Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Traditions - Lucky Foods

GRAPES - New Year's Eve in Spain

A traditional custom of celebrating New Year's Eve in Spain - Everyone consumes twelve grapes at midnight - one grape for each stroke of the clock.  Everyone has to finish their grapes and the New Year starts.

Great way to start the New Year - with a mouth full of grapes!  With a few cocktails and a mouthful of grapes..........don't try to whistle!  Happy New Year!

Today's Food Quote

"Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life." Georges Blanc, 'Ma Cuisine des Saisons'

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Taking good photos of food is not as easy as it looks.  Especially when you don't have the proper equipment.  After some research, I learned some of the fundamentals; lighting, composition, angles, etc. 
This is my first attempt at capturing texture, color and hopefully an appetizing photo.  The "vanishing" Craisan Oatmeal cookies were made last night.  There were about 7 left for me to choose from before my son finished them off!  Thank you Chef Dennis for the comment on my Apple Pancake.  Everyone needs some inspiration and some positive feedback!



Monday, December 27, 2010

The Morning After the Blizzard - Big Apple Pancake

I can't remember a storm like the one we had last night.  The weather report compared it to the equivalent of a Category 3 Hurricane.

 Before we start to venture out to start digging a path, breakfast today is a warm Big Apple Pancake.  Baked in the oven, this pancake reminds me of french toast.

Big Apple Pancake

  • 3 Tb. unsalted butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a large ovenproof skillet, (preferably with curved sides, melt 2 Tb. butter over medium heat.  Add the apple slices and cook, stirring until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add 2 Tb. of the brown sugar and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, milk and flour.  Pour this batter over the apples in the skillet.  Transfer to the oven and bake until puffy, about 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and remaining 2 Tb. brown sugar.  Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into pieces.  When the pancake puffs,
remove from the oven, dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Return to the oven to bake until browned, about 8-10 minutes more.  As the pancake comes out of the oven, squeeze lemon wedges over the top.  Serve in wedges out of the pan.

Servings: 4
Prep Time:  15 min.
Cook Time: 40 min.
~Gale Gand, "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Day in Food History - 1960

Dr. Irving Cooper received a wine bottle opener for Christmas. It injected carbon dioxide gas into the bottle to force the cork out. He noticed the gas was extremely cold coming out from the needle like device. This gave him the idea to develop a brain surgery technique using liquid nitrogen to freeze tiny areas of brain cells or tumors.

Maybe I'll come up with something?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Pasta Machine for Cookies?

Chrusciki - known as angels' wings or bow-ties, these sugar dusted sweets are associated with Poland.  Since the dough has to be rolled out extremely thin, I decided to use my pasta machine.  They came out perfectly!

Divide dough into four equal portions.

Using your pasta machine, start at setting #2 and end with #5.  This is the perfect thickness for the cookies.

Cut into strips as shown.  Make a small slit in each strip and pass through to make a bow-tie.

Fry until light golden brown.

When cool, dust generously with powdered sugar.

Please bear with me on the photography.  I'm working on it :o)
Recipe available on 12/6/10 post.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I am a huge fan of salty/sweet combinations.  These pretzels are a quick easy treat to add to your tray of Christmas goodies!  Simply melt the chocolate of your choice, dip, roll in holiday sprinkles, colored sugar, nuts or coconut...Use your imagination!  After dipping refrigerate pretzels for 20 minutes to set chocolate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sprinkles of Parsley: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Sprinkles of Parsley: Homemade Vanilla Extract: "I can't believe Christmas is almost here... this year just flew by! I remember when I saw homemade vanilla extract on The Italian Dis..."

Christmas Popcorn Tins

Every year I buy one of those popcorn tins filled with 3 different compartments of flavored popcorn.  This year was no different.  Mainly because the tins are so appealing...but last year's batch was about the equivalent of cardboard.  So my mission is now to make my own caramel corn (including more than 5 peanuts).


  • 2 bag(s) (2.9 to 3 ounces each) microwave light popcorn, popped, or 20 cups popped corn
  • 1 jar(s) (12 ounces) salted dry-roasted peanuts (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup(s) (2 sticks) butter (no substitutions)
  • 1 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease two 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" jelly-roll pans or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place popped corn in very large bowl; discard any unpopped kernels. Add peanuts; toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. In 3-quart saucepan, heat butter, sugars, and corn syrup on medium until butter melts and sugars dissolve, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently with metal spoon or heat-safe spatula. Increase heat to medium-high and heat to boiling, about 3 minutes; boil 3 minutes longer. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will bubble vigorously), and pour over popcorn mixture in bowl. Stir immediately; continue stirring until all popcorn is evenly coated.
Divide popcorn mixture between prepared jelly-roll pans; spread evenly. Place pans on 2 oven racks. Bake popcorn mixture 45 minutes, rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through baking and stirring occasionally.
    Cool popcorn mixture completely in pans on wire racks, about 1 hour. Break apart any large clusters of popcorn when cool. Store in tightly sealed containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

    Pack in Candy Cane Cello Bags and Santa Cookie Tins.
    This is going to be my new tradition - This popcorn is addicting!
    ~Good Housekeeping

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    The American Table - A Taste of Home

    A frugal, tasty dish, Swiss steak was popular on the home front during World War II.  Bob Dole, then a young soldier, later a U.S. Senator, longed for it and much more.  In his letter home: "Send candy, gum, cookies, cheese, grape jelly, popcorn, nuts, peanut clusters.  Vick's vapor rub, wool socks, wool scarf, fudge cookies, ice cream, liver and onions, chicken, banana cake, milk, fruit cocktail, Swiss steak, crackers, more candy.  Life Savers, peanuts, piano, radio, living room suite, record player and Frank Sinatra.  I guess you might as well send the whole house if you can get it in a five-pound box." ~Cook's Country

    I wonder what my dad would have asked for?  I have about 50 letters he sent from the Army..I'll have to look through them.

    Food for Thought

    Non-cooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet. ~Julia Child

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    The Sensations of Christmas

    What do you think of when someone mentions Christmas?  Opening gifts? Jingle Bells? Baking Cookies?
    New warm winter gloves, snowflakes on your tongue.....

                              CHRISTMAS IS A FEAST FOR THE SENSES

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Comfort Food Trends - 1980's

    It's all coming back to me now...

    Banana Pudding Pops                    Wax Lips
    Butoni's Toaster Pizza                    Wax Bottles
    Candy Cigarettes                           Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink
    Chuckles                                        Zingers
    Micro Magic Food
    Necco Wafers
    Tid Bits Crackers
    Wagon Wheels Pasta

    Don't forget that slang!
    Airhead (noun) unaware person, moron
    Bite me!
    Can you relate?
    Damn Skippy - Strong affirmation or agreement
    Eat my Shorts! - If someone was to put you down in anyway, you can reply with this phrase
    Get Bent! - Get lost or leave me alone
    Kicks - Pair of shoes
    Space Cadet - Disoriented  See Also: Airhead, Ditz

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Need a gift for the seasoned cook in your life?

    If you think cookware would not make a great Christmas gift - think again?  Regular viewers of the Food Network and avid cooks know that you need good cookware to properly prepare meals.  Even newbies could use a good start.  Visit to find great deals on Calphalon Skillet Sets - This cookware is the best you can buy and lasts a lifetime when properly cared for.  They can go from stovetop to oven and clean-up is a breeze.  I am intending to get this set for my son who just moved into a new apartment and needs to build up his cooking skills! (which he got from me by the way).

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Comfort Food Trends - 1950's - 60's

    Since I was just a wee thing...

    The First Pillsbury Bake-off Began
    Tuna Noodle Casserole
    Oven Fried Chicken with cereal crumb topping
    TV Dinners
    Root Beer Floats (Stewart's)

    and the unforgettable............SPAM - Sorry I don't have any recipes.

    Homemade Food Gifts

    Gifts from the kitchen (and your heart) will be even sweeter because they were made by you!

    Just a few food gift packaging ideas:

    Paper Bags - Line the bag with tissue paper.  Poke holes or make slits in the bag.  Lace ribbon, string, greenery or jingle bells through the bags.

    Bottle or Jar - Tie raffia or twine around the neck of each bottle.  Attach a small ornament.

    Gift Tags - Start with scrapbook paper, cookie cutters, felt and add your own touch with glitter, ribbon or markers. 

    Gifts in a jar:  Apple Crisp
                         Mexican Hot Cocoa
                         Golden Honey Granola

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Food for Thought

    "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." -- J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Giving wine as a gift this year? A great way to wrap it!

    This year, instead of giving your neighbors or friends a bottle of wine in a gift bag, buy a pair of funky Christmas socks.  Insert bottle into one of the socks and use the other sock to tie around the neck bottle.
    Two gifts in one!

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Barnes & Noble last minute gift ideas.

    Free shipping and 45% discount on most items!

    Culinary Shoebox

    Ok...I'm tired of looking through my shoebox of recipes I have collected over the years.  Starting today, my mission is to post and share three recipes per day until I make a dent.  Carpel Tunnel!  Join me in

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Tomato Potatoes?

    Yes...that's what we call them...take your favorite meatloaf recipe.  Cut peeled potatoes into thick wedges and place around meatloaf in your baking pan.  Mix two cans of tomato soup as directed and pour over meatloaf and potatoes..Bake at 375 degrees until potatoes are tender.  These potatoes are addicting!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010


    Substitute your coffee with some Healthy Alternatives - think Chai!

    Switching to Chai Tea will cut your caffeine intake in half.  The black tea is rich in antioxidants and the spices have been used for thousands of years to promote health and treat ailments.

    This is great on cold days, or when your feeling under the weather.

    • 2 tea bags (preferably Darjeeling)
    • l tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. ginger
    • 1/4 tsp. allspice
    • 1-1/2 cups water
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 c. brown sugar
    Boil water and add tea bags and spices.  Steep for 2-3 minutes.  Heat milk and brown sugar and to tea mixture.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Share your most treasured Holiday Tradition!

    Since my boys were little, every year when we put up the Christmas Tree - before any decorations could be put on it....i gave each of my boys a snowflake ornament (a sticky ball really) and they had to fling it on the tree..wherever it landed, that's where it stayed.  Kind of like the first pitch! - and that's how they would throw it as they got older!  Some things kids will just never forget.  Start a new tradition this year if you don't already have one.!  Please Share!

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Holiday Simmering Potpourri

    This makes the house smell like apple pie baking..
    • 5 cinnamon sticks, broken
    • 1 apple, sliced
    • 1 lemon, sliced
    • 1 orange, sliced
    • 1/2 cup whole cloves
    • 1 Tb nutmeg
    • 1 Tb bay leaf pieces

    Combine ingredients and add water to simmer on stovetop.  This can also be done in a slow-cooker on low setting.

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Polish Kolaczki Cookies

    These cookies were always made each year by Grandma "B".


    • 1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
    • 12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 (14-ounce) cans fillings of choice (apricot, prune, raspberry, etc.)
    • Confectioners' sugar


    1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough 1/4-inch on a surface that has been dusted with equal parts confectioners' and granulated sugars (not flour). Cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon filling on center of each square. Overlap opposite corners of dough to the center over filling.
    3. Bake for 15 minutes or when corners start to brown. Cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar. These tend to become soggy if held for several days, so store them tightly covered (or freeze) without the confectioners' sugar. Dust with confectioners' sugar just prior to service.
    Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Host a Cookie Swap Party!

    Enjoy the treats of the holiday season without the trouble of baking them all.  Invite family and friends to a Cookie Swap Party - it's easy and fun and everyone takes home some delicious cookies with very little effort.
    • Make a list - Give guests plenty of notice (say, like now).
    • Have your guests let you know what they will be bringing to prevent bringing the same cookie
    • Ask them to print copies of their recipes to share
    • Alert people of any allergens like nuts - with cookie name cards
    • Provide plastic wrap or foil so folks can re-use their own containers
    • Keep coffee tins, small gift bags or boxes for re-gifting swapped cookies.  Wrap in holiday paper.
    • Keep fresh veggies & dip or cheese and crackers on hand to prevent a sugar OD
    • Serve plenty of coffee, water, tea, wine or ice cold milk

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Black Friday Leftovers Breakfast

    Melt butter and fry thick slices of leftover stuffing until warm and crisp.  Top with a sunny side up egg and drizzle with reheated gravy.  Happy Shopping!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Last-minute Thanksgiving Tips

    • Start making ice..empty ice trays into freezer bags and refill.  No need to buy a bag of ice.
    • Prepare everything that can be reheated on Thursday
    • Peel and cube in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate..saves lots of time
    • Pour yourself a glass of wine and TAKE FIVE!!! You deserve it!

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Thanksgiving Cocktail

    While your waiting for the turkey to finish, try this Thanksgiving Cocktail.


    • 3/4 oz. gin
    • 3/4 oz. dry vermouth
    • 3/4 oz apricot brandy
    • 1/4 oz lemon juice
    • maraschino cherry for garnish

    Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake well.  Strain into a chilled glass.  Garnish with the cherry. 

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Five Thanksgiving Don'ts!

    1.  Don't cater to expectations, cook what you like, not to impress.

    2.  Don't be shy asking for guests to bring a dish to share.

    3.  Don't plan dinner around the football game.

    4.  Don't bring your cell phone or blackberry to the dinner table.

    5.  Don't forget to give thanks!

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    A Beginner's Thanksgiving

    Hosting your first Thanksgiving feast?  A menu of familiar dishes for which everyone will have expectations, plus the pressure of making a complicated meal in a timely manner, can make even the most experienced cook say "you take over".

    • Build Your Skills Gradually
    How do you think Grandma got so good at cooking Thanksgiving? Practice! If you're just starting out, there's absolutely no reason that every item on your menu has to be made by you, from scratch. Your first year, focus on just the turkey, stuffing, and gravy—have guests bring the other dishes. Once you feel that you've mastered these three essentials, the next year do some other dishes. Before you know it, you'll have experience with the entire menu.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Thanksgiving - One Week to go

    If you've gone the frozen turkey route, calculate the defrosting time - you might have to start soon.
    Never thaw a turkey at room temperature, because bacteria can grow on the turkey's surface.  Simply transfer the turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator and wait, wait, wait.  It takes one day of thawing time in the refrigerator for every four or five pounds of turkey.  A 20-pounder will take five days to thaw; a 16-pounder about four; and a 12-pounder three. 

    Spiced Pecan Hostess Gift

    Makes about 4 cups
    • 4 cups unsalted pecan halves
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 4 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1 teaspoon chili paste


    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, maple syrup, 3 teaspoons salt, pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne, and chili paste. Toss to coat.
    2. Spread nuts in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss with remaining teaspoon salt and let cool. Serve immediately or store, at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Thanksgiving Checklist for Tuesday 11/16

    Check your shopping list and buy non-perishable items.

    If you're serving pie for dessert, make the crusts now.  Prepare the dough, roll it out, and place it in the pie dish (don't forget to crimp the edges).  Put the dish in the freezer.  When the dough is completely frozen, wrap the dish tightly with plastic. 

    Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue:

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Thanksgiving Checklist for Monday 11/15

    It's time to clean out the fridge.  You'll need storage space for the freezer and fridge for the turkey and the do-ahead dishes.

    Go through your serving pieces and table linens to see what you need to clean, press or what you will need to buy.

    Spicy Cranberry Chutney


    • 3 to 4 jalapenos, finely chopped
    • 8 cups cranberries
    • 2 limes, zested and juiced
    • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • Salt and fresh ground black pepper


    Put all of the ingredients in sauce pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until desired consistency, about 40 to 50 minutes.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Thanksgiving Checklist

    My two-week countdown to Thanksgiving helps you get organized, so that the day
    of the feast is easy and  relaxed.


    Browse your recipe collection to work out a menu.  What are your favorites:  Where is there room for a little experimentation?

    Pick up some turkey wings in preparation for making and freezing a big batch of turkey stock. (recipe below).

    Start planning your table decorations.

    Creat one big master shopping list, dividing it into three sections:  buy-non perishables (wine, canned pumpkin, frozen turkey). items for the one-week-ahead grocery run.

    Golden Turkey Stock


    4-1/2 pounds turkey wings, cut in half
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 large carrot, chopped
    1 large celery chopped
    6 fresh italian parsley sprigs
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Arrange wings in large roasting pan.  Roast until deep brown turning once, about 2 hours total.

    Transfer wings to a large bowl.  Spoon 3 tablespoons turkey fat from roasting pan into pot (reserve roasting pan).  Add onion, carrot, and celery to pot.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are golden, about 20 minutes.  Add turkey wings to pot.  Add  2 cups of water to roasting pan; place over 2 burners and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.  Add liquid to pot.  Add remaining ingredients and enough cold water to cover wings by 1 inch.

    Bring water to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered until stock is very flavorful and reduced to about 8 cups, about 2-1/2 hours.  Strain stock into large bowl.  Cool 1 hour, then chill until cold, about 3 hours.  Spoon off fat from surface before using.  Can be made 3 days ahead or frozen two weeks ahead.


    Thursday, November 14, 2013
    * Check that you have all the kitchen equipment necessary to make the turkey and other dishes on the menu.
    * Get a head start on biscuits or muffins for the feast by making your own baking mix. Measure the dry ingredients and butter from whatever recipe you’ve chosen and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal; refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag. When it’s time to bake, there’s no need to bring the mixture to room temperature before adding the eggs and other ingredients.


    Thursday, November 21, 2013
    * Check your shopping list and buy nonperishable items.
    * If you’re using a frozen turkey, you’ll need to thaw it. The safest and easiest way is to put it, in its packaging, breast side up on a platter in your fridge. It will thaw at a rate of 4 pounds per day. Do the math and figure out when you need to start.
    * Set the table (no, really). Lay out serving pieces and utensils with Post-its indicating which dish each piece is for, so you don’t wind up serving the dressing with tongs. This will also get you to go through your assorted flatware, glassware, serving pieces, and table linens to see what you need to dry-clean, press, or shine, and what you will need to buy.


    Saturday, November 23, 2013
    * Bake any breads or rolls now—they will keep for a week in the freezer. After baking, allow them to cool completely, wrap in foil, place in resealable plastic bags and freeze.
     Sunday, November 24, 2013
    * It’s time to clean out the fridge. You’ll need storage space in the freezer and fridge for the turkey and the do-ahead dishes.


    Monday, November 25, 2013
    * Make cranberry sauce or relishes and store in the refrigerator.
    * Prepare flavored butters (if desired) to serve on rolls (or to dab on mashed potatoes). Store covered in the refrigerator.


    Tuesday, November 26, 2013
    * Using a roux in your gravy? (You should.) Make it now and keep it in the refrigerator until go time.
    * Tear bread for the dressing into pieces and leave out overnight on a baking sheet. You want stale bread for good dressing integrity. You can also bake the pieces for an hour or two at 200°
    * Make soups and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
    * Make your pie dough. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.


    Wednesday, November 27, 2013
    * Hit the supermarket early in the day to shop for perishables.
    * Chill white wine, beer, bubbly, etc. If you’ll need more ice, now is the time to buy bags and make sure your cooler is clean.
    * Wash and spin-dry salad greens, wrap in paper towels and store in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator.
    * Par-bake your dressing so all you’ll need to do on Turkey Day is reheat it and crisp it up.
    * Make pies or other desserts and store according to recipe directions.
    * Brining your turkey? For maximum flavor (and moistness), do it now.
    * Most important of all: don’t cook dinner tonight. Order in.


    Thursday, November 28, 2013
    If you’ve followed our advice, today should be a breeze. For the typical menu, here’s what’s left to do.
    In the Morning
    * Turkey-roasting rule of thumb: Roast an unstuffed bird for approximately 15 minutes per pound at 325°. Do the math and figure out when you need to put the turkey in the oven to hit your scheduled dinnertime. Don’t forget to take resting time into account.
    * Cut up everything for salads—except produce that browns easily (like apples)—and refrigerate in a big resealable plastic bag. Prep and chill the salad dressing.
    * Make the mashed potatoes. Keep warm in a double boiler. Add a bit of warm milk just before serving if they seem a little dry.
    * Thaw and rewarm (or finish preparing and bake) breads according to recipe directions.
    * Whip cream for dessert.
    Before the Meal
    * Reheat dressing(s) and any sides that need it.
    * Rewarm soup.
    * Assemble any salads you may be serving. Toss with salad dressing just before serving.


    Friday, November 29, 2013
    * Enjoy your leftovers and rest up. Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are not too far away—visit for more great holiday tips and recipes!

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Sides

    Forget about juggling bake times and wedging casseroles around the turkey in the oven.  Using your slow cooker is the secret to an easy Thanksgiving Dinner.



    • 1 1/2  pounds  sweet potatoes
    • 1  pound  parsnips
    • 1  pound  carrots
    • 2  large red onions, coarsely chopped
    • 3/4  cup  sweetened dried cranberries
    • 1  tablespoon  light brown sugar
    • 3  tablespoons  olive oil
    • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
    • 1  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
    • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


    1. Peel first 3 ingredients, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Combine parsnips, carrots, onions, and cranberries in a lightly greased 6-qt. slow cooker; layer sweet potatoes over top.
    2. Whisk together sugar and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl; pour over vegetable mixture. (Do not stir.)
    3. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Toss with parsley just before serving.

    My First Catering Event!

    Catering a small party with mainly appetizers but hey it's a start!..

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Tips for Perfect Turkey Gravy

    Gravy requires just four ingredients:  pan drippings, poultry stock, flour and seasoning.  For every common gravy problem, there's an easy solution.

    Lumps?  You can usually avoid them by stirring flour with stock or water before adding to the drippings.  If not, you can try a stick blender or hand mixer to break up lumps, or pour gravy through a strainer and break them up with a wooden spoon.

    Too thick?  Whisk in more stock.  To thin?  Add on tablespoon or flour or cornstarch into a little stock and whisk continuing until you achieve the desired thickness.

    Too salty or fatty?  Simply add more stock and re-adjust the thickness.  If you have time, you can chill, skim off the fat and then reheat.

    After the big meal, refrigerate leftover gravy in containers to use later on delicious turkey sandwiches!

    Follow these quick-fix guidelines - and the rest is gravy.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Iron Skillet Revival

    The trusty cast-iron skillet - probably a staple in your grandma's kitchen - is reclaiming its place on the stovetop.  A good one has a slick surface so you don't need to add oil to get a nonstick surface.  Just make sure it's properly "seasoned" before you use it for the first time - a simple process of applying a vegetable oil coating to a clean, dry skillet and baking it for an hour or so in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. (Handle with care, skillet will be hot).

    Cooking in cast iron can actually increase the iron content in your food.  Eggs scrambled in a cast-iron skillet can have up to three times as much iron as raw eggs.  Plus it's the champ when it comes to conducting and holding heat evenly at any temperature, making cast-iron skillets a chef's favorite.

    And for a surprisingly low price, this cookware is a must-have because it can last for generations.  Just ask your grandma.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Simple Vinaigrettes

    Making vinaigrette from scratch is surprisingly simple, once you know the basic formula.

    There's no need to buy salad dressing when all the ingredients for a vinaigrette are in your pantry.  And when you make it yourself, you can adjust the recipe according to taste, or create something new.

    Basic vinaigrette is three parts oil and one part vinegar.  That's it!  Olive oil and white vinegar are classic, but it's fun and easy to experiment with variations.  Try using grapeseed or nut oil, with flavored, balsamic or champagne vinegar.  Or, for a flavorful twist, add a teaspoon of mustard, minced garlic and fresh herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper, chopped shallots or capers.

    Then simply shake the oil, vinegar and added flavorings to create a flavorful mixture - a container with a lid that twists on is ideal for this.  Pour over your salad, toss and enjoy.  Refrigerate leftovers in the same container.  But when you make vinaigrette yourself, your family will taste the difference - and leftovers just aren't likely.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Roasting Your Roots

    Bring out the early flavor of autumn's root vegetables.

    Root vegetables are one of fall's best bargains, and they're deliciously versatile, especially when roasted.  Stock up on carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic - not to mention parsnips, beets and turnips - for flavorful side dishes and tasty additions to salads, pastas and risottos.

    To roast root vegetables, peel and cut into uniformly-sized chunks (one-inch cubes are ideal) and spread out on a foil or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to make sure vegetables are evenly seasoned.

    Roast at 400 degrees F stirring every 15 minutes.  Vegetables are done when they're lightly browned on the outside and tender inside when pierced with a fork (about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size).  Make a large batch on the weekend and store in containers; then you can enjoy the rich flavor of seasonal produce in different dishes throughout the week.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Halloween is sneaking up on us!

    Why not plan an adult Halloween Party? It's not too late!  I've got lots of menu ideas for some ooey, gooey fun.  Deviled Eyeballs, Slithering Snake Pizza, Cream Cheesy Mummy..all really easy to make and lots of fun!  Contace me for more creepy eats ideas and other Halloween options.  Have a Spook-tacular Halloween!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Gear Up for Football Season!

    From daybreak to overtime, chow down on can't-miss classics from chicken wings and chili to cupcakes and brownies.  Make your pre-game plans now and be ready for kickoff!  Game Day menu will be posted soon!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Comfy Cuisine

    Homemade comforting meals, soups and desserts prepared with love.  Italian favorites includes chicken parmigiana, lasagna, meatballs and sausage all prepared with my authentic slow simmered italian "gravy". Family favorites include Savor Pot Roast slow-cooked to tender perfection in a classic dark kettle gravy.  Smothered Pork Chops under a sauce with plenty of browned onions and herbs and gently braised until fork tender.  Grandma's Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls...getting hungry yet? 

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

    This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...