I found this delicious mustard at sunset grocery store.  It is a honey balsamic Dijon… could it get any better!  It can be used as a dip, as a marinade, as a sauce, a spread… I added it to my dressing and it made the dressing beyond special.  I would pick this up and keep it in your pantry.  The perfect secret ingredient!

 

 

thanksgiving!

November 30th, 2012 | Posted by admin in UPDATES - (0 Comments)

I want to recap what a wonderful day Thanksgiving was for me.  First was my eldest son’s birthday so it is always a special day.  We have a large but not too large group of family and friends.   I had 23 this year and set up three tables so everyone had room to eat and expand.  For me just getting the tables set makes me feel like I’m on my way.

We all cook… the week prior we divide up the dishes and everyone brings two items.  The younger twenty something crowd this year brought all the liquid libations, thanks to my youngest son Josh for organizing.  They set up the bar with soda, beer, wine, vodka… I could go on and on, but the best addition was the pumpkin martinis courtesy of my nephew Alex.  I am so glad we put that crowd in charge.  Our cousins Abby and Kyle actually co-host this holiday.  They fry everything for this amazing feast.. .turkey, shrimp, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, onions… anything we can think of goes into the fryer.  It is a big job and Kyle sets this up with the skill of a surgeon.  Abby is his sous chef and works on all the prep getting every item covered in an amazing sauce.  I am beyond grateful for all the work they both do each Thanksgiving.  Abby also brought individual twice baked sweet potatoes that were beyond scrumptious.  She also baked brownies and a beautiful delicious pumpkin pie.  My sister in law’s cranberries were great!  My brother in law Ron was a huge help bringing two different dressing and delicious veggie sides.  Our cousin Annie always brings the Jello that comes out wonderful and this year was no exception even though she didn’t have a kitchen.  Another cousin Amy brought an array of anti-pasta items that were devoured prior to the feast.  Aunt Lou added crab rangoon from Costco that were gone in a minute, and I do mean THAT fast.  My job was the inside turkey, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, corn pudding, apple crisp pie, and pumpkin pie.  My husband is the clean-up crew and I am so thankful he doesn’t mind getting his hands soaked and standing over that sink clearing, washing, and drying.  Kyle the fryer cook also pitched in helping get those casserole dishes, platters, and pans clean and ready to take home.  My son and his roommate were helpers extraordinaire.  If I needed anything, a simple request, it was done.  They were up and down the stairs, in and out of the house, cleaning up, helping me move furniture, anything at all we needed they were available.  Thank you!!!

I love this holiday… it brings back memories of being with family, of mountains of food, a day of grazing, football games, and getting back in touch.  It is great to get to see the college kids’ home and a gift to have their friends come too.  We have several generations and that also makes the day special.  I am grateful the house is cleaned up, everyone is safely back home, and I have a fridge full of delicious leftovers.  I won’t share what I had for breakfast.  I was so busy I didn’t get that many pictures but I am sharing what I have.  Thanks to my family for making this a very special Thanksgiving!

 

 

recipe: lemon pie bars

November 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

I was looking for a dessert that wasn’t too sweet… although my “too sweet” may be different than most, because I love desserts.  I found this recipe again in the Southern Cookbook “The Back in the Day Bakery”.  I am such a fan of their sweets!  This recipe was very easy and tastes complicated, a perfect combination.  I recommend you use freshly squeezed lemons.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:
• 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 24 crackers)
• 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
• 1 cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 – 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1 recipe fresh whipped cream (Recipe below)

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:
• Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan.

• To make the crust:  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar and blend with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press the graham cracker mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Use a piece of parchment to press on the crust with the palm of your hands to make sure it is completely level.

• Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let cool completely before adding the filling.  Turn the oven temperature down to 325˚F.

• To make the filling:  In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks.  Pour the filling over the cooked crust.

• Place the baking pan inside a larger baking pan and pour enough hot water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped.  Remove the pan from the water bath and set it on a rack to cook for 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold.

• Cut the bars into squares and serve chilled, with the whipped cream.  The bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

 

 

RECIPE: Fresh Whipped Cream

INGREDIENTS:
• 2 cups heavy cream
• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

 

DIRECTIONS:
• Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), whip the cream on medium speed until is starts to thicken.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until the cream holds nice soft peaks.

 

 

 

recipe: three mom’s meat loaf

November 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Entrées | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

Meatloaf is a memory food for me.  It was served once a week almost when I was growing up, because you can make it ahead of time, beef was not expensive and we had most of the ingredients around the house.  This recipe from “Stonewall Kitchen Favorites” makes it special, mixing the veal, pork & beef and complementing with fresh herbs makes a difference.  I sometimes do not use a whole can of crushed tomatoes but mix some Bennetts chili sauce with a cup of tomatoes and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  I also make individual small meatloaves to make this dish even more special.  Enjoy and play with your own flavor combinations.

 

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 pound ground beef chuck*
• 12 ounces ground pork*
• 12 ounces ground veal*
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup plain bread crumbs
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• 2 teaspoons salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• One 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
• 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (about 4 slices)

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:
• Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375˚F.

• Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

• In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, beef, pork, veal, eggs, bread crumbs, tomato paste, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper, mixing well with your hands or a wooden spoon.

• Turn the meat out onto a rimmed baking sheet, a roasting pan with high edges, or a large 11 X 15-inch or a 9 X 13-inch glass dish and form the meat mixture into a loaf approximately 5 X 8 inches and 3 to 4 inches tall.

• Mix the tomatoes with 1 ½ cups water in a small bowl and pour the sauce over the top of the meat loaf, allowing some of it to fall into the pan.  Drape the bacon strips over the meat loaf widthwise.

• Bake for 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices several times.

• Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F, and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so, for a total cooking time of 60 to 70 minutes.  The bacon should be cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf should measure 165˚F.

• Remove from the oven and let the meat loaf rest for 10 minutes, then cut into slices and serve with the bacon and the tomato juices from the bottom of the pan.

 

*NOTE:  If you can’t find all three meats (often found premixed with the label “meat loaf mix” in supermarkets), try a mixture of whatever ground red meats you can find, totaling 2 ½ pounds.  For the best flavor, make sure the meat has at least 10 percent fat.  Each meat generally lists the amount of fat on the label.

 

 

 

recipe: italian wedding soup

November 8th, 2012 | Posted by Pam in RECIPES | Soup - (0 Comments)

This recipe is a meal in itself, but it can also be an excellent starter for a special dinner.  There are so many versions of this recipe but I really like Giada’s in her “Giada’s Family Dinners” cookbook.  When you serve this keep a copy of the recipes… you will be asked.  Using homemade chicken broth really makes a difference.  This is a great soup to drop off for a sick friend!  Enjoy!

 

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS:
• 1 small onion, grated
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 large egg
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
• 8 oz lean ground beef (15% fat)
• 8 oz ground pork

 

SOUP INGREDIENTS:
• 10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 1 pound escarole, coarsely chopped
• 2 large eggs
• 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
• salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

MEATBALL DIRECTIONS:
• In a large bowl, stir together the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper.

• Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs.  Using your hands, mix in the ground beef and pork.

• Shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs, making approximately 75 balls.  Place on a baking sheet.

 

SOUP DIRECTIONS:
• Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

• Add the meatballs and escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 10 minutes.

• In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cheese.

• Add the egg mixture to the soup slowly, stirring with a fork to form thin strands or egg, about 1 minute.

• Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

• Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

 

 

dragonfly begonias

November 7th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS - (0 Comments)

I just picked the last dragonfly begonias, they make a beautiful bouquet.  I love that these hearty plants lasted into November.

 

 

recipe: ice cream sandwiches

November 1st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This is such an easy dessert and always delicious.  I made chocolate and vanilla swirl cookies.  I purchased a vanilla bean and chocolate fudge swirl ice cream.  I also had mini chocolate chips and Heath bar chocolate chip brittles.  Leave your ice cream out to soften a bit.  Then spread the ice cream on one cookie top it with another cookie and then roll the edges in whatever toppings you choose.  Wrap and put in the fridge and you’ll have these on hand!  I usually hide them because in my house they will be eaten quickly!  You can use any type of cookie and you can vary the size.  I like a smaller cookie so it isn’t such a huge dessert.  Have fun!