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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Crunch Time

Between Halloween and Christmas there was always a tremendous amount of candy making taking place among our family. Each family member seemed to have that one particular candy that was theirs and theirs alone. Aunt Mimi was famous for her chocolate covered almonds, Aunt Elsie, it was her honey fudge and for Aunt Jay it was always her peanut brittle. There was only one candy that it seemed everybody made, my Mother and Grandmother included and that was chocolate haystacks. You know the ones with the Chinese noodles stirred into melted chocolate then mounded by spoonfuls onto wax paper to look like little haystacks. We all loved those mainly for the texture more than anything else because the noodles remained crisp. Well here is the exact same recipe but instead of the Chinese noodles this one uses Grape-Nuts cereal. These give the candy a tremendous crunch which goes quite nicely with the smooth creamy chocolate.

Grape-Nuts Chocolate Drops

2 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 or 15 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. Grape-Nuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt chocolate over boiling water, remove from heat. Stir until smooth; add milk and blend some more. Now add your Grape-Nuts and vanilla, drop from teaspoons onto waxed paper, cool until firm.

Yield: 5 dozen candies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hug A Ghost Today......If You Can

I am certainly no expert on ghosts unless of course you are referring to Casper the friendly ghost, the friendliest ghost I know. Casper is so darn friendly I am sure the rest of you all know him as well! As friendly as he is though, you just can't reach out and touch him. It's like trying to hug air or nail Jell-O to a tree, it just can't be done. If you go by the ghosts you see on TV or read about in books it really seems like the majority of the ghost population is pretty much untouchable. As humans it is said that lack of touch tends to shorten ones life but apparently in the case of ghosts, lack of touch has no effect on that; "Roam the earth for all eternity thing"! Sad really, I am sure that they would like to shorten the amount of time spent in all eternity......oh well! As a sign of compassion for all those untouchable ghosts out there I will create this post in their honor.
It sure takes a heck of a lot of balls to roam the earth for all eternity without ever getting a handshake or a hug or any kind of touch at all.

Ghost Balls

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 lg. box of Rice Krispies
1-1/2 bags of the large marshmallows
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
60 Kraft caramels

 Melt butter and caramels with milk in a double boiler or on low heat in a sauce pan. When completely melted, dip marshmallows one at a time in caramel mixture then roll into Rice Krispies.

FYI- Those thin pretzel sticks are great to use for dipping your marshmallows and make a nice salty handle to compliment all that sticky sweet goodness.

 Place on waxed paper to cool, keep in air tight container.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Piece Of The Pie


For some of us getting caught up in tradition overrides our senses, we may not necessarily like something but we do it for the sake of tradition. In my case this holds true for the seemingly mandatory dessert of pumpkin pie for thanksgiving. It's not that I hate pumpkin pie...well I have had a few that deserved to be hated! For the most part when it comes to pumpkin pie I can take it or leave it. I usually end up taking a small slice after our dinner because I get caught up in everyone's excitement and the fact that somehow thanksgiving becomes incomplete without it.
I am also the same gal that when they ask if I would prefer white meat or dark meat my answer is neither. Just give me the crispy turkey skin and a boat load of stuffing and I am quite happy and beyond thankful
I probably should be putting this post in closer to thanksgiving but all the Halloween pumpkins everywhere have been reminding me of the pumpkin pies that are looming in my not too distant future.....as a form of rebellion, I will not be posting a recipe for pumpkin pie!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1- 2/3 c. flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 lg. eggs
1 c. canned plain pumpkin
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Butter 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes.

Mix flour, spice, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Beat sugar, oil, and eggs in large bowl. When well blended, beat in pumpkin and 1/3 cup water. Stir in flour mixture, then chocolate chips. pour batter into prepared pan, bake then cool in pan 15 minutes and then turn out onto wire rack.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wake Up and Be Happy

These are like a beautiful dream that you never want to wake up from. Light fluffy layers of chocolate pancakes like gentle clouds glistening with the gentle dew of vanilla syrup cascading through the rivers of melted butter.........Hey! Wake Up! Sure it's a nice dream but why dream about them when you can actually be making them and eating them.

Chocolate Pancakes

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 teaspoon butter, melted
2 eggs
4-6 teaspoons cocoa
Chocolate chips, optional

Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir only until mixed.

Preheat a non-stick skillet until very hot, brush lightly with butter. Pour pancake batter onto hot skillet; flip when bubbles begin to form along edges. When lightly browned on both sides, remove pancakes and stack with pats of butter between each one.
Keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
Try serving these with this delicious vanilla syrup or any of your own favorite pancake toppings.

Vanilla Syrup:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together until smooth

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sip With Caution

Going to the portside of my previous sherry post I wanted a recipe other than one using meat. I have just always used port wine in primarily meat dishes either as a marinade or a sauce accompaniment and I wanted a totally different medium for the bold, sweet, spicy spirit. Well I sure think that I hit a bulls eye with this find....come on, its cheesecake how bad could it be? I will confess right from the beginning that I have not made this yet, so I cannot honestly tell you if it tastes good........come on, its cheese cake and its a cheesecake that contains port wine of course it's good!
This recipe only uses a third of a cup of port wine, so there will be plenty left in the bottle to sip while waiting for your cheesecake to be done. Try not to get carried away with the sipping or my next post will be titled; "Human Marinated in Port Wine".......we wouldn't want to start exciting the cannibal population!

Port Wine Cheesecake


1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. melted butter

1) Mix crumbs, nuts, cinnamon and sugar with melted butter. Place and press into a 9x13 baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Cheesecake Mixture:

2 lbs. softened cream cheese
6 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. Port wine
1 tsp. vanilla

2) In large bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth; make sure there are no lumps. Pour over crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes.


1 1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

3) In a bowl mix together sour cream, sugar and vanilla and pour over cool cheese cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely. Decorate with walnut halves and strawberries and serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Life Is Just A Bowl Of Sherry

My mother's two favorite spirits were port wine and cream sherry as well as dry sherry. I use to always get her a bottle of each during the holidays, it was always a pleasure to watch her savor every little sip.
During dinner the other night my dear friend and neighbor, Christine started talking about recipes containing port or sherry. I was telling her that I always use sherry when I make lobster bisque and that port is used a lot in meat preparations. Well now I find myself very focused on finding unique ways to use the two spirits. This recipe could not be more perfect for us it uses one of our most favorite cheeses, brie and a heavy dose of cream sherry, which I am sure would have made my mother quite happy. Now we will just have to find some wonderful recipe to make using port.

Sherried Brie Soup

2 c. cream sherry
2 tbsp. butter
6 c. sliced mushrooms
2/3 c. minced shallots
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. flour
4 c. beef stock
4 oz. trimmed brie
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-2 tsp. salt
 cube up some brie and mince some chives for garnish

In a saucepan, reduce cream sherry by half. Melt butter in another medium saucepan. Stir in mushrooms, shallots and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in flour until well blended. Return to heat and add beef stock and reduced sherry. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer about 25 minutes. Add trimmed Brie; stir to melt. Add heavy cream, pepper and salt. Ladle hot soup into serving bowls. Garnish with additional brie and minced chives.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Squashing My Sanity

This is probably one of those stories that unless you were actually there you just can't truly appreciate it......but then again, the only real criteria needed to understand this is to be part of a family.

I was at my grandmother's apartment a few weeks back and all I did was mention how much I liked butternut squash. I had said I do not mind acorn squash but it isn't at the top of my list. That was it, nothing more was said and we went on to other topics of conversation. Well for whatever reason me getting my butternut squash became a mission for my grandmother. It is too expensive in the stores she said, you need to get them at the farmers markets and get a lot because they last for months if kept in a cold dark place. I said I hadn't been going to the farmers markets as much as I use to I just haven't had the time. Well I will see if your father will take me and we will get your butternut squash so you don't have to pay those ridiculous prices. For a couple weeks all our conversations were pretty much based on this butternut squash that I merely mentioned in passing, my grandmother was obsessed with it. Finally last Saturday my father took her to the farmers market, when she got home she called to tell me that she found my butternut squash but your father would not let me pay for it...he said; that is my daughter and I will buy her the butternut squash.
Well yesterday, I went over to my grandmother's for a visit and of course to pick up my butternut squash. When I got there, two bags were sitting on the floor. Go look in the bags, my grandmother tells me. Look at how beautiful your butternut squash is....that your father wouldn't let me pay for that he insisted on buying for you...just look at how beautiful they are!
They are beautiful Meema, thank you so much for all these "Acorn Squash", I'll be sure to call Dad and thank him as well.
Yes, of course I am grateful! Come on, we've all been here at one time or another...it's just funny, funny family stuff.

Acorn Squash with Apple Raisin Stuffing

1 acorn squash, med. Size (just keep doubling amounts if using more than one squash)
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. scallions, chopped
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and cubed (1/2 c.)
1/3 c. raisins
2 tbsp. toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp. maple syrup, or to taste
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Cut a slice off the bottom, if necessary, to make the halves stable. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and brush a little over the cut surface. Put the squash cut side down on a pan, add a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in the pan and sauté the scallions for about 3 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the apple and cook about 3 minutes more, stirring. Add the raisins, walnuts and maple syrup. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Season the mixture to taste with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the squash cavities and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, adding more water to the pan if necessary.