12/03/2021

Turkey Barley Soup

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Now, what do you do with that super simple turkey stock? Make a super simple soup! If you love chicken noodle soup, then you are going to enjoy this. The turkey replaces the chicken and the barley stands in for the noodles. A simple mireprox of onions, celery and carrots boost the flavor of the soup base. To add a bit of body and brightness to the soup, I make a slurry of lemon juice and cornstarch.  It is comforting and delicious!

12/02/2021

SUPER Simple Turkey Stock

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I know. Turkey Day was a week ago, so why am I posting this now? Well... 1) I haven't done so in the past and 2) I guarantee you will want it for the next round of holiday eats this year and on down the culinary road.

There are more words in this recipe title than there are ingredients.  All you need is a leftover turkey carcass and water. That's it! No onions, carrots, celery, herbs, wine or spices. When you cooked that turkey initially, you added so many flavor components, so there is no need to add any more.  Trust me, you will be surprised how flavorful the stock will be. 

This base recipe calls for a carcass from a 12-14 pound turkey which should yield about 4-6 pounds of bones and bits.  If you have a larger turkey carcass, adjust the amount of water; about 1 1/2 cups per pound.

12/01/2021

Turkey and Cranberry Barbecue Pizza

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How many of you still have leftovers lurking in your refrigerator? Even after leftover plates, sandwiches (turkey, cranberry, and mayo with a pinch of salt on a homemade roll is my all time favorite!) and gumbo on Sunday, I still have just a wee-bit of turkey and cranberry sauce to put to good use.  

I found this recipe last year, but I didn't try it because I was, sadly, out of my barbecue sauce (how that is even possible, I don't know).  Thankfully, I booked marked it and the culinary stars were aligned this year.  If you follow me on FB, you'll know that I made a hickory smoked pulled pork poutine. With that said, I thankfully had some of my barbecue sauce on hand. 🤩 

I like to use my homemade pizza dough   my leftover whole berry cranberry sauce and my tomato-based barbecue sauce, but of course, you can use any good quality store bought ingredients.  Chihuahua cheese excellent for its flavor and melting properties, but Monterey Jack would be a nice substitute. I used only breast meat on my pie, but if you prefer the dark meat of the thigh, then go for it. Red onion and cilantro add a nice fresh flavor, but the real kick to this recipe is the thinly sliced jalapeño. If you are sensitive to anything on the Scoville scale, I would just omit it.  But, you might want to give it just a little taste test first.  Sometimes they can be as mild as a green bell pepper and others, well, they can be 🔥. If you can handle a little heat, but not too much, then I would removing the seeds and ribs of the pepper and chopping it into a fine dice. If you are on board with a little zap to the taste buds and maybe a little nose run, then go for the whole slices! 

I seems like it is an odd combination of flavors, but it gets an even two thumbs up 👍👍 in our house. 

11/28/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Muffuletta Dip




Every Sunday after Thanksgiving is Gumbo Day. It is a family tradition that I hold close to my belly heart and it is an oh so yummy way to use up that leftover turkey. The only thing that really changes on that menu is the appetizer and dessert.

I have already talked about the origin of Muffulettas in THIS post. What I didn't talk about was the spelling and pronunciation; Muff-UH-letta or Muff-AH-letta. It's kind of like Pimento/Pimiento; both are acceptable. This Muffuletta dip, to me, it's a "clean out your refrigerator" kind of recipe.  I mean, I literally had 6 out of 8 of the ingredients in my refrigerator that needed to be put to a tasty use. It comes together quickly, but the only thing to really point out is that it needs to be made several hours in advance, or preferably overnight, for the flavors to develop. I like to serve it with NOLA French Bread crostini or, in tonight's case, just some store-bought bagel chips.  Happy Sunday!

11/25/2021

Happy Thanksgiving

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~There is always something to be thankful for~

11/23/2021

Mini Mushroom, Cheddar and Herb Phyllo Tarts

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There's a lot of work and time that goes into developing most recipes.  I mean, I took me years and trials to perfect my barbecue saucesFortunately, for me (and for you), this one only took me one night.

How did this come to be, you ask? Well, I had an idea.  I wanted something relatively easy with mushrooms, herbs and cheese. The easy part came to me as I passed the up the stock of Athens Min-Phyllo Tarts in the freezer section. (Actually, they were above the frozen foods because they can be kept at room temperature, but freeze them if you won't be using them within a week. I have used them multiple times, like in THIS recipe. They are the perfect "already made for you" vessel to be filled with just about any savory or sweet concoction. And, they are pretty inexpensive. One (1.9-ounce) package is $3 or under. 

Now, let's talk about the mushroom component; easy and economical, as well. Buy the mushrooms already cleaned, stems trimmed or removed and sliced for this recipe. Because let's think about it...why would you pay the same price for 8-ounces of whole mushrooms if you're going to clean off the dirt and trim or remove the stems?  I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay for dirt and stems that I won't use. Just make sure that the sliced white button mushrooms are still white and firm and the sliced Shiitakes are in good shape.

On to the cheese and other ingredients. I originally wanted to use Gruyère, but I have a ton or aged white cheddar, so I went with that. Shallots, garlic, thyme and parsley are a natural combination with just about any savory mixture. I used butter and olive oil to sauté said ingredients because of both flavors and the oil keeps the butter from browning over a higher heat. 

After taste testing, there was still something missing. In comes the crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick and a couple tablespoons of crème fraîche to make it a little creamy with a hint of decadence.

Put it all together and it is a winning combo or flavors and textures! Add this to your appetizer list for upcoming holidays or any occasion.  Enjoy!

11/21/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Frites
Green Salad

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Sometimes people ask me how I am going to decide on what to have for dinner. Well, whether it's a weeknight dinner or a Sunday dinner, it usually depends on the season and the weather.  Sometimes, it's because I am in the mood, had a craving or I just feel like it. And then there are meals where the refrigerator or freezer decide for me, like tonight's menu.

I was actually in the mood for lasagna, but I needed to clear some space in the freezer before I make lasagna. (I make two batches; one to eat and one to freeze.) You'd think I would have enough freezer space since I have three freezers! Anyways, I decided to take out a beautiful beef tenderloin to free up some shelf space. As far as the deciding factor to the other components tonight, I just felt like it. And seeing how some of you might be looking for a last minute recipe for the turkey day dessert table, I thought I would share this recipe today. 



These aren't just good, they are super good! In fact, other than using extra large eggs instead of large eggs, I didn't change any ingredients or measurements. Buuuttt, I did change the technique. The original recipe suggested making the filling in a stand mixer, but I already had out my food processor to make the graham cracker crust. So, I just cleaned and dried the food processor while the crust was cooling. Less messy dishes make me a happy cooker and I think it'll make you happy too. 



*Wait a minute...Sometimes blogging is like going to the grocery store; I am always forgetting something!
Another thing I changed was the portion size.  The original said this made 24 bars and that would be the perfect size for a mini dessert buffet, but I like a more substantial bar, so I cut them into 12 squares; hence the 12-24 squares/bars. And lastly, since I serve them as a fork and plate dessert instead of a hand-held, I spoon a nice dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top. I find it necessary😋.  Happy Sunday!

11/18/2021

Skillet-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mustard and Brown Sugar

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Why do Brussels sprouts get such a bad rap? If you don't like cabbage to begin with, then I get it.  But if you like raw or cooked cabbage, then you really should be on the BS (that's Brussels sprouts) train.  Having said that, maybe you just haven't found the right recipe or cooking technique.  I love them shredded into thin slices and eaten raw in a salad or slaw like  Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw with Walnuts and Pecorino or cooked in Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots and Pancetta. I also like them sliced in half and braised in Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Herbs. What I don't like are sprouts that are over cooked, musky, and swamp green.  Very off-putting to serve at the table and the smell...I'll refer to the swamp description.  So those are three different recipes with three different cooking techniques.  Now it's time to introduce #4. 

Before we get to the recipe and technique, let's have a quick chat.  When buying these tiny cabbages for cooking, look for ones that have tight heads and are 1 1/2-1 inch in size (the one in the middle and far right). They tend to be more tender and sweeter than the big guy on the left.  Save him for shredding in a slaw or salad. Now...


If you are serving BS (😆) at the holiday table, I find this to be the perfect recipe.  No oven is required and you can make them not he stove-top at the last minute while main event and other sides are resting. 

The sprouts start in cold oil and then they are covered and cooked over a medium high heat for just 5 minutes. This creates steam (without any added liquid) and starts the browning process on the cut side. The cover comes off and then they are cooked for just 2-3 minutes more. They are delicious as is, but take it one step further by dressing them with a Dijon mustard-brown sugar-white vinegar mixture.  This recipe is a keeper!

*Quick Note*- Dijon mustards vary in taste. I use Maille mustard 100% of the time for my recipes.

11/14/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Shrimp Skagenröra

Homemade Lefse (Intstant Potato Version)

Chocolate Coconut Bites


This is standard Sunday dinner fare in our house when the temperatures are in the 30s° F with tiny little white things falling from the sky. 

There's not much to be said about this Norwegian flat bread because I I have already talked about lefse and shared the true homemade version. (You can read all about it HERE and see step-by-step photos that still apply to making the recipe below.)   This, however, is the easy and cheaters way to making lefse at home. My husbands ancestors might be rolling over in their grave, but I think they if they were able to taste it, they just might be won over.  Happy Sunday!

11/11/2021

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Snack Cake (Low-fat)

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*Two for one blog post special today! Why? Because you need to make these this weekend! Your family, friends and your taste buds will love you. Trust me.

Have you ever combined pumpkin and chocolate in a sweet baked good? Well, if you haven't, may I introduce to you this recipe. WARNING--it is sheer EVIL! I think they call it a "snack cake" as a form of mind control to keep you from eating the whole pan in one sitting! Yes, it is that good. I mean, like, super-duper yummy pumpkin-chocolate chippy awesomeness!! The best part about this recipe, other than being incredibly easy to whisk up, is that I made it low-fat! That actually might be a bad thing because you'll want to eat more than one "snack".  I subbed half of the original amount of oil with plain yogurt.  I recommend just plain (fat-free or low-fat) and not Greek yogurt.  But if you like a little extra tang, then go ahead and use Greek.

Most of you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen this time of year, but in case you don't, no worries.  You can make your own pumpkin pie spice and homemade pumpkin purée. And as for the mini chocolate chips...you can use standard size.  I might even finely chop up some white chocolate next time because I know from experience that that is a winning combo😋. (See Spiced Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats recipe.)

Back to the "snack" word.  Snack in the morning? Yes.  Snack in the afternoon? Absolutely! Snack after dinner with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt? You better believe it!! Happy Baking!

P.S. Need to serve a crowd some "snacks"? Just double the ingredients (use the whole (15-ounce) can of pumpkin purée if you use store bought) and bake in a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan.

Chopped Salad with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

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Looking for something light, but hearty for lunch or dinner?  How about something to serve your vegetarian guests during the holidays? This salad will be your answer.  It is showstopper in color, texture and, most importantly, flavor.

The star of this salad is the butternut squash.; roasted until tender and lightly caramelized.  This squash is high in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C.  And although is is heavy on the carb scale, it is low on the glycemic index,  making it an excellent addition to your daily nutrition.   It is also referred to as a vegan protein, but you would have to supplement with other lean proteins like...romaine!  Did you know that one head of romaine has 8 grams of protein and is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.  Yes,  even though it is not talked about much, romaine is considered a superfood.  The other supporting elements in this salad come from an apple (an apple a day...), goat cheese (I love a good cheese), and radicchio. 

Radicchio is kind of a hit or miss for some people because it does have a strong bitter taste.  However, you can weaken that taste in this salad by cutting it into smaller pieces and soaking it in water (you need to wash it anyways).  By cutting it into smaller pieces and soaking it, you create more surface area for the bitter taste to bleed out into the water. (You can also grill or roast radicchio to tame the bitterness, but I'll save that idea for another recipe post.)

Toss all of these lovely mind and body healthy ingredients together with a simple and scrumptious balsamic vinaigrette and you have...Wait, I almost forgot the HAZELNUTS!!  Ok, now you have a powerhouse of a salad!


Some of you might ask, "Can I substitute the goat cheese and hazelnuts with another cheese or nut?" I say, "Of course you can!" 

Here are some nut and cheese combinations that work for my taste buds-
Goat cheese w/ hazelnuts or pistachios
Blue cheese w/ pecans or walnuts
Feta cheese w/ almonds

As always- Make it for you, make it your own! Happy cooking!

11/10/2021

Kitchen Tip

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 How to Skin and Toast Hazelnuts the EASY way!


Have you ever noticed that in many recipes calling for  hazelnuts, a.k.a filberts, the instructions tell you to toast then skin the hazelnuts? Well that method requires you to rub the toasted skins off in a towel and let me tell you that is a pain in the rumpus because the skins are stubborn and don't come completely off. So, let me share with you another method which will leave you pondering- where has this been all of my culinary life?

All you need is boiling water, baking soda and raw hazelnuts. That's it! How is this possible you ask? Adding baking soda to the boiling water creates an alkaline environment that breaks down the pectin, which is acidic, in the skins.  

 1-2-3 
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat; set aside. Prepare an ice bath; set aside.

    Add the baking soda to the boiling water (the water will bubble and foam) then add the hazelnuts, stirring occasionally.

Boil the hazelnuts for 3-4 minutes.  The foam will turn reddish in color and the water will turn black-yuck!

Drain the hazelnuts in a colander and rinse well with fresh water. Immediately transfer them to a bowl filled with ice water.
Look at that water! I wonder if you could use it for an organic Easter egg dye??

And by the magic of science, the skins will slip right off! 

Transfer the skinned hazelnuts to a towel and blot to remove excess moisture.  
Don't they look like garbanzo beans?

Transfer the dried hazelnuts to the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and toasted, about 15-20 minutes.  Once they are completely cool, they should be nice and crunchy and ready for snacking or a sweet and savory recipe.

Now, how EASY was that?

11/09/2021

A Brief Interruption in Food: A Good-bye and Hello

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If you are a long time reader, you know that I love my black labradors.  I have been loving them in my life for the last 23 1/2 years and counting. My children do not know life without them. They are truly the best companions and loyal taste testers.  Life just wouldn't be the same without a lab lurking around.  Unfortunately, there comes a point where it is time for them to leave our side. 

51 weeks ago today, my Niecey passed away peacefully at home.  She was 13 years old. I could go on and tell you what a wonderful dog, friend and family member she was, but I think that is a given. 

Niecey Patricia Kosowski 7/8/07-11/17/20 
(I love and miss her old dog face.)

As you can imagine, all of our hearts were broken, including my other lab, Ruby (you can see her introduction HERE). Everything was different and there was this huge void, especially on the kitchen floor.  So I reached out to our breeder to put my name on the list for the next black lab litter.  On March 27,  2021, the newest and fifth in line of Kosowski black labs came in to this world.  I went to visit the litter as often as I could until I was finally able to bring her home on May 22! 

As you have read in some of my recent posts, I have been a little busy with this little stinker! She is cute as a button, smart as a whip, and naughty like you would not believe (if you have a lab you probably would believe). She loves the outdoors (especially when she can "landscape" the back yard🙄), she loves to swim (she already conquered Lake Michigan waves), she loves to go berserk anywhere and everywhere, she loves squirrels, she loves people (especially when they are across the street while we are walking) she loves to ride in my truck and of course, she loves food.  Needless to say, she is awesome and my kitchen galley is full again! 

So, without further ado, I introduce to you Miss Hazel! Still working on the middle name, but right now it is Nutball! Hazel Nut... That just might be a good segue into my next post🤔.


11/07/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Caramelized Onion and Bacon Puff Pastry Bites

Roast Chicken and Red Potatoes
Chopped Salad with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts



Ok, this is the third recipe in a row that contains bacon. So, you might start wondering if I have a separate refrigerator just for bacon.  That's not a bad idea!  

I have made this appetizer in various different ways over the years, but this version is the one I always lean back on.  Bacon, onions and cheese all nestled in a bite-sized puff pastry vessel. ? Yes, please!  They are flaky from the puff pastry, creamy from the onions and a tad crunchy from the smoky bacon.  While they are still warm, I sprinkle each bite with some good Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese and some chopped fresh thyme.  Needless to say, these are blissful bites of heaven! 

This recipe is a welcome appetizer or passable hors d'oeuvre anytime of year, but I think they are perfect to put on your upcoming holiday entertaining radar! Happy Sunday!

I keep forgetting to link my Sunday dinner menus from years past. Here you go...
Sunday Dinner eight years ago

11/04/2021

Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chives

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Who is ready for a SOUPER easy, nutritious and delicious recipe to statisfy the soul on a chilly day? Well, this recipe certainly hits all points. 

Sweet Potatoes are a low-glycemic carbohydrate that are high in vitamins and minerals, low in fat and rich in antioxidants.  Their sweet and savory taste are balanced in this recipe when cooked with onions, garlic and just a touch of brown sugar. And yes, there is bacon and it lends a nice smoky taste, but you can omit it if you must.  If you still want that smoky flavor without the bacon, you might want to try adding a touch of smoked paprika. That might be an excellent combo. I finish the soup with the reserved bacon and a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives.  To gild the lily a bit more, I add a dollop of crème fraïche.  And that's it. Ok, maybe a few crackers on the side.  Happy cooking! 😋🥣🍠

P.S. Don't forget to check out my RECIPE page for some more soups that are perfect for a warm bowl of goodness, like Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup and Apple Carrot Soup.

11/02/2021

Choucroute Garnie

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Choucroute Garnie is an Alsatian dish that literally means dressed or garnished sauerkraut in French.  You might be thinking, But isn't sauerkraut German? You are correct, but when the region of Alsace became part of French in the 1600s (I will spare you the detailed history lesson), the dish became adopted by many of French chefs. Notice that I refer to this as a dish and not a recipe?  Well, that is because there is not just ONE recipe. So, this might be the ultimate "Make it for you, make it your own" Galley Gourmet recipe.  

Basically, Choucroute Garnie is a dish made of cooked sauerkraut and a variety of cooked meats; mostly pork and/or beef meats like, sausages, pork belly, bacon, pork ribs and sometimes even ham.  As you can see, this is a very pork-centric dish, but you can choose a mixture of whatever meats your tastebuds and little arteries desire.  

For my Choucroute Garnie, I use my Braised Sauerkraut as the base (there is already bacon in that recipe). It also has carrots in it which is not a typical ingredient in Choucroute Garnie, but this is the way I like it. The carrots add a little sweetness and color to a rather neutral hued meal. As for the "garnish" of meats, I generally use a mix of knockwurst, cooked bratwurst, and beef frankfurters. I tend to stay away from uncooked meats because, to me, they often leave the dish too greasy. 

Another ingredient that many "recipes" add is potatoes. Since the dish is in the oven for several hours, that gives me time to make some Parslied Potatoes as a side (the parsley adds more color to the table), but if I am in a time crunch, I sometimes peel and par-boil about a pound or so of Yukon gold potatoes and then add them to the sauerkraut and sausages at the end to warm through. I also like to serve a good crusty Rye Bread  in the bread basket, but I think the absolute must for this dish is a variety of mustards, like a grainy Dijon, a hot/forte Dijon, or even a quality beer mustard to drag your fork of sliced sausages through.

So as you can see, this is not a recipe. It is an any-way-you-like-it dish.  Bon Appetit!

P.S. I have also been known to use duck fat in lieu of the butter in the sauerkraut. Ok, I'll stop with the almost endless possibilities of adaptions!

10/31/2021

Sunday Dinner

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served with radishes, gherkins, and rye toasts


Milky Way Tart


What better way to spend a cloudy, chilly October 31st? With the doorbell ringing in just a few hours, I am not sure we will get the main event (that's ok, we had it last night for dinner). We will, however, be able to grab bites of the Obatzda (I included the link so that you can read all about it) during the neighborhood candy spree.  And when the doorbell stops ringing, we will turn off the lights, turn off the pumpkin candle, close the door behind us and run inside for a slice of my idea of a gourmet candy treat.

There are three wonderful layers of sweetness in this tart; a chocolate pastry crust, a gooey caramel layer and a chocolate-malted chocolate whipped cream.  All three make for an undeniably rich tart. 

I was inspired by an old Bon Appetit magazine recipe, but of course, I have my adaptations.  I used my own chocolate pastry dough and to really make this like a Milky Way, I added a secret ingredient; chocolate-malt milk powder.  I used Ovaltine brand which has plenty of vitamins, so it's good for you right??  The addition of this secret ingredient really gives it that malt chocolate nougat taste.  Finish off the tart with a drizzle of melted chocolate or you can just dust the top with a little cocoa powder. Whichever way will be good.


It's perfect for Halloween, but let's be honest.  Chocolate and Caramel are well received anytime of year!
Have a safe and happy Sunday!

10/28/2021

Apricot-Curry Chicken Quinoa Salad

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Are you familiar with quinoa? I was introduced to it over 20 years ago and have loved it ever since. It is a staple on our dinner table and enjoyed when packed for lunches. 

It is referred to as "the mother of all grains", but it is not a grain.  It is actually a seed from the amaranth family.  It is packed with protein, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. It is cooked similarly to rice and has a wonderful nutty taste.

In this recipe, I add lemon juice, red onion and parsley to round out the flavors for a bowl of goodness and nutrition.

I think it is the perfect recipe to share before a weekend of Halloween sweets!

10/21/2021

Apple Butter Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

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OMG! Why did it take me six years to make this?!? This is one unbelievable cake!! It tastes like Fall in sugar form! There really aren't enough words to tell you how good this cake is! (I have writer's block trying to think about how to describe how incredible it tastes, so let me just write about the recipe because you will need to make this cake ASAP.)


This is a cold-oven pound cake. And by that, I mean you turn the oven on AFTER you put the pan in the oven.  It is an old technique that produces a tall cake with a nice crisp crust. I love the crispy bits, don't you? The one thing that I want to point out is the bake time; it will vary depending on how quickly your oven heats up. The pilot light in my gas oven is a little slow to start (because I use it so much), therefore it took my cake a bit longer than 80 minutes to bake. To keep the top from browning too much, I lightly covered it with a sheet of aluminum foil towards the end of the bake time. 

As far as the recipe, I really didn't change much to the cake, but I did to the glaze/frosting.  The original recipe called it a glaze, but I knew by looking at the magazine photo that it was more of a pourable frosting than a glaze.  So to achieve that, I made sure that the base of the frosting was completely cooled before I beat in the confectioners' sugar.  And let me tell you that I am super glad that I went for the pourable frosting.  Holy yum and cue the sugar rush! 

The cake and frosting is all you need, but if you feel like getting fancy, dress the top of the cake with some dried apple chips like I did. Just make sure you wait to garnish until you are going to serve the cake, otherwise the apple chips will soften and loose their crunch.

Now, please don't do what I did and wait six years to make this cake!  It is sooooo good!!

10/19/2021

Goat Cheese and Gouda Pimento/Pimiento Cheese

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Pimiento or Pimento? They are both equally accepted.  The former is the original Spanish term for mild cherry peppers.  The latter is just how the term evolved.  Is the latter a Southern term?  I don't know.  I do know that when I say it, it sounds like PUH-MEN-UH and I do spell it as pimento . However you spell it or say it, it is a delicious little pepper that adds flavor and color to a dish or a stuffed Manzanilla olive.  Speaking of stuffed olives...

Quick story... Someone close to me (I will not name the person) with a very high IQ once asked, "So do they just take the pimentos out of the olives and put them in jars?" OMG you should have seen the expression on my face!! I just about died from laughter and disbelief. It was truly a "you've got to be kidding me" moment!!!😂

Ok, back to the cheese.  How many variations of the classic pimento cheese are there? I have no clue, but I bet one could write a book just about pimento cheese (Wait, I just looked. There is one!).  Some refer to it as the peanut butter of the South, but I like to think of it as the flavored butter of the South.  You can do almost anything to or with a basic recipe.  Add jalapeños, bacon, horseradish, buffalo sauce, onion, olive spread, chipotle sauce, etc...and/or change up the cheeses, like in this recipe.  Once again, the possibilities are endless!  Having said that, there is one thing that must remain in any recipe, a good amount of quality  Cheddar cheese and mayonnaise (NOT the salad dressing stuff).  The other thing that is an absolute must is the technique.  What ever cheese you are using, grate or crumble it yourself.  Step away from the bags of the pre-shredded stuff.  There are stabilizers in there and they lend an off-putting taste to the end result.  Another important tip is to let the cheese mixture set-up in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, especially if you are using add-ins or using different cheeses.  This allows the flavors to develop.

In this particular recipe, the original called for adding pecans to the mixture, but I really like the side addition/option of the candied pecans.   If you choose to "go-nuts", you get that whole sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy thing all-in-one bite.  If you choose to stay in the nut-free zone, you still get a delicious mouthful of flavor.  Along with the pecans,  I like to serve this pimento cheese recipe with Blue Diamond Artisan Crackers; either flax seed or multi-seed.

10/17/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Goat Cheese and Gouda Pimento Cheese
Candied Pecans

North Carolina Vinegar Sauce
Apple-Cabbage Slaw
Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Apple Butter Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting



What's with the Southern themed Sunday dinner menu this week, you might ask?? Well, other than it being an absolutely gorgeous Fall weekend that made it perfect for smoking 9 1/2 lbs of pork shoulder and 7 1/2 pounds of a whole turkey breast yesterday,  I was born in Goldsboro, NC some 40ish years ago today.  So, this is my menu with a blessing to my roots (and my parents, of course).  And yes, I am taking pictures, editing, writing and blogging on my birthday, because I love my little space here😊.

Pecans... Do you say PEE-CANS or PUH-KAHNS?🤔 I know, terribly exciting recipe to share, but the are really an important element to my recipe caché.  They are delicious on their own as an addictive snack or well received when given as a gift for the holidays.  But I also use them in sweet and savory dishes, like ice cream, salads or as a garnish to just about anything.  The real beauty of these pecans is they can be customized to your taste buds or to whatever you are serving them with.  Instead of cinnamon, how about cumin or a chipotle pepper spice blend?  What about pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice?  The possibilities are endless! As I say-Make it for you, make it your own! Happy Sunday!

*Note-I do prefer the silicone mat when baking the pecans because the stickiness of the mat the baking sheet makes it easier to stir the pecans.

10/14/2021

Jalapeño-Peach Poppers

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Sorry for the brief absence. I have been busy with a few house chores and tending to our new family member (I still need to tell you about her. Hint-she's small, black and furry).  

So, let's see...where did I leave you drooling? Ah yes, it was THIS Sunday Dinner.  Before I get to some weeknight dinners (I have quite a few in the queue) and Fall recipes, I need to back track and share this absolutely delicious appetizer.  

You may be familiar with that classic appetizer or dip, Jalapeño Poppers, and this my dear readers is a kicked up version of that-cream cheese with lots of sweet and savory flavors.  Speaking of sweet, peaches may scream summer to you, but let me point out that you can use frozen peaches, so this canapé can be enjoyed all year long. The original recipe called for baking the filled wontons, but c'mon. Let's face it, they are better fried.  Trust me, I tried it both ways and the fried version won hands down!  The recipe can easily be halved or doubled, so it is perfect for a small gathering or a crowd.  

*Note- How many recipes do you have that actually use all of the wonton wrappers in the package? I have zero unless I quadruple a recipe. So, what can you do with those leftover wonton wrappers? Make these Shrimp and Ginger Dumplings.

9/21/2021

Tomatillo Salad

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Since this past Saturday, I have used tomatillos in three different recipes. If you follow me on FB, you'll know that we enjoyed Ceviche Verde for a light dinner on a beautiful summer evening.  On Sunday, I used them in theTomatillo and Guallio Salsa and in this lovely and easy salad. So, let's briefly talk about tomatillos.  

They are a type of tomato, right? Wrong. Even though they are referred to as the Mexican husk tomato, they are actually a close relative to a gooseberry. They are high in pectin and perfect for making jams and salsas. They can be used in recipes roasted or fresh. The only hard part is peeling off their husk and giving them a good rinse because their skins are rather sticky.  Sometimes you get lucky and the husk is bigger than the fruit and comes of easily, but other times it's like trying to remove wall paper. 

This simple raw salad and adds such a nice tart, lemony, almost green apple like flavor to balance out a rich Mexican-inspired meal. 

My other recipes using tomatillos-

9/19/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Jalapeño-Peach Poppers

Grilled Flank Steak 
Tomatillo and Guajillo Salsa
Brown Rice

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Bars


When you have tomatillos, jalapeños, and peaches (did you see my FB post?) in your garden, this is what your Sunday dinner menu might look like.  My inspiration for this menu comes from an old Gourmet special edition magazine.  It featured the meat, salsa, and salad all together on one page, but seeing how this is my little space in the world, I wanted to feature each component on it's own.

I call this salsa, but it is easily used as a dip or sauce for pretty much any meat, veggie and/or carbohydrate.  Again, love those multi-purpose recipes!  The guajillos add a nice smokiness and the tomatillos add a fresh and zesty lemon essence. The recipe calls for dried guajillo chiles, but pasilla chiles can be substituted.

One can never have too many salsa recipes.  Happy Sunday!

9/16/2021

Turkey and Black Bean Taco Salad

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Who grew up with taco salad consisting of ground beef, a taco seasoning packet, lettuce, cheese, Doritos and a dressing made with mayonnaise and ketchup? It pains me to admit how much I enjoyed that taco salad. Thankfully, my taste buds have matured and moved on.

I call this Turkey and Black Bean Taco Salad because I do have other taco salad variations depending on the protein used.  Having said that, feel free to use what ever ground meat you prefer in this recipe.  And speaking of preference, add or omit any veggies of your choosing.  This is a great salad to serve with the components set out separately so everyone can construct their own.  Any way you make it or serve it, your family or guests will be love it!  Taco-bout delicious🌮🥗!! Ok, I had to write that in😉.

9/14/2021

Creamy Chipotle-Lime Dressing (or Dip)

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Dressing or dip? I love it when recipes can be multi-purposed. I use this creamy dressing more for salads, but it quite tasty as a dip when served along side a veggie platter or with poached shrimp.

Making dressings in a blender is certainly quick and easy, but I just want to give you a couple general tips.  

1. Anything that needs to be finely minced (garlic, shallot, chipotle, etc...), add it to the blender with the creamy ingredients (mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, etc...).

2. Once the dressing is completely blended, add the herbs and blend with a few short pulses. (If you add the herbs in the beginning, your dressing will turn out green.)

3. If the dressing recipe calls for grated or crumbled cheese, add that to the blender last and give it another blend with a few short pulses. (if you add the cheese in beginning, your dressing will turn out muddled or grainy.)

4. Creamy dressings can be made and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Otherwise they can get a little funky smelling and tasting.)

Looking for a salad to enjoy this with this dressing?  Stay tuned...

9/12/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Grilled Cowboy Cut Ribeye
(I am using THIS method.  It'll just take longer in the oven.)
Rosemary Frites
Green Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
(vinaigrette can be found HERE)

French Silk Chocolate Tart


There is no rhyme or reason to this Sunday's dinner other than-I just felt like it. With onions, bacon and a 3.82 pound cut of beef on the menu, my husband is certainly not complaining.  I can't think of a better way to end a classic steakhouse dinner other than with a classic American dessert. One cannot go wrong with a pastry shell filled with a creamy, chocolate, mousse-like filling and topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream.  

If you know me, you know that I LOVE tarts.  Pies are good, but I just feel that with some recipes, the crust to filling ratio is better in tart form and this is certainly the case with this dessert. A little bit of crust, a little bit of chocolate, and a little bit of cream sits just right on the taste buds. The only other change I made is to swap out the bittersweet chocolate for semi-sweet chocolate because I just like it that way.  I have even used half milk chocolate and half semi-sweet chocolate.  It is good anyway you make it.  Happy Sunday!

*Note-I included a link to my sweet tart dough in the recipe below*

9/10/2021

Fruit Coffee Cake (Raspberry Version)

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The weekend is upon us and for me, that means brunch is on the brain.  And when there is brunch in my house, there is usually coffee cake.  

I made this coffee cake few weeks ago for the first time and it is definitely a keeper!  The beauty of this recipe  is that you can use almost any fruit (hence the name fruit coffee cake), but I chose to go with one of my favorites; raspberries. (Other fruit fillings will follow in the future😉.)

It is a pretty straight forward recipe with two options for preparation. What in the world do you mean, Nicole? You see, the original recipe called for "cutting" the butter into the dry ingredients, but I wanted to speed up the process first thing in the am, so I pulled out both my mini and my large food processor.  The only down side to my method is the number of dishes that I had to clean, but I am no stranger to that in my kitchen.  So please, use whichever method works best for you.

You can serve this cake warm or at room temperature, but I found that it is best if devoured within the day so that the bottom layer doesn't get too soggy from the filling. And my dear readers, that is what makes coffee cakes so wonderful. It is acceptable to eat them any time of day! Enjoy!

9/08/2021

Lemon-Herb Goat Cheese Ball

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Remember that cheeseball from Sunday? Well, here it is in all of its cheesy-herby (that's not a word) glory.  

If you are not a big fan of goat cheese like my husband, please give this recipe a go. The addition of cream cheese to the goat cheese really helps dial back that tangy flavor and sometimes chalky texture. 

The original recipe suggested processing the cheese mixture in a food processor, but that would make the mixture to loose and difficult to shape. I've made my fair share of cheese balls, so I just break out my hand mixer or even the back of a spoon and mix away. The original recipe also called for crumbled goat cheese, but I use goat cheese in log form for a smooth texture. (I use a Montrechat style goat cheese.) Last change...the original recipe only used chives to coat the ball, but since this is an "herb" cheese ball, I added some finely chopped parsley and that added additional freshness and helped fully coat the ball with herbs. Phew.

Serve this with crackers, crostini or crudité (like Green Zebra Tomatoes😋) and you will certainly have a crowd pleaser to add to your appetizer caché.

9/05/2021

Sunday Dinner

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with Green Zebra Tomatoes

Simple Green Salad

Lemonade Pound Cake


Summer is quickly coming to an end and I want to "squeeze" (pun intended for this post) in as many seasonal good eats as possible.  

If you follow me on FB, you'll know that I have Green Zebra Tomatoes growing in my garden and they pair so well with the goat cheese appetizer we are having tonight.  It's ittle hard to post that appetizer recipe right now because I am sure many of you do not have that variety growing, but maybe I'll just share the goat cheese ball soon. I have previously shared the recipes for the main course and side; Grilled Butterflied Brown Sugar Chicken and the Creamy Corn Pudding, so I have linked those recipes above. What I am going to share today is the cake!  

I have already told you about my Great Aunt Margaret's Southern Pound Cake and that is "kinda" like a lemon pound cake, but this here cake...is a Lemonade🍋 Pound Cake. It is sweet and just a bit tangy like a tall glass of lemonade.  

Now, you might be wondering how the "lemonade" flavor is achieved.  Wait for it...good ole fashion lemonade concentrate.  Yep, the work is already done for you. Well except for the part of making the cake😉.  

The other ingredient that makes this a wonderful cake is the addition of sour cream.  Having said that, you can also use plain yogurt (not the Greek stuff).  They both have equally good results and make for a tender and moist end product.  The last thing to finish off this cake is the glaze.  Mmm...glaze. The original recipe called for drizzling the glaze over the still warm cake, but I like to see my glaze, so I let the cake cool a bit longer before pouring on the glaze
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So, pucker-up, run to the store and get that can of lemonade concentrate! Happy Sunday! 

8/22/2021

Sunday Dinner

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Basil Pistou and Garden Fresh Sun Gold Tomatoes on Crostini

Baked Chicken Meatballs 
Pepperonata and Arugula  Salad

 

This is a variation of the flavor packed accompaniament that traces its roots to the south of France. You will notice the absence of nuts in the recipe. I actually prefer it this way. When the garden is over flowing with the bounty of a full summer, this pistou will bring the flavor of the season to your table. Use it as an accompaniment to anything. Tonight, we are having it on crostinis with garden fresh Sun Gold tomatoes.

8/19/2021

Rustic Peach Cake

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Let me start by saying that there is only one thing "rustic" about this cake and that is its appearance. I mean, shouldn't a rustic dessert be super easy?? Don't let me scare you from making this because it is incredibly delicious! For this post, I am going to use bullet points to explain part of the process. 

Here we go...

1.The original recipe calls for a 9-inch spring-form pan. Why? Go ahead an use an 8-inch cake pan.

2.The original recipe calls for two medium firm peaches. I used one large (about 8-ounces), but not overly ripe peach. And yes, I sliced my peach into 9 wedges; eight for the edges and one for the middle.

3.The peaches are macerated in a divided sugar and cinnamon mixture, but DO NOT use the juices when adding the peaches to the cake.

4.The original recipe calls for dried peaches or apricots (they are both similar in taste when dried and amplify the flavor). DO NOT use freeze dried fruit. 

5. Dried fruit is sticky to chop, so spray your knife with cooking spray and finely (and I mean finely) chop the dried fruit.  

6. I could tell you to pulse the dried fruit with the dry cake ingredients in a food processor (because it works), but also requires more dishes to clean.

7. Are you still with me?

So, how is this a "rustic" peach cake? I HAVE NO CLUE! I need to rename this recipe Very Good Peach Cake😋🍑.

If I just put peach on your brain, here are some links to some of my other peachy perfect recipes...






8/17/2021

Sunday Dinner 8/15/2021

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Hatch Chile Cheese Spread

Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs
Illinois Sweet Corn

with Whipped Cream




Where do I start?  Well, I  can use five words...spinning-beach- ball-of-death!  And it was not just one annoying ball, there was also a black-grey ball of death when I tried uploading my images.  I'll leave the 404 Error out of this post because I've kind of had it at wits end with technology!!

On to the good stuff...August is Hatch Chile season and I wanted to share a spin on my Pimento Cheese.

When the chiles are available, I buy them in bulk.  Once I broil and skin them, I place them on a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze and store for when needed. 

This spread is so good on the cornbread crostini that I served on this past Sunday, but is equally as good, on crackers, tortilla chips or as a spread on a sandwich or burger. I have even used it as a filling for quesadillas and empanadas. Let's just say that the possibilities are almost endless. Happy Sunday-err Tuesday!

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