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Sherry

Appetizers/ Bread/ Breads/Biscuits

Rosemary Goat Cheese Biscuits

Another yummy biscuit right out of the oven.

Happy New Year to everyone! I have a short list of New Year’s Resolutions and that is to keep mall walking 5-6 times a week and hopefully add going to the gym a couple of days on top of that. Also and to try new biscuit recipes. 

How many different ways can you possibly make a biscuit? Probably a lot more than I have baked. I love making biscuits and I can almost make them as fast as cracking open one of those tubes from the grocery.  I always cringe when I pop those things open. I seldom buy canned biscuits but when I do and you take that wrapper off and you whack it on the counter I’m always jumping like I’d just exploded a M80 firecracker or something. 

My mother use to make the best biscuits and her’s were thin. I’m sure I said this before but we liked the tops and bottoms because they were crunchy so she would hit them on the counter a few times so they would fall and then not rise as much. These days I like big biscuits but still like a crispy bottom and I finally learned how she got them that way. My mother always used melted bacon fat on the sheet pan and she would take the biscuit and put it on the pan (before baking) and let it touch the fat then flip it over leaving the tops of the biscuits with bacon fat on top too; no brushing with milk/cream/butter. So if you save your bacon fat like I do, use that instead of the milk or butter for brushing the tops of the unbaked biscuits. If you want you can always brush the baked biscuits with some melted butter when they come out of the oven. I brushed these with  butter before baking because I didn’t want bacon taste to the biscuit since I was filling with country ham.

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Bread/ Breads/Biscuits/ Morning Foods

Buttermilk Biscuits with Sorghum Butter

My grandfather would have loved these!

Growing up we always lived right next-door to our grandparents and we ate a lot of snacks/meals at their house. My grandfather had some quirky eating preferences. He liked to have his dessert along with his meal, he would crumble his cornbread in a big glass of Bulgarian buttermilk, and he loved to mix molasses with the butter to put on hot biscuits right out of the oven. And, to this day I can picture him doing those things.

I never thought I would like molasses and back then I’m sure I would have turned up my nose at the thought of molasses mixed with butter. But, when I saw this recipe in Garden and Gun magazine from Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, I knew I was going to have to try and make these biscuits. I’ll probably never get to Blackberry Farm but at least I can try their biscuits. You have to take a look at their website; over the top luxury that looks fantastic.

How do you think those pioneer women made biscuits? I can picture them standing over a old wooden table with a floured covered apron on dusting the table with flour and cutting out the biscuits. Then I started wondering what they use for baking powder. Baking powder was discovered in 1843, not sure what they would have done before then. Maybe they didn’t even have biscuit cutters maybe they had to form the little balls of dough in your hands and pat them out flat. However they did them I’m sure they were delicious with some fresh churned butter.

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Cake/ Dessert

Vienna Sacher Torte

I didn’t have to go to Vienna to try this cake.

These are the post cards I got from my friend, so I just had to try the cake.

I have a friend, Janet who just spent ten days in Austria with her granddaughter, Sarah, who is in school there for the year studying engineering. I loved getting emails and text from her with their iternary and what they were eating every day.

So on to one of her desserts of the day. I’ve heard of sacher torte for years but never made it. But after getting a post card from Janet with this dessert and the picture of her and her granddaughter Sara eating it. I knew I had to make it and what better reason than another dessert to take to a bunch of ladies who love to try the things I make — good or bad. Usually I don’t take the “flops”, they go in the trash.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Crispy Asparagus Straws

Asparagus Straws for your next party.

I know Spring has been here and gone and we are looking at a hot dry summer ahead of us. But you can always get fresh asparagus, just not always at the low springtime prices.

(On our way to Chicago to see grandson #4; #3 arrived 2 months ago.)

When we were at the Food and Wine Festival in Austin (Texas) a couple of years ago, one of the caterers had several items made with phyllo. So that got me to thinking about this recipe I have had for a while and not made for several years.

I have always liked working with phyllo and never really understood some people’s “fear” of the stuff.  If it tears you just piece it together and continue on with the recipe. I have made roses with phyllo for a platter garnish, I’ve used it for desserts, I’ve made a Chicken in Phyllo with Lemon Veloute Sauce, there are all kinds of appetizer recipes out on the web just begging for someone to try them. Here is a wonderful dessert I posted a couple of years ago. It looks so elegant and is delicious to boot and really easy — Mandarin Orange Napoleons.

If you have never used phyllo, you should give it a try. Just make sure it is thawed either at room temperature or in the refrigerator and keep it covered with a tea towel while making your recipe and you will have no problems.

Appetizers are one of my favorite things to make and definitely my favorite type party to cater. Sometimes I tend to fill friends up too quickly on the appetizers before getting to the meal and I really need to start reeling myself in when it comes to the amount of food I prepare. Usually I have enough food to feed a small army. An appetizer is suppose to whet your appetite for the food to come, not kill your appetite and I admit, I’m guilty of that.

A lemon dipping sauce would also be great with this recipe.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Mushroom Asparagus Tarts

Finally this recipe makes an appearance.

I can’t believe I had this recipe ready to post in March 2010 but never got around to trying it. What a mistake, it is a delicious appetizer or even a brunch or main dish item.

Yesterday, I had a guy from our local camera shop come to my house and give me tips for taking better food pictures. (These may not be BETTER yet, I’m a work in progress when it comes to learning new things.) Like this recipe, it took be a year and a half to get around to using a gift card my husband had given me from the camera shop. But, I finally set things up and it was definitely beneficial and I hope my pictures eventually improve.

So, in anticipation for my visit I made these Mushroom Asparagus Tarts, a Sugar Plum Cake (will post that), some Rosemary Blue Cheese Wafers (coming soon), and a red cabbage and fennel salad (also to make an appearance). So I had all this food ready to take pictures of for my lesson and I just wanted to dig in and try some of it.

I could tell from the aroma of cooking the asparagus and mushrooms that this was going to be delicious, and how good they would taste with a glass of wine. I took this to our bunco group last night and everyone loved them. I can’t wait to make them again and may vary some of the ingredients and try tomato and caramelized onion for another time. I had four squares left and brought them home and it didn’t take long for my husband to gobble up a couple of them.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Raspberry Cheese Pie

Hurry up November! I want a piece of this pie.

I can’t wait for my daughter’s wedding this weekend; the last of my three kids to get married and the only daughter. I have dreamed of this day for years maybe even since the day she first made her appearance on this earth.

I remember as a kid having dolls and my favorite doll, I think, was my Bride’s doll. All decked out in her long dress and veil. I just loved playing with her. Now, watching my daughter plan her wedding (and believe me, she has done most of the work), all I can think about is what shouldn’t be going into my mouth. I have been trying to be good over the last several months, giving up desserts and wine and a lot of other things.

Other than dreaming about the wedding, my other dreams are consumed with what I’m going to EAT after the wedding. I’m making a list of things I really want. Top of my list is a burger on a real bun covered with cheese, chicken gizzards next on the list, maybe a doughnut or two (one usually makes me sick), and then of course there’s dessert. So, I may take a bite of this pie just so I can experience the berry goodness, but once the wedding is over, I’m having a whole piece. Maybe I will take a whole day and just eat everything I want and get it over with.

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Bread/ Morning Foods

Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

Raspberries and Chocolate a match made in Heaven.

What is it we crave when we are happy, sad, tired, excited or just about any emotional state we may find ourselves in — CHOCOLATE.

Why do we have chocolate up on a pedestal and why is chocolate (besides roses) is probably the number one seller on Valentine’s Day. I think chocolate does something to our brain chemistry that gives us an euphoric high. So, I say, let’s keep eating it.

Chocolate can be molded into a lot of different shapes like rabbits, eggs, Santas, hearts, chocolate coins and just about anything you can think of can be made into a chocolate shape.

Chocolate does have some health benefits after all. They are full of flavonoids which act as antioxidants. Did you know that dark chocolate contains 8 times the number of antioxidants as strawberries have. Flavonoids also relaxes the blood pressure and helps to balance certain hormones in our bodies. Now if that isn’t enough reason to have a few pieces today, I don’t know what is.

I think we crave chocolate because our bodies are telling us to have fun, relax and enjoy life. Are are last words going to be “I’m glad I didn’t have that bite of double chocolate cheesecake today?”  I don’t think so.

I love having treats in my freeze so when my kids are home or someone drops in I have something sweet and delicious to offer them. These muffins are great for breakfast/brunch, a snack, dessert, or for a husband with a sweet tooth looking through the freezer for something he can eat. This muffin is so good, I think you could frost it and call it a cupcake.

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Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ Salads

Avocado Shrimp Salad

Cool and easy for a hot summer day.

Our temperatures here in Texas get really close to 100° on most summer days, and I don’t like hot weather and can hardly wait each evening to get in the pool with a glass of wine and a noodle to float on, and that is the best part of the day.

To me, it’s a challenge to try and come up with recipes to cook in warmer months that don’t involve me standing in the kitchen all day over a hot stove (ha, not going to happen). Lucky me, my husband loves grilling and smoking things outside. So, come summer, he is stocking up on charcoal, and woods like apple, cherry, hickory, and alder. He does absolutely the best salmon I’ve ever had and his pulled pork is the best I’ve tasted here in Texas. So, I am not putting him to work for this dish — no smoking involved.

So, if you are looking for something lighter for a lunch, brunch or dinner, try this Avocado Shrimp Salad recipe. It’s quick and really easy, and maybe make some of my Thyme Onion and Chive Muffins to go with it.

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Cake/ Dessert

Green Velvet Cake In A Jar

Something green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Is your table going to be full of GREEN food for St. Patrick’s day. l hope you will make at least a green salad of some sort, put on a green table cloth or place mats, wear green earrings, make an Irish dish, play some Irish music, and then sit back and enjoy this Green Velvet Cake. What more could you ask for on St. Patrick’s day — other than a Chicago St. Pat’s day parade.

I may have said this before but my husband’s cousin traced back their family tree all the way back to Ireland (grandmother) and Scotland (grandfather) and when my husband tapes this paper trail up in our dining room, it goes all the way around three walls.  That was quite a job to trace ancestors back that far.  I hope some day we will make the trip to Scotland and Ireland and I think I might like doing a pub crawl (even though I don’t drink beer).

When I think of St. Pat’s I think of Ferris Bueller and that infamous movie. Loved that show. And I think of Rolla, MO where my husband when to school and they had such crazy St. Pat party weekends where the frat house would turn everything green from the beer to milk to mashed potatoes.

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Bread

No Knead Bread

Who doesn’t like homemade bread!

AND who wants to knead bread if they don’t have to?

My oldest son Scott turned me on to this recipe a couple of years ago. He had seen this recipe in the New York Times and emailed me about it.

Ahhh, email. What would we do without it? Just think, we use to sit down with paper and pen and actually write down our thoughts, put them in an envelope, lick it, add a stamp and wait at least a week for the letter to get to it’s destination. Now, with a click of a key we can send and receive information in a matter of seconds.

People have all sorts of criteria of what makes a good restaurant. Some people judge a restaurant on it’s ambiance, some on the length of the menu or the amount of draft beers they have on tap. I personally size up a restaurant on whether their bread is homemade (and good) or something that is purchased and thrown in the oven. We had dinner at Babbo (Mario Batali’s restaurant) in New York a few years ago. I called about a month before to get reservations and the only time slot we could get was around 9:30 that evening.  So, we get there, have a table right next to the bar and front door (not good) and then they bring out the bread.  BURNED. You could smell it long before it even made it to the table. I started looking around at other people’s tables and they also had burned bread. I wondered how in the world they could served bread that looked like that. Needless to say, it ruined the rest of the meal which turned out to be only so/so anyway. Bread is the first thing a person usually taste in a restaurant and I think it should be memorable.

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Salad Dressing/ Salads

Wedge Salad On A Different Angle

No matter how you cut it, it is still a wedge salad!

Even though iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value, I think most people really like the wedge salad.

There are so many different types of lettuce in the markets now — butter, romaine, chicory, purple, curly leaf, arugula (one of my favorites), red-tip leaf lettuce, radicchio, spinach, Swiss chard, curly endive and the lowly iceberg head lettuce. Seems like iceberg lettuce always gets a bum rap when it comes to nutritional value and even taste. It is good on tacos and ????? Can’t think of anything else that I really want iceberg lettuce on. BUT, when it comes to a wedge salad and you want a nice crisp piece of lettuce to put your bacon, tomato, cabbage and cheese on, then you definitely want iceberg.

A couple of years ago we were in NYC and had dinner at DBDG Kitchen and Bar. I remember having a duck dish and also individual baked Alaskas. And with all that over the top food we had that weekend, I remember their wedge salad and I have made mine this way ever since. Instead of doing the typical wedge, cutting a head of lettuce into 4 wedges, they cut their lettuce across the head so you have a nice 1″ thick round slice (not a wedge). I like it this way because you are not chasing the salad all over your plate and all the topping don’t slide down the side of the wedge.

So for my version of DBGB’s Wedge Salad I’m adding some finely sliced red cabbage along with the “slice” of iceberg lettuce, some tomato, bacon, a little finely sliced green onion, crumbled blue cheese and a blue cheese ranch dressing. If you want a crisp slice of lettuce, wash in cold water, drain, and then wrap in paper towels and refrigerate until you are ready for your salad.

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Soup

Mac n’ Cheese Soup

Move over little blue box (and I don’t mean Tiffany’s)!

All I can say is,  “cheesy and delicious”!

I was sitting out by the pool the other day, can’t get in it now because the water has cooled down to a chilly 54°. Atlas, another pool season come and gone. Back from our trip, holidays over, and nothing to do but sit and flip through old food magazines, trying to see which ones I will get rid of and what recipes I want to finally try. We are having 4 days straight of below freezing temperatures this week and it is the perfect time to try a new soup recipe.

So, Mac n’ Cheese. Who doesn’t like the gooey, hot, cheesy stuff. I have always liked cooking and I guess I have always thought I was a pretty good cook.  When my kids were little there were two things they never liked HOMEMADE — blueberry muffins and macaroni and cheese.  They wanted blueberry muffins from a box because they liked the little wild blueberries and macaroni and cheese had to come from the little blue box — Kraft, probably because of the artificial color that made the macaroni and cheese such a pretty orange color.  Now, they appreciate anything homemade and they are all wonderful cooks even though they did eat some of those boxed items (that aren’t that good for us) and occasionally (more often than we should have) made trips to fast food burger places.

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