Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas open house

Last night we had a Christmas open house for some friends and neighbors. We had about 16 people, although we had invited about 10 more who were either out of town or busy. I am blessed to have good friends who pitch in. Connie brought meatballs in cream sauce and ham and cheese party rolls Kathleen brought her almond torte. Here’s the rest of the menu: Mini Tomato Pies , artichoke-asiago bites , Italian meatballs in a piquant tomato sauce , mini corn cakes with smoked salmon , homemade onion dip with chips, cream cheese with hot pepper jelly, cheese board, prosciutto and sopresotta tray. For sweets we had creme de menth brownies, pecan tassies, and an almond torte. We didn’t have many leftovers, so I think it was a success.

Italian Meatballs in Piquant Tomato Sauce

Italian Meatballs-baked

I love to do a double recipe of these meatballs. I use a 1 tbl scoop to portion them. Then I bake them on cookie sheets,lined with release aluminum foil, about 15 minutes in a 350 oven. Remove, cool and freeze in freezer bags or add to sauce. Whenever you want meatballs, just pull out a bag and throw them in the sauce. Simmer until defrosted and heated through.
Serves 4-5

1 lb ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup ground parmesean or asiago cheese
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ham, pancetta, or prosciutto, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
milk to moisten, about 1/4-1/2 cup
grated rind of 1 lemon

I do all the chopping in the food processor: First grate the cheese, measure & add to bowl. Chop garlic cloves, put in bowl. Chop onion and add to bowl. Chop parsley & add to bowl, then pancetta. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl & mix all together. Make 1 small meat ball & cook for 30 seconds in the microwave. Taste & correct seasonings. Form into meat balls (1tbl each) & bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Piquant Sauce
2 tbl extra virgen olive oil
1 large can tomato sauce (I like Cosco’s organic)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced fine
2 tbl brown sugar
1 tbl balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic in oil and then add remaining ingredients. Let simmer to reduce til fairly thick. Add meatballs and stir to coat in sauce. Place in a chafing dish or slow cooker and serve hot.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Pecan Tassies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted
One 3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
Nonstick cooking spray
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of fine salt
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

With an electric mixer, beat the 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese until smooth. Add the flour and beat until fully combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside.
Shape the chilled dough into 24 balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Press each ball into a cup of the muffin pan, spreading evenly and up the sides, then spoon 1 teaspoon of the pecans into each muffin cup. Fill each cup with the egg mixture until evenly distributed, about 1 teaspoon in each. Bake until the filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove from the muffin pan.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Miss Debbie’s Hot Italian Sausage Minestrone

This is the most delicious soup. My family loves it. I got the recipe from my dear friend Debbie. If you’re have fresh basil, add a it at the end with the spinach. You can use a big handful. You can also add some chopped zucchini or squash to it too. 

Serves 8-10

1 lb hot Italian sausage (removed from its casings)
1-2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped (optional if you don’t want to use the garlic salt)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried basil 
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 carrots, sliced
1-28oz can whole tomatoes 
1 can kidney beans (I prefer cannellini beans or great northern)
1 tsp garlic salt (Omit if using fresh garlic)
1/4 tsp salt (increase to 1 tsp if not using garlic salt)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbl chopped parsley
3 cups water

1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed
6 oz small pasta, cooked

Brown the sausage; add celery and onion and saute til translucent. Season with some salt and pepper. Add the basil, oregano, and bay leaf, and cook for a minute more. Add all the remaining ingredients except the spinach and pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 45 minutes. At this point it can be frozen or refrigerated, but reheat before proceeding.  Add thawed spinach and pasta and heat 15 minutes. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roast Turkey

I just saw this today on America’s Test Kitchen, and I think that I’ll try it for Thanksgiving.

Rub turkey under skin and inside with 4 tbl  salt and 4 tsp sugar. (4 tsp on each breast, 2 tsp on  each leg) Truss and let stand uncovered in fridge overnight. Paint turkey with a paste of 1 tsp baking powder & 1 1/2 tsp oil. Make a shield from aluminum foil for the breast. Preheat oven, pizza stone, and roasting pan without a rack at 500 for 30 minutes. Add 2 tbl of oil to pan. Add the turkey and roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Drop temp to 325 and remove shield. Roast til breast registers 165 and thighs are 175 (about 90 minutes for a 12lb turkey). Let rest 45 -60 minutes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Artichoke Asiago Squares from Anna Olson

These were pretty good, but next time I’m going to bake them in phyllo cups.

cup jarred marinated artichokes, drained
1 cup thawed and squeezed dry frozen chopped spinach
1 cup chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tsp chopped dry  oregano (optional)
4 large eggs
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ lb(s) grated Asiago cheese (I think parmigiano reggiano would be much better)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the sides.
2. In a food processor, pulse artichokes, spinach, onion, garlic and oregano, if using, until finely chopped but not puréed. Pulse in eggs, then pulse in breadcrumbs, Asiago, cayenne, mustard, salt, and pepper. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, spread to level and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until set. Cool to room temperature before slicing into squares and store refrigerated.
3. Square can be served at room temperature or warmed in a 325 F for 10 minutes.

I cooked these in mini-cupcake tins. Much nicer presentation! Spray tins well with cooking spray and put a heaping tablespoon of the mixture in each cupcake. Press down slightly and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350. Let cool 8-10 minutes and run a sharp knife around each before unmolding. Let cool completely and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pie crust with lard

I've made this crust twice, and it was delicious, but too short. I am revising the recipe to use less fat.
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tbl chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 7 tbl chilled lard or frozen nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
  • Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and lard; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons ice water and mix with fork until dough begins to clump together, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough together. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. If necessary, soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Manchego and quince paste skewers

Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip

Preheat oven to 350

1 8oz pkg cream cheese at room temperature 
1 cup mayonnaise 
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked crab, picked over
3/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano 
1/3 cup chopped green onion 
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper 
1 tsp ground cayenne

1/2 cup dry bread crums
2 tsps chopped green onion or chives

Mix cream cheese and mayo together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and place in an ovenproof crock. Top with bread crumbs and bake for 20-30 minutes. Garnish with green onion and serve with crackers or toast.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


So, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, and I’d like to change it up a little. It’s a challenge because everyone wants their favorites. I don’t want to end up keeping all the old stand bys and adding new dishes. What to do? I’m going to put some new twists on the old and add some kind of salad. Here’s what I’m thinking.

Autumn arugula salad with figs and pears

Turkey and gravy
Cornbread dressing with hot Italian sausage and rosemary
Mashed potatoes (make ahead and keep these warm in your slow cooker)
Roasted sweet potatoes with pecans and spiced maple syrup
Best green bean casserole

Best pumpkin chiffon pie
Mimoy’s Pecan pie

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Red Velvet Brownies

Ice with cream cheese frosting.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Coconut cream bars

I haven't tried these yet, but they sound good, and bar cookies are always easy.

Buttery Soft Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
  • 2 oz cream cheese softened (57g)
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar (350g)
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (285g)
  • 1 /2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Coconut Cream Frosting

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut divided (200g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened (113g)
  • 1 oz cream cheese softened (28g)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (500g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (59ml)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.  

  • Buttery cookie bars

    1. Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and prepare a 13x9 pan by lining with parchment paper (or lightly grease and flour).  Set aside.
    2. Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and an electric mixer).  Beat together on medium-speed until well creamed (about 1 minute).
    3. Add sugar and gradually increase mixer speed to high, beating until well-combined and fluffy (about 1 minute).  
    4. Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, stirring well between each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to ensure ingredients are well-combined.
    5. Stir in vanilla extract and coconut extract.
    6. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
    7. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, stirring on medium-low speed until completely combined.
    8. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake on 350F (177C) for 25 minutes.  Allow cookie bars to cool completely in pan before covering with coconut cream frosting.  -- Do not turn off the oven, you will use it to briefly toast your coconut next.
    9. Coconut Cream Frosting
    10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle 1 cup of coconut evenly over the cookie sheet.  Bake in 350F (177C) oven for 3 minutes, remove, turn with spatula, and return to oven and repeat until coconut is lightly browned (about 10-15 minutes, total).  Allow toasted coconut to cool while you prepare the frosting.  
    11. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese.
    12. Gradually, slowly, add powdered sugar, beating until combined.  Add milk and stir, increasing speed to high, and beat until smooth and creamy (about 30 seconds on high)
    13. Sprinkle in salt and add extracts, stir well.  
    14. Spread frosting evenly over cooled cookie bars.  Press 1 1/2 cups untoasted coconut over cookie bars, and then sprinkle toasted coconut overtop.  Cut and serve.  Frosting will set and become more stable as it sits.  
    15. Optional: For an extra decadent treat, drizzle with melted dark chocolate.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pad Thai

This sounds like an easy version for a family meal.

1-12 ounce package rice noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup peanut oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
4 eggs
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (we used Sriracha)
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups bean sprouts
¼ cup crushed peanuts
1 green onion, chopped for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges
shredded carrot and purple cabbage, for garnish
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
Heat peanut oil in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken, garlic, and green onions until browned. Remove, and set aside.
Return the wok to the burner and add ¼ cup of peanut oil. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil, and cook until firm. Stir in chicken, softened noodles, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, sweet chili sauce, red pepper, and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Mix while cooking, until noodles are tender. Add bean sprouts and a squirt of lime, and mix for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with crushed peanuts, green onions, and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tianlu's Easy Mouth-watering Chicken

This is my beautiful daughter-in-law's recipe.

Two pieces of chicken breasts taken off from a rotisserie chicken
Salt: a little, depending on how flavorful the chicken breasts are
Zhenjiang Vinegar: 4 tbsp
Light Soy sauce: 4 tbsp
Sesame oil: 2 tbsp
Spicy oil or spicy sesame oil: 1 tbsp
Numbing pepper oil: 1 tbsp
Ginger: 1 tsp, finely chopped
Garlic: 3 cloves, pressed
Green onion: 1-2 chopped
Cilantro: half a bunch, chopped
Red chili pepper (fresh, dried, or pickled): depending on your taste
Sesame seeds and crushed peanuts: as little or as much as you want

Mix chicken with all ingredients, add sesame seeds and peanuts on top. Voila!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Easy asian noodles

Saw this on Pinterest and thought it sounded good. 

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • ¼ c. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 5 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha (more to taste)*
  • ¼ c. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ⅓ c. cilantro, chopped
  • ½ c. dry roasted peanuts (I used Planters), chopped and whole
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  1. Bring a large pot water to boil. Add spaghetti and cook till al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha, peanut butter, honey, minced garlic and minced green onion. Whisk vigorously until smooth.
  3. Drain the noodles and return to the same large pot. Add the sauce, red bell pepper, carrot, cilantro, peanuts, crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds. Toss until combined, serve and garnish as desired.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bourbon cherry crisp from WSJ

Bourbon Cherry Crisp
Active Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 4 hours (includes soaking cherrie) Serves: 6
Papa Joe made this using frozen cherries that were defrosted and drained. He says that you should increase the sugar. He was not a big fan of the crumble either. I think it would be better by substituting some  chopped almonds for part of the flour.
For the bourbon cherries
  • ⅔ cup dried cherries
  • ⅔ cup bourbon
For the crumble topping:
  • 1¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 12 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
To assemble:
  • 6 cups pitted cherries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Make bourbon cherries: Pour bourbon on dried cherries and let sit at least 4 hours at room temperature.
2. Make crumble topping: Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add butter and use your fingers to massage into flour mixture until consistency resembles a coarse meal. Chill 30 minutes before baking.
3. Assemble and bake crumble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together fresh cherries, bourbon-soaked dried cherries, sugar, orange juice and salt. Pour mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan or deep pie dish. Top with crumble topping. Bake until crumble is golden brown and cherry filling is bubbling, 30-40 minutes.
4. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lemon brownies

These sound delicious and easy.

Preheat oven to 350
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla  

  • Line 9×13 pan with non-stick parchment paper
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and zest together.
  • Add butter, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed until completely combined.
  • Pour the batter into pan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Randomly test after 20 minutes using a toothpick inserted in center comes clean.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Pour lemon sugar glaze over the lemon brownies.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cut to serve.
  •  Lemon Glaze 
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest 

  • Add your sugar into a small bowl.
  • Add lemon juice and zest and stir until combined and smooth.
  • Set to the side.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tomato Pie

  1. 1 store bought pie crust (or make your own!)
  2. 3-4 lb Tomatoes, sliced ¾" thick
  3. 1 Small onion, diced
  4. 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1 Tblsp butter or oil.
  6. ½ C assorted herbs (basil, parsley, & chives)
  7. 1C Cheddar (we used Sweetwater Valley Buttermilk Cheddar a local favorite), grated
  8. 1/4C Mayonaise (has to be Dukes in the South!)
  9. Salt
  10. Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Place tomatoes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper in one layer. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Drop temperature to 300° and allow tomatoes to dry out for 45 minutes or until wrinkled.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°.
  4. Place pie crust in a 9" cast iron skillet tucking the edges under and piercing in several locations with a fork. Cover with parchment or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place in hot oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pie weights/beans and bake another 5 minutes to brown base. Remove from oven. Reduce oven to 350°.
  5. While crust is baking, roughly chop herbs.
  6. Saute onions in butter until transparent. Adding garlic the last minute.
  7. Mix Mayo and cheese together in small bowl.
  8. Place one layer of tomatoes on base of crust and sprinkle with pepper. Add ⅓ of herbs and onion/garlic mixture. Repeat with remaining tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Top with cheese mixture.
  9. Place in 350° oven and bake for 30 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes (the waiting is the hardest part!). Slice and serve.