This 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.”
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”.
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 Themes, Menu and Media
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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!
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:
Strawberries, raspberries, cut pineapple and marischino cherries for garnish
Downton Abbey Lemon Bar Cake Cookies
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
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.
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ C. granulated sugar
1 t. baking powder
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.
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.
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!
Last Fall, my girlfriends and I took a trip to Whistler, B.C. One of my favorite memories from that trip was the Yam Fries we had at Ric’s Grill. The waitress brought them out and set them in the middle of the table and my friends, Kathy and Tracy and I just stared at them. They were glorious. They also came with a wonderful chipotle’ aioli sauce. Here is my version:
Ingredients: Sweet Potato Fries
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
Canola oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Directions: Sweet Potato Fries
Place enough of the oil in a fry pan or deep fryer to cover potatoes. Heat the oil to about 325 degrees. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into fries lengthwise. Make them all the same size so they cook evenly. Carefully add the potatoes to the oil and fry for about 8 minutes, turning if necessary. Turn off heat and scoop out potatoes with a heat proof utensil onto a tray lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly and enjoy. For crispier fries, you can cook them longer in the fryer.
Ingredients: Chipotle Aioli
1 C. mayonnaise
1/4 C. Dijon mustard
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 T. canned chipotles, minced
Directions: Chipotle Aioli
Mix all the above ingredients together well and serve with sweet potato fries.
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
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.
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.
This sauce is amazing. It’s refreshing and brings new life to the old dinner menu. I think you would agree with me that this is a “go to” sauce. It’s impressive because it is versatile and can adorn virtually any meat, vegetable or bread. Usually pesto is my “go to” sauce, but this has become a favorite.
If you have been reading this blog, by now, you probably understand that I really love to cook all types of food from varying cultures. I’m facinated by the history of food, the preparation, the cultural impact and the different tastes. One of the most relaxing things for me is to come home from work, turn on music that matches the dinner theme and just cook up a great meal. The joy this brings me is only enhanced when I am joined by others in my kitchen who share my passion. I hope some of these recipes inspire you too.
Ingredients 2 C. fresh spinach, washed 1 C. fresh cilantro, washed 1 serrano chile, seeded 1 T. lemon juice 1 large clove garlic 1 t. coriander 1 t. cumin 1/2 t. salt 1/4 C. olive oil
Preparation Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth consistency. Store in plastic container in the fridge until ready to use. I actually double the recipe and freeze half for quick and delicious weeknight meals. Using a spoon, spread sauce on Salmon, cod, halibut, steak, bread, chicken or vegetables and cook as you normally would.
I have looked over a lot of recipes for hummus. Trader Joes has an excellent version that comes in a circle pack with four sections and each section is flavored differently. My favorite is the spicy. If you want to make it on your own so you know what is actually in the food you are eating, I think this recipe is the best by far. It is actually a combination of a few recipes I’ve worked with and it has just the right flavor. I think working with hummus is fun because it is very versatile and you can flavor it up any way you want. It’s almost like a canvas. You start with the base and then keep layering in flavor. It’s also heart healthy for you!
If you are looking to make this the appetizer for a romantic meal, prepare it as shown below, but withhold the paprika and parsley. Take a piece of paper and fold in half. On the fold, cut out half a heart shape. Unfold the heart and lay it directly on the surface of your hummus, but off to one side a bit. Sprinkle your paprika over the top and make sure to cover the heart. Follow up with sprinkling your parsley. You really don’t need much. Carefully lift the paper heart off and there you have a very special Valentine’s Day treat for your sweet one.
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, undrained
6 large cloves of garlic
1/2 C. olive oil
1 t. taco seasoning
1/4 C. Tahini paste
1/4 C. lemon juice*
1/2 t. salt
3 dashes of paprika for garnish
handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
In your Cuisinart, add chickpeas, garlic olive oil, taco seasoning, tahini paste, lemon juice and salt. Blend until smooth. Taste for flavor and consistentcy and adjust as necessary. Spoon hummus out into decorative bowl and serve alongside rice crackers, breadsticks, toasts or use as a spread on paninnis, tortillas or sandwiches.
*Special Note: Tahini paste is really a paste made from sesame seeds. It contains oil from the seed. It usually comes in a can or a jar and can be found in the peanut butter section of your grocery store. Unlike peanut butter, it separates into oil and solid. Be sure to either shake well or stir it up prior to measuring it out for this recipe.
Slow Cooked Beef Roast with Mushroom and Onion Sauce
I’m going to have to warn you. I love roasts. This time of year is perfect for tender, juicy, succulent, cut with a fork, melt in your mouth, heartwarming roasts.
A very long time ago, I made a roast for easter dinner. I remember it being very dry and tough. When I look back on it, I am embarrassed about the lack of culinary skill I had at the time and I’m thankful that it most likely wasn’t a “memorable” meal and hopefully everyone forgot how horrible it was. Thank goodness for lessons learned. Since then, I have pursued learning more about roasts and with some help from my wonderfully talented aunt Adrienne, I have produced some of the most flavorful and tender roasts imaginable. To me, a roast in the oven is one of the most welcoming aromas, but what’s better, is to have one prepared for you after a long day.
This roast recipe can be made a day ahead of time. After the cook time, the roast should fall apart. Pulling the roast apart, covering it in a dish and allowing it to sit overnight in the sauce makes for a very tasty and inviting meal the next day. Try it. I guarantee you will be back for more.
Slow Cooked Beef Roast with Mushroom and Onion Sauce
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Ingredients 2 lb. Top Round or Chuck Beef Roast salt & pepper 1 t. garlic powder 1 t. onion powder 1 t. thyme leaves 2 T. canola oil 1 medium yellow onion, sliced 16 oz. sliced mushrooms 8 C. beef broth 1 C. red wine (optional) 2 T. Flour
Directions Prepare roast by massaging in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme. Add oil to dutch oven and turn heat to medium high. When the temperature is up, sear roast on all sides until browned. Remove roast from dutch oven and set aside. Add onions and mushrooms and cook for three minutes. Add roast back into pot and add beef broth and wine. Cover with lid, bring to a simmer and then turn off the burner. Place roast in oven for three hours. Remove from oven.
Sauce Strain out four cups of broth and place it in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 15 minutes uncovered. During this reduction, take 3/4 cup of remaining broth from the dutch oven and pour it in a small bowl. Add flour. Carefully whisk in flour until combined. Add flour mixture back in to the saucepan and continue to reduce until 2 1/2 C. remain. Remove saucepan from heat. Carefully scoop out mushrooms and onions with slotted spoon from roastpan and add them to the saucepan. Set aside.
Remove roast and pull apart into pieces. Place in a shallow dish. Pour mushroom and onion sauce over the top. Serve hot. If you are making this dish ahead of time, cover it with a lid and let cool for about 20 minutes. Refrigerate overnight and reheat in oven or microwave the following day.
Depending on size of roast, this meal can serve 4 to 6 people.
You know that game people play where you ask the question, “If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?” Well, mine would be eggs benedict no contest, but a lot of people have answered steak oscar, lobster or something covered in chocolate. Play this game with your friends. Interestingly, most the choices you hear for last meals are heavy and rich. Whose gonna order a salad?
A short time ago, I was introduced to real Sicilian meatballs. They are excellent. Where I can share the recipe, the source remains anonymous. Let’s just say, it’s a family recipe and the way I came about it, I practically had to sign a nondisclosure statement. If I was ever to reveal the source, somebodies second cousin, maybe named Angelo, would be paying me a visit in a dark alley some evening threatening to break my legs and telling me its a warning. The meatballs are authentic and my source is trustworthy. These meatballs are savory and moist with a wonderful exterior. This family recipe will rival your last meal declared. I’ve made a lot of meatballs in my quest for a really good itialian sub sandwich. This is it. This is the Godfather of all meatballs.
1 lb ground beef
2 t black pepper
2 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/4 C. fresh chopped parsley
1/2 C. parmesan cheese
1 C. bread crumbs
1/4 C. beef broth
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well. The beef broth is to moisten the meatballs. Form mixture into 1 inch balls. Rotate in frying pan until outside is cooked, about 3 minutes. Place on paper towel and then transfer to foil lined baking sheet. When all the meatballs are done frying, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Make sure that your meatballs are completely cooled prior to placing in the sauce. If not using sauce, serve immediately.
Homestyle Tomato Sauce
2 28 oz cans tomato puree
1 T. dried oregano
1 t. onion powder
1 t. salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 C beef broth
1/2 C fresh basil leaves, chopped rough
Using a large dutch oven, add all ingredients, but basil and stir to blend. Cook over low heat, simmering for one hour and stirring occassionally. Stir in basil in the last 15 minutes of cooking. If you are using both the sauce and the meatball recipe together, adjust the spices accordingly so your meatballs are not over powering.
This is a real picture I saw on my way home from my in-laws one evening. After I stopped howling at the description of the lost item, I had to get out of the car and get a photo. I’m still laughing.
Let me tell you a little something about basil. Basil is an herb that has a uniqueness all of it’s own. Mostly an annual, with the exception of tropical climates, it is strong and delicate at the same time. Often used in Italian and Asian foods, basil has a reputation as an antioxidant, an anticancer, and an antimicrobial. It is native to southeast Asia, mostly Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia and is said to originally make its way to us from Iran and India. I am mainly interested in this part of the world for two things; their food and their culture.
Pesto is made out of basil and a few other ingredients that you’ll no doubt have on hand. Simply, the aroma given off by fresh pesto makes you feel like you just layed down on long cool wet grass after running a 5k. Delightful and refreshing. Having a little pesto around will fill up your heart with happiness and make you the superhero of the meal. You won’t be disappointed. I do have to make the suggestion that you use a Cuisanart to finely mince the ingredients. If you do this by hand, then you ARE a superhero.
The pesto can be used fresh or divided and frozen for later use. Some people say pour it in ice cube trays and freeze for later use. I’m all for cutting corners, but I think that’s a little cocky and I like to keep mine fresh and store it in small plastic tubs with lids. I pull it out of the freezer in the morning and thaw it in the fridge. I have used it on salmon, shrimp, chicken, pasta, mixed it into cooked rice, and as a spread on bread.
Try it! Purchase a loaf of ciabatta bread (ciabatta means ‘slipper’ in Italian), slice the long way through the middle, lay both pieces flat with insides facing up, spread some pesto lightly on each side and put under the broiler for 4 minutes. Serve with wine. Everyone I know raves about this bread and it is always the first to go. Plan on sharing a lot!
3 C. fresh basil leaves
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/2 C. parmesan cheese
3 T. Pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
1 T. lemon juice
Salt to taste
3/4 C. olive oil
In a Cuisanart, pulse on and off the first six ingredients. While keeping Cuisanart running, gradually poor in the olive oil until the pesto sauce is the consistentcy you desire for the entree you are making. Either use immediately or divide the batch into separate small tubs and freeze for future use. The versatility is amazing!