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Tuesday, October 30, 2012


As flavorful as this drink was, I didn't quite get the name! However, once I understood the "spider" was derived from spiked cider - I thought it was rather clever!


2 cups apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1/2 cup pecan pumpkin butter, or pumpkin puree
2 ounces white rum

Simmer cider, cinnamon stick, cloves and pecan pumpkin butter for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves and add rum.
Makes two.

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray › Recipes

Monday, October 29, 2012


Our family each carefully picked out a favorite pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, and couldn't wait to get home to carve them. I thought it would be fun and fitting to make this pumpkin macaroni and cheese to have for dinner as we were welcoming our jack-o'-lanterns.
Here is a picture of the one Max and I made together.


2 cups dried macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, divided use
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 350F.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and return to pot.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, gradually add cream and milk. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in fontina, 1 cup of parmesan, pumpkin and sage until cheese is melted. Stir sauce into pasta. Transfer to baking dish.
In a bowl combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan, walnuts and olive oil. Sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh sage.

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2011

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I made these spooky treats for my sons Cub Scout meeting, and from what I hear, they were very popular. My kids loved helping me taste test, and add the candy pupils.


1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons shortening
2 drops blue food coloring
eyeball candy or chocolate chips

Beat the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the sugar and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll chilled dough into small, eyeball sized balls and place on baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate and shortening in a microwave safe bowl, in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, for 1 to 3 minutes.
Dip each eyeball into the white chocolate and transfer to the waxed paper until the chocolate has set.
Stir a few drops of blue food coloring into the remaining melted white chocolate. Make a round "iris" on the top of the cooled eyeball and press a candy or chocolate chip in the center for a "pupil".

Recipe adapted from all

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Halloween is always such an exciting time of year- and these cupcakes add to the fun! They would be perfect for before or after the festivities, with their colored frosting and candy bar decoration.


1 box fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
2 eggs
1 cup white baking chips
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
6 to 8 drops red food coloring
6 to 8 drops yellow food coloring
24 miniature candy bars

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray 24 muffin cups with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix brownie mix, oil, water and eggs. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until centers are set and toothpick inserted near edge of cupcake comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Run metal spatula around edge of each brownie, lift out to remove from muffin cup.
In microwavable bowl, microwave white chocolate chips 30 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Cool slightly.
In medium bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, milk and food colors on medium speed until fluffy. Stir in melted chocolate. Spoon frosting over cooled cupcakes, top each with a candy bar.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Halloween Treats, 2009

Thursday, October 25, 2012


This dish was inspired by the Chef and owners at Emelias Kitchen, George and Sara. My husband and I attended their most recent wine and food pairing event, and as always, were absolutely delighted with all of the incredible food they served! One of the most outstanding dishes, was a risotto served in half a baked butternut squash - positively, mouthwateringly wonderful! I was thrilled when I found this recipe and although it wasn't quite as creamy and delicious as the Emelias version, I enjoyed it all the same.


3 tablespoons butter
4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons golden brown sugar
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped shallots
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup riesling
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash. Sprinkle with sugar, then salt and pepper. Saute 6 minutes. Cover, cook until almost tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Uncover, sauté until browned but still holding shape, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
Combine chicken broth and beef broth in a large saucepan and bring to simmer, cover and set aside to keep warm.
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add bacon, sauté until beginning to brown. Add shallots. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Mix in sage and thyme, stir 1 minute. Add rice, sauté about 4 minutes.
Add wine, stir until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup warm broth, simmer until broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup broth, simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Continue adding broth 1 cup at a time and cooking until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in parsley and squash. Cook until squash is heated, about 1 minute. Transfer risotto to large shallow bowl. Serve, passing cheese separately.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2008

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I love pumpkin, and am always drawn to a recipe, whether sweet or savory, that features this wonderful fruit (I was shocked to discover pumpkin is not a vegetable).
Here are three recipes, sweet and luscious and delicious.
I made the Pumpkin, Raisin and Brandy Pie on one of those days that there were a hundred things going on! I had it planned perfectly - I would whisk it out of the oven a moment before leaving home, but as I promptly arrived for my meeting, I realized I had left the pie in the oven! Apparently an extra 20 to 25 minutes was just what the pie needed, it was a little brown, but it tasted wonderful.


1 cup flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
30 ounces canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, mix crust ingredients with fork until crumbly. Press in bottom of 13 by 9 inch pan. Bake 10 minutes.
In large bowl, beat filling ingredients until blended.
Pour over partially baked crust.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Recipe adapted from General Mills, 2009


3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (11 ounce) package butterscotch morsels
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans

Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil. Butter foil, set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Cook, stirring, over medium high heat until mixture boils.
Reduce heat to medium low, continue to boil at a steady rate, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234 degrees or mixture reaches soft ball stage, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Mix in butterscotch pieces and stir until melted. Stir in marshmallow creme and vanilla until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with pecans.
When fudge is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Cut fudge into pieces.


1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons brandy
3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
300 ml cream
1 cup crushed ginger snaps

Heat the oven to 375F.
Place raisins in a bowl with brandy and microwave on high for 1 minute. Beat eggs with sugar and golden syrup until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and cream. Stir in raisins. Pour into a greased pie dish and sprinkle crushed cookies on top. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until just set. Cool, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe adapted from NZ House and Garden

Monday, October 22, 2012


These are two wonderful weeknight dishes - minimal preparation, cooking time and clean up required!
The colors, flavors and aromas in both of these recipes evoke the cooler weather of fall, and the warmth of sitting around the dinner table with family.


1/2 cup chopped onion
1 red pepper, julienned
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped peeled mango
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste

In a large skillet, saute onion and red pepper in oil, 2 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken, curry, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne. Cook and stir 5 minutes.
Stir in mango, coconut milk, and tomato paste, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.
Serve with hot cooked rice if desired.

Recipe adapted from Readers Digest, May 2009


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced across the grain 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
1 tablespoon paprika
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon sherry, the garlic, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil.
In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon sherry. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch until dissolved.
Heat a skillet over high heat, swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken mixture, and cook until the chicken begins to brown, about 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Lower the heat to medium and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and cook until softened about 1 minute. Add the paprika, return the chicken and any juices to the pan, increase the heat to high and stir until just combined. Swirl in the broth mixture and mix until the chicken is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and parsley.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


We hosted a committee meeting for the Cub Scouts at our house, and offered appetizers, desserts and adult beverages. The kids and I retreated to the back of the house and played board games, while the meeting was going on. These were two of my favorite dishes - lots of great flavor in small bites.


1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled and deveined, cooked shrimp
1/2 cup finely diced celery
24 belgian endive leaves

Stir together first 9 ingredients in a large bowl, stir in shrimp and celery.
Spoon shrimp mixture onto bottom half of enive leaves.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011


3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Process first 9 ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides if needed (I added a little more lemon juice) Stir in chives, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Serve with assorted vegetables, such as lightly steamed green beans and asparagus.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This was a lovely dish!! Every now and then a recipe comes along that I just fall in love with and this was definitely one!! I was delighted and pleasantly surprised how well the lemon and beef flavors complimented each other.


2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 cup chicken broth
peel of 1 lemon, finely grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine and cook until mostly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and cook about 5 minutes until mostly reduced.
Stir in the chicken broth and lemon peel and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Stir in 1/4 cup mint.
Divide the spaghetti, sauce and the remaining mint among bowls.

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, March 2011

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


My Uncle was visiting from New Zealand - he wanted to travel along some of route 66 while he was 66 years old! Once he had achieved his goal, we were honored that we were able to share his 67th birthday with him!
I discovered that my Grandmother would always make a sultana cake for him on his birthday, and I was excited to continue the tradition, even down to the recipe, which was from the Edmonds Cookery Book - the definitive New Zealand cookbook.
Our whole family loved the moist, delicious, light cake. I especially enjoyed the hint of almond, and thought it was wonderful with a cup of tea!
I also made this recently for a friend, who gave me the intriguing idea of soaking the sultanas in rum instead of water - I will definitely try that next time!


2 cups sultanas (raisins)
250 grams butter, chopped in small pieces
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Heat oven to 325F.
Put sultanas in a saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Add butter. In a bowl beat sugar into eggs until well combined. Add sultana mixture and essence. Sift flour and baking powder together. Mix sifted ingredients into fruit mixture. Spoon mixture into a greased and lined 20cm square cake tin.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooking rack.

Recipe adapted from the Edmonds Cookery Book, 1992

It has been weeks since I have had a bite of this delightful vanilla cake, but my tastebuds still tingle at the thought. Moist and dense, the richness of the cake and the sweetness of the icing was such a wonderful, mouthwatering combination.
It does take a bit of time to make this cake, but it is well worth it, and made me realize I need a lot more practice making layer cakes.


2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

3 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
7 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam
2 1/4 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced, divided

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in sugar, then jam. Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover, chill until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 325F.
Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add sour cream, beat 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, beating to blend after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean about 50 minutes.
Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides, then true out cakes onto racks and cool completely.
Using large serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake half, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread 2 tablespoons strawberry jam over, then 3/4 cup frosting. Top with 3/4 cup slices berries, arranging in single layer. Repeat 2 more times with cake layer, jam, frosting and berries. Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.
Cut cake into wedges, serve with remaining sliced berries.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Oh my goodness! This is one of my very favorite dishes! I love the rich, gooey, creaminess of the gratin combined with the earthiness of the spinach.
I wanted to make a special dinner to celebrate my Uncles birthday - and came up with a menu that reflected how fabulous we think he is - a beautiful beef tenderloin with a roquefort mushroom sauce and these incredible florentine potatoes, followed by a vanilla cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting.
While I cooked, the kids set the table, and recruited our honored guest to put a blanket on his back, call himself Sprinkles and gallop around the front yard as our family pony. An all around wonderful evening!


4 to 5 potatoes
6 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 (12 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
8 bacon slices, cooked and chopped
6 to 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bring potatoes, water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.
Drain spinach well, pressing between paper towels.
Spread half of potatoes in a lightly greased baking dish, sprinkle evenly with half of pepper. Spread spinach over potatoes, sprinkle with bacon. Top with remaining potatoes and remaining pepper.
Stir together cream cheese and sour cream. Dollop cream cheese mixture evenly over potatoes, sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake at 400F for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, October 2006 › Food › Recipes

Monday, October 15, 2012


I love that both of these recipes involve chocolate with a twist!
My daughter had a play date with a friend, one day after school, and I wanted to prepare and serve them snacks as sweet as they were. The kids and I both loved the unique cooking method of the chocolate waffle cookies, and the intriguing addition of mayonnaise to the chocolate cake! It was such a novelty to have a cookie out of the waffle iron, and a condiment in a chocolate cake - a fun take on treasured chocolate treats. I also appreciated that they were easy to prepare with minimal mess to clean up.


1/3 cup shortening
1 (1 ounce) square chocolate
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt shortening and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Let cool.
Combine egg, sugar, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir well.
Add chocolate mixture, and stir well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture.
Preheat waffle iron to medium heat. Drop dough by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the iron, close and bake 2 to 4 minutes or until done. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, May 2005


1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Mix the cocoa, hot water and vanilla essence together in a bowl, cool.
Sift the flour, baking soda and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
Blend the mayonnaise with the cocoa ingredients and then pour into the well. Mix together gently with a spoon. Pour into a well greased cake tin.
Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake is cooked when tested. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack.
Ice with your favorite icing, or a rich chocolate glaze or simply dust with icing sugar to serve.


Melt 125g chocolate with 1/2 cup cream in the microwave together. Stir to combine, cool a little and then pour over the cake and smooth out.

Recipe adapted from Food in a Minute with Allyson Gofton

Thursday, October 11, 2012


My son asked one Saturday afternoon, if we could make butter. I'm always up for a food challenge, and interested to try new things, so I looked up a recipe online. 
This was my pick of the butter recipes - I loved the descriptions, and great ideas. One of the best tips (although my son didn't want to try it this time) was to add a tablespoon of honey part way through the mixing process, which would add a hint of sweetness.
The butter was very fresh tasting, and although I am sure it would have a long shelf life, it didn't last the hour at our house!


16 ounces of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a stand mixer bowl, combine cream and salt. Mix on high for around 3 minutes (it will look like whipped cream, then will turn yellow and resemble crumbly scrambled eggs).
After this step, keep beating for a few more seconds, you will see a liquid separate from the solids, which is buttermilk. Stop mixing.
Move the butter and bowl to the sink. Fill the bowl with cold water. Squeeze the butter into a ball until you see the water run clear. This means it is free of all buttermilk.
Place your butter on parchment paper, or on a small dish.

Recipe adapted from 5280 The Denver Magazine

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I have long been a fan of Panzanella salads - the crusty bread gently softened with olive oil and vinegars, and combined with crispy vegetables - a wonderful combination.
I loved the Tuscan Panzanella the very first time I made it, and I have loved it every time since.
I was so excited when I found this recipe that included pumpkin - the addition of one of my very favorite foods to a favorite salad, was irresistible - and so perfect for this time of year.


1/4 cup butter
3 cups day old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (I didn't have this on hand, so I used chile powder)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
4 cups of pumpkin of your choice (sugar, crown), peeled, seeded and cut in 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup olive oil, divided use
salad greens
4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400F.
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat and cook until it foams. Immediately add bread and chili powder and toss well to coat. Transfer to baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake croutons until crisp and lightly brown, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Set aside and cool.
Increase oven to 450F.
Placed sliced onions and vinegar in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and set aside.
In a large roasting pan, toss pumpkin with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread pumpkin in a single layer and bake until pumpkin is tender, about 25 minutes.
Whisk 1/4 cup oil into bowl of vinegar and onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine roasted pumpkin, and croutons. Add dressing, salad greens and tomatoes and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top.

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, November 2011


4 plum tomatoes
12 yellow cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, sliced into slivers
4 thick slices chewy, day old bread, cut into cubes
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
handful basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup capers, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Quarter the plum tomatoes. Make a small cut in the top of the cherry tomatoes and push a sliver of garlic into them, then arrange tomatoes, and bread pieces on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Put cucumber and  parsley into a salad bowl, add the tomatoes and bread, sprinkle with olive oil and vinegars and season to taste with salt and pepper, toss well. Set aside for 20 minutes to let the flavors develop. Just before serving add basil leaves and capers.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, July 2002

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Here in Fayetteville, Arkansas we recently hosted the annual Bikes, Blues and BBQ event. Statistics show, it's the second biggest bike rally in America and the largest benefitting local charities! I must admit, its not really my thing, but it does bring a lot of energy, fun, fundraising opportunities, enormous smoked turkey legs and noise to our town - and I do feel a sense of pride that all of these people experience, even for just a short time, this incredible place I call home.
Because we didn't have a bike or the blues, we made our own barbecue. My husband smoked chicken, and I made gorgonzola walnut potatoes and a roasted red pepper sauce to accompany our delectable main dish.


Quarter 1 1/2 pounds of small potatoes, boil in salted water 20 minutes, or until tender.
Drain potatoes and coarsely mash with 1/2 cup half and half, 1/4 cup butter, salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix in 2/3 cup gorgonzola cheese or other blue cheese of your choice, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, March 2010 › Food › Recipes


1 cup roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped gherkins or cornichons
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground pepper

Pat the roasted peppers dry and finely chop. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the gherkin, capers, tarragon, lemon zest and juice and mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, June 2008

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It has been fun to mix up different cocktails at happy hour for my Uncle, who is visiting from New Zealand. Here are a couple of the recent libations we have enjoyed. With the warmth of the bourbon and the addition of the apple cider, they are both great for fall!! Perfect for a quiet night at home, or to share with friends!!


4 tablespoons bourbon
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon peach schnapps
2 tablespoons club soda
3 to 4 dashes of bitters

Combine first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice. Cover with lid and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain bourbon mixture into a glass filled with ice, top with club soda and bitters.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, July 2012 › Food › Recipes


2 limes, cut into eighths
2 tablespoons sugar
4 threads saffron
1 cup vodka
apple cider

In a pitcher, muddle the limes, sugar and saffron. Stir in the vodka. Cover and let sit for 2 hours.
Fill 2 glasses with ice and strain in the mixture, top with apple cider.

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, April 2011

Monday, October 1, 2012


I first made these for a Cub Scout committee meeting my husband was hosting at our house, and then for my Uncle, who was visiting from New Zealand. These are some of the richest, most delicious brownies I have ever tasted - they are moist and fudgy and perfect! They were loved by adults and children alike, and I believe the recipe for these Chewy Brownies has been one of my most requested ever.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional) (I added chocolate chips instead of nuts)

Combine the butter and baking cocoa in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (I put them in a pot, over low heat). Cook until the butter is melted, stirring frequently. Remove the mixture to a bowl (I left the butter mixture in the pot, and mixed in the rest of the ingredients). Stir in the sugar and eggs quickly. Fold in the flour, vanilla and nuts (or chocolate chips if using).
Pour into a buttered 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes; do not over bake. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Cut into squares.
Makes 12 servings

Recipe adapted from Add Another Place Setting
Add Another Place Setting - Junior League of Northwest Arkansas