Thursday, December 6, 2012

Organizing Your Christmas Baking

I love holiday baking. I love to make cookies, chocolate-dipped pretzels, truffles, breads and other treats for friends and family.  There is nothing like the aroma of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in the house. It smells like home.

One of the great things about holiday baking is how much of it can be done ahead of time. And since most cookies freeze well, it also means that you can make extra — and have some of those yummy, homemade cookies for later.

Planning Your Holiday Baking

To start, make a list and check it twice. Get a general idea of what you plan to bake and how many. Have you gotten your recipes and ideas together? Do you have all the containers you will need for your cookies and baked goods? 

Check twice over all your recipes to make sure that you have all of the ingredients for each
recipe. Also check the quantities you need — before you start! I hate when I start—or even worse —get halfway through a recipe and realize that I don't have enough butter or eggs. (It usally means I need to put on decent clothes to go to the store).  So make your shopping list for any ingredients or other supplies that you’ll need to get.

Use parchment paper. Even if you've never used it. This is the time to become parchment paper friendly. Put it on your shopping list if you have none. You will be glad later. If you are making a lot of cookies at once, you will want to line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. The cookies will slide right off your baking sheet and you can pop another batch in the oven. (Allow your cookie sheet to cool down before starting a new batch.)

Look at prep times and bake times. Some cookie doughs needs to chill. If you are making a recipe like this; then you can make this first so that you can work on other cookies while the dough chills. You might also want to make cookies that bake at the lowest temperature first so that you can increase the temperature in your oven as you go rather than having to wait on it to cool down. (this can same crucial time.)

Always allow you cookies to cool before decorating. And also, always allow them them to cool before storing or packaging them. A great investment will be in a cooling rack if you don't have one.


And a biggie. Don't forget to clean you mess as you go. It’s much easier to clean up sticky and gooey messes when they are fresh than to wait until they’re hard and crusty.

Festive Cookie Gift Packaging

During the holidays you can find some very some cute little boxes or bags to hold all of your beautiful baked goodies. And some are as little as a dollar or two. Then use some festive-colored plastic wrap and a little curling ribbon to seal in the freshness of the baked goodies. Line the inside of the boxes with tissue paper. You can even make this a memory if you include the recipe.

Simply type recipes into a word document, and size them to about the normal size of an index card. On the front include the ingredients……and on the back the directions. To make it even more festive. You can tape the recipe onto two pieces of holiday wrapping paper that is back-to-back, and then seal it with laminate. To make it even more festive; add a holiday clip art image or two. Punch a hole in the corner and attach it with the ribbon to the box. Can you say cute?!



Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicken Kabobs made with O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil & O Ginger Rice Vinegar

Chicken Kabobs made with O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil & O Ginger Rice Vinegar

4 Chicken Breasts, cut into chunks
2 Red Bell Peppers, cut into large pieces
2 Green Peppers, cut into large pieces
1 Red Onion, cut into wedges
Whole Button Mushrooms
Bamboo  Skewers, soaked for 2o minutes in water (I put them in a sink filled with water with a plate on top to submerge them)

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons O Ginger Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
3 Garlic Cloves, pressed

Preparation: Add the O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil and O Ginger Rice Vinegar to a bowl and whisk for at least 5 seconds to blend. While whisking, inhale deeply and enjoy that beautiful bouquet. Amazing!! Add the soy sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic and stir. Set aside. Allow the marinade to set while preparing the kabobs.

Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken pieces and marinate for 20-30 minutes. Preheat grill. Remove chicken from marinade. Thread chicken onto skewers, alternating a chunk of chicken with a veggie chunks. Place on grill. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes turning as you cook. Remove and enjoy!

O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil

It is made with exotic organic Tahitian limes crushed together with fresh California olives.  Awwww!!! It is amazing and beautiful! Unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

O Ginger Rice Vinegar

It is fresh hand harvested gingerroot from Jamaica, Fiji, and India and it is steeped in the finest sweet California rice vinegar. It is barrel-aged and hand-crafted. The Fragrance and bright.

"As soon as I opened the bottles, I was greeted with the freshest scents I have ever smelled. The combination of olive oil and the limes creates such a fantastic aroma that I was sold on this product before tasting it. It really smells that good. And the Ginger Rice Vinegar smells so clean and fragrant. I love both of these products.

Before grilling.

This is the finished product. Kabobs made with O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil & O Ginger Rice Vinegar. I am sold and can't wait to try some of the the other flavors. They are high quality and beautiful!! Thank you and I hope to work with you again!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

O OLive Oil & eRecipecards Contest

We did our taste test today. I received the O Tahitian Lime Olive Oil & Ginger Rice Vinegar. The oil has exotic organic Tahitian limes crushed together with fresh California olives. It is bright and crisp. O Olive Oils are pressed oils which adds deeper flavors to their oils than simply infused oils. The taste and smell is amazing!! We loved it! Even the bottles are stunning. They are bottles are long and skinny. I knew it would be good but it was better than I had anticipated.

Even my 19 month old grand-son Evan approved. We loved it and will be trying the other flavors soon. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share this with my family.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lemon-Blueberry Scones

Lemon-Blueberry Scones

Ingredients for Scones
3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup butter, melted
1 1/4 Cups buttermilk
1 Cup blueberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Ingredients for glaze
2 lemons juiced
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons buttermilk

Preparation for the scones
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Zest and juice lemon; set aside.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and buttermilk; stir, adding blueberries as a soft dough is formed.
3. Divide the dough into two equal portions onto a lightly floured surface. Press separate portions into two circles, approximately 3/4 inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 wedges.
4. Place the scones on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 -20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack and allow the scones to cool on completely while the glaze is prepared.

Preparation for the glaze
1. Melt butter in saucepan on low heat.
2. Once butter is melted, add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Turn off heat and continue to stir as glaze thickens (you may need to add more confectioners’ sugar if not thick enough). Allow the glaze to cool completely. Then drizzle the cooled glaze over the cooled scones.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grilled Caesar Salad with Rock Shrimp

I made this salad tonight. I made croutons and grilled Rock Shrimp to add to the salad. I did not grill the croutons as Bobby Flay's recipe calls for. I made them inside. I also experimented and used leftover hot dog buns for the bread in the crouton recipe. They turned out fantastic. I loved using the bread that I normally feed to the ducks. $$ money saver!! I will do that again. I suppose you could use any leftover bread that you have hanging around.

I grilled the Rock Shrimp in a grill pan on top of the stove. I grated lots of Parmesan to top the salad with. Easy and good dinner.

Rainbow Slaw


5–6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 Cup sliced pepperoncini, finely chopped
3 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 Cups shredded cabbage 


1. Slice radishes (1/2 Cup); chop pepperoncini.

2. Chop onions and cilantro.

3. Combine all salad ingredients except pepperoncini.

4. Squeeze lime; 2 Tablespoons juice.

5. Whisk lime juice, oil, salt, pepper, and pepperoncini until blended.

5. Stir in remaining ingredients just before serving. Toss with salad.

Serves 6

Smoky Bacon Pork Chops


3 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 Cup cooked bacon pieces
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce
2 teaspoons mesquite seasoning
4 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops (about 1 1/2 lb) 


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil.

2. Shred cheese (3/4 cup). Chop onions.

3. Season pork chops with mesquite seasoning; place on baking sheet. Combine cheese, onions, bacon, mayonnaise, and pepper sauce. Spread cheese mixture evenly over pork chops.

4. Place on middle rack of oven; bake 8–9 minutes.

5. Increase oven heat to broil; broil 2–3 more minutes or until pork is browned and 145°F.

Serves 4
This was served with Rainbow Slaw.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

OXO Giveway

OXO Giveaway

I love it!! What a great surprise! My first package to our new house was a package from OXO. My first giveaway. I am excited!!  I was chosen to participate in the OXO Blogger Outreach Program. What fun and an honor. As part of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program, I get to try their new products out. I was sent two sets of Good Grips LockTop Containers. One for my use and one to give away. Not only do I get to try them but one of my readers will too! I am giving away two different packages of Good Grips LockTop Containers. Your win will consist of a set of four Mini LockTop Containers two 2 ounce containers and two 4 ounce containers and One 6.3 cup LockTop Container. The mini containers are perfect for dressings, condiments, spices, baby foods and more. They are easy to close and leak proof. There are multiple inner locking tabs which create and airtight and watertight seal. They resist stains and odors. I am sold and want and entire set. 

Here are the steps to enter the giveaway:

1. Share this giveaway on your page.

2. Go to the OXO Facebook page, like them and tell them Serious Food for the Soul sent you.

3. Comment on this post that you have liked OXO and told them I sent you. Then choose any number of your choice. Leave your chosen number in your comments to me.

I will use Random. Org to choose the lucky winner this coming Saturday at 8 PM EDT. This giveaway is only good in the US. Good Luck!!

OXO Good Grips LockTop Containers are:
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Microwave Safe
  • Freezer Safe
  • Food Safe
  • BPA Free
Pet Peeves:
  • Traditional containers leak and are cumbersome to open and close
  • Contoured lids make stacking and organizing difficult
  • Opaque lids obscure food making it difficult to see contents
  • Framed lids seal containers securely with one simple motion
  • Modular stacking for refrigerator and freezer organization
  • Clear lids make contents viewable from any angle

Sunday, April 1, 2012

BBQ Jalapeño Pepper Poppers via The Pioneer Woman

18 fresh jalapeños
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1 green onion sliced
18 slices bacon, cut in half
Bottled BBQ sauce

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, keeping the stems intact.

3. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and membranes. If more heat is desired, leave some intact.

4. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese,and green onion with a spoon.

5. Stuff each pepper half with the cheese mixture.

6. Wrap each pepper half, cover as much of the surface as you can. Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeño, as it will shrink as it cooks.

7. Brush the surface of the bacon with the BBQ sauce. Secure the jalapeño with toothpicks and pop them in the oven for 1 hour or until the bacon is sizzling. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Linguine with Scallops, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach and Pine Nuts

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
3/4 pound Linguine
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 Pounds Scallops
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Cup oil-packed Sun-Dried Tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 Cups baby Spinach, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Tarragon,minced
Red Pepper flakes
Parmesan Cheese, grated

1. Toast the pine nuts in skillet over low heat until golden, remove from skillet and set aside.

2. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguine until just done. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat until very hot. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Put the scallops on the pan and sear until brown on the bottom,1-2 minutes.Turn and sear on the other side, 1-2 minutes longer. Remove the scallops and cut into quarters.

3. In the same pan, heat the remaining 5 Tablespoons oil over moderate heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook stirring 1 minute. Toss with pasta, scallops,spinach,pine nuts and tarragon. Add as much reserved pasta water as needed to wilt the spinach and to combine everything. Serve with Parmesan and additional pepper flakes,

Serves 4

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fiery Shrimp and Jicama Salad

  • 1 lb Shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 1 jicama root, peeled and diced
  • 2 mangos, peeled and diced
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 Cup red onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • 6 large Boston lettuce leaves

1. In a skillet, on medium heat, toast the whole cloves of garlic and whole jalapeno peppers. As each side begins to brown, turn them. Do not let them over cook. This is just to toast them. Remove from heat. Set aside and allow to cool.

2. Add the shrimp to the skillet with the remaining olive oil. Toss in the spices and cook each side of the shrimp until they are pink and cooked through. When they are close to being thoroughly cooked; toss them to coat them with the oil and Spices. Remove and set to the side to cool.

3. When the garlic and peppers are cool to touch, mince them (de-seed the pepper if you want to lower the heat). Set aside.

4. When the shrimp are cool to touch, chop them into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

5. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, and toss well. Taste for seasoning. If more heat is desired ; add more cayenne pepper.

6. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each of 6 plates. Spoon salad over lettuce, dividing equally.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tart and Sweet Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes


  • Soft butter for ramekins

  • 1 Cup buttermilk

  • 1/3 Cup Meyer lemon juice

  • 4 large eggs, separated

  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar (plus more for ramekins)

  • pinch salt

  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons

  • Seedless Raspberry preserves as garnish  (but use your preference)

  • Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 325degrees. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with a small dish towel. Butter and sugar 8 ramekins and place them on top of the dish towel in the roasting pan.

    2. In a bowl, combine flour, 1/4  Cup sugar, salt and lemon zest. Mix.

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg whites and 1 Tablespoon sugar until they form soft peaks.

    4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth. Fold in egg whites.

    5. Pour batter evenly into prepared ramekins. Carefully make a water bath by pouring hot water into the roasting pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

    6. Tent the pan loosely with foil. Take caution when placing the pan in the oven, being careful not to spill or splash the water bath. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched in the center.

    7. Remove ramekins from water bath and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Run a butter knife carefully around the edge of the cake to loosen. Invert onto serving plate. Top with homemade preserves and serve.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Guinness-Braised Short Ribs with Cheese-Bacon Grits


    for the braised short ribs
    3 lbs beef short ribs
    1/2 Cup flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 Cup olive oil
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 Cups beef broth
    1 Cup Guinness beer
    1/3 red wine vinegar
    1 Tablespoon tomato paste
    1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    1 teaspoon thyme
    2 teaspoons chipotle powder

    for the cheese bacon grits
    1 1/2 Cups milk
    1 1/2 Cups water
    1 Cup quick cooking grits
    1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1 lb bacon, crispy and crumbled
    1/4 Cup parsley, minced for garnish


    1. Preheat oven to 300.

    2. Pat ribs dry with paper towels.  Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add short ribs one at time to bag and coat with mixture and set aside.

    3. Pour olive oil into a dutch oven. Over high heats, sear short ribs in batches until brown on all sides. When browned, set aside.

    4. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry until soft about 15 minutes.

    5. Return short ribs to dutch oven, add beef broth, vinegar, beer, tomato paste, brown sugar, thyme and chipotle powder. Cover, and place in oven and cook until tender about 3 hours.

    6. When shorts ribs are done begin making grits by placing milk and water in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Add grits slowly, stirring constantly. Lower heat and cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 3/4 of the cheese and bacon and stir until the cheese is melted.

    7. To serve: place a spoonful of grits in a shallow bowl; sprinkle with more cheese and bacon. Place a short rib on top and drizzle with cooking liquid, and garnish with parsley.

    Serves 6

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Creamsickle Muffins


  • 1/3 Cup fresh orange juice

  • zest of ½ a small orange

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, broken into 3-4 pieces

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 Cup superfine sugar

  • ½ Cup unsalted butter, slightly firm

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk 

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Orange Glaze

  • 1 Cup powdered sugar

  • 5 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup

  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

  • Preparation

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    1. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the cream cheese mixture, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the superfine sugar in a steady stream, then blend in the eggs, the reserved yolk, and the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing just until blended after each addition.

     2.Scoop muffins into a prepared muffin pan.
    Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown an the tops are springy to the touch. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven.
    Drizzle the glaze over the muffins while they are slightly warm or dip tops of muffins into glaze. Allow the glaze to set before serving. Store in an airtight container.

    To prepare Orange Glaze

    3. Combine sugar, orange juice, orange zest and corn syrup. Whisk until smooth and pour over muffins.

    Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus


    2 (1 lb) cans garbanzo beans
    6-10 cloves garlic (your choice, I like it with lots of garlic)
    2 Cups of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained

    up to 3/4 Cup of water (add if it is to dry)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    6 Tablespoons chile oil
    Pinch of salt
    4 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

    Smoked Paprika


    In a food processor add half of the ingredients, 1 can of chickpeas, half the tomatoes, oils, water, vinegar and garlic. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a big bowl. Do the same with the remainder of the ingredients and add the salt to this batch. Transfer to the bowl and combine with the first batch. Sprinkle the paprika on top.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Versatile Blogger Award

    Thank you so much to Sumptuous Spoonfuls for tagging me and passing the Versatile Blogger Award forward to me.

    This means I get to share a little bit more about myself with you and then tag some of my other friends and I will forward the Versatile Blogger Award to them. They will in return tell us a little more about themselves and their inspiration too.

    So where to start? For the Versatile Blogger Award I am supposed to reveal 7 little  known things about myself and tag 5 other bloggers.

    1. What, or who inspired me to start a blog?

    I  started the blog as a way for me to share recipes with my children, friends and other family members. I was always being asked for recipes and this cuts out on the constant recipe emails. This is also a way to organize them. I was always loosing them. I used to have so many little pieces of paper with recipes written on them. My husband also likes it and makes more suggestions on dinner ideas. 

    2. What is my favorite food product?

    Anything edible! Plus a good cookbook, sharp knives, good coffee, a good drink.

    3. What did I have for dinner last night?

    We had Chipotle Chili with guacamole, cheddar cheese and sour cream on top. Yum!!

    4. What is my favorite junk food?

    Chips and salsa. I can not be near them without them disappearing.

    5. If you could eliminate one food from the world, what would it be and why?

    Liver! I’ve tried it many times but I just cannot tolerate the the taste of it – it make my stomach quiver.

    6. What is your go-to comfort food?

    Breakfast for dinner. I love it when it's cold, rainy or when I don't feel good.

    7. What is something in my fridge or freezer that might surprise people?

    Frosty Paws. This is doggie ice cream : ) 

    8. If I had to eat one thing for a week, what would it be?

    Loaded Nachos 

    9. What is my favorite cocktail?

    You might have already guessed this answer. A Cosmo.

    10. What is a food that I like that many others do not like?

    Raw Oysters

    Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…YAY!! I get to pass it on!

    1. JoshMarkCooks  "Mmmm-  "Yum", "Ohhh", "Delicious", "those are just a handful of comments you will be tempted to post when you see his pictures and recipes.

    2. A Bachelor and his Grill  " is an avenue for a network of individuals who love to entetain, get over a flame, eat & drink (sometimes more than appropriate) and to share ideas, recipes and pictures for those who are professionals and first time grillers.

    3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide  This cozy pub-like page is a how-to for everyone & anyone.

    4. MAD Queendom  She inspires to motivate, entertain and inform with her positive energy with her MAD point of view.

    5. The Root Cellar's Garden   This page will inspire you with the passion for growing and using anything edible. You will learn how her grandmother inspired her as a child.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Baked Zucchini Fritters


  • 3 Cups of shredded zucchini 

  • 1 Tablespoon basil, dried

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 3/4 Cup Italian bread crumbs

  • 1/4 white onion, shredded

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • pinch of cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

  • Olive oil

  • salt & pepper

  • Sauce 
    • 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
    • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon capers, finely chopped
    • Dash of hot sauce
    • few teaspoons cream or milk to thin if necessary

    Mix together and set aside while making frittters.


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Shred the zucchini with a box grater or mandolin. If the zucchini is really wet, wring out the shreds with a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth.
    In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil. Make 8-10 patties and place on the sheet. Drizzle tops of patties with more olive oil.

    The Best Gorgonzola Dressing/Dip Ever

    1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
    1/4 Cup Sour Cream
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
    1/4 Cup Half and Half or milk
    3 cloves garlic
    1/2 Cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    Salt and fresh ground black pepper

    Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and milk or half and half until smooth. Fold in garlic and Gorgonzola. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper, mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Sausage & Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls

    • 16 ounce roll breakfast sausage, browned & drained
    • 1 - 8ounce package cream cheese, softened
    • 2 - 8 ounce tubes Crescent Rolls


    Cook sausage until golden brown;  drain fat. Set aside and allow it to cool. After the sausage has cooled combine the sausage with the cream cheese. Open crescent rolls,  unroll dough, and place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on each triangle on the widest end & roll up starting at the widest end towards the point. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 oven about 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

    Makes 16

    Smoked Oyster Spread


    • 1   8-ounce can smoked or regular oysters, drained and rinsed well
    • 1 Tablespoon Worscestershire sauce
    • ¼ Cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
    • ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
    • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 small shallot, chopped
    • juice of one lemon
    • 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

    Place all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Let chill overnight. Taste before serving and if necessary add a pinch more sea salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with crostini, fresh vegetables, or spread on endive cups.

    Serves 12

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Cauliflower Gratin with Bacon

    • 1 head of cauliflower cut into oversize florets
    • 4 slices of bacon, diced
    • 2 Cups of hot milk
    • 3 Cups of very sharp shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 Cup of grated Parmesan
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 3 Tablespoons of flour

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Blanch the cauliflower in salted, boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and place into an ice bath to keep it from continuing to cook. Let the cauliflower drain in a colander while making the sauce.
    3. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan, add the flour and stir for one minute. Add the hot milk and stir with a whisk to break up any lumps. Add the cheddar while constantly stirring the sauce until all of the cheese is incorporated. Remove from heat.
    4. Sauté the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it becomes crispy.
    5. Add the bacon to the cheese sauce and pour over the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish.
    6. Cover the cheese sauce with the grated Parmesan, and bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for another 20 minutes.

    Pecan Pie Blondies


    1 package yellow cake mix
    1 egg
    2 sticks softened butter
    3/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar
    3/4 Cup dark Karo syrup
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon each, vanilla and almond extracts
    1 Cup pecans, chopped


    1. Reserve 3/4 cup cake mix. Combine remaining cake mix and 1 egg in large bowl and beat until smooth. Add butter and mix well. Press into bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, 3 eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, chopped pecans and reserved cake mix in large bowl and mix well. Pour over the baked layer and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.

    Cornbread Casserole Full of Spice


    4 Tablespoons butter, melted
    1 Cup buttermilk
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 Cup yellow cornmeal
    1/4 Cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 egg, beaten
    1 (4 1/2 oz.) can green chilies, drained
    5 eggs, beaten
    1 Cup milk
    Salt to taste
    1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
    Few shakes Tabasco sauce
    1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 lb. bulk pork sausage
    1 (14 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
    1 small onion, chopped
    1/2 Cup chopped green bell pepper
    1/2 Cup chopped red bell pepper
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Cup cheddar cheese, shredded
    1. In large bowl, add baking soda to buttermilk and set aside for 5 minutes.. Add all of the other crust ingredients and mix well. Pour into a buttered 13x9 inch baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, brown sausage or ground beef, with the Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and drain excess oil. Add onion, peppers, and garlic, and saute with meat for 5 minutes. Add a little more Cajun seasoning, if desired.
    3. In large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and Tabasco. Layer meat and veggie mixture over crust . Top with cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro or parsley.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna No Noodles

    • 1 tub (15-ounce) container Ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 Cup grated Romano cheese
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained 
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 large zucchinis, sliced lengthwise 1/4- inch thick
    • 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/4- inch thick
    • no-stick cooking spray  
    • 26 ounces tomato spaghetti sauce 
    • 2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • 1/4-1/2 Cup Parmesan  Cheese

    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Peel the eggplant and zucchinis, then slice into thin strips.  Lay flat on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Brush each side of sliced veggie with 3 tablespoons  Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly crispy.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta cheese, Romano cheese, egg, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, spinach, and pepper. Stir to mix well.
    4. Lightly spray a 13 x 9- inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of lasagna pan. Layer 1/2 of total quantities of each: eggplant, zucchini, spinach-ricotta cheese mix, mozzarella cheese, then sauce – in that order. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Top with Parmesan cheese.

    5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

    Vegetable Casserole


  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 small to medium zucchini, chopped

  • 1 medium to large eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • 1 Cup tomato puree

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 Cup Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded & divided

  • ½ Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and zucchini and sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Add eggplant, salt and pepper to taste and sauté another 10-15 minutes.

    3. Remove from heat and stir in tomato puree. Stir in beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese and half of Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese. Pour in a 9 x 9 glass square baking dish, and top with remaining cheese.

    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

    Serves 6

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    Sharp Cheddar & Guinness Dip

    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 2 ½ Cups shredded Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar cheese
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 Tablespoons half and half
    • ¼ Cup Guinness draft beer
    • 2 scallions, chopped
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley {plus more for garnish}
    • sprinkle of kosher salt
    • dash of Sriracha sauce

    Combine the cream cheese, shredded Cheddar, mustard and half and half in the bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle in a pinch of kosher salt and pulse until combined.

    Pour in the beer and blend until smooth. Add the scallions, parsley and hot sauce; pulse a few more times. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt, if desired.

    Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill for at least an hour, or overnight. Before serving, soften slightly, by letting the dip warm at room temperature. Garnish with another pinch of chopped fresh parsley.
    Serve with crusty bread or crackers. I recommend some rosemary flatbreads or thin crackers.

    Roast Beef Pinwheels with Cream Cheese and Caramelized Onion

    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin strips
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1/2 pound of thinly sliced roast beef
    • 1-2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce
    • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • freshly cracked pepper and salt, to taste
    • 8 large flour tortillas

    1. Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic to coat with oil and stir frequently until onions are lightly brown.

    2. Reduce heat to medium low and continue stirring until the onions are a medium brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

    3. In a bowl, blend together horseradish sauce, cream cheese, salt and pepper.

    4. Lay a tortilla flat on a working surface and very lightly cover 2/3 of the surface with a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture. Layer a piece of roast beef and a sprinkling of the caramelized onions on top.

    5. Roll tortilla up to form a log. Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or longer).

    6. Remove plastic wrap from your pinwheel appetizers and slice into bite sized pieces. Serve flat so that the swirl design is visible

    Serves about 12

    Marinated Grilled Shrimp with Sweet Chili and Basil


    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Cup fresh diced tomatoes
    • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoon white wine
    • 1 bunch fresh basil (about a 1/2 Cup)
    • 1/4 Cup sweet chili sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 2 lbs. fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined
    • skewers (soaked in water 1 hour)


    1. Put all your ingredients except the shrimp into a food processor and pulse until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a food storage bag with the shrimp. Gently shake until the shrimp are well coated. Refrigerate for a half hour turning twice.

    2. Preheat your grill to medium, oil the grates to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Put a few shrimp on each skewer, and cook for about 3 minutes.


    Creamy Cheese and Roasted Garlic Truffles


  • 2 packages of cream cheese, 8 ounces each, softened

  • 8 oz. grated Sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 head of roasted garlic, peeled

  • 1 dash ground cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 Cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped

  • 1/3 Cup green onions, finely chopped

  • 1 2/3 Cup pecans, finely chopped

  • Preparation

    1. Mix shredded cheeses, cream cheese, cayenne pepper, and roasted garlic until very well blended. Take the mixture and divide it in half.

    2. To one half of the mixture, add roasted peppers. To the other half, add green onions. Mix each half very well until blended.

    3. Cover and place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

    4. Take each cheese mixture and shape them into balls about 1 inch. Make 24 balls.

    5. Roll each ball into pecans.

    6.Cover again and refrigerate again until you are ready to serve. Serve with chips, or crackers.

    Serves 20-40, depending on the size of your truffles.

    Jalapeno Ginger Chicken Wings


  • 1 1/2  pounds chicken wings, cut-up

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 jalapeno, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon peanut oil

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Preparation

    1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken wings.

    2. In a bowl whisk remaining ingredients together. Place chicken wings in a bowl and pour jalapeno mixture over the top. Seal bag and shake to coat. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

    3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    4. Place chicken wings in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

    Serves 2-4

    Roasted Garlic Soup


  • 26 unpeeled cloves of garlic

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 Tablespoons butter

  • 2 1/4 Cups sliced onions 

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

  •  18 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 3 1/2 Cups chicken broth

  •  1/2 Cup Whipping Cream

  • day-old crusty bread  

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

  • 4 lemon wedges

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool.

    2.Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.

    3. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Puree' soup with an immersion blender; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)  

    4. Place a handful of torn bread chunks; and grated cheese among 4 bowls. Ladle soup over the bread and cheese. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

     4 Servings

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Salted Caramel Pecan Bark


    1 Cup chopped pecans
    12 whole graham crackers
    1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
    3/4 Cup butter
    2 Tablespoons heavy cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/3 teaspoon kosher salt


    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 to 12 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

    2. Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.

    3. Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium-size heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.

    4. Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.5. Immediately sprinkle with salt, and slide foil from pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely (about 30 minutes). Break into bars.

    Store in covered container.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Seriously Good Marinated Chicken Thighs

    • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
    • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
    • 1 Tablespoon molasses
    • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 Cup canola oil
    • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs


    Mix together Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, liquid smoke and molasses in a resealable plastic bag until the molasses has dissolved. Add the sesame seeds, brown sugar, paprika, garlic salt, minced garlic, and canola oil; mix well.  Add the chicken and coat it well with the marinade. Seal the bag and place it on a plate. Marinade in the refrigerator for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

    Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.

    Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off excess. Grill on preheated grill until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees and chicken is firm and opaque about 12 minutes per side. Discard any remaining marinade.