maryland crab cakes

READY TO FRY!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons old bay seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
  • 1 cup finely smashed Ritz crackers (divided 2/3 cup and 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup oil (or more if needed)

DIRECTIONS:

Gently combine the crab, egg, old bay, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, Dijon, parsley and 2/3 cup cracker crumbs until thoroughly mixed.

Form the mixture into 6 crab cakes by rolling into tight balls and gently pressing down to flatten.

Coat each crab cake in the remaining 1/3 cup of unused crater crumbs and then place them on a plate or cookie sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

Pour the oil into a large frying pan over medium heat and once the oil is hot, add the crab cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside to drain on a rack or paper towels.

HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickle
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

New York Cheesecake with homemade cherry topping

Cherry pie topping:

  • 4 cups fresh pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup water plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly before serving as a topping, or refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to use.

NEW YORK CHEESECAKE

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (melted)
  • 3 pounds cream cheese (6-8 oz. packages—Use Philadelphia Brand) (room temperature)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 5 large eggs (whole) (room temperature)
  • 2 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (room temperature)
  • hot water for water bath used in baking process (placed in a larger pan)

PREPARATIONS: Prepare a 9-10 inch springform pan by cutting a round piece of parchment paper and place on the bottom of the pan, also wrap a sheet or two of foil under the pan and up the sides, crimping into place. This will keep the water bath from seeping into the pan. Make sure your oven rack is in the lower position (two up from the bottom). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get a larger, high sided pan that the springform pan can fit in and have it ready to use. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, or use a tea kettle, once boiling, leave on simmer.

DIRECTIONS:

CRUST: Mix graham crackers crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together in a bowl. Use a 9-10 inch springform pan. Line the pan with parchment paper for ease in transferring to a serving dish. Press graham cracker mixture into the springform pan either with your fingers or back of a spoon. Place prepared crust into the freezer until you finish mixing the filling.

CHEESECAKE: Beat the room temperature cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until creamy and smooth. Add in the sugar and flour; beat until well blended and scrape the sides of the bowl for about 3-5 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and vanilla and mix until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Last of all, scrape down the sides again and add the heavy cream. Mix on low speed until smooth and creamy with no lumps.

Remove the baking pan from the freezer and pour the batter onto the cold crust. Place the filled springform pan into the larger pan; place both pans into the preheated oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan until it reaches half way up the springform pan sides. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Without opening the oven door, after 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 225 degrees and continu baking for 1 hour more. After 1 hr. And 20 minutes, remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for another hour or so. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at lease 4 hours or more (overnight is best) prior to serving.

Serve plan or with your favorite topping. (We’re using Homemade Cherry topping).

Note: You can also prepare this in advance for future use. After cooling completely, cover with plastic wrap and then with foil. This will last up to 6 months in the freezer. Do not freeze with toppings.

Bonus video: Food Hacks and Finds

BACON WRAPPED DATES

The perfect appetizer, this bacon wrapped dates recipes is simmered in brown sugar and bourbon and is delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
  • 13 medium thick cut strips of bacon, cut in half
  • 26 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Add the brown sugar, butter, bourbon, and cream to a medium size pot and cook over low to medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Wrap each date in a 1/2 slice piece of bacon and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and place each bacon wrapped date bacon seam side down and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until the bacon is browned and crispy. Cook in batches if necessary!

Drain the rendered bacon fat and add the crisp bacon wrapped dates back into the pan and pour the caramel over top. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

Lemon layer cake with lemon cream cheese buttercream

This 3 layer lemon layer cake is made from scratch with real lemons. Light and delicious made even special with tangy cream cheese buttercream frosting!

INGREDIENTS:

(notice all “room temperature items—this is important! Take out of the refrigerator in advance)

  • 3 cups sifted AP flour (sift before measuring)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)-softened to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups regular sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract -pure
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest (takes about 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (takes about 2 lemons)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block-room temperature)
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3- 9 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. You can use Pam for baking.

Sift the flour, then measure 3 cups into a large bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt, whisk together. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Crape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the eggs on at a time and vanilla extract on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined. With the mixer still running on low, add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix just until combined. You made need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be a little thick.

Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 21-26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cooled before frosting and assembling. The baked cakes are fluffy, but they are not thick, about 1-1.5 inches.

MAKE THE FROSTING:

In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth and combined. Add confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioner’s sugar if frosting is too thin, more on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more lemon juice if frosting is too thick, or add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I always add a pinch of salt!)

ASSEMBLE AND DECORATE:

Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface, discard top (or use as crumble over ice cream). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or turntable. Evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 1 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. (Optional: Use homemade whipped cream with a piping tip to decorate the top—more to come on this!)

Refrigerate for at lease 30-45 minutes before slicing, this will help the cake to hold it’s shape. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

(Make ahead—cake can be frozen up to 2-3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator before serving)

(If you want to make the whipped cream decorations on top, here’s the recipe. Use a piping bag with a tip to make the swirls, then top with a small cut lemon)

OPTIONAL:

BONUS—HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Use immediately or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Homemade lemon curd

This is delicious lemon curd, sweet yet tangy. I doubled the recipe and made 6 individual gifts for friends. Great with morning toast!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor and pulse. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. (If you mixture curds, don’t worry, it will blend when heated!)

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. (I used a thermometer to reach 170 degrees). The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees. Remove from heat and refrigerate.

(Note: I doubled this recipe and made individual gifts. This filled 6 – 6 3/4 oz. jars)

CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD WITH GRAPES & CASHEWS

What’s spring without a great chicken salad, this one has succulent oven roasted chicken, juicy grapes and crunchy cashews drenched with a creamy curry dressing!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Use Hellmann’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup salted cashews, lightly chopped
  • 6 large stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange chicken breast skin side up on baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done. Let cool.

In the meantime, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder, honey and a heaping 3/4 teaspoons salt in a medium bowl.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and pull meat off bones. Cut into small bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to dressing. Add the cashews, celery, grapes, and scallions. Toss well. Taste, adjust seasonings to taste. Serves 8

TOMATO BASIL SOUP WITH FRESH CROUTONS & FETA CRUMBLE

Elevate your soup with a topping of fresh croutons and feta crumble and optional, a splash of olive oil with truffles!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium diced yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 —28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • bunch of basil (about 8 leaves)
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • ciabatta bread to make croutons
  • garlic salt for croutons
  • olive oil for drizzle

DIRECTIONS:

Add butter to a large pot over medium low heat until melted. Add in the onions and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the sugar, mix and cook for 7-9 minutes until browned. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and stew for 5-6 minutes. Add in the chicken stock and ten add in the balsamic vinegar. Either use an immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth.,

Add the soup back to the pot if using a food processor. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper. Chiffonade a bunch of basil leaves (around 7-8) and add it to the soup. Stir and keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, cut up the ciabatta bread into small squares. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes, take out and stir, bake for another 6 minutes or until golden brown and crispy (can store in an airtight container for up to one week. When serving, top with a few croutons, about a tablespoon of crumbled feta and a splash of olive oil.

CARROT AND PINEAPPLE MUFFINS

This is delicious as well as nutritious. Made with 3 lbs. of carrots and using Stevia instead of sugar! Great for snacks, breakfast, or along side a salad lunch! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar or Stevia substitute
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 3 lb. bag)
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place about 15 paper baking cups in muffin pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix well with a large whisk. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the pineapple, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until well blended. Fold in the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Mix well with large spool or spatula. Using a large spoon, spoon batter into baking cups, filling about two-thirds full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Eggplant parmigiana

This is the real deal! If you want to try a dish from the old country, full of flavor, light and delicious, you must prepare this authentic recipe of Eggplant Parmigiana. You will marvel how basic and yet elevated this dish taste!

By: Maddalena Clemente and Anna Silvestri FROM La Casa Del Pane

INGREDIENTS:
For the sauce:
• 3 tbsp. of olive oil
• 3 cloves of garlic (whole)
• Pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
• 2-28 oz. can of San Marzano Tomato (whole) • Fresh basil
• Salt to taste

For the eggplant:

• 2 large to medium eggplants 🍆 (peeled and cut into rings or lengthwise-your preference)

• 6 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (approx.)
• Salt & pepper to taste
• Frying oil (vegetable oil-at lease 1 inch thick in frying pan)

Additional ingredients:
• Fresh mozzarella (shredded) (about 2 cups)
• Fresh grated Parmiggiano (about 1 1/2 cups) • Fresh basil (torn)
• Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Start by making the sauce. In a saucepan; add the oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes (if using), bring to a sizzle and once the garlic becomes fragrant and lightly golden, add the cans of tomatoes (and place a small amount of water-about 1/4 cup, in the bottom of one empty can, pour from can to can to pick up any sauce in the cans and pour the water mixture in the saucepan), add salt and basil, give it a stir, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer on medium low for about 30 minutes while you fry the eggplant. (Taste in about 15 minutes and add more salt if needed, according to taste). When sauce is cooked, take off the stove and blend with an immersion blender or place in food processor to blend. Set aside.

While sauce is cooking, slice the eggplant medium thin with either a mandolin or a sharp knife.
In a shallow plate, add the flour, salt and pepper, set aside. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add about one inch of vegetable oil, preheat over medium heat (not too hot or the eggplant will burn on the outside but will remain raw on the inside–test when the oil is hot enough to fry by sprinkling with a few drops of water, if the oil sizzles, it’s ready to fry). While the oil is heating, dredge each piece of eggplant in the flour, shake off any excess, dip into the beaten egg mixture. Add about 6 or 7 at a time to the egg mixture, then fry the eggplant 6 or 7 at a time in the hot oil and cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain the eggplant on a paper towel lined plater, blot excess oil, repeat this process until all the eggplant is cooked. (Cook in batches, remove all in the batch before adding more eggplant to the fry pan).

To assemble the baked version: Use a large, deep baking dish, place a couple ladles of sauce on the bottom of the dish, place the first layer of fried eggplant in the dish, add some Parmiggiano cheese, fresh mozzarella, torn fresh basil and top of a ladle of sauce. Repeat this procedure with the 2nd layer of eggplant. The final layer is topped with more sauce, especially around the edges. Bake for about 1/2 hour, in a 450 degree oven until bubbly and the cheese is melted, allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. (Serve along side a crusty, toasted bread rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with olive oil which you bake for 10 minutes—Optional).

EASY TAMALE CORN PIE

If you want something for a weeknight dinner that is both easy and delicious, you need to try this recipe. Who doesn’t like cornbread, fresh corn and hamburger meat? This is a great combination of flavors. (Check out the photos in the slideshow).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (7.5 oz.) can or bottle of mild red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cans (4.5 oz. each) chopped green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 stalks fresh corn (boiled for 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded short Cheddar cheese
  • 1 box muffin mix (Jiffy)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (use the convection setting). In a 10 inch over proof skillet, cook the beef over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain with paper towels. Stir in enchilada sauce, 1 can of the green chiles and the chili powder. Set aside.

In a separate pot, boil water and add a teaspoon of salt. When the water is boiling, add two stalks of fresh corn on the cob and boil for 5 minutes. When the corn is done, remove from the water and place on a cutting board and strip the corn of the cob.

Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and the corn to the meat mixture and stir to mix well. Set aside

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, muffin mix with 1egg and 1/3 cup milk. Add one can of chopped green chilies and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, mix well. Pour the corn muffin mix over the hamburger mixture and smooth out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Serves 6.

CARROT BANANA NUT BREAD

Why not make a nice tasty treat that actually contains a lot of hidden fruit and vegetables! You kids will love it and eat a little healthier then a regular cake! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, (1-stick, softened)
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 4 x 8 inch loaf pans with Pam for baking spray.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium size bowl. In another large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

Add flour mixture into the flour mixture, stirring frequently to combine. Add mashed bananas and stir or fold in to combine. Mix well. Fold in carrots and pecans. Pour into the prepared loaf pans.

Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Optional: Sprinkle with powder sugar when cooled.

STEAK PIZZAIOLA

This is a great dish that doesn’t break the bank! You can use different cuts of meat such as eye of round, sirloin, or strip steak. A lot of tenderizing and it’s a perfect bite of steak.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 steaks (I used thin cut New York Strip steaks-pounded and cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz.) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 carton (17.64 oz.) Pomi tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: fresh chopped parsley for serving
  • optional: White rice for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Thin New York Strip steaks have to be
pounded until thinner, fat cut off and then cut in half to make 6 steaks.

Place the steaks on a cutting board and trim all the visible fat. Use a meat tenderizer and pound the steak on each side to tenderize and pound until about 1/4 inch thick. Salt and pepper each side. Cut the steak in half. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan. Fry the steaks in batches, turning once, for about 1 minute per side, do not crowd. Set the steaks aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low. In the same frying pan, add the garlic, onions, and bell peppers, fry for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Deglaze with the wine and stir.

Add the tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Stir well. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low to low. Add the steaks back into the pan and mix. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve on top of white rice. Serves 4

Three bean CHILI

With cold weather and football to watch, what’s better than a big bowl of chili! I’m changing it up a bit with three different beans, lots of meat and spices, what’s not to enjoy! This recipe will feed a crowd!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds lean hamburger meat
  • 3 (15.5 oz.) cans red kidney beans
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can white kidney beans
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Kirby black beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (24.5 oz.) bottle or can tomato puree
  • 1 package Carol Shelby’s Chili Kit
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) water
  • added salt and pepper to taste

Optional to serve: Top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, serve with crackers

DIRECTIONS:

Place a large pot or dutch oven on the stove, add olive oil and heat at medium-high heat. Add hamburger and brown, breaking up pieces for about 5 minutes. Add onion and red bell pepper and cook for about another 5 minutes.

Drain all the cans of beans and add the red and white kidney beans and the black beans to the pot and stir. Add the can of tomato sauce, fire roasted diced tomatoes and tomato purée, stir. Add one can of water.

Add the entire spice packet from the chili kit and stir to combine. If you like your chili mild do not add the cayenne pepper packet (add if you want it hot, according to your taste. You can as a little or as much as you like). If you want thicker chili, add the masa mix, again as little or as much as you want to thicken it. I add about 1 tablespoon.

Simmer on low for about 1 hours, stirring about every 15 minutes.

Serve in a bowl topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream (optional).

BEST EGG SALAD AND HOW TO hard-boil EGGS

First you have to boil the eggs! This is a foolproof way to get the perfect hard-boiled eggs everytime!

How to hard-boil eggs:

INGREDIENT:

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 12 large eggs (or number of eggs you need)

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Pour in the vinegar, which helps with the smell. Gently add the eggs into the boiling water using a slotted spoon and cook for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, take the pot off the stove and put a lid on the pot and let it sit for another 6 minutes. Immediately place the eggs into a pan filled with cold water and ice. Let cool for 2-4 minutes to stop the cooking process. Peel under lukewarm water, then chop or serve as desired.

Best Egg Salad:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 dozen large eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup minced dill
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

After the eggs are hard-boiled, place on a chopping block and chop to desire size, place chopped eggs in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, relish, dill, and chives. Gently fold together. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

Ground beef stroganoff

Fast and easy, in less than 30 minutes, you’ll have a delicious dinner the entire family will enjoy! Makes great leftovers too! A spin on the classic, Beef Stroganoff.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2/3 cups sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, more adjusted for taste
  • Noodles, cooked to package directions
  • Optional: can peas

DIRECTIONS:

Place a large stock pot on the stove and set temperature to medium-high heat. Att the olive oil. Add the ground beef and stir to break up into tiny pieces. Brown for about 3-4 minutes. Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add sliced mushroom and sauté for 5 minutes. Add flour and stir until incorporated and mixed thoroughly.

Add beef broth, whipping cream and Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and turn to low heat. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes. It should thicken slightly.

Remove from heat and add in the sour cream. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper if more is needed. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Serve on top of noodles with peas if desired. Serves 6-8

BLACK EYE PEAS AND COLLARD GREENS

A New Year tradition and especially important for 2021! Happy New Year everyone, make sure to eat your Black Eye Peas for luck!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pieces of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 12-16 ounces collard greens, fresh, chopped into bite size pieces, stems removed (I buy them already cut up)
  • 1 cup ham, cut up
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans black eye peas (15.5 ounces each with liquid)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat on medium for a couple of minutes. Add olive oil. Add article and onion and cook approximately 5 minutes. Add collards to the pot, stir and cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add cut up ham and broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 25 minutes. Add both cans of black eye peas and stir. Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes. Great served with corn bread!

CALDO GALLEGO (white bean soup)

This is an old favorite Spanish soup that we use to eat a lot of as kids. It’s delicious and healthy and it goes a long way! It’s a white bean soup that hearty meals are made of. Caldo GALLEGO is a meal on its own or an amazing starter!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 packets Goya Ham-flavored Concentrate, mixed with 11 cups of water
  • 1 ham hock or left over ham bone
  • 2 russet potatoes,, peeled and cut into 3/4” cubes
  • 4 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans
  • 5 cups chopped collard greens (approx.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large heavy pot, add olive oil and fry onions, Chorizo and ham hock on medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. Chorizo will produce a lot of grease and color will start to turn reddish.

Add 11 cups of water to the pot and two packets of ham-flavored concentrate. Add collar greens and cook on medium heat for approximately 25 minutes. Scoop out any foam or oil that floats to the surface.

Add cannellini beans with their liquid and the potatoes to the pot. Stir and cook for another 45 minutes.

Remove ham hock and cut any ham of the bone and add back to the soup, discard the fat and bones. Ladle off excess fat from the top and discard.

To serve, divide soup amount serving bowls. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

mom’s sour cream bundt cake with quick icing drizzle

This is a cake we always requested and my mom would gladly make it for us and give us a big piece when we visited. It’s just a little updated, but the flavor is all there! It’s a perfect dessert for a Christmas dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup soften unsalted butter (2 sticks) Room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract

INGREDIENTS FOR DRIZZLE:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons egg whites (use carton egg whites only)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (Use convection settings if available). Spray a 10 inch bundt pan with Joy for baking or grease and dust with flour. Set aside.

Ad butter and sugars to a stand mixer and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add in one egg at a time until combined on medium speed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well blended. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar at low speed until combined. Then add the sour cream and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Last, mix the vanilla and almond extract until combined.

Transfer the batter into the Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. (Convection setting is usually ready at 60 min.)

Cool completely to room temperature on a cooling rack, then remove the cake from the pan and place on a serving plate.

DIRECTIONS FOR DRIZZLE:

Place the powder sugar in a deep bowl. With stiff spatula, pour 1 tablespoon egg white and mix vigorously, then add the other tablespoon of egg white and mix again (mix well and smash icing against the side of the bowl, taking out any lumps). Use a spoon to drizzle icing on top of the cake.

GINGERBREAD COOKIES with royal icing

This is a great recipe supplied by a wonderful chef/baker Jovana Boksen of Artistic Whisk! Easy recipe that makes a delicious cookie. Check out the video for full instructions of how to decorate with Royal Icing!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, soften 3/4 cup brown sugar
3 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 tsp. Cloves
1 egg
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. Molasses

DIRECTIONS:
Cream together the soft butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the egg until combined. Blend together all of the dry ingredients into a bowl until combined, then add it into the whipped butter sugar mixture. Mix by hand just until combined.
Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten out. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Flour your surface and roll out some of the dough until 1/8” thick. Cut dough into various hopes and place on parchment on cookie sheet. Refrigerate cookie shapes for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 8 minutes, turn, then another 2 minutes. Allow cookies to cool.
ICING:
Powder sugar
Pasteurized Egg Whites (very little)
1/8 tsp. Flavoring (if desired) Almond extract, vanilla, peppermint, lemon, etc. Food coloring of your choice. (No set measurements, it is done by consistency of the final icing, either thick or thin depending on the purpose, such as borders or flood (fill). Watch video for more instructions.)

HOLIDAY BISCOTTI (PISTACHIOS & CRANBERRIES AND CHERRIES & PECANS)

Watch the video!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in Salted Caramel Crown Royal or favorite liqueur for at least 30 min. Then DRAIN

OPTIONAL: If making Cherries & Pecan version, substitute pistachios and cranberries with the same amount as pistachios and cranberries. Also if dipping in white chocolate, use Candiquik (you can buy on Amazon). Also, have any sprinkles you like if you want to have more decorations on the biscotti.*

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare large baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.

Place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and whisk to blend, set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl, blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time.

Add the flour mixture and beat until blended. By hand, fold in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 10-13 inch long 3 inch wide log on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (this will help with spreading).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, keep a close eye on it. Bake until light golden. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Place log on cutting board and use a serrated knife to cut the long into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet and bake the biscotti again until it’s pale golden, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the biscottis to a rack and cool completely.

*If you want to dip in white chocolate, follow the directions on the package of Candiquik. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate, shake off excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Makes great gifts for friends, just place 4-5 biscottis in a festive plastic bag and seal with a tie.

CHICKEN LAZONE with fettuccine

Using cream to make this easy restaurant quality meal at home is definitely worth the effort! Flavorful and tender chicken over creamy fettuccine, what more could you want!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves with stems
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

SPICE MIX RUB:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

DIRECTIONS:

In a bowl, combine salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried rosemary, smoked paprika, Italian seasoning and dried basil. Stir to combine.

Rub chicken breast with olive oil on each side., Coat the chicken throughly with spice mix rub.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add chicken breast and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Flip the chicken only once to allow it to sear. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate cover with foil.

Add pasta to large pot of boiling water season with salt and cook according to package directions. Drain well.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sage. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened, for about 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Remove and discard sage leaves.

Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine. Add the chicken back to the pan and top with some cream sauce from the pan. Sprinkle grated parmesan on top and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4

chocolate chip, pecan, pumpkin bread

Why not step it up a notch! No more boring pumpkin bread, adding chocolate chips and pecans will elevate this classic seasonal bread! I doubled the recipe in order to make individual “Thanksgiving” gifts for some family and friends!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée, canned
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, more for topping (1 T flour to coat chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup pecan pieces, more for topping

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray, set aside. (Note: I doubled the recipe and made 8 (6 in.) loaf pans as gifts).

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie space, and salt together until well mixed. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until well combined. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk the pumpkin, oil and orange juice and blend. Add the pumpkin, oil and orange juice into the egg and sugars, and whisk until well blended.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix together using a rubber spatular or a wooden spoon. Do not over mix. Toss the chocolate chips in 1 tablespoon of flour to coat. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and pecans into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the a handful of chocolate chips and pecans on top. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, making sure to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent the top from getting too brown. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes our clean. Allow the bread to cool completely. Makes one large loaf pan or 4 small 6 in. gift loaf pans.

PECAN PUMPKIN PIE WITH MAPLE WHIPPED CREAM

Why have two different pies for Thanksgiving when you can have one that blows away any other pie out there! Try this Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe and impress your family & friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 store-bought pie crust

Pumpkin Layer

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg

Pecan Layer

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons dark maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans, halved
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Maple whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powder sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the pie dough into a 9 inch pie pan. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Place pie weights or dry beans around the bottom of the dough and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, remove the weights and set aside. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, with a whisk, mix together the pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, ground ginger and egg. Make sure it’s well combined. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, mix together melted butter, corn syrup, maple syrup, sugar, eggs and salt. Mix well and then add in the 3/4 cup halved pecans. Set aside.

Pour the pumpkin pie mixture into the pre-baked pie shell then sprinkle the top with 1/3 cup chopped pecans. (This helps creates a barrier so the pumpkin pie and pecan pie fillings stay separated.) Carefully, ladle the pecan pie filling over top of the pumpkin layer, be careful not to mix the layers.

Place the pie on a sheet tray and bake for 1 hour.

For the whipped cream, whip cream in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, maple syrup and salt. Whip a little more until well mixed.

Serve the pie topped with the maple whipped cream.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOMS

A delicious and satisfying two-bite hors d’oeuvres will make you a star when you serve them!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 24 large portobello or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed, fried and crumbled
  • 1 (8 oz.) packaged cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat on a large baking sheet. Clean mushrooms with a wet paper towel. Cut stems from mushrooms and chop into pieces. Leave caps whole.

In a skillet, fry Italian sausage until cooked and crumbled. Drain on paper towels, set aside. Wipe the skillet with paper towels, then add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add onions and chopped mushroom stems. Add salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently until soft. Add back in the cooked sausage. Add cream cheese, parsley and garlic powder. Stir until the cream cheese is completely melted.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the sausage mixture into the mushroom caps and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and filling is heated through. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 24. (Depending on the size of the mushrooms, you may have leftover filling, don’t worry, you can make a great omelette or fritatta!)

LUMP CRAB BITES and STUFFED MINI PEPPERS

LUMP CRAB BITES

Something so elegant taste so delicious! Combining jumbo lump crabmeat with shredded cheese and some other ingredients turns this into a simple and easy appetizer sure to please everyone at the party!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellmans)
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
  • 2 packages Athens Phyllo Shells (contains 15 cups each)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and green onions. Add crabmeat and cheese and mix by hand until well mixed.

Take each phyllo cup one at a time and fill with about one heaping tablespoon of crab mixture. Place on the cookie sheet. Repeat until every shell is filled.

Baked in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

STUFFED MINI-PEPPERS WITH GOAT CHEESE

INGREDIENTS:

Delicious and easy to prepare, what more can you ask for in an appetizer!

  • 4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 (5.3 oz.) goat cheese, room temperature (I use Chavrie)
  • 3 teaspoons dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 packages (8 oz.) mini sweet bell peppers, cut in half length wise and cleaned
  • Optional: parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Bring goat cheese to room temperature.Cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove seeds and caps. Set aside. Place goat cheese in a medium bowl. Finely chop cranberries and walnuts, add to bowl. Thinly slice and chop green onions and add to bowl. Stir all together to incorporate and blend well. Set aside.

Fill peppers with about 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture and arrange on serving platter. Optional: Garnish with chopped parsley. Keep chilled until ready to serve. (NOTE: you’ll have leftover peppers, just use them in other dishes, makes 30 mini-stuffed peppers)

CORNBREAD STUFFING WITH SAUSAGE AND APPLE

This is a classic Southern cornbread dressing, but it has some special additions that make it my favorite ever dressing! Sweet and savory all at the same time. Goes with turkey, ham, or your favorite meat. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

INGREDIENTS:

CORNBREAD:

  • 2 (8.5 ounce) packages Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk

STUFFING:

  • 16 ounce regular port sausage in a tube (I use Jimmy Dean’s)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick) -(more for coating pans)
  • 1 cup celery, diced (4 large stalks)
  • 1 cup onion, diced (1/2 large onion)
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced (I used Figi apple)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 carton (32 oz.) Chicken stock

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter and coat another casserole dish (9 x 13) with butter, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn bread mix, 2 eggs, and milk. Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. (When you remove the cornbread, set temperature to 375 degrees). Set cornbread aside to cool. After it’s cooled, break up cornbread into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

To make the stuffing, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork sausage and use a utensil to break it up while cooking. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Add to the cornbread mixture.

Return the skillet to the stove and add in the butter, heat on medium heat. Add the celery and onions and cook to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add in the apple, cranberries, sage, thyme, and salt and cook together until well blended. Set aside.

To the large bowl of cornbread and sausage, add in the beaten egg and slowly pour in the chicken stock. Add in the cooked onion, celery, apple and cranberries. Stir to combine well. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish that’s been coated with butter. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until top is lightly browned. Serves 12

STRAWBERRY NUTELLA PUFFS

This is a super easy yet elegant desert. Easily comes together with just a little effort and is delicious and looks impressive. Using Puff Pastry Shells and adding Nutella and fresh strawberries makes this dessert come together perfectly!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package Puff Pastry Shells (Pepperidge Farm-contains 6 shells)
  • 1 small jar Nutella
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned, stem removed and cut in half
  • powder sugar for dusting (optional: whipped cream for topping)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 425 degrees and bake Puff Pastry Shells for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and take a sharp knife and cut around the top of the shell and set it aside.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon into the shell and top with strawberries. Sprinkle with powder sugar before serving. Serves 6

SWEET POTATO SOUFFLE

INGREDIENTS:

SOUFFLE:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature (plus more for greasing pan
  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (1/2 stick)

DIRECTIONS:

For the SOUFFLE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with butter.

Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on a baking sheet covered with foil for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hour depending on size of the sweet potato. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, place the flesh in a large mixing bowl and either mash with a potato masher or place in a food processor until very smooth. Add the eggs, both sugars, butter, vanilla, milk, cinnamon and salt. Combine well with an handheld electric mixture or food processor. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

For the TOPPING: In a medium bowl, stir together the pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter until thoroughly combined. Spoon the mixture over the sweet potatoes, making an even layer. Bake the casserole until slightly browned, approximately 40 minutes. Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes before serving.

RICOTTA OLIVE OIL CAKE with Lemon and Almonds

This cake is absolutely amazing! It comes together quickly and all you need is a whisk. The olive oil taste is subtle, and the lemon and almond flavor intensifies the flavor! Do yourself a favor and make this cake. It’s now my go to cake for a great company dessert!

Watch the entire video of making this fabulous cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of ricotta
  • 2/3 cup of good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • OPTIONAL: decorate with sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries (your choice). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch spring form pan with a bottom piece of parchment paper and spray with Pam.

In a large mixing bowl add the ricotta then whisk in the olive oil, sugar, and zest of one lemon. Whisk until completely combined. Add in one egg at a time and whisk until each egg is completely mixed in. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Whisk well to ensure there are no clumps.

Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time and whisk together until everything is combined. Pour the batter into the 9 inch spring form pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until browned on the top and firm in the center. Stick a toothpick in the center and make sure there’s no wet batter on the stick before removing from the oven. Set the cake on a cooling rack and let it cool until room temperature.

Optional: When cool, decorate with sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries (your choice). Sprinkle powdered sugar. Serve with extra berries and a dollop of whipped cream.

DAD’S MEATBALLS AND HOMEMADE SPAGHETTI SAUCE

This is a simple spaghetti sauce and easy to make, but what makes this a standout is “Dad’s Meatballs”! Nothing reminds me of my dad then the smell of this delicious sauce cooking on the stove. These meatballs are so flavorful that it will be your favorite meatball recipe like it is mine!

Watch the entire process of making this great dish!

Ingredients:

Spaghetti sauce:

  • 3 -28 oz. cans of San Marzano* whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • salt & pepper to taste (I use 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • pasta of your choice, cooked according to box directions (Always boil your water first, then add salt)

Dad’s Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground chuck
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp. each)
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano** cheese, graded
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • olive oil for frying
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

Directions:

Start with the sauce: Add the cans of peeled tomatoes to your food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Add the olive oil to a large pot over low heat and sauté the onions for a few minutes, add the green pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more.

Pour the puréed tomatoes into the pot. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Heat on medium to medium low for a minimum of 1 hour. (You’ll be adding the meatballs as soon as they are fried, so start that process immediately after sauce is simmering). Simmering a little longer helps concentrate the rich tomato flavors.

While the sauce is simmering, place meat in a large bowl. Add garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, cheese and eggs. Work mixture until well blended. Add the milk and continue to mix (if too moist, add a little more bread crumbs). Shape into about 20 to 24 meatballs (depending on the size you want). Brown lightly in olive oil on every side. Drain on paper towels. Add to the sauce the last 30 min. of cooking (can cook a little longer if desired).

At the end of the cooking process, add julienned fresh basil and taste to see if it needs any more salt & pepper.

Cook your favorite spaghetti according to directions on the box, drain (Reserve about one cup of pasta water). When spaghetti is done (al dente), put back into the pot and add several ladles of sauce into the spaghetti, a little of the pasta water, and toss with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese***. Serve the meatballs and added sauce on top of the flavored spaghetti. Sprinkle with more Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. Optional: garnish with a little chopped basil.

NOTES:

*(San Marzano tomatoes are the most famous plum tomato to come out of Italy. They are grown in the rich volcanic soil of the base of Mount Vesuvius which gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity and are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count!)

**(Parmigiano-Reggiano can only come from for a specific region of Italy and is protected by Parmigiano-Reggiano Consorzio and is stamped, regular Parmesan cheese is not protected and could be a copycat or counterfeit.)


***(Right before you’re ready to drain your pasta, always be sure to reserve a cup of the starchy water it cooked in. Add this when you toss your drained pasta with sauce – it will be the binding that “marries” the sauce to the pasta. Another way to flavor your pasta is to finish it in its sauce.
)

Tip: MAKE AHEAD: You can make the meatballs the day before. After you fry them, place them on a sheet and wrap with plastic and refrigerate until the next day. Let them sit on the counter about one hour to come to room temperature then add them to the sauce!

Dedicated to my Dad, Angelo G. Rumore

BAKED CHICKEN CHIMICHANGAS

This is another great recipe that you can use left over rotisserie chicken. You can also use the smaller flour tortillas and make appetizers. With the added toppings, it’s a delicious dish!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz. package shredded Mexican Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded
  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Toppings:

  • shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Green onions, chopped
  • sour cream
  • salsa

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large cookie sheet with wire grates on top for circulation.

In a medium bowl, stir together the room temperature cream cheese (if you just take it out of the oven, put in microwave for 20 seconds), Mexican cheese, and taco seasoning. Fold in the shredded chicken.

Place about 1/2+ cup of the chicken mixture in the center of the flour tortillas, fold in the sides, then fold in the top and bottom. Lay seam side down on the wire grates on the cookie sheet. Spray tops of tortillas with the cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle with some of the taco seasoning. Bake for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes flip the tortillas and spray again with the olive oil spray. Bake another 15 minutes. (flip again and put the broiler on and broil top side for about 2 minutes, keeping close eye on them, they can burn fast).

Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, salsa to taste, Mexican cheese and sprinkle some chopped green onions.

NOTE: I had leftover chicken mixture, and some smaller flour tortillas, so I filled those and baked along side the larger ones, these are perfect for appetizers!

Goes great with Red Beans and Rice, see recipe below:

Red Beans and Rice (quick version)

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions, bell peppers
  • (I used frozen that I keep in the freezer)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (Drained)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook your rice according to directions, or use leftover rice. Place olive oil in sauce pan and sauté the onions and bell peppers. Add the beans and using a potato masher, mash the beans a little. Stir and add the rice and Ro-tel. Salt & Pepper to taste. Mix well and heat on low-medium for about 4 minutes.

PASTA e FAGIOLI (Pronounced “Pasta Fazool”)

Nothing like a hearty soup to delight your soul! Here’s a family favorite that is full of healthy vegetables and protein rich cannellini beans. Comes together quickly and the entire family will love it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pancetta
  • 1 Kielbasa, cut up in 1 inch rounds
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can, 28 oz. San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, either hand crushed, or food processor crushed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 4 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans (with liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of Italian seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 cups Ditalini pasta (cook according to package directions)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook the pancetta and Kielbasa in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 3 minutes or until it softens. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the broth, beans (with liquid), and bay leaves. Hand crush the tomatoes in a separate bowl, or place in a food processor for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Taste and add salt & pepper as you prefer. Cook for 45 minutes on simmer. (remove bay leaves when done).

While soup is cooking, prepare according to package directions. When done, set aside and let it cool. Add pasta to the soup and stir to combine.

Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Makes 4-5 quarts.

LIGHTING OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE (Pistachio Cake)

In honor of the 10th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration of Tierra Verde, I’ve made a delicious cake in the shape of a Christmas tree. It a Pistachio Cake made with Duncan Hines white cake mix stepping it up a notch with added flavor. I have included the Christmas Tree template for you to print out and use to make your own cake! It will bring smiles and oohs and awwws to your family and friends.

Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration will be held Sat. Dec. 5th, 2020, downtown Tierra Verde.

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:

  • 1 box white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

INGREDIENTS FOR ICING:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 10 drops green food coloring (or your preference of shade of green)
  • 1 cup pistachio nuts, crushed by pulsing in food processor

DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with “Pam” for baking, or grease and flour.

Mix the cake mix, pudding, mix, orange juice, water, vegetable oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat for two minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then invert onto a large sheet pan to completely cool. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

DIRECTIONS FOR FROSTING:

Prepare a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk butter until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add powder sugar 1 cup at a time until well blended. Increase speed to med. and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and 2 tbsp. cream and continue to whip on med. for 1 minute. Add more cream as needed until desire consistency is reached (usually about 4 tbsp.). Whip until the frosting is smooth and silky. Take a little of the white frosting and separate in a bowl. Add green color to the icing and whip slightly to blend. Set aside.

DIRECTIONS TO ASSEMBLE AND DECORATE:

Use the template provided above. Place the template on cake and cut pieces with a long serrated knife according to the template. Assemble tree pieces on a large serving platter, attaching the pieces with a little green frosting and frost top part of the tree in green icing. Assemble stump, attaching pieced with a little frosting and frost stump. Cover the stump with the crushed Pistachio nuts (pat them on). NOTE: Place pieces of wax paper around the edges of the cake to catch any excess icing, then remove and discard.

Decorate the tree with assorted decorations. You can also use cherries, M & M’s, or your choice of Christmas candies.

YOU CAN BUY VARIOUS CAKE DECORATIONS ON AMAZON TO ENHANCE THE CAKE

CHICKEN PERLO

This is a classic dish that has been around for years. My husband has fond memories of his mother making it for the family when he was young. It’s a Southern dish with Cajun overtones. It’s absolutely delicious and a one dish meal!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in (or 4 chicken thighs 2 breast with bone), sprinkled with Rub* recipe below
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 kielbasa or andouille sausage, cut into rounds about 3/4 inches apart
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups diced ripe tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom) (about 2 large tomatoes or 3 small)
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice, (use Mahatma Extra-long Enriched Rice)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (Optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for Rub:

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

Mix onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder together in a bowl and set aside.

Set the chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle then pat the rub on both sides of the chicken until coated. Set a fry pan on the stove and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Sauté the chicken on both sides until lightly brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Place large pot with a lid on stove and turn on to medium-high heat. Place cut bacon into the pot and cook at medium-high temperature for approx. 5 minutes. Add kielbasa and cook another 5 minutes, until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to the bacon grease in the pot. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper to the bacon grease & butter in the pot and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minutes more. Add the diced tomatoes and cook approximately 3 minutes.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil, add back in the bacon and kielbasa. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt & pepper (or more to taste). Add in the chicken. Add the rice into the pot and stir. Cover the pot and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until stock is absorbed. Let sit approximately 10 minutes for any remaining liquid to be absorbed. Serves 6 (Optional, top with chopped parsley when serving).

1890 SALAD (AKA. FILET MIGNON SALAD)

I had this salad years ago in San Francisco and never forgot how good it was. I’ve recreated this recipe from memory and it was just as good as I remembered.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (6 or 8 oz.) filet mignon
  • 1 bottle 1890 salad dressing
  • 2 sourdough English muffins
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 4 hardboil eggs, cut in quarters
  • 1 can of asparagus
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1 package green beans

Cook the filet mignon on the stove or grill, your preference, until medium-well done. Cut the filets in bite-size chunks, set aside.

Cook the green beans on the stove or microwave and set aside. Boil the eggs until hardboiled, cool and peel, then cut in quarters, set aside.

Assemble the salad:

Place salad greens on a large plate. Split and toast the sourdough English muffins. Place 1/2 of the sourdough English muffin in the center of each plate on top of the salad greens. Place 4 hardboiled egg wedges around the plate. Place asparagus on one side of the plate. Place green beans on the opposite side. Add the black olives down one side.

Top the English muffin with a large spoonfuls of filet mignon. Drizzle 1890 salad dressing on top of the filet and more dressing around the plate. Serve immediately. Serves 4

1890 Salad Dressing

LENTIL SOUP-ITALIAN STYLE

I have always loved a warm, nurishing bowl of lentil soup. With fall in the air, it was time to fix this delicious dish and share it with my family. Rich in flavor and so healthy for you. I hope you’ll try it for your family!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup carrots, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups brown, green, or red lentils, (rinsed & drained)
  • 2- 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 vadalia onion, diced
  • 56 oz. vegetable broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach, raw
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus more for serving
  • salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil in a large pot until onions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.

Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and lentils. Cook on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes. Add spinach and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Cook on low heat for an additonal 30 minutes. If it seems too thick, add water. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top. Serves at least 10-12 depending on servings. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: can sit on the stove at very low temperature throughout the day for frequent servings!

PUMPKIN BREAD with CHEESECAKE STUFFING

Time to at least start thinking about fall baking. I love anything pumpkin and here’s a twist on pumpkin bread. It’s moist and delicious and makes a great appearance!

Before and after cream cheese stuffing is added in the middle

INGREDIENTS:

Pumpkin bread ingredients:

  • 1 stick melted butter (plus more for pan)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (more for dusting pan)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cheese cake center ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, very soft

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9” by 5” loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk pumpkin purée, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Set aside.

Make cream cheese filling: In a small bowl, stir very soft cream cheese, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons flour, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Mix with a fork until it’s well blended.

Transfer half the pumpkin batter to prepared loaf pan. Dollop cream cheese filling on top and smooth in an even layer with the back of a spoon. Top evenly with remaining pumpkin purée and spread around.

Bake until deeply golden and a toothpick comes out clean; 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes.

When completely cooled, sprinkle powder sugar on top. Serves 10-12

CRISPY BAKED SHRIMP SCAMPI

If you are like me, you are always looking for a delicious yet simple way of preparing shrimp. This recipe will fit the bill. Easy to prepare and really is delicious with lots of lemon and garlic and butter! Make sure you use wild caught shrimp such as Key West Pinks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • juice from one lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour wine and 2 tablespoons of melted butter into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place in the oven for 10 minutes to let sauce reduce. While baking dish is in the oven, add 2 tablespoons melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a bowl. Add the shrimp to the bowl and toss to coat.

Remove baking dish from the oven and spread out the shrimp in a single layer, though they should fit snugly together. Pour any leftover marinade on top of the shrimp. Set aside.

Topping:

Mix the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, melted butter and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley. Spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top of the shrimp. Bake until the shrimp are cooked, about 12-13 minutes. It should be toasty brown on top. When serving, sprinkle with a small amount of chopped parsley. Serves 6

QUICHE LORRAINE

What’s wrong with a delicious quiche for dinner? Absolutely nothing!! The rich creamy taste of this quiche will delight your family at anytime during the day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 strips chopped crisp cooked bacon
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Gruyere cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place pie crust evenly in a tart or pie pan. Place 2 cups of dried beans or pastry weights on top of the crust and par bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Turn down the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the butter to a small sauté pan and gently sauté the onions on medium heat for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, add the onions, bacon, cheese, cream, salt & pepper until combined. Pour the mixture into the par baked crust and make sure to spread out the ingredients in the pie crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and cooked through. Rest for 15 min, sliced and serve!

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Life is a bowl of cherries, so why not make it so! The perfect combination of elegance and taste! It has the consistency of a flan and a very unique taste that is meant to be served warm and dusted with powder sugar. Very popular in France. So if you are looking for a special dessert and love cherries, this is the dessert for you!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups pitted fresh cherries
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (separated)
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for spreading around tart dish)
  • powdered sugar for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9” or 10” glass tart dish. Rinse and pit the cherries. Add the cherries to a bowl along with 3 tablespoons of sugar and mix until coated, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, 1 cup of sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and eggs until complete combined and smooth.

Place the cherries flat into the tart pan and pour the batter over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until browned around the edges, slight browned on top and firm in the center. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes until it’s room temperature and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve warm.

Beautiful fresh cherries!
My favorite Pitter from Oxo https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008FWD4HQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_tai_tBqsFbZFTSRTA

BEEF WELLINGTON, Twice-Baked Potatoes, Oven-Roasted Asparagus

What saids elegance more than serving Beef Wellington at a dinner party! This is a classic Beef Wellington recipe and served along side a twice-baked potatoes and roasted asparagus will make even the most discreminating guest rave!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pound beef tenderloin
  • 1 pound mushrooms, mixture of cremini, shiitake, oysters and button
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 frozen and thawed puff pastry sheet
  • 6 slices of ham DI Parma or Proscuitto
  • 2 egg yolks whisked with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic to a food processor and pulse on high until the ingredients are about the size of rice. Set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan over low heat and add in the mushroom mixture. Stir frequently and do not burn.

Cook for 20 minutes or until the moisture in the mushrooms has evaporated or reduced. Deglaze with wine and cook for 5-7 minutes to also evaporate and reduce the wine liquid.

Fold in parsley, thyme, salt and pepper until combined and then set aside on a plate to cool slightly.

In the meantime, generously season the beef tenderloin on all sides with salt and pepper and brown it on all sides in the pan with olive oil, about 90 seconds per side.

Remove from the pan and generously brush it with the mustard on all sides and let it rest on a plate.

Next, on a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, add the puff pastry sheet and roll it out until it’s about 16 “-18” long by 12” wide.

Overlap 6 slices of ham DI Parma right in the center of the puff pastry and then spread the mushroom mixture over top of the ham and spread around to completely cover it.

Put the tenderloin towards the bottom part of the ham and mushroom mixture and roll it forward completely encrusting the tenderloin

Pick up the beef tenderloin and place it back toward the bottom part of the puff pastry and then roll it forward to wrap it up.

Pinch the seams together and cut off the excess puff pastry from the sides and pinch the seams together or twist it together to make sure it is airtight.

Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Next, brush the puff pastry outside on all sides with the egg yolk and milk egg wash.

Score with the back side of a knife to make a design and bake at 425 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a thermometer reads at 125 to 130 degrees internally of the beef (for medium rare). (Make sure you use a meat thermometer and check for 125 to 130 degrees, if the crust is getting too brown and you need to cook a bit more, put a loose tent of foil over the top)

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving*.

Serves 6

*You can make this recipe up to 1 day in advance of serving it. After you roll up the tenderloin in the puff pastry, simply place it in the refrigerator overnight until ready to bake the next day, let sit outside the refrigerator for an hour before baking. To reheat, place in a pan with a lid and bake at 325 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunches asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.

Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

Twice Baked Potato

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6  russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon sliced chives (or green onions)
  • 6 pieces of bacon cooked crisp and chopped or 3 tablespoons bacon bits
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese , divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash potatoes and dry them. Rub olive oil all over the potatoes, add a little salt. Poke with a fork. Bake potatoes in oven 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly.

Slice each potato in 1/2 lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp of the potato leaving 1/8” shell.

In a bowl, mash potatoes, sour cream, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper until smooth. Add butter milk as needed to create a creamy texture. Stir in chives, bacon and 3/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Fill each skin with the mashed potato filling and top with remaining cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serves 6

KEY LIME PIE WITH WHIPPED CREAM AND RASPBERRY SAUCE

Nothing taste as good as a good Key Lime Pie, and I have to tell you, this is the best my friends! Smooth and silky with a tart, yet sweet taste will bring you back to the Florida Keys! A must try!

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • pinch of salt

Pie:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cans of condensed sweetened milk (14 oz, each)
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (about 14 key limes)
  • 1 tablespoon of key lime zest

Whipping cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have a 10” pie pan ready.

Add graham crackers (or graham cracker crumbs), butter, sugar and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined.

Transfer the mixture to the pie pan and press it into the bottom and sides of a pan using your hand or the back of a spoon. Par bake the crust at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned and firm. Set aside and cool to room temperature. Raise the temperature of the oven to preheat to 350 degrees.

Add the egg yolks to a bowl for your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed for 2 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Next, on medium speed, mix in the condensed milk, key lime juice, and zest just until combined. Transfer the mixture to the cooled pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes just until it sets.

Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes then place the pie in the refrigerator for at lease 3 hours or until firm.

While the pie is cooling add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed until stiff peaks are formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add to a piping bag or keep in a bowl and chill. (You can decorate the cake as seen in the picture, or just add when serving)

Raspberry sauce: Add all ingredients to a small pot over medium heat and cook until thick and jammy, about 15 minutes. Strain through a strainer and chill in the refrigerator.

When serving, garnish the pie with whipped cream and place a spoon full of raspberry sauce on the plate and smear, and drizzle some around the plate and place the pie piece in the center of the plate. Serves 8

BEEF STEW WITH GUINNESS STOUT BEER

Homemade beef stew is jam-packed with flavor. The Guinness Stout Beer gives it a complexity of flavor and the broth is delicious! Good anytime of the year and is truly comfort food!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons & 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 bottle Guinness Extra Stout Beer (11.2 oz.)
  • 40 oz. beef stock
  • 4-5 red potatoes, large diced (peel on)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon flour

DIRECTIONS:

Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook the onions until well browned, about 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Remove the vegetables from the pot and set aside.

Cut the stew meat in half, or thirds if large. Place in a bowl, salt and pepper, and then add 2 tablespoons flour. Stir around to coat the meat in flour.

Wipe the pot with paper towels. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the pot, heat to medium-low. Add the stew meat and cook for 4-6 minutes or until browned on all sides.

Stir in the tomato paste and coat the meat, sauté for 2 minutes. Add in the beer and cook over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and slightly reduced.

Add in the stock and cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes or until the beef is tender.

Add back in the sweated vegetables and the potatoes. Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste, and add salt & pepper if needed.

Finish with parsley and serve over white rice or noodles. Serves 6.

EASY PEACH CAKE (OR APPLE)

This is a delicious cake that can be made with fresh peaches or fresh apples, whatever is in season. Easy to put together and bakes up to the most delicious cake! It resembles a peach cobbler! Serve with ice cream or whipped cream!

Watch the complete Video

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 ripe peaches, diced into bite size pieces (do not peel)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Pam on 1 lb. loaf pan and set aside.

Dice 3 peaches (leave peeling) and add to a medium bowl. Add cinnamon and brown sugar to the peaches and mix together to coat the peaches. Set aside.

Place flour in a larger bowl. Add butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and orange juice. Stir to combine, then whisk to make a smoother consistency.

Get the loaf pan and spread 1/2 of the batter into the pan. Place 1/2 of the peach mixture on top of the batter. Spread the rest of the batter on top of the peaches then place the rest of the peaches on top and spread around.

Bake for approximately 1 hr. & 20 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes, invert onto a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

CHICKEN MARBELLA

This is a classic dish and has a complexity of flavor.  The marinade is the key to the flavorful taste of the chicken.  The sweetness of the prunes mixed with the saltiness of the olives and capers combine to send your tastebuds and senses into pure delight.  Great for your next Sunday dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole chicken (cut-up, bone-in, skin on)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • sprinkle of season salt on chicken
  • salt and freshly ground pepper on chicken to taste
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes cut in half
  • 8 -10 large pitted Spanish green olives, cut in half
  • 5-6 pitted kalamata black olives
  • 1/4 C capers with a bit of juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Marinate the chicken:  In a large bowl, combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves.  Sprinkle the chicken with the season salt, then add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix to coat.  Cover and let marinate, refrigerated at lease 3 hours up until overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking pan, make sure all the marinade is added to the pan on top of the chicken.   Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour the white wine around the pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices.  Chicken is done when a sharp knife inserted into the thigh pieces, at their thickest post, run with clear yellow juices (not pink).

Serve the chicken with pan juices and using a slotted spoon, top chicken with prunes, olives and capers.  Make sure you save any of the juices and put in a gravy boat for the table.

This dish goes great with white rice or polenta!

Serves 4-6

SPICED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH APRICOTS AND RAISINS

A one-pan dinner that hits all the right notes. Fruity and peppery, this dish will lighten up your tastebuds. Dried apricots and golden raisins enrich the flavor n the sauce and this dish comes together great with the chicken! Serve over white rice or couscous.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots, quartered
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish
  • white rice or couscous as side for serving

Directions:

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Saute chicken until browned on both sides, approximately 4 minutes each side. Set chicken aside. Pour out all the oil in the pan except for 1 tablespoon.

Reduce heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chicken back into the pan. Add the apricots and raisins. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat. Simmer the dish, partially covered for 20-25 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6

EASY 3 INGREDIENTS PEACH NAPOLEON

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1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (use 1 sheet)
1 Package frozen Sliced Peaches (Publix brand)
1/2 C Orange Marmalade or Pineapple/Mango spreadable fruit

OPTIONAL:
Powder sugar for sprinkling
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Let one sheet of the Puff Pastry thaw out of the refrigerator for 20 or so minutes. Slice the Puff Pastry in three long sheets. Place on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. When golden brown, remove from oven and cut in half. Set aside.

While puff pastry is baking, thaw the frozen sliced peaches in a bowl. After defrosted, add orange marmalade or other sweetener. Mix gently, set aside.

When pastry is cooled, cut the pastry in the middle to have two sides (top and bottom). Put the pastry on your serving dish. Place equal amounts of the peaches on each bottom pastry, then place the top back on. Add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with powder sugar if desired. So delicious!! Serve and enjoy!
(serves 6)

Note: You can make this with fresh peaches too, but this is so much easier. You can also use other fruits such as blueberries or strawberries.

HERB-ROASTED FLORIDA FISH En Pappilotte ( also: Israeli Couscous with Apricots and Roasted Asparagus)

‘This is a very simple, make ahead way to fix local caught fish. I recommend yellow tail snapper or mangrove snapper, but you can use any white fish. It looks quite impressive at a dinner party.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (12 x 16 in.) pieces of parchment paper
  • 4 (8 oz.) boneless, skin-less fish fillets  (fresh is best!)
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 large green olives
  • small bottle of capers
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

MAKE AHEAD:  Prepare the packages and refrigerate for up to 1 day.  Bake before serving!!

Instructions:  (for cooking right away, if making ahead, follow all the directions unto baking!

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Tear 4 pieces of parchment paper and place on a flat surface, each piece should be approx. 12 by 16 ins.).  Fold each piece in half crosswise and cut each piece like a large paper heart cutout.  Open the folded piece of parchment paper flat and place each fillet lengthwise just to the right of the fold.  On each fillet, sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 T good olive oil. 1 T lemon juice, and 2 sprigs of thyme, place 2 olives alongside the fish and add 4 to 5 capers.Brush the edges of the entire parchment paper with the egg whites.  Fold the left side of the parchment paper over the right side so the edges line up, creating a packet.  Press the edges together to create a seal.  Starting at the edge at the top of the heart, make overlapping folds in the parchment, until you reach the “tail” of the heart.  Fold the last end underneath to seal the packet.  Place all the packets on a sheet pan, making sure the oil and lemon juice don’t run out when you transfer them.  Bake for 15 minutes exactly.  Place each packet on a dinner plate, cut an X in the middle with scissors, and serve hot, allowing each person to tear open the packet.

Seves 4

Herb-Roasted Yellowtail En Papillote

ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH APRICOTS:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 T lemon-flavored olive oil, plus more if needed (if you do not have lemon-flavored olive oil, use regular olive oil and the zest of on lemon)
  • 2 C Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 C shelled unsalted roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 12 dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 2 1/4 C boiling water

Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat.  Add the couscous and pistachios and cook, stirring, until toasted and light golden, about 7 min.  On a larger pot, be heating 2 1/4 cups of water to boiling.  Add the couscous and pistachios to the boiling water.  Salt and pepper lightly.  Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed.

Remove the lid and stir in chopped apricots and scallions.  Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.  Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and serve warm with a little more lemon oil drizzled over the top.  (Garnish with a few sliced scallions, you can also place the couscous in a ramekin dish to form, and then turn it over on the plate, looks nice! (Optional)

Note: can make this earlier in the day and leave covered with plastic wrap.  Heat for 3 to 4 minutes in microwave before serving!

Israeli Couscous with Apricots

ROASTED ASPARAGUS:

Watch the Video!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb. of asparagus, trimmed to where it naturally folds
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 7 anchovy fillets, in oil, drained and chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 C panko
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 T chopped parsley, flat-leaf
  • juice of one lemon for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss 2 pounds asparagus with 2 tbs. olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 mins. or until tender. Turning once.

 In a skillet, stir 1/3 C of olive oil with anchovies over moderate heat until the anchovies dissolve.  Add 2 minced garlic cloves, cook for 1 min. Add the panko and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, browning the panko.  Stir in 1 T of chopped parsley and 2 tsp. of lemon zest and mix. Transfer the asparagus to a platter.  Top with lemon juice and the panko mixture.

Note:  Can cook entire dish earlier than schedule dinner (Max. 2 hrs.).  Place foil over finished  platter and set aside on counter.  About 1 hr. before dinner, place in warming tray, or 180 degree oven.  Top with lemon juice and the panko right before serving.

FOOD FINDS AND HACKS

Watch this short video for some great finds!

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