Peppermint Cookie Candies

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When the flavors of chocolate and peppermint combine on the palate, you could have your eyes closed in June and think that it was Christmas time.  I suppose if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, that is what Christmas is like every year.  Whoa.  But I digress.  These little two-toned candies are easy to make and great for the sweets table or wrapped up as a sweet holiday gift.  Let the kids help crush the candy canes, then watch them smile as they enjoy their handiwork.


Goat Cheese Toasts with Garlic and Herbes de Provence

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You say you want a neat little crunchy, creamy, multi-faceted appetizer that goes well with just about any white wine?  The triangular treats pictured above make for a great lead-in to your main meal.  I use my tried and true white bread recipe brushed with olive oil for the toast.  If you do not have time for that, I recommend a good bakery style buttercrust bread to lend that essential base to the flavor profile.  Combine that with creamy goat cheese, garlic, and the aromatic wonder of Herbes de Provence for an appetizer that is sure to be toasted!


Sunday Dinner

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Green Salad with Bacon and Croutons

Malted Milk Shortbread Cookies

I apologize for the posts being a bit scarce this past week, but life has thrown me a few curve balls.  Sports, cupcake orders, and my daughter getting the stomach flu have really eaten up the time.  As a matter of fact, I have another cupcake order that I am working on today, which doesn't leave me room for Sunday dinner baking for my family.  Fortunately, I have a half batch of this cookie dough in the freezer from earlier this week to bake up for dessert tonight.

These malted milk shortbread cookies provide a nice little twist on the classic rolled out dough holiday cookie.  You might have inferred from previous a recipe post that I am a Whopper fan.  These crunchy little circles of yum deliver a malted milk/shortbread taste with a satisfying texture sure to delight any cookie lover.   


Beef Bourguignon

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What could be better on a cold winter day than a bowl of this?  Beef Bourguignon, a standout of the stew family has all you could want in a dish.  Savory beef and vegetables tackle hunger in any size while providing the comfort of familiar flavors.  Being that this is not your average stew, it is a bit time intensive, but the results are well worth it.  Much of the preparation can be done in advance.  And while it is being done, the house will smell like heaven.  Serve it with a thick slice of  country bread for a hearty meal that you and whoever else is lucky enough to eat it will savor.


Sunday Dinner

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Miniature Camembert, Walnut and Cranberry Pastries

Simple Salad

Caramel Sauce Cockaigne
Lightly Sweetened Whipped Crème Fraîche

When I pop one of these little beauties and begin to process the levels of texture and flavor, I get holiday food brain.  There are certain smells and tastes that just evoke the holiday season.  The combination of Camembert cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, and a touch of fresh rosemary nestled between layers of flaky, buttery pastry certainly does some serious evoking.

One might think that these are time consuming and tedious to prepare, but they really aren't.  The pastry can be made and baked up to a day in advance and the rounds can be filled and kept at room temperature up to an hour before baking.  Warm them in the oven just as your guests arrive and serve them immediately with a sparkling beverage or even a hard cider for a nice pairing.

Sunday Dinner one year ago
Sunday Dinner two years ago


Rustic Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart

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Due to the technical difficulties, I was unable to share a recipe to this past Sunday dinner.  But I was still thinking about my little space in the internet world and managed to capture a picture of the sweet ending to our meal.  If you are a reader, you know that I love my tarts. This one would certainly qualify as a new love.  In fact, I have made it twice in the last couple of weeks.

Normally most of my tarts are baked in a tart pan, but this one is rolled out into an odd oval shape, giving it more of a rustic look (hence the name).  The filling is made with beaten egg whites into which melted chocolate has been folded.  This technique lends a slightly fudgy, almost meringue-like texture.  The original recipe called for walnuts or pecans (and those would be good options), but I adore the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, so I use chopped hazelnuts and a little bit of Frangelico.  A dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a garnish of chocolate covered hazelnuts provides the finishing touch.


Salami and Arugula Pizza

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Now that you have my go-to recipes for homemade pizza dough and sauce, it's time to share with you my favorite pizza (or least one of them).  Meaty salami, fresh mozzarella, herbal basil and peppery arugula all come together for a remarkable flavor combination.  The salami is cut into matchsticks rather than circles for a better bite.  They are also quickly pan fried to remove some of the excess fat and to provide a slight crisp.  Fresh mozzarella is used instead of the standard processed version for a light and creamy texture.  Once baked to perfection, it is topped with a sprinkle of chopped basil and some baby arugula.

Speaking of baking a pizza-- this is a controversial issue.  And what I mean by that is-- What oven rack position to you place your baking stone on?  The answer-- It depends on your oven.  With my previous oven I had success with the upper middle position, but with my current oven I achieve the best results with the middle position. The bottom and outer edge of the crust should be nicely browned with a few charred spots.  If the top of the pizza bakes faster than the bottom, lower the baking rack before continuing with the second pizza.  It may take a couple of tries before you find what works best for you.  Bon Appétit magazine even came out with this method using the broiler element.


Homemade Pizza Sauce

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Continuing with the components for a great homemade pizza after a brief absence due to technical difficulty...

To achieve that pizza parlor taste (and smell), it is important to have a sauce that really delivers the flavor.  The keys to this homemade sauce are in the fresh garlic and the red wine vinegar.  The garlic delivers that parlor punch while the vinegar brightens up the somewhat flat and dull taste that can be found in canned tomatoes.  And speaking of canned tomatoes-- they all have different levels of saltiness, so adjust the flavor according to your own taste.  This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for up to one week and it can be frozen for several months.  Plan ahead and stock your freezer with some homemade dough and sauce for a great tasting, crowd pleasing meal perfect for a busy weeknight.

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