Monday, December 22, 2014


      I have been contemplating quite a lot about what to write for my December blog. Of course Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve? I could have decided to post a recipe from the menu I would be creating for my Christmas dinner. However....this year is a special year for me. I do not have to host Christmas dinner!  Hard to believe since I have been hosting this special dinner for over 20 years. Mind you, at first I liked the idea and enjoyed creating a menu and trying new recipes. However some years it just felt like a chore, something I HAD to do and unfortunately I was lacking the enthusiasm and gumption you need to have when hosting 20 people for dinner.

     When I first took over the job of hosting Christmas, I loved researching and planning and decorating and continuing some of the traditions my mom had started when I was young. Every year that I can remember, my mom would make an assortment of cookies and put them in antique glass cookie jars to look oh so pretty. I know she would keep a close watch on them so we still had the assortment as part of the dessert when SHE hosted Christmas dinner. My brother and I and especially my dad used to sneak into the jars and steal one or two - maybe a Russian tea cake or a double chocolate nut cookie.....until she heard the "clink" sound from the other room as we tried to place the top on the glass cookie jar ever so gently. "Get out of the cookies ...we will not have enough for dessert!" she would yell from the other room knowing full well that she would be lucky if they were still around at Christmas. We would criticize her and tell her that she should not make them too far in advance because it tempted us so much. Either way, they were enjoyed by all.

     Unfortunately things got busier for me with 2 children, 2 dogs,  work, shopping, cooking and decorating so some things had to give. I consider myself lucky if I can make 2 types of cookies when "back in the day" I would probably make 6 or so, some of which were a little time consuming like Linzer tarts or gingerbread men all decorated in white icing. Now its down to chocolate chips and probably the Russian tea cakes. In addition I usually make some pound cakes like almond or coconut pound cake and pair it with home made ice cream. Simple yet tasty desserts.

       But, there is ONE item that I seem to find time for every year no matter how busy I am. There is always time to make a huge batch of candied pecans. A close friend of mine gave me the recipe years ago when I first got married and I think it called for walnuts but I like pecans so I used pecans instead.  It is not that time consuming and you can make a lot at one time and everyone seems to love them. They are perfect for gifts if you put them in decorated tins and easy enough that anyone can make them. They are versatile too. Sometimes I put them in my salad or use them to top a cake.Other times, I just take a handful and devour.Try could be one of your new traditions.


3/4   cup packed brown sugar
1/2  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon grated orange rind
2 1/2  Tablespoon orange juice
1 pound of pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine sugar, salt, orange rind and orange juice in a large bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat. 

Line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Coat it with non-stick vegetable spray. Spread nuts evenly on foil. Bake nuts for 20 - 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Stir nuts halfway through baking time to coat evenly. 

Place large piece of aluminum foil on the counter and spray with the cooking spray. Remove nuts from oven and pour onto foil, immediately separating nuts with two forks. Cool completely and then store in airtight containers. 

Hope you like them. Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2014


In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. It became an official Federal holiday in 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

So now, it is time to give thanks. What are you thankful for? I am thankful for many things but I am NOT thankful for the stress that the holiday season brings. Over the years I have scaled down my entertaining repertoire to simplify and save time. It's hard managing a family, job, etc and having limited time to host 15 - 20 people for dinner. Good news; I  don't think they noticed that I scaled down. People look forward to the holiday favorites like turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, stuffing, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Why stress and change a good thing?

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a huge undertaking....if you let it. Instead of trying something fancy, new and extremely time consuming, I stick with the Thanksgiving favorites I mentioned. I've learned that most people like tradition and look forward to the typical menu every year. I decided that if I wanted to try something new and change a menu item, dessert was a good time to do that. For instance, there is usually at least one or two guests that bring a dessert of their choice. So, if you attempt to try a new recipe, then there are plenty options in case they don't like your invention.

This year I decided to try a pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I found in Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Entertaining book by Lou Pappas.


For the gingersnap crust:

  • 1/4 lb. gingersnaps (about 20 small cookies) 
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the crust, in a food processor, combine the gingersnaps and pecans and process until crumbly. Add the brown sugar and melted butter and pulse for a few seconds to blend. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan. Use your fingers to pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To make the filling, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until smooth. Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the chilled crust and smooth the top.

Bake the cheesecake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the topping, set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the rest. In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add all of the pecans, sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and caramel coated. Transfer the nut mixture to a plate and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cheesecake and arrange the halves evenly around the perimeter. Serves 10 to 12.
This cheesecake came out delicious. I decided to use my new 4" mini springform pans instead of the 9". This recipe was enough to fill 4 of the mini pans. The candied nuts added an extra crunchy sweetness.  The gingersnap crust was loved by all. I was surprised that so many people like gingersnaps. 

Friday, October 24, 2014


The first Oktoberfest held on October 12, 1810 was actually the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig) to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich, Germany were invited to join the festivities on the fields in front of the city gates. These fields later became named Theresianwiese or Theresa's fields. Horse races at the end of the celebration marked the close of the event. In 1811 the decision to repeat the horse races gave rise to
the tradition of Oktoberfest.

Today, Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world with over 6 million visitors. Horse racing, once the most popular part of Oktoberfest is no longer an event. Quite ironically, Oktoberfest is celebrated mostly in September and ending the first weekend in October around the 3rd to include German Unity Day.  There are amusement rides, games, music, and a large selection of traditional Bavarian foods and beer. Typical foods would include roast pork, sausages (Wurstl)  pretzels (Brezen), potato dumplings, potato pancakes, sauerkraut or red cabbage and many others. 

In celebration of Oktoberfest I have decided to make some German specialties. Upon perusing our cookbook collection I surprisingly discovered that we do not have specific German cookbooks.We do however have books that include German recipes.I am assuming that at one time or another there were plenty of German cookbooks but as times changed, people became more inventive and courageous and attempted recipes that fell outside of their comfort zone. To think I can't find one German cookbook but can easily find Vietnamese, Thai, Vegan, Gluten free, etc. Times have changed and don't worry.....since I order the cookbooks, we should be seeing some new German cookbooks in our collection soon!


1 dozen brats
Beer to cover  (any lager style beer)
1 medium/large sweet onion
1/2 stick of butter

Directions: Melt butter and saute onions until translucent. Place brats in the dutch oven and cover with beer. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until brats are cooked. Grill brats until golden brown and return to beer mixture until ready to serve. Serve brats on fresh baked brat buns with sauerkraut, onions, green peppers, ketchup or mustard.

I used Dos Equis XX beer since I had it on hand and the brats tasted great. Next time I would probably saute more onions to serve with the brats.


2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
12 juniper berries
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed
1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional (I did not use the raisins. Not sure I like raisins with meat?)
In a large saucepan over high heat combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper, and mustard seeds. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides. Heat a large saute pan over high heat; add the meat and brown on all sides, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.
When the marinade has cooled to a point where you can stick your finger in it and not be burned, place the meat in a non-reactive vessel and pour over the marinade. Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.
After 3 days of marinating, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Add the sugar to the meat and marinade, cover and place on the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, approximately 4 hours.
Remove the meat from the vessel and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Add the raisins if desired. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

BOTTOM LINE: The meat was super tender and the gravy flavorful. I served it
with potato dumplings. Give it a try!

This recipe I found in Alton Brown's Good Eats 2

Friday, September 12, 2014


Autumn is creeping up on us. Where did the summer go? It always seems to fly by so fast. Summer to me, means a lot of things; sun, beach, a healthy tan, long days and warm nights and ICE CREAM!
I eat ice cream all year round because I love it so much, but once summer ends my ice cream maker goes on the shelf for a while. It is getting cooler out but not autumn weather by any means. Why does everyone rush the seasons?  Look around you....all of the Halloween decorations are out in the stores and everywhere you look, new flavors at coffee retailers or restaurants include an item on the menu with a pumpkin flavoring;  a flavor typical of fall. Summer is not over - officially. September 22nd will be the first day of autumn. So, savor every last bit of summer. Enjoy........ Don't rush it!

I decided to make some last batches of ice cream before I put away the ice cream maker and take out the crock pot. Coconut ice cream is the perfect summer flavor for one last hurrah! The first time I tried it, I was on vacation at a restaurant overlooking the Caribbean. I could picture the clear turquoise waters and feel the warm breeze and taste the fresh coconut.

Looking for that tropical coconut ice cream recipe, I decided to try the WILLIAMS SONOMA ICE CREAM book by Mary Goodbody. It has more than 40 recipes for ice cream, gelato and sorbet. You can start out with vanilla,  move on to chocolate hazelnut and if you get really daring, you can try the avocado, pumpkin or ginger ice cream.

This recipe calls for sweetened coconut you find in the baking aisle. You don't have to hack into a coconut and scrape out the white flesh. So much easier.



1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs cream of coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract  (or coconut extract)

* After trying this recipe I would substitute coconut extract for the vanilla. Needs a tad more coconut flavor!

In a heavy saucepan combine the milk, 1 cup of the cream and 3/4 cup of the coconut. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan...about 5 min. Set aside for 20 min and then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing into the coconut. Return the milk mixture to the pan and place over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, - about 5 min.

Meanwhile combine the egg yolks, sugar and remaining 1/2 cup cream in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon at a low simmer, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not let the custard boil. Remove it from the heat and stir in the cream of coconut. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl with ice cubes to cool custard mixture and then put plastic wrap over custard, pressing it directly on the surface. Refrigerate over night.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and when it looks like thick whipped cream, add 1/2 of the toasted coconut.Transfer to a freezer container and freeze for 3 hours or up to 3 days. When serving, garnish with the leftover toasted coconut.

How to toast Coconut: Set a small frying pan over medium heat and add 3/4 cup coconut. Stir occasionally until lightly browned - about 1-2 minutes and transfer to a plate to cool. I stored mine in a plastic freezer bag so its air tight.


Monday, August 25, 2014


Have you ever been to a party and tasted someone's home made "something that was so scrumptious, so tasty, so wonderful that you just had to have the recipe? It happens to me every so often. You are very pleased by this creation so you approach this person who may be an acquaintance, family member or friend and comment on how delectable their home made concoction is.  Of course the next thing in the sequence would be asking them for the recipe.....only to find that they do not share recipes. WHAT? WHY? I DON'T GET IT. ARE NOT  RECIPES THERE TO SHARE? WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET? Will Grandma get mad if I make her potato salad? Will that ruin her day? Oh, I know.... a patent on this recipe, a trade secret to the family business? NO?.....THEN WHY?

Well, my recipes don't have a long family history....maybe one generation or two. They are good and proven reliable but haven't won blue ribbon contests or deserve a patent or a trade mark. They just stand the test of time and are liked by many people. I like sharing recipes and trying new ones. That is why there are numerous websites and blogs out share. So for all you recipe hoarders out there, give it up. Sharing is caring.

Hasn't won a contest....yet. But it's quick, tastes good and you pretty much have all the ingredients at your fingertips. Try it.


5 Tbs melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg

3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt 5 Tbs of butter and let cool slightly in a large mixing bowl. Add the 1st set of Ingredients. Beat using a mixer until well blended. Add the second set of ingredients (baking soda and baking powder) in pinches. Mix well and then add the flour. Mix but do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 - 45 minutes. Let cool. You can cover with vanilla or chocolate icing or serve it "au naturel" as I do.


Friday, August 15, 2014


Grilled sandwiches can be so simple at times and yet so complex. Paninis satisfy - breakfast, lunch or dinner. I bought a panini press a couple of summers ago and still use it. It is not one of those kitchen gadgets that you use every so often and have to dust and clean it when you break it out of its hiding place because you can't remember the last time you used it. panini press gets a lot of activity. Might actually be time to replace it but it still works....maybe I just need to give it a good scrubbing?

The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook by Kathy Strahs has more than 200 recipes that you can make using your panini press. There are so many different varieties, it is worth exploring and trying something unusual. You never know, you might find a new favorite sandwich.It also includes a chapter that instructs you how to make dessert on the panini press. I am not sure if I am that ambitious to make a cake using a ramekin on the press but the grilled Fluffernutter Panini with candied peanuts and cinnamon crust looks like something I might try on one of those stressful days when you need to "take the edge off."  Pure comfort!

This week I tried two of the recipes; the pepperoni  pizza panini because I knew that my kids would eat it and the prosciutto, mozzarella and arugula salad panini.(recipe to follow) I tweaked the following recipe a tad. Instead of a white balsamic vinaigrette, I just used a store bought balsamic dressing that I had handy. No worries. I am sure it was just as good because of the taste and because it took me less time to make!


2 Cups baby arugula
1 tablespoon White Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used regular balsamic salad dressing)
1 French baguette, cut into 4 portions
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Heat the panini press to medium-high heat. Place the arugula in a medium sized bowl and toss it with about a tablespoon of vinaigrette or more depending on taste. For each sandwich: Slice off the domed top of a baguette portion to create a flat grilling surface. Split the baguette to create top and bottom halves. On the bottom baguette half, layer some arugula salad, a little bit of cheese, prosciutto and some more cheese. Close the sandwich with the top baguette half. Grill two panini at a time, with the lid closed, until the cheese is melted and the baguettes are toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.


3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You can keep any extra white balsamic vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to a week. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature and give it a good stir before using it next.

There are so many recipes that I want to try. "Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panini", "Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese and Fennel Slaw Panini" or better yet, "Grilled Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Panini with Pepper Jelly and Monterey Jack Cheese" - a little hot, a little sweet. Sounds like a winner to me!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


This summer has been quite comfortable, weather-wise that is. It seems that when it is hot and humid and you don't want to turn your oven on, salad is the way to go. It's refreshing, cool, crisp and it doesn't weigh you down like when you eat a winter stew, steak or pasta. Even though the weather is bearable, I tend to crave a salad every now and again. Maybe my body is telling me something like..."YOU NEED TO EAT SOMETHING BESIDES CARBS!" Now I'm not talking about the plain lettuce with tomato know....a good hearty salad with fresh produce from our local farmers market, grilled vegetables? Maybe with some chicken, shrimp, cheese, croutons? Healthy but satisfying. Salad doesn't have to be boring.

You can make a salad every day of the year with my next pick appropriately named SALAD OF THE DAY: 365 RECIPES FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR by Georgeanne Brennan. Talk about options. Calendars at the beginning of each chapter highlight the recipes with the ingredients best suited for that month. There are full color photos that give you a beautiful visual that make your mouth water. I wish I didn't skip lunch today because the photo of the BLT & Poached Egg Salad is making me hungry. I think I will try that one next!

SMOKED CHICKEN SALAD WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES:  This is a tasty, filling salad that could be eaten for lunch or dinner. I substituted the polenta croutons for home made cheese croutons using a rustic three cheese bread. That bread is so sinful. In my house it is a rare occasion that we have leftover three cheese bread going stale. But when it does, I make some croutons. I usually cut them into 1 inch cubes and toast them in the oven with a little olive oil (use the spray can version) some fresh or dried herbs; oregano, thyme, whatever flavor you like.

CHERRY TOMATO SALAD WITH BURRATA & PESTO: Tomatoes are so flavorful in the summer when they are fresh. I wish they were that good all year round! My new favorite cheese is Burrata. It is soft like fresh mozzarella but filled with curds and cream in the middle and melts in your mouth. I used jarred pesto even though I have fresh basil growing. Who has the time for that? I am sure it doesn't come close to fresh pesto but I definitely need to save extra time for other chores and making peanut butter ice cream? On a hot....or not summer day, all you need is this salad. Don't forget to pair it with sliced baguette. YUM.

Cherry Tomato Salad with Burrata & Pesto

3 Tbs. prepared basil pesto
1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
About 4 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g) mixed red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes
1 burrata cheese
Small fresh basil leaves for garnish

In a bowl, whisk together the pesto and vinegar. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the tomatoes in half, add to the bowl, and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and use a slotted spoon to mound them on a serving platter. Nestle the cheese in the center and drizzle with some pesto dressing from the bowl. Garnish with the basil leaves and serve. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Baking has always been a hobby of mine. When some people think it would be a chore, I find it fun and relaxing and it helps me to de-stress. Most of the time I just bake and bring it for others to taste. Sometimes, I don't even try a piece. Either way, who doesn't like cake, cookies, something sweet every now and again. And I have to say it is rewarding when friends and family enjoy and appreciate your creation.

This week I am highlighting the MARTHA STEWART BAKING HANDBOOK. This is a great reference book to have on hand for baking anything. I can't say that I have tried every recipe. I'm not sure I want to. However, it's just one of those books that you want to have in your collection in case you need a recipe for scones, biscuits, tarts, pies, cakes, or bread. I guess being a cook and a baker and a librarian, there are just some cook books that you need on hand.......just in case.

Some thoughts on a few recipes.

Tomato Tart: This is a great tart to serve at a brunch especially in the summer when tomatoes have the best flavor. Roasted garlic is spread on the bottom with fontina cheese, tomatoes and basil. Yum!

Linzertorte: All the flavor of a linzer cookie without all the work of rolling out the dough, cutting the tops, cutting the bottoms, baking, putting them together...ugh I'm getting tired just thinking about it. It is less time consuming, has the same raspberry jam with hazelnut flavored crust and is best eaten the day it is made.

New York Style Cheesecake: I would skip this one. Maybe it's me but seven....count them SEVEN 8 oz packages of cream cheese is just way too much! Not to mention what the cost of the cake will be if you don't get the cream cheese on sale. If you decide to make this one, please let me know how it came out and if you had to break your piggy bank.

This weekend I decided to try the Classic Pound Cake.  For one, I almost always have butter, sugar, flour and eggs on hand. Two, I am always drinking coffee and pound cake goes well with a cup of coffee. You can just smell the butter in the batter. My dogs did and came running. They always seem to know when I am finished making a cake batter or ice cream for that matter. And who doesn't like to lick the spatula? It was 7 am and my kids were still asleep so Xavier the GSD and Mr. Chad the greyhound got first dibs.

I brought the Classic Pound Cake to work. Some people liked the buttery taste. Others thought it was good but not as good as other pound cakes I have made. Overall, I think it is a good recipe if you want a dense cake that's not too sweet that you can have with coffee or tea. Plus, you can make it with staple ingredients that can be found in most kitchens. Next time I think I will pair it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries!

Martha Stewart's Classic Pound Cake

  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs

  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt; set aside.
  2. STEP 2

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
  3. STEP 3

    Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until cake is golden and cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto the rack to cool completely. Cake can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Welcome to my new blog. I have decided to post and review some cookbooks that are tried and true and reliable (that I own)  and others that are new to me. It seems like every time I Google a recipe, I almost always stumble upon someone's cooking blog so I decided to try one of my own. Plus, I actually like to cook and try new recipes (when I have time that is).  I am hoping that you follow my blog and we can share our favorite recipes and cookbooks. And wouldn't it be fun if we started a cookbook club? Wish me luck!

I have to say that The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten is one of my absolute favorites! This book has recipes from East Hampton's "The Barefoot Contessa" gourmet store that made it so popular. An review states that "Any upscale bed and breakfast could have this book in the kitchen and get rid of all others." I think I have to agree since I own a copy myself and rely on it time and time again. What I like about Ina's recipes is that most are elegant crowd pleasers with make ahead ease. 


French Potato Salad:  Its not the typical mayo and potato that we all know. This has a vinaigrette with the herb hints of dill, parsley and basil and can be served room temperature or slightly warm  -the way I like it. 

Turkey Meatloaf:  My kids love it and its since it calls for ground turkey breast its a healthy alternative to traditional meatloaf.

Banana Crunch Muffins:  If you always have bananas on hand like I do,  then try these muffins. There are some extra ingredients like shredded coconut and granola that are not in your traditional banana muffins but they add a nice crunch and you will not be disappointed!


1 pound small white boiling potatoes 
1 pound small red boiling potatoes 
2 tablespoons good dry white wine 
2 tablespoons chicken stock 
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
10 tablespoons good olive oil 
1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts) 
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill 
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley 
2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil leaves 
Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in half (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding. 

Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

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