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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I invited a dear friend over for cocktails and appetizers. We caught up over these tasty foods, that really should have been served to a crowd. Both of these recipes are a wonderful mixture of sweet and savory, with the flavors blending perfectly in each delicious mouthful.


1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 12 ounce package of dinner rolls (I used Hawaiian rolls)
2/3 cup apricot-peach preserves
1/2 cup mustard-mayonnaise blend (I mixed my own, but apparently there is one you can buy)
3/4 pound of thinly sliced roast beef
1/2 pound of thinly sliced havarti cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat walnuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Remove rolls from package (do not separate rolls). Cut rolls in half horizontally, creating 1 top and 1 bottom. Spread preserves on cut sides of top of rolls. Spread mustard-mayonnaise blend on cut sides of bottom of rolls, sprinkle with walnuts, and top with beef and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover with top halves of rolls, preserves sides down, and wrap in aluminum foil.
Bake at 325F, for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Slice into individual sandwiches.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, October 2007


1 (5 ounce) blue cheese wedge
1/2 pound of ham
1 large apple, sliced
arugula or watercress
wood or metal skewers

Cut cheese and ham into 3/4 inch cubes (you can also buy it already cubed). Cut apple slices into thirds.
Thread cheese, apple, arugula and ham onto skewers. Place on a serving plate.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, October 2007

Monday, January 30, 2012


I first made these for a French themed dinner party we hosted for friends down in our wine cellar - and then more recently on Christmas Day.
The croustades are tasty, flavorful, quick and easy to put together  - especially if you use the roasted red peppers from the jar.


4 red peppers
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 to 3 thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
4 thick slices of country bread
6 ounces of soft goat cheese

Heat the broiler and broil the peppers on a baking sheet until black and blistery, turning them to cook evenly. Once they are blackened on all sides, fasten them in a plastic bag so they steam and the skin is loosened. Leave the broiler alight. When the peppers are cool, slip off their charred skins with your fingers. Cut the peppers in half and then in strips, discarding the cores and seeds (or use roasted red peppers from a jar).
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions with the thyme, salt and pepper until soft and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and capers and cook, stirring often until the tomatoes are soft and mixture is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue cooking until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Oil a baking sheet and set it aside. Toast the bread and spread with the cheese.  Arrange the pepper mixture on top. Broil the croustades on the baking sheet until the cheese is lightly browned and the edges are melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This was a good, really quick week night dinner. I gave the kids small bowls, with cheese quesadillas on the side. I do think the chowder was lacking a bit in flavor - I would definitely spice it up if I made it again.


3 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 chicken breasts, cubed
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of half-and-half
2 cups of monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 can of cream style corn
1 can of chopped green chiles, undrained
1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired

Melt butter in a saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion and garlic, and saute for 10 minutes.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except cilantro, and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with cilantro and extra cheese, if desired.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2011

Friday, January 27, 2012


Friends had us over for cocktails before Christmas, and made several of the fabulous cocktail cookies featured in Food and Wine magazine - the chocolate cayenne flavor gave my kids quite a surprise - but they were all delicious, and paired perfectly with the cocktails and wine our friends served.  I couldn't wait to try the recipes, and made these apricot tarragon flavored ones. I served them with cheese, as an appetizer, for friends we had for dinner recently, and also froze some of the dough, pulled it out and cooked up the cute rounds when I invited a friend over last minute for a glass of wine - perfect!


1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups flour

In a small bowl, cover the apricots with hot water and let stand for 10 minutes, until they are plump. Transfer the apricots to paper towels to drain.
In another small bowl, rub the tarragon leaves into the sugar until they are moist and aromatic. In a standing mixer, beat the butter with the tarragon sugar at low speed until creamy. Beat in the egg yolk until just combined, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and beat until smooth. Add the salt and flour and beat until just incorporated. Using a large spatula, fold in the apricots.
Turn the cookie dough out onto a work surface and knead until it just comes together. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk. Roll out each disk between 2 sheets of wax paper to about 1/4 inch thick. Slide the discs onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least and hour, until very firm.
Heat the oven to 350F, and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one piece of cookie dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of wax paper. Using a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, stamp out the cookies as close together as possible. Arrange the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2011

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This was Sunday evening comfort food. I grew up on broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, and this was every bit as warm, gooey and delicious as I remembered - like wrapping up in a blanket on a cold winters day. I could have joyfully devoured the entire dish myself, but generously offered to share with my family.


1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces of bacon
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
pinch of english mustard powder
1/2 pint of dry white wine
5 ounces of cream
salt and black pepper
4 ounces of cheddar cheese (I'm sure I added more)
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
3 ounces of breadcrumbs

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and broccoli florets and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and wipe out the pan. Set the vegetables aside.
Heat the oil in the pan and fry the bacon, turning once, until crisp and golden. Drain the bacon on a paper towel, then snip into small pieces. Set aside.
Melt butter in pan. Stir in the flour and mustard. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually blend in the wine. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper.
Heat grill to medium. Grate the cheese. Remove pan from heat. Stir parsley, cauliflower and broccoli into the sauce. Scatter breadcrumbs, bacon and cheese over the top. Cook under the grill for 10 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Recipe adapted from International Masters Publishers

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I had a friend and her lovely children over for lunch on Martin Luther King day, and served these sweet treats for dessert.


4 ounces baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure some of the foil hangs over the sides. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan, heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Stir to combine and set aside.
Place the sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix well.
Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake brownies for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from oven.
Sprinkle the chocolate and white chips over the brownies. Return brownies to oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven , allow the pan to sit for 1 minute. Lift the brownies out of the pan (using the foil as handles). Spread the chocolate chips over the brownies for a marbled effect. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe adapted from Great American Home Baking

Monday, January 23, 2012


I was very excited to find ground lamb at the supermarket, and immediately looked for a delicious way to cook it.
The story that accompanied this recipe, which was originally "shortcut moussaka" was fabulous. However, it was mentioned it wasn't authentic - so I didn't feel too bad leaving out the eggplant, and calling it shepherds pie.


1 1/2 pounds of potatoes (I used a mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup of half-and-half
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 pound of ground lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Bring 6 cups water, the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, drain and return potatoes to the warm pot. In a small bowl, whisk together half and half and egg yolk. Mash potatoes with egg mixture, 1/2 cup cheese, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
In a large skillet, brown the lamb, breaking it up as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Push the meat to one side of the skillet and spoon off all but a thin layer of fat from the skillet. Add the onions and cinnamon sticks to the skillet. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir the lamb back into the onions and add the garlic and ground clove. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft and the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.
Spoon into a 9-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lamb. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and slightly crusty, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from The New York Times, October 2011

Saturday, January 21, 2012


My husband and I were in Cincinnati for a friends wedding, which is where we first experienced  Belgian waffles - at the Taste of Belgium, in the Findlay Farmers Market,
I was talking to another friend about them once we were back home, and she happened to have pearl sugar, which is a key ingredient in the recipe. I first made these for my husband for his birthday breakfast, and then for my sweet friend who gave up her sugar for the sake of my experimentation.
If you do want to make these the authentic way, you can find the pearl sugar at Ikea or - it really is worth it, as they say in Food &Wine "the smooth balls of sugar add pops of sweetness and caramelize to make the exterior crisp" - yummy!


1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Belgian pearl sugar

In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar and yeast into the lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix at a medium speed until shaggy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each. Whisk the vanilla with the 1 cup of melted butter. With the mixer at medium-low, gradually mix in the butter until smooth, the batter will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Stir the pearl sugar into the risen batter. Cover again and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 250F. Preheat a waffle iron and brush it with melted butter (I spray mine with non-stick cooking spray). Gently stir the batter to deflate. Using about 2 tablespoons of batter for each, cook the waffles according to the manufacturers directions until they are golden and crisp, brush the waffle iron with melted butter as needed. Transfer the waffles to plates or keep them warm in the oven (ours never last that long!) then serve.
Note: the batter can be prepared through step 1 and refrigerated overnight.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2011

My kids had cinnamon rolls for breakfast at school one morning and discovered, they were now being served without icing! Since that is part of the yumminess, I attempted to make them at home - this really was an easy recipe, and delicious in the way warm sugary things are. I didn't have much cinnamon on hand, so made half of them with chocolate chips, which the kids LOVED!!


1 package French vanilla cake mix
5 1/4 cups flour
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
butter, softened
brown sugar
icing (recipe follows)

Stir the cake mix, flour, yeast, salt and warm water in a large bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) free from drafts, for 1 hour.
Turn dough onto a well floured surface, divide in half. Roll each portion into 18 by 12 inch rectangles. Cover surface with softened butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Roll up starting at long part and cut crosswise into 16 (1 inch) slices. Place rolls in a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch pan. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly, then ice while still warm.
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add just enough milk to make a thick icing. You want it to be thick so as not to melt too quickly on the warm rolls.

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2011

Friday, January 20, 2012


We had friends for dinner, who are new in town - I made the appetizer, first course and dessert, and my husband took care of the main meal. The original tart recipe included ham, but because I was serving this as part of a meal, I left the meat off. However, I do think it would be very yummy with the ham, and would also make a great lunch dish.


3 ounces of dried figs
boiling water
3 tablespoons butter
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400F.
In a small bowl, cover the figs with boiling water and steep until softened, about 15 minutes, drain and finely chop.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, Add the onions and thyme and cook stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 15 minutes, let cool slightly.
Arrange the puff pastry on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, beat together 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of water. Brush the pastry with the egg wash, freeze until ready to use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta and remaining egg. Stir in the figs, season with salt and pepper.
Spread the ricotta mixture on the puff pastry in an even layer, leaving a border. Top with the onions. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350F and bake until the bottom of the puff pastry is golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I made these for friends one morning - and honestly, I found them a little disappointing.
The recipe was adapted from one which used home made pastry and local pepper jelly with honey - I'm sure the originals were fabulous, but I found these bland and uninspiring.


4 (8 ounce) cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup pepper jelly
1 tablespoon of honey

Unroll one can of crescent roll dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into 2 pieces, separating at center perforation. Press each piece into a 7-inch square (I made mine smaller). Bring corners to center, partially overlapping each, gently press corners into centers using thumb, making a small indentation. Repeat process with remaining cans of crescent rolls. Transfer to lightly greased baking sheets.
Stir together cream cheese and egg, stir together pepper jelly and honey. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into the center of each dough circle, and top with 2 teaspoons of pepper jelly mixture.
Bake at 375F for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I always like to have some kind of homemade treat on hand, and cookies are some of the quickest, easiest and tastiest to whip up.
The lemon juice in the chocolate chip cookie recipe helps to activate the baking soda, producing a softer, chewier cookie, and the combination of almond and apricot in the thumbprint cookies is just plain delicious.


1/2 cup rolled oats
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs
3 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350F.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place rolled oats in blender or food processor and process until finely ground. Combine ground oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, cream butter, sugars, vanilla and lemon juice together using an electric mixer. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.
Stir the flour mixture into egg mixture, blending well. Add chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix well. Using 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie, scoop round balls with an ice cream scoop and place 2 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets (I used tablespoonfuls and baked for 10 minutes).
Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a sealed container to keep them soft and chewy.

Recipe adapted from Easy to Bake, Easy to Make


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup smooth almond butter
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
1/2 cup apricot jam

Heat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat almond butter on medium until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Place granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and gently roll in sugar to coat. Place on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are puffed, 8 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and with the bottom of a round 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in center of each cookie. Bake until set, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks, 20 minutes. Stir jam and spoon 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food › Food

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We recently had friends over for cocktails and I made this Punch, originally served at Apothecary Bar and Lounge, in Philadelphia. It was a tasty, no fuss beverage, and paired well with a range of appetizers.


3 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
6 1/2 ounces of dark rum (I used gold rum)
4 ounces of brandy
2 ounces of peach schnapps
4 ounces of cold brewed black tea
4 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 ounces of cold water

Mix in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate the punch until cold.
Serve the punch in the pitcher, letting guests pour it into tumblers. Garnish the drinks with orange peels if desired.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2009

A friend told me about this Pinnacle Whipped vodka - and I couldn't wait to try it!!
It tastes just like whipped cream - but guilt-free!! I found this pomegranate martini on their website and served it at Christmas. It was wonderful, and I have made it several times since.


2 ounces of Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
1 ounce of pomegranate juice
1 ounce of lime juice

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge if desired.

Recipe from the Pinnacle Vodka website

Monday, January 16, 2012


My husband and I recently ate at a fabulous restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of our side dishes was a leek gratin, which was absolutely delicious, and the inspiration behind me wanting to try this gratin recipe.
I made the classic scalloped potatoes for my husbands birthday, and became curious as to the difference between the two dishes. The best explanation I could find was from - a gratin is topped with cheese and/or breadcrumbs, whereas "scalloped" is milk based. However, it does seem, whether right or wrong, the names are used interchangeably - as both of these recipes utilized cream and a had a cheese topping.


5 tablespoons butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts, rinsed well, cut into 1/4 " rings (I would add more leeks next time - there weren't quite enough for my taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup cream
3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
2 potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices

In a fry pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add leeks and salt, stirring to coat leeks with butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. Add thyme, nutmeg, pepper and cream. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 400F.
In a bowl, combine cheeses. Layer one half of potatoes in dish. Spread leek mixture on top, sprinkle with one half of cheeses. Top with remaining potatoes and cheeses. Cover dish, transfer to oven, bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove lid, bake until potatoes are tender and crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Kitchen


2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400F.
Layer potatoes in a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.
Stir together cream and next four ingredients in a large bowl. Pour cream mixture over potatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand on a wire rack 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2011

Sunday, January 15, 2012


My husband was working late one night last week, and I thought this would be a fun meal for the kids and I - no fighting over the limited two drumsticks from the Sunday roast.


2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or panko if that is what you have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 egg
8 skinless chicken drumsticks
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425F.
In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, paprika, onion powder and salt. Drizzle with oil and mash with fork until oil is thoroughly incorporated. Lightly beat egg with fork in another shallow dish. Dip drumsticks into egg, then press into breading mixture until evenly coated on both sides. Discard any remaining mixture and egg.
Place chicken on a rack coated with cooking spray on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Combine yogurt, mustard, honey and pepper in a small bowl. Serve sauce with the drumsticks.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December, 2011

Saturday, January 14, 2012


These pancakes made a very yummy, fun Saturday morning breakfast.


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup store-bought pancake mix
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
1 small sweet potato, boiled, peeled and mashed (about 1/2 cup)

Beat together the butter, honey and cinnamon until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Stir in the pancake mix and nutmeg until just combined. Fold in the sweet potato. If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk until it reaches the desired consistency.
Place a large, greased pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spoon the batter onto it and cook until the surface of the pancake is covered with bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve topped with the honey-cinnamon butter and a little maple syrup if desired.

Recipe adapted from Cookie, October 2006

Friday, January 13, 2012


Burgers on the grill were a great way to finish up the first day of the New Year.
We loved the flavors of the different meats in the patties, and the roasted tomatoes topped it all off perfectly. Next time I make these, I will be much lighter on the seasoning - I didn't take into account the saltiness of the cured meats.


2 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2 an inch thick
sprinkle of oregano
salt and pepper
olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 pound bacon, finely diced
1 pound of ground beef
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/8 of a pound of ham, coarsely chopped
3 ounces of prosciutto, coarsely chopped
4 slices of provolone cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
4 rolls, split
a handful of arugula leaves

Heat oven to 350F.
Arrange the tomatoes on a cookie sheet, and season with oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes.
In a medium skillet, brown the bacon in a bit of olive oil and let cool. Place the beef and bacon in a bowl, then add the garlic, parsley, a little salt and lots of pepper. Grind the ham and prosciutto in the food processor into fine bits, add to the meat.
Form the mixture into four patties, thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking. Drizzle the meat with olive oil and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once (or you could do like I did, and give them to your husband to cook on the grill).
Top with the cheese and melt. Serve on the rolls, topped with the oven roasted tomatoes and the arugula (and I also threw on a few caramelized onions)

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I was so excited when I came across this recipe. A great excuse to sneak a little of my favorite indulgence into dinner - while still feeling like I'm being healthy.
We served ours with sour cream - and cheese would be good with it too.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of lean ground beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

In a large saucepan heat oil. Cook meat over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper, cook 10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened.
Stir in beans, tomatoes (with liquid), cumin and cocoa. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 2011

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I know pumpkin is more of a fall flavor, but I think these treats would be wonderful any time of the year.


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies, in a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a second large bowl, combine the shortening and brown sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla, then mix until well combined.
Add half the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the other half and mix again.
Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1-tablespoon mounds, arranging them 2 inches apart. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Midway through baking, rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.
While the cookies bake, in a medium bowl combine the butter and maple syrup. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Mix well.
Add the powdered sugar and mix well, beating until fluffy.
Once the cookies have baked, cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire reck to cool completely. Once cool, either pipe or spread the frosting on them.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2007


1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium high until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, until combined.
Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
Let cupcakes cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on racks, 10 minutes.
To serve, spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 12 ounces cream cheese and 10 tablespoons butter, both room temperature, until smooth, about 4 minutes. With mixer on low, beat in 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy, 5 minutes. Thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons milk if necessary.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, October 2011 › Food

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A dear friend was sweet to have us over to celebrate my husbands birthday, and I brought these profiteroles for an appetizer.
The last time I made this recipe, it made a lot, and we were eating profiteroles for days, so I halved the recipe (but am posting the full recipe here). Also the last time I made these they were a little more light and puffy - unfortunately this time, they were rather stodgy and doughy - I used half-and-half in place of the milk, which could have been the problem!


1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup milk (I used 1/2 and 1/2 which may have contributed to them not being as puffy as usual)
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons Frangelico
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
1/4 pound of blue cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup heavy cream
seedless red grapes for serving

Heat oven to 375F.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 12 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and the skins are blistered. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Let the hazelnuts cool completely. Transfer the hazelnuts to a food processor and finely grind them.
In a large saucepan, combine the milk with the butter, Frangelico, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Remove from the heat. Add the flour and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the ground hazelnuts and stir with a wooden spoon until a mass forms. Return the saucepan to moderate heat and cook the dough, stirring, for 1 minute.
Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and let it cool for 2 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between addition.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe 1-inch mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart.
Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining ground hazelnuts. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the profiteroles are puffed and golden.
Poke a hole in the side of each puff to release the steam, let the puffs cool completely.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the blue cheese with the mascarpone and heavy cream at medium speed until firm and fluffy. Using a serrated knife, split each puff horizontally and remove any doughy centers with a spoon. Fill each puff with 1/2 tablespoon of the blue cheese cream and replace the tops. Transfer to a platter and serve with the grapes.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2009

Monday, January 9, 2012


This was a quick, delicious weeknight meal. Although a little spicy for my children, my husband and I loved it.
I like the light coconut milk, which makes it a little healthier, while not compromising the flavor.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
5 teaspoons curry powder
1 head of cauliflower, divided into small florets
2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
2 (10 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 (14 ounce) can of coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add curry powder and stir 20 seconds. Add cauliflower and chickpeas, stir 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes with chiles, then coconut milk, bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium low, cover and boil gently until cauliflower is tender and liquid thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 16 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cilantro, serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009

Sunday, January 8, 2012


It seems we have had a lot of ripe bananas in the house lately.
My kids had friends to play, and I threw the muffins together so they would have something to snack on, and the banana bread was a lovely Saturday morning treat.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg

Heat oven to 400F.
Fit 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and chocolate chips in a large bowl.
Stir in bananas, milk, butter and egg. Mix until just blended.
Fill muffin cups evenly with batter.
Bake muffins until a skewer inserted into centers comes out clean, 14 to 16 minutes.
Cool one minute, then remove from the muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Easy to bake Easy to Make, 2003


3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter, melted

Heat oven to 325F.
Mash bananas, add sugar then egg and mix well. Add dry ingredients, mix and add melted butter. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 40 to 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from the Holiday Cookbook, November 2007

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This was so yummy!! I served it as a light dinner, but it would be equally as fabulous for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
I love that the dressing is made of dijon mustard and lemon juice, with added creaminess from the avocado, instead of mayonnaise. The recipe called for including just one egg yolk, but I included them all.


4 large eggs
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 avocado, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ounces sliced smoked salmon
1/3 cup arugula
2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted

In a small pot, cover eggs with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over high. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit 12 minutes. Transfer eggs to a colander and run cold water over them until cool enough to handle. Peel eggs and coarsely chop.
In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard and lemon juice. Stir in eggs and avocado and season with salt and pepper. To serve, place smoked salmon, egg salad and arugula on the toasts.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food

Friday, January 6, 2012


I had a friend for dinner so we could catch up before the kids were back in school- she got engaged!!!!! Which, had I of known, I would have prepared something a little more celebratory!!!!!
At least the enchiladas were tasty (although if you don't like spice, reduce or leave out the amount of cayenne in the sauce) and the company as always, was fabulous, so made up for the lack of glitz and glamour.


1 butternut squash
3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided use
1 onion, diced
8 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup sliced green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
8 tortillas
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Peel and seed the squash. Cut the squash flesh into 1-inch pieces and spread the pieces out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoon of oil and toss to coat.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until squash is tender. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and saute the diced onions. Stir in the green onions, chili powder, cinnamon, oregano, coriander, cumin and salt. Add the cream cheese, stirring until melted. Mix in the butternut squash.
Microwave tortillas to soften.
Place about 1/4 cup of squash filling in the center of the tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish.
In a saucepan, place the onion, water, cayenne, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin. Cover and simmer until onions are tender. Stir in tomato sauce and cilantro and heat briefly. Pour sauce over top of enchiladas. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve.

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2011


2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup dulce de leche (this can be found in the Mexican section of most supermarkets, already prepared)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup dulce de leche
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
fleur de sel

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat a 13 by 9 baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter, stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
Blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add dulce de leche and vanilla, mix until blended. Spread batter over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack, cool completely.
Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons of cream until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour. Pour glaze over cooked cheesecake, spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm).
Cut cheesecake into bars, sprinkle with fleur de sel. (I was chatting and cooking, and didn't read this far in the recipe - unfortunately I missed the sprinkle of salt - but it definitely would be delicious)

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010


12 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon of finely shredded lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons of butter, melted

Heat oven to 350F.
Line an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with foil, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat 12 tablespoons of butter for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and 1 cup of flour. Beat until combined. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it begins to brown.
For the filling, beat together the granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and baking powder. Stir in eggs, lime peel, lime juice and the 2 tablespoons of butter. Beat until well combined. Pour filling over baked crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until center is set. Cool on a wire rack.
When completely cool, use foil to lift bars from pan. Sift additional powdered sugar over the top.
Place on cutting board and use a long, sharp knife to cut into squares.

Recipe adapted from TRY-FOODS, August 2003

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Champagne is often the chosen beverage of celebrations, but really should be enjoyed any time!!
I've heard it said don't cook with wine you wouldn't drink, and it is so true!! I decided to use up some left-overs from the fridge, causing my youngest son to say the cupcakes tasted like communion wine - not quite what I was going for. Also, the picture in the book was adorable, covered in the cutest round, pale pink frosting bubbles - unfortunately, mine didn't turn out quite the same - but the frosting still tasted absolutely delicious.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pink champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, add to butter mixture alternately with champagne, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Place paper baking cups in 2 (12 cup) muffin pans, spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.
Frost with pink champagne frosting, and top each with edible glitter and pink sprinkles, if desired.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons pink champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops red food coloring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16 ounce package powdered sugar

Beat first 6 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, or until creamy.

Recipe adapted from Big Book of Cupcakes by Jan Moon

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


This is a quick, fresh, flavorful side dish I have made several times. I enjoy the tartness of the vinegar and mustard, so I reduce the amount of olive oil in the recipe. It also makes it healthier, and easier to stay true to new year resolutions.


1/4 cup olive oil (I used 2 tablespoons as it was more to my taste)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 12 ounce package of fresh green beans, steamed until crisp tender

Whisk together the first six ingredients in a small bowl, until blended.
Toss cooked beans with dressing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


We had friends in town, and I made these light, delicious scones the next morning. I served them with butter and the fabulous cranberry orange ginger jelly, Ashley made. It was the perfect complement to a leisurely breakfast with wonderful friends.


2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Heat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. With your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.
With a fork, stir in 1/2 cup buttermilk, orange zest and juice, egg yolk and poppy seeds until just combined.
On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough and knead several times. Form dough into a 7-inch square, cut into 9 squares, then cut each in half diagonally. Transfer dough triangles to two parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with 2 tablespoons buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Bake until scones are pale golden, 15 to 17 minutes.
Let cool on wire racks. Serve with butter and jam if desired.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food

Monday, January 2, 2012


I hosted the very fun and fabulous ladies of our book club a couple of months ago, and put together this easy, mostly do-ahead menu.
I have made the dates several times since, and though they don't look all that appetizing in the picture, they are delicious!


Cut a slit in large side of 24 dried figs, cutting to, but not through, stem end. Stir together 3 ounces of softened cream cheese, 2 teaspoons powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons orange liqueur. Fill each fig evenly with cream cheese mixture and 1 roasted salted almond. Press figs to secure filling.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living


2 cups self-raising flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
1 shallot, finely chopped and sauteed in 1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Heat oven to 375F.
Line mini muffin pan with paper cases.
Sift flour into a bowl, stir in chives, parsley, cheeses and sauteed shallot. Mix until just combined. Stir in oil, egg and milk. Do not over mix. Spoon mixture evenly into cases.
Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until cooked through when tested.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve muffins with horseradish cream and roast beef.

Recipe adapted from Woman's Day, April 1992


4 teaspoons finely chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 green apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
8 large leaves endive (I couldn't find this anywhere, so I used spoons to serve the salad)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Toast pecans and celery seed, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, juice and vinegar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, Add pecans, celery seed, cabbage, apple and cranberries, toss well to coat. Place 2 tablespoons of salad on each endive leaf, or spoon.

Recipe adapted from Self


Cut a lengthwise slit down the center of 24 seedless dates, forming a pocket. Stuff with toasted walnut halves and pieces of manchego cheese.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living


1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
12 ounces chocolate
1 cup cocoa

Grate chocolate. Bring cream and lavender to a simmer for one minute, then strain. Add cream to chocolate and stir to melt. Mix well. Chill at least 3 hours. Roll into 1 inch balls then roll in cocoa.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, January 2009