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212 posts categorized "11) Parties, Holidays & Celebrations"

05/12/2019

~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~

My pantry and/or refrigerator are never without a can or two of inexpensive, mild-flavored ripe, black olives and a big jar of tangy green pimiento-stuffed olives too. Throughout the year, I toss either one or both, whole into garden salads, or, slice and use them to top an occasional pizza. That said, at the end of a long Summer's day, there is nothing like a well-chilled cocktail out on the deck with a salty snack to nibble on. A cracker or two with a slather of soft brie or chèvre topped with a dollop of tapenade is a favorite, but,...... View full recipe for "~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~"

05/09/2019

~Smoked Ham and Asparagus in a Béarnaise Quiche~

Every once in a while (not often, but it does happen) you'll come across a recipe that goes from ordinary to extraordinary by using a store-bought, instead of a scratch-made, dry sauce or seasoning packet. This is one such recipe. While it is next-to-impossible to make a quiche using scratch-made hollandaise or béarnaise sauce (in place of the typical whisked cream and egg mixture used to prepare a quiche), because either will breakdown in a hearts-beat or three, it is possible to add a dry, high-quality, store-bought, hollandaise or or béarnaise sauce-mix to season and enrich the cream and egg...... View full recipe for "~Smoked Ham and Asparagus in a Béarnaise Quiche~"

04/30/2019

~ Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs ~

Once a year, the day after Eastern European Orthodox Easter to be specific, my mother made one of my favorite breakfasts: savory French toast. To make it, she soaked thick slices of the round loaf of leftover paska (a brioche-type bread enriched with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt) in a tangy, whole-grain mustard-laced milk and egg mixture. She served it with lightly-fried slices of baked ham (also leftover from Easter), soft-yolked, sunny-side-up eggs, and a fresh chive garnish (which grew in dad's garden). Mom made this but once a year because that was when she had the very-specific ingredients...... View full recipe for "~ Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs ~"

03/17/2019

~ Green-for-the-Day Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake ~

A green cake is not something one sees everyday, but, a green cake would obviously be an ideal dessert to serve for your St. Patrick's Day celebration. That said, this recipe came into my life for a very different celebration -- my bridal shower. My (now retro) signature color was a pale shade of prissy avocado green. A close friend of my mother offered to bake the cakes -- three, three-layer cakes decoratively slathered with a lovely shade of pastel-green frosting presented on three graduated-height cake pedestals. Agnes loved to bake and was a wonderful baker. Use a boxed cake...... View full recipe for "~ Green-for-the-Day Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake ~"

12/31/2018

~ Ringing in the New Year Eating Pork & Sauerkraut ~

Anywhere you find a gathering of Pennsylvania Dutch (Dutch=Deutsch=German) or Eastern Europeans (primarily throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and into the Midwest), you'll find them ringing in the New Year by eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, in order to receive a years worth of good luck, health and prosperity. It's a combination of tradition steeped in superstition backed up with a dose of practical purpose. Where I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, we had a large population of both. My family was Eastern European, we knew many PA Deutsch folks, and, both cuisines intersected in numerous ways, starting with:...... View full recipe for "~ Ringing in the New Year Eating Pork & Sauerkraut ~"

12/28/2018

~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~

When one lives in a college town associated with a big-time football program, one has honed the skills necessary to transition from the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities to ringing in the New Year with a bowl-game tailgate. It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it, and, here in Happy Valley, PA, the home of Penn State's Nittany Lions, an entire community of fellow blue-and-white-clad cooks are capable of changing lanes with ease. This year, it's gonna be deli-sandwiches and potato salad on our cocktail table in front of our lunch-timed game-day TV. We'll serve our...... View full recipe for "~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~"

12/25/2018

~Christmas Cookies 2018 with a Winter White Theme~

Because there are not enough days in the week preceding Christmas for me to bake as many varieties of cookies as I would like, every year my Christmas cookie trays are different. Each year I pick a theme and bake four kinds. For example: Last year I baked Four Kid-Friendly Candy-Bar Cookies of My Youth. Each cookie contained a different candy bar: Reeses's Cups, Snickers, Kit-Kat's and Whoppers. This year, for a small gathering of adults, I chose Winter White -- cookies that pair well with creamy rum-laced eggnog and cream-in-your-coffee or tea. Home for the Holiday Eggnog-Laced Snickerdoodles: Let...... View full recipe for "~Christmas Cookies 2018 with a Winter White Theme~"

12/23/2018

~ Over-the-Moon Candied-Pecan & Toffee Crescents ~

This version of these buttery rich, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and salty, crunchy-crumbly-munchie confections, which are loaded with honey-glazed candied pecans and English-style toffee bits, will, if you're not forewarned, glue you to the holiday dessert table. I call them confections because, while they are classified as a cookie, they have all the panache of a candy. During the holiday season, these cookies show up in the crescent shape, but, other times of the year, they're typically shaped into rounds and referred to as "tea cakes" or "English tea cakes". There are as many variations on this English recipe which dates back...... View full recipe for "~ Over-the-Moon Candied-Pecan & Toffee Crescents ~"

12/20/2018

~ The Holly & the Ivy: Tart-Cherry & Pistachio Biscotti ~

Bold and beautiful, bright-red holly berries, clustered amongst shiny, deep-green, pointy-edged ivy leaves, are colors and symbols we associate with Christmas. Right from the first, meaning the first time my tart-cherry and toasted-pistachio biscotti revealed their sliced selves, I began calling them "holly and ivy biscotti", and, they're a great way to get into the spirit of holiday baking. One biscotto, three biscotti & my version pales to none: The word biscotti (three biscotti, one biscotto) originates form the Latin word "biscoctus", which means "twice cooked". Biscotti, as we know them, are oblong shaped, dry, crunchy biscuit-esque cookies that get...... View full recipe for "~ The Holly & the Ivy: Tart-Cherry & Pistachio Biscotti ~"

12/17/2018

~ Let it Snow-Capped Ricotta and Coconut Cookies ~

Attend an Italian birthday or graduation party, bridal or baby shower, wedding or christening, etc. Name an occasion -- if it is being hosted in or by an Italian-American family, ricotta cookies will be on the dessert table, especially during the holidays. If ricotta cookies aren't served, you showed up at the wrong address. Every family has a favorite recipe, and, while no two recipes are exactly alike, aside from the choice of flavoring, color of the glaze and the decorative sugar crystals or jimmies that get sprinkled on top, all recipes for these beloved cookies are remarkably similar. I...... View full recipe for "~ Let it Snow-Capped Ricotta and Coconut Cookies ~"

12/15/2018

~Home for the Holiday Eggnog-Laced Snickerdoodles~

The humble snickerdoodle is my all-time favorite sugar cookie. I've been told it was the first cookie I was ever allowed to taste, so, if my mind hasn't changed by now, it is not likely to happen. A traditional snickerdoodle is a flat, pale-to-golden, crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside cookie made with butter and/or shortening, and, cinnamon and/or nutmeg . It never (don't go there with this cookie) contains additions like chocolate chips, dried fruit or nuts. If flavoring is added, it is always a simple and subtle splash of vanilla. That said, snickerdoodles are the perfect foil for eggnog or eggnog flavoring,...... View full recipe for "~Home for the Holiday Eggnog-Laced Snickerdoodles~"

10/09/2018

~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~

Bread comes in many forms. I am of the opinion that bread IS the staff of life, and, I average one serving of bread per day. Sans the occasional requisite soft-textured grilled-cheese sliced white, the hot-dog roll and the hamburger bun, any humble flatbread or pita pocket, along with the breakfast-y bagel and English muffin, the display here represents a sampling of my personal artisanal favorites. Except for one, the delicate croissant, they are all firm-textured, and, by choosing the correct shape, I can make make one of three crispy Italian-style specialties. Bruschetta (broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" and comes from...... View full recipe for "~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~"

05/22/2018

~ Buttery Candied-Pecan and Toffee Bit Shortbread ~

Shortbread. Melt-in-my-mouth, buttery-rich, slightly-salty and not-too-sweet, every bite of one of these humbly-crumbly understated cookies is akin to an extravagant indulgence -- the amuse bouche of the sweet treat kind. From one or two sitting atop a paper napkin next to a cup of caffeine, to hundreds piled high on shiny trays at a celebration, shortbread has earned its place on the table of any occasion. In my food world, every day and its accompanying problems has the potential to turn out ok, as long as there are a few shortbread to nibble on in the cookie jar. A day...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery Candied-Pecan and Toffee Bit Shortbread ~"

03/27/2018

~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~

Retro recipes with a history to report or a story to share, are fun for me to write. While plenty of versions for this particular cake are available on the internet, my reason for adding "mine" is two fold: plenty of present day cooks have no idea what a poke cake is, and, this particular one is, one of three poke cake recipes my mom made when I was growing up in the 1960's and '70's. Because banana pudding is classic and traditional Southern fare (a layered dessert of vanilla cookies, sliced bananas, vanilla pudding and meringue), that would indeed...... View full recipe for "~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~"

03/15/2018

~ Thai Chicken and Pineapple-Fried-Rice Casserole ~

Thai-Malaysian pineapple-fried-rice is a classic Thai dish that's easy to get addicted to. It's divine. Grains of fragrant jasmine rice bejeweled throughout with bits of golden pineapple, cashews and raisins -- it's a taste unlike the fried rices of China and Hawaii. It's a staple item on the menu of most Thai-American eateries, the choices being pineapple-fried-rice, or, pineapple-fried-rice with chicken or prawn. It can be served in a pretty bowl as a side-dish or a main-dish, or, as they do in the tradition of Thailand, baked and served in a carved-out fresh pineapple. A hearty 4-season casserole w/all the...... View full recipe for "~ Thai Chicken and Pineapple-Fried-Rice Casserole ~"

01/31/2018

~ Low & Slow-Cooked Crockpot-Casserole Meatloaf ~

Meatloaf cooked in the crockpot -- it's not crock-our-world crocket science. Busy home cooks have been using Betty Crocker's method for slow-cooking meatloaf for decades. Having been a stay-at-home-mom all my life, I've always cooked my mom's all-beef meatloaf in the traditional manner, by popping it into a 350° oven for about an hour, but, having tasted the crockpot-cooked versions of relatives and friends, I can report: they're quite good. For the most part, there's no discernible difference between a crockpot-cooked meatloaf vs. an oven-baked meatloaf. That said, when it comes to catering to a crowd for a casual get-together,...... View full recipe for "~ Low & Slow-Cooked Crockpot-Casserole Meatloaf ~"

01/04/2018

~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~

Everyone loves a home-baked sweet or savory pie or quiche, but, for those times when you are out of time, or, just don't want to take the time, from appetizers to entrées to desserts, making a puff pastry braid using store-bought puff pastry is a valuable skill to have. As long as you play by the rules, they bake up perfectly 100% of the time. What are the rules? I'm glad you asked. My three basic rules/guidelines for filling a pastry braid: 1) With the exception of the obvious (any liquid or liquid concoction that pours or flows), any solid...... View full recipe for "~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~"

01/02/2018

~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~

Imagine eating a freshly-baked, still-warm chocolate croissant at your favorite coffee shop. Just thinking about one of those divinely decadent indulgences makes me happy. Now imagine it super-sized, more than enough to feed four, with sweet cherries and crunchy almonds added to it too. Need I say more? Valentine's Day will be here before we know it, and, if you're looking to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with something truly sweet, stash the ingredients on this list in your pantry and freezer, then, start counting the days to February 14th. Tick, tock. From appetizers to entrées to desserts......... View full recipe for "~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~"

12/31/2017

~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~

We all have our favorite breakfast and brunch casserole recipes -- I'd be lost without mine. They taste great, they're easy to prepare, and, some can even be made ahead, but, let's face it: casseroles aren't elegant. They're low-key, family-style, comfort food -- the blue jeans of the food world. Newsflash: Occasionally, it's necessary to dress up -- and that extends to the food. If I told you I have a small repertoire of AM meals that make a stunning presentation, taste as good as they look, and, are relatively easy to prepare, would you want the recipes? I thought...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~"

12/28/2017

~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~

Circa 1980-1985 -- better known as the cloudberry jam period of my life. One of Joe's business associates (a man from Norway temporarily working here in Happy Valley) introduced us to a Norwegian specialty: small squares of grilled bread cheese topped with cloudberry jam. It was served as an appetizer at a cocktail hosted by Rolf and his Swedish wife. I fell in love with this cheesy treat immediately -- and said so. When I reciprocated the invitation, I was gifted a jar of the jam, a small brick of bread cheese and a package of stroopwaffes as a hostess...... View full recipe for "~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~"

12/25/2017

~ Four Kid-Friendly Candy-Bar Cookies of My Youth ~

I happily chose cookies-made-with-candy-bars as this year's 2017 theme for Christmas cookies on Kitchen Encounters, and, I gleefully baked all four. Reese's, Snickers, Kit Kat and Whoppers. Everyone is well-familiar with this cast of candy-bar characters. These particular four weren't just chosen at random. They were my favorite candy bars when I was a kid -- they're close to my heart, and, they're an all-star lineup too. I know, Whoppers aren't a bar -- whatever, move along. A bite out of any one of them would bring a smile to my face, and, if asked to make a choice, to...... View full recipe for "~ Four Kid-Friendly Candy-Bar Cookies of My Youth ~"

12/15/2017

~ The China Syndrome: An Easier Chinese Char Siu ~

During December and January, like clockwork, without notice, and, for reasons unknown, I crave Chinese food. It happens every year. Sometimes I order take-out or delivery from my favorite two places, and, other times I take the time to make it. In either case, in my kitchen, I feed my inner-Chinese about once a week. I affectionately and chucklingly refer to my condition as: The China Syndrome. All snickers aside, note that a great percentage of my Chinese recipes get posted during the months of December and January. December of 2017 is no exception. Char = fork (noun & verb)....... View full recipe for "~ The China Syndrome: An Easier Chinese Char Siu ~"

12/09/2017

~ Cranberry and Soy Sauce Glazed Pork Loin Sliders ~

Intermittently halting the holiday preparations to interject an impromptu tailgate party into the festivities is a pleasant break from the hullabaloo. Who doesn't love kicking back on the couch to watch a game for a few hours -- for me, the feeling is akin to playing hookie from school. That said, coming up with a menu (after the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone and before the Christmas gluttony begins), is tricky -- for me, it's gotta be low-key, stress-free, easy, and, seriously tasty. Did you know that sweet and tart whole-berry cranberry sauce (the store-bought stuff), when whizzed in the blender...... View full recipe for "~ Cranberry and Soy Sauce Glazed Pork Loin Sliders ~"

11/20/2017

~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~

For the family cook, entertaining for Thanksgiving is a labor of love, but, if he or she is a college football fan too, that can mean entertaining for a tailgate party as well, which can be overwhelming. That said, if you've got a game plan in place in advance, transitioning your formal Turkey Day feast into a relaxing tailgate on your coffee table, can be almost effortless. One of my gameday-after-the-holiday tailgate menus is: stuffing stuffed mushrooms with turkey-club sliders. Any leftover stuffing* recipe can be used to stuff mushrooms. I Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole. It's lightly and...... View full recipe for "~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~"

08/28/2017

~ Creamy Old English and Pimento Cheese Crab Dip ~

During the college football season, I add a few staples to my pantry and refrigerator lineup. When you live in a college town, you never (and I mean never) know when you're going to need to fix a quick appetizer. I make sure I'm never without pasteurized crabmeat in my refrigerator and Kraft Old English and Pimento Cheese spreads in my pantry. If the doorbell rings or the fans on the couch run out of wings, I can have crab dip on the cocktail table in about five minutes. Give me five minutes, I'll make you some great crab dip:...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Old English and Pimento Cheese Crab Dip ~"

08/22/2017

~ Southern Comfort: Classic Pimento Cheese Spread ~

When I was a little kid, pimento cheese spread was a staple in our refrigerator -- right next to the Old English cheese spread. I had absolutely no idea it was Southern. I thought it was Kraft. To this day, if someone puts a jar on of the store-bought stuff on the table next to a box of Ritz crackers, I'm more than happy to sit down and dig right in. Slather it between two slices of white bread and make me a pimento-cheese grilled-cheese sandwich and I'll follow you anywhere. Known as "the caviar of the South, or, "Southern...... View full recipe for "~ Southern Comfort: Classic Pimento Cheese Spread ~"

08/15/2017

~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~

When it comes to worldly or exotic recipes, I always do my research and my best to keep them as close to authentic as I can. When it comes to Indian food, I always reply upon the advice of my four Indian girlfriends, and the woman who owns Krishan, Happy Valley's Indian grocery store, because you're all such good cooks. That said, when it comes to kheer, a delicately-spiced addictively-rich rice pudding dessert, if you're one of my Indian girlfriends, you might find yourself wincing in one or two spots while reading my recipe. Why? While the flavors in my...... View full recipe for "~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~"

06/23/2017

~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~

Strawberries, one of the first fruits to ripen in the Spring, are considered to be the fruit that announces "Summer is here", and, here in Central Pennsylvania, we've been enjoying our own homegrown and locally-grown farmers-market strawberries for a couple of weeks now. From pancakes, waffles and French toast, to cheesecake, shortcake and ice-cream (to name a few), the 20-30 minutes it takes to make strawberry topping is well-worth the effort. It's luscious. Those who scratch-make this pretty-to-look-at positively-yummy tart-and-sweet topping make it to their own liking. Some folks hull and toss the berries in whole, then after it has...... View full recipe for "~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~"

05/21/2017

~ Joe's Caribbean Chicken Dog w/Joe's Island Salsa ~

Because a lot of Americans will be firing up their grills this weekend, there's no time like the present for me to talk about an experiment I conducted on myself this week: chicken hot dogs. For years I've been telling people "I think I was a hot dog in a past life" (that is how much I love high-quality all-beef franks). That said, chicken hot dogs have been popping up (again) in stores of late. For years I've been saying, "If you dislike something, you really ought to try it once every ten years, just to see if your taste...... View full recipe for "~ Joe's Caribbean Chicken Dog w/Joe's Island Salsa ~"

03/24/2017

~ Spring Forward: Pea, Carrot & Potato Salad Olivier ~

Known in Eastern European circles as "Salad Olivier" or "Salad Olivye", and, "Russian Salad", there are as many variations of this refreshing side-dish or main-dish salad as there are cooks who are willing to take the time to do a precise job of uniformly cubing, dicing and properly cooking the components. What this salad looks like is as important as how it tastes. For young Eastern European girls, who were almost always required to assist their mother and grandmother in the family kitchen, it was how they honed their knife skills for later in life in their own kitchens (while...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Forward: Pea, Carrot & Potato Salad Olivier ~"

02/04/2017

~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~

Crab meat. I love it. Fresh, frozen or pasteurized, it's an ingredient that has rocked my food world. With it, I make an array of hot and cold appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. I use it to make steamy crab bisque and add it to several seafood soups and stews too. I adore an ice-cold crab salad or crab salad sandwich, and, I can't resist a well-made crab cake or crab cake sandwich. There's more. I can't count the of number classic main-course meals I make with crab. If you've eaten in a Chinese-American restaurant you know what crab Rangoon is...... View full recipe for "~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~"

01/31/2017

~ Open Sesame Asian Chicken Slaw Wonton Tacos~

What in the wild-world-of-culinary-sports made me ponder turning wonton skins into mini-taco shells? Over the weekend I made two popular deep-fried Chinese-American appetizers to celebrate Chinese New Year: crab Rangoon and firecracker shrimp. Yesterday, I roasted a chicken, for the purpose of making some Asian chicken salad today -- to use up a few of the miscellaneous Asian ingredients that were leftover, which, included some wonton skins. Wonton tacos? Why not? They're a ton of tasty fun. A bit about making mini- wonton cups & wonton taco shells: For those who don't know, these small squares of flattened dough are...... View full recipe for "~ Open Sesame Asian Chicken Slaw Wonton Tacos~"

01/28/2017

~ Have a Blast: Hot and Crispy Firecracker Shrimp ~

Start with really big shrimp (no alternative facts here). Simmer down. What's the point of having a blog and being on social media if you're going to lie -- about anything? Here on KE, where I test, write and photograph my own recipes, it's easy to speak truth. Experience has taught: the bigger the shrimp the better the firecracker shrimp, and, since their count, which determines their size, is clearly-labeled, you will have no where to run or hide if you don't use 21-25 count (jumbo), or ideally, 16-20 count (extra-jumbo) shrimp, to make this appetizer. No matter what you...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Blast: Hot and Crispy Firecracker Shrimp ~"

01/25/2017

~ Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese ~

Crab meat, scallions and seasoned cream cheese all wrapped up in a wonton, deep-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce (like duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce). It's a staple appetizer on most Chinese-American restaurant menus, and, an appetizer I almost never order. Why? Because 99% of the time, both the sweet flavor and delicate texture of the crab (or worse -- imitation crab) is 100% lost to the cream cheese -- akin to seasoned cream cheese spread. With Rangoon (the capital city of Burma) in its name, most people think this is an authentic Asian specialty. It's...... View full recipe for "~ Crab Rangoon w/More Crab than Cream Cheese ~"

12/28/2016

~ Eggnog Breakfast Brioche in the Bread Machine ~

Eggnog bread -- most folks associate it with quick bread (like banana, zucchini and date-nut). It's referred to as quick bread because it's a quick to mix together loaf that is leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda instead of yeast -- it rises as it bakes in the oven. It's semi-dense texture is very similar to a muffin or a poundcake and it's usually topped with a sugary glaze of some sort before slicing. It's easy to make and it's quite delicious too. That said: I make an eggnog brioche that most folks don't know exists. A bit about...... View full recipe for "~ Eggnog Breakfast Brioche in the Bread Machine ~"

12/25/2016

~ Holiday Fun 101: Deck the table w/a Pizza Wreath~

Fact: I want pizza once a week. Fiction: Pizza isn't festive enough to serve on Christmas Day. The fact is, when you crave pizza once a week, you'll figure out a way to serve it for any holiday. The truth: This post is simply my foodie way of wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year -- or any holiday you celebrate. I chose pizza because it's universal. A slice of ooey-gooey cheesy pizza piled high with some great toppings of choice brings a smile to everyones face, and, for as long as I have been...... View full recipe for "~ Holiday Fun 101: Deck the table w/a Pizza Wreath~"

12/22/2016

~ Thick Creamy Eggnog & Rum Milkshakes 'n Malts ~

Sipping milkshake cocktails in front of a warm fire and a twinkling Christmas tree with the snow falling outside might not be everyone's 'ideal', but, I'm not everyone -- I am an eggnog lover who adores thick, creamy, rum-laced eggnog malts. On years when Joe and I are alone for the holidays, scratch-making eggnog isn't a priority for me because I can purchase seriously high-quality eggnog from my local Meyer Dairy. So, once a year, I "milk" the situation. Whenever applicable, eggnog replaces milk in my beverages, and, I bake and cook with it too. I make eggnog cookies, poundcake,...... View full recipe for "~ Thick Creamy Eggnog & Rum Milkshakes 'n Malts ~"

12/20/2016

~ Eggnog Pancakes w/Butter-Rum 'n 'Nog Bananas ~

Eggnog is a staple in my refrigerator during the Christmas and New Years holidays. Besides sipping on it throughout the days leading up to the holidays, I bake and cook with it too. To name a few, I make great eggnog cookies, eggnog pound cake and eggnog shortbread, and, when it comes to breakfast or brunch on Christmas or New Years Day, either eggnog pancakes, French toast or waffles always make an appearance. There's more. Bananas are one of my favorite fruits (I eat one every day), and caramelized bananas, like the kind used to make Bananas Foster, are my...... View full recipe for "~ Eggnog Pancakes w/Butter-Rum 'n 'Nog Bananas ~"

12/17/2016

~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate & Almond Buttercrunch ~

Caramel, butterscotch, English toffee and American buttercrunch. These rich butter-and-sugar-based candies are all related, and, I have an affinity for them all. As a little kid, my hand gravitated to the bag of those little chewy squares of Kraft Caramels, and, when I got a little older, I always kept a few cellophane-wrapped Brach's Butterscotch hard-candies in my purse -- they were a way to enjoy an otherwise long and boring class at school or sermon at church. I developed a crush for English toffee in London the 1990's. There was a Confectioner across the street from our hotel and...... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate & Almond Buttercrunch ~"

12/15/2016

~ Holiday Appetizers 101: Make Lots of Crab Balls ~

As I always tell people, "You can never be too rich or too thin, and, when it comes to holiday entertaining, you can never make too many crab balls." Crab balls are to the cocktail table what rum balls are to the dessert buffet. You do not want to risk running out of either one. I've never hosted a party or attended one where the crab balls weren't the first appetizer to be inhaled by the guests -- and nobody can eat just one. I plan on a minimum of three-four per person. "So", you ask, "what makes a crab...... View full recipe for "~ Holiday Appetizers 101: Make Lots of Crab Balls ~"

12/12/2016

~ Boozy Confection: Coconut Rum & Walnut Balls ~

In my lifetime, I can't recall a holiday season without encountering these boozy little sweet treats somewhere. As a child, one of our neighbors, Agnes, always served rum balls at her Christmas party and we kids made a point of sneaking a few when the adults weren't looking. As an adult, I typically serve them alongside my rum-laced eggnog to ring in the New Year. If there is a person who doesn't like a chocolatey rum ball rolled in coconut, I've yet to meet him or her. Rum balls are on my top 5 list of "easiest holiday confections". Rum...... View full recipe for "~ Boozy Confection: Coconut Rum & Walnut Balls ~"

11/30/2016

~ Dried Cherry-Berry & Walnut Holiday Cheese Ball ~

'Tis the season for holiday cheese balls or cheese logs. They're in all ordinary grocery stores and specialty cheese shops, or, they can be ordered from catalogs or on-line. For the most part, they are a popular addition to the holiday nosh table -- given to the right person, they make a thoughtful gift too. They pair great with any type of wine or champagne and almost any cocktail. Did you know these tasty (and often pricey) cheese balls are really easy to make at home? Back in the 1970's and 1980's, port wine cheese, and, the relatively inexpensive store-bought...... View full recipe for "~ Dried Cherry-Berry & Walnut Holiday Cheese Ball ~"

11/20/2016

~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~

This sinfully-simple, creamy-rich butternut squash bisque is one of my favorite go-to Turkey Day specialties. I don't serve it every year, but on years when my husband has harvested a bumper crop, it starts off our traditional feast. It looks pretty and tastes divine. There's more: It is indeed easy to prepare, and, it can be made two-three days in advance too. All it needs is a gentle reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and it's ready to take to the table and serve. A bit about butternut squash: Butternut squash is one of our healthy super-foods. That’s...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~"

11/15/2016

~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~

"So sophisticated." That was my mother-in-law's comment when I served this dessert in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving a few years back. I hung onto those words because Ann was a woman of few words who didn't hand out compliments often. We were having an unusually small gathering of eight people that year. Making one easy-to-serve dessert to feed us all, enabling me to offer seconds to a few, and, save me time too -- it worked out perfectly. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie (in addition to Dutch apple, pecan, and rhubarb) was/is always a part of my three-four...... View full recipe for "~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~"

11/10/2016

~ Eggs a la Goldenrod or Creamed Eggs on Toast ~

Once upon a time, this vintage egg recipe was reserved for Easter breakfast or brunch. Why? It was a tasty way to make use of a dozen or so of those hard-cooked, pastel-colored eggs that got dyed by the children to celebrate the holiday. In my kitchen, eggs a la goldenrod is simply a delicious way to enjoy hard-cooked eggs, which I always keep on hand. Besides liking eggs a lot, as a busy food blogger and host of a TV segment, I hard-cook several eggs at the beginning of each week -- it's ten minutes well spent. I consider...... View full recipe for "~ Eggs a la Goldenrod or Creamed Eggs on Toast ~"

11/02/2016

~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~

Don't look now but the season of holiday entertaining and festive gatherings is quickly approaching. If you're like me, you're always "in the market" for another elegant yet easy-to-make dessert to serve at your own get-together or take to someone else's. A chocolate tart is a perfect ending to any occasion, and, in the case of this recipe, it doesn't require the skills of a trained pastry chef -- feel free to keep that a secret and let 'em think you slaved all day over it. "Tarte au Chocolate" -- No special skills required. A chocolate tart, or as they...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~"

10/27/2016

~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~

One thing I love about the late Fall and Winter is the vibrant-colored citrus fruit. Because it's available all year long, a lot of folks don't realize that citrus fruit (lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges) are in fact "winter fruit". This year, for some reason, the citrus fruit I've been purchasing, is extra-over-the-top, plump, tart 'n sweet and juicy. I've been eating grapefruit every morning, putting orange segments in our salads, lime slices in my gin and tonics, and, today I'm baking a lemon tart for dessert. Tarte au citron is a classic French dessert and every patisserie (bakery) in...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~"

10/08/2016

~ Classic Pommes Anna: The Ultimate Potato Cake ~

This just might be the most impressive potato dish ever placed on a fancy-schmancy dining room table. It's a gorgeous golden cake constructed of layers of ultra-thin-sliced potatoes that have been baked in the oven (just like a cake layer) and turned out onto a serving plate. When sliced into wedges, each person gets a pretty, pie-sized wedge of potato heaven: buttery-rich, nicely-and-lightly seasoned potatoes, with a crispy golden crust and a soft tender center. Impressive to look at & surprisingly simple to make. While pommes Anna does take a bit of time to make, for a French dish, it...... View full recipe for "~ Classic Pommes Anna: The Ultimate Potato Cake ~"

10/02/2016

~ Duchess Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Duchesse) ~

Mashed potatoes are the quintessential American side-dish for the Sunday roast or pot roast and the gravy that comes with it. While there are a lot of ways to prepare potatoes, the ethereal smell of a chicken roasting in the oven or a pot roast simmering on the stovetop compels me to peel potatoes and bring a pot of water to a boil. To us Americans, mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, and duchess potatoes, a fancy French-named mashed potato dish made of piped egg-laced mashed potatoes which are baked to a beautiful golden brown, is an impressive-to-look at,...... View full recipe for "~ Duchess Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Duchesse) ~"

07/28/2016

~Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce~

Purists will tell you there is no substitution for deep-fried chicken wings. I used to think that too, and, if you want to stay wed to that train of thought, for the time being, it's still a free country. While wings that are oven-fried or grilled can't technically be referred to as Buffalo wings (no self-respecting Buffalo-wing-maker cooks them in the oven or on the grill), wings that are oven-fried or grilled really can be as good as deep-fried wings. I make wings all three ways, I know. Whenever I have a lot of wings to make for a indoor...... View full recipe for "~Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce~"