Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pomegranate-Champagne Punch

There is one last hurrah before we ring in the New Year.  If you are still entertaining guests and are looking for a crowd pleasing punch that is both festive and has a grown-up style, then this is your crowd pleaser.  This is not a sweet punch and those that are looking for the ginger ale variety will be disappointed.  We served this punch at our recent holiday party with rave reviews.

Pomegranate-Champagne Punch
Serves 12
Recipe from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 750-ml bottles chilled brut Champagne
1-1/2 cups white rum
1-1/4 cups pomegranate juice
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
Pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves

1 ice block

Bring 1/2 cup water and sugar to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Cool completely.

Combine Champagne, rum, and pomegranate juice in punch bowl.  Add enough syrup to sweeten to taste.  Mix in lemon slices, pomegranate seeds, and mint leaves.  Add ice block to bowl.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Paula Kiger at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

If you are looking for one last item for your baking list this holiday, or need to add one to your list of favorites then stop right here!  You don't need to go any further!  You will love these dessert bars forever. 

These peanut butter and jelly dessert bars are sinfully delicious. Did I mention that they are easy to prepare too?  Easy is important to me and I assume it is a positive thing for you too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Makes 24 bars
Recipe from Ina Garten

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13x2-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs and peanut butter and mix until well combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture.  Mix just until combined.

Spread two-thirds of the dough in the prepared pan, using a knife to spread it evenly.  Spread the jam evenly over the dough.  Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; the dough will spread when it bakes.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool and cut into small squares.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Becky Beatty

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for Sunday Supper

This is a dish that evokes childhood memories for me.  A Jewish peasant food that tastes so good on a cold day.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Serves 6
Recipe from Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2-(28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup raisins
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves

For the Filling:
2-1/2 pounds ground chuck
3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent.  Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife.  Immerse the head of the cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it is flexible.  Set the leaves aside.  Depending on the size of each leaf, you will need at least 14 leaves.

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, eggs onion, bread crumbs, rice, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven.  Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife.  Place 1/3-1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll.  Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce as you roll.  Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternatively until you've placed all the cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls.  Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour, or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve hot.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snickerdoodles for the Holidays!

Just a reminder,  Snickerdoodles should be on your holiday baking list.  A soft sugar cookie with a cinnamon topping that is perfect for any season. These cookies remain an American classic, easy to prepare, and are simply delicious.

Makes 24

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. or (205 degrees C)

2.  Combine 1-1/2 cups white sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla and eggs.  Mix well.

3.  Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Blend well.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.  Roll dough in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2-inches apart on an ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is set.   Immediately remove from cookie sheets and cool.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Megan Carroll at

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shrimp and Chorizo Stew

Here is a delicious, easy, minimal fuss one pot meal that can be enjoyed during this busy, and sometimes frantic holiday season.

Shrimp and Chorizo Stew
Serves 4
Recipe from Food Network

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, casings removed, sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
Kosher salt
1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
plus, 1/2 cup juice from the can
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1.  Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add the chorizo, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the oil turns deep red, about 2 minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes (reserve the juice), the bay leaves, thyme and oregano and cook for 1 more minute.

2.  Add the potatoes, 2 cups water, the tomato juice and 1 teaspoon salt.  bring to boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until the potatoes and kale are tender, about 10 more minutes.  Stir in the shrimp and simmer until just until they curl and turn pink, about 3 minutes.  Discard the bay leaves.  Ladle the stew into bowls.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad

I have been perusing my new Dorie Greenspan cookbook around my french table (no capitol letters in her title) and I came across this salad recipe that reminded me of a similar salad that I enjoyed in France a couple of years ago.  The salad arrived on a large plate layered with a fresh spring lettuce greens, drizzled with a vinaigrette, and adorning my lettuce was three perfectly cooked sunny-side up eggs, with a side of fried potatoes. This was simply the best entree salad that I had ever enjoyed.  You can check out my Dinner in Paris post that highlighted this salad at

As soon as I saw this salad recipe, same concept, with a different twist, there was no hesitation, this salad was being prepared for dinner.  There is only one way to make this salad, and that is with fresh ingredients.  If you have access to fresh eggs, even better.

 I am inexperienced with preparing soft boiled eggs, and reading instructions such as "saying a little don't-let-my-egg break prayer" or "Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes" or my favorite "very, very carefully shell the eggs.  It's a fussy job." stresses me.  Nevertheless, after I gently peeled those shells and saw the golden glory, I appreciated the stress.

The recipe instructions appear complicated but, really it isn't. It's just Dorie's way of assuming you know nothing, and trying to give you too much information with her charming up close and personal style.   

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad
Makes 4 servings
Recipe from around my french table

For the Vinaigrette
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil or walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake to blend; or use a small bowl and a whisk.  If you've used the mustard, the dressing will be fairly well blended; if not, it will blend, then separate-either way, it's fine.  Set aside, and shake (or whisk) again before using.  (You can make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.)  

For the Salad:
4 cold extremely fresh large eggs
20 asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed and peeled
6 strips bacon
3 handfuls mesclun or other mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or walnuts

Bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil.  One by one, put the cold eggs on a spoon and slowly and gently lower them into the water (saying a little don't-let-my-egg-break prayer on the way down).  Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.  Lift the eggs into a strainer, and run them under cold water to cool them quickly.  Fill the pan with cold water and leave the eggs in the water until needed.

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil.  Slip the asparagus into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until you can pierce the spears with the tip of a paring knife.  The asparagus should be cooked through but not at all mushy.  Carefully transfer the spears to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and pat them dry.

Pour out the salted water, rinse the skillet to cool it, dry it, and lay the strips of bacon in the pan.  Cook over medium-high heat, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and crisp on both sides.  remove the strips and put them between a double thickness of paper towels; when the bacon is cool, cut into narrow strips or chop it into bits.  Leave 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet-you will use it for the eggs.

When you are ready to serve, very, very, carefully shell the eggs.  It's a fussy job, because the eggs are so soft, and you might not get the shells off cleanly, but unless you break into the yolks, it will be fine.  Rinse the eggs to remove any bits of shell and pat them dry.  Warm the bacon fat over medium heat.

While the bacon fat is heating, assemble the salad.  You can put it together on a platter or arrange it on individual plates.  Either way, season the mesclun with salt and pepper, then toss it with about three-quarters of the vinaigrette, and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates.  Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette ( I do this with my fingers) and lay the spears over the greens.

Now return to the skillet.  When the fat is warm, gingerly slip the eggs into the skillet and roll them around in the fat for a minute or two, just to coat them with fat, heat them slightly, and color them a little.

Lift the eggs out of the skillet and place them on top of the asparagus.  Scatter the bacon and toasted nuts over the salad and serve immediately.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Supper- Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

When cold happens, soup happens.  Today is Sunday and for us, that means it is Sunday Supper, a tradition that is a mainstay in our family.  A way of gathering friends and family together, enjoying a  meal, served up family style.  If the weather permits, we will bring the tables and chairs from inside, turn the music up, and do what we do best, eat!

One of the soups that will be enjoyed is a creamy stick to your ribs, turkey and wild rice soup.  A perfect choice when you have leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and the air is cool and crisp.  This soup is simple to prepare, tastes wonderful, is kid-friendly and it can be made in a large batch stored in the freezer, and enjoyed later.  Can you think of a reason not to make it?

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Serves 10
Recipe from the Pioneer Woman

3 cups celery, chopped
1 whole large onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups small portabella mushrooms, sliced
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup flour
12 ounces, uncooked wild rice
6 cups chicken or turkey stock
3 cups cooked or diced chicken or turkey
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a 8-quart stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add celery, onion and carrots and saute for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring in the mushrooms slices at 5 minutes into the cooking time.  Add garlic and stir into the other vegetables.  Stir in white wine.  Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add wild rice and stock.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the wild rice hulls open.

When rice is tender, remove cover and stir in the turkey or chicken meat.  Continue cooking for 5 minutes to heat the meat pieces throughly.  Stir in cream, season to taste and allow to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or store in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Autumn Orchard- A Toast to the Season

It's Thursday.  I want to make sure that you are prepared for the weekend with something that is going to warm you from head to toe.  What is really special about this cocktail is that it can be paired with foods such as hearty meats and cheeses.

This cocktail is a mixture of Calvados, Cognac, pear liqueur, Cointreau, with a few dashes of aromatic bitters, and fresh lime juice.  It is a wonderful companion to the cool autumn season.

 The Autumn Orchard
Makes 2
Recipe from Ted Kilgore, head bartender at Taste by Niche in St. Louis

1/4 cup Cognac (such as Camus VS)
1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 tablespoons pear liqueur (such as Rothman and Winter or Mathilde)
4-1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Ice cubes
2 lime slices

Mix first 6 ingredients in a cocktail shaker.  Add ice.  Cover and shake vigorously 20 times.  Strain between 2 coupe glasses.  Float lime slices on top and serve.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Sharon Rudd @