Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun Fall Favorites

Hello, Hello Everyone!!

Finally.... after a very LONG hiatus I've decided to get back into my blog; my little get away, my little voice of expression that keeps me somewhat sane... one of my guilty pleasures that makes me smile.

Even though I haven't had much time to really test out many recipes as of lately, I was cleaning out my cabinets and came across a number of very old cookbooks and holiday magazines with a few hidden treasures I have always adored.  Today I'm going to share with you a few that may find their way into your seasonal rotation for gatherings with family, friends or coworkers; whether sharing at parties or to give as gifts.

Hope you enjoy!!!

Source:  2011 Martha Stewart Food & Wine

Cranberry Orange Sparkler
  • 1 cup Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 1/2 cup Orange-Flavoured Liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  • 1 bottle Champagne or Sparkling White Wine, chilled
  • 24 ounces Ginger Ale, chilled
  1. In a measuring cup, combine juice and liqueur. Divide among either Champagne flutes or wine glasses.
  2. To serve, top with equal parts Champagne and ginger ale.
Warm Cider and Rum Punch
  • 8 cups Apple Cider
  • 1 Apple, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1-inch piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Dark Rum
  1. Combine apple cider, fresh apple, cinnamon & ginger in a large pot; bring to boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir in rum.  Transfer to a punch bowl and serve warm.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
  • 5 pounds (approximately 10) Mcintosh or Gala Apples
    • you can also use half apples and half pears; Barlett or Anjou work best
  • 1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Course Salt
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  1. Peel, quarter and core apples.  In a food processor, finely grate fruit then transfer to a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker.  Stir in dark brown sugar, salt and cinnamon stick.  Cover and cook on high, 4 hours.
  2. Remove cinnamon stick and reserve.  Transfer mixture to processor and process until smooth.  Return to slow cooker, along with cinnamon stick, and cook on high, uncovered, until mixture is thick and browned, 4 hours.  Discard cinnamon stick and let mixture cool.  Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.
Slow Cooker Bacon Jam
  • 1.5 pounds sliced Bacon cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium Yellow Onions, diced small
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet; add onions and garlic, cook until translucent, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Add bacon and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer mixture to a 6 quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered until liquid is syrupy, 3.5 to 4 hours.  Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped.  Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day

The day that everyone becomes Irish!

I myself LOVE a good celebration, no matter what the occasion. Loud music, good food, lots of cheer; that's what its all about.

I am passionate about food, and people are passionate when it comes to their culture. I am happy to share with you a few of the Irish classics that are popular this time of year that will make your Saint Patties Day a truly pleasant party.

Please note: these recipes have come from some of the best sites and blogs I've seen and thought I would share them with my viewers while making sure they get the credit where it is due!  (Especially The Guinness Stew and The Pioneer Woman's Grasshopper Pie.) ENJOY!!

Irish Soda Bread Recipe 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
YIELD: 6-8 servings
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup raisins
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg and buttermilk. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in raisins. 
2. Knead on a floured surface for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf; place on a greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4-in.-deep cross in top of loaf. Beat remaining egg; brush over loaf. 
3. Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
I like to eat my soda bread with whipped butter and a hot cup of tea!

Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
·        2 pounds boneless beef meat (sirloin beef, bottom round, rump roast, chuck roast), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
·        Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper
·        3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
·        1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided
·        1 large onion, chopped
·        1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness stout beer, divided*
·        2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
·        1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
·        1 tablespoon granulated sugar
·        1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
·        1 tablespoon dried thyme
·        1 teaspoon white pepper
·        2 dried bay leaves
·        2 (32-ounce) containers of Beef Stock (either homemade or store bought)
·        1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
·        5 to 6 large red potatoes (or Yukon Gold), sliced into 1-inch cubes
·        4 to 5 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
·        3 to 4 celery stalks, sliced into 1-inch chunks
·        1 leek, finely chopped
·        1/4 cup cold water
·        1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley
* Can substitute another stout beer
Stove Top Preparation:
1.     In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat.
2.     While the olive oil is heating, pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels (moist meat will not brown, so this is an important step). Season the dried beef cubes with salt and pepper. Place the beef and 1/4 cup flour inside a medium bowl, stir together until the meat is coated with flour.
3.     Working in small batches, so the beef is not overcrowded in the pan (this will help beef brown faster), add the prepared beef cubes to the soup pot or Dutch oven and brown on all sides. When each batch of beef is browned, remove from the pot and set aside.
4.     Add the remaining olive oil to the Dutch oven and let heat up again. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until translucent. Pour in 1/2 bottle of Guinness beer and combine with onions; bring to a boil and, use a spatula to deglaze the bottom of the pot, scrape up and loosen any browned bits from the bottom (any browned bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot while browning will be lifted and melt into the liquid).
5.     Add the tomato paste, garlic, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, white pepper, and bay leaves; stir together to combine and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer approximately 5 minutes.
6.     Turn heat back up to medium-high. Add the remaining beef, remaining 1/2 bottle of Guinness beer, beef stock, and beef bouillon (if needed add more beef stock or water to make sure ingredients are covered with liquid); stir until combined. Bring just to a boil again and then reduce heat to medium-low, and cover with lid. Let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and skimming off the fat from the top.
7.     Turn heat back up to medium-high, stir in the potatoes, carrots, and leeks. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat back down to medium-low and let simmer approximately 45 minutes or until beef and vegetables are tender. Skim off any remaining fat from the top and then add salt and pepper to taste.
8.     If stew needs to be thickened, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cold water until the mixture is a smooth paste. Slowly stir in a little of the flour paste into the stew, a little at a time, until the stew reaches your desired thickness. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
9.     Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley for garnishment. Excellent accompanied with Irish Soda Bread, and a glass of stout beer.

Shepherd's Pie

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 min  
Yield: 8 servings
For the potatoes:
·        1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
·        1/4 cup half-and-half
·        2 ounces unsalted butter
·        3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
·        1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·        1 egg yolk
For the meat filling:
·        2 tablespoons canola oil
·        1 cup chopped onion
·        2 carrots, peeled and diced small
·        2 cloves garlic, minced
·        1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
·        1 teaspoon kosher salt
·        1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·        2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
·        2 teaspoons tomato paste
·        1 cup chicken broth
·        1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·        2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
·        1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
·        1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
·        1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
·        Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.
·        Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
·        While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
·        Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.


·        1 (2 -6 lb.) corned beef brisket
·        1 teaspoon peppercorn
·        2 dried bay leaves
·        1 -3 head fresh cabbage
·        1 -12 medium red potatoes
·        1 (1 lb.) bag fresh carrot
·        fresh parsley (dried won't do at all)
·        real butter ( margarine won't do at all.)
·        1 fresh garlic clove
·        1 medium fresh sweet onion
·        yellow mustard (whatever floats your boat)
·        irish soda bread
·        Harp lager beer (optional)
------------Selecting the corned beef brisket------------
·        Go to the store several days ahead of time or you will have to pick out the best of what has been picked over again and again. The best will disappear first. Do not freeze.
·        Pick out a nice thick slab checking the sides to make sure it isn't a very gristly one. Feel it because some butchers fold it over hiding the gristle if there is a lot of it. There will always be some gristle and it runs the length of the slab in the center.
·        The thicker the slab the better. If you are lucky, you may see some chunk style at a higher price per pound.
·        If there isn't a spice bag in with the brisket, you will need to get some whole peppercorns (white and black) and bay leaves.
------------Selecting the Cabbage-------------------
·        The heavier and more solid it is, the better it is. Smell it to make sure it isn't too bitter. Keep in mind that the outer leaves will be discarded even if the store has already removed the natural outer leaves to make them look better and fresher
--------------Selecting the Potatoes----------------
·        Watch out for the red dyed ones. Pick out a bag of medium to small sized one; the smaller the better.
-------------Selecting the Carrots----------
·        Get the smallest bag they have unless you like carrots, because you will only use one per pot of cabbage to take any bitterness out of the cabbage.
-------------Preparing and cooking the meal-----------------------
·        Use a large Dutch oven or stock pot that will hold everything all at once. Place the brisket (best side up) in the bottom of the pot. Add the spice packet or a teaspoonful of peppercorns and two bay leaves. Cover the brisket generously with water and a bottle of beer (optional - adds flavor and is a tenderizer).
·        Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
·        Scrub and rinse the new red potatoes; remove any eyes and bad spots. Leave as much of the peel as you can. Quarter them (halve or whole if tiny). Cover with water until ready for them.
·        Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage until the leaves are entirely light green, rinse and cut it into quarters through the spine so they stay together. Set aside. Peel one carrot and cut it into quarters. Set aside. Peel the onion and cut it into eighths. Set aside.
·        Rinse the bunch of fresh parsley and chop up just the tops into very tiny pieces.
------------After the 2 hours----------------------
·        Add the potatoes on top of the brisket. Add water to cover everything. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage on top of the potatoes and add onion and carrot on top of the cabbage. Add water to cover everything. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Check the cabbage to see if it is tender. If not, simmer another 5 minutes. You shouldn't undercook it and it's hard to overcook it.
-----------When done-----------------------
·        In a large serving bowl where you can stir the potatoes, crush the garlic clove and rub the inside of the bowl with it. Place the potatoes in the bowl while still piping hot and add (at least) a quarter pound of butter and add a handful (more is better than less) of chopped fresh parsley. Gently stir until butter is melted, it coats all the potato pieces and the parsley is evenly distributed.
·        Put the rest of the parsley into a tiny serving bowl for those who want to add more to their potatoes.
·        Slice the brisket cross grain.
·        Let everyone help themselves, make it known that the carrot pieces are for garnish only.


Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 12 
16 whole Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
24 whole Large Marshmallows (or Container Of Marshmallow Fluff)
2/3 cups Half-and-half
2 Tablespoons Creme De Menthe Liqueur (more To Taste)
2 Tablespoons Creme De Cacao Liqueur
Drop Or Two Of Green Food Coloring
1 cup Heavy Cream
Extra Cookie Crumbs, For Sprinkling
 Preparation Instructions
Throw the cookies and melted butter into a food processor and pulverize (or, if you have some aggressions or energy to expend, you can crush them in a large Ziploc bag.) Pour into a pie pan and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
Heat marshmallows and half-and-half in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. As soon as it's all melted and combined, place saucepan in a bowl of ice to cool down quickly. (Stirring occasionally will hasten this process.) Once cool, add creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Taste and add more creme de menthe if needed. Add one to two drops green food coloring (optional!)
In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Pour cold marshmallow mixture into the whipped cream and fold together gently.
Pour filling into chocolate crust (note: you might have a good 1/2 cup filling left over, depending on the size of your pie pan!) Sprinkle extra chocolate crumbs over the top. Place pie in the freezer and freeze until very firm, at least two hours.
Remove from freezer ten minutes or so before you want to slice and serve.

Salsa & Salads

I'm addicted to healthy cooking that is delicious, colorful & vibrant.  My favorite food... salad. 

I know, it sounds crazy and something very "girly" to say but it's true... I eat it every day.  With the warm weather coming (hopefully sooner than later), salads and salsas come into the culinary scene to accentuate grilled proteins, enhance grains and perform as main entrees. 

Although the following ideas aren't full recipes, I hope my random combinations are enough to excite your palettes and minds into trying them!

·        Roasted Cauliflower w/ Golden Raisins, Apples, Celery, Garbanzo Beans & diced Roasted Red Peppers w/ Vinegar, Honey, Parsley, Oil, Curry/Coriander/Turmeric

·        Shaved Cucumber Salad w/ Dill, Olives, Red Onion; Lemon Yogurt Sauce

·        Black Beans, Roasted Yellow & Red Bell Peppers, Saffron, Cilantro, Corn

·        Avocado, Red Onion, Honey-Chili-Cilantro Dressing, Fresh Lime

·        Panko Crusted Crispy Fried Tofu with Thai Chili Glazed Sautéed Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy, Shredded Carrots, Sesame Seeds

·        Cucumbers, Strawberries, Corn, Feta Cheese, Fresh Mint

·        Baby Arugula Pesto, Apples, Cranberries, Shaved Fennel, Fresh Lemon

·        Red Cabbage, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Edamame, Scallions, Kale

·        Charred Grape Tomatoes, Grilled Green & Yellow Squash, Roasted Red Onions, Balsamic & Oregano

·        Tomatoes, Red Onion, Oregano, Lemon, Chopped Egg, Provolone or Feta Cheese

·        Avocado, Mango, Red Peppers, Blueberries, Garbanzo Beans

·        Tomato, Peaches, Jalapeno Peppers, Cucumbers, Basil, Mint, Rice Wine Vinegar & Blended Oil (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE)

·        Spicy Siracha-Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette, Broccoli, Carrots, Red Cabbage

·        Warm Pears, Jicama, Sunflower Seeds, Watermelon & Cantaloupe

·        Oven-Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Onion, Grilled Corn, Chipotle Aioli

·        Apricot Glazed Chicken with Spinach & Shallots

·        Sautéed Wild Mushroom Blend Marsala

·        Tamarind Chili Glazed Pork with Red Pepper, Corn, Tomato & Pineapple Relish

·        Sautéed Shrimp with Wasabi Guacamole, Orange Ponzu Glaze

·        Garlic Green Beans or Asparagus Tips with Mushrooms, Tomato & Parmesan Cheese

·        Roasted Eggplant & Grape Tomatoes, Cucumber Goat Cheese Yogurt Sauce

·        Crumbled Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel, light Marinara Sauce, Italian Herbs & Mozzarella Cheese