Mistletoe Mulled Wine


Our December Dinner Club was held at Tracy’s home this year.  Starting the evening, she served Mistletoe Mulled Wine to the guests in a beautiful stemmed glass coffee mug.  She then poured the wine after it was done in a silver coffee pourer for all to share.

I’ve had mulled wine before and thought it was okay.  Taking a sip of this warm, soothing, holiday bowl was really like no other I had tasted.  It was very good and the flavors perfectly represented everything Christmas.  I actually had seconds!  She gave me the recipe and now I share it with you.

½ C Sugar
¼ C Water
2 Orange Slices
6 Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
½ C.  mixed Pineapple, Orange, and Banana juice from concentrate  (or you can use orange juice)

Using a saucepan, add sugar through cinnamon sticks.  Boil 5 minutes.  Stir in orange juice and one bottle of Bordeaux.  Warm again.  Remove solids.  Serve warm and enjoy with friends.




Horse Whip

ImageThis is a picture of a vineyard in March.  Not much going on.  I like this picture because of the mountain and the sky.  Expansive open range….and not a single sign of the busy, hectic, have to be on time everywhere you go life that I lead.

Contrary to the vineyard, this is a recipe for one of the most exciting spreads ever.  My sister found the recipe, but neither one of us remember where it came from.  One day I texted her and asked if she had that recipe for that “horse whip.”  So now I share it with you.  I call it “Horse Whip” and as my six year old says when things seem simple, you’ll find the recipe to be “easy peasy lemon squeasy.”

Horse Whip


3 T Prepared Horseradish

1/4 c. Sour Cream

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. Mayonaise

1 T. chopped chives


Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate for two hours prior to serving.  Horse whip is amazing served as an accompaniment to perfectly grilled steak seared with just salt and cracked black pepper or alongside ham or simply roasted pork roast.  You can spread it on sandwiches too.  Your dining companions will be asking you for this recipe and all you have to say is, it’s “Horse Whip”.


Corned Beef Shepard’s Pie

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Combine traditional corned beef brisket with the simple yet savory of all pies, a shepards pie says “St. Patrick’s Day Dinner” like none other.  Doesn’t that look great?  Situate this entree on the table along side a pitcher of your favorite beer and dive in.  This pie has nice texture and great flavor.  After assembled, you can bake it off immediately or you can  refrigerate for up to 2 days until you need it.


I stopped by the store to pick up a corned beef brisket and upon approaching the meat case I noticed a gentleman filling his basket with corned beef.  He paused after taking four of them and pawed around in the case looking for more.  I waited patiently and watched his mind work.  When I see shopper’s in the store buying certain items that I’m also after, I often wonder what they are making with all of it.  On this day, there was no sale.  Maybe it just thrills me to think about all the wonderful brisket possibilities.  I wonder what he was going to do with all that brisket.   I was very curious and wanted to find out.  He walked away and so did my urge to ask.  Perhaps one day, I will buy that much at once, but for this recipe, you only need one.

The size of your brisket will depend on the number of people at your house for dinner and the dish you are planning to serve it in.

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1 beef brisket with flavor packet

2 C. beef broth

1 C. chopped onions

1 C. chopped carrots

4 large russett potatoes, peeled

3/4 C. milk

2 pats butter

1 T. flour

1 – 14 oz. can tomato puree

4 oz. of tomato paste

3/4 C. frozen peas

1/4 C. finely chopped, fresh parsley

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In the morning, place the beef brisket, flavor packet, beef broth, onions, and carrots in a crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours.

Add skinned and chopped russet potatoes to a large pot of salted, boiling water.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  Remove the potatoes to a bowl.  Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash until smooth.  If you over-mash, your potatoes will develop gluten and become rubbery.  You can use a ricer if you have one which results in smooth mashed potatoes.  (*My husband says that when I cook, I try to dirty every dish in the kitchen.  While that might be true, at least I’m using my kitchen gadgets and Im not convinced he could say the same for the tools in his shop!”)

Remove vegetables to a separate dish.  Place the beef brisket on a cutting board and using forks, pull apart the meat until it is shredded.  Discard the excess fat.  In a large pot, add the vegetables and beef.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir.  Turn heat on high and add 1 cup of the left over beef broth from the crock pot, tomato puree and tomato paste and gently stir until combined.  Cook until thickened.  Turn down heat to low and stir in peas.

Spray the dish your shepards pie will be going in.  Place the meat and vegetable mixture in the dish and using a heat-safe rubber spatula, spread out to all sides.  Sprinkle the top with fresh finely chopped parsley and cover immediately with mashed potatoes.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  It may take longer if you just took it from the fridge to the oven.  The potatoes should be golden brown on top.



Dinner Club – February 2013

SBE 065February 2013 Dinner Club

Our February dinner club was held at Tiffany’s.  Her theme of choice was romance movies.  She asked all the participants to taylor their portion of the meal around their favorite romance movie.  If you haven’t read my blog about Dinner Club and how it works, check it out.  Since Tiffany was hosting, she had the entree.  Her movie was “Love Actually” and she chose to do penne in a red vodka cream sauce.  It goes without saying that the menu was amazing so keep reading.

Dinner Club Romance Media
Dinner Club Romance Media

Dinner Club Themes, Menu and Media

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Tiffany – “Love Actually” – Entree – You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce

Tracy – “Gidget Goes to Rome” – Appetizer –  Three Way Bruchetta

Kelly – “Mama Mia” – Side – Mediterranean Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette

Jeni – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Beverage – Champagne Bar

Stephanie – “Four Weddings and a Funeral” – Salad – Winterfruit Salad

Trisha – “Downton Abbey” – Dessert – Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

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Yes, I’m fully aware that Downton Abbey is not a movie, but a television miniseries on PBS.  I was reminded over and over again that evening by multiple people, but in my defense, I love it as if it were a movie and I don’t always run with the pack, therefore making it perfectly acceptable and after all, it’s Dinner Club, so all is forgiven.

Bruchetta Three Ways

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What’s better than having bruchetta three ways?  When your lover makes fresh french rolls the morning of Dinner Club day and you get to spoil all the girls with it!  Who needs store bought with that kind of man at home!


1 french baggette, preferably made by your lover, cut into half inch slices on the bias

1 T Olive Oil

1 clove garlic halved

Directions:  preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Place baggette slices on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and rub with halved garlic.  Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes watching closely so they don’t burn.  Remove from oven and arrange on a tray.  Serve with three sauces.  You can make these as you see them below or come up with  your own.  Personally, the tomato and the goat cheese are my favorite and they are really great together.

Tomato Topping:

2 diced roma tomatoes, seeds discarded

1 bunch fresh basil leaf, chiffonade

1 t. balsamic vinegar

freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

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Goat Cheese and Onion Topping:

1 8oz pkg of goat cheese

1/4 C. of thick sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. finely chopped chives

1/2 t. garlic powder

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until blended and smooth.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

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Drunken Fig Jam courtesy Epicurious.com

2 lemons

4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)

4 cups sugar

3/4 cup brandy or Cognac

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).

Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce adapted by Food Network

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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

1 cup vodka

1 cup chicken stock

1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)

Coarse salt and pepper

16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate

1/2 cup heavy cream

20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Crusty bread, for passing

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Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

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While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appetit

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1 pound orzo

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice

6 t finely chopped fresh marjoram

4 t Dijon mustard

1 t grated lemon peel

1/2 C. olive oil

1 1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 C. pitted Kalamata olives, quartered

24 oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved

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Cook orzo in a pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occassionally.  Drain.  Rinse pasta under cold water until cool.  Drain well.  Transfer pasta to larger bowl.

Whisk lemon juice, 5 t. marjoram, mustard and lemon peel in a small bowl.  Whisk in olive oil.  Set aside 2 T. vinaigrette.  Add remaining vinaigrette, cheese, onions and olives to orzo; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and let stand 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.  Toss tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette.  Toss into salad and add remaining marjoram.  Serve cold.

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

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1/2 C. white sugar

1/2 C. lemon juice

2 t. diced onion

1 t. Dijon-style prepared mustard

1/2 t. salt

2/3 C. vegetable oil

1 t. poppy seeds

1 head butter leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

1 C. cashews

1/4 C. dried cranberries

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced

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In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.

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In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Champagne Bar

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This is such a wonderful idea.  If you have a number of guests over, grab a few bottles of your favorite champagne, mixers and your gorgeous glassware and have a ball mixing up your favorite champagne cocktails.  Don’t forget the must have cute napkins and drink stirrers.  With a champagne bar, everyone makes their own special version!

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1 1/2 oz. orange vodka

1 1/2 oz. lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. orange juice

2 bar spoons Apricot preserves



Combine ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and serve chilled in your favorite glassware!  Too many of these and we would have really had breakfast at Tiffany’s!

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As you can see, our champagne bar had the following ingredients, but you can use virtually anything.  Be creative and taylor your bar to a specific holiday or celebration.  Here are some other ingredients you may wish to use to stock your champagne bar:

Peach puree

Mango puree

Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

sugar cubes


Triple Sec

Simple syrup

Raspberry puree

Strawberries, raspberries, cut pineapple and marischino cherries for garnish

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Downton Abbey Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

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Makes 18 to 20

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 x 13 glass Pyrex.


2 C. all-purpose flour

½ C. powdered sugar

1 C. butter (you can mix ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening as an alternative to all butter)

1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon peel

Dash salt

Mix ingredients together with your hands until crumbly and press into the greased 9×13 Pyrex dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool before adding filling.

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4 eggs

1 C. all-purpose flour

1 ¼ C. granulated sugar

1 t. baking powder

Dash salt

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 t. lemon peel

1 t. lemon extract (optional)

Add all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until combined.  Pour into 9×13 over cooled cookie base and put in oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until center is cooked through.  Remove from oven and cool on counter.

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1 C. powdered sugar

8 oz. cream cheese softened

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Add lemon juice until desired consistency.  Pour over lemon bar cake.  Let icing set for about an hour before cutting lemon bars.    When you cut, they will look a bit rustic.

Serving Tip:  Serve inside large white paper muffin cups or on top of sweet little decorative doilies covering a cake stand.

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Winter Meat Pies

Winter Meat Pies

My family asked me to make meat pies for Christmas dinner.  These are a bit time consuming to make but they assemble quickly and there is enough to make additional pies of any size and freeze for an easy and delicious winter weeknight meal.  These can either be made as a hand-pie, in ramekins, or in cute shorty mason jars.  They will come out of the oven piping hot so be careful.  The meatpies I made were in ramekins and I used a biscuit cutter to make them round and a baby tree cookie cutter to make them festive.  Using a heart cookie cutter would be adorable for Valentine’s day or shamrock for St. Patrick’s day…you get the picture.  There’s no end to your creativity, so go for it.  😉

First off, I enlisted the help of my beloved sister.  I love it when she comes to cook with me as you can see from my blog, we cook together a lot.  Cooking with her thrills me.  I simply can’t get enough time with her in the kitchen.

If you want to have this entree for dinner, you will need to start the night before.  If you were having a dinner party, you could actually make these ahead of time and freeze them until you were going to use them.  They look impressive and you won’t have a dirty kitchen when your guests show up!

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2 lb. chuck roast

1 white onion, sliced

4 carrots, rough chop

1 C. mushrooms, rough chop

1 C. dry red wine

2 C. beef broth

salt & pepper

Slurry: 1 t. cornstarch, 2 T. broth

1 sleeve of crushed Saltine crackers

2 T worchesterchire sauce

1 t. ground rosemary herb

1 t. ground onion

3 T. chopped fresh italian parsley

1 pkg. ready made pie crust

1 egg, whisked

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Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil to a heavy pot and turn the stovetop on medium high.  When the pan is hot, sear the beef on all sides in a heavy pot.  Add the beef through salt and pepper above to a crock pot, cover and cook on low overnight.

In the morning, use a slotted spoon and remove the meat and vegetables to a bowl and set aside.  Pour the broth into a stock pot, place on the stove on medium high until it comes to a boil, turn down to low and simmer until the broth reduces to about a cup and a half.  This will take quite some time.  Later, you will add a slurry to the reduced broth (a slurry is a mixture of 1 tsp cornstarch and 2 T broth).  This will thicken your broth so it will now be a gravy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I also add a pat of butter to make the sauce a little richer but this step is optional.  Stir until thickened or until it coats the back of a spoon and then turn off the heat.

When your meat and vegetables have cooled, place them on a cutting board and chop them into small pieces.  You can even use a food processor if you are in a hurry, but be careful not to grind it into a paste which can happen quickly.  The goal is for the pieces to be bitesize, about a half inch in size.

Add the chopped meat and vegetables to a very large mixing bowl and add ingredents from Saltine crackers to parsley above.  Add the gravy you made above.  Using a large spoon, mix meat filling gently until combined.  Set aside.

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Preheat oven to 350.  Butter inside of ramekins or a casserole dish.  Using a spoon, place meat filling in dishes.  You can fill close to the top edge of the ramekins, and about 3/4 the way up if using a casserole dish.

Roll out your refridgerated, ready-made pie crust on the counter using flour so it doesn’t stick.  Roll to desired thickness and cut out circles for ramekins.  Place the circle on the ramekins to cover meat filling.  Use a festive cookie cutter as described above and gently press into the top of the pie crust.  Its up to you whether you want to remove the cut out piece or not.  I liked the look of them left in.

Assemble your eggwash mixture:  1 egg and 2 T water.  Mix with a fork until blended.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the pies with the eggwash.  Place pies on a foil covered cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Remember:  Freeze them (for up to two months)!  You and your sweetie or your family can have them all over again.  If you are making them for Valentine’s Day and you have extra, use shamrock cookie cutters on the rest and take them out for St. Patrick’s day!  Serve with green beer and look how amazing you are!

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Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

Here we go.  Get ready for Fall meals again.  My favorite.

I made the slow roasted pork shoulder (also called picnic or Boston butt roast) for dinner this Sunday for the family.  Fall off the bone delicious.  Takes about 4 to 5 hours of roasting, but it is well worth it.  This roast is for Sundays.  The reason is that you have to start it a day early, so keep that in mind.


1 beautiful 7 to 8 lb. bone in pork shoulder (Boston butt)

3 t. black peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seed

3 T kosher salt

1/4 C. sugar

2/3 C. apple cider vinegar

2/3 C. brown sugar


Start a day ahead.  Place your pork in the bottom of a deep oven safe, heavy dutch oven or roaster.  Using an electric coffee grinder (or morter and pestle) grind pepper and fennel seed until very small.  In a bowl, blend together pepper and fennel seed mixture with salt and sugar.  Be sure to use kosher salt.  If you use table salt, it will be too salty.  Cover the pork with the mixture and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight (preferred).

The next day, turn your oven on to 325 degrees.  Pour out liquid and lightly rinse pork.  Place in the baking pan.  Pour 2 cups boiling water over the top and cover tightly with foil.  Roast pork for four hours.  It will steam in the waterbath.  Check on it once or twice to make sure there is enough water in the bottom of the pan.  When the pork has completed cooking, the temperature of the meat will register about 190 to 195 degrees.  Remove from oven and turn on the broiler to heat.

In another bowl, add the vinegar and brown sugar.  Mix well.  Poor in pan juices and stir until combined.  Pour over the top of the pork and broil for about 10 minutes watching carefully so the sugars don’t burn.  It should have a very nice, deep, dark crust.  Heavenly.

When it has completed cooking, let it rest.  Carefully transfer to a nice serving platter of proportionate size and poor pan juices over the top.  Serve hot.

This roast is really enjoyable and your guests will be over the moon.  The only problem you will have making this dish is buying a big enough roast!  Everyone wants seconds!

Eggplant Strata with Basil and Marinara

This is soo good and my family adores it.  When dinner menus are discussed, it is often that I am asked to make the “eggplant thingy”.  I just had Dinner Club and my friend and her husband were going vegetarian for a few weeks as a personal challenge.  I thought that seemed like a good idea and when I got home, I dared my husband to go for two weeks without eating meat.  I found that it was really hard for me.  He did really good, but I failed miserably since my favorite lunch is the taco truck I go to near work.  In the end, we did okay.  We ate stir fry for a week and a few salads and the rustic pie.  I told my “vegetarian-for-a-few-weeks-girlfriend” that I had a great recipe for her.  Poor thing.  I bet she’s tired of stir fry.  Try this!


16 oz. of Marinara Sauce – Pick your favorite.

1 medium size eggplant, sliced into thin rounds about 1/4 inch thick

oil for frying

2 C. grated mozzarella cheese

2 cloves of garlic. slivered

4 ripe roma tomatoes, thinly sliced into rounds

1 large handful of fresh basil, torn or chiffonade

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

If you are using a deep fryer, prepare the fryer now to 325 degrees.  If you are using oil on the stovetop, start heating your oil until 325 degrees or until you drop a piece of eggplant in and it bubbles.

When your oil is ready, add the slices of eggplant to the oil to begin frying.  You may need to do this in a few batches.  When they are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on a paper towel lined tray.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue these steps until your eggplant slices are done cooking.  Turn off heat and let oil cool before handling.

Layering your strata:  Take an oven safe casserole dish or bakeware and place 3 T of the marinara sauce on the bottom of your dish and spread evenly.  Layer the cooked eggplant slices on top of the marinara.  Use enough eggplant to make one layer.  Then add a thin layer of marinara.  Add the garlic slices.  Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Add thinly sliced tomatoes.  Add another layer of marinara. Add the remaining eggplant slices.  Add the last layer of marinara, distribute basil over the top and add the final layer with mozzarella cheese.

Bake strata for 35 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit to cool for 20 minutes before serving.  This dish is very hot coming out of the oven so please use caution.


Potato and Spring Greens Rustic Pie

This recipe was inspired by the Irish baked pies.  I wasn’t too sure how this was going to turn out, but my family loved it and wanted me to add it to the Easter menu next Sunday.  I’m having the whole crew over for Easter dinner so I’m calling this a head start. Remember, this is “rustic”, so quantities are not exact and it doesn’t have to look perfect.  It will, however, taste great.  Make it as a side for ham, pork roast or flat iron steak.  I had it for breakfast!  The pastry is very light, it cuts easy and it is all around quite impressive.

Pastry Dough Ingredients

2 C. flour

12 T. very cold butter (no substitutes), cubed

1 t. salt

2 egg yolks

2 t. cold water

Directions for Pastry

Prepare the pastry dough by adding the flour, butter and salt to your food processor and pulse until pebbles form.  Add egg yolks and water and pulse again until combined.  Remove dough from the food processor and place on a sheet of wax paper.  Place a sheet of wax paper over the top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll out until ¼ inch thin.  Turn it out into a pie dish and keep the ends hanging over so when you wrap it up, they come over part of the top of your pie.  If you want to make individual or “personal” pies, just separate the dough into equal portions before you roll it.  You can turn it out over ramekins or other cute little oven safe dishes.

Note:  This dough is also great for desserts so keep it on hand.

Ingredients for Filling

5 medium potatoes, any kind, cubed

1/4 C. milk

¼ C. cheese (gruyere, parmigiano reggiano, fontina)

1 T. Butter

1 T. Olive Oil

½ red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 hand sized bunches of chopped assorted greens, stems removed (spinach, broccoli raab, kale raab, swiss chard, mustard greens), also try some herbs!

Salt and pepper

1 egg, whisked

Directions for Filling

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and cube your potatoes.  Heat a pot of enough water to cover potatoes to a boil.  Place potatoes in the pot with about 1 t. salt.  Cook until tender and remove from heat.  Drain water and place potatoes into a bowl suitable for mashing and mash them.  Add the milk and cheese(s) and stir until combined.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the butter and the olive oil together.  Add onion and cook for three minutes.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for one more minute.  Stir in greens and cover for about five minutes stirring occasionally.  Finish with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When the greens and onions are done, add them to the potato mixture and stir gently until combined.   Add all the contents to the pie plate and smooth to the sides.  Gently wrap the pastry up over the sides of the greens mixture.  Baste pastry with egg wash.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Note: You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate.  It’s also great as leftovers.



A St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

A History Lesson:  St. Patrick is the most recognized patron saint of Ireland, a British Roman, formerly captured and brought to Ireland as a slave, he escaped and later returned to Ireland as a Christian Bishop spreading the good word.  Today, we recognize St. Patrick’s Day as a celebration of Irish culture and probably one of the most celebrated of all the saint’s days in the world.  It is a day of commemorating Christianity coming to Ireland and is marked by feasts, the wearing of green and a lively excuse to party!

My family, having Irish decent, most notably by the names of McIntee and Murphy, join me in a dinner celebration every St. Patrick’s Day.  After years of serving the traditional corned beef and cabbage, I am trying to mix it up, stretch my culinary skills, and keep it interesting.  St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about soda bread like all the cooking magazines like to push at you.  I’ve read too many articles about traditional Irish soda bread usually portraying some elderly, apron-wearing, Irish woman who lost her smile standing in her lonely kitchen with a sad bowl in front of her that looks to be bread dough.  C’mon.  Not interesting!  What is interesting is exploring the culinary world around you.

This St. Patrick’s day I took a trip to a local restaurant in Bellingham, Washington known interestingly enough as “Man Pies“.  No kidding.  This is the place where they sell pasties, which looked lovely and meat pies which strongly resemble shepherd’s pie.  Bryce (pictured above), the fellow I met who works behind the counter, proudly informed me that it took them two weeks to prepare the beef for the corned beef pie. 

For my Irish family gathering, I bought six personal meat pies for dinner and he talked me into dessert too.  One mini lapin cherry almond Frangipagne, a mini cherry almond pie, a slice of chocolate buttercream layer cake, a slice of vanilla buttercream layer cake, and a mini shortbread apple pie.  What can I say,  I love dessert.  I also love to cook, but sometimes, you just have to go out and explore the world around you because it just might fill you with delight, inspiration and you get to meet new people who love food and culture as much as you do.  Dinner was served AND devoured!

A Spicy Italian Calzone

Pour yourself a glass of full bodied red wine and serve yourself up some Spicy Italian Calzone.  The picture really speaks for itself.  Your salivating taste buds can’t wait, so get started!

If you have a bread machine to make your calzone dough, go for it.  Use the pizza dough recipe that came with it and follow the bread machine directions.  It will be a “dough” or “manual” cycle.  If you need a bread machine pizza dough recipe, I have included one below.

You can make these ahead of time and pop them into the oven when your company arrives or you can make it right now just for you!

Calzone Filling Ingredients:

½ lb. spicy Italian sausage

½ C. red peppers, chopped small

5 oz. pepperoni or turkey pepperoni, chopped

1/2 C. chopped kale, stemmed removed

1/4 C. mushrooms (optional)

1 1/2 C. pizza sauce, divided

1 ½ C. shredded mozzarella cheese

Filling Directions:
In a skillet, brown the Italian sausage.  When almost done, add red peppers and cook down for about four minutes.  Add the pepperoni, kale and 1 cup of the pizza sauce.  Stir together and cover with a lid for four minutes until kale is tender.  Turn off heat and set aside until ready to assemble calzone.

Calzone Dough:

¾ C. water

2 C. white bread flour

½ t. dry milk

1 T. sugar

½ t. salt

2 t. active dry yeast

If you don’t have a bread machine, your taste buds are still in luck.  Many pizza locations actually sell their pizza dough if you want premade dough.  Another option is to purchase it from a grocery store.  Usually it’s located in the refrigerated section next to the sweet rolls.

Directions for Calzone:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

When your dough is done rising, take it and roll it on a floured work surface in a long, oval shape.  When baking, your calzone is going to puff up so make sure the dough is rolled as flat as possible.  Make sure you cut strips into your dough, along all sides, about 1 inch apart.

Spread remaining pizza sauce over center of dough and using the back of a spoon, work out to the sides, but omit the strips.  Place calzone filling in the center and again, work it out to the sides.  Cover with mozzarella cheese.

Starting from one end, fold up the end strips toward the middle of the calzone.  Working from each side alternatively, crisscross strips of dough over filling, pressing down and sealing with a drop of water.  Brush top with melted butter and bake 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

You can serve this alone or with a green side salad of choice.