Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cheesy Artichoke dip in a Bread bowl

This is my go-to party recipe.  The times I don't make it...well I get a lot of flack from the peanut gallery. So, I try to make this for most family gatherings, parties and any time I have a large group of hungry people!  I don't mind because it is so easy to make and it is a recipe that is easy to remember.
There are about a million variations to artichoke dip...this is mine and I hope you enjoy it!

Cheesy Artichoke Dip

1 unsliced loaf of your favorite bread (I use an Italian style, or a pumpernickel)
1 cup mayo
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese  -shredded
1 cup mozzerella - shedded
1/4 cup parmesian
1 cup of jarred marinated articoke hearts - chopped
1 tea garlic powder

Cut the bread into a bowl...hollow out  but save all ot the bread you remove to use as dippers later.
Place bread bowl on a cookie sheet. 
In a bowl combine all other ingredients and mix very well.  Stuff the mixture into the bread bowl.  Bake at 375  until hot and bubbly and golden brown.

Serve with the left over bread bits, crackers, bread sticks etc...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shrimp Toast Appetizers

WARNING: these are so addictive you may hate me for giving you this recipe.

Of course you may love me for it too.  It is one of my favorites.  My Aunt Louise (my Godmother) loved to entertain and she gave me this recipe. One of the great things about it is that you can prepare it ahead of time and freeze it so you can enjoy these whenever the mood strikes or whenever you have unexpected company.  I always make these with a can of baby shrimp but canned crab is super yummy as well.  This recipe would be a fantastic snack for your Super Bowl Party or a Movie Night.  I HIGHLY suggest you double or even triple this recipe. I kid you not, these will 

Shrimp Toast
8 English muffins (preferably Thomases) split
1 can baby shrimp drained (or crab meat)
1 jar Old English cheese spread (5oz)
1 tbl mayo
1/2 tea garlic powder  (or to taste)
1 stick butter softened

Combine all of the ingredients  and spread evenly over the english muffins.  (-at this point you can stack these and freeze in a ziploc for use at a later date-)  cut the muffins into quarters and bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven until golden brown and slightly crunchy.  The baking time will vary depending on the brand and thickness of the muffin you use.  Watch may need to remove the thinner piece earlier than the thick.  These are terrific piping hot...and at room temp!

Excuse me...I need to go make!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Currant Cards from the 'Country Gentleman' circa 1902

I found this recipe in a cookbook called 'OldTime Farmhouse Cooking' but it originally appeared in the October issue of 'Country Gentleman' in 1902.   I found this recipe interesting as it is said to be " tried and true for the boys for everyday service".  
I have yet to try these soft cookies but they are on my to-do list (which I might add never gets smaller when it comes to baking and cooking!)  I plan on trying them this weekend and will report back to you all with the results and pictures.
This simple recipe calls for currants..but I would say you could substitute raisins, dried cranberries or the like.

Currant Cards

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tbl  sour cream
2 tsp ginger
1 tea baking soda dissolved in 1 tbl hot water
1/2 cup currants
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses, egg, sour cream, ginger, soda water...blend well.  Beat in 2 1/2 cups of flour chill dough until firm.  Add up to 1/2 cup of flour  so the you can roll out the dough. Roll out to 1 inch thickness and cut into rectangles (cards) . Bake on parchment paper in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes.

UPDATE: so I made these...they are ok...I personally think they are not spiced enough and not at all sweet.  I don't mind the fact they are not sweet but the combination of not enough sweet or spice was rather bland.  I made a glaze for them (water, 10x sugar, and some cardamom) and that helped.  Next time I will add more spices...roasted cinnamon, all spice, cloves, boys like them though so not a total waste....definately a recipe to keep and play with.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Italian Style Mac and Cheese

Winter has arrived...well it has arrived in theory. This year winter in my hometown seems a bit lacking in all of those things we think of when we think of winter- mainly snow, ice and freezing temperatures. I am craving heavy winter comfort food. You know what I mean, the stews, the soups, the chili, the heavy rich hearty foods designed to stick to your ribs and keep you warm and comforted. However, the view from my kitchen window looks more like September than January. Now having said that I suppose there is no real reason not to pull out our favorite comfort food recipes and enjoy all that rich heavy food you just don't care to even contemplate in the warmer months of the year. Since I can't layer clothing and play in the snow, I've decided to wrap myself in layers of cheese.
So I decided to give an Italian spin on the ever popular baked macaroni and cheese. Why Italian? Well, lets face the fact the you can't turn around twice in my area without coming face to face with an Italian restaurant or some wonderful Italian neighbor who can sure cook up an amazing feast without batting an eye! So I came up with this Italian spin, but feel free to improvise and make it your own. I will recommend that you use a short pasta like elbows, shells, rotini, penne or the like because they are sturdier and will help hold up to the cheesy sauce and the baking. Also feel free to substitute the meat with what you like or what you have on hand. I am using cubed pancetta but you could just as easily use salami, pepperoni, or prosciutto.

Italian Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound short cut pasta of your choice (I like shells)
1 cup diced pancetta
½ cup chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic minced
½ cup roasted red peppers peppers, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 cup shredded sharp provolone cheese
½ cup pecorino romano cheese grated (separated)
¼ cup shredded fresh basil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high, saute the pancetta until crisped and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers and onion. Continue to cook until the onion is very tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Then add garlic and cook several minutes more until fragrant. Be very careful not to burn the garlic as it will become bitter. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and stir to coat well.
Pour in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, add the cream,and return to boil continuing to stir. Cook until thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in the fontina, provolone,and ½ of the pecorino romano. Stir well until all of the cheese has melted. Stir in the basil and the cooked pasta. Season with salt and black pepper. Pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or buttered if you prefer). Sprinkle with remaining pecorino romano and bake uncovered until cheese on top is melted and slightly golden. Serve hot and bubbly from the oven with a tossed salad and some garlic bread.
Serves 8

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bacon Spread

This is some seriously good stuff....easy to make and if you want some one to love you forever, put some in a jar a give it as a gift.  You don't really 'can' just jar it up with a tight fitting lid and it will keep in the fridge for about 4 weeks...but to be honest it won't last that long.   I call it a spread because when I say Bacon Jam...people make the "ewww gross" face.   But remember  'no fear'!  If you like bacon...make won't be sorry.  Then stir it into pasta, spread it on crackers, top your deviled eggs, spread it on a cheese burger, grilled cheese or egg sandwich.

Bacon Spread

1 pound of thick cut bacon cut into pieces
1 large onion diced
4 garlic cloves diced
1 btl butter
1 tea sriacha sauce or hot sauce
1 tea smoked paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over med-low heat and add the sliced bacon pieces, and begin cooking this, rendering all of the fat, and cooking just until slightly crisp, but not super crispy. This will take awhile and you should stir the bacon around often. When the bacon is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon onto some paper towel to remove any excess fat. Pour off most of the bacon grease.  Return the skillet back to the heat and add the tablespoon of butter. Toss in the onion and garlic, and let them begin to sweat, cooking on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way - do not brown.
When the onions and garlic and cooked, add the salt and pepper, along with the brown sugar. Carmelize this mixture stirring often so the sugar does not burn. After a couple of minutes, add the remaining ingredients and let it come to a boil. Toss in the bacon, stir, and simmer on low heat uncovered for at least an hour or two. Add a little water if it gets to dry.  When the mixture has darkened and cooked down process in a food processor or with a hand blender. Add back to the pan and cook on low until most of the moisture is gone.
cool and jar in a tightly sealed container  - keep in fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Yummy fried egg sandwich with Bacon Spread

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I have no clue if the terms icing and frosting are actually  interchangeable but as far as I am concerned they are. So call it what you will, but here is something - or a few somethings- to top (or layer between) your cake layers....or cupcakes...or maybe your cookies or macarons.

Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 - 1/2 tea pure vanilla extract
pinch salt

whisk egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl.  Place bowl over simmering water without letting  the bowl touch the water.  whisk mixture until hot to the touch and the sugar melts.  Remove from heat.  scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.  Whip on high until light, white and has cooled.  4 - 6 minutes.  reduce the speed and add chunks of butter one at a time and beat until smooth  5 min or so. then mix in vanilla and salt. 

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped)
1 tbl butter

Heat cream in a pan CAREFUL not to burn it or boil it. The cream needs to be very hot.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. whisk until smooth. add butter continue to stir.  Spead or pipe when at room temp.

Peanutbutter Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup cream

In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in 1/2 of the confectioner's sugar. Mix in 1/4 cup of the cream. Beat in the remaining confectioners' sugar. If necessary, add a little more cream or milk until the frosting reaches a good spreading consistency.

Citrus topping

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup lemonade  or limeade concentrate
1 - 3 tea lemon or lime zest
1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a large bowl, combine milk and concentrate and zest. Fold in whipped topping. Store in the refrigerator several hours.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10,000 page views!

Wow.....I logged in tonight and  saw that the blog has passed the 10,000 views mark and I am so very excited to have so many visitors!  I hope this blog grows even more this year...maybe by years end I will have a cookbook to share with you all as well.  Thank you all for sharing in my love of food and cooking.  Please feel free to comment or email and tell me what types of things you would like to see on the blog in 2012.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crock Pot Fudgey Spoon Cake

This is a soft rich decedant super easy dessert...serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or pour sweetened(or unsweetened if you prefer) cream over warm spoon cake.  It is a fudgey gooey dessert that the chocolate lover in your house will love.  Very comforting and because it is a crock pot recipe it could not be easier!    I have made several of these types of crock pot desserts over the years...this one was adapted from one in the Gooseberry Patch magazine.

Crock Pot Fudgey Spoon Cake

1 cup flour
1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (divided)
1/4 cup plus 3 tbl of baking cocoa (divided)
2 tea baking powder
1/4 tea salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbl butter melted
1 tea vanilla
1/2 cup dark choc chips
1 3/4 cup hot water

Spray your crock pot with cooking spray.  Combine flour, 1 cup of the brown sugar, 3 tbl of the cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk in milk, butter, and vanilla.  Spread evenly in the crock pot.  mix together remaining brown sugar, cocoa, and the chips.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter.  pour hot water in...DO NOT STIR.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Serve warm!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kinda my Mom's Braciole

I call this "kinda" my Mom's Braciole because my mother always made Braciole "kinda" like her mother...same basic principle with our own twists and preferances.
My Grandmother made Braciole the old traditional way with a whole hard boiled egg inside the rolled meat Dad was not into having a lot of egg in his Mom chopped up the egg and mixed it into the stuffing.  I took that a step further and ground the egg to oblivion in the food processor.
I also added a lot more cheese and a lot less this is I 'Family' Braciole recipe.  I also make mine in the crock pot for the simple fact that its easier and its nice to come home to a delicious dinner after work.

The Sauce:
In a large crock pot...add:
3 heaping tbl of minced garlic
2  28oz cans of crushed tomatoes with basil and garlic
1 tbl italian seasoning
1/2 -1 cup white wine
2 tbl sugar

stir well , set crock pot to high.


8 top round cutlets  (very thin beef cutlets -see photo)
1 1/2 cup grated sharp provolone
1 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
1 cup italian style bread crumbs
1 tea italian seasonings
2 hard boiled eggs grated
4-6 tbl olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tbl of oil for searing

season cutlets with salt and pepper.  In a large bowl combine all other ingrediants , adding enough oil to  make the stuffing stick together if you squeeze it (see photo).  Tightly press the stuffing onto the meat and roll (tightly) from the narrow end. secure with twine or a toothpick.  repeat for all the cutlets.  Sear the rolls in a hot pan on all side and then submerge into your sauce.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  gently(they will practically fall apart they are so tender) lift from the sauce...any stuffing that leaked out during the cooking with only make your sauce that much more delicious.   Enjoy with your favorite pasta topped with the extra sauce in the crock pot.

extra thin cutlet of top round

the stuffing all mixed and ready to go

see how it sticks together when you squeeze it?

roll tightly

secure with butchers twine or a toothpick

Sear on all sides

Submerge in your yummy sauce

serve with pasta and extra sauce


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meyer Lemon Squares

These are some really great little lemon sqaures...sweet and tart with a light crispy crust. This plays a bit into my meyer lemon obsession. What is cooler than the fact that you use the WHOLE lemon rind and all...great lemony taste with a unique texture too.

Meyer Lemon Squares

For Crust:
3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1 Meyer lemon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks

preheat 350
pulse in a food processor until combined. press crumbly mixture into the bottom of a 8x8 pan that you sprayed with cooking spray.
bake 15 minutes and remove from oven. turn oven down to 325.
WHILE crust bakes. prepare the filling.

For Filling:
1 whole Meyer lemon quartered (remove seeds)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)

Powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

in a processor pulse the quartered lemon until well chopped. add remaining ingrediants and pulse a few times. Pour filling over hot crust and bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes. You want it to be set...but slightly gooey if you poke it with a toothpick.

garnish cooled lemon squares with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The latest in Random things

So here, once again, is a list of a few random and odd things that I have been obssessed with in the last few months:
sabra roasted garlic hummus, my apron collection, tart recipes, pepperidge farms sesame sticks and baked naturals, electric tea pot, goat cheese, meyer lemon, foodgawker, pintertest, McDonald's pepperment cocoa, peppermint tea, cardamom, rold gold peppermint dipped pretzels, mulled cider, smoothies, and kozy shack rice pudding snack packs. 

Not very inspired...but hey, I can't help the way my obessions swing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Meyer Lemon Sorbet veer far far away from the hearty soups I have been posting...I decided on this light fresh sweet/tart sorbet for today.  Think of it as a bright glimpse of summer on a cold winter's day.  We all need a little bit of summer sun on a cold cold day don't we?  This recipe would make a great palate cleanser or delicate is also a kid pleaser!  Drizzle with a raspberry sauce or garnish with mint leaves if you want to dress it up.

 Now...a word about meyer lemons...up here in rural upstate NY they are very scarce and very seasonal. Their season begins in November and extends into March and as late as April. The difficulty of shipping due to their more fragile thin skins means that many supermarkets still do not stock Meyer lemons, but more and more grocers are increasingly likely to do so. Meyer lemons are a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. The layer of bitter white pith that makes a thick protective coating for regular lemons is so thin on Meyers that they may be eaten in their entirety, peel included.
If you can't find a meyer lemon you can use a regular lemon you just may need to adjust the sugar level and it will be slightly more acidic.

Meyer Lemon Sorbet

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed juice from meyer lemons (about 3-4 lemons)
2 teaspoons fine meyer lemon zest

In a small saucepan on medium high heat, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in the lemon juice and zest. Chill  in the refrigerator. 
 When the mixture is chilled, pour the mixture into a shallow pan and freeze in your freezer until semi-solid. Then take a fork and fluff it up, returning it the the freezer to freeze firm. Then put in a food-processor or blender to process until smooth.
Place sorbet in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunchoke Smoked Gouda and Bacon soup

The lowly sunchoke...aka the Jerusalem not the prettiest vegetable in the pack but it makes one mighty yummy soup! They look a lot like a ginger root don't they?

Sunchokes are not acutually even in the artichoke family (they are actually the tuberous root of a flower very similiar to a small sunflower) nor are they from Jerusalem...they are a native North American plant.  They can be eaten raw or cooked in similar ways as a potato. As a matter of fact, sunchokes are an excellent substitute for diabetics to use instead of potatoes since the inulin they contains breaks down into fructose instead of glucose during digestion. 
Since they are so similar to a potato, I decided to make this delicious soup with them.  I know, I know I seem to be on a soup kick here but hang in there some 'other than soup' recipes are on the way!

Sunchoke Smoked Gouda and Bacon Soup

1 carton of chicken STOCK
5 or 6 sunchoke washed and peeled and chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 - 1 cup milk
4 oz (or to taste) of Smoked gouda with bacon (I use Yancy Fancy cheese) or Smoked gouda and 4 oz crisp crumbled bacon

Pour stock into a large saucepan or soup pot. Put chopped sunchokes into chicken broth right away so they do not discolor. Bring to a boil..then simmer until sunchokes can e easily pierced with a fork. about 15-30 minutes.  Do not drain!  Add cream and bring back to a simmer. Pour into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth...add cheese(or cheese and bacon) and continue to blend. Add milk until desired consistancy is reached.  reheat if needed and serve.

It is rich and sooooo divine!