Friday, December 31, 2010


Happy New Year to ALL!!!
I have to be quick..on my way downtown for New Year's Eve and I will be having one of these...okay maybe more than one....

1 oz chilled orange liqueur like Cointreau
1/2 oz Cognac
4 oz chilled Brut champagne
lemon for garnish

Combine the Cointreau and Cognac in a champagne flute or martini glass. Top with champagne and squeeze a little lemon juice in and use for garnish!

Happy New Year!
Great things for all in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


And now for dessert!!!!! Yet another quick dish that can be made several hours ahead. Just reheat at about 400 degrees for a few minutes to freshen it up before serving.
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature
1/3 cup honey
2 tbl sugar
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 large egg
1 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of salt
1 sheet puff pastry thawed
Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine butter, honey, cinnamon, sugar, ginger and salt until smooth. Add the egg and pulse until combined. Add the nuts and pulse until walnuts are chopped. Don't over blend so the mixture becomes a paste - you want a crunch.
Cut the pastry sheet to make two strips about 9 x 4 inches. Roll one strip to 15 x 6 inches. With a fork make some holes in the entire surface and place on baking sheet. Spread half the nut mixture in the center and push out to within 1/2 inch on the long edges of the sheet and all the way to the end of the short sides. Fold the bare 1/2 inch over the mixture and press firmly to stick. Crimp a border with the edge of a knife. Repeat with second sheet.
Bake until the filling looks slightly dry on top and the pastry is golden brown - about 20 minutes. Slide the tarts on a rack to cool. Cut into strips and serve slightly warm.
Great with nice glass of Port!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yet another great appetizer for your New Year's party. Great dish for one hand while the other holds the main event - cocktail! Trim and marinade the chicken pieces a day ahead and quickly cook before guests arrive.


1 lb boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbl soy sauce
2 tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tbl canola oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp curry
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne
About 30 bamboo skewers soaked in water for about 20 minute

Cut the chicken into about 24-30 pieces of the same size. In a bowl, combine 1 tbl soy sauce, and 1 tbl lemon juice with oil, garlic, curry, 1/2 tsp salt and a few twists of your pepper grinder. Add chicken and toss well to coat. Let marinade overnight.

In a sauce pan, combine remaining tbl soy sauce, and lemon juice with the peanut butter, coconut milk, brown sugar, cayenne and 1/4 tsp salt.

Place oven rack as close to the broiler as safely possible and heat on high. Thread one piece of chicken on the end of each skewer. Broil in a single layer turning the skewers once. Cooking time should be about 6-8 minutes. While the chicken cooks, warm the sauce. If it seems to thick add a tbl of water.

Let chicken cool slightly and serve with peanut sauce. Really easy and not too time consuming.

Ring it in!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Really good Smoked Salmon can actually be found in parts off the country's coast...really. So ask your fish monger, but I have found some good ones in yes...Chicago.....yes!!!! Oh and if you are allergic to dill like I am...substitute flat leaf parsley..!!!
Only make these appetizer sandwiches when you are ready to serve.
1/2 cup creme fraiche
3 tbl chopped dill
1/2 english cucumber (seedless)
8 slices of Pumpernickel bread into four 2 inch triangles
1/4 lb thinly sliced GOOD smoked salmon cut into 16 pieces
In a bowl mix creme fraiche with dill and season with salt and pepper. Peel the cucumber and then shave 16 slices of wide long strips and add to a another bowl and season with 1/4 tsp salt and let set for about 10 minutes until softened. Pat dry with paper towels.
Spread the creme fraiche generously on one one side of the pumpernickel triangle then top with a cucumber strip (folded) and curl of salmon and a twist of pepper. Add a piece of bread on top.
Scrumptious with a great New Year's Eve Cocktail!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Party Time Again!!!!!!
This is a luscious dip that just says party and elegance. You can make it a couple hours ahead and just keep it covered until you are ready to serve.

New Year's Eve is all about easy dishes that bring your menu up a notch and leaves plenty of time for you to visit with guests...get your resolutions in order and count down to next year!


1-1/2 lb small eggplant and cut in half lengthwise
1 cup canned cannellini beans drained and rinsed
5 tbs olive oil and a bit more for the pan
2 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
3 tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tbl fresh mint chopped and a few sprigs for garnish
2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
2 tbl toasted pine nuts
toasted pita or tortilla chips

Preheat oven to broil and place rack about 4 inches from element

Foil a baking sheet and lightly grease with olive oil. Rub the eggplant with 2 tbl olive oil and dust skin side with salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet flesh side down. Broil until skin is charred and flesh is tender about 20-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

On a cutting board, mash anchovies and chopped garlic into a paste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add this to a food processor with the beans, 2 tbl olive oil and 1 tbl water. Puree until smooth.

Scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin and add the flesh, fresh lemon juice, mint and oregano to the food processor and pulse briefly until chunky and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Serve with toasted pine nuts and mint sprigs for garnish and pita/tortilla chips.


Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hope you all had a fantastic day yesterday with family and friends! I am super tired and my lil babies are winging their way back home so I am sad....

See you all tomorrow for a new week of great dishes!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Merry Christmas Eve!!!!. Oh and Yes, these are for me only...make your own.
1-1/4 oz light rum
1-1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine
cranberry or cran-apple juice
lemon and cherry garnish
In a tall glass add rum, lemon juice and grenadine. Add ice and fill to the top with juice. Garnish with lemon slice and cherry!
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Well you don't just have to dream about this one!!!!!!

1 oz Amaretto
1 oz heavy cream
1 oz good vodka

Mix all in a shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Chicago Baby!!!!! It's all about Chicago!!!! Who made this famous I don't know...but a facebook friend shot this to me and while I am not sure about how the ingredients work's worth a try...thanks Steve!!!!


1 oz light or dark rum
1 oz ruby port
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/3 cup egg nog
dash of nutmeg for garnish
club soda

Mix all in a shaker with ice except nutmeg and club soda...pour into a tall glass fill with soda and garnish with nutmeg!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Back to my Schnapps can use any fruit flavored schnapps...and there are a million it seems. I like pear flavored schnapps because it is a little less sweet.
2 oz pear schnapps
1 oz heavy cream
pinch of ground cinnamon
Mix the schnapps and cream in a shaker with ice and strain into a glass. Top with sprinkles of cinnamon.
Happy SchnappING!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Not a big scotch fan, but when you add all the great other stuff, it becomes a wonderful party favorite. You can make big batch of these and just keep the pitcher in some ice or refrigerated.
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1-1/2 oz scotch
1 oz cherry brandy
1 egg white (per two drinks)
1 oz lemon juice
garnish of sliced lemon or orange
Mix all the ingredients except the garnish in a shaker with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled sour glass and garnish with lemon or orange.
Happy Monday!


Sorry I bailed on all my loyal fans yesterday, but I went downtown to the German Christmas festival in Chicago with good friends and drank way to much GLUHWEIN!
It is delicious and the perfect warm cocktail for these unbearable Midwest winters.


1 bottle of red wine (see note below)
2 cinnamon sticks
16 whole cloves
1 orange, quartered and halved - 8 pcs
2 tbl honey
1 tsp mix of ground allspice, nutmeg and coriander
1 cup water
sugar to taste
lemon slice for garnish
brandy or port (see note below)

Pour water in a pan over medium heat. Add cinnamon, honey and spices. Push two cloves into each of the oranges pieces and add to the pan. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste for sweetness and add sugar if you like. Let the pan sit for about an hour to let the flavors come together. Warm before serving, strain out the orange pieces and add a cinnamon stick or lemon slice for garnish.

Note: For the wine, choose a fruity wine, not dry and try to stay away from oaked wines. A Beaujolais Nouveau would do quite nicely. Since you only bring the wine to a boil, Gluhwein is still an alcoholic beverage. The addition of a bit of brandy or port will kick that up a notch!

Keep Warm!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The Holiday Hopper is like a traditional Grasshopper cocktail with a twist. The Midori adds a great melon flavor. Make sure you use white creme de cacao because the brown version makes the cocktail look a bit like sludge...which frankly is not very appealing.
Holiday Hopper:
1 oz Midori melon liqueur
1/2 oz white creme de cacao
1/2 oz creme de menthe
2 oz half and half
mint sprig and raspberry for garnish
Pour all liquid in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.
Counting down the days!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Happy Friday!!!!!!
I have "re-found" my love for peppermint schnapps....could be a bad thing I guess!!
It has been sooo cold here in the frozen midwest, and keeping warm is a daily task.
So to warm your body and soul......
Peppermint Stick
1-1/2 oz Creme de Cacao
1 oz cream
1 oz Peppermint Schnapps (of course I add more)
Mix all together in a shaker with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with a chocolate stick or peppermint candy cane!!!
Warm yet?!


Sorry about the Thursday cocktail...internet issues again....on a recent trip to Portland Oregon, I found that youngsters in their mid 20's have chosen whisky (no "e" ...check the labels) over the traditional vodka or gin drinks.
So kiddies here ya go!!!!!!!!
Dog Sled:
1-1/2 oz Canadian Whisky
1-1/2 oz orange juice
1 tsp grenadine
1 tbl lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and pour over ice in a tall high-ball glass. Yes for you kiddies, that's a glass that looks like the one in the picture.
Garnish with a cherry and/or orange slice
Happy Yesterday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


By popular demand, followers would like 12 Days of Holiday Cocktails! I cannot disappoint! I don't exactly have twelve more days 'til Christmas...but let's face it...drinking doesn't stop until January resolutions kick our butts!

White Christmas Cocktail:

4 oz Eggnog
1/2 oz White Chocolate Liqueur
1 oz Southern Comfort

Stir together lightly in a martini glass or even a snifter. Top with white of dark chocolate flakes.

So Holiday!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Log onto:

find your city and get great recommendations about restaurants, shopping and things to do.

If you go there - go there!

Monday, December 13, 2010


This recipe calls for beef shank. Try to find it because the flavor from the beef bones adds a richness to the sauce that ground meats or stew meat just doesn't deliver. Choose your Italian sausage for its heat or sweetness depending on your taste. The sauce cooks for a long time so it is great for a lazy weekend day while the Patriots kick it!!!!!!
2 lbs Italian sausage casings removed
3-4 lbs beef shank (about 3-4 pieces)
3 large sweet onions chopped
2 (28 oz) San Marzano diced tomatoes
1 bottle good dry red wine
2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
6 tbl olive oil
10 large garlic cloves chopped
4 bay leaves
3 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like)
1-1/2 lbs spaghetti
parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 2 tbl olive oil in a large stock pot. Add sausage and cook through while chopping it into smaller pieces. Remove it from the pot and set aside. Add remaining olive oil to the pan and add the beef shank and season with salt and pepper. Saute the shanks for about 10 minutes and add to the sausage. Add the onions to the pot and scrape the bits of the meat off the pot. When the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, add the meats back to the pot.
Add the tomatoes, wine, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, red pepper and fennel seeds and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and move to oven and braise for about 2-3 hours. Transfer the shanks to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes and then cut meat off the bones and discard the bones.
Return meat to the sauce and remove fat from the surface of the sauce. Bring to a simmer and reduce liquid and season with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions. drain and add 2-3 tbl olive oil and parmesan cheese. Ladle the sauce over the pasta and serve with extra cheese. This serves about 12 people.
Pasta Pasta Pasta!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Happy Friday to YOU!
I love peppermint! In fact, my favorite ice cream when I was ever soooo much younger, was peppermint ice cream with the little peppermint candies in it....not easy to find anymore.
This is the easiest cocktail to make....but soooo delicious on these freezing cold nights. Just grab your blankie, turn on your favorite holiday movie, and pour yourself one or twelve of these....perfect Friday night!!!!
1-1/2 oz, good good vodka
1 tsp peppermint schnapps
Mix the two in a shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a nice little candy cane..
Love this!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


This is a nice twist on traditional lasagna. While it has lots of cheese, the artichokes and peas create a lighter dish. Make sure you let the lasagna rest before serving so the cheeses are hot but set.

16 oz frozen artichokes or jarred/drained
1 lb bag frozen peas
2 (15 oz) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
9 oz package no-boil lasagna noodles
Olive oil for greasing baking dish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Thaw the artichokes and peas. Grease a 13 x 9 pan with olive oil. Mix artichokes, 1/2 cup cream and basil in a bowl. Puree 1 cup cream, ricotta, peas, Parmesan, eggs and salt in another bowl.
Spread 1 cup of the ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan. Top with a layer of noddles. Break some noodles if you need to cover the entire pan. Spread half the artichoke mixture on the noodles. Spread 2-1/2 cups of the ricotta over the artichokes. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella over top. Repeat with noodles, artichoke mixture, 2-1/2 cups ricotta mixture and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with noddles and spread remaining ricotta over the noodles and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Loosely cover with foil Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
Nice crusty bread and a chardonnay!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


As written in a review of this book....."Venerated food writer James Beard wrote more than 20 books over the course of his life, but this is the one that no self-respecting cook should be without: It's the best of Beard. This is a new edition of its original and includes a forward by acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio. It is a celebration of America's regional cuisines, the book brims with culinary history, Beard's no nonsense advice, 1500 recipes for everything from cocktail food to candy".

So for the foodie on your Christmas list....

Monday, December 6, 2010


Can anyone say SUGARED FRUIT!!!!! I even like these...a little time consuming to make but the peels of these fruits are so full of sweet. The added bonus from this recipe is you will have some fruit flavored simple syrup leftover for your favorite cocktail!!!!! I am always thinking!
Choose citrus fruits with thicker peels for the best results. Thinner skins turn out a bit leathery. You will need to blanch the peels several times to make them less bitter...but sooo worth it. This serves a big crowd.
3 cups of citrus fruit peels. From about 4 large oranges, 2 large grapefruits and about 6-8 lemons.
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup of water
Cut the fruit peels lengthwise into about 1/4 inch wide strips. Save the actual fruit for juice or some other recipe.
In a large sauce pan add all the peels. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water. Repeat this two more times. After the third time remove from pan and set aside.
In the same saucepan combine 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the peels and reduce the heat and let the liquid simmer and slightly bubble for about 45-60 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain the peels reserving the syrup!!!!!!. Set a rack over some wax paper and put the remaining sugar in a bowl. Roll the peels in the sugar and shake off excess. Place on the rack for about 5-6 hours. When dried, store in an airtight container for up to a month.
Kids and Adults Love These!!!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Happy Sunday!
If you know me well - you know I hate shopping - for anything!!!!!
I spent the entire day shopping and I am beat and heading for bed and brainless TV....
be back tomorrow!!!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


This decadent treat is so good..while it has a lot of chocolate, the additions of pistachios, apricots and ginger bring it to a whole new level. You can store it in your refrigerator in an air tight container up to 3 days ahead. It is great to break up in pieces and place around your buffet.


1 cup of dark bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup white chocolate
3 tbl chopped salted pistachios
3 tbl dried chopped apricots
2 tbl chopped crystallized ginger

In a bowl melt dark chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Line a 8 x 5 baking sheet with waxed paper and spread melted dark chocolate on the paper. Melt the white chocolate in a similar way and drizzle it on top of the dark chocolate.

Sprinkle the chocolate with the pistachios, apricots and ginger. Press these into the chocolate to set them. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and break into pieces and serve.


Friday, December 3, 2010


TGIF right !?
Now let's get in the Christmas spirit already! Time to shop too too much and drink too much....
Let's start with the drink too much part
The Mistletoe Kiss recipe suggests you get a little tree ornament and place it in the cocktail....ummm....maybe...
1/2 cup very very chilled champagne
1/2 cup pear juice
a mint sprig
holiday ornament garnish
Combine champagne and juice in a nice BIG champagne flute and add mint and ornament!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I have lots and lots of these!!! I have also given them as gifts many times over. Perfect to add to a bar tools gift you plan on giving. They are very inexpensive. I love using these at parties in Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers and any tall drink over ice. They always strike up a conversation.

You can get them so many places, from Williams and Sonoma to Target and online at Amazon. So for the cocktail person on your Chrsitmas list add these!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A few weeks ago, we had dinner with good friends at Etta's restaurant in Seattle. Head chef, Tom Douglas and his staff prepared a wonderful was amazing.
Born in Cleveland, raised in Newark and Delaware, Tom found himself broke in Seattle at age 19, and never left. Thank goodness. Never formally trained except by his two granmothers and his mother, he loved to cook - often making breakfast in bed for his parents-he took Home Economics in school.
He wrote a cookbook in Seattle called, " Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen". He realized by listening to his fans that they were choosing a single recipe from the book and then trying to figure out the rest of the menu themselves for bigger crowds. So to help everyone out, he put together the book above, "Tom Douglas' Big Dinners".
It is fabulous! There are 13 different menus with additions of cocktails that set the appropriate mood. He also suggests assortments of appetizers for cocktail parties. He adds tips for do-ahead dishes and shortcuts. There is an introduction to each menu that helps with the setting of your event. The full-color photos are tremendous and beautiful. A must have for the people in your life that cook for lots of family and friends!
Great Christmas Gift!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Now that Thanksgiving is over, you know the football season isn't far hoo!!!!!! After a big meal of turkey and ALL the side dishes, it will be nice to settle down with a one pot dish that just tastes delicious and makes watching the game so much more enjoyable...less clean up!!!


6 dried small red chiles stemmed and seeded
1 tbl cumin seeds
1 lb dried pinto beans soaked overnight and drained
2 tbl fresh oregano leaves (or 3 tsp dried)
2 large yellow ontions diced
3 large carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
7 cloves garlic minced
2 fresh jalapenos stemmed, seeded, diced
2 lb skinless chicken thighs
grated cheddar cheese for garnish

In a small bowl, cover the dried chiles with boiling water and let steep for about 15 minutes until soft. Reserve 2 cups of the soaking water and drain the seeds from the rest of the water. Puree the chilies in a blender with the 2 cups reserved water.

In a small saute pan, add cumin seeds and toast. Grind them in a blender after about 5 minutes. In the same pan toast the oregano leaves (only fresh ones) and remove as they start to dry out.

Put the beans in a soup pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Add the chili puree, toasted cumin and oregano, onions, carrots, garlic, celery, jalapenos ans chicken thighs. Bring to a boil then reduce and skim off fat as it rises. Remove the chicken when it is cooked through about 25 minutes. After it cools, shred the chicken thigh meat and set aside and discard the bones.

Continue to cook the beans until tender about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Return the chicken to the pot and heat through. Add salt to taste. Serve with grated cheese on top.

The house will smell great!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I hope eveyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving!!!!!
This lucious cocktail pairs wonderfully with all your Thanksgiving leftovers. The brandy and lemon juice add a subtle blend of fruit flavors to this martini.
Enjoy your leftovers....
3/4 oz good Gin or Vodka
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz apricot brandy
1/4 oz lemon juice
cherry for garnish
Pour everything except the cherry into a martini shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


These are so elegant, yet unbelievably simple to put together. What a great starter for tomorrow's feast. If you need a small dish to bring to Grandma's house this is IT!
You can make the tapenade up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to put these lil' darlings together. Make sure you bring the tapenade to room temperature before you spread. These ingredients make about 16 toast points.
1/2 lemon
roasted red peppers cut into 16 thin strips
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 tsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
1 garlic clove, salted and mashed to paste
1-2 tbl olive oil
fresh pepper
toast points (see below)
Zest the lemon half. Put the zest, olives, rosemary and garlic in a food processor. Add the olive oil through the feed tube pulsing until you get a thick uniform paste. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze the juice from the half lemon into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if you like.
Toast Points:
4 slices of country white bread
1 tbl unsalted butter, melted
With your oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler, set on high. Set the slices of bread on a baking sheet and brush one side with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Toast in broiler until they are crisp on one side about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side. While they are still hot slice off the crusts. Let cool a bit before cutting into triangles or squares.
To assemble, spread the tapenade on the toast points and then top them with a slice of red pepper in a curl shape.
YUmmmm EASY!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HOLIDAY CORNBREAD PECAN STUFFING many varieties, there could be a section of a bookstore devoted to the many many
stuffing/dressing recipes. I actually add some cooked wild rice to this recipe, which I love but some people may think the wild rice has too much flavor and takes away a bit from the cornbread taste.
You can make this the day ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to stuff the turkey. You can make homemade cornbread, or from a box. I actually use cornbread stuffing croutons.
1 pkg cornbread stuffing
1 stick unsalted butter
5-6 slices of good bacon
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1-1/2 cups chopped celery
2 large shallots chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbl dried sage
3 cups toasted pecans, chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
fresh ground pepper
In a large saute pan, add 4 tbl butter and add bacon and brown slowly until it is crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. Leaving the fat in the pan, add the onion, celery, shallots, thyme and sage. Stir often until soft about 10 minutes. Toss the vegetable and pecans with the cornbread stuffing. Season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs stirring just until it holds together. If you need more liquid, melt a little butter and add it to the mixture.
Let it cool completely before filling the turkey. Bake any extra in a greased dish for about 45 minutes basting it occassionally.
If you want to add wild rice, cook it according to package directions and add to the stuffing with the vegetables. You may want to cut back a bit on the cornbread and taste after incorporated and add more cornbread stuffing as you like.
A nice change of pace!

Monday, November 22, 2010


What is a winter holiday without butternut squash!! While I don't have a great time peeling it (it has a tough skin and can be a bit difficult to peel), it is very much worth the effort. This is a great substitute for traditional mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

You can assemble the gratins a day ahead, without the breadcrumbs, and refrigerate overnight.


3 lb butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large onions chopped into about a 1 inch dice
3 tbl fresh chopped sage
2 cloves of garlic minced
2-1/2 tbl unsalted butter
1 tbl olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbl heavy cream heated to warm
fresh ground pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a gratin dish (13 x 9) with butter. In a large saute pan melt 1 tbl unsalted butter and olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and sage. Cover and cook on low while you dice the squash.
Put the squash in a steamer basket over simmering water. Cover and let steam until tender - about 10 minutes. Pour squash in the gratin dish with the garlic and sprinkle with 3/4 tsp salt.

Cook the onions until carmelized about 25 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper and add them to the gratin dish and mix with the squash. Pour warm cream over the vegetables.

Toss the panko breadcrumbs with 1-1/2 tbl melted unsalted butter. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the gratin and bake until the top is brown and bubbling about 40 minutes.

This will become a great holiday favorite!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today is Rachel's big party....I am cooking up a storm then partying at a local bar..

Be back tomorrow

Go Patriots tomorrow against Indy

Friday, November 19, 2010


This weekend is Rachel's BIG birthday extravaganza.....
She picked her weekend cocktail ..THE MANHATTAN!!!
One of the finest and oldest cocktails. It was the first cocktail to use vermouth. Some have said a Canadian whisky was the original whisky but my friends that are true "MANHATTANITES" say it was a rye whisky...heck I am a "WINE-er" so I don't really know!!!!!
2 oz rye whisky
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes of bitters (optional)
garnish with a maraschino cherry
Some alternatives:
Dry Manhattan: uses dry vermouth not sweet
Perfect Manhattan: uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth
Brandy, Scotch or Southern Comfort Manhattan: replaces whisky with these spirits
Happy Birthday Rachel!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Brittle is so easy to make and everyone loves it. You can make it a week ahead and store in an airtight container so it doesn't get in the way of all your other party plans. It is a great alternative to cakes, pies etc.
2-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tbl unsalted butter
1 cup whole almonds toasted, cooled and roughly chopped
oil for greasing baking sheet
Grease a baking sheet.
In a saucepan, add sugar making sure it doesn't stick to the sides of the pan. Add water and stir making sure the sugar is all incorporated in the water. Then turn heat on to high and boil until it turns a light brown about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the nuts and pour mixture evenly on baking sheet. Let cool.
Break the brittle into single serving pieces and place on a serving will be gone in minutes!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Long day on the back tomorrow!
Have a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010


After living in the Pacific Northwest for so many years, one thing I miss so very much is good salmon. At least here in the Midwest, we can get really good smoked salmon, beautiful in fact. So during this holiday season, put a little twist in your traditional deviled eggs.
You can make the eggs and the filling a day ahead, just make sure you store them separately and fill the eggs before serving.
6 large hard boiled eggs
6 oz cold smoked salmon finely diced
1/4 chives finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tbl shallots minced
2 tbl capers drained, rinsed and chopped
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
fresh ground pepper
Let the hard boiled eggs cool, then peel and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks, put in a bowl and break them apart with a fork. Add the salmon, mayonnaise, shallot, capers, lemon juice and zest, 3 tbl of the chives and 1/8 tsp of pepper. Mix well.
Using a spoon or an ice cream scooper, mound the filling into the egg halves. Garnish with the remaining 1 tbl chives and a pinch of pepper.
Great twist to a legend!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I made this last night for about 20 people and they ALL loved it!!!! One guest didn't like mushrooms so I made one batch with zucchini instead..and it was also delicious!!!! I served it with a caesar salad and vodka-sauced pasta....just wonderful and easy. You can put it together up to about 3 hours ahead of time and just put it in the oven when you are ready.


4 whole boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-2 inch strips
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbl unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion diced
2 (9 oz) jars of artichokes drain and rinsed
1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
1 lb mushrooms quartered
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

On a dinner plate, combine flour, salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl beat the eggs. On another plate combine the breadcrumbs. Dredge the chicken strips in the flour, then eggs then breadcrumbs and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan then add butter. Saute chicken in batches until golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain. To the saute pan add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Add artichokes and capers and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and incorporate for about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and vermouth and remove from heat.
Arrange chicken in a single layer of a 13 x 9 pan. Pour the artichoke, mushroom mixture over the chicken. Bake uncovered, basting frequently for 35-40 minutes. Remove and serve.

The chicken stays so juicy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Today is a big birthday bash at our house for Louie's 85th...see ya all tomorrow!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today gets a special "shout out" and I mean "Shout it Out" to Julie C and you know who you are.....she mentioned to me at last night's bash that I blogged a cocktail on a Thursday ....seriously....if I knew enough cocktails it would be 7 days a week on the blog.....
So TGIF Julie...the stain is gone I am sure!!!!!!!
2 small slices of ginger
1 tsp apricot preserve
1/4 oz lemon juice
lemon twist
Muddle the ginger, preserve and lemon juice in a shaker. Add the ice, whiskey and Grand Marnier....shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.... .garnish with a twist.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I know isn't Friday cocktail time, but mulled wine takes more time than a simple cocktail and is a perfect warm drink for the crisp holiday season.
You can infuse the wine up to a day ahead, just make sure you take the spice bundle out. Then add the brandy, Gran Marnier and vanilla when you are ready to serve.
Of course I use the entire two bottles of wine except for the glass I serve myself when cooking!!!!!!!!
2 (750ml) bottles of a good merlot, shiraz or zinfindel
1 tangerine or small orange, seeded and cut in half
10 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 whole nutmeg cracked into a few pieces
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1 tbl Grand Marnier
1/2 tsp vanilla
Toast the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, coriander and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan over medium heat stirring occasionally about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the spices to cheesecloth and tie with twine. Set the pan aside to cool.
Put the wine, tangerine and sugar in the pan with the spice cloth. Heat the whole mixture uncovered over low heat for 1 hour, don't let it boil.
Remove the spice mixture and carefully squeeze the tangerine juice into the wine. Stir in the brandy, Grand Marnier and vanilla. Taste and add more sugar if you would like, but not so it tastes sweet. Serve hot!
It is 60 degrees here today so no need for this...but winter is coming this weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This is a perfect fall dessert. All the ingredients are readily available. The topping can be made about 4 days ahead and you can bake it a day ahead and reheat. It makes a dinner party a bit easier when you have so many other details relating to the rest of the meal to worry about.


For the topping:

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

In a mixer with a flat attachment, combine all ingredients and mix on low until large crumbs form and then refrigerate in a container with a tight lid.

For the Filling:

6 firm pears peeled and cubed
4 small oranges peeled and sectioned
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix the pears, oranges, apricots, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Slowly add flour and mix well. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let combine. Grease a dozen ramekins and pour fruit mixture in and add topping. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.

Bake until bubbling and brown, about 40 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature to let them settle. When your guests are finishing their dinners, heat the crisps at 300 degrees until hot for about 20 minutes.

A great addition is a big scoop of ice cream!!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010


A true holiday favorite and one I love every day of the year...shrimp cocktail. To make the shrimp super flavorful, it is better to poach them in their shells in a great broth. Make sure after the poaching is done you don't rinse them or you lose all the flavor from the liquid. Use at least 16-20 count shrimp. That means in a measured lb., there will be at least 16 to 20 shrimp.

The recipe for the spicy cocktail sauce follows!


1-1/2 lbs jumbo shrimp (16-20 ct)
1 roughly chopped shallot
handful of peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 lemon cut in half

In a saute pan with a lid, combine wine, water, shallot, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt. Squeeze lemon into the mixture and then add to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low and let simmer for about 10 minutes to combine the flavors. Add the shrimp and poach for about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the shrimp sit in the pan, covered, for 2 minutes.
Transfer to a strainer and discard the poaching liquid. Let the shrimp cool then remove the shells and devein. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to a day. Serve with the following sauce.

Cocktail Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup grated shallot
1/2 tsp minced jalapeno
2 tbl prepared horseradish
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Combine everything in a bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. This can also be made a day ahead. Before serving, taste to see if it needs more lemon juice and salt.

I could eat a TON of these!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


These are a great appetizer for any party but I love them when I have just a cocktail party. They are filling and your guests won't go away hungry. This recipe makes about 24 but some of the won tons may collapse in cooking so you might want to plan for a little extra.
You can bake off the won tons and keep them in an airtight container for up to a week. Not into beef?? these work with chicken and even shrimp.
24+ square won ton wrappers
1/2 lb beef tenderloin
1/2 cup diced red peppers
1/4 cup shallots minced
1 tbl minced garlic
2 tbl sugar
3 tbl fresh lime juice
2 tbl fish sauce
1 tsp chile paste
1 tsp soy sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Using a cupcake pan, press the won ton wrappers down into the individual tins and lay the corners back to create a cup. Bake until lightly brown about 8-10 minutes and let cool.
Season the beef with lots of salt and pepper. Heat an oven proof saute pan on high until it is really hot. Sear the beef on all sides about 3-4 minutes then put the pan in the oven and cook the beef until medium rare (internal temperature of about 130 degrees) about 8 minutes depending on meat thickness. Let it rest about 10 minutes and thinly slice it to strips.
Combine beef, red pepper, shallots and garlic in a bowl and add lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chile paste. Toss all together and fill cooled won ton cups.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Happy Friday!!!!

Just got home from a fabulous trip to New York City....great friends, food and DRINKS!!!!

This takes a few days to make...but delicious...and a great holiday cocktail.

Actually leftover cranberry sauce helps make the sweet liqueur for this twist on a French classic.


1/4 cup water
3 tbl sugar
1/2 cup leftover whole berry cranberry sauce or canned
3/4 cup vodka
4 cups cold dry prosecco or champagne

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, stir in cranberry sauce and let cool. Stir in vodka and pour the mixture in a covered mason jar or similar container and refrigerate for 4 days.

After 4 days, strain the mixture through a sieve preferably with cheesecloth. Keep covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

To make the cocktail, spoon 2 tbl of the cranberry sauced-vodka into a champagne flute add about 1/2 cup chilled champagne. You can garnish with a few fresh cranberries.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


So many bean dips lack any true flavor to me..this one adds eggplant but also pine nuts, mint and oregano to really "kick it up a notch". You can serve with sliced crusty baguettes, toasted flour tortillas or pita chips. Again, very easy and quick to make and it makes for a very elegant starter!

2-3 small eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (about 1-1/2 lb)
2 anchovy fillets (yes you can opt out of this ingredient)
1 garlic clove
1 cup cannellini beans drained and rinsed
2 tbl toasted pine nuts
6 tbl olive oil
3 tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tbl fresh mint chopped and a few pieces for garnish
2 tsp fresh chopped oregano

On a foil lined baking sheet greased with a little olive oil, toss eggplant with 2 tbl olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until the skin is charred and eggplant is tender about 20-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Mash the anchovy fillets with a knife to make a paste and chop garlic and season with salt and pepper....more salt if you are avoiding the anchovy.

Transfer the paste to a food processor and add beans, 2 tbl oil and 1 tbl water. Puree until smooth. Remove the skin of the eggplant and discard. Add the remaining eggplant flesh to the bean mixture with the lemon juice, mint and oregano. Pulse until it is slightly chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with topping of toasted pine nuts and mint leaves.

Makes a meal for ME!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Well it is officially the start of Holiday Season. The next two months of entries here will be lots of Holiday food and DRINKS!!! So let's jump right in with a sweet easy pumpkin dessert!!!!!

These can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3 days and frozen for up to a month.


2 (8oz) pkgs of cream cheese at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/3 cup solid canned pumpkin
2-1/4 tsp flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Spray a regular muffin tin with cooking spray and line with foil liners. Blend cream cheese in a mixer until smooth and fluffy about 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and blend - don't overbeat the eggs.

Transfer 2/3 of the batter to a bowl. Add the pumpkin, flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to that bowl and blend well.

In the muffin tins use the 1/3 cup of plain batter and put about 2 big tbl in each liner. Then portion the pumpkin batter to each liner and using a fork or skewer in a swirl pattern as you see in the picture above. Bake until the centers of the cheesecakes barely jiggle about 15-18 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze if you want or...


Sunday, October 31, 2010


Chinese Food!!!!! So many nights it's EXACTLY what you want. However, when I order it as take-out, I have yet to find a place that serves it on the lighter side....I know what you are saying...what's the point of "the lighter side" it's CHINESE FOOD!!!
Well, I like to make my own and feel a little better when I am done. This recipe stretches a little beef by adding plenty of vegetables.
1/2 lb flank steak
1 zucchini halved and very thinly sliced
1 large grated carrot
1 large shallot chopped
4 oz cellophane noodles or thin rice noodles
1/4 cup canola oil
4 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl brown sugar
1-1/2 tbl sesame oil
1-1/2 tbl rice vinegar
1 tbl toasted sesame seeds
Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan and add noodles. Remove from the heat and let stand about 3 minutes until softened. Drain and rinse under cold water Add 1 tbl canola oil and separate them on wax paper or a plate. Set aside
In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and brown sugar. Trim the beef and slice thin across the grain into 1 inch pieces and season with salt.
In a large saute pan, heat 1-1/2 tbl of canola oil until it is hot. Add the beef and cook about a minute and transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1-1/2 tbl oil to the pan and add zucchini, carrot and onion. Cook until softened about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and add back the beef and noodles. Stir the soy mixture and add it to the pan. Stir until everything is evenly coated and hot, about 3-4 minutes.
Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds...soooo good!

Friday, October 29, 2010


It is FINALLY here....Halloween Weekend!
Lots of parties, lots of candies, lots of scary cocktails!!
This is a great one and lip smacking delicious!
1-1/2 oz Bacardi Rum
1/2 oz Cointreau
2 oz pineapple juice
1 tbl strawberry puree
Mix rum, Cointreau and pineapple juice in a shaker with ice and mix well. Strain it into a Collins size glass over ice.
Using a small amount of fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries, blend into a puree. Dip the end of a drinking straw into the puree and cover the top of the straw with your finger to keep the puree in the straw. Holding the straw over the cocktail release your finger and let the puree ooze down into the cocktail like red blotches of BLOOD SPATTER!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I Love Love Love pea soup. It is an acquired taste. I remember going to a restaurant in Buelton, CA just for their pea soup. While some pea soups can be very heavy from the starchiness of older peas, this is made with younger peas, If you can't find younger peas use frozen, they will make the soup less thick.
4 cups peas
2 tbl unsalted butter
2 shallots chopped
1 tsp garlic minced
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest of half a lemon
In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add garlic and shallots and stir until both are soft but not brown. Add the peas, broth, half the mint and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the peas are very tender, about 8-10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and puree it in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If the peas weren't sweet enough you can add a bit of sugar.
Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and whip it to soft peaks. Add lemon zest and season to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of the lemon cream. Garnish with the remaining mint.
So good!
This can be served hot or cold!

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