours 20 min
Makes: 5 cups butter

1 can (12 ounces) frozen (thawed) apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup sweet red wine or apple cider
4 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into fourths
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup apple brandy or apple cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Heat juice concentrate, wine and apples to boiling in 4-quart Dutch oven; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft. Mash with potato masher if necessary, to remove all lumps.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until no liquid separates from pulp.
3. Immediately pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars; seal. Cool on wire rack 1 hour. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Cheesy To The Core

Chrissy’s grandmother found this wonderful recipe for apple butter using wine and apple brandy. It sounds too good to spread on anything and probably should just be eaten by the spoonful. We just got our first batch of the apple butter; it is currently sitting in our fridge just waiting to be tried.
The apple brandy reminded me of this wonderful cheesecake I had at my cousin Ronnie’s house several years ago, the perfect cheesecake for fall…..who am I kidding, it’s cheesecake which means it’s perfect at anytime!
I will share the apple butter recipe soon in a future post.

Apple Brandy Cheesecake

3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
All-purpose flour
1/4 c. Sugar
3 egg yolks
5 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1/4 c. apple-flavored brandy
1/4 c. milk
Apple slices for garnish

1. In small bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter, 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk until mixed. Shape dough into ball and wrap with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Press 1/3 of dough onto bottom of 10 x 2 1/2 inch spring form pan. Bake 8 minutes; cool.
3. Turn oven control to 475 degrees. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat cream cheese just until smooth; slowly beat in 1 1/2 cups sugar. With mixer at low speed, beat in eggs, apple brandy, milk, 3 tablespoons flour and remaining 2 egg yolks. At medium speed, beat 5 minutes, scraping bowl often.
4. Press remaining dough around side of pan to within 1/2 inch of top; do not bake. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan; bake 12 minutes. Turn oven control to 300 degrees; bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake remain in oven until cooled, about 2 hours. Refrigerate cheesecake at least 4 hours.
5. To serve, remove side of spring form pan. Arrange apple slices on top of cheesecake.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cooking With Triscuits

The perfect snack food especially some of the new flavors such as roasted garlic and rosemary olive oil. It is a little hard to put them down once you get started that is why it is better to open the box when you have plenty of people to share them with. One day while sitting around with family and friends munching on some triscuits we started talking about all the delicious recipes there are using the crunchy little crackers. I could not believe all the creative uses, have some fun and give these a try.

Triscuit Wraps

Sprinkle a little brown sugar on a Triscuit, wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around. Secure with a toothpick and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Triscuit Chicken Bake

1 pkg. Triscuits, crushed and crumbled
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
2 cans asparagus (may be frozen) in pieces
2 lb. cooked chicken, cut up
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 c. mushrooms, cut in pieces

Mix soup, water chestnuts, asparagus, cooked chicken, mayonnaise and mushrooms. Place half of package of Triscuits in bottom of greased 9x13 inch pan. Add above mixture and sprinkle the rest of the Triscuits over the top. Cover and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove aluminum cover the last 10-15 minutes to brown.

Triscuit Burgers

1 1/2 c. crushed Triscuits
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 lb. ground beef

Soak Triscuits in milk in large bowl until soft. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Shape into patties. Sauté in skillet until your desired degree of doneness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Out Of My Gourd

We have two enormous pumpkins sitting out on our deck that we have left as is without carving. We have no intention of letting any of that pumpkin flesh go to waste nor the seeds for that matter. I am sure we will roast some and make a few pies but there will still be a tremendous amount of flesh left, so instead of the standard apple butter let’s make it with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Butter

4 cups cooked pumpkin, mashed
1 (2 oz.) pkg. powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

Place pumpkin in Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Stir in pectin. Place over high heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar, spice and butter. Continue stirring and bring to full rolling boil. Boil hard exactly four minutes. Remove from heat. Stir five minutes. Ladle into half-pint, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust caps to manufacturer's directions. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath after cooking and check seals.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

Contact: Allison Costello

Doug Collister


San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.
“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”
Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.
“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.
The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Foodbuzz.com Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.
Global Blogging Event
Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:
· Mid-Autumn Festival Banquest (New York, NY)
· The "Found on Foodbuzz" 24-Item Tasting Menu (San Francisco, CA)
· Aussie BBQ Bonanza – Celebrating Diversity (Sydney, Australia)
· The Four Corners of Carolina BBQ Road Trip (Charleston, SC)
· Criminal Tastes – An Illegal Supper (Crested Butte, CO)
· From Matambre to Empanadas: An Argentine Dinner (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
· A Sweet Trompe l’oeil (Seattle, WA)

“24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”
About Foodbuzz, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site, foodbuzz.com, in 2007. In less than a year, Fooduzz.com and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A "Souper" Fall Bounty

The crisp air of fall brings with it a bounty of apples and squash so versatile to use in so many different ways. Even though I enjoy soup throughout the year, I seem to crave it more during these cool fall months. So I especially like this recipe because it takes the creamy richness of the squash and the tart sweet crispness of the apples and turns it into a really rich and flavorful soup.

Acorn and Apple Soup

2 med. acorn squash, seeded & halved
3 c. degreased chicken stock or canned
2 tart green apples (2 c. cored, seeded & chopped)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. unsweetened apple juice
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, peeled & grated
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if using canned stock)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Yogurt or sour cream & chives (garnish)

Cook squash, remove pulp. Combine 1/2 cup stock, apples and onion in heavy medium saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add squash pulp, remaining stock, apple juice, ginger and salt. Cover and simmer until ingredients are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender or processor. Strain through sieve into clean saucepan, pressing puree with back of spoon. Reheat soup gently and season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Ladle into bowls, garnish with yogurt or sour cream and some chives.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Grandmother Left Chuck at the Supermarket

This recipe is for my grandmother who accidently picked up a London broil rather than a chuck roast at the supermarket and hadn’t a clue on how to prepare it... My grandmother usually makes her chuck roast by baking it for several hours in either onion soup or cream of mushroom soup. This is always served with either rice or mashed potatoes and a nice salad on the side. It is one of our favorite comfort meals that we always look forward to again and again.

Easy London Broil

1 (2 lb.) piece of London broil or Flank steak
1 tbsp. salad oil
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper

Remove fat from meat and wipe with a damp cloth. Combine all ingredients. Brush 1/2 of the mixture over the meat. Let it stand 45 minutes.
Place steak, oil side up on lightly greased broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes, turn steak and brush with remaining mixture. Broil steak for another 4 to 5 minutes; let rest 5 minutes before slicing to retain most of its juices.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Twenty-one Years Later.....

My Mother and I

My mother never thought that she would live past the age of 49 which was the age her mother was when she passed away. My grandmother Lena had non smoking related emphysema; she was born with very weak lungs. My mother was only 11 years old when she watched her mother struggle for her last breath, a tragic experience for anyone much less an eleven year old child.
My mother started smoking at the age of 16 and by the age of 30 she smoked between 2 and 3 packs a day. During these years the fear of dying at 49 had subsided somewhat, at least until the time she started to feel poorly and was diagnosed with emphysema, she was 45 at the time. It was at that moment her past fear returned and she was certain that fate had stepped in and that she was down to 4 remaining years. Her fear was so great that it infected me with the same feeling of impending doom. The next few years her health remained stable, her birthdays came and went without incident as we nervously awaited the infamous birthday number 49…..it was almost as if birthday number 48 was a cliffhanger like the ones on TV. You’re nervously waiting to see what will happen next but you have to wait until the next season to find out. It was a very long year and each day in September seemed never ending. September 29th came, birthday number 49 we celebrated in our usual family way. My mother went to bed that evening and awoke to a sunny day on the 30th exhaling the fear that had shadowed her life for so long.
It is now 21 years later and we just celebrated her 70th birthday. In those 21 years she has battled emphysema, breast cancer, lung cancer, an enlarged heart, spinal arthritis and a few other ailments here and there. Through all that her mind is relatively sharp, her spirits good and her ability to laugh and enjoy life very much in tact.
We had a picnic lunch for her in the cafeteria of the nursing home; we had grilled white and red hot dogs, bratwurst, celery fritters, assorted salads and a chocolate cake. It truly was a day to celebrate, my mother had such a good time……..Happy Birthday Mom.

Celery Fritters

8 celery stalks
1 cup of flour
2 beaten eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. of oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of oil

Wash and chop celery into 2 inch pieces. Mix flour, eggs, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, water and cheese and mix well. It will have the consistency of pancake batter.
Heat oil in skillet or deep fryer (use more oil). When hot, dip celery in batter and carefully drop into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cockeyed Response

My great aunt Mimi had a tendency to get tongue tied now and again which led to a lot of laughter and some very funny memories. There was the time that pussy willows became pissy willows but nothing beats what came out of her mouth during one of our summer vacations in Canada. While in Canada we always went to this one restaurant in Belleville Ontario that was known for their sticky garlic ribs. The sauce was black as tar, very sweet and very garlicky. They never served these as a meal only as an appetizer which was always disappointing. So during one of our annual visits to this restaurant while waiting for our appetizer of ribs, we perused the menu trying to decide on an entrée. My aunt Mimi thought that their Glazed Sockeye Salmon sounded very good and waited her turn to place her order. The waiter by the way was a very young Asian gentleman who spoke very broken English. Now it is my aunts turn to order, she looks at this young man and says; “I see that you have Cockeyed Salmon on the menu”. This young man for what ever reason took offense and said;” No Cockeyed anything lady, our fish fresh, eyes good. No Cockeyed, no Cockeyed”! While we were all hysterical laughing the poor waiter just looked at us disgusted and confused like we were some wacky tourists.

Bourbon Glazed Salmon

1/2 cup of bourbon
1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. of soy sauce
3 or 4 thick salmon fillets or steaks (each about 8 oz.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In small bowl, combine bourbon, olive oil and soy sauce and whisk until blended. Wipe salmon with damp paper towels. Line baking pan with aluminum foil and place salmon skin side down. Brush salmon with basting mixture and bake, uncovered, basting 2 or 3 times, until fish flakes easily when tested with tip of small knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
In small saucepan, bring remaining basting mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
With spatula transfer salmon fillets to dinner plates and serve basting mixture on the side.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Longing for Bora Bora

My friend Chrissy longs to lie on the beaches of Bora Bora with nothing more to do than motion to her own personal bronze Adonis to bring her yet another margarita. I know, it sounded pretty darn good to me as well; luckily Chrissy has been kind enough to include me in this longing for relaxation in paradise. I look forward to the possibility but for now am content to just daydream about it.
The more that her and I got talking about this magical place the more I wondered about the food there. The cuisine of the island is internationally renowned for its fresh fish, exotic fruits and vegetables which are prepared with a Polynesian influence and a touch of French flair.

POISSON CRU - The name of this dish is pronounced "PWAH-sun croo"

1 pound fresh Ahi Tuna, diced or cut in thin slices (may also use halibut)
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced, plus slices or cherry tomatoes for garnish
1/2 cup cucumber, small dice
1/2 cup red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup fresh coconut milk (canned may be substituted)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
parsley or chives for garnish


Mix the tuna and lemon or lime juice together with salt and pepper. Allow to marinate several minutes, or until the tuna begins to look "cooked." Mix the vanilla with the coconut milk, then combine the balance of ingredients, season to taste and serve.
This recipe will serve two as a main course or four as an appetizer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pod People

This is quite the favorite dish in our house these days it is requested at least a few times a week. I made over a pound of snow peas done up this way yesterday and they are already gone. This makes a great vegetarian meal with the addition of tofu for some added protein.

Snow Peas and Water Chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 pound of snow peas
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, canned
2 large cloves of Garlic sliced thin
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce

Remove the tips from the snow peas and remove the strings, heat oil in frying pan and sauté the garlic. Add the snow peas, sliced water chestnuts Oyster sauce and Fish Sauce cook for 10 minutes.

We eat this as a vegetable dish but feel free to add beef, pork, shrimp or chicken.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Robbie's Black Eyed Peas

One of the nurses where my mother is staying brought this as part of her lunch one day when I was there. I commented that it looked quite good and how much I enjoy black eyed peas, so she gave me a little taste and it was absolutely delicious. Robbie gave me the recipe, it could not be any easier. Feel free to increase the amounts depending on the amount of servings that you need.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

1 -14 to 16 oz can of black-eyed peas
1 rib celery, chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 tbsp. salad oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 ripe tomato, diced

Open can of black-eyed peas, rinse with cold water and drain well. Add chopped celery and onion. Combine oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, salt and cayenne. Mix well. Pour over peas. Stir gently. Allow to chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight. At serving time add the diced tomato. Mix carefully.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Taste of Lebanon

My mother worked as a dispatcher for a trucking company for 34 years and became quite good friends with the family that owned it. I remember when I was younger going with her to her company picnics. The owners were Lebanese and introduced my mother and I to a whole new culture and a new array of foods that would fill our senses and leave us wanting more for years to come. Here is an example of one of the many dishes we grew to love and start preparing in our own kitchens. Kibbee is a grain and meat dish very aromatically spiced, enjoy.

Baked Kibbee (Lebanese)

2 lbs. very lean top round steak, ground twice
1 cup of bulgur (cracked wheat), soak in warm water until soft then drain about1 to 2 hours.
1/2 green pepper
2 med. Onions
1 handful mint (dried or fresh)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. basil

In blender blend green pepper, onions, mint and all spices (Do not completely liquefy, leave some fine pieces). Add this mixture to meat and mix all together with drained wheat. Add ice water as needed to soften the mixture lightly. Grease a dripping pan with oil; lay in the meat mixture evenly. Cut into squares then cover lightly with oil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Sweets For A Sourpuss

My mother who for the most part is quite easy to get along with really pushed my buttons this past Saturday while visiting her at the nursing home. I innocently said that she had not sipped any of her water during the time we had been there and how important it was for her to get plenty of fluids. Well, you would have thought I threw the water in her face rather than ask her to drink it. Her face got that childish snotty look and she glared at me saying; “My health problems have nothing to do with not drinking water and I am sick of people telling me what to do”! There was a whole bunch more but I will spare all of you the details, let us just say it was not the most pleasant visit. It did end on a more pleasant note when she opened the container of dessert that we had brought her which was angel food cake with lemon pudding and whipped cream. I find it ironic that the tartness and the bit of sour from the lemon pudding mixed with the angel food cake and whipped cream can combine to form a relatively sweet dessert. I find it even more ironic that the tartness and bit of sour in the lemon pudding when combined with my mother the sourpuss……. was able to create a relatively sweeter mother!

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Pudding

1 angel food cake (round or square)
1 can of lemon pie filling or lemon curd works very well
whipped cream

Slice angel food cake into thirds, spread lemon pudding between layers Top off with whipped cream.

Serve chilled.

Photo chocolatemonstermel/flickr

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pulling Together As A Family

I’m sure most of us would agree that when it comes to families getting along it is usually easier said than done. It’s far easier to love but sometimes much more difficult to like those that are the closest to us. The other night while sitting out on the deck sharing a couple beers with my friend Chrissy we each shared some of our family get together stories. Chrissy remembered a special time when everyone in her family all got along beautifully. The time was when her grandmother got everybody together to make pulled taffy. For whatever the reason all the ugly baggage that had a tendency to show up didn’t at this particular time……….
Maybe it was the use of all that sugar, it just gave everybody a much sweeter disposition.
For whatever the reason, those are the memories that help carry us through the less than perfect times.

Old Fashioned Pulled Taffy

3 cups of sugar
1 cup of white corn syrup
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of butter
1/3 cup of vinegar
1 tbsp. vanilla or flavor of your choosing
A drop of food coloring, optional

Mix sugar, syrup and water in a 4 quart sauce pan and place over medium heat. DO NOT STIR. Cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage (234 to 240 degrees). Add butter, vinegar and vanilla. Cook again until mixture reaches hard ball stage (250 to 268 degrees). Again, DO NOT STIR. Pour out onto a greased platter let cool enough to touch and begin to pull. Keep hands lubricated with butter and pull the taffy with a partner. The more taffy is pulled the better when you see it looking the way you would like cut into pieces and wrap in saran or waxed paper.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Smiling From Heaven

It has been almost 30 years since my grandparents decided to leave Rochester and retire to Florida. At that time my grandmother decided to give each of us some of the things that she had of our great great grandmothers. One of the items was an antique waffle iron whose grids were obviously quite seasoned from many years of use. My grandmother said that Mama Rose (our great, great grandmother) made the entire family waffles every weekend. My grandmother who has been blessed with many more years on this earth than her own mother thought that she would like to see if the waffle iron still worked and make all of us waffles over the weekend.
My father was the one who had ended up with the waffle iron, so he brought it to her for her to try. My poor grandmother was a nervous wreck about making the waffles she kept telling us that in case they don’t turn out its bacon and eggs instead. This past Saturday the waffle iron got plugged in for the first time in over fifty years and that little waffle iron began to sizzle with heat just as it had done decades ago for Mama Rose. The batter was made and ready to be poured onto the grid. My grandmother closed the lid and we waited for the waffle iron to do its magic when she opened it the waffle was shaped perfectly but it was a little burnt (the first waffle or pancake is always the worst one). The second pour of batter was the charm and so was the third and so on and so on. My grandmother just watched us with anticipation as we all caressed those tender steamy waffles with butter and syrup. We all just sat there and moaned in ecstasy, they were so good my grandmother just smiled watching her family eat, just as her mother had done so many years before her. You could just feel Mama Rose smiling at all of us from heaven and for that moment in time all was right with our world.

Mama Rose’s Waffle Batter

2 cups of flour
4 tsp. of baking powder
1 tbsp. of sugar
1/2 tsp. of salt
3 eggs
5 tbsp. of melted shortening or butter
1 1/2 cups of milk

Mix first 4 ingredients together, beat eggs then add milk and shortening. Add flour mixture and mix until batter is smooth, heat waffle iron, pour batter and bake until done.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ooh La La

My cousin Pat was born and raised in Paris, France. Pat and her mother moved back up here about 20 years ago. This is one of the dishes that Pat and her mother ate quite often back in Paris. Since moving back to the states they have been making it for us whenever there is a family function, they could triple the recipe and it wouldn’t be enough (it is that good)!

Fingerling Potato and Lox Salad

2 pounds fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 pound of lox or other type of smoked salmon (flaked or shredded)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise, as needed

First, cook the fingerling potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water until they can be pierced with a thin paring knife. Drain well, return to the pan and let cool to room temperature.
Peel the cooled potatoes and slice into 1/2 inch coins and put into a glass or stainless mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once chilled toss the potatoes with the celery, dill, green onions, mustard and lox. Fold in the sour cream and then add in enough of the mayonnaise to bind the salad together.
Tastes better at room temperature

Monday, August 4, 2008

Neat Joes

This post is dedicated to someone very near and dear to me, her name is Christine. Chrissy as I more lovingly call her who has been a part of my family for many years now.
Chrissy helps me to unlock some of the many memories that I have stored deep inside of me. One day when we were having one of our infamous conversations she had brought up my grandfather whose name is Joe “Peepa” as I lovingly call him. As we talked about my grandfather for awhile I was remembering what a neat man that he was and Chrissy said that’s too bad cause then you could have written a post about Sloppy Joes. Then I remembered that he actually did like Sloppy Joes. So I thought even neat Joe’s eat Sloppy Joe’s we both had a good laugh.
So here is to all the neat Joe’s out there, my Peepa who is watching me from up above and to Christine my earth bound angel.

Sloppy Joes For The Not So Sloppy

1 lb. hamburger
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon mustard
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
1/4 tsp. of onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar (add more or less to taste)
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown your hamburger add onions and green peppers. Drain off grease and add remaining ingredients and simmer slowly to desired thickness and flavor.

FYI- The thicker you make them, the neater they are to eat!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happiness Is On The Menu

My mother the queen of onions has been in her glory these past couple of weeks. The nursing home has added a few new items to their dinner menu and two of them contain pearl onions. My mother said that one night she got some type of beef burgundy with pearl onions and the other day they had put some caramelized pearl onions in her green beans. It may not sound like much to you and I but to her it’s the world. This morning she called me to tell me that last night they served her chicken cacciatore and it was delicious, she is all giddy. It’s actually quite cute to see the amount happiness something as simple as a menu change can bring.

Roasted Pearl Onions

1 pound of fresh or frozen tiny pearl onions
1 tbsp. sugar
Salt & pepper

Drain onions and place in baking pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and sugar, dot generously with butter. Bake in a 450 degree oven, turn occasionally until browned (12 to 15 minutes).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Too Pooped To Pucker

Is anybody out there getting enough sleep these days? I know that I definitely am not and it really does start to take a toll. I find that I am spending more and more of my time trying to find ways to boost my energy. I do exercise but that does not last the entire day, sometimes you just need some type of quick fix that will get you through the rest of the day that doesn’t come with any jail time lol!

Here is a quick and easy pick me up that is great to take with you when you are on the go.

Instant Energy

1/3 c. honey
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. non-fat dry milk (whey protein)

Mix honey and peanut butter in a bowl. Stir in non-fat dry milk, a little at a time, until thoroughly blended. Shape into narrow roll. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm. Cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap in cellophane, makes about a half a pound.

May also shape into balls and roll in chopped peanuts, wheat germ, granola or cereal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Broken Yolks

For the last few Saturdays my grandmother has taken to making bacon and eggs for our breakfast get together. The bacon is all fried before we get there and the freshly baked corn muffins are waiting in the warmth of the oven. Upon our arrival she puts the water on for coffee and breaks the eggs into the hot pan. With her 89 year old arthritic hands she gently moves the eggs back and forth trying not to disturb the yolk. The perfect yolk has always given her a great sense of pride when serving her loved ones breakfast. All was going well until she went to put the eggs in the dish, her hand shook a little and two of the yolks broke. My grandmother was so upset that she ruined the yolks. I said don’t worry Meema, that is actually just the way we like them, they are perfect.
When someone puts that much love into preparing food for you even if it is as simple as a little fried egg how could it not be perfect.

Since bacon and eggs really do not require much of a recipe perse, here is an Asian twist that I think you will all enjoy.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of rice
6 pieces of bacon
3 or 4 eggs
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped onion
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. soy sauce

Bring water to a boil and add rice, cook for 30 minutes. While waiting for the rice to boil fry the bacon and save 1/2 of the grease to fry the rice in. Scramble eggs in bowl, add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, add 2 tablespoons of water to eggs and mix well. Fry egg mixture like a pancake. Fry rice; add chopped onion, chopped bacon and catsup. Cut up egg omelet and add to rice. Mix in soy sauce and serve.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Basil In The Breeze

If you look out on my grandmother’s patio you will see three huge pots just blooming with basil. The plants really do look beautiful and they emit the most intoxicating aroma with each passing breeze. With each and every sniff we start craving things like; pesto, eggplant parmesan or fresh marinara. Maybe we should have just stuck with roses and tulips it would be much easier on the waistline……who am I kidding, give me basil and fresh herbs any day. Here is a quick salad with very bold flavors that tastes even better the next day. We like to serve this salad over a bed of mixed salad greens.

Salami and Provolone Salad

4 oz. of sharp or domestic Provolone cut into chunks
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese cut into chunks
3/4 cup of fresh basil, lightly chopped
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
6 oz. sliced Genoa or Sweet Sopressata Salami
4 tomatoes, cut bite size
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
Mixed Greens, optional

Mix oil, vinegar and shallots and pour over other ingredients. Make sure everything is mixed well and serve.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Grandma Lisser's Kitchen

This recipe belonged to my little Russian Grandmother all 4’ 6” of her. I wish I had the pleasure of spending time with her but unfortunately she passed before I was born. Luckily for me, my mother kept Grandma Lisser very much alive for me by sharing stories and some of the specialties of this wonderful woman’s kitchen. We are still trying to recreate her carrot cookies, we are getting close but without a recipe it is a lot of trial and error. All we have is my mother’s memory of how they looked, smelled and tasted. As soon as we get it right I will post and share with everyone. Until then, here is a recipe for Grandma's Blintz’s which managed to make its way through the family over these many years.

Blueberry Blintzes

1 cup of all purpose flour
2 lg. eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp. of salt

Place all 4 ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes.
To cook crepes, heat an 8" crepe pan and butter it lightly. Add just enough batter to coat the bottom of the hot pan with a thin layer. Cook until just set and lightly golden. Flip or turn and cook second side until light golden. Turn onto a dinner plate and cook remaining crepes.

1 1/2 cups of cottage cheese
1 lg. egg, beaten
2 tbsp. of sugar
1/ 2 tsp. of cinnamon
1 cup of fresh blueberries or substitute fruit of your choice
2 tbsp. of fresh bread crumbs (to absorb excess moisture)
2 tbsp. of butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, optional

Drain the cottage cheese and press through a sieve. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, sugar and cinnamon. Gently stir in 3/4 cup of the berries, if the mixture is runny; carefully stir in the bread crumbs.
Place a spoonful of filling on the crepe, fold in the ends and roll up. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a non stick skillet and sauté the blintzes until golden, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and top with the remaining blueberries.
This recipe will make 6 to 8 servings

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Memory is a Bit Shaky!

The drink may have originated in New Orleans but for this girls palate it originated in San Francisco back in 1982. My mother and I had planned a trip to visit family in California and a friend of mine who was born and raised in China Town San Francisco
suggested a few must try, must see things for our itinerary. One of the places that my friend Doris highly recommended was; “The Saloon” on Grant Street in North Beach, CA
She said not only are they known for their Ramos Fizz’s but it is one of the few buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake. It was fascinating being there, you could still see the cracks and seizures in the walls. The Ramos Fizz was wonderful, the addition of orange flower water and egg whites had a significant effect on the flavor and texture of the drink as compared with a regular Gin Fizz.
If you are worried about the safety of using a raw egg white you may substitute the powdered egg whites that are used for baking.

San Francisco Ramos Fizz

1 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2, 3, or 4 drops of orange flower water
White of 1 egg
1 shot glass of gin
2 shot glasses of cream
2 shot glasses of seltzer water
1/2 glass crushed ice

Shake well and strain into a tall glass, enjoy.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Cool Cookies

This has got to be one of the easiest cookie recipes ever with each batch turning out perfectly light and moist. What I like is the variety of flavors that you can make given all the new cake mix flavors that keep popping up. I have done these using the lemon cake mix and they were wonderful, I added a little lemon zest for an added burst of flavor.

Cool Whip Cookies
1 egg
1 box cake mix, any flavor, any brand
1- 4 ounce container of Cool Whip

Blend dry cake mix with Cool Whip; beat in 1 egg and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes until set, do not over bake.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One Persons "Latkes" is Another Persons "Kugelis"

I just tried one of the most amazing side dishes called; Kugelis. It is a Lithuanian recipe for creamy potato pudding casserole. It is rich, and creamy a very comforting addition to the family meal. When I saw that they traditionally served their Kugelis with apple sauce or sour cream it reminded me of the Latkes that I had growing up.


5 Russet potatoes, grated
3 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbsp. cream of wheat or flour
2 slices bacon, diced
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 cup of milk

Fry diced bacon until cooked; then remove from skillet and cook onions in the drippings until soft, add bacon, onions and drippings to grated potatoes stir in eggs, salt, pepper and cream of wheat and milk. Mix well and pour into greased 1-quart baking dish.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 1/2 hour then lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking another 1/2 hour until top is nice and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Traditionally Kugelis is eaten with apple sauce, sour cream, or crumbled fried fat (bacon or pork belly) if there are any leftovers, slice and fry the next day.

Photo courtesy of Cizauskas/flickr

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tennis Tea, Anyone?

The talk seemed to revolve around the tennis match at the nursing home on Saturday. The woman that lives in the room next to my mother said that she had an aunt who use to make this ice tea that they actually called; Tennis Tea. No one seems to know how it got that name but the tennis match conjured up the memory and the recipe.

Tennis Tea

10 tea bags, preferrably a black tea such as Lipton but any tea will do
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 small can of frozen lemonade
1 small can of frozen orange juice

Brew water with tea bags for approximately 15 minutes, mix sugar, lemonade and orange juice with tea. Pour into a gallon container and fill with water.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Have it With the Works This Fourth of July

We have always loved that hot sauce that many hot dog and hamburger joints offer as one of their toppings. That rich red sauce with the tender little bits of hamburger, onions, peppers and spices that they pour over your sandwich. Well, my uncle and cousin liked it so much that they started making their own and is it ever good.

This sauce freezes really well so make a double batch and have plenty on hand for all your summer grilling.

Hot Dog and Hamburger Chili Sauce
1 pound of ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 beef bouillon cubes crushed
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
3 1/2 c. water

In a big pot brown hamburger and mash fine add rest of ingredients and simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 hours. The longer it simmers the more it will reduce and concentrate the flavors.
Check every now and then and give it a stir.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saffron Crocus a Flower in Good taste

Yesterday my grandmother brought out a cookbook that my aunt had given her. The cookbook was all about cooking with different herbs and spices. There were so many recipes that we wanted to try once we got the ingredients. There seemed to be a great many dishes that called for saffron, which most of us have had at one time or another. We agreed that if we ever made a recipe requiring saffron that we would all chip in seeing that saffron is about $80.00 an ounce, not that we would need an ounce more like a pinch. Luckily saffron’s powerful flavor goes a long way as well as the brilliant color it imparts to all the food that it touches.

FYI- The reason why saffron is so expensive is it estimated that it takes some 14,000 Crocus stigmas (each crocus only has three stigmas) to produce only one ounce of saffron threads.
The taste is that of bitter honey and the color it releases is an intense yellow.

Saffron Risotto

5 cups of chicken broth (canned works just fine).
1/2 a stick of butter, plus 1 more tablespoon for later
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup of pearl rice (Arborio)
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/8 tsp. of saffron
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to slow simmer. Heat butter in heavy, deep pan, sauté onions until golden. Stir in rice; sauté until well coated. Add white wine and cook until evaporated. Begin adding broth 1/2 cup at a time--add broth again when you need more liquid 1/4 cup at a time.
After 15 minutes of cooking, add saffron and continue cooking adding 1/4 cup of broth until rice is tender but firm to the bite. Total cooking time is 30 to 35 minutes.
Just prior to serving, add cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter. Salt to taste, serve with more cheese.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Feeling in High Spirits

Seeing the sunrise five days a week reminded me of one of my favorite mixed drinks.
In my younger days of clubbing I would frequently order a Tequila Sunrise, they were just so darn pretty to look at and not so bad to drink either. I haven’t had one in years and watching the sunrise every morning from the window of where I am working until 6:00AM inspired me to start drinking them again, preferably at sunset!

Tequila Sunrise

1/2 cup orange Curacao
1 oz good quality tequila
2 1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz grenadine syrup
Seltzer or club soda

Fill an 11 oz Collins glass (any glass will do) with soda water and ice until half filled, top with 1/2 oz. of grenadine syrup. Shake remaining ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into glass.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

It was 1968 when Country Bob Edson perfected his steak sauce recipe and he called it an All Purpose Sauce because it was more than just a steak sauce.

It sure is, We can attest to that. We were fortunate enough to have the good folks over at Country Bob's send over some samples for review. They sent over a couple bottles of their all purpose sauce which is great for any kind of meat or seafood. It has a very unique flavor that We can't quite compare to anything else that we have tried. It's not too sweet or too spicy (although they do have a spicy version if you prefer).

Over the last two weeks we have been dunking, pouring and marinating with Country Bob's all purpose sauce. We have put it on our burgers, marinated our pork chops, dunked our chicken and slathered our steak and all we can say is Deeeelicious!

We did come up with a real good side dish using Country Bob's Sauce that could not be simpler:

Just make up some rice using the standard 1 part rice to 2 parts water.

When your rice is done cooking add a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 a cup of Country Bob's all purpose sauce and that's it. It makes a heck of a side for any meat or fish but it's good enough to eat on its own.
You can Purchase Country Bob's online and you should see some of the great recipes they have for you to enjoy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Quick and Delicious

If you are pressed for time and happen to be a spinach lover like I am than this is the recipe for you. You can increase the amounts of everything to make a bigger batch so hopefully you will have some for the next day; although once you taste it I highly doubt it. If I didn’t have to share I would eat the whole casserole myself!

Quick Spinach Casserole

2 pkg. frozen spinach, cooked and drained (I just sauté lightly in a little butter or oil)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 can of French fried onion rings
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Feel free to add whatever else you can think of, I like to sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the fried onions (preferably swiss but any kind will do)

Add cream cheese and mushroom soup to hot spinach, put mixture into your favorite casserole dish and top with the French fried onion rings (top with cheese, optional).

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Soft and Chewy Cookies

Some people just love really soft and chewy oatmeal cookies. I have to admit that I do prefer them over the hard crunchy ones. There is just something about them that is so comforting. We do have a grocery store that sells the soft chewy ones in a two dozen container but they are so expensive. It’s just easier to make your own and this recipe is exactly what the soft and chewy oatmeal raisin lover looks for in their favorite cookie.

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of butter
1 cup of raisins
¼ cup of hot water, from tap no need to boil
1 round tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups of oatmeal
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

Pour hot water over raisins and let soften for a few minutes, cream sugar and butter and beat in eggs. Mix all other ingredients including raisins and water. Drop on cookie sheet (about 1 tablespoon per cookie). Bake until lightly browned let cool and then dig in!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hot Steamy Morning

I normally go to my grandmother’s every Saturday night for dinner and cards but a few weeks ago I started a temporary job that has me working from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am. So come Saturday morning I am just getting out of work and by the time I would normally go to my grandmothers I should be sleeping, so I asked her if she minded if I came early in the morning instead, this way I could spend a couple of hours with her then go to see my mother and then go home and hopefully get some sleep. My grandmother was fine with that; she’s up very early these days. When I got there she had a hot steaming cup of coffee waiting for me and a batch of corn muffins in the oven. What a perfect way to end a night of work and start a brand new day, the corn muffins were steaming when I broke them open and the butter just melted on contact.

Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups of self-rising cornmeal
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of cooking oil
1 cup of cream-style corn
1 med. onion, chopped
1 cup of sour cream

Mix all ingredients well, grease muffin tins. Pour about 3/4 full of batter and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

S_ _ _ On A Shingle

Foods just like people can easily get a bad reputation through no fault of their own. This particular dish became infamous as a war ration and had been called by many a name that one would never want to hit the fan (if you know what I mean). The sad part is it probably did taste bad then for many reasons the first one being that it may have been the only food option that they had. Another reason could have been because it was packaged and processed and sitting in a can for who knows how long, which means that poor little chipped beef didn’t stand a chance of being liked.
This recipe will change all that because it is easy, comforting and really delicious.
Give chipped beef the love that it deserves.

Creamed Chipped Beef

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 dash pepper
2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces dried beef, sliced

In medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour and pepper. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Tear beef into shreds; add to cream sauce and heat through.
Serve over toast points, mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Yellow With Envy

If yellow squash could talk they would probably say; “What’s the deal with zucchini bread? What, you’ve got something against yellow? Banana’s are yellow and you use them in bread, so why not us?” I guess if yellow squash could talk they would be right we always make zucchini bread under the guise that we have such a surplus of it. I have actually had times when I have an over abundance of yellow squash, so why not treat it the same. It actually makes very good bread; it is just a slight bit sweeter than its green counterpart.

Yellow Squash Bread

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of shredded yellow squash

Combine first 5 ingredients; set aside. Combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in big mixing bowl. Beat well. Stir in squash. Add dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto/flickr

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bada-Bing !

I look so forward to cherry season and as much as I do enjoy several varieties of cherries the “Bing” is still my favorite. Almost every vendor at the farmer’s market this past weekend had bags and baskets of these plump little gems sitting out on their tables tempting all who passed by. Cherries tend to be a difficult ingredient to use because you taste one and then another and then another and then another…..hey, wait a minute how come I don’t have enough for the recipe?

Bing Cherry Bread Pudding

2 cups of pitted Bing Cherries, halved
1/4 cup of brandy
2 cups each of half and half and milk
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 loaf stale French bread or Italian, torn into pieces, about 7 or 8 cups
1/4 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of sliced almonds for sprinkling over the top

Mix pitted cherries and brandy in small bowl, cover and let it sit for about an hour.

Pre-Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Generously butter a 3 quart baking dish. Mix half and half, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Add bread and cherry mixture. Stir to mix. Stir in butter.
Pour mixture in prepared dish, sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake until top is golden and crusty, about 1 hour. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if you wish.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pondering a Picnic

The first of June brings with it the promise of bright sunny days filled with warmth and gets me thinking about picnic food. Pretty soon family picnics will be upon us and that never ending dilemma of what to bring, what to bring? You want it to be easy to make, easy to take and most importantly easy to keep in all that heat. Granted with the help of all the new fangled cooling devices that they have these days the dilemma is not as great as it once was so being creative with ingredients can be much less restrictive without giving up safety. So here is my first picnic fare recipe for the season, I am sure many more will come to mind as the warmer months continue.
What is your favorite picnic food?

Oven Fried Picnic Chicken

2 1/2-3 lbs. chicken, cut up
1 1/2 cups of crushed cheese crackers (Cheez-its)
1/2 cup of finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 tsp. paprika
1 beaten egg
3 tsp. of milk

In small bowl stir together, crackers, peanuts and paprika. Spread mix on wax paper. In cereal bowl combine egg and milk. Dip each chicken piece in egg mixture and then roll in crumb mixture to coat. Arrange skin side up in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until done. Cool on paper towels or a wire rack for 30 minutes, chill in refrigerator.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Patty Pan in Never Never Land, A Veggie Tale

Aren’t they cute? The spitting image of their parents Mr. and Mrs. Full Sized Vegetables.
The only problem with these little ones is that they all suffer from the same disorder; Patty Pan Syndrome, they never want to grow up. They refuse to grow up and become mature full grown vegetables like normal vegetable children do and because of this they have all been separated from their parents and now live in the Never Never Land of vegetables which is on a remote shelf in some grocery store far from the mainland shelf of the full growns. The full growns are filled with worry for the safety of their babies for rumor has it that the humans have taken to eating their little ones…….tick-tock, tick-tock oh no! Its Captain Fork we’re doomed.......the end!

Sautéed baby Vegetables

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 baby zucchini, trimmed
4 baby yellow squash
4 baby Patty pan squash
2 baby eggplants, trimmed & halved lengthwise
4 red & 4 yellow cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno pepper (opt)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the zucchini, squash and eggplant, sauté stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Toss and sauté one more minute. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring almost constantly, sprinkle with basil and parsley and serve.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sweet Savings

The last couple of weeks I have been getting the most gorgeous Vidalia onions you have ever seen from our local farmer’s market. They are huge the size of large grapefruits and they have only been charging three for a dollar. You can find these same Vidalia’s in our local supermarket chains but at 99 cents a pound they are almost a dollar a piece. These days it is almost crazy to by your produce anywhere else.

Vidalia Onion Quiche

1 cup cracker crumbs (any kind)
5 teaspoon butter, melted
2 1/2 cups of Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into a 9 inch pie.
Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.


Sauté onions over medium heat in olive oil until translucent.
Spread onions evenly across baked pie crust. Combine milk and eggs; pour over onions. Sprinkle with cheese; season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Manzo Italiano

You’ve got your Arby’s roast beef, you’ve got your Philadelphia cheese steak, you’ve got your local steak bomber …….and then you’ve got the Godfather of them all; The Italian Beef”! The Italian beef is different from all the others because it cooks all day long. The beef becomes quite tender while absorbing much of the cooking liquid, leaving the meat loaded with flavor.
Too time consuming to make at home you say; fuggetaboutit. We can either do this the hard way or nice and easy like the recipes says….Capisce?

Italian Beef

3-4 lb. beef roast (inexpensive cuts work well with slow cooking such as chuck roast, bottom round or flank)
2 cans beef broth
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing (Zesty gives more flavor)
1- 16 oz. jar of pepperoncini’s (may put in whole or halved length wise, just remove the stems and seeds).

Mix all together, including brine from peppers. Cook all night or day if you prefer in oven set at 200 or in crock pot set on low for 7 to 8 hours. Chill to skim off fat (or feel free to leave the fat and enjoy right away), if chilling just reheat then slice or shred beef and serve on buns or a good hearty French or Italian style Bread (do not forget to drizzle some of that broth onto the bread or dunk it just like you would a French Dip sandwich with au jus).
Tastes great just as is but if you need to dress it up here are some suggestions.

Topping ideas:

Cheese (any)
Giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetable mix) you’ll find in next to the pepper
Roasted bell peppers
Fried onions


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Little Polish Dumpling

I have had a great many requests lately for some traditional polish recipes. The recipe that seems to be at the top of everyone’s list is pierogi, which is just fine with me as it is one of my all time favorite polish dishes. As luck would have it I am fortunate enough to have an old recipe that has been passed from one kitchen to another for generations, each mouthful brings back joyous memories.

Polish Pierogi

4 cups of flour, sifted
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of milk or water

Sauerkraut Filling:
1 lg. can of sauerkraut
1 med. onion, diced
4 slices bacon or salt pork, diced

Potato and farmer cheese filling:
5 or 6 med. potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 med. onion, diced
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of farmer’s cheese (may use other cheese) but farmer’s cheese is more traditional.

Dough: Mix egg, salt and milk or water gradually adding flour while stirring to form stiff dough. Turn onto floured board and knead as for bread. Roll dough into ball, place into plastic bag in refrigerator to chill while filling is being prepared.


Sauerkraut: Place sauerkraut in pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, drain, rinse and squeeze out all the water. Place sauerkraut, onion and bacon or salt pork in a frying pan. Fry until browned adding a little oil if bacon is lean, set aside to cool.

Potato and Farmer's Cheese Filling: Prepare potatoes as for mashed potatoes. In separate pan while potatoes cook sauté onion with butter until tender. To prepared potatoes stir in onion mixture and farmers cheese, blend well.
Roll dough 1/2 at a time on floured board. Cut into circles with a glass or doughnut cutter. Roll each circle again maintaining circle shape to approximately 1/2 its size again. Place filling in each circle enough so that it can be folded in half without overflowing. Travel around edge on both sides with a fork or use your fingers to crimp and seal. Drop into simmering water until each pierogi floats. Place in refrigerator or container in freezer until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions: Pierogies may be boiled or lightly fried in butter and topped with your choice of caramelized onions, cut up kielbasa, crumbled bacon. Cabbage and or beets make a wonderful side dish.
Some people even enjoy them with a splash of vinegar!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chicken Ala Tile

Yesterday would have been my mother and father’s 50th wedding anniversary if they had not divorced 28 years ago. I know it sounds sad but it’s really not, they are better friends now than they never were married…….Out of respect for them and for all of you as well I will leave out all the nasty bits and private details.
Let me just put it this way; “We can still love roses and hate being pricked by the thorns all at the same time”….I just realized how much a rose symbolizes the perfect metaphor for life.
Anyhow, on a some what lighter and much less philosophical note, my mother was thinking back on their marriage and asked me if I remembered the “Chicken Ala Tile” story? Well of course I did, it was really funny in a strange sort of way given the circumstances back then. My father was watching his weight, which actually translates into that my mother was watching his weight, if you get my drift. He was only to eat chicken or fish, two vegetables and the chicken or fish had to be broiled. Back then we had one of those little counter top broiler ovens where my mother carefully placed the chicken to cook. While that was broiling away she made the vegetables that would accompany the chicken getting more and more frustrated by the minute with all his bellowing and barking in the background…..poor Mom! I was setting the table and he was in the living room which was right off the kitchen having a scotch and watching the news. My mother walked over to the counter to turn the chicken and when she pulled the handle of the broiler pan, the handle broke and the chicken went spilling on the floor. Totally frustrated and angry my mother grabbed the chicken threw it back in the pan and shoved it back under the broiler and proceeded to wipe off the kitchen tile. My mother just looked at me and I silently understood. We sat down for dinner; my mother asked my father how he liked the chicken? He said it was good; did she do something different to it? She said no, I cooked it the way I always do while winking at me and grinning.
So here is a broiled chicken recipe to enjoy in honor of this story, throwing the chicken on the floor is optional!

Broiled Chicken

1/2 chicken, cut in 4 pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. water
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Put chicken in a pan with salt and pepper. Combine oil, water, oregano, and lemon juice in a cup. Beat lightly with a fork. Pour the combined ingredients over the chicken. Place chicken under the broiler and broil for 10- 15 minutes, then turn over and broil on the other side until nicely browned.

photo courtesy of JoJoBear99/flickr

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What On Earth Is She Doing?

Funny but true…..A friend and I decided to treat ourselves to a really nice dinner at a steak and seafood house. We decided to do the whole nine yards; “Drinks, appetizers and dessert”. We both ordered prime rib as our main course with all the fixings, baked potato, soup and salad. The waiter placed a gorgeous basket of warm bread on the table which we both grabbed for immediately. As we talked and ate making our way closer to the main entree` the waiter placed a little cup that contained a creamy yellow scoop of something inside. I instantly grabbed my spoon to start eating while my friend grabbed her butter knife and a dinner roll while we both looked at each other stunned and confused by the others actions. My friend said to me with a tiny bit of disgust; “Why are you eating that butter with a spoon”? Then I laughed and said; “Why are you about to butter your roll with lemon sorbet”? Needless to say we both howled with laughter and my friend will never again reach for a knife during the Intermezzo!

Intermezzos are usually a small amount of something light and refreshing to cleanse the palate between the courses of a rich meal. Usually intermezzo comes in the form of a sorbet, quite often lemon or lime. There are some restaurants that serve a light wine as their intermezzo on the order of an Italian Prosecco which is light and bubbly.

Easy Lemon Sorbet

The juice of 12 Lemons
1 Tablespoon of lemon zest, yellow part only
2 cups of sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water

Load all ingredients into an ice cream freezer and run it for 20 to 30 minutes until you have thick thoroughly frozen slurry. Scoop the slurry into a plastic container and put it into your freezer until frozen hard. Scoop and serve in small cup, bowl or better yet wine glass. Remember to use only a small scoop, this is merely to cleanse the palate save the bigger scoops for when serving as a dessert.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What's That Unusual Smell?

While spending time with my mother yesterday, looking at photo’s and reminiscing, my mother recalled a funny story. My mother also felt that it would be a great story to post on my blog……so here goes:

Almost 20 years ago at a family picnic where each person brought a dish to pass, my mother decided to make what she called her;” Garbage Macaroni”. Not the most enticing name for something that one would put in their mouth but despite the name it was always a big draw with family and friends. I think it should have just been called everything but the kitchen sink macaroni because she literally put in just about everything she had on hand into it. When finished this thing weighed a ton, my mother had to put it in one of those big foil turkey roaster pans. This macaroni contained all kinds of assorted meats, vegetables, seasonings not to mention a variety of cheeses, it really was delicious. You actually do not need anything else when serving this dish; it already has your meat, your veggie and your starch.
Now to the funny part, when the picnic ended and everyone was taking their care packages home my mother still had almost half a pan of her garbage macaroni left.
Since I was going through some lean times she asked if I would like to take the rest of it home, I immediately replied yes. This would have given me about a weeks worth of meals which would have helped me greatly, so my mother said good and proceeded to wrap it up for me. Due to its size and a shortage of saran wrap or foil my mother decided to tie it up in a garbage bag, I didn’t have far to go and I could repackage it when I got home. I was so excited when I got home, I got out my plastic containers and lined them up on the counter but as I started to remove the pan of macaroni from the garbage bag I smelled something oddly familiar. It smelled just like lemon dishwashing liquid the only problem was is that I didn’t use lemon scented dishwashing liquid. I stirred the macaroni and sniffed again and it still smelled, then I tasted it and it even tasted like some bad lemony something. I called my mother and said I don’t know what happened but there is no way I can use this macaroni as much as it kills me I am going to have to throw it all away. My mother couldn’t understand how that could have happened until she cleared out her bag from the picnic and pulled out the box of Lemon Potpourri Scented Garbage Bags……..giving her Garbage Macaroni a whole new meaning!

Harriet’s Garbage Macaroni (Ingredients and amounts can vary, depending on how many you are serving and what you have on hand).

1 lb. Italian sweet sausage (turkey sausage works great)
1/2 pound of sliced or chopped pepperoni, optional
1 pound of hamburger, optional
(Cubed up cooked ham also works nicely in this)
1 cup of ricotta cheese, optional (if using, just smear a little between layers)
3 green peppers, chopped2 onions, chopped
2 Large cloves of garlic, chopped1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce2 cups of water2 pounds of macaroni (any)
12 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese
12 oz. of cheddar1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of grated Romano

Remove sausage from casings and crumble. In large deep skillet or dutch oven, fry sausage until crumbly and (hamburger if using). Add green peppers, onions and garlic sauté for 5 minutes, do not drain. Stir in tomatoes, paste, sauce and water; simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain. Cover bottom of deep roasting or lasagna pan (foil turkey roasting pan works great) with sauce. Layer macaroni, sauce/meat mixture and cheeses ending with the macaroni. Pour remaining sauce over. Sprinkle Parmesan and Romano cheese over top. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and brown.