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, March 22, 2010

Eating For The Fun Of It!

Sometimes food should just be fun, carnival fun, food on a stick fun, fried ooey gooey fun. Hopefully leaving behind no regrets, nothing more than a full stomach and a sticky lipped smile. Save sensible for the remaining eighty percent of the week or ninety percent if you have to be really, really careful.
Sure sensible foods can be made to be fun like riding a Merry-Go-Round fun but sometimes you just need the exhilaration only a Roller Coaster can deliver!

Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (This one is from the Food network and it is a definite keeper)!

Recipe courtesy George Duran


• 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup pasteurized eggs or 2 whole eggs 
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups (12-ounce package) chocolate chips


• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 large egg (or 1/4 cup pasteurized eggs)
• 1/2 cup seltzer water or club soda, plus more if needed
• Vegetable oil, for frying


For the dough: Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and stir it with a whisk to combine. Set aside. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter until it is lighter in color. Slowly add in sugars and beat until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until they are incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture using the low speed, then stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
To form the cookies: Use 2 teaspoons of the dough and roll it into balls. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet. When they are all made, put them into the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.
For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the egg and half the seltzer and whisk well to combine. Add more seltzer as needed until the batter is thick and the consistency of heavy cream.
To make the cookies: Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F.
Dip the chilled dough balls in the batter and carefully place them into the hot oil. Fry a few at a time, turning them over from time to time, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and serve while still warm.


1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Candy bars (Mars, Snickers, Almond Joy, Kit Kat or Twix work well; use mini versions if you wish)

1. Chill or freeze the candy bars.
2. Combine egg, milk and vegetable oil in a cup.
3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well with a wire whisk. Cover and chill for a few minutes while the oil heats.
4. Remove batter from the refrigerator and adjust the consistency if necessary. Heat about 4 cups of oil or shortening to 375 degrees F.
5. Dip the chilled candy bar in the batter and gently place into the oil. Cook only until the outside is golden. Remove and drain on brown paper. Allow to cool for a minute as the inside can easily burn your mouth.

Deep-Fried Stuffing on a Stick

This recipe courtesy of who else but Miss Paula Deen


• 5 tablespoons butter, divided
• 1 pound breakfast sausage, bulk
• 1 cup diced onion
• 1/2 cup diced carrot
• 1/2 cup diced celery
• 1 bag unseasoned bread cubes, for stuffing
• 1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
• 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
• 2 teaspoons ground sage
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 quart chicken stock
• 4 eggs, beaten

For Frying:

• Oil, for frying
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• Special equipment: 12 wooden ice cream sticks or skewers


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is cooked through. Transfer to a plate, while spooning off the excess grease, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the skillet. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and melt. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until softened. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, toss together bread cubes, saltines, poultry seasoning, parsley flakes, sage, salt and pepper. Stir the sautéed vegetables into the mixing bowl. Pour in the chicken stock and eggs and toss together. Turn the stuffing out into the prepared baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the juices in the stuffing are bubbling.

Preheat oil in the deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Cool the stuffing completely. Cut it into 12 squares. Remove each square from the dish and wrap it around a wooden stick, pressing it onto the stick with your hands. Make the stuffing form a log shape around the Popsicle stick, leaving 2-inches of the stick exposed for the handle. This should look somewhat like a lumpy corn dog.
Roll the stick in the flour, coating it well and then shaking off the excess. Gently lower the sticks into the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jack Attack

Chocolate, coffee and Jack Daniels made into a cake is it any wonder we were all asking for the recipe! There always seems to be at least one dish at every gathering that gets everybody buzzing. This cake was that very dish, I was pleasantly surprised. I am not a big fan of cake unless of course it is cheesecake. I really liked this one because it was exceptionally moist, had really deep rich flavors and the addition of pecans gave it a nice textural balance.
Just think you could serve this cake with a cup of hot coffee or a shot of Jack Daniels to wash it down and not worry about the flavors clashing.
You make this cake and people will be begging you for the recipe.

Jack Daniels Cake

1 box dark chocolate cake mix
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Jack Daniel's Whiskey
1/2 cup black coffee
1/4 cup broken pecan pieces
1 very ripe banana
1 stick butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using an electric mixer combine all the ingredients, except the pecan pieces. Mix on medium-high 1-2 minutes until ribbon like consistency is achieved (do not over mix or cake will be tough).

Spray a Bundt cake pan with Pam to coat lightly.

Put pieces of nuts in the bottom. When cake mix is mixed well, pour batter into the pan, level off in center, and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center is nearly clean.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing it from pan.

Feel free to ice or glaze this cake with a nice drizzle of melted chocolate or a light dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Choose Laughter

  Me with my Mother and Grandmother - September 2008

At times we get a glimpse into what might be while spending time with older relatives. You become an observer to what waits for you as you approach the end of life's road. It can be a very sad and painful time but luckily as with all other times in life it to can be fraught with joy and laughter as well. Thank God, we can laugh even through insurmountable sadness.
My mother spent her last several years of life living in a nursing home a potential existence most of us view with fear and dread. In my mother's case this was a welcome and much needed chapter in her life and fortunately in my mother's case her time in the nursing home was a very good, loving and nurturing experience.
My grandmother's road in life has lead her to an assisted living facility, considered to be a step up from a nursing home but in the eyes of many who are living there it is another cruel act of life that rids us of our independence and ability to choose.
What I have observed so far in my 51 years on this earth is; we live to gain as many chronological years as possible hopefully filling those years with love, laughter, hope and our God given free will of; "choice". Choice, the freedom to think independently and choose between what you deem right or what you deem wrong, what you feel that you need or that you don't need, what you want or don't want, who you love or don't love.....How you wish to be cared for, who will be doing the caring and where you will call, home.
What I have learned as I lovingly observe all these potential " future me's" is as we forge through this life with all its joy, hardship and never-ending changes. As we gain years our list of choices becomes smaller and the unpleasant choices seem to out number the pleasant ones.....except for one choice that is always ours to make no matter how old we are or where we are on this road in life and that is to laugh. Laughter will always  help us to rise above the gloom and shine down on us with a light that lets us know that we will and can survive this moment and any moment that life can throw our way.
I am posting a recipe for shrimp croquettes because they became a source of laughter while having a dinner visit with my grandmother. Let's just say a woman that was seated two tables away from ours took great issue with her croquettes and it just grew into being comical. My grandmother who was in a crabby mood (which is most of the time) even began laughing, she looks so much better with a smile on her face......so here is to the power of laughter, smile and enjoy!

Shrimp Croquettes

3/4 lb. frozen cooked shelled shrimp
3 tbsp. Crisco
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 tbsp. snipped parsley
Dash of pepper & paprika
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. water
1 pkg. (8 oz.) frozen peas with cream sauce

Defrost shrimp, devein if necessary. Chop finely (about 2 cups). Melt 3 tablespoons Crisco. Blend in flour. Add milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until very thick and smooth; remove from heat. Add onion, parsley, lemon juice and seasonings; stir in shrimp.
Preheat Crisco for deep frying to 350 degrees. Shape shrimp mixture into 8 cones. Roll in crumbs. Combine egg with water. Dip cones in egg mixture roll in crumb again.
Deep fry a few at a time until brown, about 3 minutes. Turn if necessary, drain on paper towel
Prepare peas according to directions on package. Spoon creamed peas over croquettes.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, March 8, 2010

From Mashing To Smashing

My mother and I had been making our mashed potatoes like this for years just because we liked them that way. Who knew that it was actually a traditional French preparation called Aligot and a very popular one at that. I am sure that my mother and I may have strayed a bit from what is considered the authentic preparation but ours is pretty darn close. These potatoes are so rich you could almost get away without serving anything else. From what I have read Aligot is traditionally served with sausages or beef but from my point of view Aligot can be served with just about anything quite nicely.
Aligot is kind of like putting the fancy on plain old mashed potatoes.

Aligot (pronounced Ah-Lee-Go)

2 lbs. potatoes
4 Tbsp. of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. butter
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz. Brie or Camembert with rind removed, sliced
Chopped chives or green onion tops

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water in large saucepan for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain; peel. Mash the potatoes with the heavy cream in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Sauté garlic in butter for about one minute, do not allow garlic to brown. Add Brie; stir until completely melted. Stir the melted cheese mixture into the mashed potatoes. You want to keep stirring the mixture until it has a gummy silky texture (may use mixer to accomplish this more easily, garnish with the chopped chives.

Serve immediately.

FYI - We have also experimented using shredded Swiss cheese instead of the brie and it worked exceptionally well giving the Aligot a more nutty taste.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blue Passion

I could eat blue cheese by the crumble, by the chunk or by the wheel. I am telling you it is genetic my entire family magnetizes to blue cheese. I love stinky strong cheeses, to me the so called stink just speaks to the high level of flavor.
The other night I made a big batch of blue cheese dip/dressing which can be used for just about anything. That night it was used as a dip for homemade Buffalo wings . It was so delicious, more so because I added probably triple the amount of blue cheese one would normally use....what I can say. I am the same way with garlic as I pointed out in the previous post. Some may say that I have severe issues with certain foods; I like to think of it more as having tremendous passion about certain foods.
I am also passionate about soup one of life's most perfect dishes and by adding blue cheese  this dish is way over the top!


4 lg. onions, sliced thin
3/4 stick (6 tbsp.) butter
4 c. canned beef broth
1 c. dry white wine
1/4 lb. blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 c.)

1 baguette, for croutons. (Just slice, butter or drizzle a little olive oil on each slice and put in 400 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes). Spreading with blue cheese is optional but really, really good!

In a large saucepan, cook the onions in the butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until they are softened. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper, stir in the broth and the wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.
Remove the pan from the heat and add 3/4 cup of the cheese and stir the soup until the cheese is melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish it with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the croutons.